You Don’t Own Me
An excerpt from somewhere in the middle…
Shep dropped a heavily revised script on the desk in Billie’s office, a little oasis of casitas on a rolling lawn with a view of the sound stages. Billie was on the lot. Unlike her first time working on a film she didn’t have to park in a subterranean garage half a mile away. A studio employee detailed her car once a week. Her parking spot was directly outside her office; her name painted on the asphalt in a stark, stenciled white, B. TAYLOR. Woe to anyone who bogarted her coveted spot. Being married to a movie star had brought her certain benefits, however, as a producer with offices on the lot Billie had reached, in her own mind, the twin pinnacle of perks. The first of those perks was that California manna, handy parking. The other was the chance to work only with whom and on what she desired. Or so she thought.
Let’s back up a little. During the era in which Billie was climbing the greasy pole there were no smartphones, email was a few years in the future, and executives carried fat, expensively bound, loose-leaf notebooks in which they memorialized and organized day-to-day events. As noted previously, Billie liked to write things down, and her $300 Day Runner® was a lot more elegant looking than a pile of yellow legal pads. Her notebook came with a key, just like an old fashioned diary, but it was open on the desk and this is what she had just scrawled across the entry for Monday:
Hi Bloviating Lazy Head of Production,
Great conversation five minutes ago! Just to be clear: you want me to include seven new scenes on this opus without any increase in budget/personnel/schedule?
That is fabulous! I admire how you shot down my tedious list of facts and figures with gaseous platitudes. Just hearing them has elevated and inspired me! “Think outside the box. Just make it work. I don’t care about your problems, I’m late for my Pilates/lunch/massage.”
Wow! I’m on it boss! What leadership!
She shut the notebook and thought of the head of production, James Ellis. According to her old friend, Patsy Morris, he had been a notorious, coke snorting, lothario in the 1970s. He had wooed the unwary with cocktails at Yamashiro’s, an old bar in the Hollywood Hills with killer views that was walking distance to his once glamorous home. The house itself was kind of famous, having been the aerie of silent film star — before his appendix exploded — and then had passed through two generations more of male offspring: from movie star, to the movie star’s son, to the head of production (who was then answering phones for the higher and mightier, and sleeping on a futon in a room half chewed away by termites).
Patsy had been one of the unwary. She told piquant stories of dancing, soaring where only cocaine can take you, with a young man (hard to think of Billie’s boss that way) in a half-empty, cavernous, estate. James told Patsy ghost stories, and attempted to divine her future by interpreting hexagrams in a dense volume penned just about the time Ancient Egyptians were figuring out geometry. The oracle was called the I-Ching. No matter how the coins were tossed — or how the text was read — he always came up as “the horseman,” a description that made Patsy laugh and the young man ever more intent on coaxing her to his bed/futon/any available soft surface.
Billie was perplexed. The James Ellis she had to contend with was singularly unimaginative, and the resemblance to his grandfather was hard to discern…
© Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Vickie Lester and Beguiling Hollywood with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.