Gin and Tonic, Motherf-cker!

 In Duff's Diary, General, Write Club

St. Patrick’s Day, 1995. I had been working at Sloan’s for the better part of a year. But tonight I was not bouncing. I had finagled myself a bartending shift. Patty’s was rockin’ and I was three deep at the well pourin‘em, ringin‘em, pourin’em, ringin’em. Suddenly, a voice rose above the rest, “Gin and Tonic!” I didn’t even look up. “Hang on! Get you in a sec!” I nailed down a few whisky sours and popped three buds. “Gin and Tonic!” I was starting to get hot. This guy’s big arm raised up was all I could see in the surging crowd. “There’s people in front of you! I’ll get you!” Four hot shots, three Hef’s. “Gin and Tonic, Motherfucker!” That’s it. “You! Shut your fucking mouth! I said I would….” Holy shit. There he was with that big ass horsetooth smile. “CB!” I hadn’t seen him in a year or so. “Duffaaaaaay!”

J. Sloans

I pointed to the end of the bar and slid him a GnT right away. In the months to come we would attend many important Hollywood meetings, some of which would become Hollywood lore but our reunion that night would always be regarded by the both of us as the single most important one of both our lives.

Chris “CB” Brinker & Troy Duffy

Turned out CB was trying to break into the movie bizz and had snagged his first job as an assistant for a big producer at Newline Cinema, named Brian Witten. CB’s job was demanding and filled with political landmines, like a soap opera. He regaled me with some classic stories, many of which revolved around CB trying to get the attention of Newline’s legendary, young president, Mike De Lucca. One time, he was given a near impossible task by De Lucca, on the premise that if he succeeded, Mike would cut him a 10k bonus check. The crazy ass story of how CB pulled it off had me in stitches. Little did we know how big a role “Mike D” would soon play in both our lives.

Mike De Lucca

But CB wanted to cut his own path and become a real producer not just work for them. “So, how do you do that?” I asked. “Scripts. I read scripts, on lunch, in the shitter, any free minute I have. Got to find that script, Duff. That diamond in the rough that’ll twist all dey fuckin’ caps back!” My face dropped and I started laughing. “I just finished writing a script two fucking days ago.” CB asked what it was about and I guess this was my first “pitch” but I’ve always looked at it like two old buddies catching up at the end of the bar. By the time I was done, CB had a look on his face that I hadn’t seen before, “That’s good…that’s real fucking good. Can I read it?” I said, “Sure. I’m making a bunch of copies tomorrow at Kinko’s for a reading I’m having over at mine. Bunch of buddies coming by to take parts and stuff. Want to come?”
“No. Gotta sit with it on my own get it straight from the page. I’ll send a messenger over to pick up the script.” I grinned, “Oooo. A messenger. That’s some swanky shit.”

Next night we had all assembled in my living room on Stearns Ave. Me and my brother Taylor had rented the place (that we couldn’t really afford) because it had a detached garage in which the band could rehearse. Our drummer Jimi “Fat Hand” Jackson lived with us but our bass player Gordo had his own digs nearby. We rounded out our crew with some close friends from the bar. I set out potato chips and beer and doled out scripts and rolls to each. Just as we were about to begin there was a knock at the door. “Shit.” I got up and whipped it open ready to tell the Jahova’s Witness to fuck off but there stood some regular dude in shorts and a t-shirt, cradling a motorcycle helmet. “What’s up?” I said with that ‘you’ve interrupted my dinner’ attitude. “I’m here to pick up a script, uh…for Newline Cinema?” I had honestly forgotten, “Oh, yeah. Sorry.” I reached over and grabbed the one I was using. I had printed up only enough for the reading. I gave it over. “Thanks.” He left. I shut the door. They all stared in silence. Gordo crinkled a brow, “Newline Cinema? What the fuck’s going on?” I hipped everyone to the CB re-union. A few laughs then we had our reading.  Me and Taylor had to double up. Nothing new.

Top: CB, Troy, Jimi, Billy, Norm, Gordo. Bottom: Taylor, Willem, Sean, Rocco

This is always like putting gas in the engine of a new car and taking her out for that first spin. I wrote little notes here and there, things I would do to tighten it up. When we finished Chaffee started the obligatory clap and everyone joined in. “That’s some good shit, Duff. I’d pay to see that movie.” Just then the phone rang. “Hello?” CB was on the other end, “This is some good shit, Duff. We gotta talk right away.” I balked, “What? You already read it? That guy was just at the door with, like a…helmet and…”
“Yeah. I read it. Have you shown this to anyone yet?” I grinned, “I’m staring at a roomful of guys I just showed it to.” Everyone laughed as they eves-dropped. “No. In the business. Have you shown it to anyone in the business.”
“Yeah. All my agents and lawyers. I only tend bar because I’m artistic. You’re the only one I know in the business, dipshit.” He let out a sigh of relief, “Oh, good. Good. Shit. That’s good. We need to sit down and talk about this ASAP.”

“Listen to me, Duff. Boondock Saints is a property. Your property. And you better start treating it like that because if I’m right, things are going to get pretty fucking serious and fast.”

Next night CB was at the end of the bar again, “I don’t think you know what you’ve done here. You’re a new voice. And that’s what everyone is looking for.” I had to laugh, “Look, I’m your friend and you just found out I can string a few sentences together. Let’s take a minute and – ”
“Fuck that. I don’t need to take a minute. Taking minutes is for assholes. And I’ve read plenty of friend’s scripts. They all suck and I tell them that. You I’m telling this. I know it when I see it and this is fuckin’ it, man!” He slapped down my script, dog eared pages all dirty like he had been all over it. I picked it up and flipped through. CB had circled and underlined things and put notes in the margins, “Good,” “Funny,” or just exclamation points.
“Alright. What, uh, what should happen now?” CB looked me dead in the eye, “Would you trust me to handle this property?” I laughed again. What the fuck was this? “Property? Come on!”
“Listen to me, Duff. Boondock Saints is a property. Your property. And you better start treating it like that because if I’m right, things are going to get pretty fucking serious and fast.”
“Ok. What do you want to do first?”
“We’re gonna get Boondock some good coverage.” I turned, “What’s coverage?” I was informed that studios had people who just read scripts all day and they fill out a form that rates how good or shitty they think it is. Then there’s a spot at the bottom where they can elaborate and either recommend the studio produce the film or not and why.
“One of the top readers at Newline is this guy Tim Sullivan. We’re bros. I’m gonna have him read it and do coverage on it and the good part is, he’s in a hospital bed right now.”
“How’s that good?” I asked.
“Cuz he’s away from the studio. No one looking over his shoulder, what’cha reading? In fact, I’m going to tear off the cover page, so he doesn’t even know the title or your name.” CB’s protective, even slightly paranoid nature would save our asses more than once in the months to come…

Chris Brinker

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