Duff’s Diary #5 “Here we go!”
I felt something in the air that night. A subtle electricity as I smoked a cig at my post on the door at Sloan’s. It was a slow night and you could here the muffled beats coming from inside the bar but out on the street, it was quiet, dark, motionless. CB wouldn’t tell me what this was about on the phone, “I got something for you. I’m rollin’ now. See you in 5.” Newline Cinema, where he worked, was just a few blocks away. It was late. No cars on the street. I always cherished these rare silent moments in L.A. It was as if the gods called an All-stop so that I could just stand there and enjoy the hush of – SCREEEEEEECH! CB’s car screamed around the corner and barreled toward.
He drove a late 80’s Crown Victoria and that damn car seemed to fit him like a glove. It was a long, black boat. Big and tough but with a little gangster grin to it. The Crown Vic was “throwback cool” and a bit battle scarred, like CB himself. He flipped a u-turn and chirped to a stop right in front of me. He popped out of the Vic clutching some pages in his hand. Instead of walking to me he marched out into the middle of the empty intersection of Huntley and Melrose and held them high in triumph, “Coverage, motherfucker! I got yo studio coverage, Duffaaaaaay!”
I jogged out to him, “How’d we do?” He slapped the pages in my hand, “See for yourself.” This was the first time I viewed a document like this. Studio coverage from a top reader on a script can often make or break a writer’s career. I absorbed it slowly as we stood in the middle of the vacant thoroughfare. Along the left margin was a host of categories like, story, characters, dialogue, etc. Each was followed by a string of boxes to be checked that extended from poor to excellent. All the excellent boxes were marked across the board. The final category was if the reader recommended the studio buy the property. “Highly Recommend” was vigorously circled multiple times forming a scratchy blotch. Then I got to the last bit, the all important comment section. I don’t recall exactly what it said but it started out with very “professional” praise then ended on something that was damn close to, “If you fuckers don’t buy this script and make this movie, I quit.”
My heart was in my mouth, “Holy. Fucking. Shit.” CB laughed loud and long. Then a terrible thought hit me, “Wait. How do you know your boy wasn’t just hooking you up here?” CB was friends with the reader, Tim Sullivan, a man I would come to know and love as a friend, a fellow film maker and an all around brother-in-arms. CB ginned, “That ain’t the way it works, Duff. You are holding in your hand the best studio coverage I’ve ever seen. This doesn’t happen. This is gonna go through Newline like a shock wave tomorrow and everybody will be running to read it. If it sucked, then everybody’s looking at the reader sideways. Tim wouldn’t risk his career like that. Besides, I told him to be ruthless.”
My eyes widened as I scanned the pages once again, “This is him being ruthless?” CB started walking toward the pub, “When it’s good, it’s good. Let’s have a drink! Here we go! Here we go, motherfucker!” That night the boys all passed the coverage around, Jimi, Gordo, Taylor, Chaffee and all the rest raised many hot shots (recipe at the bottom) and toasted heartily to the movie gods.
CB had a prized talent that none of us possessed. He’d get a full pint of beer in his gorilla grip, strike a Duke Wayne pose and then call out, “Lemme show y’all how to drink draft beer!” Then he’d engulf it in less than a second because he could open up his throat and didn’t need to swallow. We loved that!
In mid-celebration, CB pulled me aside, “We gotta get you an agent.” I cut a brow, “Writer’s have agents?” CB laughed, “Everybody has agents. Producers have agents, Directors have agents. Fucking agents have agents. I think you need an up-and-comer, y’know? I know this guy who’s killing it right now. He’s young and hungry, just like us.” I nodded, “Ok. What’s his name?” CB said, “Ramses.” The name hit me like a cool wind, “Ramses” like the pharaohs of Egypt, the first great civilization. I nodded, “I’m feelin’ it. He’s the guy.” CB’s face washed over with emergency, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. What if a bunch of agents want to sign you?”
I cut a booze soaked eye and extolled…“Ramses.” CB pled, “You gotta meet people, Duff! That’s how this business works!”
I wavered and grinned…“Raaaaaaaaaamses.” CB shook his head, “We’ll talk about this when you’re sober.” As he walked off… “Ram…Fucking…zzzzzeeesssssaaaah!”
It was a beautiful, triumphant night that I will never forget. Friends, all of us with nothing, exalting in a booze soaked celebration of life and how miraculous it can be in these tiny moments that explode right in front of us all, and instantly fuse to our souls, becoming our most cherished memories…these magical little snippets of time that all assemble in perfect order, within the reverie of our minds and evolve into the very story of our lives.
Hot Shot Recipe
- 1/2 oz. of Irish Whiskey
- 1/2 oz. of Bailey’s Irish Creme Liqueur
- 1 oz. of hot coffee
Mix together. Drink. Repeat.
Goes great with The Boondock Saints Drinking Game
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