Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8:49 AM
Published on: Thursday, July 11, 2013
By Brian J. Karem
I have a cousin who likes to pitch movie ideas in Hollywood. Last week he said he went before an unnamed famous producer to pitch an idea based on the American Revolution.
“So, it’s like Diehard meets the Patriot,” he told the producer.
“How so?” came the reply.
“Well, this Tory . . .”
“What’s a Tory?”
“Never mind. Anyway, this American loyal to the British Crown has his bank records and letters seized by the Crown because he’s suspected of being a collaborator with the Revolutionaries. The Crown calls them traitors and terrorists, and in the end the Crown crumbles and the American Republic is born.
“Nobody cares,” he was told.
“What? It’s a great story. Betrayal, redemption and the birth of the American Republic and the death of the Empire. Kind of like Star Wars.”
“Like I said. Anyway, it’s been done. Now if you could have an American General who is a woman . . . kind of a Paula Deen character and she has some angry, black slave troops . . .”
“Yeah, and she calls them the “N” word all the time and in the end they save her and she repents, and together they invent the Internet . . .”
“First of all, there were no women generals in the Revolution.”
“Really?” The producer asked.
“Really,” my cousin said flatly.
“Huh . . .”
“And no one would get in trouble for using the “N” word back then. They wouldn’t even call it the “N” word. . .”
“You sound like a racist,” the producer told my cousin. “Are you close to Paula Deen?”
“What? No. I’m just telling you this movie idea is whacked. It isn’t even close to reality,” my cousin explained.
Look. This will sell . . .”
“And as for the Internet,” my cousin said, “It wasn’t even invented because electricity hadn’t been invented yet.”
“Didn’t Ben Franklin invent electricity? He had electric kites or something . . .”
“What? That doesn’t even remotely resemble reality . . .”
“Nobody cares,” the producer assured him. “We give Paula Dean an Uzi and the slaves some grenades and some ninja outfits and you’ve got a hit. Nobody remembers the Revolution anyway. I bet you can’t even recite the Bill of Promises.”
“You mean the Bill of Rights?” My cousin asked.
“The first 12 sentences in the Constitution,” the producer said pointedly.
“You mean the first 10 amendments?”
“Whatever,” the producer replied. “Nobody cares. We just need something dramatic and maybe in 3D like Avatar.”
My cousin, at this point just shook his head. It had been a while since he’d successfully pitched a movie and he told me he was really concerned when the producer started talking about product placement for first-person-shooter games and X-Box in a historic drama based on the revolution. Finally he figured he would ditch that idea and bring up his second movie idea to the famous producer.
“Okay, look, if you don’t like that idea, how about a political thriller based on Andrew Snowden?”
“Who is that?” The very famous and rich producer asked.
“You know, the guy who leaked all the information on the N.S.A. He’s on the run and he’s trying to defend first amendment rights while a lot of people are calling him a traitor.”
The producer again shook his head. “Does it have any aliens in it? Or maybe some transformers? Hot babes?”
“No. It’s a political thriller about losing our basic civil rights.”
“Are you talking about the revolutionary war thing again? You’re confusing me,” the producer replied.
“No. I’m talking about today. Now. Civil Rights.”
“Ummm . . . look, you’ve been out of the game for a while. I’m telling you nobody cares. I need big set pieces. Aliens. Audiences love aliens. I need some comic relief and a lot of hot babes. Give me some cool explosions and a few set pieces with a super hero or some cool armor…maybe a cameo by Robert Downey Jr. and you’ve got something.”
My cousin, of course had none of that. “I just want to entertain people and maybe enlighten them a bit . . .” he said to the producer as he walked out the door.
The producer just laughed. “Nobody cares,” he said.