July 15, 2007
I've been asking Dan the Hollywood producer a lot of questions lately. The other day, his PA called. "Dan is on the line," he said. Seconds later, I heard Dan's voice. "Here's how you frustrate me," he began. It's such a thrill when a conversation begins that way. "Wait," I said, "let me guess..." He didn't have time for that. He was in his Porsche (Turbo) on his way to a meeting.
"It's that you seem to think this is a linear process," he said. "It's not. We're going to go right for a while but then we may go left. And then, after going left, we might go straight and then left again. Do you understand what I'm saying? That's the way it works out here." I told him I understood.
Even though it didn't make sense. "What is it exactly that doesn't make sense?" he asked. Now he sounded annoyed on top of being frustrated. Was he grinding his teeth? I think he was. Before, I had been mildly irritating; now he was beginning to regret having met me. I could tell.
I explained that if I'm going to spend time developing a TV show with him and meeting with people he thinks I should meet, and then all of a sudden it's going to go in a totally different direction, what's the point of all the meetings? I want to know that it didn't work out because it failed, not because it was abandoned for another idea.
"Okay, I'm at my meeting now," he said. "I'm letting you know because I'm about to hang up."
This was very considerate. So I thanked him for letting me know in advance. I'd been warned: do not begin a new topic or ask a question.
"And don't forget to call Jill," he said. Jill the TV agent is in Los Angeles and, because I've been in London, the eight-hour time difference has made connecting impossible. When we finally spoke, it was so satisfying, I felt I didn't even need a show. Just having had a conversation was enough of an accomplishment.
Jill said she was FedEx-ing me a DVD that she thought I would like.
This was exciting. Waiting for a FedEx is one of the few things in life I enjoy. That, and drinking coffee. Even better: waiting for a FedEx delivery while drinking coffee. Now there's a show I could write. I imagine it's a tough one to sell, though. Not many people would tune in other than me, and people who work at FedEx.
A few weeks have passed and Jill and I are having e-mail difficulties. I've decided the best thing is to send all the e-mails to Dan so that he can forward them. "This is crazy," he wrote back. "I am spending my vacation acting like a router." How was I to know he was on vacation? His BlackBerry doesn't give out locations.
Seconds later the phone rang.
"Get Skype. You know how much this phone call has cost me?" Dan asked. "Twenty-two cents." That seemed like an awfully precise figure. Also, not that cheap considering we'd been on the phone for two seconds.
I told him I'd think about it. I don't really see the appeal of talking on the phone through my computer. Talking on the phone is the only exercise I get: it forces me to get up out of the chair and move from my desk. Why would I give that up? Besides, it's one more thing to frustrate Dan with. I give it another two weeks before he gives up on me.