Barb and I spent most of last week in Hollywood (California, not Florida). I rarely make trips out there, but this trek was to make “pitches” to various networks about a Heller TV show, and to take a few meetings (there’s a nasty phrase) about the QUARRY TV show.
Beautiful blonde spotted in the Beverly Hills Hotel lobby. Movie star?
First, QUARRY. Though a pick-up has not been announced, everything looks good – promising, let’s say. The meetings I took, both with the writers heading up the potential series and with the top execs at Cinemax, were encouraging.
As for Heller, the pitch meetings went very well and we have some interest. If you’re Heller fan, it’s premature to start doing cart wheels. At this stage, assuming a HELLER series will happen is like sending out birth announcements on your way out to a singles bar hoping to pick somebody up. But it’s a start.
Confused tourist outside CAA shortly before being seized by security.
The pitch process was interesting and a little odd, from a book writer’s point of view, anyway. For a long time – almost a year – I have worked with a top management company to develop a “pitch document.” I don’t remember ever polishing a piece of writing more times or more thoroughly, and I had expected I’d either be reading it or working from an outline of it. I practiced doing it both ways with Barb (don’t take that out of context) and hated the two approaches equally. One of the handful of things I do well is speak extemporaneously, and neither approach tapped into that.
Early in our marriage, when I was starting to publish novels and would do speaking engagements for the Rotary or whatever, I would prepare not at all, and it would make Barb very nervous, very anxious. She insisted that I prepare, that I do the next speech from notes. I did, and I sucked. After that, Barb gave her blessing to me winging such speeches, and never got nervous for me that way again.
I was relieved when, last Monday, my prep for the pitch meetings (set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) included the news that I would not be using the pitch document. That I would be talking extemporaneously to the network execs. I don’t get nervous or anxious in front of audiences, and these pitch meetings included very high ranking people at some of the most famous cable networks. But I was loose and not intimidated, and pretty funny frankly, which I think helped.
Oddly, the pitch document was not left behind at any of the five networks we saw. Apparently you need to have such a document in case somebody asks to see it. But nobody did.
It was a stressful trip (my God I hate those freeways), and expensive, which is why I’ve only gone out to LA for pitch meetings on two prior occasions in the last ten years. But HELLER is important to me, and is a series I would like to be involved in myself, as opposed to just handing it off to talented writers and doing the occasional script.
Did I mention it was expensive out there? It’s a shock to a couple of Iowa rubes to go out for a light lunch at a casual corner cafe and spend sixty bucks for it (a salad for Barb, fish tacos for me). But I was able to stop at my two favorite places in LA – Amoeba Records and Book Soup. At the latter, a customer recognized me as I was buying a magazine, and was dismayed at not having any of my books along for me to sign. Here’s a tip: everywhere you go, bring my books along. You never know when I’m going to show up.
A director and his star on the red carpet.
On the social side, Barb and I had dinners with Leonard and Alice Maltin; actor (Second City vet) Larry Coven of MOMMY’S DAY and REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET; and Mommy herself, Patty McCormack. The latter was a splurge evening for us – we took Patty to supper at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and sat in a booth talking up a storm for almost four hours. I was a director taking his star to the Polo Lounge, and it felt very good.