Tuesday, February 17, 2009

J, AP & CSS

Back home in Sherman Oaks, reflecting on the past five days...

Recap of last week: J loved our treatment. Concise and fleet of foot. The bad news: AP (a smart, successful producer) hated it. Well, hate's a strong word. He liked the writing and the energy, but said it was all wrong for this pitch and this studio.

"It needs to be 65% about the comedy," he said. "Make it more about the set pieces and less about the plot."

The plot, he said "they weren't gonna give two shits about anyway."

The pitch had to be all about our Star, and how this movie was going to be showcasing our Star.

Furthermore, AP said, the comedy had to be more real. "Right now," he said, "it all feels like a spoof."

AP had a lot of funny ideas. Our main guy shopping at Macy's, for example, was dead solid perfect for this story, as was his idea of the CIA flying first-class and our hero flying coach. Pretty great.

AP also expressed his desire that our hero be "flawed, but not pathetic... an underdog, but not a loser." In short, he had to be somebody the males who were sitting in the audience with their popcorn and their root beer wanted to emulate; wanted to be just like.

Finally, by the end of the movie, our main guy had to have learned something. J had a really terrific idea along those lines; an idea, he said, already woven into the fabric of our story via the runner about the hero living in the shadow of his legendary Dad: What if by the end of this story we see our hero finally learning to step out of his father's shadow?

Works like gangbusters for me, and I hope it works for AP, too.

Both J and AP had plenty of praise for me personally, calling me funny and "great in the room", which is always nice to hear, but at the end of the meeting I left the room I was just so wonderful in thinking Ross and I had a lot of friggin' work to do.

Afterward, I went out and grabbed a bite and called J from my car about 90 minutes later. He sounded distant and annoyed and I soon found out why: He had just come home and found a very disturbing message in his email. It was from his lawyer -- a forwarded message from one of the 237,000 attornies representing NBC/Universal. Apparently, the whole rights issue we thought had been sorted out two weeks ago was now, God help us, still very much up for grabs.

The lowdown: While RF technically does control the rights to CSS, the studio that developed the property -- i.e., Universal -- can still hold us up over money if they want to, and they want to, and anybody hoping to make a feature out of CSS had better be prepared to pay a tribute to the Globe.

Exactly how much of a tribute, of course, is the $64,000 question, and one we hope to have an answer to by the end of this week.

So stick around, kids. Keep that dial right where it is: Tuned in to NBC!

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