Detour Number One
Updated: Jul 8
At the time of this writing, I did not know that James Caan had passed.
Godspeed to you into heaven, one of my fav actors.
Last week, I wrote about how I got into screenwriting. I wanted to give context so you could learn about me before we get into the "mission" of this blog - inspiring you to follow several creative paths, especially when you're having problems getting that one thing going.
After the development deal started to fall apart, and I'll write more about that - my writing partner at the time, Julie, and I conceived a fun comedy called...
"Harry and Beano." Set in the early 2000s in Vegas - thirty years before, two ex-cons confess to crimes they didn't commit to stay alive - loveable wise guys. After getting sprung early for good behavior, they return to Vegas, against orders, and exact revenge on the mob boss who set them up by out-conning him at the World Poker Championship.
Did I mention I'm a fan of mob movies and shows? I know. I'm a weird chick.
The script received positive attention, particularly for the comedy and for the romance between Harry and former showgirl, Jo, who was the love of his life who takes him back. Someone once told me that Jo could be a study in great character development for a strong female character. What a compliment. One producer threw around names to send it to like James Caan (Harry), Joe Pesci (Beano) and Ann-Margret (as Jo). Three legends who I'd give my firstborn (if I mothered a child) to work with.
I'm only a doggie mommy BTW.
THEY LOVED IT, BUT:
A producer with a start-up loved it and another of our scripts. As the option deal was being negotiated by a former writing mentor who had started her own agency (that's another story) - she told Julie and I about a producer in Orlando who was looking to remake modern takes on classic movies.
We were asked to write a modernized version of "Send Me No Flowers," starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day (1964). On spec. Which means no money.
Like the original, the story is about a hypochondriac who believes he is dying and makes plans for his wife which she misunderstands. Called it "The Replacement Husband," and added a funny twist. By the time we got done with the script, the producer who wanted to read it had given up on the remake venture. A female producer loved it, but her partner wasn't in the market for comedy. She kept the script on file for several years and kept coming back to him, but as Beano would say, "No dice."
Names that were thrown around at the time for the male lead by people who read and loved it were Steve Martin and Kevin Klein. Imagine my hopefulness dashed.
STRIKE TWO AND 1/2:
We went on to write other scripts, including "Solomon's Corner," which another agent we had for a while hated because he said it was too slow, but it did well in contests. It was the final read on "Harry and Beano" that we got circa 2008 that caused me to reroute my journey.
A young male reader called me after reading it. He raved about what he enjoyed, but the reason we didn't get a take was because - well, I was told that the industry was changing - and if a "woman my age" was ever going to make it, I would have to learn to write scripts like "The Matrix."
OH! DUDE! YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT?
Let's just say it didn't sit well, although I managed to get through the conversation politely. How? I am not sure. No, I do know. I learned early on not to burn professional bridges even if you don't like what they have to say about your work or how they say it. These are people who are trying to make money. They aren't trolls on social media who you can block. As an INFJ personality, I tend to do the door slam thing on people when they tick me off. If you're familiar with "the door slam," we INFJs (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging) don't usually re-open the door. Ever. In this business, you have to look past a lot of improper insults. You also have to draw lines in the sand. Harassment is inappropriate. This young man was just misguided in his explanation of why he was passing.
This was the pre streamers era - Today, a script like "Harry and Beano" could find a home. In fact, Julie and I recently dusted it off and are giving it a polish. At that time, my now publicist, Danie, was our agent. I told Danie that Julie wanted to return to playwrighting, and I wanted to try my hand at cooking contesting and food writing. Danie told me I'd be back. She must know Arnold, because she was right.
I'll get more into some of the exciting places I got to go and people I got to meet while heavily into the cooking contest world in another post.
DID YOU GIVE UP TOO SOON, MK?
Knowing that Hallmark launched a year later, did I give up on screenwriting too soon?
For me, the answer is "no."
I was fresh out of ideas. The food writing (pun intended) satisfied my creative appetite. AND it helped me get my paid gig at "Menu Innovator" and now with the spice line. Writing the blogs for "Innovator" reinspired my juices. In 2019, when I conceived "The Monongahela Mysteries," it was all it took to bring me back on the main highway.
Did I write any screenplays in between? Yep. They pretty much sucked. One I've since re-written, "A Star and a Promise." One called "Full Circle," is about two estranged sisters, one a Florida winemaker with a series of broken marriages and the other a Sonoma winemaker who can't seem to find the right guy - They are forced to come together at a family funeral, and they realize the men who belong in their lives have been there all along. Now that Hallmark is venturing into more real-life storylines, I might just dust this script off too.
Oh, and Julie got produced in Florida several times with her musicals. We joined forces again and we are about to finish up the last polish of a cooking contest themed Hallmark type of movie called "Love Boiling Over." I wouldn't have been able to come full circle (pun intended) and write this cooking themed script had I not lived in that world.
So that's how I took my first creative detour. If you have a similar story about taking a detour into something other than your one thing, please reach out to me in comments here or you can message me through the website.
BTW - My favorite character in LBO is actually the "other" guy - he's a slightly older divorced dad and a rocket scientist.
Elon Musk would like this guy.
Send me your detour stories.
Until next week.
NOTE: If you are a producer or industry pro and would like to consider any of these works, please contact me. All works are copyrighted and registered.