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A creative blog by Jim Kalin on The Whole 9

Novelist Jim Kalin lives in Los Angeles, writes a monthly column for Amateur Wrestling News, and has traded in his speargun for a banjo. His wife and son sing harmony.

HOME TEAM

“Babe, don’t you trust me?”

Hard to believe, but a Hollywood producer named Anthony actually said that to me ten years ago when I expressed my trepidation about turning over a screenplay I had been hired to rewrite before we ever signed a contract regarding the amount of money I’d been promised

I didn’t take the bait, and we signed a one-page agreement a lawyer-friend of mine drew up. It was last-minute, and Anthony acted as if I’d betrayed him. It was a good thing I did this, because he ignored me and all communications when it came time to cough up the money. The signed agreement held, and a lawyer got my pay for me.

But I should have known what was in store when I was hired. Anthony’s partner – Pierce O’Donnell – was a big-shot Hollywood lawyer who made a fortune representing a client in a lawsuit against Paramount and Eddie Murphy. O’Donnell is humongous and resembles a Hefty trash bag filled with pudding. Their company was named Interlight Pictures, and I can only think they meant Innerlight. Interlight is not a word. Can’t be found in the dictionary, and if it could be, what would it mean? The light in between light?

The real indication should have been the first draft they gave me to rewrite. It was written by them, and I have never read anything so poorly composed since I’ve been in Hollywood. I thought lawyers were supposed to know how to write, but maybe O’Donnell was just the idea man and the real work was left up to Anthony.

The screenplay was called Home Team and was about a boy’s orphanage and their soccer team. Sounds compelling, right? (“Please, Sir, can I have some more porridge?”) I took three weeks off my job as a bartender and hammered it out. The problem was that we’d have these meetings (and they included Anthony’s wife,) and they’d request ridiculous changes that contradicted each other because each partner wanted his own ideas to remain. Dealing with these stinkers was more work than the actual writing. But in the end, I delivered their turd back to them, but with gold-plating.

Home Team was actually made, and it starred Steve Gutenberg. I don’t know Mr. Gutenberg, but I just wonder what awful thing he did to be sentenced to a project like that. I never bothered buying the DVD when it came out because I’d been told my work had been beyond terrible and that they were unable to use even one page of what I’d written.

Two years ago, out of interest, my wife ordered Home Team. We watched the thing, and I was amazed to discover that most of the movie was the screenplay I had written. Even names of my friends and nephews that I had used for some of the characters in Home Team were the same.

Writers tend to get taken advantage of. Like many musicians, painters, or other artists, they aren’t so savvy to illegalities and the swill who employ those tactics. But I beat them. I was able to put together a down-payment for my house with what they paid me. And best of all, my name was not attached to an embarrassment like Home Team.

Please don’t rent or buy Home Team. I’m not bitter. I just don’t want you wasting money. But you can tell me your best Hollywood story.

  1. Great piece. Hollywood has no shame. It amazes me how they walk around and nobody acknowledges that smell.

  2. Sigh. It’s stories like this that give Hollywood the eat-em-up-spit-em-out reputation. Sorry this happened to you. But it just goes to show that the best ideas are often stolen…. : (

  3. I’d guess the conversation to hook you in involved “think bad news bears meets oliver, a feel good film for the whole family.” Glad you got paid!!!

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