Friday, January 06, 2006

A brush with fame...

Last night, here in Atlanta, there was a "premiere" of The L word, for its third season. It was held at a club not far from my condo so I hiked over there; (I do not drink and drive!) just in time to stand in line for about 15 minutes as the winter wind blew and made ice cubes outta my earlobes.

Why'd I have to wait?

The club was packed to capacity. They'd have been violating fire codes to let more people in. The max for that club? 750. The event was scheduled for 7:00 pm, the doors opened at 6:00 and by 7:15, they were full up. Completely full up. They weren't letting anyone in unless someone left.

I ONLY had to wait for 15 minutes because friends of mine were the next in line to get into the place and I "cut". Yeah, I cut. No, I don't feel bad about it. Sue me. WE only got in because a group of girls had to leave when their designated dupe (err.. driver) couldn't get into the place. Tough luck girls, them's the breaks!

So, Pam Grier was scheduled to appear, and appear she did.

I didn't meet her.

I meet someone MORE important. The creator and showrunner, Ilene Chaiken.

I was standing there watching the show and glanced over my right shoulder to find Ms. Chaiken standing there, all by her little lonesome. No bodyguard, no bouncer, no Pam Grier, just her and her drink. (She's a small thing, couldn't be more than 5'1 in her stocking feet and if she's 110, soaking wet, then I'm not a lesbian.) So, I took one step, leaned in and said...

"Thanks for creating the show. I've enjoyed it. I've read your script for Barbarella and I like your writing style."

She murmured a polite thank you.

ME: "How do you like Atlanta?"
HER: "Great city. Great turnout."
ME: "You have no idea. Not only is it packed in here, there's a line from the front door, around the corner of the building and almost all the way to the end of the street."
HER: (Big grin) "Really?"
ME: (Grinning back) "Yep."

I introduced myself, we shook hands and then, we stood there in companionable silence watching the show as the crowd swirled around us. Most of the women... completely oblivious to the fact that none of them would be there without the efforts of the tiny woman to my right.

The only other thing I said to her, after watching Alice do something pathetic...

Me: "Poor Alice."
HER: "Yeah, poor Alice."

She stood there a little while longer, holding her cocktail and watching the show, until she turned and disappeared into the darkness of the club.

It wasn't until this morning that I realized that I had completely bungled my "I like your writing style" compliment to her... she didn't write "Barbarella", she wrote "Barbed Wire"! She's too young to have written Barbarella! I hope that in the din of the club, she heard "Barbed Wire". If not, my chances of ever writing for her just went down the crapper.

I have a friend who insists that I should have told her that I was a screenwriter and asked her some questions about how to break in, etc... I'm not sure that would have been the right thing to do. See, it was her night and I think it would have been rude of me to demand that she cater to my questions.

What do you guys think?


At 8:36 AM, January 07, 2006, Anonymous Tony said...

I think you made the right call based on the conversation. If you were able to talk to her more, I would think it would have been more appropriate to slip in a question or two.
What I would do now is try to send her a note reintroducting yourself. Reiterate the compliments and then launch into your "I'm a screenwriter" story and questions.

Just a thought. Good Luck.

At 12:15 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

I like Tony's idea. Those type of situations are awkward, so you made the right call.

At 2:03 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger oneslackmartian said...

Ahh, you got the Faux Pas Award for Friday. I would try to make you feel better by matching your story, but . . . uhm, sorry.

Tony’s advice is good. I would even talk about the Barbarella and Barbed Wired connection. Whatever that is.

At 2:25 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger writergurl said...

Yeah, I was thinking of dropping her a note and 'splaining myself.


I can't believe I did THAT!

Anyone else have any ideas????

At 2:29 AM, January 08, 2006, Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

I would've risked it. What's the worst that can happen? It's not like she would've rejected you and then remember you later down the road, remember that she rejected you, and then reject you again because she rejected you before for being a reject. Right?

I went to LA for the first time last year. On my third day, I saw Robert Rodriguez. I was so stunned that I couldn't say anything. But here's a guy who is FROM SAN ANTONIO, like me. And the first time I ever see him is in LA?! I would've had lots to talk about, but alas, I blew it. I kick myself to this day.

When I went to the Austin Film Festival this year, I had a game plan. I wasn't going to try and sell myself in conversation. Instead, I made mix CDs customized to particular "professionals" and included my business card inside each with a query letter and told them to take a peek when they had time. (Cuz I knew everyone and their mother would try to sell themselves at the Festival and most of these guys just want to party). It worked on some, but not others. And then I followed up long after the festival. So far, so good.


I agree with Tony. If you can find her contact information, definitely mention that night and joke about the "Barbarella" thing. I bet she'd be flattered.

Jesus. Did I just write a book?

Oh, yeah and Mia Kirshner... Mmmm.

At 8:30 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger writergurl said...

SW.. it ain't about being a reject. It's about not wanting to be impolite. How'd YOU feel if you were at an event that was honoring YOUR show and some wannabe started asking you questions about THEM?

Listen, I've remembered and hated women for less. There's a girl here in Atlanta that insulted my dog within a minute of meeting me. I loathed her instantly. I saw her last night at a party and YEP, I still loath her. ALL because of her rudeness one night about 6 months ago. A lot of men don't understand that some women have looooong memories. Since I don't know Ms. Chaiken, I wasn't willing to take the gamble that she would have been OK with my horning in on her night.

As for Mia... she's hot but I still long for Karina Lombard. MEOW!

At 10:53 PM, January 08, 2006, Blogger ScriptWeaver said...

I definitely agree with not wanting to be impolite. It's funny, though, it seems you did the PERFECT thing by making an unintentional blunder. And you kind of hope that she DID hear it cuz it's definitely a conversation starter! (Or query letter opener!)

At 10:44 AM, January 09, 2006, Blogger writergurl said...

SW, yeah, I've been mulling over a humorous way to mention my faux pas.

Iggy... I removed your post. It suggested doing something illegal and immoral. I don't roll like that.

At 10:27 PM, January 09, 2006, Anonymous christopher said...

i think you acting perfectly. as i explained to my girlfriend in trying to convince her to say hi to george clooney after a recent screening of 'gn&gl,' they like the normal ones. i can't count how many times i've seen a visible sign of relief on a celebrity's face when they realize im not a crazed-fan or hitting them up for anything. i think trying to pitch her in any way at that point would have been inappropriate and worse, ineffective. though one can always argue that you don't know unless you try. however i agree that you now have an excellent anecdote to start a conversation with her.

At 12:12 AM, January 10, 2006, Blogger writergurl said...

Thanks Christopher!

I've begun writing her a little note in my head and will be buying a bit of stationery (I only use legal pads there days) in a couple of days.

Hopefully, it will be simply (and well) written apology for having inserted my foot deep within my mouth which then asks her for any advice she might give to an aspiring writer.

At 2:15 PM, January 17, 2006, Blogger The Film Diva said...

writergurl: One -- don't mention the blunder unless you know SHE remembers the blunder. You're putting too much on 5 minutes at a party. She probably won't remember too much, and even if she does have a freakish memory, if it hurt her feelings you'll only make it worse, and if it didn't hurt her feelings you'll only aggrandize your "moment" with her into something that it wasn't. She's used to being accosted by people wanting things. Two: My advice to people is always to have an agenda. If you do not have an appropriate sample (i.e. somthing hot, but not her show cuz she won't want to be worried your some freak who is planning to sue her for stealing your idea) then you should indeed introduce yourself, have a business card, ask if it's ok to contact her later (or someone "in her office") when you will have a hot sample. If you want to meet with her later and ask her questions about the business, let her know when you will be in town and see if she has five minutes for you. If she freaks, or looks cornered, back off a little and tell her a specific thing about her writing that you admire, or that has helped you in your struggle/journey to become a working writer (e.g. not her credits which she knows, and clearly, you did not, :), but her writing style (I don't watch the L Word, so I'm reaching here) "I love the way you manage to center each story around _________ and then use the b and c stories to comment on that. I took apart every show last season and used it in my sample and it took my writing to the next level"). Always start with a specific, brief comment, something that shows you are an original thinker who isn't just spouting off things in the reviews, but a serious craftswoman who is dissecting the show and applying lessons learned.

Three: the bigger lesson here is -- these people are not, and probably won't ever be your friends. I don't advocate stalking celebrities, however, YOU, as an audience member, support their lifestyle. It's sort of like you voted them into office. They aren't demi-gods, or even policy wonks for that matter. When they aren't on-screen they are just civilians, like the rest of us. Get your money's worth. Don't be rude or crazy, but don't forget to get your hustle on either. Think of it like Telemarketing - you are constantly cold-calling to sell your product. You can't give up because the customer is hostile, rude or holier-than-thou. Move on to the next name on the list. You do have a list, right? :-) You don't want to come across as someone to avoid, but you do have to start somewhere. So, if George Clooney was nice to you at a party, or you miscredited your favorite writer to her face, big deal. Show you understand the mechanics of what he/she does, the craft mastery that they demonstrate and you'll be fine.

BTW, if you do send that note, have an agenda -- "I met you in atlanta, I'll be in LA on ____ and I'd love to meet with you". Or ask a craft or industry question, or ask if someone can read your script, or if she can comment on specific agents and managers.

Anyway, good luck to you.


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