Script sale celebration goes horribly awry
Screenwriter Alan Befflestein is in stable condition with third degree burns on his chest and face after what would’ve been a routine day at the beach for most people. Unfortunately for Befflestein, whose lily-white skin has not seen the light of day in nearly a dozen years, just a few minutes in the sun was almost enough to kill him.
“I knew it had been a while since I went outside,” said Befflestein. “But I actually thought the sizzling sound was someone having a beach barbecue or whatever. You can imagine my surprise when I realized it was the sound of my own flesh being fried by UV rays.”
According to friends and family, Befflestein has been a hermit since the mid-90s, when he moved to Los Angeles to embark on a screenwriting career.
“He came out to a party a few years ago,” said Jerry Denton, Befflestein’s former roommate. “It was at night, though. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him outside during the day. He’s usually holed-up at home…just writing away. Another few minutes and he would have been cooked.”
Dateless since early 2004, Befflestein believes the brush with death will be good for him.
“Luckily I just sold my first script, so I can use the cash on the 10 or 12 skin graft surgeries I’ll need to regain my below-average looks,” he said. “Then I’m gonna get back out there and rejoin society…the moment I finish my next script, of course.”
** This THR Classic was first posted in June 2009 **
Everyone in room shocked, appalled
WGA member Allan Burns surprised a conference room full of people more important than him on Thursday, meekly uttering the word “no” when asked if he could change the love interest in his drama script from a 35-year-old divorcee to a 19-year-old exotic dancer.
“At first I waited for him to finish,” said studio exec John Sharper. “Like maybe he was going to say ‘no problem’ or ‘no way would I ever dream of saying no to you, sir.’ But then he just sat there, sweating, his sentence completed. It was weird.”
And what followed was even weirder: nobody objected.
“First of all, it’s pretty disgusting to see a little piss-ant word jockey talk back to the marketing department like that. At the same time, it’s no big deal,” said Sharper. “We’re bringing in a new writer next week anyway.”
According to Burns, he just felt it was time to make a stand.
“I’ve been agreeing to changes ever since I started writing. Last story meeting they brought the janitor in to give me character notes,” he said. “I finally got fed up and decided to stand my ground.”
Unfortunately, the courageous moment was canceled out when Burns later agreed to rewrite the entire script for free, after someone in the room claimed he was “being difficult.”
Bob Benson’s romantic comedy about two beat cops who fall in love was recently linked to a crippling strain of Reader’s Block, affecting everyone from his own mother to many of Hollywood’s busiest assistants.
“I don’t know anyone that’s been able to get past page four,” said ICM assistant Sally Weaver, referring to ‘To Beat Or Not To Beat.’ “In fact, the script has affected my other reading duties. Ever since I put it down, I’ve been unable to read anything else without feeling nauseous.”
Benson’s mother was not yet convinced her son’s script is the cause of her Reader’s Block.
“Oh I don’t think this has anything to do with Bobby’s stories,” she said. “I’ve been meaning to get new glasses for months. That’s probably the cause of it. He’s so talented. Now could you be a dear and read this shopping list for me? Words repulse me. You know, because of the glasses.”
New cases of the strain are being discovered hourly, prompting many agencies and production companies to instruct their personnel to postpone all reading until copies of Benson’s script can be deleted from their computer systems.
“We have to stop this now before it spreads,” said one industry insider. “God forbid someone finishes the script and gets coverage of it in the hands of executives. The entire industry could grind to a halt.”
‘It was just time for both of us to move on’ he lies
Unrepped comedy writer Mike Jenkins recently told yet another literary manager that his December split with Anonymous Content’s Andrew Gold was a mutual decision.
“It was totally amicable and mutual,” said Jenkins. “I mean, don’t contact him or anything. We just had creative differences, so it was one of those things where both of us decided to part ways. Now are you gonna sign me or what?”
Jenkins has already been caught in the lie on four separate occasions, but he continues to use it, as nobody has bothered to tell him that people actually know each other in Hollywood.
“What’s someone gonna do? Email Andrew and check up on me?” asked Jenkins. “Come on, nobody has time for that.”
Jenkins then fired off 47 more queries claiming he and Gold “had a great working relationship” that “ended respectfully.”
** This THR Classic was first posted in October 2009 **
‘So it’s just the writers?’
Longtime Hollywood producer Bob Hammond was recently surprised to discover that most people won’t work for free.
“I’ve been dealing with writers so long, I guess I forgot what it’s like to negotiate with a real professional. They actually require payment for their services,” said Hammond. “Usually I just pay screenwriters an empty compliment, and that’s enough to keep them plugging away another six or seven months.”
Hammond, currently having his bathroom remodeled, agreed to pay plumber Joe Escobar his full quote for the project.
“At first I thought I could find another plumber who might do the work for free. Like a really young guy just trying to cut his teeth in the home improvement business,” said Hammond. “But it turns out only screenwriters devalue their services by offering to work without payment. I think it has something to do with their low self-esteem…or that most of them are hacks.”
Now charging $250 for advice she herself never followed
Pasadena native Sally Trenton recently transformed herself into “one of Hollywood’s top script consultants,” despite having been one of Hollywood’s worst screenwriters for the past six years.
“I’ve found that it’s much easier to critique other people’s work than actually create quality material of my own,” said Trenton. “Plus I’ve written so many bad scripts, I know how to spot what’s wrong with them.”
Despite never having secured representation or any discernible level of interest from Hollywood producers, Trenton, who has written 14 screenplays, claims she has the insight to help aspiring screenwriters get their scripts ready for the market.
“The last thing you want to do is send someone a script that isn’t ready,” she said. “Unless that someone is me, because how else would I make a living! But seriously, send me $250 and a PDF of your script, and I’ll send you back some extremely subjective notes that may improve your script up to 5%. I’ve read all the best screenwriting books so you don’t have to.”
In the two months since Trenton began marketing her services, she has already helped dozens of amateur writers take their scripts to the next level.
“Two of them made the first cut at Scriptapalooza,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting helping make dreams come true!”
** This THR Classic was first posted in October 2008 **
‘I really lost the room there’ he admits
Despite his best efforts to re-engage a pair of development execs, screenwriter Kevin Linney was unable to make them forget about the projectile vomit he had spewed on their sofa just five minutes earlier.
“I guess I didn’t realize how nervous I was at the start of my pitch,” said Linney, who was caught totally off guard by the spontaneous, high-speed vomit. “After their assistant cleaned up the mess, I just couldn’t get the guys to reconnect.”
Added Linney: “It might have been the smell.”
The execs were a bit unnerved that Linney continued with the meeting after the incident.
“If that were me, I’d have been gone,” said one of them. “But this kid kept on pitching, trying to pretend like it never happened. News flash: I don’t give a fuck about a baseball-playing vampire when I’ve got pieces of regurgitated ham on my shirt.”
The other exec agreed.
“It’s kind of a new low for writers. I thought it was bad when that one woman came in wearing a pink pantsuit, but this really takes the cake.”
‘It’s taken me years to achieve this little’
Ben Noble has been writing screenplays for 15 years, a fact he’s quick to point out whenever he’s lumped into the same category as other aspiring writers who have only been wasting their time for two or three years.
“It’s a real slap in the face to be compared to some new writer fresh out of college,” said Noble. “I’ve been failing at this ever since I left NYU’s film program back in 1994. I’m not some overnight failure.”
Noble, who bags groceries at Von’s for a living, was recently forced to defend his long-term ineptitude at a company party.
“I was over at Jose’s apartment and he introduced a new produce guy as a ‘struggling writer, just like Ben,’” said Noble. “Bullshit. That kid doesn’t know the meaning of the word struggle. Has he ever been divorced because of his passion for writing? Is his dog named Spec? I didn’t think so.”
** This THR Classic was first posted in June 2009 **