I wouldn’t recommend a book that I hadn’t read and thought was pretty kickass, and didn’t have a ton of cool stuff about Hollywood in it. Can’t You Get Along With Anyone: A Writer’s Memoir and Tale of a Lost Surfer’s Paradise has both, and was interesting enough to get its first publisher sued. Allan Weisbecker had to start his own publishing company to get it back in print, and long story short, he was kind enough to let me publish the most movie-related sections here on FilmDrunk.
If my books had been any worse I would not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better I would not have come. – Raymond Chandler [Can’t You Get Along With Anyone]
I’m hoping it’s something you’ll read and enjoy, and as a side benefit, will tide you over through the New Year when I’ll be sleeping off my hangover on a pile of hookers somewhere. Anyway, check out the first section after the jump, and if you need a little background on who Weisbecker is, check out our interview from a while ago. See also: Allan’s Author’s Note.
[From Chapter 10 of CYGAWA]
If my books had been any worse I would not have been invited
to Hollywood, and if they had been any better I would not have
come. – Raymond Chandler
When Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) of In Search of Captain Zero came
out in early 2001, my movie-writing agent – whom I would later fire and
whose response to that is the title of this book – gave one to a producer she
represented, who liked it a lot. The producer called my agent saying she
wanted to option the book.
I was wary.
Why was I wary?
Because there was a catch-22, based on the fact that there is no movie in
In Search of Captain Zero. (My favorite catch-22 is the old Groucho Marx line,
“I wouldn’t belong to any club that would have me as a member.”) Here the
catch-22 was more or less this: No one who wants to make a movie out of my
book is smart enough to get it done.
So I was wary.
But the movie producer had a trump card to play in persuading me
to let her option my book. The trump card was Sean Penn. She’d made a
documentary that Sean had narrated. Sean’s manager had read my book
and really liked it, thought it would make a terrific movie, she said. Sean
hadn’t read the book yet but wanted to co-produce it and maybe star in
it. (If you find it surprising that a Hollywood star would want to produce
and maybe star in a movie made from a book he hadn’t read, I can only
chuckle at your ignorance of how Hollywood is.) Said she knew a director
who wanted to direct it – the guy who directed the documentary Sean had
Given that there is no movie in my book, and given that all these people
wanted to make a movie out of it anyway, I was thinking that there are a
lot of dumb people in Hollywood. But I already knew that, from personal
experience. From unnerving personal experience, if you get my demented-editor drift.
So I waffled out of wariness, out of fear of getting involved with a lot of dumb people.
The producer sensed my wariness. She of course had no idea of the reason
for my wariness. I mean I didn’t tell her that there was no movie in my book,
or that I assumed she was dumb. Hey, I’m not dumb. But having sensed my
wariness, the producer had Sean Penn call me. On a certain level it was a
strange conversation, since Sean and I were discussing making a movie out
of a book that he had not read.
That Sean had not read my book was never outright dealt with during
our phone conversation. The closest we came was when – in response to
one of my desperate ideas on how to make a movie out of a book wherein
there is no movie – Sean said, “I’m missing a little information here.”
Although I was wary, I was also human. I pictured Sean Penn up there
on the silver screen, playing me. I also pictured the money. Although the
option offer was small, a couple grand, if the producer could get studio
backing the movie deal would be up in six figures whether the movie got
made or not. And I knew that since there were so many dumb people in
Hollywood, studio backing was not out of the question; far from it. I mean
look at the movies that do get made. I mean who knew.
I let the producer and Sean Penn option my book.