Walmart and

Up until an hour ago I thought the guy who came up with the idea of creating the job title of “Associate Producer” must have started his career hiring people for no show jobs at the Teamsters Union. I’ve been Associate Producer of “While I’m Dead… Feed the Dog” for two months and I haven’t exactly broken a sweat yet. My work day had consisted of lying on the couch, surfing the web for videos of clergy members with Tourette Syndrome, checking on to see if I’m officially a celebrity yet, and watching the six months worth of Cops reruns I’ve stored on my DVR in an effort to see if any of my friends and acquaintances have been on television and getting more time than I have.

But all that changed because Hollywood just called and wants me to meet him at his office to discuss important Producer stuff.

I arrive to see Hollywood dressed in a blue Walmart uniform.

“Glad you could make it, Ric. It’s time for you to start earning your credit. Put this on.” Hollywood tosses me a matching Walmart uniform.

“I’m not wearing this. I’m not 90 years old and I don’t work for minimum. ..” I suddenly remember how little Hollywood paid me to get my birthright, I mean the movie rights to my autobiography ‘While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog’. “I’m not working for Walmart – I’m not 90 years old, I don’t live in a trailer, and I have health insurance…”

“You’re not going to work for Walmart at their store or anything like that. What happened is you know this is a low budget movie right?”

“I’ve noticed how little you have paid me, yes.”

“Well we didn’t quite have the financing we needed to complete everything, so I had to make a deal. Walmart has agreed to give us $50,000 if we feature them prominently in everything involved with the movie, and that means all of us are wearing these uniforms.”

“How much of the $50,000 do I get?”

“We’re using the money to finish the movie – but you’re getting this swell new t-shirt, and I’ve got one for Nina too. It’s a way cool t-shirt and after everyone sees it in our movie it’s going to be the latest rage. You’ll be a trendsetter.”

“You are making the actors wear crappy Walmart uniforms in the movie?”

“It’s not crap it’s $50,000 – and yes everyone is wearing it and the movie is going to be shot in a Walmart store. It’s called ‘product placement’, and we needed the money.”

“How come every movie I see, they get cool product placement, like everyone has a Ferrari, a Lamborghini, or a Corvette not to mention a Mac Computer, an IPAD, or at least a pair of cool Nike Air Jordan shoes made by a Burmese child at gunpoint? All you could do is Walmart?”

“Don’t blame me, I’m not the one with the low “Q” rating. Mentioning your name doesn’t just turn on a flood of corporate donors. The only other offer we had was from Senator McCaskill the woman who is running against Todd Akins for Senator in Missouri, who wanted to use your picture in a commercial justifying abortion, but for that we had to have the movie out by November. So put on the fucking shirt.”

“There are other ways to raise money, you know.”

“Like what?”

“We could take pictures of Selena…”

“No we can’t. Her security is too good.”

“We could auction your kidney on EBay… that’s got to be worth at least $50,000.”

“That’s a great idea. I’ll sell your kidney on E-Bay. I think I own it already. Let me just call my lawyer and confirm…”

Okay, so blue isn’t exactly my color; and having a shirt saying ‘How may I help you’ on the back isn’t exactly cool, yet. Someday soon when “While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog” passes ‘The Titanic,’ or at least ‘Porky’s’ in box office revenues it will be. I’ll be way cool then, and the guy who just refused me admittance to the Sky Bar is going to be really sorry because not only do I have a long memory – I’m listed on And the reason I’m walking home rather than driving is written right on front of my shirt. “Save Money. Live better.”

The Nina Pennington Fan Club & Artistic License

There was a voicemail message from Hollywood on my phone this afternoon. He sounded excited and wanted me to call him back as soon as I got his message.

I’ve learned Hollywood is not one to call me gratuitously, and I’m sure he isn’t calling to inquire about the state of my life – which has pretty much sucked since Nina Pennington got so famous she that has an international fan club. Last night we were in the backseat of her car making out and just as I was about to get the last hook of her bra undone, Nina receives a tweet from the President of her Paraguay fan club tweeting, “OMG! Porqué hace alguien tan puro como Nina Pennington se permitte que encante algún loser wannabe,” and just like that Nina’s grabbed the phone and is tweeting back, “LOL, no worry, Dont have BF, he nothing to me,” while hermetically sealing her bra to her body.

With nothing better to do, thanks to Nina’s fan club, I call Hollywood back and he tells me he just had a really good meeting with his marketing people and wants me to come down to his office on the Studio lot to discuss their recommendation.

“Can’t you just tell me over the phone? I don’t really want to drive over the hill to Burbank, it’s like 150 degrees there, plus on what you paid me as an advance I don’t have enough money for gas,” I complain.

“Okay, but we’re casting strippers now and I thought…”

“I’ll be right there,” I hang up the phone

Twenty minutes later and Hollywood’s secretary is ushering me into his office.

“Ah Ric, good to see you, sit down on the couch and let’s talk.”

“I thought you were having stripper auditions?” I sit down. Someone must have spilled something on the couch, because there’s a sticky wet spot, and it’s attracting little bugs and I get back up.

“Let me get you a towel and we’ll wipe that up shall we? As for the strippers it’s all taken care of… we’ve got three of the best ones money can buy,” Hollywood grins, “and one of them is a midget. But that’s not why I brought you here. I want to talk to you about your ‘Q Rating’ numbers. The Studio and I have been looking at your numbers and they’re not very good – and we’ve been getting bombarded with tweets from Nina Pennington’s Bolivian, Argentinian, Honduran, Panamanian, Nicaraguan and Lesotho fan clubs saying that Nina should be with a better looking guy than Ric Stevens.”

“My name is still Ric Thibault…”

“Whatever. The Studio thinks we need to spruce you up, and beef up your numbers.”

“I’m not becoming a Scientologist.”

“We’re not asking you to become a Scientologist. They don’t even want you anymore. We’ve got something way cooler.”

“Which is?”

“We want to make you a cultural icon.”

“Like Justin Bieber?”

“Not exactly. There is room for only one Justin Bieber. The marketing department and I are thinking of something more lasting. Think Kurt Cobain, James Dean, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Elvis. I mean really big.”

“You mean really dead!”

“Well a little, but look what being dead did for their careers.”

“You want me dead?”

“Posthumous is money in the bank.”

“Can I fake it?”

“No, the public will see right through it. I believe in cinema verité.”

“Cinema verité is French. I thought you hate the French… and I’m not killing myself. Besides if you’re into cinema verité so much, I don’t remember writing anything about my dying in my autobiography.” I protest.

“Haven’t you heard of ‘artistic license’? There are millions of kids who would give their left nut to be in your position,” Hollywood insists.

“What would the poor bastard in charge of collecting their left nuts do with them after he has them? Is there some big testicle transplant surgery that hasn’t been advertised on late night TV yet?” I ask as Hollywood’s phone chirps.

Hollywood checks his phone, “The President of Nina Pennington’s Romanian fan club agrees. They would look on you a lot more favorably if you were dead. I’ll tell you what I’ll do because I like you so much. I’ll give you two songs in the movie if you cooperate.”

“Can’t I just give you my right nut instead – I mean you have so many left nuts, don’t you need to balance things out a little with a right nut or two, you know like Fox News does? And where do you go to get one of those ‘artistic licenses’?”

The line at the DMV must at least an hour long. I hope I have my forms filled out correctly. Otherwise if you go and see “While I’m Dead… Feed the Dog” and hear two of my songs playing, you probably aren’t going to be seeing any sequels.

Casting Couches & Scientology

Hollywood has summoned me to a meeting at his office on the movie studio lot. I pull onto the lot and give the guard my name and he hands me an official movie studio visitor pass sticker with my name on it. I don’t put it on because someday, after I’m a star, I’ll probably be able to sell it on E-Bay.

I’m ushered into Hollywood’s office and find him on the phone and a smiling Roger Debris sitting on the sofa. Hollywood motions me to sit down by Debris and just as I’m about to sit down I notice there are stains on the sofa and I get the uneasy feeling this is no ordinary couch I’m being urged to sit on. It’s not one of those sofas you can buy at Levitz or slightly used from Craigslist. No, this is a special couch – one which can only be bought by members of the Producers Guild of America. It’s a genuine casting couch and Hollywood and Roger Debris want me on it.

“I think I’d rather, um,” I try to wash the ‘deer frozen in the headlights’ look off my face while racking my brain for a polite excuse as to why I don’t want to sit down. I’m pretty sure Amy Vanderbilt didn’t face this sort of manners dilemma because if she had I’d probably remember a phrase similar to, “Please kind sir, I would so love to be a movie star, but I really would prefer not reclining on your couch and being sodomized to achieve my goals.”

“Sit down and tell me what’s new in your life,” Roger Debris asks, patting the sofa by him.

I walk over to the window, “You know the piercing fad that’s been going around for the last couple of years? Well I was reading the other day about something way cooler, what you do is stick razor blades up your ass and then if someone tries to stick their…”

Hollywood hangs up the phone and interrupts, “Ric, I didn’t ask you to come here to talk about piercings. What I wanted to talk about was making our movie successful and we need your help.”

“I’m not lying down on the couch, at least not unless you’re talking about…”

“I’m not asking you to lie down on the couch!”

“You promise, both of you?”

“Yes we promise…”

“Okay,” I sit down.

“Look the movie is in the can, and we really like it – in fact it’s got the potential to be huge if everything goes our way. It’s all in the marketing from here on out, and that’s why we’ve called you here. We want to make sure that we maximize our success, by doing everything possible to insure that it’s a hit.” Hollywood explains.

“Such as?”

“Well we had our marketing people run these tests on Nina Pennington and your Q rating, and the tests didn’t come out too good,” Hollywood states.

“What’s a ‘Q rating’?” I ask.

“Q rating is a test of popularity,” Roger Debris explains. “The system determines how well known and well-liked a person is by the public.”

“And how’d Nina and I do?”

“Nina did okay, thirteen million twitter followers is pretty good. You on the other hand, how do I put it delicately, no one knows you. You don’t have a Q rating.”

“So you want me to lie on the couch and get known?”

“No. No one wants you on the couch at all,” Hollywood calms me. “Our backers and I have a better plan. We want Nina and you to become Scientologists.”

“What exactly are Scientologists?

“Scientologists believe that 75 million years ago an evil galactic ruler, named Xenu, solved overpopulation by bringing trillions of people to Earth in DC-8 space planes, stacking them around volcanoes and nuking them. Then the souls of these dead space aliens were captured and boxed up and taken to cinemas where they were shown films of what life should be like, false ideas containing God, the devil and Christ and told to get ill. After that they supposedly clustered together and now inhabit our bodies. Scientologists believe that if they rid themselves of these body Thetans then they will be healthier and will gain special powers like mind-over-matter.” Roger Debris explains.

“And why do you want us to believe this shit?”

“Because Scientologists control Hollywood. They can make you or break you. Being a Scientologist will make you big – look what it did for Kirstie Alley.”

“You mean make us fat?”

“Maybe that was a bad example. Look what it did for Tom Cruise?”

“You mean I get to go on Oprah and jump up and down on her couch and tell everyone I love Nina?”

“Oprah’s been cancelled. Tom Cruise hasn’t been. So yes,” Hollywood states.

“Can’t I just be butt fucked?” I ask, dropping my trousers.

Artistic Satisfaction and Mad Dog 20/20

I’m having a power breakfast with Hollywood at Jerry’s Deli and Bowling Alley. We’ve got a table underneath an autographed publicity picture of Rodney Dangerfield which is ironic because I’m feeling like I can’t get no respect.

“Remember when I wanted to buy the rights to your autobiography you told me there were only two reasons to sign a deal, one being to make a life changing amount of money, and the other to get artistic satisfaction?”

“Are you finally giving me the life changing amount of money?” I ask, “I always wanted enough money to buy a mansion in Beverly Hills, a Mercedes Convertible or at least enough for the Rascal electric Scooter for when I get too lazy to walk.”

“I have to be honest with you,” Hollywood makes me worry about all the times he has told me things in the past which were not prefaced with his same pledge of sincerity, “this is a low budget movie so I’m not able to give you the money you might want…”

Quickly and surreptitiously I reach into my wallet to make sure I have enough money to cover his matzo ball soup and strawberry blintzes as well as my two fried eggs. Thankfully I do, so I won’t have to spend the rest of the day washing dishes if he does a runner on the check.

“Okay, so you’re giving me artistic satisfaction, and the movie is going to be the way I wrote it, Suckerpunch is going to do the soundtrack and Mary-Louise Parker is going to give me a…”

“Not exactly,” Hollywood interrupts. “Now you know we’re friends, and above all I’m a man of my word. I promised you one of those two things, so I just wanted to check on whether my making you famous would constitute giving you artistic satisfaction?”

“How famous?” I ask.

“Every press release is going to have your name, and I’m making you Associate Producer of the Movie.”

“What’s an Associate Producer do?”

“He associates with the Producer and watches his name on the credit roll.”

“I’m not sure that’s worth all that much…”

“Sure it is,” Hollywood counters, “It’s dead easy. This is America and girls are easily impressed. It’s all about being high profile. Get yourself an entourage, take some PCP, get caught shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue, go to jail for a few hours, get out, make a sex tape with some reality/porno star, have Gloria Allred sue you, and you’re guaranteed to be the lead story on TMZ for life. What could be more artistically satisfying than that?”

Hollywood’s cell phone rings. Evidently he’s late for an appointment with a finance guy and has to run, sticking me with the check – which he promises to grab the next time.

I think about what Hollywood said and realize he’s probably right. Being on the front page of the National Enquirer, or the lead story on TMZ is the epitome of art. I need to be more high profile but, although I could do the porno tape and maybe even the drugs, I really don’t feel too good about the shoplifting. I drive down to the Starline Tours office and stand in line. There are five people ahead of me, clutching their wallets.

“That’s $44 dollars for the two hour comprehensive narrated tour of breathtaking stars’ homes in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and Holmby Hills” a woman with a lavender and turquoise mohawk says without looking up.

“I don’t want to buy a ticket. I just want you to add my house to your tour,” I explain.

“What’s your name?” she asks.

“Ric Thibault – Hollywood’s making a movie about me. It’s starring Selena Gomez. I’m in all the press releases.”

“Let’s see,” she picks up her laminated plastic guide to the stars home map. “We stop at Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage, David and Victoria Beckham, Dr. Phil. No, your name isn’t there. Sorry.”

“Could you maybe try Ric Stevens?”

“Any relation to Darren Stevens from Bewitched?”


“Too bad. I like Bewitched. No, that name’s not there either. Were you involved in a scandal where somebody died? We go to O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Sharon Tate and the Menendez Brothers.”

“Nobody’s dead, at least not yet; but Selena Gomez is playing my girlfriend in the movie…”

She looks up at me, “You’re Justin Bieber? You sure don’t look as cute as him and besides his house is in Calabasas which is too far to go for our two hour tour. We’d have to charge at least $80 a head for the extra two hours and that’s if we don’t hit traffic. Do you have that type of money?”

“No I’m not Justin Bieber, I’m Ric Thibault – they’re making a movie about me…”

“Never heard of you. You’ve taken enough of my time poser. Next”

I drive dejectedly over to Saks Fifth Avenue. Unfortunately I can’t find anything I like enough for it to be worth stealing, but I do find a homeless guy outside in the parking lot who is willing to be in my entourage if I can stake him to a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.

I shell out the money and ask my new friend if he wants to be my “Homeboy”.

“I will if you buy me another MD20,” my new friend smiles.

At $2.49 a bottle, I’ve got me the beginnings of an entourage. Artistic satisfaction is right around the corner! Michelangelo eat your heart out!