Hollywood looks nervous.
We’re in McAlester, Oklahoma and perspiration is dripping from his brow as we prepare to enter the small theater where a sneak preview of “Behaving Badly”, the movie that was supposedly adapted from my autobiography, While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog is going to be screened.
“No cell phones or cameras are allowed,” the theater’s guard brusquely announces, “and all purses, bags and backpacks must be searched.”
“That’s a good sign isn’t it?” I whisper to Hollywood, “That means they’re worried about bootleggers, because they think the movie’s going to be a hit. You might actually have to pay me royalties.”
Hollywood gives me the cold shoulder rather than an answer, and I walk through the metal detector and into the theater lobby. I look around for the refreshment stand so I can buy popcorn and a Coke. I don’t see it, so I ask one of the uniformed guards where it is.
“We don’t sell popcorn at executions. This is a dignified proceeding.”
I’m guessing the word is out what a turkey Behaving Badly is and that’s why Hollywood is so nervous, and I reluctantly take my seat. Looking around the audience it becomes even more apparent that this isn’t going to be a good night for a preview. The movie was targeted at the 12 to 25 demographic and everyone in the room is over forty and wearing a suit.
Before I can develop this thought completely a voice comes over the public address system. “Hello, my name is Governor Mary Fallin. As you all know the state of Oklahoma has had problems securing dosages of sodium thiopental, the drug used to execute prisoners. Consequently we have had to try other untested lethal concoctions, one of which resulted in the botched execution of inmate Clayton Lockett on May 1st. Therefore as Republicans, um excuse me, I’m sorry, I meant, as Oklahomans, in the interest of serving justice, we have sought other ways of humanely executing convicts. That is why I have invited movie producer Hollywood here to assist us in the execution of Antonio Zananato, who has been convicted of multiple homicides. Without further ado, I turn it over to Mr. Hollywood.”
A few flash pots go off and a curtain opens revealing the death chamber, where Antonio Zanato is strapped to a gurney looking up at a hidden movie screen. His eyes are wide open in terror as a priest administers the last rites to him.
“Roll it,” Hollywood orders, and I hear the opening music to Behaving Badly commence. Antonio Zanato is already going into convulsions.
Within a few minutes Josh Groban’s turgid rendition of the movie’s theme song wafts over the speaker and I look around me. Everyone is aghast and throwing up in the viewing room. I look back at the gurney and Antonio Zanato’s tongue is hanging out, and his eyeballs have rolled back into his head and the curtain closes.
“That wasn’t humane at all,” yells one member of the audience as he wipes vomit off his tie.
“You’re a sadist,” shouts another.
“Motherfucker got what he deserved,” a guard wearing earplugs dissents.
“We ought to strap you down and force you to watch that,” another audience member grabs Hollywood.
“I’m not a sadist,” shouts Hollywood, “I could have cast Adam Sandler in the movie, but I didn’t – and besides I didn’t write it, that punk over there, Ric Thibault did.”
The audience turns and charges me. They grab me and strap me to the gurney next to Zanato’s corpse as the Priest begins to intone, “Our father who art…”
“Wake up,” Hollywood is shaking me. “I can’t believe I caught you sleeping in a vital marketing meeting for Behaving Badly – a movie whose economic performance your fate is tied to. Now pay attention. Roger, you were saying.”
Roger Debris, dressed in his pink cardigan sweater, turquoise knickers and a beret, glares daggers at me before continuing with his presentation. “Our test screening focus group results have really helped us identify and target our audience. Amongst the targeted 18 – 24 males who have at least one parent and/or sibling in prison, the movie resonates very well. In one parent diabetic households in trailer parks with more than two meth labs and forty percent unemployment the movie scored okay and the other encouraging result was that we tested well with 12-16 year old males who were in emergency rooms having their stomachs pumped after they got into their parent’s liquor cabinet…”
Roger Debris drones on and depresses me further to the point that I’m contemplating my rapidly downward-spiraling financial prospects and trying to figure out what job I might be qualified for. Maybe there is a position at a call center somewhere in Kentucky which provides tech support for Hindi speaking computer users in India. I’m sure I could learn a few words in Hindi and mispronounce them badly enough to the point that I couldn’t be understood which would qualify me to be hired by Microsoft tech support.
Before I can fully analyze my next career move, Hollywood announces that he is going to go around the room and demand that each of us present a marketing plan which might entice someone to buy a ticket for this trainwreck of a movie… and he starts with me, “Ric it’s up to you to save your autobiography from being the most ignored movie of all time.”
“It’s not my story anymore. You gang raped my book into this piece of …”
“Before you finish that thought,” Hollywood interrupts, “may I remind you of the one Hollywood truism of, ‘no hits, no tits’. If this movie fails, your girlfriend Nina Pennington will be selling selfies of herself giving Justin Bieber head to TMZ within a week and the only time you’ll get laid is if you crawl up a chicken’s ass and wait. So, taking this all into consideration, do you have any bright ideas to contribute as how to save both your movie and your sex life?”
I’m seething inside as I finally realize how much of a scumbag Hollywood is. He’s as contemptible as it gets. He’s as bad as, I’m trying to think of the worst person I can think of, when all of the sudden I have a moment of clarity. “Donald Sterling,” I blurt out.
“Donald Sterling, what the fuck does Donald Sterling have to do with your movie?”
“We could try the Donald Sterling publicity gimmick. We make a tape of you telling your mistress that she shouldn’t bring Hispanic people to the movie, because it embarrasses you,” the bullshit flows evenly out of my mouth. “Then we sell the tape to TMZ and there will be a huge outcry because Selena Gomez is of Hispanic descent and we can get the Producer’s Guild to ban you for life from making movies. The Producers Guild will force you to sell the rights to While I’m Dead…Feed the Dog, but before they can do it, you give the movie to your ex-wife who then will sell it to some billionaire wannabe bigshot from Microsoft…”
“…and Sterling got two billion bucks,” Hollywood excitedly interrupts. “If I could get two billion for the movie…”
“Then you would owe me roughly forty million dollars in royalties.”
“What the fuck are you talking about – I wouldn’t owe you anything the movie still wouldn’t have recouped.”
“Wait you said the budget for the movie was two million dollars – how could the movie not recoup if you took in two billion.”
“Well I’d have to find a mistress to start with. Mistresses are expensive.”
“Two billion dollars worth of expensive? I know a hooker on Santa Monica who would be your mistress for a couple of hundred bucks and a few rocks of crack.”
“Yes, but then there are the lawyers and accountants you have to pay for. One to negotiate a settlement with the hooker, and the other to make up an accounting to you that shows we lost money on the movie. Now get the fuck out of here.”
* * *
I’m lying in bed watching Anderson Cooper interview Hollywood on a CNN exclusive. “I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I’m here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people I have hurt. I’m not a racist. But when someone baited me and told me I could get two billion dollars for saying something against Mexican warblers who think they can be cast as a blond haired blue eyed… “