Hollywood Wise

The Network has tapped Wilaru to advise them on their new TV season. It seems he has just the kind of brain they’re looking for.

By David Wilaru* (David Wilaru’s bio appears at the end of this story)

Things are really jumping, Hollywood-wise. While the movie deal with Hometown Intergalactic Productions is still in the pre-deal memo stage, it has led to a call from The Network.

There I was at Memories-R-Us, calmly working on a brochure for our new vacation re-creation program of a trip to Mount Olympus on Mars. This is more difficult than you might think in that no one has yet visited Mt. Olympus.

Anyway, there I was with the customer halfway up the mountain’s talus-strewn slope when Malachi Gumball called. When I got on the line he identified himself as the Director Of New Program Development for The Network. Of course, I couldn’t ask him which network. Not to have known would have labeled me as a rank amateur in The Business.

“Mr. Gumball, a great pleasure,” I said. “How are things at The Network?”

“Hectic, Mr. Wilaru, very high speed. I’ve heard that you and Big Ivan over at Hometown IG have been brainstorming some new projects.”

“Yes indeed. Things are going great. We’ve got two or three concepts lined out. Do you think The Network might be interested in Die Home Alone, Terminator?”

“Could be. We’ll have to check the research first, you understand. But that’s not why I called.”

“It’s not?”

“No, DW, I’ve got something else on my mind. We’re putting together some new concepts here and I thought you might be just the man to flesh them out for us. Big Ivan speaks quite highly of you. Says you’re full of ideas; think, think, think, all the time. When could you come down to LA to take a meeting with us?”

Hmmmm, I had two days of sick leave remaining this century. Well, what could be more important than The Network? Hell, I guess my malaria could flare up one more time.

“How about tomorrow, Mr. Gumball?”

“Super. See you at 9:14.”

So, at nine the next morning there I was weaving my way through the iron stampede on the Tribute To Japan Freeway, heading for the intersection of Emotionally Exhausted and Morally Bankrupt. No sooner had I turned the corner and there it was, Network headquarters.

Malachi Gumball’s office was on the 19th floor. Twenty-seven years old, Gumball was not quite what I had expected. He wore a bow tie, tweed vest, and red, white and blue suspenders. His brown hair was cut short on the top, shaved on the sides and tied in a pony tail in back. Brown bristles glossy with mousse, ran down the peak of his scalp like the spine on a yuppie porcupine.

“DW, good to see you,” Gumball said as he shook my hand. “This is my staff: Darla Dangle, Executive Assistant for Creative Affairs, and Evan Flywheel, Chief Deputy Associate for Extended Group Think. Have a seat, Dave, and let me bring you into the picture.”

A bit disoriented, I settled into the nearest chair. Darla and Evan looked like children who had been turned loose in their parents’ closet and were trying to look old enough to get Ozzie at the liquor store to sell them a couple of six packs of vodka and Perrier.

“Well, DW, you’re probably asking yourself, ‘What does The Network want with me? Where do I fit into the big picture?’ Darla, why don’t you lay this out for DW.”

“Of course, Mal. Mr. Wilaru, we at The Network are always looking for new stories, new ideas, new premises.”

“I see,” I broke in. “You think that I might have the approach you need.”

“No, that’s not it. We have plenty of people who bring us new ideas.”

“Oh, then you want to use Grip Melman as the basis of a new series.”

“No, that’s not it. Our research shows a negative correlation between garbage and television.”

“Then . . . .”

“What we want, Mr. Wilaru,” Evan broke in, “is to use you to review some of the ideas we are considering for the fall schedule.”

“Yes, you see, Mr. Wilaru,” Darla continued, “Ivan Mengele is known as one of the most conventional, imitative, and unimaginative people in the industry.”

“High praise, indeed.”

“I’m glad you understand, Mr. Wilaru. You see, this is a business which demands uncreative creativity. Our task is not to think of new ideas or to recast old ideas in new ways or new ideas in old ways but to present old ideas in old ways which nevertheless, at first glance, seem new.”

“I’m not quite sure I follow that,” I said with a slight shake of my head. Darla, Evan and Malachi glanced at each other sourly, as if to say, “Oh, oh, did we get the wrong guy after all?”

Malachi forced a thin smile and began to speak. “It’s like this, DW — the People don’t want anything really new. New is different. Different is risky. Risk means you might lose something. Different means you might be confused. People hate being confused. Our job is to give them entertainment which is never confusing; shows which never risk the viewer having to admit that they are not intelligent; shows which never cause the viewer to acknowledge that he or she is less successful than other people.

“That’s why there are so many shows about diseases,” I broke in. “If the people on television are sicker or poorer than the guy watching on his 19 inch Sears with the bad tint control, then he’s going to feel better.”

“I knew you could do it, DW. Didn’t I tell you, Darla, that the Big I could pick them? That’s exactly right, Mr. Wilaru.”

“And I bet that’s why people in TV shows are so dumb,” I said. “I mean, the woman knows there is a vampire lose in the neighborhood, and the lights go out, and she hears a noise in the basement. Does she lock the door or call the police or go running to the neighbor’s? No, she lights a candle, leaves the gun on the mantle and goes down the stairs into the basement! Talk about stupid!”

“Right, DW. And all over America people who are barely smart enough to work a combination lock, and plenty who aren’t, are shouting at their TV’s: ‘Don’t go into the basement, Sabrina!’ but of course she goes anyway.”

“So,” I completed the thought, “they feel frustrated, but superior.”

“Center ring, DW, center ring. I can see that you’ve got it. Evan, if you could pick up the ball and outline some of the concepts we’re considering.”

Evan Flywheel adjusted his bolo tie and preened his Hitler mustache before speaking. “Our research indicates that the mainline trends this year will continue to be the twin thrusts of reality based but safe and satisfying pseudo-real life adventure drama, ‘addrams’ to us in the Trade, and semi-family situation comedies, ‘semfamsitcoms’. I would like to go through some of our potential new shows and ask you to give us your input.

“First, is something we call ‘Senior Camp’. It’s a comedy series starring Lee Majors, Richard Benjamin and Mike Connors. The show is set in the Swim The River Retirement Home. The home is out of money and about to be torn down to make way for a combination all-night Laundromat and sushi bar. Our comic hero, 11 year old Lee Roy, takes refuge in the home in hopes of avoiding detectives from the Youth Authority where he was unfortunately imprisoned for burning down a bowling alley as part of an anti-smoking protest.

“Lee Roy gathers a group of his fellow happy-go-lucky escaped felons to help him save the home. There are great opportunities available here for a wide variety of plots: the kids rob a prostitution ring for cash to pay the mortgage; Uncle Ledbedder wants to commit suicide but swallows Mrs. Tuckis’s hot flash medication by mistake; one of the hookers from the now bankrupt prostitution ring comes to live in the home which leads to several heart attacks and a police investigation which almost results in Lee Roy going back to the slammer. We think this has a substantial hilarity potential. What do you think?”

My god, were they serious? A comedy about criminals running a retirement home for terminally ill senior citizens? “Let me mull that one over a bit,” I replied diplomatically. “What’s next?”

“We’ve been thinking of an addram with a social conscience,” Darla began. “Something that would let us tackle some of the hard issues but still slip in a few car chases and sexy women. We’ve come up with something we call: Butts’“

“Butts?”

“It takes place ten years in the future and the heroes are the members of the Anti-Smoking Police. This is an unofficial vigilante group dedicated to taking the law into its own hands to do what, in their hearts, they know God wants them to do. Each week the members of the team infiltrate a business, club, restaurant, or home to ferret out the social criminals who insist on smoking cigarettes. Again, here we have a wide variety of possible plots. The criminals, that is the smokers, can be either framed for crimes, Shanghaid on tramp steamers, alienated from their families, brainwashed into quitting, or simply killed in an auto accident.

“One of the benefits of this show is that we can expand the genre if it proves successful. We can have a show based on the activities of the Be Kind to Animals Police, the Ecology Police, the Anti-Abortion Police, and other activist causes. We can give each police force a little bit different composition and add a slightly different spin to each series. Some would have more humor, some more action. Do you see the power of the concept?”

What could I say. It was a brilliant formula. It had worked for hundreds of police shows across the years. It was different but it was the same. My head was spinning.

“It’s a stroke of genius,” I admitted. Malachi smiled broadly. Naturally, he hadn’t thought it up. It was part of his job description not to think of anything. But he probably was the highest level executive to hear the idea and agree to consider it.

The meeting went on for another hour and an half. We went through seven more premises. I took copious notes. I have to give them my report in three days. They have promised me a big consultation fee and second associate producer status on any of the projects which lasts beyond 13 episodes. I have even had an idea of my own.

We make this show about a group of TV executives who get fired from their network for producing too many intelligent TV shows. They open their own TV consulting business which hires an alien from the 24th century to help them suggest plot ideas to the Network which has just fired them.

The gimmick is that they have to continue to get ideas from their alien employee without the network realizing what’s happening and without the alien wising up and demanding a percentage of the gross. The only part that bothers me is that stuff about them creating really intelligent, entertaining shows. I mean, who would believe that?

— David Wilaru (Dwilaru@gmail.com)

David Grace is sometimes alleged to be Mr. Wilaru’s alter-ego (www.DavidGraceAuthor.com)

To see a searchable list of all David Grace’s columns in chronological order, CLICK HERE

To see a list of David Grace’s columns sorted by topic/subject matter, CLICK HERE.

To see all of David Grace’s Wilaru stories, CLICK HERE

All 50 of David Wilaru’s columns are collected in The Wilaru Chronicles

*David G. Wilaru, A Brief Biography

David Wilaru’s early employment was in the creative paperwork allocation and re-allocation sector, but he always knew that his true calling was to be a Wordsmith.

After his divorce from his wife, Sharon, whom Mr. Wilaru once described as: “…as frigid as a penguin in a KitchenAid,” he pursued his dream of a writing career with a stint drafting product manuals for Godzilla Brothers, Inc., penning the user manuals for such cutting-edge Godzilla Brothers’ products as the Delilah Magic Hedge Trimmer, the Trident Electric Fork and Wordbuster, the world’s first solar powered fountain pen.

After leaving Godzilla Brother following his unfortunate involvement with Dr. Werner Buick’s Thirty Day Plan and overcome with ennui, Mr. Wilaru founded SCRAP, The Surrender Company Representing All People, a project that, unfortunately, led to his brief confinement in the Feldman-Margolis Memorial Psychiatric Ward where he edited the patient newsletter, Four Soft Walls.

After his release from the Feldman-Margolis Center, Mr. Wilaru accepted a position as a slogan writer with the 1001 Adult Greeting Cards For All Occasions Company of East Los Angeles, Inc. where he diligently honed his creative talents.

Thereafter, Mr. Wilaru went on to hold a senior public relations position with the Silicon City medical appliances company, BodySpares, Inc. where he directed the marketing effort for the Mirage Artificial Pancreas 690 RG.

After BodySpares’ unfortunate difficulties with the SEC, Mr. Wilaru joined the start-up, Xcitement, Inc., where he designed the marketing campaign for the Xcitement Confidential Adviser (popularly known as “The Brain Box”) and single-handedly coined the slogan “Get Sane At Warp Speed.”

After Xcitement’s sudden bankruptcy, Mr. Wilaru took over as the head of Marketing and Public Relations for Memories-R-Us, Inc. where he directed the advertising strategy for The Dog Box and other Memories-R-Us products.

It was during this high-tech marketing period that, in his spare time, Mr. Wilaru wrote his first paperback novel, the moderately successful Grip Melman, Garbage Detective: The Case Of The Hostess In The Can.

After the unfortunate litigation generated by the book’s Second-Printing Party, Mr. Wilaru obtained a position as a free-lance writer and later as a staff reporter for The American Inquisitor Weekly News Magazine, a post which he still holds today.

A self-described obsessive-compulsive Wordsmith, Mr. Wilaru regularly writes about subjects of topical interest including Gay Marriage, Hollywood Culture, the rapid growth of Amnesiaiology, the Patriot Act, Middle East Developments, and his specialty, UFO Babies, together with other matters of broad general appeal.

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David Grace

David Grace

3.3K Followers

Graduate of Stanford University & U.C. Berkeley Law School. Author of 16 novels and over 400 Medium columns on Economics, Politics, Law, Humor & Satire.