Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A SHOOTING IN DETROIT

As I'm sure most of you have heard by now, we had something of a disaster befall us at our Desert Paradise, which resulted in my being unable to be with you over these past few months.



Judging by the plaintive emails I've received you all have missed it as much as I, and so I am delighted to report that with the dark cloud over us having moved on, things are slowly getting back to normal once again.



First, and by way of explanation, a little advice.

If your find yourself with a homesick Houseboy who pleads with you to allow him to dig a hole somewhere on the south lawn in order to plant his "national tree" (which, on closer examination turns out to be some sort of hallucinatory stinkweed), might I suggest you keep a close eye on him during the process.



It will not only save you the trouble of losing the idiot down a long-forgotten well in the backyard (thus having to prepare your own afternoon cocktails for an entire weekend!), not to mention preventing some suspicious law enforcement officer from bothering you with annoying and impertinent questions, but it will also keep your entire life from turning into a world-wide media circus as you attempt to rescue the fool from deep within the bowels of the earth.



But, lesson learned. Now, with Panton safely back above ground - and negotiating his book contract - I have been able to concentrate once again on what some of the less-than-kind members of the press laughingly refer to as "my career" and, choosing from the stack of projects hurled over the protective fichus walls in the past several months, find myself with no fewer than TWO movies bearing my imprimatur in production at the same time.

One, simply entitled “GONE” is a thriller I wrote last summer during a particularly bleak period when a certain Boyfriend, who shall remain nameless -



- neglected to replenish the Belvedere supply at the indoor bar before departing for yet another Filipino Family Reunion, the latest in a long running series of ancestral shindigs to which my attendance has tapered off over the years due to their occurring at a frequency normally associated with e coli infections.

As the endless parade of "paparazzi" which surrounds my life makes even something as simple as a trip to the grocery store into an adventure which Hadrian himself would have found intimidating -



I was trapped, Belvedere-less for the better part of an entire weekend. Idle hands being the devil's playthings, I realized I could either write a screenplay or drink a lesser vodka.

I wrote a screenplay.

One must have standards, after all.

And while I had originally planned on directing “GONE” myself, the fates and the calendar conspired against it, and I reluctantly had to step away from the project and allow another director to take the reins, thus allowing me to sign onto a delightful little confection called “SMOOCH”, a romantic comedy updating of the Frog Prince legend.



And after several weeks of pre-production in Hollywood, where I must admit to feeling quite pleased with myself for having a Sunset Boulevard office directly across from our beloved Director’s Guild of America -



- (an organization, I may add, which makes the Director's Guild of CANADA look like an amateur bowling league...) we are now less than 24 hours from the first day of principal photography.

And thus, leaving behind my adoring family, The Boyfriend and Crawford T. Manchester-



- I have, like a soldier returning to battle, stepped back onto the cinematic minefields which have been my home lo these many, many years...



Our movie is set in San Francisco which, being mostly untouched by economic disaster, racial strife or functionally retarded middle eastern extremists with bombs in their underwear, remains one of the last truly romantic cities in America.



So of course we're shooting in Detroit.



Truth be told, the city couldn't be more accommodating. Not only have they offered us generous tax credit incentives to film here, but the incredible architecture of its downtown core is preserved almost exactly as it was built during the automobile industry's hay-day -



- and, as most of the population have fled for greener pastures, the place is uncluttered by those annoying rubber-necker types who insist on honking their horns as they pass a film set, shouting "hey! HEYYYYYY FUUUUUUUCCKKKKK YOUUUUUU!".

The common people are so charming.



While downtown Detroit resembles nothing so much as the set of a George Romero zombie movie -



- (and why somebody hasn't capitalized on the "Last Man on Earth" vibe of the place to make a truly chilling movie for the SyFy network is beyond me!), there are delightful pockets of civilization. The producers took a few of us out one night to a wonderful jazz club called "Cliff Bell's" -



- where the martinis more than made up for the all-but-inedible food and the music from the brilliant house quartet was beyond sublime.



And the delightfully named "Book Cadillac" hotel where we are staying is not only a genuine historic site -



- but the exquisite 2nd floor "Motor Bar" serves perfect martinis with HAND STUFFED BLUE CHEESE OLIVES.



Between this and the delightful staff, featuring my favorite "cocktailinista" the exquisite Miss Evelyn -



- it is, dear reader, as if I have died and gone to heaven.

But, as those of you who follow these pages know, I do not indulge in my favorite alcoholic vice during the shooting of a film and, thus, tonight is my last martini until we wrap the picture some four weeks from now - actually finishing up IN San Francisco for a couple days of exteriors.



To cinematically walk in the footsteps of Mr. Hitchcock is intimidating to say the least -



- but with our wonderful cast in place – the adorable KELLIE ("E.R.") MARTIN -



- "Mad Men"'s enchanting KIERNAN CHIUPKA -



- and the frankly-smoldering SIMON ("Quantum of Solace") KASSIANIDES –



- I shall do my best to honor my trade and, at the very least, entertain the audience.

Hopefully this blog, to be kept during the production of “SMOOCH” will do the same for you!