The recent release of “Creed” took me back to what I have always thought of as the quintessential “Hollywood Moment” of my personal experience. I mean, I’ve done other “Hollywood” stuff, but to me, this one hits the bull’s-eye dead center.
As usual, after a monumental effort of close to a minute, I could not find the original version of this story. So I am writing it again from memory, which recedes exponentially as we speak.
My quintessential “Hollywood Moment.”
Here we go.
I was attending a Writers Guild Film Society screening of Rocky. As frequently occurs with the Film Society, the movie had not yet opened in theaters, so we knew absolutely nothing about it.
(Dr. M, who, before she was Dr. M, was getting her Masters Degree in “Communication Arts”, had already seen Rocky in her film class. So I attended that Writers Guild screening alone. (Note: She revealed nothing to me about the movie. Because she did not want to spoil it for me, or because she did not like it, a boxing movie being excessively distant from her Singing in the Rain wheelhouse, or as she recently confided, because it was too early in our relationship for her to interfere. I prefer “Explanation Number One” or “Number Three”.)
The movie was about to begin. Amongst the gathering, primarily film and television writers, the sense of distain for what we were about to experience was palpable. How dare some untutored “nobody” (Sylvester Stallone – Sylvester!) get a film made (from a self-written screenplay he had refused to sell unless he could star in the movie himself.
BITTER WRITERS’ GUILD WRITER: “We can’t even demand that they allow us on the set!”)
It is quintessentially “Hollywood” – though this is not the quintessential element I am talking about – to root against someone you have never met and theoretically have no reason to disparage. Beyond disturbing the writers’ already shaky self-confidence, a rookie’s success – as unlikely in this case as it was – would make experienced veterans look terrible.
I mean, if a (lowly paid) novice can do it, anybody could do it. Expanding the competition immeasurably, and maybe, Hollywood being “Copycat City”, making it harder for experienced writers to sell.
STUDIO EXECUTIVE: “Bring me only writers who have never written anything. And pay them ‘Minimum’ for doing it.”
The curtain goes up, and we are immediately greeted by these ridiculously cheesy credits (from a clearly low-budget undertaking), accompanied by this overblown, heralding trumpet music:
“Bum bum buh-buh-bum buh-buh-buh-buh-buh bum
Bum bum buh-buh-bum buh-buh-buh-buh-buh bum…”
… like it’s “The Event of the Century”, or something. Oh, yeah. This thing is going to stink big-time, was the prevailing sentiment throughout the audience.
And then it didn’t.
As the movie progressed, little by little, you could feel the crowd’s attitude towards it begin to alter.
The simple, plain-spoken dialogue, the endearing working class characters, the “instant classic” occurrences like “Rocky-In-Training” running victoriously up the stairs, and a story that built organically to its climactic (for me at least) moment, exceptional for a sports sagas, in which a clearly beaten Apollo Creed screams, “Ain’t gonna be no rematch!”, the triumphant-without-winning Rocky screaming back, “Don’t want one!”
“Exhilarating” is the most evocative word I can think of.
And I wasn’t alone. During the closing credits, the jaded Writers Guild membership was literally standing on its feet and cheering.
And then it was over.
Or so we believed.
As we exited up the aisles, the positive buzz was virtually deafening to the ear. Everyone agreed. The movie was manipulative, but wonderful.
They then opened the doors at the back of the theater…
And standing in the lobby was Sylvester Stallone.
Looking appealingly humble in his jeans and white, cable-knit sweater.
I may have possibly teared up. As I am close to doing right now.
“That’s the guy!”
Was the unspoken reaction.
“And he’s standing in our lobby!”
It was a miraculous “Hollywood Moment.”
And it never happened again
A Happy Birthday shout-out to son-in-law Colby. It's not your fault we got attacked on your birthday. You weren't even born yet. But now you are, and I'm delighted to know you and hang out with you and go Chanukah shopping with you. We did great, by the way.
Best to you in everything you dream, wish and work for. I hope you are richly rewarded in every direction.
P.S. I am also fond of your wife.
Have a great B-Day Colby. And many, many more.