Monday, December 15, 2003

Hollywood Thanksgiving

I live in Hollywood. Technically, I live in West Hollywood. But for all intents and purposes, I'm in Hollywood. I just got back from my dry cleaner's, and, like all dry cleaners in Hollywood, Sam has signed photos of various celebrities hanging on his wall. Tonight I noticed a new one, of legendary movie producer Robert Evans, and I asked Sam if Evans ever came into the shop. Sam shook his head. "He doesn't come here. We go there." We chatted for about fifteen minutes -- Sam really didn't know too much about Evans so I filled him in on the major points: produced The Godfather, Love Story, Chinatown, married to Ali McGraw, friends with Henry Kissinger and Jack Nicholson, busted for coke, caught up in murder investigation, lost all his money and his famous mansion, got his mansion back thanks to pal Jack, wrote tell all autobiography, made major comeback as producer, now has an animated series about his life on Comedy Central. A Hollywood fairy tale.

Sam told me about Evans' amazing house, his beautiful young wife and his volcanic temper. I left there thinking "Wow, I know a guy who knows Robert Evans -- I'm one step closer." Hollywood.

I had a visitor from England in town for the Thanksgiving holiday. He is a young music video director named Raj and he has decided that he is going to direct one of my movies -- the Jane Bond adventure called "In Your Dreams." Raj saw a synopsis of it I posted on an internet site and asked to read it. He really liked it and we've been corresponding and talking on the phone about it for a couple of years. At one point it sounded like Raj was going to be able to put together enough financing to actually make the movie, but it turned out to be wishful thinking. A couple of months ago he announced that he was coming to Los Angeles for a week so we could work on our "project." Being from England I don't think he realized that he scheduled his visit for the week of Thanksgiving. I wondered exactly what he thought we were going to do. Did he foresee us going to pitch meetings or lining up investors? Did he have a list of contacts that he was planning to exploit? He did mention something about an internship at Fox.

As it turned out, we didn't actually work on the movie much at all. In fact I didn't really see that much of Raj that week. He got a room in a nearby hostel filled with young Europeans and basically partied every night with them and went sightseeing during the days. I only actually saw him a couple of times after dropping him off at the hostel. On afternoon we went to see the amazing documentary Tupac: Ressurection, produced and directed by our own Lauren Lazin. If you have the chance you should check this movie out, it's one of the most intriguing and compelling documentaries you'll ever see. Both Raj and I were blown away by the visual poetry, the arresting first-person narration and the exhaustive research. And I know her!

Pretty much the only other time I saw Raj was on Thanksgiving.

Will Ray and his wife Gayle had invited my pal Jimmy and me to their house for Thanksgiving. Will's the ace guitar player in our band The Buzzards. Jimmy couldn't make it so I asked if it was OK if Raj took his place. Gracious Virginians that they are they said "of course." Luckily for me, Gayle and Will have both undergone the so-called "Candida Diet" that I am currently subscribing to and so I would have no trouble eating just about anything she cooked. The other interesting thing about Gayle is that she is a follower of a Hindu guru, or "baba" whose name I couldn't possibly begin to reproduce here. Raj's family is from India and they, too, are Hindus. Plus Gayle had a friend over named Rasha who is both a filmmaker and a Hindu. She is also a pretty attractive California blonde. Raj and I spent about five hours at Will and Gayle's talking about music, filmmaking, Hinduism and the history and traditions of Thanksgiving, since it was Raj's first Thanksgiving ever. It really seemed like something way beyond coincidence or luck. Definitely one of the more interesting afternoons I've had in a while.

Anyway, I dropped by the hostel once more to say good-bye to Raj before he left. He introduced me to an Australian actor/med student whom he has chosen for the lead role in our movie. Apparently he was working on it after all. The next day he called me from England and asked me what the weather is like here in February. "Same as every month, Raj -- it's nice." I asked him why he wanted to know. Seems he's decided to move out here. I guess Raj was bitten by the Hollywood bug. And once you get that Hollywood bug in your blood, there's no cure.

I'm glad I live in Hollywood. I belong here. It's cool to find a place where you belong. Something to be thankful for.

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