• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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She stood there bright as the sun on that california coast

Home. Very happy to be home. It’s no secret that I always wanted to work in Hollywood, and that I’m still chewing on a screenplay (#4), etc. But the real secret is that I could kiss the tarmac at JFK and everyone I’ve ever met in publishing because when you find an editor who loves a manuscript and offers you an advance, a contract comes, and in a year or so a manuscript is completed and put into production, and eight or nine months later, an author holds a book in his hands that is the culmination of his creative dream. And people have a chance to read it.

When I was a young associate editor at Ballantine, one of the first novels I acquired got a million dollar movie deal — overnight. The author and I went to the Brasserie, ordered steaks and martinis to celebrate. When I got back to the office, I threw up in my garbage pail and passed out on the floor. Those were the days! Of course, nothing like that has ever happened since, and I’ve learned over the years how complex a process it is to get a movie off the ground. Complex is a euphemism for fucking mind fuck. Still, I love it, I love movies, and the level of difficulty only spurs me on . I’m cool with Hollywood breaking my heart; but does it have to shit on my face, too?

16 Responses

  1. Yes.

  2. Welcome back! Hollywood is nothing if not a tempting hell for writers, and I hope back here you can sit on someone else’s hands for a change.

    To make you feel better, a friend of yours just left you a Valentine.

  3. First – love Mr. Potato Head!

    Second – in answer to your question, well, yes. Life sucks sometimes but, as long as the dream burns bright, I really think the crap is worthwhile. Yeah, I could do with a bit less, but . . .

  4. Welcome back; love the Louvin Bros. reference

  5. Whatever it takes. I was warned by an author friend when I first thought about taking writing seriously. He said, “It’s a long road and your going to learn patience like you never knew.” And he ended with the sentiment, “If your heart isn’t it – don’t do it. This business can chew you up and spit you out.”

    Surprisingly I decided to dip my toe in anyway. I’m still working on submerging myself fully. (However I’m beginning to think I already jumped in with both feet). (Hugs)Indigo

  6. A sense of futility is a writer’s best friend. Read Fitzgerald’s “The Crack Up.”

    The famous quote: “the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

    is followed by one we can truly live with. “One should, for example be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise.”

    Thanks for the blog Betsy. It is never a slog.

  7. Nothing chocolate can’t cure. 🙂

  8. Did the movie ever get made from the million dollar deal or did it get strung out for years?

    Still – it’d be nice to get a million dollar deal…

  9. Jason is a total babe! Now and then… Did you get to meet him?

  10. I’ll have to add RUSH to my netflix queue. What a crazy ride. And as I always say, if someone doesn’t puke or cry, it wasn’t a good night.

  11. Sorry for coming a bit late to this thread.

    I never read the book, but Rush was a terrific and moving film. It was an accomplishment for you to have set it up, Betsy. Getting any movie made is a miracle. Hollywood agent David Warden once told me “Hollywood is set up to NOT make movies, but every once in a while, one slips through the cracks.”

    He was right. For several years, I was a literary manager for screenwriters selling speculatively written screenplays and film rights for books to Hollywood. I was fun, frustrating, exhausting and exciting all at the same time, and I had a fair amount of success.

    But I gave it up over six years ago when the ethos and SOP of studios had grown to a point that made it overwhelmingly difficult to sell any original material. The business had evolved to a point that just about the only things the studios would produce had to be based on known commodities: video games, graphic novels, comic books, popular (and sometimes literary) novels, previously existing films (for sequels and prequels) — namely anything with any kind of name recognition. They’d also take a concept with name recognition, hire some working writer(s) to come up with a story to fit under the title, and turn it into a movie. Remember “Dodge Ball”?

    The cowardice when it came to taking any risk, and the rapidly increasing amount of money it took to make a film took any joy out of selling wonderful stories. The fact that the scripts I was trying to sell had far more merit than the product the studios put out totally turned me off to the business.

    As Betsy said, in publishing, when you get a contract, you will actually see a product appear within a couple of years. With a film, it may never happen. As tough as the odds are, publishing seems a more viable place for a writer.

    These days, I’m in another business entirely, but have been using my lit manager skills to research potential agents for my wife to approach with her recently finished novel. She’s been fortunate enough to have a couple of good agents request full mms. I think she has a chance.

    And now when anyone tells me they’re

  12. Sorry my post blathered on so long. And that last like should have been deleted.

  13. Hey Ed, that wasn’t blathering, but a fully informed, well-thought reflection on how the business operates and what it does to people. Much appreciated.

    P.S. Until I looked it up, I thought your mention of SOP meant Shit On a Platter.

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