Saturday, January 11, 2014

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES...




Hi folks,

Just saw a post on Facebook by my friend Dean Ehle who said he was looking forward to watching the movie THE GREEN MILE on TV and it brought back a memory.

Not a particularly good one!

You see, I have a tenuous connection to that particular movie…

Years ago, I taught fiction writing for the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program. As an instructor, I was able to take free classes from other instructors and vice versa. In a screenwriting class, I became friends with a delightful young lady from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Jodi Stanley. We began a correspondence that led to her and I and our significant others meeting up for drinks and dinner.

Well, one day, I got a phone call from Jodi. Turned out, she was sitting in the California living room of a woman named Mali Finn. Ms. Finn had been her drama teacher in high school and had since migrated out to Hollywood where she’d become a casting director for James Cameron. Jodi was visiting her. The reason Jodi called me was that she’d happened to have a copy of one of my books, MONDAY’S MEAL, with her, and Mali was looking at it and saw my author’s photo on the back. According to Jodi, she began squealing, “This guy’s got the exact look I’m looking for!” Seems she was casting a movie for some guy named James Cameron. She asked Jodi if she thought I’d mind her reaching out to me and Jodi didn’t think I’d mind at all. (That’s called an “understatement” for any nonliterary types out there…). Jodi called me at home in Fort Hooterville and introduced me to Mali and then Mali took over. She explained she was casting a movie titled THE GREEN MILE, had seen my picture, and thought I had the perfect “look” she wanted for a character in the movie.

Well, this is where it gets a bit unbelievable for those of you with a People Magazine subscription. At that time, I had no idea who Mali Finn was. I had no idea who James Cameron was. I had no idea that THE GREEN MILE was a novel by Stephen King. Truth. I knew who Stephen King was, but wasn’t a big fan. I’d read one book of his—something about a car that comes to life—and, to be honest, thought it was kind of silly. I know he’s a big name and all, but his stuff just isn’t my cup of tea. Sorry, King fans…

Anyway, at that point, I realized vaguely that this Finn person was a bona fide Hollywood person and Jodi had told me Cameron was as well (except I didn’t know anything about either one). But, I did realize she was a for-real person in the film biz and this wasn’t some kind of crank call.

So, when she asked if I’d be willing to do a screen test for the role she had in mind, I said, sure. Only then she said there was no money in the budget to fly anyone out for a screen test. They just hadn’t allocated funds for that, figuring they’d get actors from the waiter/cab driver/phone sex worker pool in L.A. She said I’d have to pay my way out there and back, but that if I got the role I’d be reimbursed. Reluctantly, I said, “Ma’am, I don’t have enough gas money to get to the other side of Ft. Wayne right now.” I declined and we said a few other pleasantries and that was the end of our conversation.

Not the photo Mali Finn saw--couldn't locate a copy of it--but this is a photo taken at the same time. If curious about the photo she actually saw, it's here. When you get there, just click on "Back cover" and thas' moi...


My wife Mary was home at the time, but hadn’t heard the conversation. When I told her the name of the movie, she knew instantly that it was a Stephen King novel. (She reads People…) We jumped in the car and drove out to Border’s and sure enough—there it was on the shelf. Actually, there were dozens of copies.

We came back home and looked up James Cameron and found out that he was… a really big deal in Hollywood. As was Mali Finn. I think I remember groaning… I’m pretty sure I found a bottle and began sipping from it. Big sips…

I figured it was too late to call Jodi back so I didn’t. Probably another tactical mistake I made. At that point, I would have borrowed the money to get out there or maybe visited a 7-11 with my persuader… but I just figured that ship had sailed.

I couldn’t bring myself to even watch the movie when it first came out. Didn’t see it until some years later when it was on TV.

I’m not sure what role Mali had in mind for me. She’d just said “one of the guard’s roles,” so I have no idea what she had in mind. I hope it was the guy who didn’t put the sponge in the water. I’d hate to think it was one of the good guy roles…

Lost opportunities… I’ve had a few. That was a pretty big one.

How about you guys? Any missed opportunities at fame and fortune you’ve had you’d like to share? Misery loves company, y’know…

Blue skies,
Les

P.S. Jodi, if you’re reading this, tell me why you didn’t just slap me up alongside the head? Metaphorically, that is…

7 comments:

Margaret Duarte said...

If you count how many writers you've helped so far in your life time,Les, I believe you have more life choices to savor than regret.

Les Edgerton said...

Awwww, Margaret--you say the nicest, nicest things! Thank you, but I've been helped by so many writers and readers in my life I'll never be able to repay them or match what's been done for me

JoAnn Williams said...

Yeah. If you'd been a big hollywood hoo-ha, another Russel Crowe type, you might not have written "Finding Your Voice", or "Hooked". Robert Frost may have been onto something with "The Road Not Taken".

JoAnn Williams said...

Yeah. If you'd been a big hollywood hoo-ha, another Russel Crowe type, you might not have written "Finding Your Voice", or "Hooked". Robert Frost may have been onto something with "The Road Not Taken".

Travis Richardson said...

I walked away from "The Amazing Race" when it was just a working title to follow a girl to northern California. (Shaking my head.) But what is life without the bumps and bruises (mostly from one's own palms pounding the forehead.)

Travis

stacy said...

I wish I would have known you then. I would have given you gas money.

Les Edgerton said...

JoAnn, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten the part. That thing about a photo adding ten pounds to you? On me, it adds about 110... Travis, looks like you've been through the same kind of deal! Stacy, thank you so much. BTW, I still don't have gas money... Except, I'm not going anywhere so it doesn't matter!

Thanks, all!