17 Jul


“You’re gonna have a sleepless night,” says Michael. “But it’s important you do it.”

It’s my turn to step up and pitch, a prospect that gives me the willies. Mambo Sun is more my idea than Michael’s. With all the changes we’ve been making, Michael is worried whether he can keep the characters names straight.

Michael and I are sitting at California Bowl, having lunch, and I’m telling him, “Pitching is completely against my nature. You know me – I don’t hesitate to give my opinion.  But when have you ever seen me take center stage and tell a story? It’s not me. It’s totally contrary to what and who a writer is.”

“Yeah, but you got to face your fear,” says Michael, “What if-

“I know, I know. You have car trouble –

“Or I’m sick –

”Right. I gotta do it.”

And you know what? It’s part of the game. You can take refuge in the identity of the writer, but when all is said and done, you’re a Hollywood writer. So get in the game. Either that or put the car in reverse and back into the Jersey driveway you sped out of.

That night, when I tell Devon on the phone how nervous I am, he says, “C’mon Dad, you were the guy who got crazy in Love Henry. Of course you can do it.”

It’s very telling that I don’t share any of my fears with Ann. I think she would relish them.

I don’t have a sleepless night, but I do have disturbing dreams, of Devon hang-gliding over a lake surrounded by jagged trees, of me having a knife fight with a punk, and then – the wide awake weirdness – lying in bed in the dawn and hearing a woman screaming and then slowly realizing it’s a dump-truck changing gears.

In the morning, I read my pitch over a bowl of LIFE cereal.

Thinking over the pitch as I drive to work, asking myself, “What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re where you want to be. JLo’s company wants to hear your idea for a film. This isn’t a challenge – it’s an opportunity.”

Sitting at my desk, getting an e-mail from Michael. “I read your pitch – beautiful….”

That meant a lot to me.

He especially loved one paragraph:

“There’s a moment, and it can happen to anyone, when they look around and see that they’re missing something – they’re missing the point of life – but the people around them get it – they’re either effortlessly in love, or grounded in their community and enjoying life – they’re not keeping score.

This is what happens to John, our main character in Mambo – a Cuban-American living in Miami, who when we meet him, couldn’t care less about his Cuban heritage – it means nothing to him.”

And then I get a call from Matt Robinson an hour before I’m to leave for the drive into LA, to meet Michael outside the offices of Nuyorican Productions.

“We gotta reschedule,” says Matt. “I can’t go into it, but there’s a real crisis going down. You come in to pitch and Simon won’t even hear you. The phone will be ringing the whole time. We’ll have to reschedule for next week.”

When I get Michael on the phone he’s mightily pissed. “I read your pitch – I was ready to go in there like we were fuckin’ golden!”

I guess I really do have a little of the pussy in me – I feel relieved. This gives me a week to gather some more strength.



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