Picking up where we left off...I became friendly with a girl I worked with at "Celebrities Uncensored", and she used to work at an agency. She had a lot of great connections, and was kind enough to read my screenplays and give them to her friends. She thought I was a good writer and respected my opinion, and gave me the script her dad was producing called "Dying for Dolly" to see what I thought.
Obviously, I thought it was awful, cause it was. And we compared notes about it.
I found myself in an interesting position. I had no agent. No prospects. I was writing screenplays that were going nowhere. And yet I was within spitting distance of a green lit movie that needed a rewrite on the cheap. And even though I was young and an idiot, I knew that there are very few of those around.
Thus, I volunteered my services. And I got no response. Who was I? No one. But I really had nothing to lose. So I thought of a genius idea: I would write a few sample scenes of what I would do with the rewrite.
I quickly got to work and wrote two pretty big scenes. They came rather easily, and I thought they were good. I gave them to my friend, and she gave them to her dad. He liked them too, but wasn't willing to give me a shot.
The movie stalled. They had writers do some rewrites, but it wasn't going well. I figured I had two options: I could turn another one of my ideas into a screenplay, or I could write a new "Dying for Dolly" screenplay and hand it to Lionsgate, even though they didn't ask me for it.
The answer seemed pretty obvious. I had written 4 scripts to that point, and didn't have much to show for them. So who cares if I rewrote this and nothing happened? It was worth the risk.
So I did it. I just started writing. I used the character names from the original script and the basic plot, and wrote my own version. It seems a little crazy thinking about it now.
Meanwhile, "Celebrities Uncensored" got canceled. I've written about this before, but that show and Howard Stern were the highest rated shows on E! However, they didn't care. It was vitally important to them that their audience be 35 year old women with 2 cats, and those shows were not bringing in that crowd. Also, CU was screwing over E! news because so many celebrities hated the show. Alas, they got rid of us and Howard.
I was unemployed again. But a friend came to the rescue. It really is all about who you know. Everywhere I've gotten in this place is because of friends, which is weird because I'm not good at making friends.
This was another girl who worked on "Celebrities Uncensored". E! was doing a pilot for a new series and they needed someone to write jokes. She told them about me, and they asked for a sample. I wrote 10 jokes and sent them over. Here are 2 of the jokes that I submitted:
JC Chasez had to change the cover of his new CD after complaints from schizophrenics. They weren’t upset about the use of Schizophrenia to sell records so much as they were troubled by the fact that JC Chasez has a solo CD.Brilliant, right? Herpes! Who can resist herpes jokes?
The Simple Life had to halt production because star Paris Hilton was bucked off her horse. Paris came away from the incident with no serious injuries. However, the horse tested positive for herpes.
I was in San Francisco visiting my parents and my phone rang. "Hey Irwin, we liked your jokes and the job is yours. But you have to be here tomorrow morning or we're giving your job to someone else". It's so nice to be respected and valued, but that's how the good folks at E! operate.
I changed my plane ticket and headed home that night.
I went in the next morning, excited that my official title was "writer", and discovered that the guy who hired me and the new Executive Producer of the show hated each other. There was a war going on and I was suddenly in the middle of it.
They were in the final days of casting the host of the show, and it was down to two people. A guy you might recognize named Jack Plotnick, and a guy who no one would recognize, at least at the time, Joel McHale.
The next day, Joel was chosen. The day after that, the Executive Producer came into my office and said, "have fun! I'm outta here!" And quit.
We were supposed to shoot the pilot in 3 days, and we had nothing, and now no executive producer.
Joel came in, and he and I wrote the thing as fast as we could. We shot it and it seemed okay enough, and E! told me "we'll let you know if anything happens with this".
And I was unemployed again.
Funny, at the time I thought the movie was my big chance. But it turned out, this stupid E! thing was the real opportunity.
Anyway, I finished the screenplay as fast as I could and gave it to Lionsgate. And they liked it. At least, they liked it better than the original. And things were starting to look really good for me...
And then this happened:
DMX Arrested for Alleged CarjackingThe movie was dead.
Rapper and actor DMX was arrested on charges that he and another man tried to steal a car in a parking lot at Kennedy Airport, authorities said.
DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, and Jackie Hudgins were arrested Thursday night after Port Authority police interrupted a dispute between the two and another man whose car they allegedly tried to steal, authorities said.
A preliminary investigation indicated that Simmons may have identified himself as a federal agent, according to Tony Ciavolella, a Port Authority spokesman.
Simmons and Hudgins were arrested on charges of attempted robbery, criminal impersonation and criminal mischief, he said. They were in custody and were expected to be taken to central booking in Queens late Thursday.
But there was a silver lining: The producer at Lionsgate told me, "well, if we ever do make this movie, we're gonna use your script".
Around this time the pilot I did with Joel got picked up. It was called "The What the F- Awards?". Three or four episodes later, E! got a new President. And he decided to tie it in with the old "Talk Soup" and call it "The Soup". That was smart. But then he decided to fuck Chelsea Handler. That was dumb.
I was writing on "The Soup", and it was fun. We had a great time, and a very, very talented group of people. But we assumed we weren't that talented because we were working at E!
Meanwhile, I would just literally email the names of famous black guys to the people at Lionsgate. Hey, what about Method Man? Red Man? Flavor Flav? Urkel?
That summer, Usher came out with an album called "Confessions" that absolutely blew up. I emailed them Usher's name. I'm sure it had nothing to do with me, but suddenly they were interested in Usher to do the movie and he was interested back. It seemed like a miracle.
They offered him a million dollars to do it, and he agreed. "Dying for Dolly" was back on again, but now it was called "In the Mix".
In the next chapter: the dream comes true, and it becomes a nightmare...