Does this Eye-rainian explode at the end of the movie?
February 15, 2000
The other day, Faramarz asked me to substitute for him at an important
meeting with a Holleywood producer. He wanted me to pitch one of his many
screenplays. He would have pitched it himself, except that there was a
semi-weekly bi-annual end-of-the-month special clearance sale at a belt
buckle store and he just had to be there. I told him I didn't know anything
about movies, but he assured me that neither do movie producers, otherwise
why would anyone make movies with Steven Segal as the star? Faramarz,
however, told me that this was an important producer, a special one, who
had produced such big hits as "Deep Volcano", "Extreme Armageddon",
"Runaway Bridal Shower", and "Buy Hard, Part 18".
I showed up for my appointment at the posh office of Mister Hotshot
producer at 9 AM sharp. His secretary, Cindy, whose race, nationality,
age, political affiliation, and sports team alliance I could not tell invited
me to sit and wait for Howard. A tall, handsome, and confident looking
man with a screenplay in hand walked in and was shown to Howard's office
"Who was that?"
"That was Howard's 9:30 appointment."
"But I was here first. Howard doesn't have the right to keep me
waiting for hours. He's not a doctor."
"Of course not! Howard is a producer."
When I continued protesting, she showed me a chart of the food chain,
and lo' and behold, a movie producer is rated higher up than a doctor,
a CEO, and even an auto mechanic. In fact, a movie producer's status is
only surpassed by a green grocer back in Iran.
Then she got on the phone and called the deli to order lunch for herself.
I was very impressed that there actually was a deli open for lunch at
9 AM. I began to check out the movie posters covering the walls. The
poster for "Buy Hard, Part 18" read:
"Middle Eastern terrorists from the Middle East disguised as Middle
Eastern terrorists from the Middle East have kidnaped the respectable alcoholic
wife of an innocent Beverly Hills sweat-shop factory owner and are threatening
to blow up the 90210 zip code unless they can buy all of Beverly Hills
for fifty five cents. There is only one man who can stop them..."
Yes. The old "only one man" scenario... The caption for "Deep
Volcano" read: "Deep beneath the crust of the planet Earth, an
evil Middle Eastern volcano has been laying dormant for 200 billion years.
It is about to burst out and turn the world into one giant lava soup.
There is no escaping from it. Only one man can..." I thought about
the implications of a deep volcano and realized it wasn't such a bad thing
because it would solve the shortage of sangeh-paa from which the world
now suffers. The caption for "Extreme Armageddon" read: "Jupiter
has been blown up by terrorist moons from the Middle East, and Earth is
being bombarded by chunks of Middle Eastern terrorist moons of Jupiter.
No weapon can stop them. The world is about to end. Only one man can
stop it..." Not another one man show... Yawn.
When she finally hung up the phone I got up and asked her if she was
available for a date.
"Yes! What time were you going to pick me up?"
"Oh, I'm not asking you out. I was just wondering about your background.
Now I know you're not Iranian." She rolled her eyes and continued
to blow bubbles with her bubble gum. At this point the door opened and
the prospective screenwriter walked out with tears rolling down his face.
Behind him a screaming Howard stormed up to the door and threw the screenplay
at him. For a second I thought there were worms crawling on Howard's forehead,
but then I realized they were only vains dangerously close to bursting.
"You dumb jerk. No wild orgies, no incest, no murder, no explosions,
no car chases, no last second bomb deactivation, no end of the world and
worst of all, NO MIDDLE EASTERN TERRORISTS!!! Whatever the hell kind of
screenplay is this, you sissy boy? There is more wholesome sex, violence
and Middle Eastern terrorists in one Brady Bunch rerun than this piece
of doo-doo you call a script."
Cindy pointed to me. "Howard, he is your 9 AM appointment."
"Oh, the hell with my 9 AM appointment, 10 AM appointment, 11 AM
"But Howard, he has been waiting for hours."
"DON'T GO THERE, GIRLFRIEND," he shook his finger at Cindy
and slammed the door behind him. Cindy looked at me and shrugged and popped
another bubble in her bubble gum. The prospect of running out of there
without being subjected to the wrath of Howard was actually quite appealing.
But before I had a chance to grab the screenplay and scram, the intercom
squealed and mister walking-heart-attack barked:
"Cindy, babe, call my wife and cancel dinner with her. I'm just
too stressed. Call my mistress and move the cocktail up to 7, and send
in that other fruitcake in the lobby who's staring at your excessive make-up."
And so I walked in with much trepidation. Howie was smoking a cigar
and his hands were shaking.
"I'm working with morons, you hear? Morons! Imbeciles! There
are all these action themes that haven't been fully exploited yet, like
a swarm of blood sucking ants, or a killer tsunami and yet there are people
who want to write scripts about... life. I just don't get it. We have
an obligation to the public to give them action... So, whatcha got there,
boy? Action? Adventure?"
"Uh. I was thinking maybe a movie about a guy."
"What's so damned special about this 'guy'?"
"Well, sir, he is Iranian, Mr Iceberg."
"The name is Eisenberg, not Iceberg. Eye-rainian guy? Good good.
I haven't seen a decent script with a good, nasty Middle Eastern villain
in a loooong time. Does this Eye-rainian explode at the end of the movie?"
"No sir. He's a doctor and..."
"So what, doctors can't explode? If he doesn't explode, then he
must be kidnaping his daughter and taking his sweet mother in-law hostage,
locking himself up on top of the Empire State building until the SWAT team
blows his freakin' brains out and he falls off the building. Good story.
I like it already, son."
"Well, Mr Icenberg, that's very compelling, but not quite what
I had in mind."
"The name is Eisenberg, not Icenberg, and what exactly did you
have in your little mind, boy?"
"In my version this doctor saves the life of a patient who happens
to be prejudiced against Middle Easterners and they make friends through
which the prejudiced man overcomes his prejudices."
"What? Son, let me teach you a thing or two about the movie industry.
This business needs good ethnicities and bad ethnicities. Germans, Russians
and the Japs used to be the bad guys. The public is tired of them as bad
guys now and instead wants to see Eye-rainians and Ey-rabs blown up for
a change. So, don't give me any of this good Eye-rainian crapola or try
to shove some kind of a goody good moral point down the public's throat."
"Sir, do you have a kid?"
"I'm not telling. You might kidnap her and hold her for ransom..."
"Don't you think your kid is more at risk of being blown up by
a Mid-Western kid with pipe bombs and guns than being kidnaped by a Middle-Eastern
terrorist? After all, kids are now raised on a diet of blow-them-up video
games and shoot-them-up movies that you guys put out..."
"Hmm... Okay, here is my final offer. You take that script, change
the story so that the doctor is working on an anti-discrimination potion
to cure his racist friend, and injects a lizard with it to test the potion,
as the result of which the lizard turns into a Middle Eastern terrorist
monster who eats the doctor and kidnaps all the children in North America
and holds them hostage, and there is only one man who can stop the lizard
and that's the prejudiced man. Then come and see me and we'll talk."
So, since then Faramarz has been working on such a script for Howard.
It's called "Sudden Godzilla".
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