“I’M BETTING ON IT,” A SHADY PRODUCER TELLS BRICK RIVERS!
Recently, the writers attempted to meet with studio and streaming heads for the first time in over three months. The well-paid CEOs dismissed all the writers’ demands but promised to pay them extra wampum. When it was pointed out that colored beads and trinkets hadn’t been used for payment in California since 1820, the studios fattened the offer to include beaver pelts and an extra two cents.
The streets of Los Angeles are crowded, these days, filled with striking writers and actors who are tired of being paid peanuts by the studios for long, arduous workdays and the threat of AI replacing them. “Actually, peanuts would be an improvement,” one writer told this reporter while flashing a residual check for two cents. “That’s for a year’s work.”
Clearly, the strikes are going to last a long time, plunging various companies into chaos when it comes to releasing new movies and streaming shows. This is just how producer Dick Hyman of The Hyman group likes it.
Ensconced in a hardware store-turned-office in Windsock, Arkansas, Hyman is beaming over the tumultuous times. “I am so in my element, here,” he tells this reporter. “Since the writers’ strike began, I’ve sold two reality shows to Netflix: America’s Worst Meat and Places To Avoid. When the actors joined the strike? I thought, screw ‘em, I’ll use puppets.”
A HISTORY OF FAILURE
At this point in the interview, your scribe has to bring up Hyman’s totally disastrous career in show business, including his legendary flop, The Passion of the Christ on Ice.
“I’m actually touring that show and I’m making money. I cast all ex-hockey players and renamed it Jesus Vs. the Infidels. It’s pretty much a brawl with Jesus and his apostles trying to keep the puck, aka “The Crown of Thorns,” away from him. The Romans, of course, want the opposite. When Jesus’ team wins, the crowd goes wild. When he loses? Riots. But any publicity is good publicity, right?”
“And your sudden interest in puppetry?”
“I was stuck in a motel and watched a re-run of the British show Spitting Image. It’s a sketch show using celebrity hand puppets. I thought if I could get hold of old TV scripts, re-write them and get some celebrity puppets, I’d make a fortune!”
“And how did you pick Windsock?”
“I got pulled over for a DUI, but the cop recognized my name from the Jesus show. He said it was like going to Church and watching wrestling! He totally got it.”
“DOESN’T THAT VIOLATE CHILD LABOR LAWS?”
Hyman’s excitement grew. “I told him of my plans, and he sparked to it, calling in his friends, the principal of Windsock High, Francis Muldoon, and the head of the Drama Department, Gunther Toody. They were all for it. We figured we’d use the students to do all the work in exchange for straight “A’s.” If the kids are seniors? They also get glowing recommendations to colleges.”
“Doesn’t that violate child labor laws?” this reporter queries.
“In this state? I think you can be a welder if you have a Kindergarten diploma,” Hyman smirks. “Any kid working on this gets $5 an hour.”
“Those are slave wages!” this scribe exclaims.
“Yeah, but without the beatings. These kids are killing it. They’re making puppets, scenery, and even the puppet theater. Some kids are great at vocal imitations. I have to record them soon before their voices change.”
“And what are the Principal, Drama teacher, and the cop getting out of all this?”
“Free nights at the ‘Club Boom-Dee Yay’ in the next town, Violent Falls. After a certain point, these guys don’t even notice that the dancers are so old they’re using the polls for support.”
“And Annie Crabtree’s writing classes are nailing the scripts.”
“What does she get?”
Hyman blushes. “She finds me ‘exotic.’”
This reporter has nothing to say. Hyman notices.
“WOULDN’T YOU LIKE TO SEE WOODY ALLEN AND MIA FARROW STAR IN I LOVE LUCY?”
“Okay,” Hyman says, “You’re not looking at the Big Picture, here. Wouldn’t you like to see Woody Allen and Mia Farrow star in I Love Lucy? How about Kanye West and Michael Jackson in Starsky and Hutch or Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Cher and Elton John in The Golden Girls? This could be ground-breaking TV!”
This reporter mulls over the entire project. “Okay. Suppose you pull this off and then, the strikes end. Real writers and actors are back at work. What do you do, then?”
Hyman doesn’t blink. “Netflix loves Korean shows. I’ll have the whole thing dubbed into Korean and pass it off as a Korean series.”
“And if that doesn’t work?”
Hyman thinks hard. “I’ll declare bankruptcy and picket myself.”
“Last option?” he gulps. “I’ll join a union.”
He begins coughing like a cat locating a hairball.