The two most worrisome times in a screenwriter’s life are when he does not have a job and as soon as he gets a job. Once he is into the first draft he is fine, but upon agreeing to an assignment he is beset with anxieties: can he make it happen, is it right for him, might it fail because of something beyond his control? (Like casting or the marketing department saying, “We don’t know how to market this,” as they often say and get away with.) Once the screenwriter commits, a hundred people will be counting on him. Millions of dollars are at stake. Jobs will be created. He will have to work hard and fast and cleverly, and give it his heart and soul, and at the end of it he might prove profoundly disappointing to everyone involved and be fired.
The studio will want Adam Sandler as the CEO of the corporation exploiting the Girl Scouts. By the end of the movie the CEO will see the error of his greedy ways, as no real CEO ever has in the history of corporations, not counting the Japanese whose CEO’s have the integrity to kill themselves, and he will adopt one of the little girls, setting up the sequel. (“Annie” joins the Girl Scouts) The director, Roger Whatshisname, would have to defend me as his choice. He would have to convince the studio that I can be funny. Pushback over not hiring a woman to write about Girl Scouts could poison the project.
I could get behind the gag casting of Alec Baldwin playing the same character he played in Glengarry Glen Ross. Cameron Diaz could be the scoutmaster. Her ass is still highly marketable. (I would argue.) Put her in Girl Scout shorts and knee socks and try to resist that when you see the trailer. Or go in the other direction, Melissa McCarthy, and now it’s all about accepting yourself. There’s too much of that going on anyway. (I considered Cameron and Melissa. Dueling scoutmasters.)
I could fill in the rainbow with little girls of every conceivable ethnicity, and for the core group: an obnoxious little scout and a sweet one, a brainy girl and a dumb one, a cutie face and a homely mug. With corresponding moms and dads: the helicopter mom, one who drinks too much, a nerdy dad, a creepy dad. What was it about, I asked myself, a question the writer should not dwell upon because there will be a world of people telling him what it is about, after he finishes the first draft. It has to be funny but not mindless, sophisticated but not inaccessible, ironic but only a little off the sides, sexy but safe. Don’t use the F-word, everybody keeps their clothes on, and you’ve won a PG-13 rating.
All of this mental meandering, second guessing, projecting—in the Hollywood sense of the word—made me sad with its cynicism. Who’s to say it wouldn’t be an intelligent picture with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep and kids you could love, and fully fleshed out parents? It could be the kind of wonderful picture you’ll want to see every Christmas.
(From “Eternal Sojourners”)