Teaser 099: I’m a Country Bumpkin, You Know

I flew into New York, met my driver, got my luggage and meandered through New York to my hotel, where I was besieged by camera crews until well after ten at night. 60 Minutes dropped by for an hour. That's all I would give them for the interview in New York. They were going to shoot some stuff with me later, but this was the interview part of their “story.” They told me it was tentatively titled From Low Life to High Life. Yeah, whatever. Camilla and Bernard were there and they became a topic for one of the questions posed. “Gregory, you have your own makeup person and hair person with you right here. That's not living the high life?” Followed by my answer. “Camilla and Bernard accompany me only when I have to appear on camera. Camilla does my makeup for consistency, since she does it consistently every time. She worked on the movie. I can't depend on your makeup people, just as I can't depend on ABC's, or NBC's, or CNN's. Shall I continue with your competition? Everybody does it differently but Camilla does it right every time and I want consistency. As for Bernard, well, he simply performs magic. I couldn't do this with my hair. It's so thin it flies around even when there's no breeze at all. So, if I wasn't a public figure and no one from the media wanted me to appear on camera, I wouldn't need either, like everyone else out there. You know as well as I do appearance in this business matters, because you got smeared for makeup, too.” They edited it, of course, so there's my entire answer to the question.

I met with three more interviewers and camera crews at the hotel, ordered room service, ate a meal, drank a couple beers and bungled off to bed. The next morning I was up at six, showered and ordered coffee and breakfast of eggs, sausage and rye toast. Three more interviews, all over the phone, off to the airport, flying down to Atlanta and meeting more camera crews, Camilla and Bernard both accompanying me on the same flights. Once those were complete I called John. “What were the numbers last week, John?”

“A little over two million. We cracked the top twenty-five.”

“That's still pretty good for an independent with no studio distribution in the States only, don't you think, John?”

“Yes, it's actually very good. How are you holding up?”

“Camilla, Bernard and I are headed to the airport now. We're through, we're done, we're quitting!...for the day.”

“It will still be relatively early in the evening when you arrive out here. Why don't you come to my place for a bite and a drink and we'll chat. Then, Pamela can dote on you. She loves it, you know. She thinks you don't take care of yourself well enough.”

“I'm shocked, John!” I feigned surprise. “You mean she's forgiven me for skinny dipping at Serena's?”

“No. She thinks it was a curious anomaly.”

“Okay, well, tell her I'll keep my clothes on this time and she can dote.”

As John, Pamela and I sat in their living room and chatted while sipping drinks, I told them about my latest conversation with the Chicago president. He had called to tell me he was getting rumblings from the studios, one providing a particular threat. I said, “Let me guess. Sony?” How did I know that? “It fits their M.O. You know what I'd do if I were you?” What? “In those multiplexes where you want to give us a second screen, I'd pull one of the Sony offerings.” Once he stopped laughing he told me it's exactly what they've done. The studios were trying to play hardball, but when you try it, you better bring the bats with you. You can't win a baseball game with defense only. You can win at football with defense only. You can win at basketball with defense only, but you can't win a baseball game if you can't plate anyone. The best you can hope for is a tie, except there are no ties in baseball. You keep playing another inning until one team scores. In June, the first month of the “blockbuster summer season,” Sony's box office revenue dropped five percent from a slow month of May. We were plating our ballplayers. The studios were not.

John told me they already had over two hundred screens in the United Kingdom. Independents throughout the islands were contacting us to show our movie and many were selling every seat in the theater almost every showing. Not one of us had even set foot in the U.K. and we were already kicking the studios in the teeth there. We had a potential thousand more screens if we would only appear in the islands. That was coming this week and one of the theater groups anxious to meet us was the British arm of a chain in the States. The dominoes were already falling. “I'll bet Ken loved hearing it,” I said.

“Ken was the one who brought it to my attention,” John said smiling. “He was laughing.”

“The six of us need to get over there, John, as soon as possible and strike while we're hot, because we are hot. Ken and Will can visit Ireland. I can go to Scotland, because I have Scottish ancestors, and I can fake a pretty good Scottish accent. You take England, Drake can hit Wales, and Serena can hit the continent. We already have a handful of screens on the continent, according to Gloria, specialty houses that often show movies in English. Serena can hit Spain if we have the Spanish version ready.”

“It will be ready before the week's ended. She wants to go to Spain and meet up with Jennifer and Antonio and she thinks you should be there, too. The four stars of the movie appearing together for the first time since the L.A. premiere. I think it's a great move. What do you think?”

“After Scotland, yeah. Everyone will be speaking Spanish and I'll stand there grinning and clueless.”

John chartered a jet and crew and we flew to London Monday evening in the lap of luxury. Holy crap! We were greeted at the airport by a delirious mob and the media greeted us as “six of the hottest stars in Hollywood all gathered together to conquer Europe.” I heard the coverage wasn't like this in the States. Remember, at this time, most of the media worked for movie studios or vice versa. Providing coverage which reflects poorly on the studios is not what you could depend on from the media here, unless it concerns a rival studio, and some of the media trounced their studio competition, tending to do so with “kid gloves.” I expressed, when a microphone was stuck in my face, which was often, it was a bit difficult for me to consider myself the equivalent of my colleagues on this trip. “I'm a country bumpkin, you know.” Reviews, critics, and other industry pundits had been writing and saying I was a viable candidate for best actor, but I blew it off. “We'll see,” was the only comment I would make. I didn't think the nominating committees would consider me which was fine. I never did this for awards. I don't give a rat's ass about awards. I wanted to be involved in making a great movie and kicking the studios in the teeth.

- Just Desserts, Segment TwelveVeni! Vidi! Vici!” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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