Teaser 278: The Premiere Party and its Aftermath

The party carried on well into the wee hours of the morning, one of my favorite times of the day. What little negative comments I heard or were passed on to me concerned the length of the movie. It was simply too long. If it was directed to me I responded as simply. “In the somewhat buried history of human past, tribes often gathered together, everyone, adults, children, male, female, all would gather for the ritual, performed regularly and generally at the same time annually, and the ritual would take place uninterrupted for hours and hours, sometimes days at a time. I'll bet you not one complained it was too long, for what came from it, as was anticipated by the elders, was a bonding, a joining of all the individuals into a melding of the entire tribe. It would be impossible for me to consider what our future would be now without it and I believe it would be impossible for you to consider it, too. We may have failed in a bonding of ourselves with the audience, the spectators, due to a learned aesthetic skepticism which intellectually diminishes the pure artistic effect, but I'll tell you one thing. Everyone in the company has certainly bonded. Not one of us considers what we did as an individual accomplishment. It was an entire group, tribal achievement.” That's what you read the following day in the New York Times since their reporter was right there to hear it, though I didn't know he was from the Times. He introduced himself to me as a reporter from America, the slick bastard. On the other hand, in his defense, it never occurred to me to ask which media outlet he represented. Frankly, I never asked any of them, although I recognized some. I didn't care. I tried to accommodate all by giving very short interviews, but always encouraged each to interview others. All in the company accommodated any of the media in this manner, some better than others, some more reluctant than others, but everyone had something published about them and every one included their names. After this night none would escape back to obscurity but I had told everyone from the beginning once we finished our performance on stage in Basel, obscurity would only be a dream.

Before the after party concluded, the movie opened in Japan and Australia, moving across the globe westward. A media outlet based in Sydney published one of the most glowing reviews of all. The reporter, a rock music critic of some renown, even internationally, gushed at the performance from a strictly rock music viewpoint, despite the fact not a single original song was performed. Our versions of iconic rock songs were true enough to the originals, but diverged to add to each, it reminded the critic of iconic symphonies performed by unique orchestras. Add to it the visual impact the movie provided, Myth of Man and Woman could be considered one of the boldest and most complete stage performances by an ensemble of musicians, actors, and dancers. Perhaps ever. That was how the review finished. The theater in Sydney ran Myth of Man and Woman to a full house every night well into September, though it may have been due to the fact we couldn't sign another Sydney theater. Most large cities all over the world included several theaters. Tokyo, alone, opened with seven, most filling every seat for months. New York had four, Los Angeles had three, the Chicago area had six, all from the Chicago group, I should add, since I offered the president an exclusive which he gratefully accepted. The second week of release our movie was number one in box office receipts world-wide, during the summer, the blockbuster season. There were a couple of military, gung-ho action flicks out at the same time, one being number one when we opened. We trounced them both and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially since both were showing in four times the theaters, if not more. Obviously, those theaters weren't packed, like ours. The success was so stunning theater owners were begging us because we never lowered our standards for showing. Without full, professional sound equipment and a full-length, wide screen, we denied them. I personally had to engage several owners who were extremely unhappy with us. I told them to invest some money in their theaters for proper and true reproduction capabilities or go away. “I didn't do this on the cheap and I'll never allow anyone to show it on the cheap. Put your skin in the game or quit bothering me.”

The day after the premiere, mid-afternoon, I received a call, though it was very early in the morning in California, from my electronics friend. He knew about the movie and congratulated me, but his real reason for calling was to ask me if I wanted to meet with the photographer who snapped those compromising photos. He had some information about Serena's ex-husband which might interest me. The photographer had been to the premiere and was still in Munich. “Do you want to meet with him?”

“Why? It's all in the past.”

“I heard from my friend it concerns the model who had the last meeting with him, the one photographed meeting with him after he already knew about you and Serena.”

I thought about it a moment. What can it hurt? “He speaks English?”

“Yes. I'll give you his name and number. You decide, Al.”

I called the number later and talked with the photographer. He didn't want to discuss it over the phone and asked if we could meet for lunch the following day. I agreed.

A few minutes after we settled at the table and placed our orders, I asked Alain what he had for me. “It's all second hand, Al-Barrak. These people are all leery talking with paparazzi, so I've heard it from various sources, but the model who met with Serena's now ex-husband when your two movies were playing says she was asked to marry him. Supposedly, she says he said Serena was in love with you, he called you by name, and it was only a matter of time and their marriage would be over. He said Serena wanted to end the marriage, their marriage was never going to be fixed because she wanted you. You were the man she loved and the ex-husband had broken some promise to her. It was only a matter of time, the marriage would end, and he wanted to marry this model. That's what I've heard.”

“But he hasn't married this model.”

“She didn't want him, still doesn't, but you never married Serena, though you should have married her.”

“I broke it off. Everyone knows it. Serena wanted adulation, still wanted to bathe in the glamour of show biz and I had enough of it. Besides he filed for divorce before I got to Europe. Serena had to go through that and without your pictures the divorce would have been very messy.”

“Those pictures were going to come out. I tracked him for years on a very discreet tip he may be involved in some shady dealings. I only happened to catch him with the two models before and snapped the pictures because I happened to be there. Why not? But it wasn't what I was after and I held onto them because I didn't want to tip him off. I was after something bigger, but I got another tip about the last model. That's why I was there.” Alain paused a moment and smiled big and wide. “Since then, I've been trying to determine how the tip got to me and you won't believe it when I tell you.”

“I don't think you can surprise me about any of it, Alain.”

“Oh, yeah? Try this one. Asking back through my sources, I've been able to determine the tip to me came right from Serena's ex-husband himself. He let it be known he was meeting this model before he met with her. The tip came from Serena's ex-husband.”

“How can you be sure, Alain?”

“When you, Al-Barrak, hear something from someone you trust, do you not consider it true?”

“When it comes from a trusted source, yes.”

All are trusted sources, Al-Barrak, every one.” I looked at Alain wide-eyed, disbelieving. “He was setting himself up to be caught as an adulterer before he even filed for divorce.”

“You're right, Alain. I don't believe it.”

“I couldn't believe it when I first heard it either, but the pictures I had were going to come out. Once he filed for divorce, I only had to find a way to reach you. That was all it took. I could never get really solid evidence on his suspected dealings, but I knew he was using the corporation's legal team for the divorce, and when that became known to the Board of Directors, he's been on his best behavior since. I helped you. You helped me.”

Best behavior, he's been on his best behavior since. I couldn't stop thinking about it all day, but I still didn't believe it. I liked Alain, though. He wouldn't go into any specifics of these suspected shady dealings and I considered it commendable. To Alain it was all confidential. Before we parted I gave him opportunity to snap some photos for which I posed with his suggestions. I wondered, why would Serena's husband set himself up to get caught like that? If true, what was his motive? I couldn't figure it out, so I didn't believe it. Besides, I had other things on my mind.

- Just Desserts, Segment Thirty-FourDebut of a Movie Mogul” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

contact me, as always: schussprose@gmail.com