A Deputy Sheriff/Published Author meets an insane Hollywood Agent. They go on a wild ride through Hollywood, and like an episode out of Gilliagan’s Island, everytime Mister Wonderful is about to make them rich, a ball of string rolls by and he’s distracted.
I met my former theatrical agent in August of 2001. For the purpose of this story I will be referring to him as Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful was a radio station producer and I am a 25-year deputy sheriff, in Sonoma County, California. A contract for a major movie deal can range from five hundred thousand to a million dollars, not to mention that if you make one good movie, well then, you'll be making more. On the television show Survivor, the winner walks away with a million dollars. As you will read, after dealing with Mr. Wonderful for almost two years, I think I would have rather ate bugs on the island.
I met Mr. Wonderful for the first time at his radio station in Sonoma County. I had just published an audio book and met him before going on his morning show to promote my story. He told me that he was a theatrical agent and wanted to represent me to Castlerock Productions in Hollywood. He claimed to have a contact with Rob Reiner.
I should have run when my wife Melanie, warned me that Mr. Wonderful was an idiot. Oh, by the way, she's the one who named him, "Mr. Wonderful." She was not at all impressed with this guy. I don't think there is anything worse than not listening to your wife and later discovering that she was right. Our first family get together was at Mr. Wonderful's home for dinner. We brought pizza. When we left their home and stopped at the 7-11 Store around the corner from Mr. Wonderful's apartment, he coincidentally was in the store. He didn't see me. I noticed him at the register arguing to get store credit for a quart of beer. I have to admit, he was a fast talker. Unfortunately, I was star struck and thought, or I should say hoped, that there was more to this guy than my first observations. I was soon going to discover that I was wrong.
Mr. Wonderful wanted me to come over to his home almost every day of the week. He lived in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife and 18 cats. He would lure me over with promises of conference calls to Rob Reiner of Castlerock. I knew the calls were real because he would put them on his speakerphone. All of the calls were the same. He'd call Reiner's office and a receptionist would tell him that Reiner would call him back however, no call was ever returned.
He'd converted his garage into an office. He had pictures of former clients on the wall. There was an office desk, elevated TV and a couch that actually made the room look like an executive's office, with one little glitch; it was a garage, and the roll-up-door needed to be open in order to allow light in. His 18 cats lived in the apartment and in a closed off section of his garage. His wife worked and usually wasn't home when I was there. I was using vacation time from work in order to go to his garage and accomplish nothing. It was always my job to pick up cigarettes and beer before coming over. After a while, this started to get a little old.
Mr. Wonderful always had something going. He had connected with Dick Riordon, former Mayor of Los Angeles. I could hear the speaker phone calls, as Mr. Wonderful negotiated his cooperation in order to convince Dick Riordon to join the Actor's Guild. Mr. Wonderful wanted to represent him as a theatrical agent. He told Dick Riordon about my story and asked him for a letter of intent to act as one of the main characters. Dick sounded interested. I sent him a couple of books with treatments. Shortly after receiving the materials, Dick told my agent that he was indeed interested in playing the retired FBI agent in the movie. As you will read in this story I will be using the word, UNFORTUNATELY , many times. Unfortunately, Mr. Wonderful refused to call him back to follow up on his involvement and nothing further happened with Dick Riordon.
By late November I was starting to see the reality. Reiner might like my story, but for whatever reason was not getting back to us. Mr. Wonderful's life was complicated. He had no car, major money problems and a little-old-lady landlord who rented to him with a no pet clause. Did I mention that he had 18 cats? Mr. Wonderful would often call me up in a panic. He'd have problems like, his landlord was coming over and he needed to hide cats. I'd watch in awe as he stuffed cats into cat carrying boxes and then he and his wife would rush them over to neighbor's. Or, I'd show up at his apartment to find him aggressively vacuuming up cat hair, cleaning one of a dozen or so cat litter boxes or just herding cats; only to be interrupted by the appearance of a cable television truck in his neighborhood. This sight would find him glued to his front room window, waiting to see if the truck was stopping at his apartment to shut off his services for non-payment. I was just about ready to tell Mr. Wonderful, happy trails, when he told me with an elated tone, that he had contacted Sherry Lansing of Paramount Pictures regarding my story. He told me that she loved the plot and he wanted to book us plane tickets to meet with her. When I found out that Sherry Lansing was just about the most important person in Hollywood, I thought that there was still hope.
Our flight was out of Oakland to Burbank. Our flight was scheduled for noon. I met Mr. Wonderful at his radio station around 8:30 in the morning. I was anxious as hell. I hadn't been in a plane since I was 12 years old. Mr. Wonderful just kept telling me to relax, we'd get there. I couldn't help but be nervous. We hung around the radio station for an hour or so while he bragged about us going to Hollywood. At 9:30 we drove to his apartment where he proceeded to take a leisurely shower and change into his thousand-dollar suit. We left his home at 10:30. It was pouring down rain and we still had to drive to the airport in Oakland and get cleared to board our plane. With no traffic on a clear day the drive took about an hour. Because of traffic, rain, and road construction at the airport, we didn't get there until 11:45. There was no way we were gonna make our flight. Mr. Wonderful used my cell phone to call the administration division of Southwest Airlines. He told them that they had accidentally booked us for the wrong flight. After about ten minutes of fast-talking to airline executives, we were on a 1:30 flight. Unfortunately, our meeting with the CEO of Paramount was at 2:00 in the afternoon. We landed in Burbank and I rented a car. Mr. Wonderful called Sherry Lansing and told her that we were running late. She had set aside time for us and could not wait. She told Mr. Wonderful to leave the materials with her staff. When we arrived at Paramount, gate security wouldn't let us in. Security had us deliver our materials to their mailroom. We dropped off our stuff in the busiest place I've ever seen in my entire life. The mailroom at Paramount was chaos at Christmas. I guess there's a lot of gifts coming in to movie stars and producers. It was obvious to me that Christmas was the one time of the year where gifts could be sent without the suggestion of suck-up bribes to boost projects. And amongst all the confusion and fervor, they we were, two dressed up stooges with Sonoma County wine and our project for Sherry Lansing.
We raced around Hollywood in our rented car. Mr. Wonderful drove by and pointed out celebrity homes. It was a sight seeing trip, a stroll down memory lane. "Why don't we stop by Castlerock?" I asked. Unfortunately, we didn't, we got stuck in traffic and raced around accomplishing nothing. We stopped by and dropped off wine and an audio book for Dick Clark. I later leaned that Dick Clark called Mr. Wonderful and was confused as to why he was given the audio book. We drove back to the airport. The flight was a nightmare. The weather and turbulence was so bad that the ride was like flying on a blind roller coaster, with intermittent flashes of light from the lightning to add to our terror. When I later leaned that Sherry Lansing's producer, Brad Kessell, sent our material back to Mr. Wonderful as an unsolicited and unwelcome project, I sure felt stupid. I had just spent around 400 dollars to personally deliver wine to Sherry Lansing and Dick Clark.
Six months later, Mr. Wonderful talked me into going to Hollywood again in order to meet with Sherry Lansing. This trip seemed just a little more promising. We had an appointment to meet her at 11:30 in the morning, and we would be flying down the night before our meeting. Mr. Wonderful brought along two of his radio station's associates. One was a talented voice-over person, who Mr. Wonderful had lined up meetings for. The other was a friend who just wanted to go along for the ride. I had to pay for Mr. Wonderful's plane ticket and the car rental. But this time, it seemed like it actually might be worth it.
Our first night in Hollywood was once again a trip down memory lane. We raced all over town accomplishing nothing. After I paid for beer and dinner, we returned to our hotel and I went to bed. I later learned that he was boozing it up almost all night. I on the other hand considered this to be the business trip of a lifetime. I had done my homework and I knew that for me to have an audience with Sherry Lansing regarding a movie deal was unheard of. It was a one and a million shot. How Mr. Wonderful had finagled his way into her world, is to this day, a mystery to me.
The following morning, we got up and started our day bright and early, at 9:30. I wasn't too concerned as Mr. Wonderful told me that our appointment with Sherry wasn't until 11:30. We first stopped by Castlerock Entertainment. We had no appointment. Mr. Wonderful asked to meet with Rob Reiner. The receptionist called Rob's office and told him who we were. We were told that Rob Reiner and Alan Greisman were busy working up a script and would like to talk to us about our project in an hour. Mr. Wonderful told the receptionist we'd be back. This sure looked promising, I thought to myself. The head of Castlerock liked my story and wanted to meet with us and we were also going to meet the head of Paramount because she too liked my story.
We darted off to Los Angeles Airport. Mr. Wonderful wanted to see the producer of the television show, West Wing. After zigging and zagging around for 20 minutes and finding nothing, we raced back to Hollywood. It was now 10:30. We had time to get to Castlerock. Unfortunately, Mr. Wonderful was hungry. His exact words were: " I've got the munchies." He had to have a hotdog at this famous place called, PINKS. Apparently, Pinks was a popular place as the line stretched down the street. I couldn't believe what I was experiencing. We were missing our meeting with Rob Reiner because of a hotdog! It was so surreal. I couldn't eat anything, as I was far too upset. Mr. Wonderful just smiled and told me to relax. He said that he would call Reiner next week and we would have one of his famous conference calls.
By the time they ordered hotdogs, sat down and ate, it was 11:45. We left the restaurant, went to a liquor store located just outside Paramount Studios, where I bought a bottle of wine for Sherry Lansing, or at least I thought it was for Sherry. We then rushed onto the studio-lot, where we soon discovered that Sherry had gone to lunch. We walked over to Gary Hart's office. Gary Hart was in charge of Paramount's Television Network. I watched Mr. Wonderful exchange pleasantries with the receptionist and then give her the bottle of wine that we absolutely had to buy.
Mr.Wonderful had me wait outside while he met with Gary Hart. After about 30 or so minutes, he came out and told me that Gary Hart was giving my audio book to his script doctors to work up. I later discovered that he was lying, as there was never a follow up call to Gary Hart. I also later discovered that Mr. Wonderful had his own television pilot that he was promoting, suggesting his true motivation to meet with Gary Hart. We headed back to the Burbank Airport, as we had a 1:30 flight back to Oakland. After almost missing our flight, we boarded the plane. I was unable to sit next to Mr. Wonderful. This was probably a good thing because I wanted to strangle him. I just spent a small fortune so I could buy a bottle of wine for a receptionist and stand outside Gary Hart's office.
After landing in Oakland, we took separate cars back to Santa Rosa. I was unable to talk to Mr. Wonderful until the next day. Mr. Wonderful told me that in order to sell the project, we needed to attach a major celebrity. He had me type up letters to five celebrities. I typed up the letters, obtained postage and gave him the materials in order for him to send them off with a cover letter from his office. This was a major waste of my time, as I later discovered that he never sent anything off. His excuse for not sending anything off varied depending on his mood. My favorite was: I need expensive paper. Unfortunately, when I offered to pay for the expensive paper, he didn't know where to buy it.
On one occasion, I actually drafted a letter and gave him a letterhead for his company. The letter was to Bryan Lourd. Bryan Lourd was Robin William's agent. I had spoken to him and he told me that if my agent sent him a copy of the book, he would give it to Robin Williams to look at. He was willing to do this because Sherry Lansing was still interested in the movie deal. I'll never forget how stupid I felt that day. I typed up the letter at my home while Mr. Wonderful floated in an inner tube in my pool. It was like I was bothering him, by making him paddle to the edge of the pool and sign his name to the letter that he had supposedly written. Meanwhile, Sherry Lansing was still very interested. I heard Mr. Wonderful's answering machine as he played back five missed calls from her office. Her assistant left four of the messages and Sherry left the last one. She wanted to talk to Mr. Wonderful about Conscience of a Dead Killer. She told him that she would call him on the following day. The following day, I went to his home in order to wait for her call. Unfortunately, Mr. Wonderful again had to leave and you guessed it, we missed her call.
On day three she left a message that she would be calling him at 4:00 in the afternoon. I was working patrol that day. I made it a point to take my lunch break at 3:30 in the afternoon, in order to, if necessary, handcuff him to the phone.
I couldn't believe my luck. At 3:40 I was advised by my dispatch to clear from my lunch break for an emergency call. As I dashed out of his apartment to my patrol car, I yelled back at him not to miss her call. After clearing from the emergency, I called his home. After the forth ring I heard, "Hello, this is Mr. Wonderful, leave a message and hey, have a nice day." I wasn't able to connect with him until six that night. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. He had to go and missed her call. This can not be happening, I thought. I mean the head of one of the largest studios in the world likes my story, and is calling my agent and can't get through. I couldn't quite figure out why this guy was trying to submarine me. He would have received 10 percent of whatever I received.
I had to give Mr. Wonderful a phone card because he had his long distance service suspended due to lack of payment. On day four he called Sherry's office. He was put through to her. Mr. Wonderful asked Sherry if she liked Clint Eastwood, as he had my story and loved it. She perked up and said that she loved Clint. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Yeah, Clint had my story because I sent it to him as a gift, but I didn't know if it loved it. Hell, I didn't even know if he liked it.
Sherry asked him to send two more audio books and treatments. She asked Mr. Wonderful to overnight them and she would be forwarding the project to Producer Bradley Kessell. After his boldface lie to Sherry Lansing about Clint Eastwood I was pretty upset. Mr.Wonderful was quite used to my questioning his motives. I had to ask him what in the hell was he doing? She liked the story. Why are you lying to her? After about five minutes of listening to his double talk and looking for Advil for my headache, I just blew it off as another stupid move on his part. Although I had the worst agent on the planet representing me, there was still hope.
I went to the post office and sent off the materials. Again, it was so surreal. I mean, there I was, sending off something worth thousands of dollars and my agent couldn't even write a cover letter.
After buying Mr. Wonderful yet another phone card and after making calls for two days, we were able to get through to Clint Eastwood's agent. His name was Leonard. When Mr. Wonderful spoke to him, he called him Lenny and told him that they had met on the Tonight Show years ago. Lenny did not remember him, probably because they actually never really met. The conversation was going quite well. He told Lenny the title of the book, Conscience of a Dead Killer. I heard Lenny's voice perk up. He told Mr. Wonderful that he liked the title and asked to hear more. Here's where things went south: Mr. Wonderful proceeded to give Lenny the wrong plot. I could hear the words coming out of his mouth to describe the story and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "That wasn't my story," I whispered to Mr. Wonderful. And quite predictably, Lenny interrupted Mr. Wonderful and told him that Clint was not interested. Hell, I couldn't blame him. I even hated the plot he had just recited to Clint's agent. Lenny said goodbye and hung up. I now knew that Mr. Wonderful had not even read the treatment. And, although I'd given him a dozen audio books, he hadn't taken the time to listen to even one of them. Once again I was upset. Mr. Wonderful didn't even lose a step. He just double-talked and said, "Let's call Castlerock and talk to Reiner." He hadn't called them since our trip to Hollywood where we failed to return as they had requested. Mr. Wonderful spoke to Reiner's Executive Assistant. That's a fancy title for someone who screens all calls. This person is very familiar with people who Rob Reiner does not want to talk to. Mr. Wonderful took it upon himself to lie to the assistant. He asked him if the project would sound better if Robin Williams was attached to it. He lied even more by telling him to let Alan Greisman and Rob Reiner know that he had a letter of intent from Robin Williams to be involved with the movie. I had sent the project to Robin's agent, Bryan Lourd, but I hadn't heard back from them. What a surprise, the assistant didn't believe Mr. Wonderful and told him that Alan Greisman would call him back. Unfortunately, we received no call.
It had amazed me that Mr. Wonderful had so many contacts. He told me that he was going to call Jay Leno and get me on the Tonight Show. He told me that Jay liked cops and although Jay didn't really like him, he said that he would call. He called and spoke with the receptionist. Apparently she knew him. They exchanged pleasantries and then Mr. Wonderful asked to talk to Jay. I heard him thank Jay Leno for his advice, not to use people or talk behind their backs, amongst some other less than flattering attributes. He told Jay about me and how I was a deputy sheriff who had written a book. He added that I had a sense of humor and would do well on his show. Jay didn't know that I could hear the conversation. He sounded optimistic about my appearing on his show and told Mr. Wonderful to coordinate my appearance with the show's producer, Steve Ridgeway. When Mr. Wonderful spoke with Steve Ridgeway, he wasn't sure if my material would be something that Jay could use on his show. He told Mr. Wonderful to send him my background information and a copy or two of my audio book. This sure sounded promising, I could wear my sheriff uniform and yuck it up with Jay Leno on the Tonight show. I was a huge fan of his show. I wrote my bio and some humorous dialogue to send Steve Ridgeway. I wrote a letter to Jay Leno, thanking him for the opportunity to be a guest on his show. I also included sheriff logo shirts, Conscience of a Dead Killer logo shirts and a couple of audio books.
It probably would have helped my package, if my agent would have drafted a letter to send with my materials. But that wasn't even the worst part. The worst part revolved around him calling Steve Ridgeway back. It took over two months of my pestering him to make the call. Finally, he used one of my phone cards and made the call. Anyhow, because so much time had passed and because I was not a celebrity, Steve Ridgeway forgot who we were and when he remembered, he blew us off by telling Mr. Wonderful that our material did not meet the needs of their show.
Mr. Wonderful was always trying to rekindle my interests. Unfortunately, no matter how important the contact was, if a ball of string rolled by he would get distracted and drop everything. I often wondered, what if these celebrities could see us sitting in his garage and using phone cards to call them, while dodging cats. I mean, there I was, calling the Chief Executive Officer of Paramount Studios, Sherry Lansing, or Rob Reiner of Castlerock and listening to Mr. Wonderful boast about calling from his Northern California vacation home and bragging about his beautiful vineyard view. Vineyard view? Right. The only view we had was of cars racing back and forth on Hwy. 12.
Another celebrity connection Mr. Wonderful had was, Paul Williams, the famous songwriter, singer and actor. Mr. Wonderful called him and asked if he would be interested in our project. He sounded interested and asked for a copy of the audio book. I sent him one and within a month he sent Mr. Wonderful a hand-written note on his letterhead that read: "Conscience of a Dead Killer is a winner! Count me in. If the numbers can be worked out, and I know it can, I would love to be part of bringing this story to the big screen, Paul Williams." We didn't know it at the time, but that note was considered in the movie world, as a Letter of Intent. Mr. Wonderful thought that a letter of intent was on some form of legal document. This little oversight wouldn't have been much of a problem, however, I spent a couple of weeks doing research and trying to find a document that didn't exist. We figured this out on a phone call to Paul Williams. I could tell from the tone in Paul William's voice that he was just a little annoyed with Mr. Wonderful when he had to educate us on the fact that his letter of enthusiasm was indeed a letter of intent. I am a huge fan of Paul Williams. He is a talented man. His letter about my story boosted my enthusiasm and helped motivate me to convert the story into a screenplay. I also mentioned him in my book's acknowledgments.
Sherry Lansing had given my audio book to Producer Bradley Kessell. Mr. Wonderful lied to him and told him that Robin Williams had my story and loved it. Bradley Kessell could see through all of Mr. Wonderful's lies. It was apparent that he was only reviewing my story because it was given to him by Sherry Lansing. Brad told Mr. Wonderful that he needed to see a screenplay before considering anything further. I spent about two months downloading successful screenplays from the internet and reviewing them for formatting and content. I then spent about four months transforming the book into a screenplay. Meanwhile, Mr. Wonderful was still pulling rabbits out of hats. He called me up and told me that Shelley Duvall was coming to town and he thought we could take her wine tasting and tell her about my book. He even suggested that we take her up to visit her friend and co-star in the movie Popeye, Robin Williams. Robin had a home in Sonoma County. On the surface, this idea sounded great, but in the back of my mind I just knew that things would go down hill.
Mr. Wonderful had met Shelley Duvall while using his radio station to promote her appearance during a solar fair in the town of Hopland. I told Mr. Wonderful that I had coordinated two VIP tours, one at Ferrari Carano Winery and the other at Korbel Winery. As these were VIP tours I begged Mr.Wonderful for her itinerary in order to professionally coordinate our day. But, as usual, Mr. Wonderful just flew by the seat of his pants, with nothing organized.
Friday night around nine in the evening, I received a frantic call from Mr. Wonderful. He was at the Fountain Grove Hotel with Shelley Duvall and she was lost. She had called him as his was the only number she had in Sonoma County and apparently there was a mishap with her hotel reservations and she had nowhere to stay. I had my daughter prepare a room for Shelley at our home, while my wife, Melanie and I drove to their location.
When we arrived and met up with Shelley Duvall and Mr. Wonderful, I noticed that Shelley looked tired. She told me that she had driven for four hours from her home in Texas to the airport, where she flew for three hours, landed in Oakland, and then drove from Oakland to Santa Rosa. I was tired just hearing about her day. I suggested that we all get into my car and drive up the street to a nearby restaurant and get something to eat. Shelley was hungry and appreciated the idea. Shelley Duvall had a comforting personality where although you just met her, you felt like you'd known her your entire life. She was a true lady. We all sat down and ate dinner. My wife and Shelley had a great visit. Meanwhile, it was obvious that Mr. Wonderful had been drinking as he started making stupid gestures, like mimicking Popeye, "Ca-ca-ca-ca- Arrrrrr, I'm Popeye, the sailor." Although I'm sure Shelley heard him she pretended not to. I was busy kicking him under the table.
After we ate and returned to Shelley's rental car, I quizzed her about where her event was located. When she told me that the event was in Hopland, I called the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office. They gave me the name and number of the only hotel in town. I called the hotel and discovered that they were expecting her. I gave Shelley instructions on where her hotel was located and told her that I would make certain she arrived at her destination. She thanked my wife and myself for dinner and left. An hour later I called the hotel and discovered that she had arrived safely and was looking forward to going wine tasting with us on the following day.
The following day I met up with Mr. Wonderful at noon. We drove to Hopland where we were unable to locate Shelley. We spent about two hours looking for her. If we would have given her an itinerary of our day, and where we were touring it might have helped. Unfortunately, Mr. Wonderful would have no part of it. As a matter a fact, he didn't even tell her that I was the one who wrote the book. By the time we located her and started back to Sonoma County, Mr. Wonderful had downed over a six pack of beer and was drunk. This was frustrating, as I kind a thought that this was a business venture. Because of the late time in the day, we bypassed Ferarri Carano Winery and went straight to Korbel Winery where the staff was still waiting. We had just left Hopland when Shelley noticed my book in the back seat with her. Mr. Wonderful had put it in the back seat so she would pick it up and say, "what's this?" And, that's exactly what happened. I was so embarrassed. I mean how tacky can you get. We were going to one of the most beautiful locations in the country. I had envisioned us sitting at a picnic table, surrounded by redwood trees while I showed her the audio book and explained the plot. But no, there we were, driving over one of the most dangerous roads in California, the Hopland Grade; a roadway where there had been many a head on collision. Shelley read the plot on the back of the book and said she really liked it. She commented that Robin Williams would probably like it too. Mr. Wonderful then proceeded to give her his description of the plot; the same wrong plot that he had given to Lenny, Clint Eastwood's agent. I felt like such an idiot. I have such a talented actress in the back seat of my car and I'm having to explain the true meaning of my story in a rearview mirror, while trying not to kill us on the Hopland Grade.
Our drive went through the beautifully landscaped vineyard area of East Side Road, in order to allow Shelley an opportunity to see the green grapevines that carpeted the hillsides. We only had to stop once so Mr. Wonderful could run into one of the vineyards and urinate, as he had been consuming beer all afternoon.
When we arrived at Korbel Winery, they had been expecting us. Even though we were late their staff still accommodated us with a behind the scenes tour. Mr. Wonderful missed the tour as he chose to hang out in the parking lot and drink more beer. We had a great time. Shelley Duvall charmed everyone. She genuinely enjoyed the tour and appreciated how special she was treated by the Korbel staff. At the end of our tour, we gathered at Korbel's famous outdoor redwood bar for a toast. Shelley happily agreed to allow Korbel's staff an opportunity for a group photo. Mr. Wonderful ruined the moment by taking our picture. He held up my audio book in his left hand while taking a wobbly picture with his right hand and yelling, "everybody say, Conscience of a Dead Killer, Academy Award!"
Gary Heck, owner of Korbel Winery, is a man with true class. He gave Shelley a case of his best Champagne to take back to Texas. And, the staff was so impressed with Shelley's wit and charm, that they chose to hang one of the group photos in their tasting room. I believe it still hangs there today.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to tell that Shelley had to be tired. It was now six thirty in the evening, we hadn't eaten and we were still planning on driving for an hour to Robin William's home. While en-route to Robin's home, I looked over at my agent who was wobbling in his seat and then back at Shelley who was sitting behind him. I asked Shelley if she would rather visit her friend Robin some other time. I was also not looking forward to meeting Robin Williams under these circumstances. It was like we were kidnapping this wonderful lady, Shelley Duvall and forcing her to haul us up to meet Robin Williams.
This is the part where I almost lost it: Mr. Wonderful insisted that we were going to his house so Shelley Duvall could meet his wife and then we were going to Robin's home. I had suggested that we end our day and take Shelley back to her hotel. Shelley, who was indeed tired from her previous day and I'm sure tired of Mr. Wonderful, perked up and said, "Gary, yes please, could you take me back to my hotel, I haven't even met with my event coordinator yet," Mr. Wonderful would have none of that. He had his drunk-mind made up. He continued to insist that we go to see his wife and then Robin Williams. When I told him Shelley had to be tired and needed to go back to her hotel, Shelley tuned in and agreed with me. Mr. Wonderful next looked at me aloofly and told me four times, "Gary, you are going to take me home, so Shelley can meet my wife, then you are going to take Shelley to her hotel and make certain that she meets up with her coordinator, understand?" Anyhow, if he would have barked that order at me one more time like I was some kind of stooge or something, I just know that I would lost it. How much can one man take? After all he'd put me through, who would blame me. Good, I thought to myself, I'll be dropping him off. I had no problem with that. I mean, there can't be anything else he can screw up to make us look stupid, or at least that's what I had thought.
When we arrived at his apartment, he insisted on Shelley coming in to see where he lived and meet his wife. Upon entering the apartment, we found ourselves dealing with the cat and kitten obstacle course. Mr. Wonderful danced over the cats and ran into his back yard. I followed him, as I was curious what he was up to now. While picking a zucchini and a strawberry, he whispered to me that he was going to get a letter of intent from her before she left. I begged him not to pester her for a letter of intent, after all, she hadn't even listened to the book yet. Unfortunately, there we were, trapped in Mr. Wonderful's apartment. I looked over my shoulder and noticed that he had a zucchini in one hand and a kitten in the other. "Here," he said as he attempted to hand Shelley a kitten and a large zucchini. As Shelley gracefully declined his generous offer, he continued to insist by gesturing for her to take them. I had to bail her out with logic. I told Mr. Wonderful that there was no way Shelley was going to be taking a kitten and a large zucchini on her flight back to Texas. I added that we needed to go. Just as we were getting into my car Mr. Wonderful came running out his front door. He was holding a note pad and a piece of paper. There we were, standing next to his garbage can and listening to Mr. Wonderful tell Shelley Duvall that she needed to complete a letter of intent to do our movie. I couldn't believe my ears. Hadn't I been embarrassed enough? He even argued with Shelley, as he tried to explain the content of a letter of intent and how it was by no means a commitment. Shelley, just smiled politely at Mr. Wonderful and told him that she had been in several movies and knew exactly what a letter of intent was. She added that after she listened to my story and if she liked it, then she would consider writing a letter of intent. I encouraged her to get into my car. She stepped in and we left. I looked over my shoulder at Mr. Wonderful as he stood in the roadway holding his note pad and pen.
Apparently there was a scheduled dinner in Shelley's honor that evening in Hopland. Unfortunately, I had no itinerary and didn't know about the dinner until Shelley mentioned it while we drove back. Shelley told me that she was hungry and asked if we could stop at a fast food restaurant and get something to eat. We stopped at Carl's Junior in Healdsburg. I felt awful. Poor Shelley, she missed a dinner in her honor and had to settle for a greasy cheeseburger. She amazed me with her positive attitude. She appreciated the food and lived for the moment. She was not put off at all over missing her formal dinner.
Our drive back was pleasant. When I attempted to apologize for Mr. Wonderful's aggressive behavior, she told me not to worry and added that many Hollywood agents are that way.
When I dropped Shelley off at her hotel, she told me that when I get off work from my patrol shift tomorrow, she would like very much to take Mr. Wonderful and myself up to meet Robin Williams. I thought that was very nice of her. I gave her a hug and attempted to leave without giving her one of my audio books as I felt bad about our day. However, once again she amazed me with her grace. She looked at me and said, "Aren't you going to give me one of your books?" I gave her a book, she thanked me for taking her wine tasting and I left.
That night I couldn't sleep. Mr. Wonderful and I were using this nice lady to get to Robin Williams. There was no leading role in the movie for her. I called and left a message on her cell phone the following day. I told her that although Robin Williams is a person whom I truly admire and would love to meet, I just can't take Mr. Wonderful up to see him. I chose at that moment to end the insanity. I called Mr. Wonderful and told him I was not going to see Robin Williams. I told him that I was not going to use Shelley Duvall to get to Robin Williams. He told me that's how Hollywood operates. Everyone uses everyone. I told him, then I want off. I've never intentionally used anyone in my life and I'm not going to start now. Mr. Wonderful told me, that's fine, he'd just go with Shelley and meet Robin Williams without me. I told him that if he did, I did not want him to say anything to Robin Williams about my book. He assured me that he would not, as he wanted to discuss his television pilot with him anyway. I told him, "right, good luck with that," and hung up the phone. Later that evening I received a call from Mr. Wonderful. Apparently, Shelley Duvall was not returning his calls. What a surprise. Mr. Wonderful knew where Robin's home was located. He told me that he was going up to see him. I don't know if he actually tried to see Robin Williams, however I received a phone call on Monday that suggested he did. On Monday morning I got a call from Robin William's agent, Bryan Lourd. Bryan asked me where the project presently stood. When I told him that Bradley Kessell was going to be getting the screenplay soon, he commented that he would be sending me back my materials and suggested that I re-contact him when the project had a budget with Paramount. I had to wonder, was that a coincidence or what?
After completing the screenplay, I called Mr. Wonderful. He called Bradley Kessell and asked him if he still wanted to look at the script. He told Mr. Wonderful to send it. I wrote out a letter to Brad from Mr. Wonderful, with Mr. Wonderful's home number and sent him the screenplay. After a couple a months I tried to encourage Mr. Wonderful to call Brad. He told me that he had called Brad and was playing phone tag. This sounded all too familiar. When Mr. Wonderful's phone service was disconnected I became a little concerned. Mr. Wonderful told me that he had given Brad another number to contact him at. I didn't believe him, especially when the script and audio books were sent back to me at the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department where I work, with a very disturbing letter that basically said: Paramount was passing on my project and was unable to make contact with Mr. Wonderful.
It was the end of a nightmare. No matter how close we seemed to be, this guy would somehow screw things up. Deep down I was actually glad to have my project rejected. I called Mr. Wonderful up and told him that Brad had sent the materials back to me. I added that I had a letter from Paramount as they were passing on the project and had been unable to make contact with him. I told him that I would be sending him a letter releasing him as my agent. He became very upset, told me that he still had people he wanted to show the screenplay to and that he had put a lot of work into my project. I told him that we were done and I would be getting a new agent. He responded by slamming his phone down, thus ending our agent, client relationship..
I sent Bradley Kessell and Sherry Lansing some wine and a letter, thanking them for giving me the opportunity to send them my screenplay. I had on prior occasions e-mailed or sent Sherry Lansing comments of thanks for her patience. I was inspired by a speech I watched her give on national television. She was the guest speaker at a Boston College graduation. Her advice to the graduates was heartfelt and profound. I actually even used some of her language on page 14 of the screenplay, where the high school valedictorian was addressing her school on graduation day.
Reflecting back, although Mr. Wonderful took me on a wild and crazy journey and I would not sign with him, even if he showed up on my doorstep with Steven Spielberg, I did meet a lot of wonderful people along the way.
Presently, my book has been published by Author House Publishing and is available all over the world. It contains no profanity, adult situations or morbid death and carnage. I now have professional representation and my screenplay is being reviewed again by Paramount and Sony Columbia Studios