Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Towering Toupee Throws Up


Episode 31

The Suits filed into Irwin's office with such precision they looked like refugees from the Synchronized Briefcase Drill Team at the annual Pasadena Doo-Dah Parade.

In two minutes flat Irwin's office was packed with Network Suits. And when I say Suits, I mean guys who looked like zillion-dollar-an-hour lawyers, with eyes glinting through steel-rimmed glasses, even if they didn't wear glasses. It was apparent from the get-go that there wasn't a creative bone in their collective bodies and at times I doubted if there were enough brain cells distributed among them to rub two together.

I mean - get real. These boyos were from the Anything But Class (ABC) network. Lords of the IQ deprived.

One guy, who looked like an accountant, complete with dandruffed shoulders, leaned in and with great sincerity said: "We're concerned that our show is danger of becoming too gritty."

His Colleagues Of The Suit muttered agreement.

Irwin, who sat at the head of the conference table, inky black toupee perched precariously on his head, frowned then said, "Anyone who has ever worked with me, and knows my track record, will tell you that 'gritty' is something that I just don't do."

He lifted his hands in appeal. "Was the Towering Inferno gritty? No. Was the Poseidon Adventure gritty? Not one bit. Lost In Space? Land Of The Giants? No and no."

Our story exec, Larry Heath, who sat at Irwin's right, asked, "What's the cause of this sudden concern?"

Dandruff Shoulders tapped the script in front of him. It was the episode I mentioned before where Adam (The Beach Ball) Rich is falsely accused of setting fire to the school gym. Although, with budget cuts, the fire had been reduced to a wastebasket and some charred curtains in the principal's office.

"In this story Adam joins a gang," he said, voice quivering indignantly. "The Hawks. Who are a clearly delinquent group of young toughs."

"He doesn't join them," Larry pointed out. "They try to woo him into joining the gang. In the end, he not only refuses but convinces the leader of the gang to see the error of his ways."

Irwin broke in: "Your own Program Practices... uh, person... loved this episode," he said, not mentioning Susan (The Censor) Futterman by name because he hated her so much that his stomach would rebel. (More on Irwin's rebellious stomach later). As for Ms. Futterman, she wasn't at this gathering, which made it the usual all-male enclave of that era. If Suits can be called male, that is. Chris said they were all "smooth between the legs, like Barbie's boyfriend."

Irwin smiled with satisfaction and added: "This... umm... umm... Person said it was an excellent example of the kind of moral lessons we want to impress on our young audience."

Dandruff Shoulders replied, "Possibly, possibly... But Adam's mother thinks it is bad for his image. All this gang business."

Now it was all out in the open. It was the Beach Ball's stage mother who was behind it all. A Hollywood Force Of Nature that is hard to resist.

"But that's the character he plays," Larry argued. "He's an orphan, a street kid rescued by Lorne and Julie who raise him as if he were their own. A troubled boy, who finds his way, thanks to the embrace of a warm family atmosphere, with real heroes as role models."

Chris groaned and I kicked him under the table. Thankfully, nobody heard. I knew what Chris was thinking: Poor little Adam Rich clearly had troubles, but they weren't of the street variety.

The Beach Ball
Just the other day, our tech advisor, Joe Weber, a retired LA County Fire Department Chief, had presented the Beach Ball with an actual fire department helmet, cut down to fit. In the series, the kid joins the Fire Scouts and gets to wear a cool uniform and hat while riding around on the fire trucks. 

Never mind every kid in America would be envious, Chris and I were jealous. A real fireman's helmet. Damn! Could we have one too?

What does the kid do? He gingerly accepts the gift, glances at his mother who has a dangerous look in her eyes, then offers polite but chilly thanks.

But - and get this - he doesn't don the helmet. Instead, he touches his perfectly shaped Prince Valliant hair-do and says, "I won't be able to wear it much because it'll mess up my hair. And it takes an hour for them to fix it." His mother smiled in approval.

Back at the meeting - A balding Suit with an expensive comb-over jumped in: "If we do this story at all, we'll have to be very careful with the casting."

Irwin turned green. Put a hand to his mouth and went, "umph, umph!" Then excused himself and rushed into his private bathroom, where we shortly heard sounds of upchucking.

Larry covered for Irwin, saying, "Sorry. He's got that... uh... thing that's going around."

There were murmurs of false sympathy; sure, everybody's getting it, awful bug, etc.

Larry shrugged, saying, "We've committed all the money in the script budget." He tapped the script in front of him. "If you scrap this one, which, I might add, was previously approved by all of you, including Ms. Futterman, we'll need you to okay the fee for another one."

There were gasps of protest. A chorus of: "More money? No, no. Not necessary. We think it's a wonderful script." It was like Larry was asking them to offer up their wives, or mistresses, instead of a few thousand bucks.

Combover came to their rescue. "We talked it over and concluded it's just a matter of casting," he said.

"Yes, casting," was Dandruff Shoulders' contribution.

He pulled a manila envelope from his expensive briefcase. Got out some 8 X 10 color photos from it and dropped them in the center of the table like the flop in a game of Texas Hold'em.

"My son," he said proudly.

We all looked respectfully at the pictures. They showed a very handsome, very clean, very preppy, Jewish American prince of about 13 with a head of blond-on-blond curls. I looked closer to see if he had inherited his father's dandruff genes, but so far he appeared safe.

Irwin had returned by now, wiping his face. He looked at one of the pictures, then turned to Dandruff Shoulders.

"You want us to hire your son?" he said. Not waiting for an answer, he turned to Larry, "Remind me to ask Tanya to put the young man on the casting call list."

"No, no. That's not what I meant," protested Dandruff Shoulders. Although I noticed from the look in his eye that he wasn't adverse to a bit of casting bribery. Thinking, screw his son, maybe whisper something in Irwin's ear about his starlet girlfriend, who would then make him a very happy man on black silk sheets, sprinkled with dandruff.

He continued, "This picture is just an example of what we are talking about. When you cast for the gang, get clean-cut young American boys like this."

"That way Adam will look like he's in good company, even if in the script he's in bad company," added Comb Over.

"It'll make his mother happy," somebody said, but when we all looked we couldn't tell who, except for one kid Suit who was staring at the table.

Ignoring the interruption, Dandruff Shoulders said, "Not gritty kids. Not kids who will loom over Adam, acting like a threat. He's a very vulnerable boy, you know. And looks it."

Chris barely buried a snort. I knew what he was thinking. The Beach Ball was not just 'vulnerable looking,' but so short we'd have to cast midget kids to avoid the "looming" business.

On the other hand, I could partly see the point, which scared hell out of me, because when you agree with a Suit's point, it's time to take a hard look at your drinking habits and see if an increase is in order.

However, now that the deed was done - firing the kid who played the Adam Rich's role in the pilot, who at least looked like he could act bad ass and replacing him with the Beach Ball - the script we were looking at was totally out of whack. As were most of the others on the burner.

Adam Rich just wasn't believable as a kid from the streets. Unless you were talking about the runaways who hung out on Melrose looking for "dates." So we would have to hire a bunch of Beverly Hills delinquent wannabes. Short ones.

Irwin picked up one of the pictures, pretended to study it closely, then said, "Gentlemen, I'm in complete agreement with you. We'll take this to heart when we are casting." He showed Larry the picture. "Won't we, Larry?"

Larry said, "Absolutely."

The tension in the room eased. Suits shuffled papers, snapped briefcases open and closed, while Irwin regaled one and all with tales of his adventures with Groucho Marx.

As he talked, he picked up a pencil, and absently pushed it UNDER his toupee. And SCRATCHED his bald head leisurely, and with infinite pleasure.

I lost it. Desperately covering my mouth to keep from bursting into laughter, I turned to the left to hide my face. Only to find myself looking into the eyes of one of the Suits, who was doing the same thing. Mouth covered with a hand. Barely controlled laughter.

We both almost erupted with loud guffaws and quickly turned the other way.

I had a hard time getting myself together and when we all rose to leave, Chris gave me a strange, what the fuck, look.

I shook my head. "Don't ask," I whispered. "If you do I'll lose it and we'll both be fired on the spot."

Somehow I got out of the meeting without looking at Irwin - studying my boots when I shook his hand. Chris covered by making noises about the nice meeting.

Back in our office - and fueled by a shot of Metaxa - I told Chris the story. I started giggling uncontrollably before I was done. Chris caught my giggles, then we were both laughing so hard that the tiles threatened to come loose from the ceiling.

Our secretary - a super lady named Genevieve - stuck her head in the door. "What so funny, boys?" she wanted to know.

This only made us laugh harder. We couldn't get a word out to explain. Gasping. Pounding the table.

Genevieve nodded knowingly. "You boys have been upstairs visiting Cheech and Chong again, haven't you."



Can't wait to read the blog each week to find out what happens next? No problem. Click the following link and buy the book. 

Tales Sometimes Tall, but always true, of Allan Cole's years in Hollywood with his late partner, Chris Bunch. How a naked lady almost became our first agent. How we survived La-La Land with only the loss of half our brain cells. How Bunch & Cole became the ultimate Fix-It Boys. How an alleged Mafia Don was very, very good to us. The guy who cornered the market on movie rocks. Andy Warhol's Fire Extinguisher. The Real Stars Of Hollywood. Why they don't make million dollar movies. See The Seven Pi$$ing Dwarfs. Learn: how to kill a "difficult" actor… And much, much more.

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Hear voice artist Colin Hussey's 
Bring all the stories and people 
To life in the audiobook version
Of My Hollywood MisAdventures.


Ever since my British publisher put all eight novels in the Sten series in three omnibus editions, American readers have been clamoring for equal treatment. 

Well, my American publisher – Wildside Books – was listening and has issued all three omnibus volumes on this side of the Atlantic. Here are the links to buy the books:

THE TIMURA TRILOGY: When The Gods Slept, Wolves Of The Gods and The Gods Awaken. This best selling fantasy series now available as trade paperbacks, e-books (in all varieties) and as audiobooks. Visit The Timura Trilogy page for links to all the editions. 

NEWLY REVISED KINDLE EDITIONS OF THE TIMURA TRILOGY NOW AVAILABLE. (1) When The Gods Slept;(2) Wolves Of The Gods; (3) The Gods Awaken.


A NATION AT WAR WITH ITSELF: In Book Three Of The Shannon Trilogy, young Patrick Shannon is the heir-apparent to the Shannon fortune, but murder and betrayal at a family gathering send him fleeing into the American frontier, with only the last words of a wise old woman to arm him against what would come. And when the outbreak of the Civil War comes he finds himself fighting on the opposite side of those he loves the most. In The Wars Of The Shannons we see the conflict, both on the battlefield and the homefront, through the eyes of Patrick and the members of his extended Irish-American family as they struggle to survive the conflict that ripped the new nation apart, and yet, offered a dim beacon of hope.



A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, And Earthquake,
Some Terrorists And The CIA

LUCKY IN CYPRUS is a coming-of-age story set in the Middle East during the height of the Cold War. An American teenager – son of a CIA operative – is inspired by grand events and a Greek Cypriot teacher. 

He witnesses earthquakes and riots and terrorist attacks, but in the end it is his teacher’s gentle lessons that keep him whole.

Here's where to get the paperback & Kindle editions worldwide: 

Here's what readers say about Lucky In Cyprus:
  • "Bravo, Allan! When I finished Lucky In Cyprus I wept." - Julie Mitchell, Hot Springs, Texas
  • "Lucky In Cyprus brought back many memories... A wonderful book. So many shadows blown away!" - Freddy & Maureen Smart, Episkopi,Cyprus. 
  • "... (Reading) Lucky In Cyprus has been a humbling, haunting, sobering and enlightening experience..." - J.A. Locke,



What if the Cold War never ended -- but continued for a thousand years? Best-selling authors Allan Cole (an American) and Nick Perumov (a Russian) spin a mesmerizing "what if?" tale set a thousand years in the future, as an American and a Russian super-soldier -- together with a beautiful American detective working for the United Worlds Police -- must combine forces to defeat a secret cabal ... and prevent a galactic disaster! This is the first - and only - collaboration between American and Russian novelists. Narrated by John Hough. Click the title links below for the trade paperback and kindle editions. (Also available at iTunes.)


A novel by Allan and his daughter, Susan

After laboring as a Doctors Without Borders physician in the teaming refugee camps and minefields of South Asia, Dr. Ann Donovan thought she'd seen Hell as close up as you can get. And as a fifth generation CIA brat, she thought she knew all there was to know about corruption and betrayal. But then her father - a legendary spymaster - shows up, with a ten-year-old boy in tow. A brother she never knew existed. Then in a few violent hours, her whole world is shattered, her father killed and she and her kid brother are one the run with hell hounds on their heels. They finally corner her in a clinic in Hawaii and then all the lies and treachery are revealed on one terrible, bloody storm- ravaged night.

BASED ON THE CLASSIC STEN SERIES by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch: Fresh from their mission to pacify the Wolf Worlds, Sten and his Mantis Team encounter a mysterious ship that has been lost among the stars for thousands of years. At first, everyone aboard appears to be long dead. Then a strange Being beckons, pleading for help. More disturbing: the presence of AM2, a strategically vital fuel tightly controlled by their boss - The Eternal Emperor. They are ordered to retrieve the remaining AM2 "at all costs." But once Sten and his heavy worlder sidekick, Alex Kilgour, board the ship they must dare an out of control defense system that attacks without warning as they move through dark warrens filled with unimaginable horrors. When they reach their goal they find that in the midst of all that death are the "seeds" of a lost civilization. 



Venice Boardwalk Circa 1969
In the depths of the Sixties and The Days Of Rage, a young newsman, accompanied by his pregnant wife and orphaned teenage brother, creates a Paradise of sorts in a sprawling Venice Beach community of apartments, populated by students, artists, budding scientists and engineers lifeguards, poets, bikers with  a few junkies thrown in for good measure. The inhabitants come to call the place “Pepperland,” after the Beatles movie, “Yellow Submarine.” Threatening this paradise is  "The Blue Meanie,"  a crazy giant of a man so frightening that he eventually even scares himself.

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