Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Chuck Connors Kisses The Ring


I said, "Got a Hollywood joke."

Chris nodded. "I love Hollywood jokes."

I said, "A TV producer, an actor, and a writer die and are whisked by the Great Ratings Spirit to the top of the Black Tower."

"Great Ratings Spirit," Chris said admiringly. "Universal's dreaded Black Tower. Nice touches."

I continued: "The Great Ratings Spirit intoned, 'Throughout your careers you have earned billions of millions of dollars for our Masters. For this, you will be handsomely rewarded. Choose anything you wish to be, leap from this tower, and you will be blessedly transformed for all eternity.'

"The producer immediately jumped, bellowing, 'I want to be an eagle!' Instantly he was changed into an eagle and soared away into the setting Studio Logo."

"Not to be outdone, the actor charged into space, shouting, 'I want to be an owl!' Immediately, he was transformed into an owl and flew off over Universal's Back Lot.

"Now, it was the writer's turn. He'd been thinking deeply about his choice, and when he had it fixed firmly in his mind, he ran forward, but he was concentrating so hard his feet got tangled up and he fell off the edge, screaming:


When Chris was done laughing, he said, "Why is it that the writer always gets it?"

I shrugged. "Life, Hollywood style."

Chris said, "Like in a horror flick: the slut gets it first, then the token black dude."

"Pretty much sums it up," I said.

Chris rubbed his hands together. He said, "Well, our mission today... and we definitely choose to accept it... is to figure out how... in a three-episode arc... to knock off that pisshead, Chuck - The Rifleman - Connors and bury him at the crossroads with a stake through his black heart."

I raised an admonitory finger. "A silver stake. He's a werewolf, not a vampire."

Chris pulled a yellow legal pad close and scribbled on it. "Or, maybe instead of a stake, a silver spear," he mused.

"Where's our hero supposed to get a silver spear?" I asked.

Chris shrugged. "Same place he was gonna get the stake." Then he added, "Bigger problem. Even with a three-parter, we don't have a lot of time. At 22 minutes an episode, that's 66 minutes to track down Skorzeny, kill his ass, and intro the new Werewolf King."

"The good news," I said, "is that Connors has agreed to film it. We just have to give him a super duper sendoff."

"No problem," Chris scoffed. "We're the best hitmen in Town. How many regulars have we killed so far?"

"Five," I said."

"No, six," Chris corrected. "You always forget that Spanish broad who wouldn't fuck the producer."

I sighed. "Yeah, I feel bad about that," I said. "But we didn't know the details at the time. Otherwise, we would have passed on the gig."

Gloom descended.

"Asshole," Chris said.

"We can put him in the next Sten," I suggested. "Have Kilgour rip his head off and shit in his neck."

Chris brightened. "I feel better already," he said.

York & Connors
I said, "If we use the first two parts to track down Skorzeny - maybe hint at the new super villain at the same time - we can give Connors a big speech in the penultimate scene. Then kill his ass. But he still gets in the last word at the end. Tells Eric his troubles have only just begun."

Chris picked it up: "Then part three is devoted to setting up the new villain. We can really show him off. Make it look like Eric's problems are almost insurmountable."

"Even with a three-parter," I cautioned, "we've got to watch where we set all this. Too many locations... too many setups... it'll murderilize the budget."

Silence as we thought. I paced, while Chris doodled on his notepad. He pushed his chair over to the bookcase and started thumbing through the volumes. I kept on pacing. Thinking... Thinking...

Chris said, "Wait up!"

I turned and saw him pull a book from the shelf. It was Interview With A Vampire.

"Why don't we do an Anne Rice?" he said. "Set it in New Orleans?"

I got excited. "We can dupe the French Quarter on a set easy," I said. "Make the whole thing at night. (On a set, night and day are just a matter of an overtime-saving flipped switch.) Add some mouths of dark alleys. Bits of old gardens with lots of hanging moss."

"And fog," Chris said. "We can really crank up the smoke generator and haze all the scenes. Cover up anything that might look phony."

I stopped. "But it can't all be New Orleans. What about Skorzeny's backstory? And the new guy? We're gonna have to show all that."

Chris nodded. "Don't say it, show it," he said - the most basic rule of filmmaking that goes back to the days when Edison sicced armed Pinkerton agents on his peep-show rivals.

I said, "What'd Frank say about Skorzeny's backstory? You talked to him last."

Chris snorted. "Didn't think he needed one at the time," he said. "Figured he'd fill it in later. Said to work it out for ourselves. Pretty near anything we want."

"That's cool," I said - meaning it. This way our hands wouldn't be tied. And we had worked with Frank long enough to come up with something that'd make all of us happy.

Chris said, "We have to make this whole thing spooky, mysterious. Nothing's as it appears to be, blah-blah." He doodled some more, then: "Music! We're in the French Quarter. Maybe use musical clues from some old Blues piano man."

"Love it," I said, scribbling a note. Then, "Say... do you recall that spooky Mime?"

Chris laughed, remembering. We'd been in New Orleans with Kathryn and Karen a couple of years before. Strolling through the French Quarter late at night, then wandering off into some side streets, looking at weird antiques in the closed-shop windows.

We were admiring a riverboat gambler's ring that concealed a single shot pistol when a heavy fog closed in around us. We set off for our hotel but soon became lost.

Chris was standing on his tip toes, trying to make out a street sign when we heard a spooky sound. Turning, we saw something swirling towards us through the fog.

Then a white-painted face, with red lips suddenly appeared. We all jumped... Son of a gun if it wasn't a Mime!

A Mime who was a little bit drunk. (One of the nice things about New Orleans is that almost everybody is almost always a little bit drunk.)

He pointed at his face with a white-gloved finger, and spoke: "Never fear. Thish face ish regish-tered with the (hicupp) po-leissh... Shh-I mean... po-lice."

Then, weaving a little, he guided us through the fog to our hotel. He had a red scarf about his neck, which he withdrew and waved at us whenever we lagged. Being a Mime, he never spoke again, but only wriggled the fingers of one gloved hand when he bade us fare-thee-well outside our hotel.

"Boy, do I remember that sucker," Chris said. "Just about jumped out of my shorts."

I said, "We could maybe have a Mime float through the whole story. Use his appearance to maybe button all the key scenes. We don't know whether he's good, or evil..."

"Until Eric maybe finds him dead at an act break," Chris put in.

This was getting to be a whole lot of fun. We even got to write some clue-laden lyrics for the piano player to sing to Eric (our good guy Werewolf) to send him in the right direction. (After the episodes aired, the Musicians Union sent us an invitation to join, which we did just for the bragging rights.)

Finally, we were done. Everybody loved the three scripts. Frank reported that even Chuck Connors was delighted at his sendoff, and we left work Friday evening, well-satisfied. The shoot was set to begin in Salt Lake City first thing Monday.

Saturday morning I got the call:

"Allan, we're fucked." It was John Ashley, Lupo's El Segundo.

"Connors?" I guessed. No biggie, since getting fucked by him was the most likely crisis.

"You got that right," Ashley said. "He had his agent call Frank this morning. He's not going to show."

"What a chicken shit," I said. Then: "Guess we're going to have to do a fast rewrite."

"Yeah, can we get you guys to come in?"

"No problem," I said. "I'll call Chris. Be there in an hour or so."

Called Chris. "What a pig fucker!" he said. Then: "Be right over."

Frank was waiting at our office when we arrived. After he cursed himself dry, he said, "We need to collapse it into two parts, instead of three. Lots of cheater angles so we can double Chuck all the way."

Chris said, "Can we take the gloves off, boss? Make Connors grovel in front of the new guy? Show what a fucking coward he really is?"

Frank said, "You can have the asshole kiss his ring, for all I care."

"Holy shit," Chris said. "I love it."

Frank went back to his office and we got to work. After all our labors trying to give Connors a dignified send-off, we felt personally betrayed. Before, the whole thing was somebody else's problem. A problem we had to work around, to be sure, but we had no reason to feel offended or even put out. In fact, it was kind of fun figuring out how to work around the difficulties. And Connors' not-so-secret weaknesses were only scandalous stories we could use to amuse our civilian friends.

But now, we felt like he had personally pissed on our work. And when you piss on a writer's work, you might as well be pissing on him.

Writers may be the low men/women on the totem pole in Hollywood, but ultimately they are the worst people to fuck with. The Keyboard really is mightier than the sword. Take that producer who used us to get back at the Spanish actress. Hell, he'd not only find his name on the Sten shit list, but when the book was published, that name would be seen by science fiction fans the world over, plus it would be enshrined in the Library Of Congress for two small forevers.

And when we were done with Chuck Connors, his humiliation would be witnessed by millions for years to come. Didn't matter if he refused to be filmed. We had him on camera from previous episodes and we could mash those up with live profile shots of his body double.

"Fuck a bunch of Chuck Connors," Chris said.

And we did.

We rewrote the penultimate scene so that his character was revealed as a craven of the lowest order. And we made him kneel before his Master and kiss his ornate ring. Made that as humiliating as we could

Then we got to the final death scene.

Chris said, "If we disfigure Connors in the fight, we can get a full on face shot."

Killing Him Ugly
"Gotcha," I said. "Go for an angle with the double, then maybe Eric throws acid in his face. Let Make Up take over from there. Skorzeny turns, we see a blackened ruin of a face that actually belongs to the Double, but still looks like Chucky-Poo."

"Acid! Love it," Chris chortled, pounding away at the keyboard. "And we keep the silver spear, right?"

"Right," I said. "Eric drives the fucking spear right through Chuck Connors' black fucking heart."

Chris raised a hand. "Wait, wait!" he said. "Better still... How about we put some kind of electrical device in the scene? Have the spear go right though Connors' body... make contact with the electrical doo-hickey... and then we..."

"Fry his ass!" I laughed.

So we worked it out - me pacing, and talking, Chris typing as fast as I could talk. Since the death scene was set at an old theater. We made like the last play showing there had been "Elmer Gantry." Just needed some posters and such. That gave us a big old cross from the Come-To-Jesus scenes in Gantry, all studded with lightbulbs. 

And... Voila! Our device for the electrocution was born.

Over the weekend, we collapsed the three scripts into two. As we finished each page, Frank's assistant retyped it, put in scene numbers, and then our secretary faxed the pages to Salt Lake.

By Sunday night we were done and the actors in Utah were already halfway through memorizing their lines. Meanwhile, the director and crew were rushing around making adjustments.

Just before we left for the night, Frank came into our office, waving the scripts and laughing.

"Hey, you really did have him kiss the ring," he said. "Shit, guys. I was just blowing steam."

Chris summed it up with his favorite payoff: "Fuck with the bull, you get the horns."

Postscript #1: The buzz about the quality of the Werewolf TV Series was so good that actors and actresses who didn't normally do TV were eager to get guest-starring roles. But then, as it happens more often than not in Hollywood, the studio bosses got all excited about having a big hit on their hands. They tried to fuck with us, but Frank wouldn't let them. Finally, they demanded that we expand the show from a half hour to an hour. Frank rightly believed this would destroy the show that he had in mind. In the end, Fox burned off the episodes, throwing them all over the schedule so nobody could find them. And that was the end of the most delightful staff experience that Chris and I had ever enjoyed.

Postscript #2: Fights over rights involving the background music have kept Werewolf from ever being released on DVD, streaming, or even reruns on the Syfy Channel. In other words, none of the artists, writers, directors, actors, etc. have ever seen a dime of residuals. All of us depend on residuals to live, pay our bills, and flesh out our income during retirement years. Even more important is that the public will never see what a truly ground-breaking series Werewolf was in the days before Zombies and other horror stories made it to the small screen. Sorry to say, I see little hope of the series being shown again in the near future. Selfishly, it contains some of the best work Chris and I did for television. We were on a roll then. At the height of our partnership powers. And wish you could see us rock!    



A True Story About A Boy,
A Teacher, An 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.

Note to subscribers: Lucky In Cyprus will be available there in a few weeks. Save a credit!

Meanwhile, 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,
  • *****




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.

Here's where you can buy it worldwide in both paperback and Kindle editions:

U.S. .............................................France
United Kingdom ...........................Spain
Canada ........................................ Italy
Germany ..................................... Japan
Brazil .......................................... India

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.




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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