Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Werewolf Paradise


Thank You, Mr. Vargas
Chris said, "Shit, Cole, I think we just died and went to Heaven!"

I didn't reply. I was too busy gawping at the reason for Chris' speculations in Theography.

Only minutes before we had lunched at a restaurant conveniently located many floors below the production offices of Werewolf.

After paying the tab, we'd climbed aboard an elevator which had clambered ever upward, dropping people off at each level, until finally only the two of us remained.

Then the elevator doors open-sesamed and we found ourselves gazing out on an absolutely stunning tableau:

A veritable sea of gorgeous, scantily-clad women.

Skirts up to you know where. Shorts cut so high that many parts of the "where" were nicely outlined. Tiny blouses and tops overflowing with feminine bounty. Long, graceful, silken limbs wherever you looked, all shod in heels so high that one wondered how the wearer could remain upright. Scented air direct from some fabled perfumery billowed over our frozen forms.

Chris murmured, "If it's Heaven, it's probably a Muslim Heaven. Let's count and see if there's 72, Allah willing."

"You're supposed to get 72 Virgins," I reminded my partner. "Not hookers." (No disrespect intended, but that's what they looked like - hookers. Albeit very fancy hookers. Girls from high-toned Storyville brothels, or maybe they were channeling the Everleigh Sisters, God bless them.)

Chris snorted. "You're such a nit-picker, Cole," he said. "Whatever it says, I'm definitely converting."

We stumbled forward, as thoroughly pixilated as any poor souls who had ever wandered into a magical forest.

None of the women paid us the slightest attention, but swirled around the hallway, eyes fixed on the carpet, or the ceiling above, muttering to themselves, sometimes gesticulating as if making a point to an invisible audience.

Then I realized that they all had pages in their hands, which they were glancing at for a few seconds, followed by several moments of closed eyes, accompanied by frowns of concentration. Then they'd start muttering again while waving their arms about.

"Oh," I said. "They're here for The Unicorn."

"Toldja they were Virgins," Chris said. "Otherwise no self-respecting Unicorn would have a thing to do with them."

But, now he was laughing because he got it too. The ladies were actresses here for a casting session to pick the guest star, and the guest star's best friend, for an upcoming episode of Werewolf, titled, "The Unicorn."

In the story, the two characters were ladies of the night. One would be murdered by the evil Skorzeny werewolf, played by Chuck Connors, while the other would be rescued by our hero/werewolf played by John York.

So all those gorgeous women actually were working girls, but not the sort that their attire might imply. In Hollywood, an actor pretty much has to dress the part when she/he is trying to land a gig.

Chris and I moved through the crowd, doing our gentlemanly best to avoid bumping into or boorishly brushing against, so much pulchritude.

When we rounded the bend we were once again brought up short. But this time it was not Beauty that did us in, but This portion of the hallway was jammed with the most evil looking men you have ever seen. Thugs one and all. Muscular thugs. Scarred thugs. Tattooed thugs. Snarling thugs. Grimacing thugs. Thugs of every size, shape and hairy-scary countenance.

"Guess we got kicked out of Heaven," Chris said. "And this is the other place."

Fortunately, the thugs also proved to be actors, dressed in character, while milling about the hallway, gesticulating, committing scenes to memory, and muttering lines.

"Must be here for Skinwalker," I said.

In this episode of Werewolf, our hero finds himself pitted against a Skinwalker/werewolf, who is murdering members of an Indian tribe stranded in the big city. It was written by Christian Darren, son of James Darren, the former teenage heartthrob, who had gone on to become a helluva television director. (He directed several episodes of Werewolf, including one of ours.)

Chris said, "Either that or they're here to scalp everybody."

We weren't as gentle with this crowd, elbowing through, getting snarls of resentment, silenced immediately when they saw us open a door that led into the Production Office's inner sanctum.

"If they knew we were just writers," Chris muttered, "instead of something really important like casting agents, they'd probably knife us."

"If they catch on," I said, "you hang back and reason with them while I scurry for help."

A few seconds later we were safe in our office, which was rather nifty; potted palm in one corner (a gift from Kathryn and Karen ), some framed Sten and Reckoning For Kings book cover posters, (from Kathryn), shelves packed with books (mostly dealing with witchcraft and lycanthropy), two desks with comfortable chairs, two IBM-type computers (by now Hollywood had progressed from typewriters to DOS.) And one studio-veep-type wall of glass, which offered a spectacular view of beautiful downtown Burbank, with the Black Tower of MCA/Universal menacing in the distance.

As we settled in, Frank's right-hand man, John Ashley, came calling. Ashley was a handsome man in his early 50's. He'd started out as an actor playing mostly in B-movies, melodramas and horror flicks then moved into production, putting his long experience and degree in economics to good use. His credits included Apocalypse Now, as well as many hit TV shows such as The A-Team, which is where I assume he and Lupo became tight. (Frank, along with the late Steve Canell had created the A-Team)

"Jesus, you guys have been writing up a storm," John said. "Got our fax machines working overtime."

This was no exaggeration. Chris and I had been hammering steadily at our keyboards, producing finished script after script. In all, we wrote eleven episodes of the first season and did extensive rewrites of most of the remaining eighteen. For The Unicorn episode, for example, we had basically jacked up the title and moved a new script under it. Skinwalker, on the other hand, needed very little help. Christian Darren was an excellent writer. (For details and to download some of our original scripts, visit The Werewolf Page)

"Gotta keep feeding the monster," Chris said.

"Well, I don't know if this will help," Ashley said, "or if we're stepping on your Creative Toes."

He dropped a file folder on my desk, flipped it open, and fanned out sheaves of paper with photographs clipped to them. Chris came over to look.

"We've got ourselves a gung-ho location guy in Salt Lake," Ashley said. "Whenever he goes location hunting, he checks out other places he runs into that catch his eye."

For budgetary reasons, the show was being shot in and around Salt Lake City, which proved to offer an unexpected treasure trove of resources. First off, the nice people in Utah had invested a lot of money in the arts, both fine and popular. Set decorators, wardrobe and makeup people, musicians, and just about any other below the line talent we needed were readily, and (relatively speaking) cheaply, available.

Key people from each department were camping out in Salt Lake and employing experienced locals to work under them. Same with actors. Turned out there were plenty of people with stage experience in Salt Lake, so we only had to send our regulars and guest stars there. Stunt people, of course, were almost always Hollywood pros.

When we finished the first draft of a script, we drew up a rough location and character list, which would be faxed to Salt Lake and the hunt would immediately commence. The final draft usually followed in the next 24 hours, and the cameras would start whirring. A typical shoot was six days, with a one-day turnaround. This meant that on the Seventh Day the actors did not rest, but set to work memorizing their lines for Monday.

Chris and I shuffled through the pictures. One was of a really cool old rollercoaster. Another was of an old black freight train. A series of shots limned a beat-up mall, with boarded over windows.

Ashley tapped the train picture. "It's a working train," he said. "And the tracks it's sitting on are part of a small, private rail line. Guy who owns it says we can get the train and as much of the tracks as we need for ten grand for three days."

We both perked up. "Shit, that's cheap!" Chris said.

A sudden thought: there'd been a rash of bum-beatings and murders at the LA yards in recent weeks. One or two people seemed to have been involved, the cops told the Times reporter. So far, there were no arrests and no reported clues.

I said, "A werewolf stalking hobos. That'd be a cool story."

Chris and John agreed. "Keep the whole thing on the train," Chris said. "Like we did with Black Ship." (Eventually, the train would be featured in an episode titled King Of The Road. A piece of the track and train was also used for Blood On The Track, a boxer story written by Christian Darren.)

Tucking that one away, we went through the other photos. The bankrupt Mall was intriguing as all hell. Malls were all the rage with young people in those days.

"Maybe something with runaways," I said. "Hiding out at the Mall. A kid's paradise. Throw in a werewolf and it could be one scary story."

Everybody liked that too. (A few weeks later, we turned it into something called "A Material Girl," directed by James Darren.)

Ashley indicated the roller coaster. "They claim it's the last wooden roller coaster in the country," he said.

"Does it work?" Chris asked.

"That's what they told me," Ashley said. "The amusement park went belly up a few years ago, so the owner will let us have the place cheap."

I shrugged. "Yeah, but we'd need a ton of extras, right? And some working rides, besides the roller coaster."

Ashley thought a minute, then said, "I have a buddy who's a honcho at Seven Flags. We could maybe get some second unit guys over there and steal some candid pickups with handhelds."

"That'd look cool," Chris said. "We'll make a definite note of it." (That eventually became an episode titled "Blind Luck," written by Chris' buddy, Dennis Foley.)

Next, there was this crazy-looking junkyard, with cars piled all over the place. This, too, was abandoned - you never think of junkyards going out of business. (Where do you junk the junk in a junkyard?)

The junkyard became the setting for Norman Spinrad 's Gray Wolf episode, mentioned in the previous Misadventure. Norman's story was about a werewolf who went back to Neanderthal times. The junkyard - with lots of smoky fires adding to the atmosphere - became his lair. Norman did a bang up job with it - no surprise there - and we ended up shooting it pretty much the way he wrote it.

Finally, we were done. And it had proved to be a most productive meeting. Ashley left, bearing many words of appreciative thanks from us to the "gung-ho" location director.

"This is a fucking great job, Cole," Chris said. "Every sucker on the show is pitching in to make it work."

Indeed. So unlike many of the other staff jobs we'd had, where everybody seemed to be working against each other.

We went down the hallway to the coffee room to further fuel our afternoon, once again pushing our way through faux thugs and hookers.

As we were filling our cups, a round little man scurried into the room. He was breathing hard and his eyes were wide with fright. The guy looked a lot like a mouse (with a comb-over) who had just escaped the claws of a hungry feline.

He pointed back through the door and gasped, "Did you see those... those... uh, uh... strange people out there?"

"What strange people?" Chris said in pretended puzzlement. He looked at me. "You see any strange people, Cole?" he asked.

I shook my head. "Nope."

Chris looked back at the little man. "You work around here, buddy?"

The little man nodded. "Down the other hall," he said.

He named an accounting firm, whose sign graced the door at the far end of our floor. (Frank had snapped up all the other available space, leaving the accountants stranded in a sea of Hollywood weirdness.)

But, Mr. Mouse was not to be put off. "Surely," he said, "you saw all those, you know, girls... and... and... well, men who look like they belong in prison."

Chris shrugged. "Just folks looking for work," he said. "As it happens, our company is hiring."

Mr. Mouse was startled. "You mean, you... uh... work for... uh... That Company? The one that's hiring?"

"We certainly do," Chris said.

"Uh... what kind of... you know... business are you in?" the little man asked.

Chris gave him his most wolfish grin. "We kill people," he said.

The little man jumped. "Oh!" he said.

Then higher still: "Oh!"

And he whirled about and scurried from the room as fast as his little legs would carry him.

Chuckling, we got our coffee and made our way back through the throngs of actors.

We were still laughing about it a little later when Frank came into our office.

"It's time, guys," he announced.

"Time to take out Chuck Connors?" I asked.

"You got it," Frank said.

"Fuckin' A," Chris said.




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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