Tuesday, May 1, 2018

We Get A Perfectly Good Agent, Then Screw The Pooch

"Agents like to see themselves as zookeepers. Viewing writers as their captive animals that they keep under lock and key. Chris thought they were more like mushroom farmers. And we were the mushrooms. Kept in the dark and fed only on horseshit." (Allan Cole)
"Agents are like tires on a car; in order to get anywhere at all you need at least four of them, and they need to be rotated every 5,000 miles." (Billy Wilder)
"A long time ago, when I was just starting out (as a writer), I had the good fortune to meet the great Willa Cather. With all the audacity of youth, I asked her "If you could only give me one rule to follow, what would it be?" She paused, looked down for a moment and finally said, "Never wear brown shoes with a blue suit." (From Michael O'Donoghue's "How To Write Good.)
* * * 
The kid - who looked like Mr. Spock, except he was really fat - said, "I've written, like, dozens of movies, man, and nobody will give me a break. It's like a total Hollywood conspiracy, you know? They make all these lousy science fiction movies that, like, righteously suck. And they totally ignore somebody who tries to give them something that really - you know - rocks as science fiction instead of the crap the Studios keep doing... if you'll pardon my French."

"Which part should we pardon?" Chris asked. "The crap part or the Studio part?"

I said, "He must mean the Studio part, Chris. Crap is a perfectly acceptable word."

The audience laughed and the kid who looked like Mr. Spock, except he was really fat, was pleased. He fingered the pointy tip of one ear, and said, "They keep telling me that I have to have an agent, man. So I tried to get an agent. I tried and tried, but they keep sending my scripts back. I don't think they even read them."

"They don't," I said. "There are certain abasement procedures you absolutely have to undergo before they finally reject you. First you have to send them a letter, begging them to read your script. You also better include return postage and a self-addressed envelope. If you skip the query letter part, they'll automatically ship the script back without reading it."

"Unless you didn't include return postage," Chris said, "in which case, they'll shitcan the script."

A girl in a Yowsa! Princess Lea Slave Girl bikini put hands on rounded hips and said, "Why do we have to have an agent anyway? Seems like an unnecessary middleman to me. Why not just go straight to the Studio?"

There were hot words of agreement from the crowd. Chris and I couldn't really blame them. Every writer questions the need for agents several times during his career. More so at the beginning and the end, than in the middle, when you are too busy hustling gigs to pay much attention to the guys who are snipping ten percent out of every paycheck.

The crowd in question would have looked bizarre anywhere else except at a World Science Fiction Convention - especially a science fiction convention set in New Orleans. This is the same convention where Chris and I, along with Kathryn and Karen, had become lost in the fog on the outskirts of The French Quarter and were rescued by an Inebriated Mime. (See: Chuck Connors Kisses The Ring.)

Most of the people in the audience were dressed as their favorite characters from dozens of science fiction movies and TV series, with Star Trek and Star Wars represented more heavily than most. But they all had at least one thing in common, which is why they'd gather to hear Words Of Wisdom From Bunch and Cole. They'd been terminally stricken with the I-Want-To-Be- In-Pictures bug, which can infect an otherwise perfectly rational person for years - if not a lifetime.

It's a relatively harmless affliction, unlike - say, a heroin or Texas Hold-Em habit. Unfortunately, the cure rate is well below the percentages achieved by substance support groups. (You never hear anyone go: "Hi, I'm Wally. And I'm a Hollywood Writer Wannabee."... "Hi, Wally!"....)

The cause is simple. Unless they are from another planet, everyone has seen a movie and has watched television and considers Himself/Herself(Herself/Himself!)an expert.

Okay, even people from other planets probably aren't immune. No doubt they can get twenty million, five hundred and sixty-six thousand, and fifty-two channels from their endlessly-streaming cable/satellite/Apple TV networks - and there is still nothing the hell on to watch. And their multiplexes were probably designed by somebody out of a Douglas Adams' novel, and plopped in The Mall At The End Of The Universe, and contain an infinite number of rooms with postage-stamp screens and sticky floors. (Don't forget your towels, kids.)

And those aliens probably thought the same thing you did when watching some typically awful production - What Crap! (Or, What Studio!) I can do better than that! The next step - to be avoided at all cost - is to then think: Hell, why don't I give it a try?

Because, Whoops! There you go down the Rabbit Hole to La-La-Land, where only two or three ink-stained wretches ever get the chance to have their keyboards lopped off by the Red Queen of all Showrunners. The rest wander around aimlessly, hoping to bump into the Executioner's Agent, or Joel Lubin, whichever comes first.

I said, "Think of it as Hollywood's take on Adam and Eve. Without an agent, you don't even get to nibble the apple, much less talk to the snake."

"So, how did you guys get an agent?" somebody in the audience - tall, and furry, so he was probably a Wookie - asked.

Chris said, "We went straight to the Big Man at the Bottom - Satan. Old Scratch. Beelzebub. The Prince Of Fucking Darkness."

"In other words," I said, "we hired a lawyer."

Chris said, "The lawyer read our stuff and got us an agent, who read our stuff and then got us a job. "

"His name was Larry Grossman and he was truly a great agent," I said. "He helped us get our first break. (See: Jack Klugman And The KO Kids) He was honest, which is really saying something for an Agent. He cared about us personally, not just as paychecks. He was looking to our future."

"What happened to him?" Somebody shouted. It was the Wookie's companion - R2D2, with fishnet stockings, containing a really nice pair of legs.

Chris said, "We fired his ass."

Silence from the crowd. As well there should have been.

I said, "It was a really stupid thing to do. A fuck-up of the first order. To this day, Chris and I take turns kicking each other's butts for being so incredibly - so royally - dimwitted. i'll start kicking my own ass soon as I can turn around fast enough."

Chris shrugged. "What can we say, except - the Devil made us do it."

Trying to explain the unexplainable, I said, "When you finally do get an agent... and you land your first gig... all those agents who wouldn't talk to you before, are suddenly dying to sign incredible geniuses like yourself."

"They come blowing in your ear," Chris said.

"Whispering sweet nothings over boozy lunches," I said. "Telling you how your present agent really doesn't understand you."

"Pretty soon, they turn your pretty little empty head," Chris said. "And you start believing all their shit." He shook his head in disgust, then added, "It's the Tinsel-Town version of The House Of The Rising Sun."

I said, "First agent we ran away with was a guy named Irv Schechter."

"Big talk, no action," Chris said.

"Then we went with a guy named Scott Penney for awhile," I said.

"Nice guy," Chris said. "But lazy and disorganized."

"After that we really hit the big time," I said. "William Fucking Morris."

"Not nice guys. "Energetically incompetent," Chris said. "Scared of their own shadows."

"Before we came here," I said, "we signed with a guy the jury's still out on so I won't mention his name. But to give you an idea how long that's going to last - Chris calls him The Weasel."

Titters from the Audience.

"He's got a really fucking whiny voice," Chris said in his own defense.

"But he came highly recommended," I put in.

"He's got sharp little teeth and he's got a long skinny neck and he talks and talks and talks and he's already driving me crazy," Chris said.

"Why'd you hire him?" somebody shouted.

I sighed. "We had to," I said."Chris put a knife in his desk."

Dead silence - except for somebody saying - "Holy Shit."

"I couldn't help it," Chris said."He wouldn't shut the fuck up. And he was using all these Hollywood buzz words... You know, like - take a meeting; and boffo, as in big hit; and tentpole, as in movie sequels; and praisery - as in, the Agency had an in-house PR team; and dramedy, as in a comic drama, or a dramatic comedy. He had no goddamn shame and I had this perfectly good knife in my boot, so I... I..."

"I think you made him piss his pants," I said.

"I know, I know," Chris said mournfully.

"And now he's going all over town bragging to everybody that Chris Bunch stuck a knife in his desk," I said.

"I know, I know," Chris groaned.

"It's The Weasel's new macho act," I said. "Probably the only one he's ever had. Gets to say, 'Hey, I'm so manly I have a knife scar in my desk from Bunch and Cole."

"I couldn't help it," Chris said.

"Last time we were in," I said, "The Weasel had the hole in his desk framed, that's how proud he is of it,"

"I swear I'll never do it again," Chris said.

I said, "For a minute there, I thought you were going for his heart."

Chris snorted. "An agent? Give me a break, Cole. What fucking heart?"

The audience roared.





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 Audible.com 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, Bookloons.com
  • *****




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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