Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 24 Jul 02 17:39
Before becoming a novelist, Carol Wolper worked as a screenwriter - mainly for producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer - and as a journalist - she had her own column in Los Angeles magazine. Her first book, The Cigarette Girl, (published in 1999) was a national bestseller and has been translated into ten languages. A third novel, Mr. Famous, is currently underway and is scheduled for publication in late 2003. SECRET CELEBRITY is basically Wizard of Oz for adults. Four characters - all residing in L.A., team up to find Richard Gault, a mythically-cool cult actor/musician who left Hollywood in the seventies. The idea is to make Gault the subject of a documentary. However, these four characters, whether they're fully aware of it or not, are also all searching for a shred of truth, stimulation or inspiration in a town that cares only about fame, box office and access to the next hot thing. The narrative voice of the story is that of Christine Chase, a thirty-five-year-old woman who is experiencing a lull in her life - both personally and professionally. As she navigates her way through Hollywood and toward Richard Gault, the reader will get a voyeuristic look at what goes on up in the canyons and down along the boulevards of this seductive, dangerous playground. Oh, and one more thing - it's kind of a comedy. David Gans, one of the hosts of <inkwell.vue.>, is a musician, author, and record and radio producer. Best known for his work with the Grateful Dead, he had a ten-year career as a music journalist -- writing for consumer and trade publications -- before his first book, "Playing in the Band," launched him into the radio gig that has been his day job for 17 years. He currently tours as a solo performer and plays with bands occasionally, too. Please join David and me in welcoming Carol to inkwell.vue!
David Gans (tnf) Wed 24 Jul 02 22:43
Carol, welcome! I really enjoyed "Secret Celebrity." The fantasy of a brilliant recording artist (and more) disappearing at the peak of his creative powers -- what a great way to set a plot in motion!
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Thu 25 Jul 02 19:37
David, As you can tell from Secret Celebrity I'm fascinated by the idea of someone who opts not to be in the limelight. A rare thing in Hollywood. This is such a publicity driven culture. I often say that I want to meet the person who said there's no such thing as bad publicity and tell them that they' re the anti-Christ.
David Gans (tnf) Thu 25 Jul 02 22:23
Heh! There is an awful (in many senses) amount of truth to that truism, but yeah. So. Tell us about yourself, and then we'll talk about the book. How do you know so much about the biz, and those characters you write so well in "Secret Celebrity"?
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Fri 26 Jul 02 09:39
Years ago I moved to L.A. because my boyfriend, at the time, was living out here and working in the entertainment business. Through him I met a lot of people and essentially had a front row seat from which to view all the craziness. Later when I became a screenwritter and worked for Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, that job turned into another great opportunity to study the Hollywood culture.
David Gans (tnf) Fri 26 Jul 02 11:56
Give us some excerpts from your C.V. What have you written that we might have seen? What did you do before you became a screenwriter, and how did you get into that work?
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Fri 26 Jul 02 13:34
I re-wrote the 1995 movie Bad Boys for producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. I was probably the tenth writer on the project. I spent a month in Miami re-writing the movie while it were shooting. It was a true experience. I was also (and this gives you some idea of how Hollywood works) the first of maybe 20 writers on the script for Charlie's Angels. My version was nothing like the one that made it to the screen. My angels were real. None of that special effects kickboxing stuff. I'm currently finishing up a script for director Luis Mandoki. As for how I got started as a screenwriter - pure luck. I was sitting next to Ted Field (Interscope Entertainment) at a dinner. We talked for ten minutes. He said I like the way you think. Cut to a meeting at his office and my first screenplay deal. I refer to Ted as the godfather of my career. As for life before screenwriting - I had my own column in Los Angeles magazine. It was great while it lasted. I basically was getting paid for my attitude and observations. However less than a year into the job , my editor was fired and his replacement and I had zero rapport. In fact, we were like a karmic collision. I eventually quit and never regretted it. One door closes, another opens and all of that. I got my first book deal because of that column.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 26 Jul 02 14:12
Hi Carol. I understand, somewhat, the need for rewrites on a screenplay, but why so many? And why bring in writer after writer instead of using the same one all the way through? If it were my original screenplay on which the movie was based, this would make me crazy. Is it the rule, or the exception?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 26 Jul 02 15:04
I just had the urge to rewrite Linda's question...
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Fri 26 Jul 02 15:27
re-writes on screenplays is typical in Hollywood. However, they're more likely to be found on high-concept/action movies. The up side is that you (the writer) get a quick course in zen: connection without attachment. Plus, you get paid well. I save my ego and attachment for novels . In general, I think it's a good idea to never put your self esteem in Hollywood's hands. I love the place but I'd love it a lot less if I needed it.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 27 Jul 02 08:18
> In general, I think it's a good idea to never put your self esteem in Hol- > lywood's hands. There's one of those wise observations that I found throughout "Secret Celebrity." Tell us a little more about the column, please.
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Sat 27 Jul 02 09:48
I got to write about whatever I wanted as long as it was about Hollywood. Some of the ideas in those columns ended up in my first novel. My favorite being "trickle down cachet ." The best example of that comes from a friend who used to work at Olive, a now, legendary hangout that, was open from 1991-1994. My friend said at least once a week someone would come in, without a reservation, and try to score a table by claiming to be "Jack;s good friend." Anyway, it was great fun to have my own column but as I said it didn't last long - less than a year.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 27 Jul 02 10:33
What is one supposed to assume about the statement "Jack's good friend?" My first question would be, "That's nice. Jack who?" I like the concept of "trickle down cachet!"
Berliner (captward) Sat 27 Jul 02 10:39
You don't know Jack? You have to *ask*? Good lord! (Could work...)
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 27 Jul 02 11:02
Let's give it a try and report back!
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Sat 27 Jul 02 11:17
There's only one Jack in Hollywood with that kind of cachet. Nicholson.
excessively heterosexual (saiyuk) Sat 27 Jul 02 11:59
Boom Boom Valenti isn't in the In Crowd anymore? Carol, just curious about who you worked with at LA Mag, 'cause I had a column there ca 1987-89, and wondering if any of the same people were involved.
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Sat 27 Jul 02 16:10
I was hired (back in 1995) by Robert Sam Anson and he was really the only person that I dealt with there. I also worked at L.A. Style. I was editor-at-large. Always loved that title. But that was in 1992. Did a few articles for Buzz magazine as well. But since my work rarely required me to go to the office, I didn't really get acquainted with the rest of the staff. By the way, not having to go to the office is one of the best perks of the writing profession. And when it comes to screenwriting, I'm happy if I never have to go to the set.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 27 Jul 02 19:15
How often does that happen?
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Sun 28 Jul 02 00:09
It depends on the job and the producer. Some writers love being on the set. I'd rather do the work, send in the pages, get the check and live my life. I've never found movie sets particularly interesting.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 28 Jul 02 00:58
All I know about how it works is what I've seen in the movies, most recently State and Main, and from those glimpses, it looks like the rewrites are so constantly required that the writer would have to be there. What's the reality? Do you have to do daily rewrites during a shoot?
David Gans (tnf) Sun 28 Jul 02 07:30
> By the way, not having to go to the office is one of the best perks of the > writing profession. Ain't it the truth! So, "Secret Celebrity." One thing I really like about this story is that there are some "types" who are not stereotypes. Your characters all seem very real, not cartoon-Hollywood. Clearly, you know these people. Do you know a Richard Gault?
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Sun 28 Jul 02 09:38
As for daily re-writes, it depends on the director and producers and how they prefer to work. But in general, if you're on the set, someone will ask you to re-write something. Sometimes it's the actor, pulling you aside wanting a different line. I was once asked by an actress if I could re-write her part and kill off her character half way through the movie. She hated the job and wanted to get out of there ASAP. Obviously a writer doesn't have that kind of power. I told her to take it up with the producers. Whether she did or not, I don't know. But she ended up staying. As for Richard Gault - that character is a combination of some of my favorite men in L.A.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 28 Jul 02 12:40
Would you like to say who? %^)
Carol Wolper (carol-wolper) Sun 28 Jul 02 15:05
Richard Gault is based on a lot of secret celebrities - their names would not be familiar to you unless you lived in L.A. - and even then, maybe not - as well as one not-so-secret celebrity who must remain nameless. But I have to say I'm enjoying hearing people speculate about who Gault might be. A lot of people say Sam Shephard. I don't know SS but I can see why they would guess that.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 29 Jul 02 10:00
Let's back up a bit and tell our readers who the fictional Richard Gault is.
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