We're heading south for our annual migration to the Newport Beach Film Festival. I like a festival that I can drive to and where I don't have to know how to ski. Plus, I get the chance to see my UO dorm buddy, Pete Feibleman, because his wife, Leslie, is one of the main honchos who puts the whole deal together.
Thursday's opening night film is "Beautiful Ohio" from director/producer Chad Lowe. It's a coming-of-age tale, set in the early 70s (back when yours truly was "coming-of-age," whatever that means) about a kid who's a math whiz expected to win a mathematics competition while his little brother struggles to live in his brother's formidable shadow. This intrigues me because about that time, my brother Alan was a math whiz who was leading his high school team in the "High-Q" TV competition (and would go on to set the record for consecutive wins before leaving town for M.I.T.) and I was, well, the little brother struggling to live in his formidable shadow.
I doubt it will be too much like my own life because, in this telling, the math whiz has Michelle Trachtenberg for his hot girlfriend and, if I recall, my brother was barely dating because he was a math whiz which all but disqualified you from dating back then (except for the movies, I guess).
Anyway, since Rita Wilson plays the kid's mom in this, maybe we'll run into Tom Hanks at the after-party. I can remind him that we sat next to each other at the 2002 Emmy Awards when he won for "Band of Brothers" and he can pretend to remember me. Or maybe he actually will. He really is one of the nicest guys working in showbiz. He sent me this terrific short note, written on a vintage World War II-era typewriter, that I still have.
And if I get a moment to talk to Chad Lowe, we can swap war stories about our brief encounter while working on ABC's "Life Goes On" when he played a high school kid "coming-of-age" who happened to have AIDS. I played the role of "Executive Story Editor with a Heart-of-Gold." I will exercise caution and not bring up his fellow producer on this project, some woman named Swank, I think. I actually also know the other-other producer on this project, Mark Burton. I'm not sure who's still talking whom in that group. We'll see.
Friday night is the festival premiere of "Moola" -- a film produced and directed by my good friend Don Most. It's a comedy about chemical glow sticks which, when hung on a cow's ass leads to insane sexual behavior in the dark, and how that discovery leads to a corporate merger deal making a bunch of losers rich. I guess with that description it better be a comedy! Anyway, it stars William Mapother who you may also have seen as the creepy Other on "Lost."
Then, Saturday morning, it's time to sing for the supper, as I'm moderating the screenwriter panel that morning. Panelists include Steve Oedekerk ("Bruce Almighty"), Jeff Arch ("Sleepless in Seattle") and Brad Gann ("Black Irish," another festival selection). If you have ideas for things I should ask any of them, post your thoughts in the comment section.
I won't ask the usual question audience members often want to know at these things: "How do I get an agent?" The better question for these working writers would probably be: "How do you get an agent you want to keep?"
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