Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nobody Knows Anything, Part 6b: Much more is said than done.

The first half of this last installment of Nobody Knows Anything was about movies that took forever to be made, and movies rumored to be in production that may or may not see the light of day. This last part is about movies that will never be made, barring a miracle. The information I have about them is second hand, and the person who gave me the inside info is my old friend from the video game business, Rob Fulop.

In the early 1990s, Australian sci-fi author Neal Stephenson burst on the scene with Snow Crash, a novel about the not too distant future. It took place partly in the real world and partly in cyberspace, and there were plenty of interesting ideas on the book, as well as exciting action scenes and well-drawn characters.

The buzz around the book was great enough that a big time Hollywood production company purchased the rights to make the film from Stephenson, and began serious negotiations to get the film in production. The company shall remain nameless, but they produced some big hits of the day with some of the biggest stars in the industry in the lead roles. The film production team was so serious, they were also planning to begin work on the video game tie-in that would be released simultaneously with the film, which is why Rob Fulop was in the room.

So around the table were Stephenson the author, Fulop the video game designer, the big time producer and his people. Plans were being made, schedules were being drawn up, elements from the book were being discussed as to what would stay and what would have to go, given that the book was a sprawling 500 page tome and they didn't want to make a movie more than two and a half hours long.

Suddenly, a well-dressed production assistant bursts into the room with a memo. She hands it to the big time producer, who reads it, gives a look of surprise and hands it to his second in command. "Oh my God, it's a go!" The excitement is palpable and the memo is passed around the room, the memo that changes everything.

"Neal, we're sorry, but we are going to have to put this project on hold. We have a lot of irons in the fire, but we now have an agreement in principle for another film that takes precedence. We will get back to you, but for now, Snow Crash is on hold."

And as quick as that, the room is empty except for Neal the author and Rob the video game designer, and the memo that was left behind. In other words, the people who were selling their services were still there, but the folks with the cash were gone.

What trumped a 500 page, best selling novel? A six word memo.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger is four inches tall."

This is what is known in the business as a high concept. This was the exciting new project that put Snow Crash, the major motion picture, on hold forever.

It was also a bald faced lie. Arnold Schwarzenegger never made a movie where he was four inches tall. At Rob Fulop's company, the phrase "Arnold Schwarzenegger is four inches tall!" became code for "You have just asked for something, and it's never going to happen." In other words, it was code for "no".

This concludes my week of Nobody Knows Anything. I'd like to thank the illustrator Capp, my Close Personal Bud, for coming up with the illustration of Tiny Ahhnold seen here. Capp is well known among My People, and when I let it be known there is a new original work of his here at the blog, I expect to see a serious uptick in the number of visitors who like That Sort Of Thing.

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