entry locked until 10.19.09
9:11 PM, Tuesday, August 4th, 2009:
One of those entries where you just have to lay out all the events in order. Locked like a mofo.
So we got the deal-memo from Weller/Grossman two weeks ago and beyond minor concerns was a complete lack of a budget, which left my agent and the attorney at Paradigm confused. However vacations made it take 2 weeks to even get to that point. Ugh. But finally, notes in hand from the attorney, my agent called Weller/Grossman on Friday. No answer.
I don't mean it went to voicemail, I mean it rang and rang and rang. When she told me this, I thought it was strange, but knew it would be dealt with on Monday. She called again Monday... again, no answer - it kept ringing. She emailed Gary at noon on Monday, cc'd me. I forwarded that to Rob and Deb asking if everything was alright.
No reply.
Needless to say, I did not sleep well Monday evening. I had some concerns about Weller/Grossman before this and let them all slide. No longer. Where do I start?
-They couldn't validate my parking. May seem like a small thing, but when you're "wooing" a client, and trying to start a business relationship with them, it should never cost them anything to meet with you. Period. They told me to park on the street, but since it was one-hour parking that meant constantly watching the time to see if I had to run down and put in another quarter. That day however, they said they wanted to introduce me to Comedy Central and of course the whole Paul McCartney angle, Entry #879, so as you can imagine - I thought little of it.
-Then, 2 weeks passed and they never made the call to Comedy Central to meet. !?!? I had to bug them about it and then when they tried to do it, it became a cluster-fuck because I was leaving for Europe/Africa on the 30th of May. It all worked out, but it didn't sit too well with me. I hate the feeling of: "Jesus, if I didn't constantly motivate, would ANYTHING happen?". As well, I had to convince them to meet me again before Comedy Central to go over the pitch so we were on the same page. It felt like pulling teeth.
-This time when I met them? They had moved to a different floor, and an office not even 1/4 the size. Crammed, with shit everywhere. Again, I tried to ignore it... but only a wildly naive person wouldn't have concerns.
-Late for the Comedy Central meeting. Are you fucking serious. Again, it all worked out... but that almost made me mental.
-Did absolutely nothing while I was away, even though I was in email contact and wrote to them. I had to prod them for the contract when I got back... and even then - it was incomplete. Actually, that brings us to present-day, 'cause apparently it wasn't that incomplete. This is so fuggin' bizarre.


So finally this morning I call Deb's home number. I tell her what's going on and she is noticeably careful in choosing her words. She said that as far as she knew they had sent the agent the contract. I explained that we're well past that, I was concerned on why no one is answering the phones. She assured me the lack of response wasn't personal and my story wasn't bizarre to her. I asked if the business was still "running" and she said:  "as far as I know day-to-day operations are still going on, but the office manager is in and out". Whew. This is not, fucking, good.
I call Rob? Voicemail. Call Gary - finally an answer. He says he was just talking about me. He says Rob and he will call back together. They do, and I ask them what's goin' on - Gary says they sent the contract and have never heard back.
I mention the calls on Friday and Monday and Gary says "we have been having problems." ... yet you passed the buck just 5 seconds ago? And what about the emails? Those down too? What the fuck? Gary ends up leaving for some reason and Rob says they'll call my agent this afternoon. I mention that it's nothin' huge just some concern about the budget. He says, point blank: "There is no budget. Comedy Central is only providing the space."
"I'm supposed to pay for my own make-up guy?" "Well none of us wants to come out of pocket, but I wasn't aware you'd need a make-up guy, maybe we can go back to Comedy Central and ask for money."
I gotta be honest. I was floooooooooored. Now realize I had been looking at the contract for 2 weeks and talking with Laura, Alisa and I read it very literally - and it was a big ass list of exactly what they weren't providing. No expenses, no salaries... just no budget. But she and Alisa were sure that there had to be a budget, they're a production company. I finally resigned myself to the fact they had to be right, 'cause again - what else would they be doing if not providing some financial backing? But Rob was adament, nothing. And ex-fuckin-scuse me for a second, didn't know I'd need a make-up guy? !?!? That never occured to 'em? Seriously what did they think I was going to do on this show? Walk out, tell a few jokes, and then play the Price is Right bit from CBS? And no, no, no don't go back to Comedy Central 2 months later and ask for more. How ghetto does THAT look? Astonishing.
So we end the conversation with him saying they'll call Alisa tonight, and I stopped him by saying: "I'll foreshadow that call for you: Where's the budget?". I tried to be joking when I said it, but that is certainly an impasse for me signing.
It quickly becomes clear that I'm gonna be funding this puppy. Maybe I'll get re-imbursed later, but no matter what - I'm doing this thing. It was actually a freeing moment. No more waiting around, I get to start finding locations, arranging shit with Tyson and I now know that because of his schedule (he starts a series on the 20th) I'm gonna have to have the entire thing written and done by that point. Gulp. It's a quick turnaround, but I'm more than ready to knock this out. I was energized and excited... then Alisa called me - the call turned ugly.
How could it not? She had to be blunt. They're asking for an ENORMOUS amount in the contract from me (50% of everything creatively as well as giving them full control of the product in terms of pitching, etc.) and giving me nothing. And I do mean nothing. Nothing creatively, nothing financially, they can't even give me experience in the comedy world. Gary was defensive of course because they made the deal, and while that's true, in the end it is just a phone call to a friend. They have to be able to bring more to the table than one introduction if they want to be attached to everything I do from this point on.
Alisa said point blank - she didn't know what more could be done. They made it clear there was absolutely no budget and if I wanted to produce something more, I would have to cover that. It's just such a shitty position. I don't want to hurt my chances with Comedy Central, Jim and Gary are friends, but how can I sign that contract? I have no way of getting to Jim and getting a sense of where I stand (which is really Weller/Grossman's biggest card right now, their relationship with Comedy Central), so it's the definition of a rock and a hard place.
Laura, Alisa & I sat around talking and Alisa thought of Josh Lieberman at 3 Arts Entertainment. She said they have a great relationship, this was absolutely his world, and he would know the next steps to take. It's the one thing I love about Alisa - when she's out of her league, she says it within seconds. Not to belabor the Charlotte comparisons, but thst sort of self-awareness is so unbelieveably necessary. Anyway, he's gonna see me tomorrow and my hope is that he has some sort of access to Jim and can help me get a read. I don't want to circumvent Weller/Grossman, but I'm not seeing a lot of options. It looks like I'm gonna have to pay for every dime of this production, and if I do? I just want to know that Comedy Central will still let me use their space to shoot it. Otherwise? I'm gonna have to pay for everything - AND sign with Weller/Grossman just for the opportunity. Goddamn that's about as un-fucking fair as you can get.
Could it get more bizarre? And seriously Weller/Grossman - no budget? Actually acting surprised that I would even ask for one? And why is no one answering your phones? Biz-R.
It reminded me of the strangest job experience ever from last year where I was hired and fired before I even walked in the door. It lead to this song back then and it's uncanny how well it fits in here.
So please keep your fingers crossed for me... wait, no one will read this until WELL after the fact 'cause of it being locked. Damnit. I need lotsa crossed fingers man. But actually, I feel pretty confident. I was in that room, I remember how positive Jim was... if he hears this at some point from my perspective, he'll have to see my position. I'm gonna make this thing myself...