Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oscar's Future Bedfellow?

(HOLLYWOOD : TIC News spent a day with noted Hollywood scribe Wesley Strick. In addition to his work covering the Phil Spector murder trial for the LA Times, he is also an accomplished screenwriter. TIC News special correspondent Follom Rounde spent the day with Strick for an exclusive inside look at his world.)

I waited for Wesley Strick outside of a five-story building full of efficiency studio apartments, and when he finally appeared I was not at all disappointed. He had the two-day beard that is so popular among Hollywood leading men and disheveled winos, and sported an impressive lime green jacket and yellow plaid pants. Sporting shoes that looked like they belonged on a golf course and a red tie with some sort of brown stain on it, I smelled Strick a few moments before we shook hands. He was dressed up, he said, because he had a high-powered meeting with legendary producer Drew Sedaris.

He asked to take my car, to which I agreed. “My Ferrari’s in the shop.” He explained. “My nephew took it out without my permission, then while he had it up on blocks to roll back the odometer it flew out the window and got smashed to pieces. Real mess. He’s a good kid, but he lets his friend talk him into doing stupid stuff all the time, like when they snuck into a Florida strip club to lose their virginities only to get thrown out, and hilarity ensued.”

I asked Strick what inspired him to start writing. “I had a professor in high school that started a Dead Poet’s Society that gave me a love of literature that exists to this day, like Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet or Bill Kowalchuk's Ben Hur. He retired from teaching to become a doctor and used the power of laughter to cure. It’s a sad story, though, because he ended up becoming a serial killer after he was reduced to running a photo developing booth. I think it’s because he took so many drugs when he was younger he thought he was an alien.”

When we got to Sidaris Studios, there was a problem getting in when the guard didn’t find Strick on the list. After a few phone calls the guard still wouldn’t let us in, and threatened to call the police when Strick tried to bribe him with $5. Undeterred, Strick left my cell phone number (he said the battery was dead in his) and proposed we go to lunch on Rodeo Drive.

Strick dismissed the confusion. “Happens all the time. Some secretary probably screwed up the meeting arrangements. I’ll bet that a group of them bushwhacked Drew and he’s tied up in a back room while they’re running the company to get revenge for his sexism.” He told me to avoid going down Hollywood Boulevard. “There’s a leprechaun on the loose down there that tore some guy’s finger off trying to get his gold ring after he pulled a bum’s gold tooth out. I don’t know if it’s the same one that killed those astronauts or not. But it’s better to stay off of the Boulevard altogether. It could be worse, though, like when those killer clowns used a policeman’s corpse as a puppet. That was pretty bad.”

When we got to Rodeo Drive he advised me to park in a dark alley. “You won’t get any tickets here, and it’s closer to the dumpster. I can’t afford to actually pay for food in these restaurants, because my budget only covers rent, crayons, and paper. But I’ve learned lots of tricks. For instance, you have to go to the taller dumpsters, because that’s where the chefs throw half-eaten food. Otherwise the alligators will get into the dumpsters.”

Because of raccoons in the taller dumpsters, though, we were thankfully forced to go without. Strick thought it was a blessing in disguise. “You know, sometimes when you’re in an alley a cyborg from the future appears and starts beating up people for their clothes. I just don’t understand those people in the future. They’re jerks.”

When we returned to my car, it had been stripped for parts and had a ticket on the windshield. Strick told me not to bother with calling the police. “They’re all corrupt, every one of them, from the first moment in training day they’re bad. And the LA police are actually run by a crime boss called the Ice Man who poses as one of them, and who’s never been seen except by a small-time hustler. I think that hustler went on to live in a haunted house, but I don’t know anybody who ever saw it. He ended up on a space mission to Pluto a few years ago, but you probably didn’t see that, either.”

So we took a long walk back through the city towards where Strick lived, as he didn’t have bus fare and my wallet was taken at gunpoint along with my cell phone. As we passed some prostitutes, who also turned down the taped-together $5 that Strick offered them (on which I saw some crayon markings), the writer found time to reminisce about arriving in LA. “I considered being a prostitute, getting a start like Richard Gere or Julia Roberts, but I eventually decided that it wasn’t for me. I had some people ask me about being a model, like how Ben Stiller started, but I was worried about getting mixed up in international intrigue. So I ended up writing, just like one of my heroes, Jack Torrance

Once back to his apartment we found it padlocked with an eviction notice on it. I refused to let Strick come home with me, but he was optimistic about the future. “This isn’t the first or last time that my talent has left me penniless and homeless. Tomorrow I have a script meeting with noted film director Alan Smithee, though, so you tell your readers that I’ll be okay.”