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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.
A writer friend of mine told me this story a few weeks ago.
He’s walking back to his office from the studio commissary when he runs into an old friend of his, also a writer. He and this guy worked together on a show a few years ago, and they’re friends. Well, not friends as in “friendly” or “nice to each other,” but friends as in, they both loathe the other for personal and professional reasons, but neither one of them wants to take the animosity to the next level. Neither one of them wants to get serious about the relationship, and just call it what it is: hatred. So both of them have decided to stay friendly. But not friends.
“So we pass each other on the way back from lunch, and I know this guy knows that I’m shooting a pilot this week, I mean, it was in the trades –“ my friend tells me over coffee, “but we stop, say hi, and then he says, all airy, ‘so, hey, I’m shooting a pilot this week! I’d love to have you help out, if you’ve got the time.’”
“But he knows you have a pilot that’s shooting the same night, right?”
“Right! He knows. But he’s asking me because he wants me to tell him. Which I do. And then he says, ‘Oh. Oh, great! Yeah, I heard about that, but I guess I didn’t know that it was, you know, going.’”
“So what do you do?” I ask.
“I sort of stammer and say, yeah, it’s going, it’s going. And then he gets all bright and says, ‘hey! Maybe you’d like to work on the series!”
“But you have a pilot,” I say.
“Right. He’s basically saying that he knows my pilot won’t go, and that his will. I hate that guy. I hate him.”
“So what did you say?”
“I said thanks. I said I’d do it. I said I’ve heard good things about his pilot.”
“Well,” I say after a few moments, “You gotta eat.”
“I gotta eat,” he agrees.
As it turns out, my friend’s show didn’t get ordered, and his enemy friend’s show did, which makes the encounter all the more insulting – I mean, it’s one thing to subtly imply that your colleague’s pilot is doomed to fail, it’s quite another to do it accurately. And to have done it and wrapped it all up in a job offer is the kind of diabolically skillful nastiness that people become famous for in this business.
My friend called me the other day to commiserate. It was his first day on the job.
“This show stinks,” he said. “It’s so unfunny. And my friend is such a pain – he’s really taking this show-runner thing and going to town with it.”
“Well,” I say, “maybe you should cut him some slack. Running a show is hard work.”
“I know, Rob,” my friend says, indignant. “I’ve run a show before.”
“Really?” I ask.
“Yes, really.” And then my friend mentions a show that he had on the air back in the 90’s.
“Oh, right, sorry,” I say. “I forgot about that WB Network show.”
But I hadn’t, really. I just pretended I had because, well, the guy is my friend, but I don’t really like him that much. You know how it is.
Well, that’s it for this week. Next week: story camp!
For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.
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