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FROM THIS EPISODE

My Twenty Years in Hollywood

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

I recently ran into an agent I know at a screening. Agents are very affectionate, so at one point, he put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a squeeze. I have been in Hollywood long enough to know that next, he was going to slip his hand up to my neck and lean in to whisper into my ear. This is weird the first couple of times, and then, suddenly, it isn-t weird anymore.

AGENT (whispering)
So, what, you-ve got a deal somewhere? Studios are making some awfully huge deals these days.

ME
Well, we signed ours two years ago.

His face squinches up in agony. AGENT
Bad timing. Oooo. You got the up tick but not the Bonanza. It must be killing you.

ME
Well, it-s not killing me.

AGENT
I tell all my clients signing deals this year, &quotBank; the dough because this will never happen again."

ME (mumbling)
It-s not killing me.

The agent puts his finger to his lips.

AGENT
Shhh. It-s starting.

I got the up tick but not the bonanza, which I hope will never be a suitable title for my autobiography.

Actually, that-s sort of a parlor game we play in the writers- room. Whenever you catch yourself using a phrase you never thought you-d use, you follow it by saying...&quotMy; Twenty Years in Hollywood", like it-s the full, pompous title of your autobiography...Something something something, colon, My Twenty Years in Hollywood.

For instance, once, shooting a show that involved dogs, we couldn-t find the right kind of female dog, so we decided to use a male dog. After a long phone conversation with the dog trainer, I hung up, turned to my colleagues and said, &quotWe-re; gonna tape up the dog-s genitals for the wide shot." And then I added: &quotMy; Twenty Years in Hollywood."

It almost always works. Once, when we were shooting a scene that required a roomful of large people, when we got down to the set we discovered that the AD had hired a lot of merely-plump people. &quotWe; need fatter extras," I said. And then added, &quotMy; Twenty Years in Hollywood."

Or: we once worked with an actor who was very close to his mother. Behind his back, in the writers- room, we used to make cruel and raucous fun of their relationship. You know: Norman Bates stuff, her corpse in the fruit cellar, face distorted into a ghastly rictus, him wearing her leathery preserved scalp with tufts of her hair stringing down...you know, writer stuff. You wouldn-t respect us if we didn-t go for it.

Then one day his mother dies unexpectedly. And I make an announcement to the writing staff: &quotNo; dead mother jokes. For the rest of the day." And then I add, almost to myself, &quotMy; Twenty Years in Hollywood."

Of course, this works a lot better when you-re young, and the idea of spending 20 years working in Hollywood is ludicrous - like terraforming Mars or something. Twenty years? Good Lord! That-s like a lifetime!

And then the notion of writing a self-important Hollywood autobiography is equally nuts. Although, when you think about it, there are so many possible great titles out there, it-d be a shame if they didn-t all get turned into autobiographies.

A few weeks ago, after eating a suspicious Caesar salad, I came down with horrendous food poisoning. It lingered for days - almost a week. I went to the doctor, tests were performed, and a few days later, I got the call.

&quotWell;," my doctor said, &quotthe; tests confirm that it was a serious case of food-born contamination. If you-re feeling better, it-s best to let it run its course and for the body to deal with it without medication."

&quotOkay;," I said. &quotI; do feel better. But any idea how I got it?"

&quotIt; was definitely fecal-oral," my doctor said. &quotAlmost; everything these days is fecal-oral."

And for some reason, I added, &quotMy; Twenty Years in Hollywood."

&quotExcuse; me?" asked the doctor.

&quotOh;, nothing. Thanks for calling."

But we have a winner.

That-s it for this week. Next week, we-ll hate television together.

For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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