Timing is Everything…

DeadReckoningFebruary 20, 2014 – Sometime in 1986 or thereabouts, when I was living in the El Palazar apartments near Third and La Brea, I happened to catch a riveting National Geographic documentary on television. This film so inspired me that I immediately went to the bookstore the next day, bought what I could on the subject, devoured all available information, then called my friend and soon-to-be writing partner Dudley Sanders to pitch him the idea for the first of two spec screenplays we’d write together. Dudley was (and still is) a theater professor at Agnes Scott College in Decatur (where I met my former wife and most cherished friend, Cayce Callaway), so the 3,000 miles between us was a bit of a hindrance, but we soon figured it out. We broke the story on the phone in the days before calling plans, the internet, etc. One month, my phone bill was just north of $700. Then we each wrote predetermined sequences of the script,  traded our pages through the mail, and rewrote each other. When at last we had a serviceable draft, Dudley flew to Los Angeles so that we could fine tune our masterpiece, now entitled Dead Reckoning, in person. The script was completed in 1988, and we sent it to Sylvia Hirsch, who was by then at an agency called Preferred Artists, and that prompted her wildly enthusiastic Sunday answering machine message in which she proclaimed that she was sure there would be a bidding war between all the majors by week’s end.

There was no bidding war that spring of 1988. In fact, every single person who read Dead Reckoning passed with the same polite response: “It’s a great script, but this would be the most expensive movie ever made, and nobody really wants to see a movie about the Titanic.”

Timing, as they say, is everything. Stay tuned…

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