It’s a confusing climate here in Los Angeles, and I’m not just talking about the rain. Frustrated writers still sport their black and red crypt-like “Writers Strike” signs, while countless under table handshakes and side deals are being cut all over town. Award’s are handed out over “the wire” like the Gable days, while popular TV Shows such as ABC’s LOST has to deal with airing only a quarter of a season to a group of fans that are already fed up with choppy scheduling in the past (even without a strike).
No one really has too much of a clue -- in a town where clues are hard to come by. It’s that good ol’ fashion KC Shuffle – half the town is looking one way, while the other is going another direction entirely…
While confusion spreads in one part of town, some hopeful “up-and-comings” are excited about the current situation in the business. Young non-union writers that normally wouldn’t get a query read are taking lunch meetings and the independent market is just as big as ever.
Just because Jonny Depp can’t seduce television cameras with his eyes while accepting a much deserved Golden Globe doesn’t mean the wheels of Hollywood’s bus still aren’t turning. People find themselves in the rough in this town all the time; it just doesn’t usually get national press coverage. As we've seen major Writer and Director Deals, such as John Singleton deal broken every day, other’s dreams get shattered, and countless projects never go past a lunch meeting or a few stiff drinks and a budget report…
“The strike really doesn’t affect me one way or another.” Says television wheeler-dealer Ava Whitmore, “People get covered in shit in this town everyday, hell it’s happened to me countless times in the years I’ve worked this business… Anytime I get too drenched, I use my imagination to get myself dry again.”
And she certainly has done that… Time and time again.
You may not see Ava Whitmore’s name on any marquees but she’s been the brains behind countless reality shows over the last ten years. Ava’s the person you don’t hear about or interview on the red carpet. She’s the one in the shadows, one of “them” or “those guys”… she’s a think-tank, sharp as a nail, and at the top of her game… and with the strike Ava is taking this opportunity to finally get her due.
After establishing what she calls “a fucking dream team of other behind the sceners like herself” and cutting a deal with CMC Productions, Ava Whitmore and her cohorts (Producer Nick Reynolds, Writing Consultant Michael Martin, etc) are in the process of putting on a reality show she calls, “like no other”.
Come on though, when haven’t we heard this rap before?
Ava went on to tell me of “A Producers Life”, a reality series she believes that will hit big with her on the top of the creative totem pole. “A Producer’s Life” will follow around a Hollywood wannabe as he wheels and deals his way to the top.
At hindsight, Ava’s baby “A Producer’s Life” sounds like something positive. Perhaps something one could put on IFC – showing young aspirings how to start from the ground up. But after talking to Ava for more than fourteen minutes it became clear her intentions aren’t to “educate the public by showing a nothing grow into a something…” as she put it, “that type of shit doesn’t happen in the real world.”
She then went on to say, “And if it did, who would pay to sponsor it? Who would watch it? No one. Only Cinderella has a story of a glass slipper, and she didn’t have to worry about ratings or sponsors. Do you know why? Because Cinderella is a fucking fairytale, I’m not in the fairytale business… I’m in television.”
As we spoke over drinks I kept waiting for venom to drip out of Ms. Whitmore’s top lip each time she took a slow sip off her White Zinfandel. When we went out back to share a smoke I expected to see blood where her lipstick stained the filter of her Parliament Light instead.
She then went on, “Whoever we end up picking up for the show - one thing is for certain – I [Ava] will be brains behind who ever breaks into Stardom.” Laughter then of course followed.
After this Ava flashed me a smile that beckoned for a response, perhaps some affirmation from my young self that she may have a hit in the works. Who knows? Maybe she does… I just found it hard to get around just how ruthless and seemingly heartless this woman came across as.
As I stated before, at hindsight her idea (A Producer’s Life) sounded like a Producer version of HBO and Bravo’s “Project Greenlight”, but my vision is best said, sexy sells. They say people like to watch train wrecks, and Ms. Whitmore is the Conductor taking her audiences for the ride of their lives.
Sure Ava came across to me as a heartless harlot with nothing in mind other than herself and success. But I could be wrong. Maybe she does have the best intentions in mind with this project of hers... maybe it won’t be a train wreck after all, and whoever is picked up for her show will go on to be the next Brian Grazer... or left behind in the dust of the Hollywood Machine.
Sure the writers are on Strike and award shows are canceled, but thanks to "humanitarians" like Producer Ava Whitmore, the wheels of the Hollywood bus are still going round and round.
Thanks Ava, we don’t know what we would do without you.