tagCelebrities & Fan FictionAdventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 77

Adventures of Hollywood Jim Ch. 77

byhollywoodjim©

In the weeks following the merger of Artists Unlimited with its New York equivalent Famous Artists, Chuck Tyler had been doing almost daily interviews with the likes of the Wall Street Journal, the Hollywood Reporter and appearing on all the major cable channels to discuss the ramifications of his agency's merger on Tinseltown. As a result of the merger, his New York nemesis, Scott Jackson, was shown the door at Artists Unlimited and though I'd been told he might be offered a production deal with a studio, he'd been largely out of sight. Even more so when the home of Porn impresario Gary Mackas was raided and he was caught with his pants down, literally.

Scott didn't seem like the type to simply go away quietly. Maybe it was just plain paranoia, but when I was in Miami he said he'd been "closely watching my work" and its effect on the company. What could that have meant?

Jeff Murphy, Chuck's second in command, was busying himself with several deals for our newly expanded roster of clients. So I was seeing new faces coming in and out of his office. The reasons were complex but what I understood was that some client deals at Famous Artists were coming up for renegotiation, some had expired and a few clients wanted out altogether. Those were the ones Chuck ordered Jeff to put the most emphasis on while he was in Las Vegas on similar business. When I'd been down in Miami, Jeff had to get Jennifer Lopez's signature on a new deal before midnight so that explained the immediacy of a photo of the deal being finalized. I don't know if my "encounter" with her the next day made a difference, but when I returned to LA, Jeff was raving about a call he'd received from her about the great photographer she'd worked with.

"She never makes calls like that, her manager always does it." he raved.

"I guess someone knows what he's doing." I said with a smile and a shrug.

Jeff just looked at me.

"Yes...someone does. And you're being way too modest...as usual." he replied as he dialed his phone for yet another teleconference.

I left his office with a smile and nearly crashed into someone coming off the elevator. Once we'd apologized profusely to each other I got a good look at who I'd crashed into.

"Where's Jeff Murphy's office? I'm supposed to meet him." she said

Her red hair cascaded gently over her shoulders and she wore a black leather biker jacket and jeans with strategic tears near the knees.

She was a knockout!

"Oh, uh...this way, I-I'll show you." I stammered.

"OK, cool!" she said in a perky voice as she followed me.

"I'm Jim, by the way."

"Oh, I'm Poppy Montgomery." she replied with a handshake.

"Ah, Unforgettable..."

"Hey, I'll be lucky if I remember you." she laughed "I'm usually terrible with names."

Jeff came out of his office and greeted us.

"I see you've met Jim, he's our ace photo guy." he said

"Ahhh, now I know." she said in that easy tone of hers.

"You'll probably see a lot of him." he continued.

"Well, he's good to see." she said with a flirty smile that probably turned my face red with embarrassment as Jeff led her into his office where I glimpsed 2 other people already there.

Two weeks later, Chuck proudly took out full page ads in all the major trade papers taking credit for signing every former client of Famous Artists to deals at "their new home", Artists Unlimited. Though he took credit for it, we all knew it was Jeff who'd done the grunt work. Chuck knew it too and rewarded him with 2 weeks vacation at his place in Hawaii.

"I believe you know this guy." Chuck said casually as I walked into his huge office.

To my surprise, John McDonald was there.

"Hello, my friend." He said as we shook hands.

"John has a new project for you." Chuck added.

"Really?"

John McDonald's reputation preceded him. He'd directed or produced several successful films and through him, East Coast Image (the old agency I was a part of) had gotten a big break whose effects were still felt today.

"Yes, I won't be directing it though." he said as he lit a large cigar "I have a project starting soon in Italy that'll be my main focus."

"And what is this project?" I asked

"It's a television series, with no title at the moment." he continued "I'm bringing to Mr. Tyler here a new writing talent I believe will do big things."

John twisted his cigar as the flame burned bright, it seemed to make him speak in more grandiose terms.

"John is bringing "Dreamer" to the small screen." Chuck now said

"Huh?" I sputtered out.

"It's not an impossible project." John added "Besides, I think there's enough material for at least a limited run."

"Dreamer" had been a film McDonald directed (and I did the photos for) that was set in late sixties San Francisco and followed the adventures of a young girl working as a photographer in the music scene of the era. In the film she'd been played by Blake Lively and it had been a hit for her, but the film ended with the closing of the Fillmore West (where the film had been largely set) and her character walking off into the sunrise.

How could a TV series be possible?

"I agree, it's not impossible...but..." my voice trailed off.

"Go ahead, my friend. You can speak your mind." John said before taking another puff on his cigar.

Chuck gave me a suspicious look that clearly warned me to choose my words carefully, or else.

"I just feel that the movie wrapped things up very well and a TV series would, well, uh, cheapen it. If you ask me."

Chuck looked as if he were about to explode but John calmly raised his hand.

"I understand your feelings." he said to me slowly "But there was always a plan to do some kind of sequel that would either continue the story or expand on it. It all came down to the venue and more importantly..." he paused and added a small flourish of his arm for dramatic effect "...the writer."

"This is that new talent you mentioned, right?" Chuck asked, the explosion having been apparently averted.

Before John could answer, Chuck's phone buzzed. He snatched the phone with annoyance.

"Here comes the explosion." I thought.

"Natalie, I told you not to disturb me!" he yelled "Who? Oh! Yes! Yes! Show her in!"

Show her in? Now this is getting interesting. Not for the obvious reason but because I suddenly wondered what Mr. McDonald's interest in this writer REALLY was.

I got my answer.

In strolled a brown haired beauty who could've been a Playmate from years past and looked strangely familiar.

"Gentlemen, this is Elena, my script writer."

"Hi, everyone." she said with a sweet smile.

John explained that Elena had done some uncredited work on the original film and that led to her being tapped for the TV series. Elena's ideas for the series expanded on the story in the film.

"The first episode would start up in the hills at a house where she lives with a bunch of other hippie-types." she explained

"Tell them where you got this idea from." John added

"Well, for a time I lived in a similar arrangement, country house, driving around in a VW bus with psychedelic stickers on it, you know what I mean..."

VW bus? How quaint.

Then she told of a friend named "Kim" who had collaborated with her on some of the stories and had lived in the same house with her and a few other friends.

Her story sounded very familiar. Had I meet this girl before? Or her friend?

"So, who did you have in my mind for a star?" Chuck asked

"We've been talking to Poppy Montgomery about being in the pilot, maybe a recurring role." John replied.

"Splendid!" he replied excitedly "She's one of the Famous Artists clients we just re-signed.

"Yes, I have an idea along those lines." John began "She's scheduled to do a photo shoot for Vogue magazine, I think our ace photographer here would be a good choice for it." he said looking at me and slowly twirling his cigar some more.

"Splendid!" Chuck repeated.

"Good, I'll make some calls." he said as he stood up "James, I'm sure your work will be up to its usual standards."

"Uh, y-yes, absolutely."

"Good, come my dear...we have much work to discuss." he said as his cigar went back in his mouth and he led Elena out of the office. But not before one last little gesture.

"A small token of my appreciation, my friend." he said as he slipped a cigar into my shirt pocket "...from my private collection."

Chuck and I stood there as "the great man" left the office.

"He's not serious is he?" I boldly said to Chuck.

"I doubt it. The guy sees himself as some big cinema auteur but he's had a hard time getting projects off the ground."

"Really? That's surprising."

"Don't get me wrong, he's a smart guy.." he said as he resumed his place behind a huge desk and looked at his cellphone "...but all he's done lately is gallivant around Europe taking advantage of the tax laws."

"Starlets too?"

Chuck's response was a knowing smile and a nod of his head.

"I, uh, better check my equipment..." I said

Chuck looked at me with raised eyebrows.

"Photo equipment." I quickly added.

A girl with a British accent called that afternoon and gave me the details. I guess in between his "gallivanting" around Europe, John had actually made some contacts with value.

Vogue planned to put Poppy Montgomery, star of CBS' "Unforgettable" on its cover with a photo spread inside. To my surprise, I found out that John (and Chuck) had put in a good word for me and the Vogue reps promised free reign on the photos, they'd provide the clothes and the concept. All I had to provide were the photos. Vogue wanted a mix of "edgy" and "artistic" photos, preferably from Hollywood's past.

I can do that.

That night I poured over my Hollywood photo books and came across some images that could work for her. One was a shot from the mid-sixties of Marianne Faithfull in the movie "Girl on a Motorcycle" wearing a black leather catsuit-like outfit unzipped down to her waist. Another was of a 60's flower child with daisies in her hair and the sunlight behind her, lending a kind of angelic halo.

"OK, that's a start..." I mumbled to myself as I scanned the photos and emailed them to my contact at Vogue.

"What next?" I thought as I looked around at my overloaded bookshelves.

I glanced up and saw a photo of me with Miley Cyrus taken while she was filming "Hannie Caulder". Poppy was a redhead (at least she was from the photos I'd seen) and the gunfighter outfit would work as well.

"We're on a roll..." I said to Smokie the cat, who'd just hopped up on my desk for a visit when another idea came to me.

I grabbed another photo book and found a shot of Brigitte Bardot leaning on an Alfa-Romeo sports car with what looked like the French Riviera behind her.

Later that night an email arrived from my Vogue contact;

"Brilliant ideas, send a list of whatever you need." it said.

"Looks like we're in business, kitty." I said to my companion.

Smokie responded a with a yawn.

My next call was to Sergei (he always made sure that it was pronounced "Sir-gay", his idea, not mine). He was a stylist I'd worked with before. Sergei was, well, very flamboyant in his personality. OK, he was gay. There, I've said it. To be fair, he always did a great job so whatever eccentricities he flaunted went with the territory. Plus, he was close with my secret friend Laura Austin, who'd introduced us. I also think he enjoyed throwing me off balance just as much as Laura did with his personality and actions. And he had the ability to get anything I need for my shoots. If it was in L.A., he could get it.

Just as I expected, Sergei had everything I needed, along with himself, when I started shooting the next day.

"How's this, Jim?" Poppy asked as she draped herself on the vintage Triumph Bonneville motorcycle Sergei had managed to get for the shoot.

"Awesome..." I said as I clicked off several shots "Sit up now."

Poppy sat up, her legs straddling the bike, and gave me a seductive look as she slowly slid the zipper down the black leather cat suit she wore.

"A little bit further?" she asked.

I stared for the longest time through the viewfinder of my Nikon, speechless. From what I could see, she had beautiful tits.

"The lady's asking you a question, Hollywood." Sergei said in my ear.

"I know that, dearie." I replied without looking up "This ain't my first rodeo."

"I think it looks lovely where you have it." Sergei said to Poppy "Don't listen to Mr. Grumpy here, he majored in crudeness...stick out your boobs, honey."

He gave me a look of resentment, I returned his look with one of my own.

"Take your little picture, darling." he said to me.

Sergei began to primp up Poppy's thick red hair, giving it a fuller look.

"Yes! That's it, baby!" he said excitedly "Get the shot, Hollywood!"

He was right, she did look great as I clicked off several shots in a row.

"OK, that'll do it for today." I said

We'd done the biker chick look, it was time to work on the western shots.

We drove out to a ranch that belonged to a musician friend of Chuck's. I soon had Poppy draped in an old poncho and flat brimmed hat similar to Miley's.

"I get to be a gunslinger? Cool!" she said with that easy smile of hers.

Poppy struck some classic western poses, the best of which had her leaning back in an old chair, her dusty boots propped up on a railing, an empty street in the background. She gave my camera a "don't mess with me" look that was both menacing and alluring.

"Man, you could've been Hannie Caulder, you know." I said

"Oh! I loved that movie!"

"Which one, there was a remake too."

"Oh, the original. My brother had such a hard-on for Raquel Welch." she replied "Don't get me wrong, Miley's was OK too. What about you?"

I thought for a minute.

"Both were good in their own ways."

"Yeah, right. You had a hard-on for her too." she snickered as she was led back to her trailer.

Oh, if she only knew!

A week later, the same British girl called to invite me to a meeting at Vogue's New York offices to go through the photos I'd taken.

"Don't embarrass us, Jim!" was Chuck's only direction as I left for the meeting.

"When have I ever?"

I didn't look back to see Chuck's face, but I'm sure steam was coming out of his ears.

Vogue's New York offices weren't as glamorous as I expected, they seemed more like a real estate office than an iconic magazine. And I guess "contributors" like me didn't get special treatment as I sat in an outer office waiting to be ushered in. I felt out of place in my leather jacket and jeans sitting next to a couple of models.

"Come here often?" I boldly asked one.

She looked at me, no, she ignored me.

Finally, an outside door opened and a coolly elegant silver-haired woman strolled in, eyes focused straight ahead wearing a camel hair coat which she tossed to a bevy of assistants who followed her. She issued orders to them before the door to the offices slammed shut again. The models seated next to me whispered to one another and quickly began texting.

"Um, w-who was that?" I asked "She must be important."

They looked at me with icy indifference.

"That's Anna Wintour" the receptionist said "She's the editor."

"Does she always keep people waiting like this?" I asked.

She looked at me with annoyance in her eyes.

"When you're the head of an iconic fashion magazine...you can come in any damn time you please. You should remember that Mister..."

Just then her phone buzzed.

"You can go in now."

I slipped her my business card.

"Mister Hollywood, remember that name." I said to her

Man, was I in a ballsy mood today!

I was led into a big conference room/office where Ms. Wintour sat at the head of the table, numerous assistants around her showing sheets of photo and ad copy.

"Sit here and keep quiet unless Ms. Wintour speaks to you." I was told sternly.

I looked around the room and saw Poppy on the other side, she spotted me and waved to me. I waved back. She looked so pretty in just simple jeans.

The meeting was rather boring as they argued back and forth about what should stay in the magazine that month, what could wait 'til next month, and what was out altogether.

"Alright...the cover?" Anna finally said.

"Yeah, that's me." Poppy spoke up.

Anna looked over at her, somewhat dismissively

"Yes...the photographer is here too?" she said without looking up from the photos.

"Uh, here..." I said as I hesitantly raised my hand, like I was back in school again.

The entire room turned to look at me.

"Yes...I see." she replied in the same tone.

Anna continued to look through the sheets of photos as her assistants made their comments.

"Yes...this will be fine...anything else?" she finally said looking round the room "Then we're done here."

She closed a huge book that seemed to represent this month's issue as everyone else stood and dispersed.

"Is that it?" I asked, dumbfounded.

"If she had anything to say she would've said it." a staffer quickly said to me in that dismissive tone as he walked out.

Poppy walked over to me with, I assumed, an agent or manager.

"Well, that was...strange." I said

"I know, even the network meetings are more interesting." she said "I guess no news is good news."

"You might be right."

"Uh, we need to get to that interview, Poppy." the manager said.

"Right, see you later, Jim." she said, adding in a hug and kiss on my cheek.

This was, without a doubt, one of the strangest meetings I'd ever been to. I say one of, because it couldn't top the one Chuck's wife once called to solicit decorating ideas for a house they ended up not buying.

"That's IT?!" Jeff said when I called.

Even he was just as confused.

"That's it, she didn't say anything to me, it was like I didn't exist."

There was only silence on his end.

"So...should I come home or what?"

Silence, followed by a long sigh of resignation.

"Well, you're in New York, you should have something to put on the expense report besides a cab ride...might as well buy yourself a nice dinner, I guess."

OK, I'm in New York, culinary capital of the world, where should I go?

My phone suddenly buzzed and it was the same British girl.

"You're invited to Ms. Wintour's home, she gives a party for every new issue, we'll have transport waiting at the Manhattan Helipad at 5 PM. Don't be late."

My dinner plans were set.

Wait a minute, did she say Helipad?

A huge helicopter deftly touched down on the back lawn of Miss Wintour's home in a tony section of the Hamptons. I got out of there as quickly as I could, I'd been terrified and fascinated the whole flight over. Like when you ride a roller coaster for the first time, you're initially scared but when it's over, you think "what was all that for?" and want to go on it again.

The party guests all seemed to be either models or part of the modeling crowd, so I didn't recognize anybody. Well, I can always find a spot to watch everything. I got a drink at the bar and finally saw a familiar face.

"Hey, finally someone I recognize." Poppy said as she joined me.

"Yes, I feel the same way. This is a strange crowd."

"I know, too ritzy for me."

Poppy wore a pretty light green dress, her red hair gently flowing around her. She looked so elegant holding a glass of wine.

"Feel like doing some exploring?" I asked

"What kind of exploring?"

"It's a big house, I'm kinda curious."

Poppy gave me a look of curiosity and intrigue. But before she could reply a man who must've been a publicist interrupted.

"Poppy! Anna needs you over here for the photos!"

She was immediately whisked over to a corner where a huge blowup of her cover was positioned. It was the first time I'd seen the cover and I immediately noticed something, the photo had been taken by someone else. Poppy stood for flashing cameras and questions from reporters, I could tell she was just as confused by the cover photo, but gamely smiled. When they finished, she immediately came over to me.

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