Well, really to be truthful it was Burbank, but that’s Hollywood adjacent, so close enough. My journey began late one night when I remembered that I hadn’t checked my Snarky Gmail account in a couple of days. I logged in and discovered a message from someone claiming to have worked with the creators of one of the most popular TV shows of all time and many other awesome things. She then added that my blog “reads like a sitcom” and she would love to explore the opportunity of turning it into TV show. I thought, of course, that my children were messing with me. I mean, how easy is it to get a Gmail account with a fake name and them send your mother phony emails. It’s so 21st century parental abuse. I called my husband over to my computer. He read the email, looked at me and said, “Oh yeah, for sure one of the kids sent this. The only real question is were they in on this together or did one of them work solo?”
I yelled for both of my children to come into my bedroom and confess their sins. They look bewildered when I showed them the email and denied being involved. At first I didn’t believe them, but when my son sighed and said, “Mom, really, like we would send you a phony email over Gmail? We’re not 100. If I was going to do something like this it would have at least been through Twitter.”
I thought about that for a moment and knew he was right. I apologized half heartedly for accusing them of electronic mail fraud and then composed an email back to the “TV person.” It read, “Thank you for your interest in my blog. Please note if you are punking me I will track you down and hurt you.” I felt confident that would take care of the alleged “producer” sending me emails. Really, how cruel to do that to someone? Seconds later, I received another email saying, “No, I’m serious. Google me and my husband if you don’t believe me.” I Googled, still very wary. Once again, how easy to pretend your someone else and say Google me. After a couple of more emails back and forth I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. She gave me her phone number so I could call her the next day. Long story short it turned out she was the real deal and a couple of months later it was time for me to tug, squeeze, pour and pray myself into turbo Spanx and head out to L.A. I ended up making four trips to the land of the “Honey with Goldenrod Highlights Hair Extension” capital of the free world. Here’s the down low on my journey.
My new friend “TV Debby” was so normal it was scary. We have kids about the same age and she has to be a Hollywood anomaly because not only doesn’t she wear a lick of make-up, she’s also dermal filler free. I’m serious about this. I even did my version of the Rotary 4-Way Test to check my data. Wait a minute. You’re kidding me? You mean you’ve never been to a Rotary meeting? How, I don’t know – un-American of you. Okay, here’s some background. The Rotary 4-Way test goes something like this: Is it the truth? Is it fair? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial? Here’s my 4-Way test that I use when assessing if any female has had made multiple pilgrimages to the land of injectable, plumpers and peels: Can she move her eyebrows? Are her cheekbones plumped and protruding to such an extent you could use them as shelf to hold a Diet Coke? (Bottle not can.) Is her skin so shiny it can multi-task as a mirror? Do her lips look like the 20 pound flathead catfish I once caught with my Pee-Paw at Lake LBJ?
TV Debby totally passed the 4-Way test. We had clicked on the phone and in person it was even better. I was in love. She was an oracle about how TV works and laid out for me all the turns and twists it would take to pitch a show. Basically, you have a better chance of winning a Mega Millions lottery jackpot and finding out you’re peri-menopausal self is pregnant with octuplets all on the same day then getting a TV show on the air. Why anyone would willingly go into this brutal business is beyond me. My advice to any would be actors, writers, directors is be a Walmart greeter. It would be better for your self-esteem and you’ll probably make more money plus have a vested retirement plan.
The first stop on the Snarky Goes to Hollywood Tour was to Beverly Hills. I was going to get my “How do you do?” on with an agent. The agency offices were swanky in the cold steel and marble way that implies they don’t want you sitting down and making yourself comfortable for very long and the level of security was about the same as when I took my kids for a post 9/11 tour of the White House. I don’t blame these talent folks for their fear of middle-aged women carrying large handbags. I’m sure the agents are on a constant state of high alert for out-of-work, “I was once on the cover of Us magazine,” over forty something actresses storming their Beverly Hills compound with a yoga mat dusted in anthrax. The agent we met with was surprisingly laid back and funny. He reminded me of the cool jock in high school that also happened to have excellent manners. You know, the kind of guy who would always hold the door open for the chubby girl who had to wear her orthodontia head-gear to school. Well-Mannered Agent was the first to ask the question that would haunt me my entire Hollywood experience – “Tell me about yourself.” Ugh. Here’s the deal I’m not very interesting. I lead a very average life. So I did what you would have done – lied and called my husband a jack ass. As in “my husband, the jack ass, doesn’t read my blogs because he says,“I lived it that means I don’t have read it.” It got some hearty laughs. So insulting my spouse became my “go to” during my L.A. adventure for anytime I was stumped on how to answer a question.
After we got the Well Mannered Agent out-of-the-way it was time for the ultimate Hollywood experience. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about lunch at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge or the restaurant that chick on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills owns. This experience was not food related, but one that would could have the power to direct all future life and business decisions. I had scored a sit down with a celebrity psychic. Yes, I had my fortune told. (Not my idea just in case you were thinking I had temporarily lost my mind.) For $60 an exotic, extremely attractive woman shared things with me like – “You will be having lots of important meetings.” “Next month will be a busy time for you” and “There is a very young girl in your life who has wisdom to share with you.” Okay, the only young girl in my life is my daughter and the only thing she has to share with me is how much she really needs an iPhone 5. I wanted my $60 back. I would have been better off buying 60 bucks worth of fortune cookies. At least they’d be somewhat tasty.
After I had been “blessed” by the fortune-teller TV Debby and I met with writers who had read Snarky and shared TV Debby’s thought it might, perhaps, maybe, someday, make a decent sitcom. The most amazing thing that happened on this whole journey, besides having the most incredible cinnamon roll of my life at the Burbank airport, was when a writer showed up with a huge binder with all the Snarky blog posts printed out. I write most of my blogs with my thumbs on my phone. I had never printed out a single post. I was astounded by how fat her notebook was. Damn, I thought, I really complained that much. Scary.
It was now time to pitch the show. This is where you meet with various production companies, producers, directors, writers etc who have deals with a human being who is connected to another bipedal mammal to get you into the entertainment food chain that might get you a meeting with a studio or a network. It’s at this time I was made aware of the most soul crushing website ever created – Deadline Hollywood. It should come with a suicide hotline number as it’s header. This website gives the up to the minute scoop on all the TV and movie deals currently going on. It has to be a huge papercut to the heart of anyone who works or aspires to work in the entertainment industry to see all the transactions being made that you’re not a part of. It’s Facebook’s evil twin on a Lance Armstrong doping regimen. All the TV people I was meeting with would quote it as in, “Did you see on Deadline Hollywood where Studio X just picked up a Mom show. There could be too many Mom shows. Is this a Mom show?” Hell no, I would think to myself, Snarky is not a mom show. It’s a show about adventure, payback and a mini-van loaded with smoke bombs. Does that sound like anything as mundane as a “Mom” show?
Deadline Hollywood aside, the whole meet, greet and pitch was a blast because I wasn’t taking it too seriously. I was enjoying the ride. My husband, who is really not a jack ass, gave me excellent advice. He told me to “expect that absolutely nothing is going to happen and with that in mind to enjoy my middle-aged adventure and even more importantly the sheer beauty of having a hotel room to myself.” I embraced his advice and was ready to get my rubber necking on. The best part was going to all the studio lots and seeing the behind-the-scenes of it all. Not as good as the Universal Studio’s tour, but hey this one was free and I was not sharing butt space on a tram with a 400 pound man who’s “totally, beyond bummed” because he was too hefty to fit on the Transformers 3-D ride. It was on the Warner Brothers lot were I meet the love of my life.
TV Debby and I had just had a meeting with a gentleman I will now and forever call Malibu Ken (M.K.). He was blonde, blue-eyed, surfer boy gorgeous, plus he really surfed. I know this because he had surf boards in office which made him even more yummy. TV Debby and M.K. were talking about their kids’ schools. This is where I would usually kind of doze off or think about the king size Snickers bar waiting for me back in my hotel room. Any meeting we had would start off with people sharing where their kids went to school. I figured it was kind of like wolves circling, trying to get the feel of where they fit in the pack. I guess the L.A. pecking order is partially based on what private/public/charter/magnet school your kids attend. This time, I wisely used the school chit-chat to gaze at the wonder that is M.K. What was this guy doing working as a television executive? He needed his own damn show that would feature close-ups of his gorgeous face. What a waste not to have him in HD. That is now the show I wanted to pitch. Forget about Snarky in the Suburbs. I wanted a Malibu Ken channel. Unfortunately, Malibu Ken had many pictures of his equally beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed wife in his office. I started to wonder, no, make that silently implore my higher power (Betty Crocker), that maybe M.K. was bi-curious, as in also attracted to older, less blonde, much more full-figured females. Hey, this is Hollywood, a land where dreams come true or is that Disney Land? Whatever, I’m just saying a girl can have a rich fantasy life can’t she?
After we met with many, many people I found out that a studio was interested in optioning my blog. This meant I now needed an entertainment attorney. With the help of friend I apparently landed an amazing one. So amazing some L.A. people asked me, “Hey, how the hell did you get him as your attorney?” Even better he’s a Harvard man, which is as close as I’ll ever get to the Ivy League. I have never met my attorney. I have had several riveting phone conversations with him and a series of emails that I will always cherish and read aloud to myself when I’m home alone. I have no idea of what he looks like, but in my mind he’s gorgeous, lives by the beach and has a crush on me. After all, he calls me Kansas. You wouldn’t give someone a cute nick name like that if you didn’t really, really, like them would you? He’s currently my back up if Malibu Ken doesn’t work out.
At this point you maybe wondering what I wore to all these meetings? I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I was the best dressed person there. For sure, I was rocking a little Target in my wardrobe (How could I not?) but I was dressed for doing business. Black pants, cute top, and always a little blazer or cardigan because I find both of those options de-chunk me. I also had on a pair of killer black wedge sandals that I got for $14.99 at T.J. Maxx. Apparently, my “Fly Over Country” business casual outfits were sending the wrong message, because by my third trip to L.A. I was told to wear jeans. Okay, I wouldn’t wear jeans to a PTA meeting if I was there to pitch the controversial idea of merging the cookie dough and gift wrap sales, which means I sure wouldn’t wear them to pitch a TV show to network executives! Besides all I own are big girl jeans. I don’t own L.A. jeans, that I’m sure cost upwards of $300. In an effort to comply to the Hollywood dress code I got myself some decent size 12, lycra infused, jeans at the Ann Taylor Loft Outlet. I did draw the line at wearing flip-flops. I know the flip-flop is the state shoe of California, but call it home training at the hands of a very Southern mother or the fact I wear a size 11 shoe there was no way I was going to flip-flop my way to a meeting with the higher-ups at a studio or network.
Several things, besides changing my wardrobe, had to happen before we had our “sit down” with the network folks. We and by that I mean many people now involved in the project had to pitch what we felt the TV show would look like. This included the characters, who we thought might play them and actual episode ideas. Brace yourself, because many changes were made to Snarky. First, the word Snarky was thrown out. It was deemed a tad too harsh, maybe even mean, for sure angry. Next, characters were changed, as in genders were reassigned. The neighbor, you all love to hate, Barbara Gray, become Bob Gray and Kelly one of Snarky’s female BFF’s was turned into Steven, a stay-at-home dad. The thought there was the show would need more substantial male characters. Another concern was the “caper” aspect of my blog. It couldn’t be all capers it had to more than that etc. etc. I dealt with all these changes by nodding my head and saying, “Yes, I can see that working” because my husband had prepared me for the fact that by the time Snarky went through the TV meat grinder I probably wouldn’t recognize it. My very Texas born and breed’s husband’s exact words were, “You know everyone is going to have to put their stink on it.” The other thing is I’m not a television writer. Yes, I write a blog. I have now written a book. I used to be a TV reporter – none of that qualifies me as a sitcom writer. Do you know how hard it is to write a comedy TV pilot? Not only do you have to write for laughs, but you must establish all the characters in the show and make viewers care about them AND you only have 22 freaking minutes to get all that done! I’m thinking that requires some superpowers I don’t have. So, I had no problem keeping my mouth shut and nodding my head.
Finally, it was time to pitch to the network. Right before the meeting began I threw back two extra strength Imodium and chewed Gas Ex like they were Tic Tacs. You never know how your lower digestive tract is going to react to this kind of stress. I wanted to make sure my colon stayed strong. One woman assumed I was self medicating with anti anxiety drugs. I had to correct her and share that it wasn’t Xanax I was swallowing, but diarrhea meds. She made a face and backed away from me. Like it was okay to ingest four Xanax, but somehow wrong to use over-the-counter colon control medicine.
I, dressed in jeans, was ready for my part. I had to talk about my blog, why I started writing it and what I felt was it’s universal appeal. Super easy. I had this Hollywood blabbing down. Me talking about Snarky had become my second favorite thing right after Diet Coke. The meeting went okay. On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give it a 4. The highlight for me was shaking the hands of the Vice President of Network Comedy and realizing my fly was down, like all the way, gaping open, down. This is what happens when you wear jeans you bought with a coupon at an outlet mall to a meeting with network executives. The psychic sure didn’t predict that.
Fortunately, my pants being unzipped wasn’t a deal breaker. Snarky, in some version, may possibly, someday, fingers crossed, make it off the page and onto the television screen. The beauty of it is, at this point, I have zero control over what happens. All I can do is continue my Snarky quest and fantasize about being reunited with Malibu Ken. That can happen – right?
Here’s a little lookie-loo:
The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good. Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.
If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.
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