(Note: This column will be better understood in context, so visit http://tinyurl.com/ppee766 if you can.)
The following is a redacted transcript of a telephone conversation* from a disgruntled ex-assistant between a couple of showbiz partners discussing the acquisition of the rights to produce the motion picture adaptation of Michael Lewis’ “Flash Boys.”
DAVID ***** BERG: Irv, it’s David. I’ve got some news. Big news. I got the rights to “Flash Boys.”
IRVING ****STEIN: Huh? That book about high-frequency trading on Wall Street? You want to make a movie out of that? Are you nuts?
***** BERG: You’re kidding me, Irv! It’s a great story! It’s by the same guy who wrote “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side!” Those were great pics, and they made money! This one is even better! It’s “High Noon!” It’s “Serpico!” It’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Wall Street!” The last honest man on Wall Street taking on the greedy, cheating jerks who game the system! And the good guys win! Boom!
****STEIN: How much gelt did you give for this dog, David?
***** BERG: I got it for one point five mil. And that’s way less than Sony paid for it! They were cutting their losses — and I’m telling you, their loss is my — our — gain. It’s a winner!
****STEIN: Jesus Christ! You are nuts! Don’t you know that they got Aaron Sorkin to take a crack at it? Aaron f***in’ Sorkin! And he’s essentially given up!
***** BERG: Maybe he didn’t have the right mushrooms to get the job done, Irv.
****STEIN: Well, that’s another conversation for another time. OK, you spent the money. Now we gotta salvage this thing.
***** BERG: Irv —
****STEIN: Hey, you called me, David, so let me tell you what I think. I saw those hacked Sony emails and Sorkin was right. There are no American Oriental movie stars to build this movie around.
***** BERG: I think he said no Asian American or Asian Canadians.
****STEIN: Whatever! You know what I mean! The guy from the book —
***** BERG: Brad Katsuyama.
****STEIN: Yeah! That’s a big problem. We can’t build a movie around an Oriental —
***** BERG: Japanese Canadian —
****STEIN: Whatever! It won’t work. But if we try the international angle, maybe we could find someone. How about that Korean pop star, Drizzle? He was in that ninja movie …
***** BERG: Speaks with an accent. I’ve heard Katsuyama talk. He sounds like an American, even if he is a Canadian.
****STEIN: How about that Taiwanese pop star, Tyrone Hsu? He’s probably looking for work.
***** BERG: Again, he’s got an accent. We gotta go Asian American. But where do we find one?
FEMALE VOICE: Uh, Mr. ****stein? Mr. ****berg?
***** BERG: Who the heck is this?! Someone’s listening in?!
****STEIN: It’s Kumiko, don’t worry. She works in the office that you never come to these days! I have her listen in to take notes. She’s a bright kid. What is it, Kumiko?
KUMIKO: There’s a place in Little Tōkyō you might want to check into. It’s called East West Players. It’s an Asian American theater company. They do plays with Asian American actors.
***** BERG & ****STEIN: (in unison) Never heard of it.
****STEIN: Nice idea, Kumiko, but I get chalushes if I go a few blocks east of Fairfax. No way I’m going to downtown L.A. (pause) OK, I got it. Here’s what we do — Brad Katsuyama becomes — wait for it — Brad Katz.
***** BERG: Hmm. Go on.
****STEIN: I hear Seth Rogen wants to try and do something serious.
***** BERG: That disgusting dope fiend? No way.
****STEIN: You’re right. How about Jonah Hill?
***** BERG: I’m listening.
****STEIN: He got an Oscar nom playing a sleazy Wall Street type, so now he can go the other direction. And he was in “Moneyball,” so there’s already a connection to the same author of the source material for both! And he works for cheap. He’s our Brad Katz!
***** BERG: But what about those watchdog groups? They’ll be all over us if we pull a casting race change!
****STEIN: Are you kidding? They live for this stuff! When they complain, the publicity will be just what we need to start the buzz for “Flash Boys.” So — do we go this route?
***** BERG: Yeah. I’m in!
KUMIKO: Mr. *****stein? Mr. ****berg?
****STEIN: Yes, Kumiko?
KUMIKO: Take this job and shove it! I quit! (sound of phone slamming into its cradle.)
***** BERG: Whoa!
****STEIN: Damn. She was the best assistant we’ve had. Oh well. (pause) Hey, David, good job getting “Flash Boys.” We’ll make it work.
***** BERG: Thanks. Hey, what are you doing for dinner tomorrow night? Let’s get sushi.
****STEIN: Can’t. Nephew’s bar mitzvah. Lady Gaga is performing.
***** BERG: Dim sum on Sunday morning?
****STEIN: Yeah. But I’m not going to the San Gabriel f****n’ Valley. Way too far east. No pun intended.
***** BERG: Don’t worry. There’s a new place in Brentwood ya gotta try.
****STEIN: Deal. (line goes dead)
(* … that occurred in the author’s mind.)
Until next time, keep your eyes and ears open.
George Toshio Johnston has written this column since 1992 and can be reached at [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect policies of this newspaper or any organization or business. Copyright © 2015 by George T. Johnston. All rights reserved.