Set in the glamour that is motion picture marketing, Glitzbiz takes you behind the scenes of the Hollywood star-making machine with ace movie marketer, Charlie Fender. Having had the assignment foisted on her for managing the comeback of one-time teen movie idol, Gordon James, Charlie must over come the most extreme obstacles to fulfill her assignment -- and find out what forces have really been at work in her life. A little love, a little mystery, a lot of glamour, and lots of surprises, Glitzbiz entertains and enlightens as it takes a look at the life of a "good corporate soldier" where stardom is merely the window dressing that helps sell "the product."
CHAPTER THREE of Eight: Change of Plans
“I was so tired, I couldn’t give him or what had happened a second thought. Isn’t that horrible? I’m the bitch of the world.” Charlie cradled the phone receiver between her head and shoulder. She dropped the bath towel, pulled on her panties, rolled on deodorant. “You know, Dorothy, I’m so busy I can’t even give it another thought till 8:00 tonight -- especially with this Elliott meeting. There was just a note on your desk when you came in to have me there by 9:30?” Charlie turned around, stepped into her closet, listened to the reply. “Well did he say anything else? Give you any sort of hint? Is he going to tell me I’m taking Impasse to Cannes?” Charlie ran her fingers through her still wet hair. “What do you think, skirt or pants? I think I’ll wear my lucky Donna Karan, you know the black suit with the one button jacket.”
Charlie pulled the hanger off the clothes pole, hung it on a hook by the closet door. She stepped on the button of the clothes steamer. “C’mon, Dorothy, you’ve been Elliott’s right arm forever. He didn’t give you even a hint?” She stooped down, gave the tank a little jiggle. Enough water? Yup. “I know you’d tell me if there was. I’m sorry. I’m just so excited about this. I’ve been wanting to take this film to Cannes since I first read the script.” Charlie glanced at the clock on the back wall of her closet. “Dorothy -- gotta run if I’m going to be there on time. Ok, bye!”
Charlie clicked the phone off. The steamer gurgled. She glanced again at the clock. “Five minutes for the steam, another ten for the hair. 20 minutes for the drive -- right on schedule.” She ran the steamer head over the suit jacket.
Charlie made a quick detour through the kitchen. She threw open the Sub-Zero door. “A quick glass of OJ.” She pulled out the ceramic juice jug, pulled a glass from the opposite cabinet. She put the jug back, looked at the bottom shelf. “What’s this?” She stooped down, opened a pizza box shoved on top of three Tupperware containers. She opened it. Two pieces left. “God bless you, Danny!” She pulled them from the box, laid one upside down on top of the other, tossed the box back onto the plastic containers.
Charlie flicked the Sub-Zero door shut, grabbed one bite of pizza, chased it down with the OJ. “The perfect breakfast.” Her teeth tore into a disc of salami, sunk through the soft, cold layer of cheese. “This is going to be my day!”
Charlie burst through the doors of Elliott Tremmel’s outer office. Dorothy looked up from her desk.
“Is he in?”
“Been there all morning -- with the door closed. That is a great suit. You look fabulous!”
“You think so?” Charlie stopped at the corner of Dorothy’s desk, adjusted her skirt.
“Definitely. But then you always look so great. I wish I had your taste and figure.”
“Dorothy Green, you have great taste.”
“Only because I buy what you tell me to. And pretty soon, I’m going to ask you to help me buy a complete new wardrobe.”
“What do you mean, Elliott giving you a bonus?”
“I’m giving myself a bonus.” Dorothy stood up from her desk chair, outstretched her arms dramatically. “Can you see the difference? I’ve been on the Jenny Craig diet for 6 weeks. I’ve lost 15 pounds!”
“Dorothy! I actually can!”
“I know! I’m starting to get a waist again. Charlie, I used to have the cutest figure when I was your age. But after Jack died and I moved out here, I’ve become the fat old lady with two cats.”
“Please, Charlie. When you pass the 50 mark, you gotta face the truth. I haven’t been with a man for over 15 years. And I decided I’m not done with that yet. I’ve got a good job, I can travel. I’d better enjoy these years while I have them, so I’m working on getting some of the old me back!”
“That’s great! Why have you been keeping this a secret?”
“Because I wanted to show you the results. And this morning I finally started noticing a difference.”
“Well good for you! I’m just shocked you kept this from me – we talk all the time!”
“You know how it is. Your life is so much more exciting than mine and the cats.”
“Busy isn’t necessarily exciting.”
“Maybe exciting is going to happen this morning. Go on in and find out what Elliott is up to.”
“You can’t give me even a little hint?” Charlie gave her long blonde hair one last tousle. “My stomach is going to fizzle itself to death, I’m so excited!”
“All I can do is wish you luck! I know how much this means to you. He said to just go in when you arrived.”
Charlie scrunched up her shoulders and cheeks, threw a last look of girlish excitement to Dorothy. She stepped to the door, put her left hand on the knob, pulled her chin to her chest, took a last, slow breath.
She turned the knob, pushed the door forward.
Elliott looked up. He scooped up the playing cards spread out on the desk in front of him, fingered them into a deck, rose to his feet. “Thanks for coming on such short notice.” He stepped from behind his desk, set the deck of cards down, walked to Charlie. They met in the middle of the office. Elliott gestured to a cluster of four overstuffed chairs, the conversation pit, where he conducted his most important business.
“Solitaire so early in the morning?” She took a seat in the closest chair.
“To you it’s a card game. For me it’s a way to focus.”
“If you say so!” Charlie placed her Gucci leather satchel-style briefcase and companion purse on the chair to her right.
“Ah yes, my little eccentricities are hard to hide.” Elliott chose the chair across from Charlie.
He put his elbows on the arms of the chair, clasped his hands, formed a peak with his forefingers. “Why I play so much is a story for another time.” He moved the tips of his fingers under his nose.
Charlie straightened her skirt.
Elliott took a long, deep breath. “I know you have no idea why I wanted to see you.”
Charlie smiled. “Actually, I think I know why you called me in -- or let’s say I hope I know.”
Elliott kept his fingers clasped in front of his face. He scrunched his chin, doubling the size of his lower lip. He nodded slowly.
“Let me just lay it out for you. You actually have no idea what this is about. But let me assure you, I am very aware of how much you’ve been counting on working with Impasse, what with Cannes coming up and everything.”
Charlie’s heart dropped to her ankles.
“But we also know Impasse is more of the same. There’s really no challenge in packaging and presenting this piece.”
Charlie leaned forward, parted her lips to speak.
Elliott raised his eyebrows, cocked his head, tipped his still-peaked fingers in her direction.
She leaned back.
“I know what you’ve been hoping for and for how long -- but there’s a very special project I’ve been keeping under wraps and I need my very best person on it. And Charlie, that is you. You’re not going to appreciate this at first, but trust me, this is the best opportunity for you.”
“C’mon, Elliott, there’s nothing being released that matches Impasse. And I’ve been hoping for this. . . .”
“. . .For eight months, yes I told you, I know. But Charlie, this is something very few people know of.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’m putting you on a little piece I had done in Canada by a young, very talented director.
“C’mon, Elliott, you’re putting me on some indie project?”
“Not just any indie and not with an unknown cast.”
“Wait a minute!” Charlie sat bolt upright. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m dead serious.” Elliott sat deeper into his chair, placed his hands palm down on the chair arms. “I’m giving you the opportunity to manage the comeback of the century. I’m giving you the opportunity to bring back Gordon James.”
Charlie jumped from her seat, threw her right hand into her hair, turned away from Elliott. She turned back, looked at him. “This is just way too out of nowhere, Elliott. Why are you doing this? This is way off anything we’ve talked about.”
“But this is right up your alley, Charlie.”
“Sounds more like a dead-end, with all due respect. C’mon, Gordon hasn’t done a thing in thirty years except disappear in France somewhere.
“Actually, it was England -- he never had much of a thing for foreign languages.”
“Well, England, then, but the point is, no one is really waiting for him. No one cares. He’s forgotten. He had his time in the 60’s with all the young girls and that was that.” Charlie paced a tight figure eight next to the chair, retook her seat.
“And where are all those young girls, now, Charlie?”
“Those screaming teenage beach bunnies who thought Gordon was the cats meow -- you know, we actually did use that term back then -- where are they now?”
“In their 40’s and 50’s.”
“Exactly -- they’re married. Their kids have just left the roost or are about to, they’re looking at their lives, wondering about the what ifs and -- here’s the best part -- they’re all in their sexual prime.”
“So what are you saying?”
“What I’m saying is this is a female mid-life thing. They’re free at last, they’re feeling good about themselves -- they’re ready to try something new -- yet familiar. They’re ready for a fling -- metaphorically speaking, of course.”
“Of course, so what’s this got to do with Gordon?”
“Everything. What better way to have a fling than with your first love? And Charlie, believe me, the first love of most of these women was Gordon James. And there you have it.”
“And there you have what?”
“Charlie, we’re going to give the women of American a chance to reacquaint themselves -- and fall again -- for their first love. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and this is the perfect time. And Gordon is the guy.”
“C’mon, Elliott. I’m not so sure about this. This is a huge gamble. He isn’t even on the cocktail circuit. Every one just remembers him as 21 years old. He’s got no recognition factor. There’s no buzz. And who knows if this indie is any good?”
“All perfect reasons why you’re the best person for the project. Let me assure you, the film has my complete backing. It is solid. And this come back is the perfect course of action. And Gordon is the perfect one to do it. All this needs for success is you.”
Charlie hated it when Elliott used that smooth, steady, confident voice of his with such reinforcing words. The combination made it impossible for her to say no. She looked away, brought her forearm up, rested her chin in her palm. She took a half dozen slow, deep breaths.
She turned slowly back in his direction. She looked him in the eyes. “You really believe in this project?”
“I have more than you know at stake on this.”
“You really think this is the way to go?”
“And you’re the person -- the only person -- who can make this fly.”
“And I really don’t have any other option?”
“You always have options. This is just the best one for you and your career. If you don’t know it now, you will very soon. This is a great opportunity for you -- and you’ll get along great with Gordon. In fact, he’s looking forward to working with you. You made quite and impression last night.”
“Well, boss, I guess that’s it, then.”
“You’re on board?” Elliott rose from his chair. Charlie took his cue.
“I’m on board. So when does all this get rolling?”
Elliott stepped back to his desk. Charlie gathered her satchel and purse.
“Actually, the ball is already rolling and you’re going to have to play a little catch up. But not to worry, you’ve done all this before, you just have to get up to speed with Gordon.” He picked up the phone.
Charlie furrowed her brow, took a step toward Elliott’s desk. Elliott held up his index finger
“Dorothy, there’s a big manila envelope on your credenza. Could you give it to Charlie on her way out?” He smiled at the response, set the phone handset back on the receiver.
“Everything you need to know concerning Gordon and the project is in the envelope. I’ve set up a screening for you at 10:00. Your flight to San Francisco leaves at 1:30. Gordon goes on air with his first interview at 4:30. And just so you know, it’s live. But he’s been thoroughly prepped. Believe me. He’s all set and up for this. I know this is a little rushed, but it had to be this way. Trust me on this, it’ll be a cake walk for you.”
He came from around his desk holding up his palm.
“I know, I know! Dorothy will get your current schedule reassigned. As of now, you’re on this 100%. Now you’ve got to run. The screening’s in five minutes. Once you see the movie and run through the material, you’ll feel much better about this. Trust me. This is going to be big, Charlie. Big”
Elliott’s hand gently grabbed Charlie’s waist. He led her to the door. “Good luck and safe travels.”
She walked out of his office without looking back. Dorothy carefully placed the overstuffed envelop in Charlie’s outstretched hand as she passed.
UP NEXT: CHAPTER FOUR -- In the Air
For the complete story, buy “Glitzbiz” by Bill McGowan, available in e-book or print formats
For e-book, go to: Scribd.com, or Lulu.com
For printed book: Lulu.com
At either site, search Glitzbiz, place your order.
Here’s what other readers are saying about “Glitzbiz” by Bill McGowan:
“…a real page turner. I didn't want to put it down. The story is intriguing and makes you want more. Great twists and a few surprises. It would be fun to have a series of "Charlie" books.
Julie Gilmore, Vancouver, Washington
“If you are looking for a fun, entertaining read add this to your list. It takes you on a ride that makes it hard to put the book down. It grabs you visually in a way that creates a movie in your head while you’re reading it. When is the next book coming out? I want to know what happens to Charlie next!”
Wayde Faust, Los Angeles, California