Thirty Three; Armand Laker Gets What he Wants
Waiting for Ahmet to contact me, stagnating in front of the box, is how I became aware of an actor called David Wong Pine.
Reading what he'd written on his fansite, that he was grateful to leave Caravansary in it's third season, (it went off the air after it's fourth as without him it didn't gel), his absolute stupidity was confirmed.
If he'd left to take up a role in a major 3d, or to become the star of another serial playing someone as dynamic as Ji Tewka , I could understand. But to quit Caravansary for a minor role on a daytime soap, that was beyond the boundaries of the averagely stupid.
And another's stupidity can always earn me money.
So I wrote my script, I polished my Digre.
When Ahmet finally came through I shammed disinterest, and paid him less than
I'd budgeted and summoned my pilot.
The output for me and my pilot to reside on Smudge could have bought a fleet of yachts. But it had to be worth it.
Smudge had very little government. What existed was an incestuous marriage between anarchy and kakistocracy.
The entire planet was so polluted that only this island was habitable. The entire Western end was given over to smugglers, criminals, and whatever flotsam fell to ground. This Eastern Section was a jungle, with a few bald patches. Very few people ever came here, and less lived here, because everything had to be imported.
Not just food and sundries, but water and air. One had to buy air from other places and keep their homes hermetically sealed. A few hours a day outside was the limit a body could take.
Considering the baking heat and occasional filth storms would coat the windows and solar panels, just staying alive cost as much as a suite in a five star hotel. But I had needed to be here, so that is what I had to pay.
Enroute to magnificent Earth I locked
myself in my cabin, hungrily viewing
the Eugenic tape.
It was just over three hours of nothing
much. What was needed was a back
story. A back story more interesting
than my Tamerlane.
I needed a story, not 'documentary' moments ,an engrossing story which
pulled the viewers in as well as the Academy.
I didn't want this to be one of those 'shorts' or special category;
I wanted a Best Picture, and that was the rub.
So here I am now, on Earth.
Everyone excited that The Laker was back!
Lots of blurbers, lots of suppositions, lots of fetes and festivities.
After getting my life back in place, I sent an assistant to find Pine and bring him to me. Timing was bad. David Wong Pine wasn't at his address, and no one knew where he was.
I'm here to make him a star, and he's AWOL.
Caught up with the Gennie recording and the effort of trying to build a plot, months
dissolved before I realised it.
To cover what I was really doing, I tossed my 'Ji' script at my team.
It was a great script.
They started babbling names of actors who should play the lead.
I let them ramble a time before informing them I had someone in mind.
I sent the flunky again, Pine was found. I got to meet him at the Parker,
(a decent restaurant) overlooking the sea.
David Wong Pine
I was watching the door, my mind on the barbarian slave, Ji, how he'd stride in that boastful swagger, his eyes darting, approaching with a mixture of fear and expectation when instead, in walked 'Tom Bean', the nothing character Pine played on Live Again.
When he reached my table, as he opened his mouth I cut;
"I want you to go back to the door and walk over here as if you are Ji Tewka. "
"I don't do Ji Tewka any more," he said as if I'd asked him to roll in potato salad.
"You don't do that any more?" I repeat.
"But you do Tom Bean."
"Yes," he said.
He's so serious, yet so insignificant. No one had given him a glance when he'd
walked in. They must of assumed he was a delivery boy or messenger.
"You want to tell me why?" I finally ask.
"May I sit?"
He waits for my nod and after decorously seating, begins his diatribe;
"Ji Tewka was a cartoon, Tom Bean is real. When I had to play Tewka I had to train,
I had maintain a certain image. I had to wear my hair long, hold my face in...."
"You're an actor. You can act. You acted as Ji. That was the role that would make you a star."
"I disagree," he replied.
"Do you know who I am?" I asked.
He said it as if my name were, "Wanted Murderer," or "Fat Pig," and I realised he was far stupider than he looked.
I waved my hand at a waiter to break the surrealism. I order a drink, one for him. I couldn't erase the smirk from my mouth. I had to find a poker face.
"You're not interested in doing Ji Tewka again, are you?" I finally got out.
"No," he said, taking a bite of his liquor.
"You don't care then if someone else played the role, or if someone bought the rights to Caravansary. If I understand you, you would have preferred not to have done it as a serial?"
"That is correct," he replied.
I pulled out my com, began typing, "I'm putting this in writing just in case..." I toss.
I don't know if he watched me or looked around the room. If he knew how his life was about to unchange. I typed;
"I, David Wong Pine, renounce all interest
in the character Ji Tewka and it's image."
I passed it to him.
"Why do you want me to sign this?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I may consider continuing the series, bringing back the Ji Tewka character. I was offering it to you, but now I will offer it to someone else."
"You were offering me the role of Ji Tewka? Didn't you read the interviews I gave where I said that I prefer roles in which costumes and periods were irrelevant?"
"No, I didn't." I reply, trying to keep a straight face.
"My philosophy," he begins...
I look at this fool, who is about to spew unmitigated garbage from his mouth.
He isn't striking in street clothes and short hair. He isn't forceful or prepossessing. He is telling... he, this nobody-going-no-where is telling me, who need never make another flick as long as I live and still be considered one of the Greats, his philosophy.
He is so earnest, so full of his mental mangling he doesn't realise what has just happened.
I pretend to listen until he stops talking, then I nod and say, "Good meeting you," and stand.
I leave the Parker into my limousine, wait until we are one block away before I start to laugh.
When I reach the studio I hand my Ji Tewka Digre to the staff, tell them what I want, then go home, where I ring up close friends.
I have a little dinner party, enjoy their company, keeping my secret. Yet every so often a little smirk popped out.
Lia Nicole, this year's goddess, wants to know what's funny.
"My dear, do you remember when I told you to take the role as the plain sister, not the pretty one?"
"Yes, are you going to remind me how I ranted and refused?"
"No, because at the end you took my advice."
"Yes I did", she smiled.
She did, she was nominated for an award. She was beaten out that year by another, but the following year was offered so many important roles that she became who she is today.
"Well, I just found someone who refuses to play the plain sister. Absolutely refuses and I find it rather amusing."
"What did she do? Talk about her 'image?'" Lia said with as much contempt as necessary.
"This she is actually a he, and gave me a treatise on serious acting versus 'cartoon' character."
Lia was not a fool.
"That doesn't make sense," she sniffed, "what is he? A 'serious actor' as opposed to movie star?"
"If he wasn't walking through a soap opera, playing the co-co-co-co star, it would ring a bit more sensible."
"He sounds stupid, do I know him?"
"No, no one does, no one will."
"You have a script," she said with passion.
"Yes, but there is no role in it for you, I'm afraid."
"Don't be afraid, I'll take anything..."
This is the kind of response Armand Laker expects. Armand Laker has the Midas Touch. Anything I make will make money. Will be seen, and will lead to other roles for the actors.
I extract myself from Lia, and enjoy my friends. And think to myself;
"from he who has much, much will be given, from
he who has little, even that will be taken."