Friday, May 25, 2007

The Boys Behind the Pirates

We went to see our friends Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio interviewed at the Writers Guild of America, west, Inc. theater last night. Like the one last month with Harlan Ellison, the event was a benefit for the WGAw Foundation.

Ted and Terry have a little film opening today called "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." We've known them well since 1993 when Ted sat up 'til 4 a.m. talking to us in the lobby of an hotel in San Francisco--mostly about Len's career. They were nominated for the Hugo Award for writing "Aladdin" for Disney. Len was the designated acceptor for the Hugo for someone that year. As often happens, we took them under our wing (it was their first World Science Fiction Convention) and they've been in our lives ever since.

We've watched them grow from that first success into the A-list Hollywood writers they are today. It hasn't been all smooth sailing (talking about Godzilla might make them cry), but that first Zorro with Antonio Bandaras, Shrek I, and the Pirates movies have cemented their bankability in Tinsel Town.

For a year back in the late 90s, Terry held a once-a-month salon at his house in the Hollywood Hills. He had to discontinue them when they became over-run with friends of friends of friends, but they were a huge mix of up-and-comers, journeymen, and wannabees from all parts of the entertainment industry. The biggest downside (except for what it must have cost him to pay for food and drink) was the lack of safe parking on that stretch of Mulholland Drive. I was certain that we'd get hit by a car coming around a curve as we walked back to our vehicle at 1 or 2 a.m. Another factor was the climb up to the house from the street. I swear the driveway was at about a 65 degree slope. When the sprinklers would go off, the walk back down was treacherous. To avoid climbing to the house when I was on crutches, we actually drove up once. I felt like the car was going to flip rear over nose on the way down, it was so steep.

When Pirates 1 premiered, the boys made sure we got to attend. Len and I shared Ted and Kim's limo to Disneyland and we walked the red carpet with them between Jane Seymour and Danny Bonnaduce. That was a night to remember. (Len had actually gotten to go on set when they were filming and met everyone except Johnny Depp--and yes, that does mean he's met Orlando Bloom. Grrrrr.) The best way to go to Disneyland is in a limo that drops you off behind the Lincoln exhibit and picks you up near the statue of Walt in the middle of the park. And, oh yes, you are one of only 3000 people in the park for fun. No waits on the rides and you can do the Indiana Jones ride twice in 15 minutes (because it does take a while to go through the maze.) Also, that night had the best food I've ever eaten at Disneyland.

We've had a lot of fun together over the years, but as Ted and Terry's star has risen, we don't get together nearly as often as we would like because these guys are always busy. We managed to corral Ted and Kim for dinner during the brief break between the finish of principal photography on Pirates 2 and the start of principal photography on Pirates 3 and then a year flew by. We saw Terry a few weeks ago for a dinner which Ted missed because the invitation was caught in a spam filter (why e-mail is unreliable.) Last night, we all bemoaned this lack of contact.

I've corralled them to doing the second of the "Creative Voices" programs for me at Pierce College sometime in October. I think it will be an excellent opportunity for students to get insight about the process of collaborative writing, a very different animal than the solitary writing of Harlan Ellison. I'll have dinner with them that night, but I fully expect to spend quality time with both of them well before next October.

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