In January of 2003, I sold a script to Focus Features which was a sequel to the Bill Cosby vehicle, Ghost Dad.
When I made this deal, I knew two things:
A. This was a phenomenal script. If it had a flaw, perhaps it was so densely “literary” that it might be hard to translate to the screen, which leads me to …
2.) Due to the political climate at the studios back then, I knew it would never get made.
At that time, I didn’t really care. I had $35,000 in cash and my foot in the door with several Hollywood Bigshots. I was living large and having a hell of a time doing it.
Not good. Great.
Excellent. Superb. Insert your own superlatives at will. You won’t be over-stating anything. In fact, if you lined up 8 million of them in a row, they still wouldn’t do it justice.
I’m not a boastful person. There are at least five or six writers in the world who are better than me, I freely acknowledge this. But this story, well, I know its excellence is beyond the scope of my talents. It’s a fluke. A bright shining star in a sea of dismal mediocrity. I think it’s trite for people to say that their work has been “touched by the hand of God”, but I see no other way to account for the fact that I’ve created such a masterpiece.
Me, a humble blog writer and purveyor of fart jokes, has equaled or surpassed the life’s work of a Michaelangelo or a Shakespeare. In the realm of mainstream comedy scripts, that is.
I had always planned to release it to the public, somehow, so they could bask in its glory. It seemed selfish that it should be locked up in a vault somewhere, or passed around in manila envelopes to different executives who would whisper in hushed tones about how it was too good for this shitty, undeserving world.
That was their reasoning. They told me that Joe Sixpack simply wasn’t worthy of an experience like this.
The masses want comfort food. Crème brûlée? “No thanks, just ketchup on mine!” they would say.
Anyway, once their option expired, after five years, I was just gonna self-publish it. Put it on the internet. Let people read it, love it. Maybe make their own, home-brewed versions with their camcorders. I basically predicted the whole YouTube phenomenon in its entirety, only I thought it would be structured around my script.
January, 2008 came and went.
A lot had changed for me in those five years. I got married, moved to the suburbs, had some kids of my own.
Suddenly, Ghost Dad’s exploits as an invincible pedophile who could choose when and where to apparate, eluding capture by the authorities and finally finding acceptance in a foreign land, while still uproariously funny, were now subject to certain concerns of morality that I hadn’t been burdened with back then. Plus, the whole Michael Jackson thing basically stole a lot of my thunder.
So, I pussed out. I admit it.
In a way, it kinda makes it all the more special to me. It’s something wonderful that I’ve shared with but a handful of people in the whole world. Like taking a peak at the Ark of the Covenant or something. This way I know it can never be ruined by some greedy corporate fat cats.
There will be no “Ghost Dad 2 Whopper” or Elliot Hopper action figures.
It’s pure and beautiful.
No hacky hired gun is gonna come in to polish it up (as if that were possible) or trim it down from its original 439 pages.
It sits in my desk. Perfect. The way God wrote it.