SCENE: A STUDIO BIGWIG and his three JUNIOR EXECUTIVES sit at a table.
BIGWIG: You know, other junior executives would have folded in the face of an economic downturn, but not my indefatigable team of four executives.
(The FIRST JUNIOR EXECUTIVE looks around, confused.)
FIRST: Four comes after three, right?
BIGWIG: Oh, yes, that’s right. I fired Four because he ate my turkey sandwich. Or possibly because he greenlit Land of the Lost. It’s so hard to remember.
SECOND JUNIOR EXECUTIVE: That’s right. You have a lot on your plate.
FIRST: Except for the turkey sandwich.
THIRD JUNIOR EXECUTIVE: Also, you fired Four three years ago.
BIGWIG: And I care about that why? Four was dead weight. Look what you three have done! One, G-Force will break the $100 million dollar mark this weekend. I admit, when you came to me and said that you had a movie about mutant guinea pigs with super-death exercise balls, I was skeptical, but I cannot argue with your results.
FIRST: In the sequel, the guinea pigs will fart more! It’ll be even better with more farting! I actually want to show you some of the concept sketches: we have a new character, a hamster named Farty. You’ll never guess what he does!
BIGWIG: I’m sure. Two, The Ugly Truth continues to be one of the romantic comedy hits of the season, and another notch on your impressive string in this area.
SECOND: Wasn’t hard, boss. It works because it acknowledges what we all know: women like shoes, men like to fuck.
BIGWIG: Yes. And Three, you’ve had some success in the romance area as well, haven’t you? The opening for The Time Traveler’s Wife is excellent, and I put that down to your advice to change the book’s original plot and give it a happy ending.
THIRD: I was being sarcastic when I said that.
BIGWIG: Regardless. Given your series of successes, gentlemen, I have decided to combine your powers for our next romantic comedy box office success. We have Kristen Bell under contract. Everything else is on the table. Go.
FIRST: Kristen Bell is a witch and she falls in love with a man-witch!
SECOND: She falls in love with a Manwich?
THIRD: I vote we think of something else.
BIGWIG: Perhaps, but One has a point. I think adding a layer of magical fantasy is exactly what this prospective romantic comedy needs. Think outside the box, gentlemen. Start with Ms. Bell’s character being a standard anal-retentive uptight romantic comedy heroine who needs a good man to loosen her up and enjoy life, and go from there. But outside the box!
SECOND: …she goes to Italy!
THIRD: Italy is outside the box?
SECOND: It’s outside the continental United States. That’s like a box.
FIRST: And while she is in Italy, she becomes a witch!
BIGWIG: No witches.
FIRST: While she is in Italy, she meets Popeye!
BIGWIG: No Popeye.
SECOND: While she’s in Italy she meets a hunky guy and falls for him, but secretly he is a vampire?
THIRD: Vampires are played out.
BIGWIG: Also, movies that feature clean-cut American girls falling for Euro-studs tend to tank. The American audience wants to see Americans boinking Americans, not foreigners.
BIGWIG: This movie will be PG-13.
SECOND: I got it! She goes to Italy, meets a hunky American who is also in Italy, and they have an Italian romance without any of the annoying Italian-ness.
BIGWIG: An acceptable framework, Two, but on its own it is a little bland. This is why One is here: we need something unexpected so that the movie has a hook. Something we can sell in a thirty-minute ad.
FIRST: …there is a magic love fountain!
BIGWIG: Be quiet, Two. Continue, One.
FIRST: If you jump in the fountain and make a wish, you fall in love with somebody! But she jumps in the fountain and then meets the guy and she’s not sure if it’s true love or if it’s just fountain love. Is that good?
BIGWIG: It’s a start, but it doesn’t have a wacky misunderstanding. Three? Can you find room for a wacky misunderstanding or three?
THIRD (sighs) Look, what if the fountain –
FIRST: The magic love fountain.
THIRD: What if the magic love fountain works in a way that lets multiple people fall in love with her all at the same time? Then she could have to fend off inappropriate advances from somebody who clearly will never be the lead in a romantic comedy. It’s creepy but safe.
BIGWIG: Excellent, Three. I believe we have Dax Shepard available for just such an occasion.
SECOND: In addition to Dax Shepard, maybe we could have some greasy Italians fall in love with her as well? Then we can have Dax being weird funny and Italians being greasy funny. It’ll mix things up.
FIRST: Dax Whoever isn’t enough! I say we put in lots of comedy weirdos! Let’s put in the guy who does that thing, and the short fat old guy, and the guy who’s all “come on!”
BIGWIG: …Three, what is he saying?
THIRD: He’s saying we should also cast Jon Heder, Danny Devito and Will Arnett as other people who fall in love with Kirsten Bell because of the magic fountain.
BIGWIG: And our romantic lead is… one second, let me see who I have in my Filofax… Josh DuHamel owes me a favour. Is he acceptably bland leading-man material? I’ve never seen him in anything.
SECOND: He’s got abs like a Greek god and the personality of oatmeal. He’s perfect!
THIRD: And I assume that the movie will tease that Josh DuHamel only falls in love with the girl because of the magic fountain, but in reality he never has anything to do with the magic fountain and his love is genuine?
BIGWIG: But of course. All right, gentlemen, it looks like we have this all ready to go. Call the screenwriters, throw in some Italian-themed comedy moments and maybe some minor male nudity, and I think we’re good to go.
SECOND: I’ll tell them to include an Italian wedding. Nothing like a wedding for making fun of ethnic people! Especially Italians.
THIRD: Okay, I knew about your issues with women, but what do you have against Italians?
SECOND: They know what they did.