SCENE: A STUDIO BIGWIG and his three JUNIOR EXECUTIVES sit at a table.
BIGWIG: Shareholders these days are worried about investments in star vehicles that are unproven commodities. Therefore, I have decided that all of our projects for the next six months will come from one-word trademarked items with significant visibility. One, begin development on “Cable,” “Hilton,” and “Steakums.”
FIRST JUNIOR EXECUTIVE: You know, “Popeye” is only one word and it’s a visibility.
THIRD JUNIOR EXECUTIVE: I think you mean “trademark.”
FIRST: No, I mean “Popeye.” Who would go to see Trademark: The Movie?
BIGWIG: Adventurous idea, One. Three, shop Trademark: The Movie around to indie directors. Maybe Spike Jonze can do something that ironic hipsters will enjoy.
THIRD: Am I shopping anything else around? “Alka-Seltzer,” perhaps?
BIGWIG: That is technically two words, as is “Pepto-Bismol.” However, see what you can do with “Xantac.”
FIRST: Oooooh ooooh make it a robot! With laser vision! I’ll trade you “Steakums” for it!
BIGWIG: No trades. Three, you will also get “Oz.” I recommend combining the HBO prison drama with the Baum books. That way, we get two audiences at once.
THIRD: That’s… actually interesting.
BIGWIG: You’re welcome. Now, you’re going to help Two out on his assignment.
SECOND JUNIOR EXECUTIVE: Oh, come on. Is this is because of what happened with Anne Hathaway?
BIGWIG: This is exactly because of what happened with Anne Hathaway.
FIRST: I hear she still walks with a limp.
SECOND: It wasn’t my fault she crashed that Porsche into that other Porsche that the drug dealer was driving at us at full speed because I convinced him that baking soda was cocaine.
BIGWIG: Nonetheless. Two, you have “Pledge,” “Tweety,” and “Marmaduke.”
SECOND: Okay, I get that Pledge is clearly a movie about sorority hazing involving floor wax, and Tweety is a sex comedy involving Twitter in some fashion, like maybe Kate Hudson is a girl who’s afraid of commitment and loves shoe shopping, so she breaks up with guys via Twitter while she goes shoe shopping, but then she falls in love with a hunky programmer who works for Twitter –
THREE: There are hunky programmers?
SECOND: We can get Dane Cook to play one.
THREE: Of course.
SECOND: But what the hell am I supposed to do with “Marmaduke”? Nobody loves Marmaduke if they’re under the age of eighty. I mean, I like some questionable things, sure, but even I don’t like Marmaduke.
FIRST: I don’t like it either.
SECOND: There you go! See? The guy who wrote most of Anthony Anderson’s dialogue in Kangaroo Jack is too intellectual for Marmaduke. This one is impossible, boss. I say we give it to Uwe Boll and back away slowly.
BIGWIG: We spent a lot of money acquiring the rights to make Marmaduke. Stop whining and come up with a multimillion-dollar film franchise. What do I pay you for again?
SECOND: …can we have Marmaduke have sex with a lady?
SECOND: Okay, I’m out of ideas.
THIRD: Wow, you didn’t even mention whores once.
SECOND: I know!
FIRST: I have an idea!
FIRST: Let’s have Marmaduke talk! That’s what brings this movie into the 21st century! He can be all “I’m a dog, and I’m talking.”
BIGWIG: Does he talk to humans, or to animals, or to the audience, or what?
FIRST: I haven’t thought that far ahead yet.
THIRD: Didn’t Look Who’s Talking Now bomb?
FIRST: I don’t know what that is!
BIGWIG: You forget, Three, that nowadays we have computers. We can use computers to make the dogs’ mouths move so it looks like they are actually talking. Children love this.
THREE: They don’t find it kind of creepy?
BIGWIG: Children love this.
THREE: I see.
FIRST: So Marmaduke can talk about dog stuff. Like, how much he likes pooping, and how much he likes eating, and then pooping, and sleeping, and pooping…
SECOND: Wait wait wait. Isn’t Marmaduke, in the cartoons, really huge? And he does all this stuff because he’s so big?
BIGWIG: Yes. So?
SECOND: In real life Great Danes don’t quite get as big as Marmaduke is in the cartoon.
THIRD: My god, are you actually making a cogent observation?
SECOND: I dated a professional dog breeder a while back.
THIRD: You dated a woman? More than once?
SECOND: Okay, it wasn’t a breeder, it was a Kardashian. But she really, really loved dogs. She wouldn’t shut up about dogs. Or maybe it was hats. Same thing, really.
BIGWIG: This is a fine point, Two, but again. We will fix that with computers.
THREE: We’ll make the dog larger with computers?
BIGWIG: Of course not. We’ll just have him do all the Marmaduke things and be a normal-sized Great Dane, and anything that’s especially physical, we just do it without the dog and CGI in a dog in post. Honestly, Three. Do I need to explain computers to you now?
FIRST: Also maybe we could have all the dogs dance in a dance routine with computers!
SECOND: Wait, wait – maybe dog society can be just like high school! People love it when shit is like high school!
THIRD: I guess we could throw in a talking cat. If we have talking dogs, we can have a cat as well. Some people like cats better than dogs.
BIGWIG: Gentlemen, this is what I call development. Who can we get to star?
THIRD: I think William H. Macy owes me a favour.
FIRST: Will he let us kick him in the nuts?
THIRD: I’m just going to assume you meant in the movie.
FIRST: Of course I meant in the movie. I’m not stupid, you know.
BIGWIG: We all know that, One.
FIRST: So, how many times will we kick him in the nuts? Fifteen, or twenty? I say twenty. It’s funnier that way! Just imagine him getting kicked again and again and again!
THREE: I think his limit per movie is two.
FIRST: Aw. What if he gets headbutted in the nuts by a dog instead?
THREE: Still two.
BIGWIG: We’ll make it work. Still, we need somebody famous to be the voice of Marmaduke. Who can we get?
THREE: Jon Stewart?
BIGWIG: Too self-conscious.
SECOND: Leonardo DiCaprio?
BIGWIG: Threatened to set us on fire if we contacted him ever again.
FIRST: Vince Vaughn! Vince Vaughn! He can say “poop” in so many different ways!
BIGWIG: Not bad, but he doesn’t owe us any favours. Wait a second. Two, can you contact Owen Wilson?
SECOND: Great thinking, boss! I’ve still got those incriminating pictures from the set of Marley and Me! We’ll get him to –
THIRD: Why don’t we just pay him instead? It’s not like he has standards.
BIGWIG: Because we want to save money. Offer him half his going rate plus the negatives, Two.
SECOND: Will do.
BIGWIG: Well, it looks like this has come together. Good work, everybody.
FIRST: My turn! My turn! So, I’m thinking Steakums can be like Transformers, except that instead of being robots, they’re made of ground meat product…