Hollywood Said No! by Bob Odenkirk and David Cross with Brian Posehn (Grand Central Publishing, $19)
By: Stuart Nulman
I have to admit, when I first saw “Hollywood Said No!” listed in the Fall catalogue for Grand Central Publishing, I thought it would be a history of Hollywood greatest rejects; a compendium of actual TV show spec scripts and movie treatments by some of the industry’s best known screenwriters and directors that studio executive turned their backs on (not to mention their noses up).
When I finally received a copy of the book and noticed the names of the authors on the cover, I had to realize that this was not a book about a hidden history of the showbiz capitol. The names on the cover were Bob Odenkirk and David Cross, the two veteran comics and comedy writers who were responsible for creating, writing and starring in one of the most innovative, critically acclaimed sketch comedy shows that ever hit the airwaves over the past decade … HBO’s “Mr. Show”.
Although “Mr. Show” has been off the air for a number of years, it hasn’t stopped the team of Odenkirk and Cross (with a little help from their friend comic Brian Posehn) to take their unorthodox comic approach to sketch comedy and expand it into potential motion pictures. The problem, I guess, was that maybe those Hollywood movie studio big shots were somehow not quite ready for the comedy world of Odenkirk and Cross, and rejected their film scripts outright. So instead of moping around, they decided to give their “Mr. Show” fans a taste of their screenplay writing abilities, and the book “Hollywood Said No!” is the end result.
The content of the book consists of two of their rejected spec scripts in their entirety: “Bob and David Make A Movie” and “Hooray For America!” The first screenplay is a twisted satire of the process of how a movie is created from concept to final approval, as well as some of the movie genres and trends that permeate Hollywood today. The second screenplay is another twisted satire, this time dealing with the typical American success story. Particularly, how the most idiotic person who is the right place at the right time can somehow transform himself into a cause celebre that him (in this case, David Cross) elected as President of the United States for all the wrong reasons by a gullible electorate.
There are plenty of strangely funny scenes in this book (my favorites include a cameo by Posehn as a street performer dressed as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, who totally denies he is a street performer and states that his silver makeup is actually sunscreen – he couldn’t find clear sunscreen – and David Cross as the presidential candidate for the Country’s Best Party, who during a candidate’s debate promises each voter $4,072 if they cast their vote for him), which exemplifies how edgy and innovative Odenkirk and Cross are as comedy writers. Some may think that these orphaned film scripts were for real and got the boot from the executive suites of the major studios. Somehow, when reading this book, you have to take them with the proverbial grain of salt and realize with the fragile state of movie and TV comedy these days, how even some of the most strangest of ideas can land on the desks (and reject piles) of top movie and TV executives.
Then again, with what passes for comedies these days, maybe what Odenkirk and Cross (and Posehn) has to offer in “Hollywood Said No!” could lead to a “Yes!” and may end up coming soon to a theatre near you.
Stuart Nulman’s “Book Banter” segment is a twice-a-month feature on “The Stuph File Program” with Peter Anthony Holder, which now has almost 150,000 listeners per week. You can either listen or download it at www.peteranthonyholder.com, Stitcher.com or subscribe to it on iTunes. Plus you can find it at www.CyberStationUSA.com, www.KDXradio.com, True Talk Radio, streaming on www.PCJMedia.com, and over the air at World FM 88.2fm in New Zealand, Media Corp in Singapore and WSTJ, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Stuart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.