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1920s America...where the gin joints were underground, the liquor was fine, women enjoyed life, and organized crime was born.
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J.A. Fletcher

Where the pictures are made and the stars descend from heaven to entertain the populace. There is always something going on here, and you can find the biggest names in Hollywood.

12/13/2010 #1
J.A. Fletcher

Samual Goldwyn paced across his office, his body perched forward, his hands behind his back, his face stony and his brow creased. Behind him, a secretary and two assistants marched in succession. The quartet paced like this around the room like a well-disciplined troop on parade.

They continued like this for a few minutes, before Goldwyn stopped suddenly. His secretary stopped herself in mid-walk, nearly piling into him. The two assistants did the same. Goldwyn's face lit up as if he had discovered an amazing thought, his finger was lifted in the air as though he were about to speak. The troop behind him also lit up with a sudden glow, on the brink of discovery - and then his face dropped to a scowl and he continued pacing.

Crestfallen, the troop continued their marching around the room. Suddenly there was a knock on the door and Goldwyn stopped again. This time, the other three soldiers fell into each other before straightening themselves out.

"Come in." Goldwyn called.

The door opened and a beautiful woman walked in. Anita Page was the most valued female star on the lot, and the two male assistants whistled while the secretary looked on with dismay.

12/13/2010 #2
J.A. Fletcher

Goldwyn nearly bowled his secretary over trying to get to Anita. He did an old-fashioned bow. "Why, hello Miss Page."

"Hello Mr. Goldwyn." She breathed in reply. It took Goldwyn's breath away, and the two assistants nearly fainted. "What's this I hear about a picture in Boston?"

"Uh..." Goldwyn knew what this meant. Trouble. But he'd stand firm. No. He was not going to mess L.B.'s plans up. L.B. had already given his cousin casting decisions. The female lead was in no way going to Anita. His cousin Jack had already promised it to a dame he married. Goldwyn had made a few foul-ups, but this was not going to be one of them. He had no choice. He had to disappoint Miss Page. She was not getting the part. No. No. No no a thousand times, NO.

"Yes." Goldwyn shuddered.

Anita Page's face showed a glow and he removed her hand from Goldwyn's thigh. "Gee, thanks Mr. Goldwyn. I knew you'd see things my way. Now all you have to do is draw up my contract for the picture." She hurried to the door. "Have to fly. I'll talk to you later!"

As the door closed, Goldwyn slammed a palm into his face. "Why, why, why, why, why?"

12/13/2010 #3
J.A. Fletcher

Goldwyn collapsed into the chair by his desk while his secretary fawned over him and his two male assistants snickered to each other.

"I've ruined it!" He said. "How am I ever going to disappoint Miss Page? She won't re-sign with us if I take this away."

"Well, maybe L.B. will overturn it." His secretary replied. "Then she can't say anything about you doing it. It will all be up to L.B., and then you can talk her into signing another contract next year."

"You're right!" Goldwyn replied. "That's if I can convince her to re-sign. I must face it. I'm a failure."

"Oh, you're not a failure, Mr. Goldwyn." The secretary replied. "And you could talk an Arabian Sheik into buying a house-heater."

"Yeah." One assistant remarked sarcastically. "I can see it as the title of your autobiography: Sam Goldwyn: Master of Diction."

"Oh, that won't happen." Goldwyn replied seriously. "I know that those books are always full of scandals and lies. I won't have my autobiography written until after I'm dead! It won't be able to ruin my career then."

The assistants had to suppress a laugh.

"Boy am I in trouble." Goldwyn replied, crestfallen.

12/17/2010 . Edited 12/17/2010 #4
J.A. Fletcher

Gary Cooper entered his new dressing room with a studio intern carrying his bags behind him. The intern put the bags down.

"Uh, Mr. Cooper? I hope you'll be happy here with MGM. We take care of our stars, don't you worry about that." The intern laughed nervously. "Uh, as we say here at MGM - scientists can give you a telescope to look at the stars, but we can bring them right to you."

Gary stared the nervous intern down. He took a few steps toward the now-frightened college boy and looked him straight in the eye.

"Are you scared of me?"

"N-no sir. Sh-should I be?"

Gary laughed and turned toward a mirror that caught his fancy. "Tell the boys to bring the truck around and get the rest of my stuff in here." He looked into the mirror, doing his best to look dashing. In his hand he held a hand-painted film poster. He unrolled it on the wall and carefully stuck pins in each corner. Satisfied, he frowned at the picture. It was Charles Rogers' face with Clara Bow's, but his name was right there, just as big as the rest. It was not reflective of his future career, though. He wouldn't be as big as Clara Bow. He'd be much, much bigger.

12/17/2010 #5
J.A. Fletcher

Louis B Mayer knocked upon Samuel Goldwyn's door rather heavily. His face was haggard, and he had a piece of toilet tissue held on his chin by a spot of blood from shaving. The airplane ride had been a long one, and he realized that the boys in the war pictures, flying in planes for hours on end, smiling with the thought of shooting down the hun, weren't quite accurate in their demeanor.

He knocked again. Goldwyn was in here, he was told by the secretary.

"Goldwyn!" He called. Finally, he opened the door and walked in.

Sam Goldwyn was sitting behind his desk, nearly hunched over it. His papers and intercom and everything else was discarded on the floor, and in their place was a circle of marbles. Goldwyn had a shooter in front of his poised fingers, and he snapped the shooter toward the marbles. It missed completely, took off over the side of the table, and hit the floor, rolling all the way to Louis' feet.

Goldwyn looked up at his partner and smiled sheepishly. "Oh, 'lo, Louis. I - I was just - I was just - er..."

"Never mind about that, Goldwyn." Louis said. "I'm tired, and I see that the studio hasn't burned down. How has everything gone?"

Goldwyn stood up and placed his hands behind his back. "Well, Louis, it's - it's been - it's been swell. S - sure. Swell."

Louis' eyebrow arched up. "What happened, Goldwyn?" He took a threatening step toward the terrified man.

"Nothing, Louis. Nothing at all."

"What happened?"

"Well -"

"Well?" Rage burned in Louis' eyes, and he took a few more steps toward Goldwyn. Goldwyn retreated to the far wall, and nearly hugged against it.

"Well, Anita Page came by, and I sorta - I sorta -"

"What? What?"

"I sorta gave her the femal lead for your cousin's picture."

"What!?" Louis said. "Why in heaven's sake would you do that? You're going to march right down to her and tell her that you made a mistake."

2/4/2011 #6
J.A. Fletcher

"Oh, but I can't, Louis. I just can't disappoint Miss Page. She won't sign with us again!" Goldwyn replied.

"I don't care." Louis said. "I really don't care what that little girl wants. Just tell her the news."

"Oh, gosh, Louis, I think she'd be swell in the part." Goldwyn replied. "Can't you just tell Jack to find another part for his wife? I mean, there can be two female leads. You know?"

4/7/2011 . Edited 6/8/2011 #7
J.A. Fletcher

Suddenly the door flew open. In it was young Gary Cooper, looking confident as ever.

"Here I am, Mr. Mayer." Cooper said.

"Haven't you ever heard of knocking first?"

"I've heard of it, sure." Cooper said. He strutted toward a seat in front of Mayer's desk, sat down and inspected his fingernails.

"Well then you ought to learn to practice the art." Louis replied. "It might prove to help you."

"What's up, Sammy?" Cooper greeted.

"See that?" Goldwyn whispered to Mayer. "He called me Sammy." This recieved a reproving glare from Mayer, and Goldwyn nervously cleared his throat. "Oh, uh - er, that'll be "Mr. Goldwyn" to you."

"When pigs fly." Cooper said.

6/8/2011 #8
J.A. Fletcher

"Now, Mr. Mayer," Cooper continued, "I heard you got a new picture coming up. About speaks. You gonna give me the part?"

Louis, who was clenching his fists, his face growing red, and gnashing his teeth opened his mouth to say, "When pigs fl-".

Goldwyn pulled him to the corner of the room. "Now, Louis." He said. "You heard about the kid's reputation and you still put him under contract. You don't have anyone to blame but yourself."

"I see how it is, Mr. Mayer." Cooper said. "You think I ain't good enough for the part. Well I'll have you know that I would make the perfect leading man."

6/8/2011 #9
J.A. Fletcher

"Oh, it's not that you're not good enough. It's your attitude that's not good enough."

"Attitude!" Cooper cried out. "I've got the sexiest attitude in Hollywood!"

6/8/2011 #10
J.A. Fletcher

Louis looked at Goldwyn with a "would you believe the audacity of this kid?" look, and Goldwyn returned it with a shrug.

"What? His attitude is pretty sexy."

6/27/2011 #11
J.A. Fletcher

"I don't care how goddamned sexy you may think your attitude is," Louis said, "the casting decisions fall on my cousin, Jack Mayor."

8/1/2011 #12
J.A. Fletcher

"Hm. Never heard of him."

"He is in Boston currently. He was shot while doing research upon the matter of speakeasies."

"Good for him."

8/1/2011 #13
J.A. Fletcher

Goldwyn saw that Louis was getting ready to charge, and he grabbed Louis' arm.

"Careful." Goldwyn whispered. "Don't wanna bruise the talent."

Louis was growing quite red, and he muttered horrible obscenities under his breath.

8/1/2011 #14
J.A. Fletcher

"Look here, Louis boy." Cooper said. "You put me under contract. You know that I'm a damned fine actor. What I want to know is, when are you gonna make me a star?"

8/2/2011 #15

"Oh, I'll tell you who's going to make you a star!" came a cry from the door. Harry Warner opened the door with a Marx's tomfoolery and a sublime disregard for common courtesy. A secretary stood flustered behind him. "I'm sorry, Mr. Mayer, he doesn't have an appoint-"

Harry put a finger over her lips and winked before walking over to Cooper and pumping his hand for a full minute. "Gary, Gary, Gary, my friend, I am a huge fan!"

8/2/2011 #16
J.A. Fletcher

"What is this, Margie?!" Louis shouted at his secretary. "People bursting into my office day? Where were you when this stain came in?" He said, pointing at Cooper.

"Say, pointing's rude-" Cooper interjected, ignoring Harry's strong handshake.

"Shut up!" Louis spun on Goldwyn. "You! You're the cause of all this! You signed him!"

"Because I think he'll do well for the studio!" Goldwyn could match Louis' shouting when he wanted to, and this time, he wanted to. "I'm willing to admit that I may not always be right, but I am never wrong. And signing him was a good decision, by God!"

8/2/2011 #17

Harry released Cooper's hand and grunted. "Oh my. You see this, Gary? This is what some might call a hostile work environment. You're better than this, friend o' mine! So much better."

(Since Harry was a Polish Jew, I might start flavoring his speech with Yiddish phrases. What do you think?)

8/2/2011 #18
J.A. Fletcher

(It's a good idea.)

"Now wait just a minute, you slime!" Goldwyn said. "We signed Cooper! We have a contract!"

"Yes, unfortunately." Louis said.

Cooper said nothing, but a smug grin came over his face and he watched the argument with his arms folded.

8/2/2011 #19

Harry made a production of lighting a cigar and blowing a perfect smoke ring. "Gee fellas, I'm sure sorry. I come in here to see my good friend Gary here, only to find him repressed! Like an Armenian or something! When I walked in here it sure didn't look like a secure contractual environment." he turned to Cooper and offered him a stogie. "What do you think, Gary? Having a good time? Making good pictures? Making good money?"

8/2/2011 #20
J.A. Fletcher

"Well, I was just talking over my first picture with these two clowns here." Cooper said. "But if the Warners were to offer me something more tempting..." He let the sentence trail off and looked toward Goldwyn.

8/2/2011 #21

Harry chuckled warmly, if a bit too long. He put his arm around Cooper's shoulder. "Gary, my friend, we may be Jews, but we know a good bargain when we see one. Come with us and you won't know what hit you. Forget stardom, you'll be a constellation, my friend."

8/2/2011 #22
J.A. Fletcher

Gary was awfully tempted at the offer. Louis approached Harry and put his arm around the mogul's shoulder.

"You're going to be seeing more stars than the ones we have here if you don't leave, Mr. Warner." Louis pulled Harry away from Cooper.

8/2/2011 #23

Harry feigned shock and indignation. "Why, Louis, I'm surprised at you! I'm just here trying to look out for my good friend Mr. Cooper, a great artist, and you assume I'm here to steal him from you! I am shocked, Louis, shocked and hurt!"

8/2/2011 #24
J.A. Fletcher

"I wouldn't mind if you wanted to steal him from me." Louis said. "I wouldn't mind that at all. What I mind is -"

"What we mind," Goldwyn said, pushing Louis away and putting his own arm around Harry, "is a little pipsqueak like you attempting to come in here and strongarm Gary away from us."

8/2/2011 #25

"Strongarm? Strongarm?" Harry gasped? he turned and hit Gary weakly in the chest a few times. "Mr. Cooper, does that feel like a strong arm to you?"

8/2/2011 #26
J.A. Fletcher

"I like Louis." Gary replied facetiously. "He's a tough customer, but that's kind of cute."

Louis stared daggers at Gary.

8/2/2011 #27

"Sure, he's adorable, but can he give you what you want? I doubt it."

8/2/2011 . Edited 8/2/2011 #28
J.A. Fletcher

"Well, Mr. Warner," Cooper said, "We should probably talk about this later."

8/2/2011 #29

"Certainly!" Harry pressed a card into Cooper's hand. "Call me anytime, we'll do lunch."

(I might make the entertainment lawyer working for MGM if this escalates.)

8/2/2011 #30
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