“This is going to be huge.”
That’s how the Big Star sold the Big Joke to his buddies. They were aware of his penchant for hyperbole; only a fool would take his remarks at face value. Yet the more he talked, the more they believed him. If everything lined up and they pulled this thing off, it would be the best prank of the year.
No doubt the producer was asking for it. They all hated that fucking gold shirt. They knew where he’d bought it, that odious men’s store on Rodeo Drive. They also knew it wasn’t a gift from his wife, as he so loudly proclaimed, but a girlfriend. (No one could keep track of all his mistresses, not even his wife.) He wore the damned thing everywhere: to the club, the golf course, even charity events. It embarrassed everyone! In an industry known for questionable decisions, that shirt scraped the bottom of the barrel.
The star had finally had enough. He’d been arm-twisted into posing for a selfie with the producer in that awful gold silk shirt, and the photo had ended up on the Internet and in certain trade mags. Well, that did it. There was going to be hell to pay, and the bill would come due on April Fool’s.
The producer knew better than to yank the star’s chain too hard. The star had a reputation for getting even. Once, he had put a marijuana sticker on the back of another actor’s car. It read: FUCK COPS. Another time, he replaced an entire package of a colleague’s favorite snack with toothpaste-filled Oreos. He had rewritten the rules on pranks, some of which had found their way into the media. This silk shirt, however, required a more radical response.
He organized a team of his favorite co-stars for a sit-down at the Beverly Hilton. They gathered for drinks in the saloon, their bodyguards fending off paparazzi and gawking tourists. The star led the meeting. He might as well have shown them a fucking PowerPoint.
After several hours’ discussion and planning, the cabal broke up, having invested inordinate amounts of money in each stage of the prank. The star was well-pleased, so much that he hired a couple of hookers to entertain him for the rest of the night. He looked forward to pulling off his latest creation.
Thing is, it would take time – almost a year. Everything had to go off without a hitch. The plan involved a break-in, a theft, and plenty of subterfuge. He and his friends had to hire the right people, train them, and pay them sufficiently to keep their mouths shut. This was no rush job; by April 1st, all the pieces had to be in place.
As with any sensitive project, there were the inevitable hiccups. For one thing, the target of the prank had to be located; this involved a little help from the producer’s wife, who instantly swore herself to secrecy. As the scope of the project grew, the star ended up signing his co-conspirators to Nondisclosure Agreements. In keeping with everything else in Hollywood, you couldn’t take a shit without a lawyer. You certainly couldn’t organize a gag of this magnitude without running the risk of someone flapping their gums over martinis at Russo & Frank. This ran up the price tag somewhat, but the more they saw that silk shirt, the more they wanted to get their point across. The producer was by now thumbing his nose at them.
On the appointed date, a black-clad individual with a small-ball prison record invaded the producer’s Malibu home with an assist from a team of hackers working from a remote location. They used their skills to shut down the producer’s anti-theft system, enabling the ground-man to successfully burgle the compound. The star, of course, was thousands of miles away, on a film set. The producer was at the 21 Club in New York, sipping bourbon with a bunch of Wall Street guys. As it turned out, the job was a piece of cake.
Weeks later, the producer discovered his shirt missing. “Gladys,” he complained to his long-suffering wife, “you seen my favorite gold shirt? The one I got at Rossini?”
“You mean the one everyone hates? That gold shirt?”
“Yes, Gladys, that one. By the way, not everyone hates my shirt. I get a lot of compliments on it.”
“Oh, do you? That isn’t what I hear.”
“What do you hear?”
“I hear you got bad taste! You know how humiliating it is for me to know that?”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I should take that shirt to the Goodwill.”
“You keep your damn hands off my shirt. It’s silk, Gladys, silk!”
“Oh, well, excuse me!”
He bitched for the rest of the day, tossing his wardrobe in an effort to find his shirt. Miserable, he retired to his private saloon, taking solace in a bottle of booze.
Meanwhile, the star and his pals were completing their mission, which came to fruition a few days later. The producer received a gift-wrapped package at his office. Frowning, he tore it open, to find inside his silk shirt.
“What?!” he cried, unfurling his shirt in front of his secretary. Aside from a few wrinkles, it looked good as new. This was gratifying, as he’d paid $1,000 for it. He knew the value of a good shirt!
Laughing in relief, he checked the back of the garment for damage. Here, Dear Reader, the producer experienced a moment of shock not unlike the discovery of the horse’s head in The Godfather. Someone had drawn a giant penis on it in black marker, surrounded by the scrawled signatures of about 30 big-time movie stars.
Trembling with shock, the producer noticed a hand-written note in the wrapping paper. He read it, wiping tears from his eyes: “APRIL FOOL’S, YOU BIG DICK! LOVE, THE GUYS.”