Hollywood Hack

The cameras were rolling, the actors were ready, the director was sweating, and the producer was a nervous wreck. The studio’s planned summer blockbuster, “Brash Bags the Bad Boys…Again”, was behind schedule, over budget, and the company was fending off a looming writers’ strike.


Emergency vehicle lights are flashing. The beautiful Honey Muffin, in full police garb, leans over a man lying on the sidewalk. Brash Bradford approaches.


Brash! I’m sorry. He’s gone. The drug dealers killed him.


They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!


The director, Quentin T. Ford, leaped out of his chair.

“Rocky! What the hell was that ‘They’ll never take our freedom’ bullshit?!”

Director Ford was used to fumbled lines by his movie stars, cast more for their good looks than their mental prowess, or in the case of the women, with other “talents” also being considered. Rocky Stoner was added to the studio’s stable of box office wonders because of his 6’2’’ muscular frame and stunning good looks. Ford settled on Bunny “Bosoms” Hopper, the woman who was so top-heavy that even loose-fitting blouses looked tight on her, for the role of Honey Muffin after he wore out three sets of cushions on his casting couch during the interview process. But the line just uttered by Rocky wasn’t even close to anything in the script…or so he thought.

“What do you mean, Quentin? That’s my line right after she tells me my partner has bit the big one.”

Standing off to the side of the set, Patrick Penner could hardly contain his glee. Patrick was not only the head writer for “Brash Bags the Bad Boys…Again”, he was also the President of the Writers Guild. Patrick had been locked in frustrating negotiations with the studio talking heads for months without a hint of progress. Other Union leaders had suggested a “work slow down” or rampant cases of the “Blue Flu” to get the attention of the big studio bosses, but Patrick came up with the winner- a bit of mischief in their script writing. He figured messing with the film’s production in its final stages would have the greatest impact, and depending on the degree of creativity involved in their chicanery, it could provide a few laughs. Competing versions of the script infiltrated the production and infuriated poor Quentin and the movie’s producer.

“Let’s run it again, but with the right lines. Patrick, you got this squared away?”

“Yes, sir.”


Brash! I’m sorry. He’s gone. The drug dealers killed him.


 Mercutio slain!

“Cut! God dammit! Cut! Cut! Cut!”


Patrick was meeting one-on-one with Farnsworth Fark, the balding, pudgy producer who, despite his diminutive stature had a knack for looking down on everyone he met. Fark, sole heir to the Fark Funerals franchise fortune, sat behind the biggest desk in the history of desks, puffing smoke from his cigar like an old steam engine. The guy was so obnoxious that even his friends didn’t like him.

“Sorry, Patrick, that’s the best we can do. All our costs are up. The offer is fair. You’re lucky to have a job. Writers are a dime a dozen.”

“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me. You’re paying Pretty Boy Rocky and ditzy Miss Boobies millions. Just give us some of the crumbs.”

Patrick trod carefully when he approached the problems they’d been having on the set.

 “You know, we’ve had some miscues with the dialogue in some of the scenes. A little more money coming our way might improve quality control.”

“That has to be our final offer. You guys aren’t going on strike are you?”

“Wouldn’t think of it.”


“Ok, Bosoms, now remember to look frightened, very frightened. The scene starts with you tied to the post in the abandoned warehouse and the drug dealers threatening to kill you.”

“Warehouse? I thought it was a whorehouse.”

“Bosoms! It’s a warehouse! Why would the drug dealers take you to a whorehouse?!”

“You don’t have to yell, Quent.”

“I wasn’t yelling. Ok, boys, tie her up.”

A couple of the stagehands begin to tie Bosoms to the post.

“Uh, Mr. Ford, we have a little problem.”

“What now?”

“I don’t think we have enough rope to wrap it all the way around… Bosoms’ bosoms.”

“Jesus Christ! Then wrap it under… Bosoms’ bosoms.”


Honey Muffin is tied to a support beam. Three men are around her. One man has a gun in one hand and a cell phone in the other.


 Alright, sister, we’re going to let you talk to that nosey partner of yours. If he doesn’t back off,  it’s curtains for you. And any funny business, I’ll let you have it.


 Brash will come for me, and then you’ll be sorry.


 Yeah, right, there’s no way he’d ever find this place.

A loud crash is heard, the door flies open, and Brash Bradford charges into the room.




 Brash! Are you happy to see me or is that a pencil in your pocket?

“Cut! What the hell was that, Bosoms?! A pencil in his pocket? Could you just once get your freaking lines right?”

Bosoms starts to cry.

“You’re yelling at me again!”

More crying.

“I’m sorry sweet…I mean Bosoms. I don’t mean to yell. It’s just that these scenes keep getting screwed up, and we’re on the clock!”

Patrick could hardly keep from laughing. Aside from any consideration of contract negotiations, he was having such a good time inserting famous movie lines into the script and then hearing the words come out during filming. For a moment, he thought he might change gears and do a little comedy writing.


Patrick and his cohorts continued to surreptitiously slip fake pages into the copies of the script used by Rocky and Bosoms, and owing in large measure to their limited ability to understand the logical flow of the scenes, chaos continued to rain down on Quentin’s film. The director was growing suspicious.

“Patrick, I know Rocky and Bosoms aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed, but their screwups are reaching epic proportions. Do you have any ideas about what’s going on?”


“And then after the ruined scenes, their copies of the script mysteriously disappear.”

“That’s odd.”


“When I give you the signal, Bosoms, you get out of the shipping container on the ship’s deck, go below, and signal Brash with your flashlight. Brash, then you give the order to your men to board the ship to start the raid.”

“Should I wait until I’m ready to give Rocky the signal before I turn my flashlight on?”

“Yes, Bosoms, you wait.”


Brash and a number of police officers stand on the pier near the gangplank. A light shines out of a porthole.


But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Quentin dropped his head, and spoke quietly, almost in defeat.



“Patrick, I’m beginning to think someone is out to sabotage our production.”

“Who would do such a thing, Quentin?”

“Do you trust all the writers on your staff?”

“With my life, sir. I just think it’s human error. I mean, look who we’re dealing with…Rocky and Bosoms. If you combined their IQ’s, they’d still be a few cows short of a herd.”

“You might have a point there.”


Without a settlement on contract negotiations, production stumbled along, and Quentin’s patience continued to wear thin. Patrick watched old movies in search of memorable lines that would be funny to him but irritating to the director when slipped into the script at just the right moment.



Brash! They’re in the back room. There are five of them, but we’ll have the element of surprise.  


 So, you’re telling me there’s a chance.

Quentin raised his hand to his forehead.



“That’s what I’m hearing, Patrick. That jackass Fark might buy the entire studio.”

“Oh, my God, Quentin, that would be a disaster. The guy is an arrogant goof.”

“Tell me about it. And the word is he’d do everything on the cheap. We may both be looking for jobs.”


Patrick continued his mischief by night, and the filming struggled by day. He was getting a greater sense of satisfaction from his editing pranks than from his original work.


Sporadic gunfire. Brash and Honey are crouched behind shipping crates.


 Give it up, Brash. You and the dame don’t have a chance.


You and your boys are gonna’ be pushin’ up daisies when this is over.


Let ‘em have it boys!

Barage of gunfire.


Brash! I’m hit!


 Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.

“Cut! Jesus Christ, Rocky, she’s been your partner for five freaking movies. How could you possibly think you wouldn’t give a damn if she got shot?!”

“I say ‘em the way I reads em’, Quentin.”

“Oh, my God.”

Quentin’s suspicions grew. He glanced to the side of the set and saw Patrick quickly turn his head away.


“Your directing sucks. I knew I should have gone with my instincts and fired you the first day of filming. If it weren’t for my ideas, this movie would bomb.”

“Mr. Fark, sir, I think it’s going pretty well. I…”

“I don’t want to hear it, Ford. Here’s a list of my latest changes to save this thing. Put them in right away.”

“Uh, yes sir.”

“And I don’t want any more screwups on the lines. One more time, and I will fire you.”


Patrick knew trouble was headed his way when Quentin joined him at his table in the studio cafeteria.

“Look, Patrick, if you are monkeying around with the scripts, you are going to be in some deep doo-doo. Fark is about to go through the roof. He says he’ll lose millions if this thing isn’t wrapped up on time.”

“Sounds like we could be out of jobs anyway.”

“Maybe, maybe not. But if the shit hits the fan, I’m not taking the fall. I’ll have to throw you under the bus. If it is you, and I’m beginning to think it is, you’ve got to knock it off. Is that clear?”

“Very clear.”


“Bosoms, how about dinner at Maxie’s tonight?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, Quent, Mr. Fark wants to meet with me tonight to talk about a couple of new parts he might have for me.”

“What?! Fark?!”

“Yes, he’s a very nice man. He says he can really help my career.”

“Uh, are you two going out to dinner?”

“No, he says it would be better if we got together at his place. It’s on the ocean, you know.”

Quentin dropped his head, harboring even greater hostility for Fark than he had just moments ago.


The crew was preparing for the shot when the angry-looking director arrived on set. His expression turned even darker when Bosoms walked by without making eye contact.

“God dammit, Patrick, that son-of-a-bitch Fark is banging Bosoms!”


“Yeah, and there’s an unwritten code that says a guy isn’t supposed to be hittin’ someone else’s stuff!”

Patrick had a mom, two sisters, and a fiancée, so he wasn’t comfortable with the terminology, but he figured Quentin was too old for a cultural readjustment.

“That’s terrible, Quentin. I always thought it was a rule. Yeah, for sure, no guy should ever be hittin’ another guy’s stuff. Poor form.”

“That’s for sure. Ok, let’s get rolling.”


Brash and Honey stand in front of five men in handcuffs. Several police cars with flashing lights.


 I suppose you think you’re some kind of big hero now, Brash.


You got us, but Mr. Big got away. What do have to say about that, flatfoot?


 I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Quentin immediately flashed an angry look at Patrick. This time Patrick didn’t look away; he stared at Quentin with a wry smile. To his surprise, the hint of a smile slowly appeared on Quentin’s face.

The beleaguered director turned and studied the scene before him. His eyes settled on Bosoms, but his mind was focused on the image of Fark sitting behind his big desk, that disgusting cigar hanging out of his mouth, demeaning his work and issuing mindless edicts for changes to his movie. Quentin leaped to his feet and shouted in a voice louder than any command he had ever given from his director’s chair.


The entire cast and crew stood in shock. Patrick’s smile went from wry to Cheshire Cat.

“Uh, I don’t think you can do that, Quentin. You can’t uncut a cut.”

“I sure as hell can, Rocky. I’m the director. I can do whatever I want. Uncut it. Put it back in. I want it in the final cut. ”


To commemorate the last moments of their careers in the film industry, Patrick and Quentin slowly walked down the sidewalk in search of an establishment serving adult beverages. Patrick put his hand on Quentin’s shoulder.

“Quentin, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

And they disappeared into the cold night air.

July 18, 2023 03:14

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Ty Warmbrodt
14:33 Jul 23, 2023

Fabulous job, Mr. Burns. You kept me smiling the whole way through. The names of your characters were genius in their simplicity and added to the humor. An enjoyable, relevant read.


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Rachel Lione
04:50 Jul 23, 2023

I disagreewith Delbert Griffith! I feel the relevancy with the given situation with the studios at present made your piece lack creativity and the use of your imagination. I'm posting this on everyone that didn't start with "Cut!" not to be mean...I almost didn't see it either...


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Ben LeBlanc
23:36 Jul 22, 2023

This was pretty funny, I must say. You have a knack for dialogue, but I think the wording and plot development was a bit muddy at times. It took me a couple rereads to realize why the writer wanted to slip in fake scripts. Also, if you were going for superficial, stereotypical characters, I guess you did a good job, but I think the story could've benefited from more grounded, fleshed-out characters. The same goes for the writing overall: just enough to get the point, but not enough to make it really stick in the mind or paint a picture. Over...


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Delbert Griffith
13:43 Jul 21, 2023

This was a terrific tale, Murray. Full of laughs and also quite relevant, given the situation in the studios at present. You did a fine job with teasing out the resolution, provided by the director finally getting on board. The classic movie lines were a hoot! Dude, those were stellar! Thematically, the tale holds together admirably, and the continuity is superb. Nicely done, my friend. Nicely done indeed. Cheers!


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Bruce Friedman
15:01 Jul 19, 2023

Clever idea of embedding your story into a movie script format. Also so relevant in the light of the screenwriter's current strike. Write on!


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Mary Bendickson
12:21 Jul 18, 2023

Serious hanky-panky afoot. Thanks for liking my mayhem.


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