GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Connie Sellecca

When David Permut got involved with me and my Stevie Williams (Interview) story, we looked about for an actress who might play the lead role. A production company interested in the project put forward the name of a female rock & roll singer who would have given a sharp edge to the character of Stevie as a feature film. Unfortunately, her first film was released during these talks and it wasn't doing well. Her name fell off the list and thus a Hollywood lesson was learned.

Other names were considered but the only one I can recall was Jennifer Aniston. Whether the project was ever submitted to her or received a decline I couldn't say. What did happen is that we got excited about a particular actress whose beauty and vulnerability combined with her popularity amongst television audiences made her a perfect candidate to play Stevie Williams as a movie for TV. David sent a cassette of the Stevie Williams interview to Connie Sellecca in the hopes that it would interest her. It did.

Upon their first viewing of the show, both Connie and Chuck Binder (Connie's representative) thought that Stevie Williams was a real person with a true story. David set them straight explaining that it was an original story told in an unusual format--a fictional, Charlie Rose-style interview. A meeting was arranged and David and I met with Connie and Chuck to discuss the project and how it might be presented. The role went against Connie's established brand but in such a way as to expand her definition rather than subvert it. We all seemed to agree that Connie would be perfect in the part and it was difficult to imagine that anyone could disagree.

In the coming weeks, the project was presented with Connie attached in the title role. During that period, an odd phenomenon began to manifest. I would run into Connie almost everywhere I went. Whether it was at 'dog park' up on Mulholland above Laurel Canyon where I would run my black Afghan hound, in a store shopping or pulling alongside her at a traffic light, it seemed that fate was steering us in the same direction. I began to wonder if destiny was pulling the strings and if our project would benefit from whatever was directing these encounters.

One day, I get a call from David Permut. We have a meeting regarding Stevie Williams with ABC who had a special interest in Connie Sellecca. When David and I arrived at the appointed hour, Connie was already in chambers with the executive in question. Perhaps they had other business or maybe Connie was setting up our pitch. In any case, an assistant came to beckon us to the inner sanctum. There we had a very enjoyable meeting with Connie, the executive and her assistant. Before we got to the Stevie Williams story, the executive wanted to know more about (Interview) and how it had come about. She was particularly interested to hear about the call I'd received from Marlon Brando about the show a few weeks earlier.

The meeting ended with good feelings and an expectation that the project would be taken on by ABC. Alas, it never happened. The reason given was that they only wanted true stories. My thought was that Stevie's story was as true as anything we'll ever see on television--including the six o'clock news--and that so-called "true stories" that are the basis for so many TV movies and feature films have been so re-worked and homogenized that they must be labeled "Based on a true story", which in the English language means fiction.

Though the Stevie Williams story was ultimately picked up by Rob Cohen for Taft-Barish Entertainment, I wonder if Shakespeare ever ran into this problem to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature.


Roy MM said...

Is this based on a true story?;-)

I loved "hotel" as a kid, and she might have been a "tiny" reason for it.

Stephen Mitchell said...

The whole truth and nothing but the truth! :)

Yes, she brought viewers!