GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shelley Hack

When I was in Michigan visiting in-laws, I would call Kathi Carey, who was my "right hand" and talented actress, writer and director in my organization, to get updates about the goings-on. During one of these phone calls, Kathi tells me that Shelley Hack had called after seeing one of the (Interview) shows on TV and wanted to take me to lunch. My first question was, "Who is Shelley Hack?" This may seem strange coming from someone totally immersed in making films and television shows but her name hadn't registered with me though she starred in the series Jake and Mike and had made a big splash in the Charlie's Angels series not to mention her great walk-on in Woody Allen's Annie Hall. I asked Kathi to set up a lunch at Musso & Frank--a favorite restaurant of mine--on a day following my return to Los Angeles.

I forget now which segment Shelley had seen but as we enjoyed our lunch together, she wanted to talk about the show and the possibility of using the underlying story as the basis for a movie that would cast her in the lead. Like many who had seen the show on cable TV, she was buzzed by the story and the unusual manner in which it was presented in the context of a fictional interview. When it became obvious that we were both interested in the idea of developing the story into a vehicle for her, she arranged for us to meet after lunch with her manager to move the idea forward.

Our lunch conversation turned to the workings of the film business in general and I trotted out a few bits of advice I would give to actors as they would join the repertory company. The most important of these was that an actor's viability relied upon the number of film directors who are aware of the actor's signature, on-screen skills (not thinking to use the word brand in those days) and had witnessed his or her performances. I thought of this as basic Marketing 101 given that it is a director who decides who gets cast into a film--the casting director makes recommendations after filtering out most of the candidates. In the end, it is the director's prerogative. For lead roles where 'bankability' enters into it, add the category of producer. It was the first time Shelley had given consideration to this and wanted to hear more and I was happy to tell her. Before leaving Musso's, Shelley wanted to know what my terms were for the sale of my (Interview) stories. When I told her, quoting a ballpark price and credits, she laughed good-naturedly saying I reminded her of someone.

After lunch, we drove separately to the office of Shelley's manager's on Sunset Boulevard near Doheny. Shelley was there when I arrived and he understood why I had been invited. We spoke of the story and how it could be presented discussing the project's potential as a film or TV movie. It was a good meeting and it was obvious to him--and to me--that Shelley was excited about moving the project along. As the conversation wound down, however, the manager said something to the effect that, in the final analysis, they could proceed on the project without me by changing a few of the story elements. I suddenly saw him in a new light and wanted nothing more to do with him. It might have been my imagination, but I sensed that Shelley was embarrassed by the remark.

I left his office thinking that it isn't often that one meets the best and the worst the industry has to offer in the same day.


Mike Gulett said...


That is the kind of unsavory situation that those of us outside of Hollywood think happens on a regular basis.

This is something that does occur frequently in the technology business where I have spent my adult life.

It keeps the patent lawyers and litigation lawyers busy.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mister Mitchell. I am a French fan of Shelley Hack. I thank you for having told on your blog your meeting with Shelley. We dream all of a return of Shelley about the screen. It is a pity there will not be in succession to the project. I allows me to put the link on my facebook page " Shelley Hack fan page " for which I had had the consent of Shelley.
Good continuation.
Sébastien MARTIN

Stephen Mitchell said...

Merci, Sébastien, avec plaisir. Je vous en prie !