April 2007, COAGULA ART JOURNAL, Issue 85


I have never been treated so rudely in my life. I was in a meeting at Lionsgate Studio, sharing my creativity and insight with a top executive, only to be given the bum's rush by three security guards. If the humiliation of being dragged out of the office, down the hall and through the lobby wasn’t enough, I was also thrown, literally tossed, onto the street.
The indignity began when I read that Lionsgate, a major Hollywood player, had bought the film rights to ‘The Christmas Cottage.’ Not only was opportunity knocking on my Dutch door, it was tinkling the bell.
Hollywood, an insatiable beast, has run out of ideas. It is a lowly art form that is rising to its greatest level of incompetence. While most studios are producing re-remakes and re-re-remakes, Lionsgate proves to be an innovator.
‘The Christmas Cottage’ is a painting by Thomas Kinkade. The ‘Painter of Light’, as he is affectionately known in America’s shopping malls, has composed a warm-hearted tableau featuring a snow-covered cottage nestled in cozy woods. It’s full of snuggles, but short on plot. I knew this could be the big Tinseltown break that I've been waiting for. I started to sketch out my Oscar acceptance speech.

This new development opens a Pandora’s Box in the world of cinema. Why stop with a painting? There are many images and objects that can have a high concept. Sculpture, postcards, oatmeal and traffic signals could also be made into blockbuster entertainment.
I was not sure what Lionsgate had in mind. Why ‘The Christmas Cottage’? Wouldn’t Picasso’s “Guernica’ make a better movie? How about the T&A of any ‘Odalisque’ by Matisse? Given the current trend for Christian entertainment, would not ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Bosch scare a heathen back to God? Who was I to question the superior intellect and creativity of the Hollywood sensibility?

‘The Christmas Cottage’ needed a plot. I knew my ideas would wow ‘em, but it’s hard to get even a Prada shoe into Hollywood’s door. Fortunately, a friend of a friend’s friend knew a call girl who knew the drug dealer of a psychiatrist who was on friendly terms with Moshe Chen, a development executive. After many phone calls and a threat of extracurricular exposure, I was granted an appointment.

I ironed my shirt, brushed my teeth and stopped drinking for several hours prior to the meeting. When I walked into the leather-walled suite of Mr. Chen, I was ready. He was sitting in a wingback throne and did not rise to greet me.
Maintaining an air of creative authority, I barreled into the office with my glad-hand outstretched. Unfortunately, I was too excited to notice the shoeshine boy who was working on Chen’s brogues. I tripped over the lad and landed in the executive’s lap. Moshe shoved me off of him and I sprawled into the shoeshine. Black polish smeared my white shirt like a Franz Kline painting.
I hate those awkward moments.
All you can do is smile wanly, nod and comment on the beautiful weather we have been having.

Once order had been restored, Chen cut to the chase. “Why are you here?”
“Well, I’m a painter and an arts writer, and…”
“I’m sorry for your troubles”, he interrupted, “But why are you here?”
“I think I have some plot ideas for your Kinkade epic,” I stammered. “I think I have some good concepts that…”
“Do you get paid for your ideas?” he challenged.
“Well, no…” I shrugged weakly. Then I fired back boldly, “But I’ve got matzo!”
“It’s chutzpa.”
Moshe Chen buried his face in his hand and muttered, “Yeah. Oy.”

The only sound in the room came from the shoeshine boy who was packing the tools of his trade. The executive looked at his watch with despair. It would be another five minutes before his secretary would buzz in and rescue him from the meeting with the facile excuse of an urgent call.
Resigned, Moshe eyed me through laced fingers and said, “OK. Wow me.”

Hollywood reveres enthusiasm. Passion for the project is far more valuable than the idea. Only (blind) fever produces film. If you want a greenlight, you better be prepared to lie on the train tracks.
I kind of crouched down, feigning a wrestling move. I clapped my hands to ‘up’ the tempo. “OK!” I began. “John Throttlegate, patriarch of the large and loving Throttlegate clan, dies of an apparent heart attack at the Thanksgiving dinner table…”
“It’s a Christmas Cottage!” thundered Chen.
“I know. I’m not there yet,” I replied. “The death of the old man, who didn’t leave a will, sets off an inter-family squabble to gain control of the Christmas cottage, a family vacation property which has appreciated considerably in the over-heated real estate market. This family drama…””
“No!” interrupted the executive.
“Uh, screwball comedy?”
“Little Mary has polio. It’s a real tear-jerk---“
“No!” Chen kept one hand over his face and slapped his desk with the other. “No!”

I danced back, like a prizefighter. I was enthusiastic, passionate. “New idea!” I lowered my voice into a treble of impending evil, “Deep, deep in the dark woods, where---“
I skipped to the side like a song and dance man. “New idea! Fresh from the Iraq invasion, ex-Navy Seal Bo Hardware, now an unrepentant alcoho---“
Moshe Chen shouted “No!” but it sounded more like a wail. I interpreted this to mean that he was starting to come around.
The shoeshine technician looked up and said, “What if Bo Hardware helps Lil’ Mary wit her polio and…”
I ignored the suggestion and turned to the executive. I had to give it my best shot. “OK! How about a teen sex comedy? We can re-title the picture ‘The Christmas Frottage.’
Chen, who had placed his head on the table, sat up and said to me, “Do you really think that we would take any of your ideas for something as sweet and marketable as ‘The Christmas Cottage’? Good God man, where is your head at?”
“The lowest common denominator,” I replied.

That must have been the breaking point. Moshe punched a button on his telephone console and barked, “Get me security.”
“Wait a minute!” I demanded, “You haven’t heard the musical dance idea. It’s…”
“Security!” he cried into the receiver.
“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa,” I said, trying to save the moment. “I’ve got an oil painting I haven't sold yet, 24 inches by 36. It'd make a great movie! The frame on it is incredible, very tasteful!”
Moshe was pushing the button repeatedly, “Security. Hello?” The phone was lighting up and beeping. “Hello? Get me security.”
I was persistent because persistence equals passion. “Mr. Chen, Moshe, my pal. Wait a minute. How about a watercolor? It would make a touching and vibrant TV mini-series -- Wait! Wait! A doodle! I’ve got a pen and ink on a bar napkin that could be a helluva sitcom!”
The shoeshine man, turning to me, said, “I’d like to see that!”
“Call the cops!” Chen was frantic. “Where in the hell is security!”
Just then, three uniformed guards burst into the room. The first through the door stumbled and fell to the floor. The other two tripped and landed on top of him. All three quickly popped upright onto their steel-toed boots.
Within seconds, they were on me.

GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary works can be found at