It’s time once again to take you behind the scenes at the sausage factory, where the “sausage” is movies, and the “factory” is a studio executive’s conference room somewhere in Los Angeles, and the “pork” being ground into “sausage” is the hopes and dreams of young actors and writers. Our subject today is “Killers,” an action comedy, due June 4, in which Katherine Heigl learns the man she has married, played by Ashton Kutcher, is a spy, and the target of assassination.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Good afternoon, gentlemen. My name is Robert Luketic, and I am a Hollywood director of some renown.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Indeed you are, sir! Your name is synonymous with quality entertainment!
STUDIO EXEC #2: You directed “The Ugly Truth,” starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler, a film that was robbed not just at the Oscars but at the Nobel Prizes!
STUDIO EXEC #3: You also directed “Monster-in-Law,” starring Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, a film so exhilarating that people were snorting frames from it to get high!
STUDIO EXEC #1: You also directed “21,” which was about counting cards in Las Vegas! I think! I didn’t see it. But everything I’ve heard leads me to believe it’s the greatest cinematic achievement in the history of man.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Thank you, you’re all too kind. I’ve got a new screenplay here that is going to knock your socks off, maybe literally.
STUDIO EXEC #2: I took the precaution of not wearing socks today.
ROBERT LUKETIC: That is wise. For here is the premise: A woman meets the man of her dreams, marries him, and then discovers he is a retired spy and many people are trying to kill him.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Sweet fancy magoo!
STUDIO EXEC #1: It’s brilliant!
STUDIO EXEC #2: By the gods, what marvels hast thou wrought??
STUDIO EXEC #3: It will be the most thrilling action film this studio has produced since the last time it produced a movie about someone who was secretly a spy, which is to say, since January.
ROBERT LUKETIC: I’m glad you agree. But I have not yet told you the best part.
STUDIO EXEC #1: It will be in 3-D??
STUDIO EXEC #2: It will star Betty White??
STUDIO EXEC #3: It will have giant alien robots that turn into cars??
ROBERT LUKETIC: No, even better. It’s not a thriller. It’s a COMEDY.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Sweet Hitler’s handbag!
STUDIO EXEC #2: It’s brilliant!
STUDIO EXEC #3: May thy name be praised forever!
ROBERT LUKETIC: The screenplay used to be an action thriller, and it was perfect, but I decided it needed some jokes, so I had a guy rewrite it completely.
STUDIO EXEC #1: We’ve found the best thing to do with something that is perfect is to alter it to the point that it is unrecognizable.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Quite so. Now, for the female lead, I was thinking we’d get someone who is beloved by all moviegoers, male and female alike. I was thinking Katherine Heigl.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Yes! Women do not find her shrill or annoying at all! And men likewise do not find her cold and off-putting!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Those are definitely opinions that people do not have of Katherine Heigl!
STUDIO EXEC #1: Just look at all the films she’s been in that have made more than $100 million! For example, “Knocked Up”!
STUDIO EXEC #2: And that is the end of the examples!
STUDIO EXEC #3: She’s money in the bank! Let us give you $70 million to make your movie!
ROBERT LUKETIC: I will gladly accept that ridiculous sum of money once I have finished explaining more about why I am a genius.
STUDIO EXEC #1: (to intercom) Matthew, please push back our next appointment so that we can spend more time listening to the director of “The Ugly Truth” tell us why we should give him $70 million to make something else with Katherine Heigl.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Thank you, I appreciate that.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Eh, don’t worry about it. It’s only Scorsese.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Psh. Whatever. How many of HIS movies have had Katherine Heigl??
STUDIO EXEC #1: Exactly.
STUDIO EXEC #2: So you were saying?
ROBERT LUKETIC: Ah, yes. Heigl’s character will be an ordinary woman, which is to say she’ll be flustered when she encounters an attractive man, and she’ll be a little ditzy, and she’ll have no idea how to hold a gun when the time comes.
STUDIO EXEC #3: I like it. I think the film should include no fewer than 200 instances of her screaming comically, and that all of those instances should be featured in the trailer.
STUDIO EXEC #1: And when she bumbles something, I bet her husband goes, “Oh, brother! Here we go again!”
ROBERT LUKETIC: Even better. He says, “It’s gonna be a long day!”
STUDIO EXEC #2: Brilliantly funny!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Funnily brilliant!
STUDIO EXEC #1: Who did you get to write the script? The reanimated corpse of Mark Twain??
ROBERT LUKETIC: I take that question to be rhetorical.
STUDIO EXEC #1: It was not.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Uh, no, the reanimated corpse of Mark Twain was not involved with this screenplay.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Is it too late to get him for rewrites?
STUDIO EXEC #2: I’ll look into it!
STUDIO EXEC #3: (to intercom) Matthew, please get our necromancer on the phone.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Now, obviously Katherine Heigl alone is beloved enough, with her charming personality and pleasant demeanor, to make this film a huge hit. But who will play her spy husband?
STUDIO EXEC #2: It should also be someone that men like.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Well, Ashton Kutcher, obviously.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Obviously!
STUDIO EXEC #1: Men don’t find him at all grating, imbecilic, or over-exposed!
STUDIO EXEC #2: They do not indeed!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Just look at all the movies he’s been in that have made more than $100 million! For example, “Valentine’s Day”!
STUDIO EXEC #1: And that is the end of the examples!
STUDIO EXEC #2: And when we are having this conversation, in what must be late 2008 or so, that movie does not yet exist!
STUDIO EXEC #3: In the future, he’s money in the bank!
ROBERT LUKETIC: It probably goes without saying that Ashton Kutcher will frequently be shirtless in the movie, and especially in the trailer.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Of course. It’s best to draw attention away from things like story and screenplay and toward things like pecs and nipples.
ROBERT LUKETIC: Just like Shakespeare used to say.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Who?