The question that people ask most frequently about the Hollywood film-making process is this: What were you thinking? This is followed closely by Why did you do that? and Who would want to see that? and, perhaps most importantly, What the hell were you thinking? To help outsiders understand the complicated dream factory that is Hollywood, we have placed hidden microphones in some of Tinseltown’s most important boardrooms, executive offices, and opium dens, thus making us privy to the details of the origins of some of your favorite filmed entertainments. Here is a transcript of one such discussion.
The Pitch Meeting for ‘The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure’
KENN VISELMAN: Good afternoon, gentlemen. My name is Kenn Viselman. You probably know me best as –
STUDIO EXEC #1: The producer and marketer who brought “Teletubbies” to America!
KENN VISELMAN: Yes, that’s right.
STUDIO EXEC #2: You’re a visionary! That show helped me through some really rough times.
STUDIO EXEC #3: I love “Teletubbies”! I know Tinky Winky was supposed to be the gay one, but I always thought Dipsy was the most physically attractive.
STUDIO EXEC #1: No need to explain your credentials here, Mr. Kenn Viselman. We are all big fans of “Teletubbies.”
STUDIO EXEC #2: Of all the various Tubbies, really, not just Tele-.
KENN VISELMAN: I am flattered, gentlemen.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Please tell us you’re here because you want to make a “Teletubbies” movie.
STUDIO EXEC #1: I can already taste money just from the idea of it! And from the hundred dollar bill I’ve been chewing on since lunch.
KENN VISELMAN: I wish that were the case. For several years, I tried to convince the creator of that series to let me produce a movie version, but she refused.
STUDIO EXEC #2: What?? Why?! Does she hate money??
KENN VISELMAN: She didn’t think it would make for a very good film.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Right. And?
KENN VISELMAN: Well, and … since she didn’t think it would be a very good film, she … didn’t think we should make it…
STUDIO EXEC #3: I don’t understand the connection.
KENN VISELMAN: Because why would you make a movie that you knew wasn’t going to be … you know what, forget it. The point is, we can’t do a “Teletubbies” movie.
STUDIO EXEC #1: I hope you came here with some good news, too, Viselmann. The cocaine I had for lunch is wearing off.
KENN VISELMAN: Don’t worry. Here’s my idea. Let’s make a movie that’s exactly like the “Teletubbies” TV show, but with characters that look slightly different and have different names.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Oh.
STUDIO EXEC #2: My.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Humps.
STUDIO EXEC #1: What?
STUDIO EXEC #3: I thought we were doing something else, sorry.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Correct me if I’m wrong, guys, but this is the best idea we’ve heard this week.
STUDIO EXEC #2: No question.
STUDIO EXEC #3: It’s right up there with the Mister Rogers biopic starring Vin Diesel, and the movie where it’s just going to be a 90-minute single-take shot of a dead possum being eaten by crows.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Ah, yes. “Awesome Possum.”
KENN VISELMAN: I’m glad you like it!
STUDIO EXEC #2: Let me make sure I’m following you here. You’re suggesting a film that’s every bit as pointless, irritating, incomprehensible, and babylike as the “Teletubbies” TV show –
STUDIO EXEC #3: — but without the expense of using the “Teletubbies” name –
STUDIO EXEC #1: — AND we get to charge money to see it?
KENN VISELMAN: That’s about the size of it, yes.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Why didn’t we think of this sooner?
STUDIO EXEC #3: It’s inexcusable that we didn’t think of this sooner.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Fire everyone who didn’t think of this sooner!
STUDIO EXEC #2: What will we call these characters who are Teletubbies but can’t be called Teletubbies?
KENN VISELMAN: Does it matter?
STUDIO EXEC #3: No! No it does not.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Just so we have something to put on the poster, though.
KENN VISELMAN: Can we go with Telletubbies, with two L’s?
STUDIO EXEC #1: We’ll get legal on it, but just in case, what else have you got?
KENN VISELMAN: I don’t know. The Doodyboodies? The Flomm-Flamms? The Squeezkers? The Puffypomps? The Nudgybuffins? The Fuddlymorphs? The Huggggggggggggggalots? Cuddly Cutesypoo and the Adorabumpkins? The Flufflesnugs? The Oogieloves?
STUDIO EXEC #2: Oogieloves! That’s perfect!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Nonsensical, yet vaguely dirty!
STUDIO EXEC #1: I can already hear my preschool-age children screaming it incessantly!
KENN VISELMAN: Ah, the sound of children wanting something that their parents have to buy from me!
STUDIO EXEC #2: Is there anything sweeter?
STUDIO EXEC #3: Now, the Oogieloves themselves will just be no-name actors in giant, horrifying foam heads, right?
KENN VISELMAN: Like mascots at a triple-A baseball game!
STUDIO EXEC #3: So anybody can play those parts. What about the human and humanoid characters they interact with? We’ll need celebrities there, to give the whole thing credibility.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Right. Without recognizable faces, people will think the movie is just a crass marketing tool devised to sell toys to children.
STUDIO EXEC #2: And it’s not just that.
KENN VISELMAN: Not at all! It’s also born of my longstanding deep-seated hatred for parents, and my desire to inflict agony upon them in consequence of their bringing children into this world, a world so wicked and evil that things like “The Oogieloves” exist!
STUDIO EXEC #3: So, what stars can we get to be in it? Who isn’t busy and/or very discriminating?
KENN VISELMAN: Cloris Leachman, obviously.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Sure, sure. We have a contract template with her name on it.
KENN VISELMAN: I’ve also reached out to Cary Elwes, Jaime Pressly, and Chazz Palminteri.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Kids love Chazz Palminteri!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Oh! And I found a grizzled hobo who looks like Christopher Lloyd!
STUDIO EXEC #1: I’ll have to check with legal on this, but I bet we can just say it’s Christopher Lloyd.
KENN VISELMAN: There is also a character in the movie who is a talking vacuum cleaner named J. Edgar who’s in love with a window named Windy.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Ha, ha! Now you’re just pulling our legs! Here, have some more cocaine!