Time now for another round of a game we like to call “How Did That Ever Get Made, Who Thought It Was a Good Idea, and What Were They Thinking?” It’s an unwieldy title, but it gets right to the heart of the matter. To play HDTEGMWTIWAGIAWWTT, we plant listening devices in the executive boardrooms of major Hollywood studios, then write down the things that we hear the people say, in a process known as “transcribing.” Join us now as we yank Hollywood’s pants down and show everybody its business!
The Pitch Meeting for ‘R.I.P.D.’
STUDIO EXEC #1: Listen, fellas. I’m just gonna say it. I want out. I’m tired of the business. I don’t want to work here anymore.
STUDIO EXEC #2: I hear you, man. The three-hour workdays, the constant parties, the unending stream of cocaine flowing through my blood at all times — it’s too much.
STUDIO EXEC #3: I’m with you guys. I thought I had what it takes to be a studio executive, but I don’t. I’m not cut out for it! I don’t enjoy sleeping with starlets!
STUDIO EXEC #1: All the celebrity butts we have to kiss!
STUDIO EXEC #2: All the pandering to the audience!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Good grief, the pandering!
STUDIO EXEC #2: I can’t remember the last time I said something out loud that was actually true.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Let’s make a pact. Let’s get fired. All three of us.
STUDIO EXEC #2: I’m in.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Me too.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Next pitch we hear, no matter what it is, we greenlight it, we make it a disaster, and we get out.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Let’s do it.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Nameless secretary, send in whoever looks like they have the worst idea.
(Sound of someone entering, greetings exchanged, complimentary cocaine offered)
YOUNG PRODUCER: Gentlemen! Hello! Thanks for seeing me. I’ve got something I know you’ll love!
STUDIO EXEC #1: I can’t promise we’ll love it, but I can promise we’ll spend a hundred million dollars on it.
YOUNG PRODUCER: Terrific! It’s based on a comic book…
STUDIO EXEC #2: A promising start!
STUDIO EXEC #3: I thought we called them graphic novels now.
STUDIO EXEC #1: I still call them “the funny papers”!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Is it Archie & Jughead??
YOUNG PRODUCER: It’s about a police officer who gets killed–
STUDIO EXEC #2: Two weeks before retirement? Sold!
YOUNG PRODUCER: No, he’s young, but he gets killed and has to join the undead police force, arresting souls that died but somehow escaped eternal judgment and are hiding on earth.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Wait, so he’s going around busting ghosts?
STUDIO EXEC #3: Like some kind of “ghost-buster,” if you will?
YOUNG PRODUCER: Sort of. Only we won’t explain it very well or really lay out how this world works. And he has a grumpy old partner who’s been doing this a long time and shows him the ropes.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Ugh, I’m so tired of movies where two cops are assigned to work together who have totally compatible personalities and attitudes and get along nicely.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Me too. Please tell me you’re trying something different.
YOUNG PRODUCER: What if I told you the young dead cop and older dead cop disagree about a lot of things?
STUDIO EXEC #1: I would pee myself, that’s what!
YOUNG PRODUCER: Well, batten down the hatches, because that’s exactly what happens! They argue, they bicker, they have different viewpoints, they butt heads.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Brilliant!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Like some kind of “odd couple,” as it were.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Now, I’m all for shaking up the formula, but if the two cops don’t like each other, won’t it be hard for the audience to like them?
YOUNG PRODUCER: I thought of that! So get this, over the course of the movie, they gradually … come to like each other.
STUDIO EXEC #2: This is perfect.
STUDIO EXEC #3: This is literally a perfect movie.
STUDIO EXEC #1: I thought “Good Burger” was a perfect movie, but “Good Burger” was “Cop and a Half” compared to this.
YOUNG PRODUCER: You guys really like it?
STUDIO EXEC #2: It’s exactly what we’re looking for.
YOUNG PRODUCER: Awesome! So the two dead cops have to thwart a plan to let the dead take over the world, and along the way they barge around the city eliminating the misbehaving ghosts.
STUDIO EXEC #1: How do they kill them when they’re already dead?
YOUNG PRODUCER: Eh, laser gun or something.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Got it.
STUDIO EXEC #2: It sounds a lot like “Men in Black,” doesn’t it?
STUDIO EXEC #1: Not that that’s a problem!
STUDIO EXEC #1: No, of course! I’m just making an observation.
STUDIO EXEC #3: The marketing department always likes to know ahead of time which movies we’re ripping off so they can plan strategies that will remind people of those movies.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Unless we’re ripping off a movie nobody liked! Then the marketing department prefers to hide the similarities.
STUDIO EXEC #2: It’s all very complicated.
STUDIO EXEC #3: It would take a scientist to explain.
YOUNG PRODUCER: It is like “Men in Black,” but with one crucial difference: “Men in Black” had bankable stars who could open a movie.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Who do you have lined up for this?
YOUNG PRODUCER: Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges!
STUDIO EXEC #3: Green Lantern and Preston Tucker??
STUDIO EXEC #2: Van Wilder and The Dude??
STUDIO EXEC #1: The guy from “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” and Lightfoot from “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot”??
YOUNG PRODUCER: The very same. There’s just one teensy problem with Jeff Bridges. And maybe it won’t even be a problem.
STUDIO EXEC #1: What is it?
YOUNG PRODUCER: He’s still in character from “True Grit,” and he refuses to stop.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Not a problem.
STUDIO EXEC #2: That’s perfect, actually. We wanted to make a “True Grit” sequel, and this will be a good way of sneaking it in without having to buy the rights.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Oh, did we give up on doing that officially? I was looking forward to “2rue Grit.”
YOUNG PRODUCER: My vision for the movie would cost about $130 million to make, but the special effects would still be cheesy and unconvincing.
STUDIO EXEC #1: I like it. The audience won’t be expecting that.
STUDIO EXEC #2: They’ll be expecting something that looks well-made, and it will be a fun surprise when it isn’t.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Audiences love waste!
STUDIO EXEC #1: What’s it called, anyway?
YOUNG PRODUCER: “R.I.P.D.”
STUDIO EXEC #2: Rhode Island Police Department?
YOUNG PRODUCER: No…
STUDIO EXEC #1: Rhode Island Parks Department?
YOUNG PRODUCER: No…
STUDIO EXEC #3: Oh, I get it — R.I.P.D., because Ryan Reynolds is RIPPED!
YOUNG PRODUCER: No, it’s “Rest in Peace Department”! That’s what the police department for the dead is called!
STUDIO EXEC #1: Oh.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Huh.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Well.
STUDIO EXEC #2: That’s really bad.
STUDIO EXEC #1: Yeah. Well, look, if we’re gonna do this, we might as well go all the way.
YOUNG PRODUCER: Go all the way with what?
STUDIO EXEC #1: Nothing! Young man, you’ve got yourself a deal!
STUDIO EXEC #2: We’re excited to go forward with this!
STUDIO EXEC #3: I only wish we’d gotten to “The Lone Ranger” first.