Regular readers of this space (all ten of you) know that I’ve had a rough time of it this year, to say the least.
Without going into detail (that’d just be too painful today) it’s safe to say 2017 has been one of the worst years of my life. Seriously, I was assaulted as a kid and even that year was more fun than this one. I literally cannot bring myself to talk about it, but today has been an excruciating day that has reinforced a truth I’ve been reluctant to accept for months now: I will never make it as a writer.
My book was a complete disaster.
I’ve spent the year waiting for 5×5 answers from dozens of subjects, from Murdoch Mysteries alums to adult film stars to news personalities, all of whom seem like otherwise decent, genuinely-nice people. Who apparently only consented to be interviewed by me in a moment of weakness.
Rockin’ Ronnie is dead. And I couldn’t save him.
People that have claimed to be my friends have made unsolicited promises to me that have never materialized. One such promise has broken me in two today. If I was a weaker man, without a family, I’d… well, it’s not important. What is important is that I’ve learned that dreams are as painful as they are hopeful.
But to the point of this post: I’m about to share a series of pitches I sent out this week to various parties. I am doing this so there is verifiable proof that these pitches came from my fractured, useless mind and nowhere else.
The Bellman Chronicles is centered on the world’s most outspoken bellman and all the daily chaos in his orbit.
I’d like the title of the pilot to be: “Episode One, The Final Chapter.”, just to keep the audience on their toes.
It feels like there’s a million television networks and platforms these days so how does a show stand out and grab an audience’s attention? Ideally, I’d like to see the pilot episode be a clip show. We’d cut to events that the characters have already experienced, even though they’re actually playing out for the first time for the viewers.
As far as actual episodes go, I’d like to see them range from outrageously funny to serious and thought-provoking. I want to take people where they’ve never been before , behind those doors marked, “STAFF ONLY”. Everyone says the same thing when they hear I’m a bellman, “Wow, I bet you have a million stories!” To that point…
ONE) An entire “Waiting for an elevator” episode. Hospitality workers spend hours of their day standing around service areas breathlessly watching a tiny screen to see when their ride is going to arrive. Time is literally money when you’re a bellman or room service staff, so you need to get to that room yesterday… but that rarely happens because you’re stuck in a little room that’s filled with everything from garbage bags to housekeeping supplies to odds and ends from guest rooms like prosthetic arms and soiled French maid costumes.
But it’s never boring or lonely; you have plenty of staff members, most of whom are as off-kilter as the guests, to keep you company. Each one of these partners in hotel crime has a unique story about their day and every one of them becomes more frustrated the longer they wait. An elevator will eventually show up, only for the staff to discover it’s already occupied. By guests. In various states of undress.
And when the elevator finally arrives and is totally empty, everyone piles in… only to have it become overloaded and shut down after the doors close.
TWO) They’ll be an episode where The Hook convinces his fellow staff members to help him produce a short filmed version of a series based on his blog. Of course everything goes wrong: the scripts aren’t delivered on time, the camera switches to “Lynchian Mode” and characters who look like they wandered out of Twin Peaks appear as a moody, distorted score plays in the background.
THREE) I’d like to have a character based on a former colleague of mine named Rockin’ Ronnie. This guy was a bass playing bellman who was fiercely loyal, he came in first thing in the morning and began to take lunch orders, and he made Kramer look downright boring. I want to have various characters have one-on-one scenes with Rockin’ throughout the series but eventually the audience will earn the truth: Ronnie’s health, both mental and physical, went downhill until he finally took his own life.
We’ll pepper clues throughout Ron’s scenes before we reveal his ultimate fate. People won’t know if he was a figment of each character’s imagination or a ghost only they can see. This reveal can also serve to highlight what I consider to be an important and fascinating truth. Before we discovered my friend had taken his own life he was missing for a full week; the authorities in Niagara Falls always assume missing people have jumped into the Falls. There’s a good reason for this: the week Ronnie went missing four bodies turned up in the water. Someone jumps at the average of one a week but it’s kept quiet. Suicide is bad for tourism.
But this is where we can balance the raw, improvised humor of Mrs. Brown’s Boys with the dark humor and realism of Shameless.
FOUR) As a blogging bellman social media is a big part of my life and we can incorporate that into the series. Narration for each episode will actually be The Hook blogging about his day. We can feature tweets and Instagram pictures that are directly related to the events of each installment. And we can even have people The Hook meets online track him down and show up at the hotel to meet him. This will of course drive Management up the wall but that friction will just add to the show’s appeal.
FIVE) We can follow misplaced luggage throughout the hotel as it darts in and out of guest rooms and service areas. Along the way, we’ll get a glimpse of the anything-but-boring lives of guests and staff. Anyone who’s ever had a bag go missing while traveling will be able to relate to this journey.
OTHER IDEAS FROM MY CONSCIOUSNESS:
ONE) The world’s most powerful super villains are presented with an offer they can’t refuse by a mysterious woman who knows their every secret: They’ll be rewarded with the darkest desires their black hearts can produce, the goals they’ve tried to achieve their entire careers will be laid at their feet.
And all they have to do is save the world.
The Bad Guys with have to achieve what all the Good Guys in the world have never been able to. The planet’s greatest heroes have been possessed by formless spirits from another world hellbent on bending mankind to their will through hero worship. Now the villains have to do what has been impossible for them so far; defeat their greatest adversaries.
Along the way we’ll re-examine our perceptions of just what a villain really is. We’ll see why a person heads down a path they know will result in the world labeling them a villain. And we’ll see if the only way to redeem one’s soul is to race right into the darkness and claw your way through to the light on the other side.
TWO) In the 1950s an entire nation was captivated every week by the wacky misadventures of a plucky housewife, her movie star husband, their adorable little boy and their best friends, the couple next door. “Oh, That Sunny!” is a monster hit and it’s stars are worshiped all over the world.
But when the cameras stop rolling, the real drama begins. The star, Sunny Day, America’s favorite comedic actress, is so neurotic and controlling that she demands her female co-star’s contract includes clauses that she stay less attractive and heavier than the star. Sunny’s husband, Rex Day, is a womanizing alcoholic who longs to get out from under his wife’s shadow and make movies.
The actors who play their irrepressible neighbors can’t stand each other and each of them has their own skeletons they fight to keep hidden from the world. The entire set is a ticking time bomb that we get to see from the eyes of Sunny and Rex’s on-camera son.
And here is a possible opening for a television version of The Bellman Chronicles.
We open to a close-up of a bellman. He is standing and telling a story of the first time he danced close, extremely close with a girl at a school dance. His boyhood self becomes extremely excited and despite his feeble attempts to stop it, eventfully “finishes” before his gorgeous female partner – and I don’t mean the song.
The sticky story ends, the camera pans back and we see for the first time that he has been telling the story to an elevator full of gobsmacked hotel guests.
Roll opening credits and theme…
“This is The Hook’s show, he made it, won’t you stay?
It’s really good, it’ll make your day!
This show’s so good, it’ll make your dog’s tail wag
The Hook’s a bellman… if you don’t tip him, he’ll call you a douchebag
If you’re watching this, you’ve been hooked…
You’ve been hooked…
You’ve been hooked, mutha fucka…”
And that’s all I have for you today, friends. I honestly cannot say whether or not I’ll be posting again. I feel utterly and completely broken.
Have a great and safe Christmas and holiday season, my dear friends…