Lorenzo Semple Jr.,

Lorenzo Semple Jr.,

A weeklong electronic journal.
Nov. 25 1997 12:30 AM

Lorenzo Semple Jr.,

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

       I suppose I've been in more difficult positions scriptwise than I am this morning, but then I was younger, too.
       Folks think I'm kidding when I tell them, but it's God's truth that I once spent more than a year working on the very, very, very first James Bond script, based on the just-published first novel of the series, Casino Royale--the object being to rewrite Bond into a woman to be played by Susan Hayward, since it was generally agreed that the character of 007 was so silly that the public would never accept him as a male. The reason for aiming this exercise in transsexuality at Miss Hayward was equally interesting. My producer, a fabulous creature then somewhat down on his luck, confided to me that he had fucked that red-haired goddess when he was a big man at Fox and she was making just $75 a week, and that therefore "she owes me one." It goes without saying that a movie was never made along those lines, though we spent several tremendous months hanging out in European casinos in search of locations, and when my producer saw in the papers that Tyrone Power had died we immediately flew to London and moved into the late star's empty house, to which for some reason my producer had a key. It was fun. I never said "No" to a ticket to any far place. I almost never said "No" to any job, which was far less wise.
       However. All that was in another country, those snows d'antan long down the drain. Once I worried about James Bond being tied into a straight chair whose cane bottom had been cut out so that Le Chiffre could massage his balls with a wire carpet beater. Now, many thousands of ayems later, I tumble out of bed at 6:45 not in the fabled Hotel Aviz of Lisbon, nor in the rue d'Enghien of Paris, but in Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, where the story problems that have tormented my sleep are the incomparably more mundane ones of: 1) will it be sufficient surprise at the end of a murder mystery to discover that the most obvious suspect in fact did do it? 2) how do we wrap up an armed revolt by members of the American middle class against the super-rich in the near future? and 3) how will creatures from another galaxy, resuscitated after centuries of suspended animation in caverns below the surface of Mars, cope with the astronauts of our first manned mission to that planet? (Employers Please Note: All these conundrums will be solved, honest to gosh, and very soon!)
       But before worrying about those, or even about the dread prospect that I'll be not unjustifiably sued because some script is a year or so past due, there's the newspaper thing. The two of them in the driveway, the N.Y. Times in its blue sheath, the L.A. Times in its transparency. I'm back in L.A., where, as the saying goes, I "paid my dues" in the movie-writing game in the 1970s, entitling me and mine to spend the next two decades in Aspen and New York. I've never had a bad word to say about L.A., but am I really here? If so, why do I fall on the N.Y. Times so eagerly, yet in almost a month have been unable to read the L.A. Times at all? Life is easy here, but coming back is certainly a reckless move careerwise, as I've always traded heavily on being a distant and elusive figure. Now that I'm in Hollywood's sights I'll have to be more nimble. Come to think of it, it's a pretty dumb requirement to foist on oneself as the bones grow older. Here I am, making bum choices again. I wonder what dire phone calls I'll get tomorrow? The good thing is, if I can get to Thursday alive I should be OK for a while. Nothing happens in this biz between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Nothing. They say.

Lorenzo Semple Jr. is a screenwriter. He originated the TV version of Batman and since then has written, among other movies, Three Days of the Condor, Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong, and the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again.