Friday, February 13, 2009

The Last Murder Case.

Providence Meets the making of The Blue Dahlia Meets 8 1/2

A producer must coax one last screenplay from a detective writer dying of alcholism.  The only way to get him to write is:  to supply him liquor.

Meanwhile, the writer recalls his entire life, which merges in and out of both the movie he's writing and the movies made from his work in the past.

In the end, one writer dies, and his life goes on--on celluloid.

--E. R. O'Neill

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Collector.

A reclusive nerd.

He photographs everything.

Meaningless things: trash cans, curbs, telephone poles.

He is considered a nut.

But after the earth is destroyed, it is reconstructed from the meticulous observation of his photographs.

--E. R. O'Neill

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Moderator

Down-on-her luck writer takes cheesy job as moderator for Oprah-type discussion book clubs.

The novel alternates the writer's life, unfinished novel, and reflections on great literature, on the one hand, with the debased yet surprisingly touching literary discussions of suburbanites in whose lives we become engrossed in "Spoon River Anthology"-style vignettes of suburban ennui.

(Based on an idea by V. L. Forman).

--E. R. O'Neill

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Double Vision

In the 1960's, two young women who play body doubles to adorable teen actresses (along the lines of Hayley Mills) have a lesbian love affair.

Each is secretly in love with the actress for whom she doubles.  Instead, the women dally with each other, on the periphery of Hollywood, in the penumbra of fame's spotlight.

Period costumes, backstage drama, gay directors, lesbian costume designers, conniving agents, the like.  

A Todd Haynes film.

--E. R. O'Neill

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Three Weekends: A Short Story.

A short story.

Alternative title: "Tebaldiani" or "Poor Thing."

A gay couple, Mark and Daniel, are on the verge of a breakup--this despite what brought them together--their love for Maria Callas and hatred for Renata Tebaldi. If you want to get them mad, just talk about how the Tebaldi fans (the Tebaldiani) went to the Met when Maria appeared there just to boo poor Maria. The nerve!

Mark and Daniel would break up now, but they've rented a cottage on Fire Island for three weekends, so they have to wait.

On the first weekend, it seems that everyone is deeply in love--or on the make. Mark and Daniel are neither-nor.

On Saturday night, Daniel lingers at the disco after Mark leaves. Daniel goes home with an anonymous bodybuilder. Getting back to their cottage, Mark doesn't even ask for sex. Daniel imagines Mark can smell the testosterone right on him.

The next day, Mark meets Jacob--who's ridiculously similar to Mark in every way. They compare notes on menswear designers, restaurants, bridge, even favorite kinds of clouds (cumulus are vulgar, they both agree). Daniel isn't jealous, he's relieved. It all happens so naturally! Mark will be better off, Daniel tells himself.

The second weekend, Daniel bows out and lets Mark go to Fire Island alone, knowing full well Mark will consummate the affair with Jacob, and then he (Daniel) will soon be off the hook. The whole thing will end naturally--because of Mark, not Daniel. Daniel will be able to leave guilt-free.

The third weekend, Mark and Daniel go for their last weekend on the island, probably their last weekend together. Jacob's there constantly, almost flaunting this blossoming relationship.

But just as they're all to leave, Jacob reveals his deep passion for--Renata Tebaldi! Mark and Daniel take turns heaping scorn upon her, humiliating Jacob.

Mark and Daniel have a good laugh on the ferry ride home, and they talk about Maria. How Maria suffered, poor thing.

Perhaps Mark and Daniel will give things just one or two weekends more.

--E. R. O'Neill

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A two-person play in the most traditional vein.

An aging has-been Broadway star, long-since forgotten, molders in his Connecticut abode.

His manservant offstage is never seen.

The star spends his time replying to fan letters written decades earlier: now he finally has the time.

Remarkably, one recipient a reply some months back shows up at his doorstep. She cherishes the memory of a performance he gave long ago. She can remember the most minute detail.

Sadly, many of these details are wrong. It is not clear if she actually saw this performance, misremembered it, or mixed up this actor with some other.

Or is she sent to exact some strange revenge?

The two become locked in conflict--which can only mean, given the logic of commercial drama, that they will end up in each others (wrinkled) arms.

The angry has-been ham and the dotty would-be fan: a match made in heaven.

--E. R. O'Neill


A movie.

It takes its title from a book that circulates amongst the characters.

The book promises quick solutions to difficult life problems.

We see the characters and their problems. We see they have the book--each of them comes across it differently.

Than at a few points each's story is interrupted for a voiceover passage from the book, explaining how their problem could be 'solved,' more or less instantly, or sometimes long and painfully.

The book's advice is very strange and completely out of touch with the complex realities of human suffering.

The characters never try these solutions, or only do so half-heartedly.

Indeed, we're not sure if they've really read the book, or merely happen to come across it, and then the book's edifying wisdom is shared with the viewer.

Instead, the characters continue to screw up their lives in yet more creative ways.

Remarkably, some of their lives get better--quite suddenly, either through a change of heart, or through chance.

Others just continue on in the same ruts with no end in sight.

A comedy.

--E. R. O'Neill