Transcript: A Foolish Gamble
Rob Long survived UPN, and other bygone showbiz brands. Now he begs our overlords struggling with streaming to just say 'sorry'
This is Rob Long with Martini Shot for The Ankler.
It’s mid August and I’m on vacation in a place that’s hot and by the sea and also a place with cicadas, which is what you’re hearing in the background. I don’t know how to tell them to turn it down.
I’ve been here with some friends for a few days, swimming in the pool and walking to the seaside and drinking wine at lunch, and for the past three days, something amazing has happened, or not happened, I guess. For the past three days, I haven’t talked about the writers strike.
Not because I don’t want to, but because nobody’s asked. This is a group filled with people who aren't part of the entertainment business, and don't really care about the entertainment business.
And the trouble is, I sort of like talking about the strike. I'm a strike bore. Ask me anything, and I'll figure out a way to bring it around to the strike. I'll lay it all out for you — their position, our position, the seven possible outcomes, the sixteen possible zones of compromise, my predictions, all of it. You find me at a party, ask me the most open-ended, vague question, and find a place to sit and put down your drink. ’Cause me talking about the strike is a six-act play.
But just because no one’s asked about doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it. And truthfully, if you’re talking about something all the time it’s hard to also think about it. Talking and thinking, in my experience anyway, rarely go together.
So I haven’t been talking but I have been thinking, and here is what I’ve been thinking about.
When you work on a movie studio lot, the first thing you learn is that every corner is haunted. Hollywood may not have been around a long time, but the place still has layers of history on every soundstage and bungalow office, and the backlots and crannies of every major studio echo with the arguments, love affairs, successes, failures, and career twists spanning back to the early days of show business.
My first office — a tiny little nook on the Paramount studio lot — was, an old-timer informed me on my first week, the original office of Preston Sturges, the genius writer and director behind such classics as Palm Beach Story and Sullivan's Travels. It seemed like an insulting small space for such a giant talent, until it was explained to me that over the years his office had been sliced up into almost a dozen smaller offices, of which mine was the smallest. It seemed fitting for a writer at my level. I was just happy to be there, and spent my days imagining the ghost of Preston Sturges looking over my shoulder as I tapped out sitcom dialogue.