I happen to know, for a fact, that several trucks bearing the names of movie studios drove up to the gates of Glendale Forest Lawn on Monday morning. These trucks carried crews of men with shovels.
According to my sources, the first truck came from Paramount. It arrived at 8:30 a.m., meaning it was dispatched only minutes after studio execs arrived for work that morning. And Monday was the first workday after the big announcement from Midlothian, Scotland. So let's give credit where it's due: Paramount was first out of the blocks.
Then came trucks from Warner's, Fox and Miramax, along with a lone Roger Corman who had a shovel in the back of his station wagon. What happened next is not exactly clear because of conflicting accounts. But the trucks rushed inside and an altercation occurred at the grave of Clark Gable.
Apparently, the Warner's truck tried to push the Paramount truck away from its parking place next to the grave. Both trucks emptied of their men and a wild melee ensued. In the meantime, the Miramax crew snuck around the side and began digging furiously.
"They were singing 'Hello, Dolly' while they dug," a security guard said. "We tried to stop them but nothing doing. They had us outnumbered. They got what they wanted."
Well, almost. As the Miramax boys hoisted the casket, the other contingents rushed over and began snatching at the booty. Someone--we don't know who--finally maneuvered the heist into their truck and roared off.
So here's the sad fact: Clark Gable and all his DNA is now being flown by jet to Midlothian. Just behind that jet, others are following with the DNA treasures collected from Hollywood Memorial, Westwood Memorial and Beth Olam. All that's needed is a little fast action with the petri dishes.
Everybody at the studios is high on the possibilities. Oh, you may suppose that science will wring its hands over the ethical issues posed by the cloning of that sweet ewe named Dolly. And you may suppose that President Clinton also will agitate himself and his many committees over same.
But that's back East, eh? Here in Los Angeles, we take a more clear-eyed view of such matters. I am told that sets already are abuilding for the remake of "Gone With The Wind." With the original cast.
To put it most simply, we are more advanced in Los Angeles, cloning-wise, than other regions. We have dreamed about it, wished for it, considered its ups and downs for a long time. Remember the "Stepford Wives"? Remember Daryl Hannah in "Blade Runner"? Remember the blue-eyed Hitlers in "The Boys From Brazil"?
For that matter, what about JFK and LBJ showing up in "Forrest Gump"? And Fred Astair dancing with that vacuum cleaner in the Super Bowl commercial?
Clones. Replicants. We love them in L.A., always have. Clones can be scary. Clones can be funny. Clones can be big box office. Let Washington rend its garments over the clone question. We understand clones. They don't threaten us.
I mean, clones have this delightful duality. On one hand, they suggest a devaluation of human life. If you can make four of something, none of the four is exactly sacred, right? So when Harrison Ford mows down the replicants in "Blade Runner," we don't have to be sorry. Take that, Daryl.
On the other hand, they also suggest something of immortality. Say we cloned Sandra Bullock and got a new one started right away. By the time the present Sandra Bullock is fading out as an actress, the new one would be coming into her own.
An eternity of sweet comedies made dazzling by the Bullock smile. Would that give her a kind of immortality? Maybe so, and do not forget that immortality is another of L.A.'s obsessions. Not for nothing have we created the myth that Walt Disney is cryogenically frozen, waiting to return to us as soon as medicine solves his problems.
Way back in 1939, Aldous Huxley created the half-mad L.A. scientist Dr. Obispo in his novel "After Many a Summer Dies the Swan." Obispo spent his life concocting immortality potions for an L.A. potentate called "Uncle Jo."
In one spooky sequence, Huxley writes that Obispo has hit upon a new formula. "He had begun to try the thing out on larger animals. If it worked all right on dogs and baboons (or sheep?), it ought to work on Uncle Jo."
You bet. That's the way L.A. sees it. If you can freeze sperm, you ought to be able to freeze Walt. If you can make a new ewe, you can make a new Gable.
I am told, on highest authority, that Sony and MGM have ordered their execs to attend weekend retreats in Solvang where they will compile lists of clonable stars. It's tricky business, my source said, because some stars always worked best with certain directors. So when you remake Bette Davis, you'll also need a William Wyler.
"You can get into, you know, availability problems," he said.
So we'll wait and see. But if, one sunny day, you happen to notice a man dressed in a 1940-style wool suit talking on a cell phone outside the Chateau Marmont, stop and listen.
If he cocks one eyebrow at the phone, looks at it dryly, and says, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," then you'll know. The old dream lives anew.
' Clones. Replicants. We love them in L.A., always have. Clones can be scary. Clones can be funny. Clones can be big box office. Let Washington rend its garments over the clone question. We understand clones. They don't threaten us.'