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C'est Termine

August 20, 2000|DREX HEIKES

It's a new dawn in Hollywood. The French company Vivendi is completing acquisition of Seagram and its Universal Studios entertainment division. Today a Universal executive is giving his French overseer a storyboard presentation of the new Vivendi Universal's first action movie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Universal: "The opening scene. Schwarzenegger and five other commandos are assaulting a mountain castle held by terrorists. At the center of the castle, six terrorist leaders sit at a table. They're drunk and . . ."

Vivendi: "Drunk?"

Universal: "Yes, tipsy, you know, slurring their words."

Vivendi: "'What are they drinking?"

Universal: "Whiskey, vodka, whatever."

Vivendi: "No, no, no, no, no."

Universal: "Gin?"

Vivendi: Shakes head. Makes popping sound with cheek.

Universal: "Wine?"

Vivendi: "Bordeaux. Go on."

Universal: "Outside, Schwarzenegger and his band rappel down the face of the castle. They jump inside and burst through to a courtyard, where they pick off the guards, one by one."

Vivendi: "Where are the dancing clowns?"

Universal: "The what?"

Vivendi: "The dancing clowns. They should come from the smoke, cross the courtyard and disappear into the smoke."

Universal: "Uh, dancing clowns? Well, OK, OK. Dancing clowns. Then Schwarzenegger and the others break down a door and capture the terrorists. Cut to the second scene. Schwarzenegger is meeting with his CIA handlers at a hotel in Washington, D.C."

Vivendi: "Where?"

Universal: "New York?"

Vivendi: Wags finger.

Universal: "In Paris. In a hotel suite. They have learned of a terrorist plot to kill world leaders at a meeting in The Hague in three weeks."

Vivendi: "Where is Juliette Binoche?"

Universal: "Juliette Binoche? She's not in this film, and we aren't introducing any love interest at this point."

Vivendi: ". . . and her female lover, Sophie Marceau, in camisoles at a table in a small apartment, drinking coffee and smoking Gauloises."

Universal: "Huh?

Vivendi: "They are talking about betrayal, and chocolate."

Universal: "What?"

Vivendi: "Juliette's husband, Jean Reno, should be hiding outside the window, on a ledge very high. In pajamas, yes, and a gold bathrobe, perhaps with blue stripes. Below, a red motorbike should pass, driven by a man holding a bouquet of flowers."

Universal: "Good God. How would any of that fit with the plot? It seems, if you'll forgive my candor, it seems disjointed."

Vivendi: "Your point?"

Universal: "Mmmm. Clearly we need to rethink the story. But anything is possible. After all, we made 'End of Days.' But we've got to keep the climax. We budgeted $72 million. A battle at the airport. The terrorists hold the control tower. Schwarzenegger has four assault weapons and is running toward the tower when . . ."

Vivendi: "Tower? We prefer a McDonald's."

Universal: "The hamburger people?"

Vivendi: "Yes."

Universal: "But Schwarzenegger. Why would . . . ?"

Vivendi: "Not him. Farmers. French farmers."

Universal: "Attacking a McDonald's?"

Vivendi: "With pitchforks."

Universal: Sigh. "Well, we were going to end the movie with the commandos and the CIA types laughing over burgers and beer. I don't suppose . . ."

Vivendi: "No, no, no, no, no."

Universal: "Smoked salmon?"

Vivendi: "With tangerines."

Universal: "Beer?"

Vivendi: "Sancerre."

Universal: "Perfect."

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