Rock in a Hard Place
Punk legend, Lance 'Lint' Jones, leaves rehab and is forced to live with his over-bearing Jewish mother. Oy vey!
Rock in a Hard Place
Punk legend, Lance 'Lint' Jones, leaves rehab and is forced to live with his over-bearing Jewish mother. Oy vey!
Where to begin? The journey of trying to get the pilot episode of our awesome 'dramedy' Rock in a Hard Place made, has been a 5-year-plus odyssey that has seen it, in one form or another, attached and semi-attached to a variety of different producers. In fact, we shot the sizzle reel so long ago, Bernie Madoff was one of the original plot lines. But he's long since been written out - literally and figuratively.
The past few years have seen the project attached to such luminaries as director Brett Ratner (Hercules, Tower Heist, Horrible Bosses, Catfish, etc.), director Peter Howitt (Sliding Doors, Dangerous Parking), actor/director Griffin Dunne (After Hours, House of Lies), producer Keri Selig (Marilyn, The Stepford Wives), producer Michelle Weisler (The Ring), production companies such as RAT TV, Eone, Def Pictures (Russell Simmons' co.), Porchlight Entertainment, Courtney Cox's Coquette, etc. etc. Even Ben Stiller's co., Red Hour Films, took a stab at running it up the flag pole.
What if Sid Vicious survived the 70s/80s and found himself at 50 with 2 ex-wives and 3 crazy kids?
Rock in a Hard Place is the story of aging punk legend, Lance "Lint" Jones, former front-man of 70s icons "The Prix", who leaves rehab and is forced to live with his mother.
After a lifetime of avoiding responsibility and letting down everyone who’s ever cared for him, Lance, our protagonist, decides to make an earnest attempt to reconnect with his dysfunctional family. The only problem is, after all he’s done - and didn’t do - they’ve pretty much written him off. Thus, getting them to forgive him after all these years won’t be easy, but he’s determined to try.
With no job, no money, no skills of any kind, and his only friend being his sponsor, "D" - a one-hit wonder rapper half his age, who, after his own hellish fall from grace, reinvented himself a God-fearing, family man - Lance will eventually arrive at the realization that the very thing that destroyed him is the only thing that can save him, and perhaps his family, from certain destruction… Rock and Roll.
Rock in a Hard Place. "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll Couldn't Kill Him, but His Family's Willing to Try."
- Lance "Lint" Jones: 50 year-old punk legend. A lost-but-sober, middle-aged “man-child”, Lance is finally able to acknowledge the damage he’s done to his family and sets out on a path to redemption – without rock and roll. Unfortunately, his newly found sobriety also allows him a front row seat to witness the damage his ex-wife, Janice, is doing to their famous daughter, Shadow. Not wanting to see his baby girl end up like him, Lance vows to do whatever it takes to stop his ex from turning young Shadow into another showbiz casualty. In the process, he may not only save her, but himself as well.
- Janice Henley-Jones: Mother to Martin and Shadow, Janice is a failed small town actress-turned-softcore-porn-starlet and Lance’s second ex. A hyper-ambitious stage mom from hell, Janice will do whatever advances Shadow’s career, provided it advances hers as well. She’s known for turning her famous daughter's video shoots into ‘Heaven’s Gate’. No fool, however, Janice knows she’s a trophy for the media mogul she’s currently shacking up with, and thus, begins siphoning money from her daughter’s accounts… just in case.
- Shadow Jones: Shadow is Lance and Janice’s 15 year-old pop-star daughter. An out of control Miley on Steroids, Shadow is the newest cast member of the show “Sing”, a High School Musical-type series and the poster child for kids who grow up too fast. Over-exposed to a world of money, fame and insincerity, Shadow does a great job of acting like the outlandish celebrity everyone expects her to be, but in reality, she’s just a scared little girl who wants her daddy.
- Martin Jones: Lance’s severely introverted 18 year-old, mildly autistic son, Martin, was practically raised by his big sister, Prism. A whiz with gadgets and technology, Martin rarely ventures out of his room. During his father’s numerous attempts to reconnect with him, Martin will discover he’s more than a natural at golf, he’s unbeatable. Martin will also discover another worthwhile activity called ‘Online Gambling’.
- Prism Janowitz: Conceived in the ladies room at The Whisky within the first 15 minutes of Lint and Debbie's first meeting, Lance’s eldest daughter, Prism, is the exact opposite of her father. A magna cum laude Harvard Law grad who refuses to call herself a 'Jones', Prism's learned everything she knows about the world from books. She has very little 'life experience' but is amazing in a court room. Living with her autistic brother, Martin, and her vegan activist girlfriend, Kat, in Silver Lake, Prism is a natural beauty who fights for the rights of the underprivileged. Furious at her father's life choices, Prism wants nothing to do with Lance. Although, she will never allow herself to face the reality that deep down, she may be just like him.
- Katerina "Kat" Villanueva: Prism’s live-in girlfriend, Kat, is a few years younger, but way more intense than Prism. More than a little butch, there’s definitely a Lesbian Thought Police uniform in Kat’s closet. Currently employed by 'Food Alert' - a radical, anti-corporate, hardcore vegan organization that practices shock tactics to get their message across - Kat sees nothing wrong with lambasting anyone who does not subscribe to her righteous standards in every area of life, even if she's just met you.
- Dr. Debbie Gold: A runaway from a wealthy N.Y. family, an 18 year-old Debbie Goldstein ended up becoming one of the most notorious groupies in rock history. However, her fabled days of non-stop parties came to an abrupt end the night she met - and instantly fell for - an up and coming Lint Jones. And he for her. Debbie is, and will always be, the love of Lance’s life. It took her a while to escape the party scene and her crazy three-timing punk rocker ex-husband, but she eventually landed on her feet, went back to school, and reemerged as “Dr. Debbie Gold”, best-selling author and host of the syndicated radio show/blog ‘Straight Sex with Dr. Debbie’ and the country’s most respected sex/relationship therapist.
- Mimi Janowitz: Mimi is your typical sweet, doting "Jewish mother" in her 70s who, underneath that adorable exterior, possesses the tenacity of a Bengal Tiger. After her husband’s untimely death, a young widowed Mimi worked two jobs to provide for her rebelling teenage son, and the guilt of not being able to be there for Lance during his formative years eats at her to this day. She blames herself for her family’s dysfunction and thus, will stop at nothing to fix it. She's also boy-crazy.
- Irving Goldstein: A "schleppy" octogenarian with a bum leg and terrible taste in clothes, Iriving's had his eye on Mimi for some time now. He's tried and tried to woo her but nothing's worked. As she's repeatedly told him, he's out of her league. But, Iriving's no quitter. And this schleppy former truck driver, who held 3 full-time jobs for 40 years without a break, may just prove to be the second love of her life.
- Rudy Trent: A textbook schemer, Rudy is one of those guys whose greatest talent has always been spotting it in others. He’s managed to eek out a nice career this way, but he’s running out of gas. Back in the day, he immediately recognized Lance’s potential and latched onto him with everything he had. Nowadays, he prowls Hollywood like a sewer rat looking for his next meal ticket. Desperately afraid of death and aging, he’s undergone various cosmetic procedures, some of which were botched. Once he senses Lance’s new-found vulnerability, he will stop at nothing to exploit him for his own benefit; under the guise of helping him, of course.
- Cookie: Lance’s childhood friend and bandmate in "The Prix". A skinny kid in high school, Irwin ‘Cookie’ Kozan always struggled with his weight, hence the nickname. Now middle-aged, he’s really packed on some pounds. He’s also taken life head-on - starting a family with his high school sweetheart, Victoria; adopting an orphaned blind boy; opening a coffee shop on Melrose; and becoming an adult. All things Lance has avoided like the plague. Cookie just does what he has to and never allowed himself to implode like Lance. The simplicity of the equation leaves Lance eternally baffled.
- Maggot (aka - Gerard Alan Richards), drummer for "The Prix", was born with Hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia – meaning he was born without sweat glands. He was so ugly, with his terrible acne and Mohawk, the kids at school named him 'Maggot'. His ADD is probably the worst case ever documented, thus, it’s very hard to get him to fasten onto a single idea or show up anywhere on time. But when he’s behind his drum kit, Maggot has laser focus. Raised on a farm in Upstate New York, Maggot idolized Johnny Rotten and, to this day, speaks in a fake British accent. Maggot was responsible for turning Lance and Cookie onto punk when they met as busboys at Grossinger’s Hotel in The Catskills.
"TOO EDGY FOR NETWORK, TOO MUCH HEART FOR CABLE"
One of the things we keep hearing wherever we go is that the show has too much "heart" for cable.
While we never saw this show as a network sitcom (even though the brass at CBS were very interested in trying) we don't think there's anything wrong with a cable series that has 'heart.'
Either way, have no fear. There's plenty of "F-bombs" and "boobies" to make all that "heart" stuff bearable. But, you be the judge.
An excerpt of the pilot script can be viewed here.
This is a show about a son, who, at 13, blamed himself for the death of his father and everything else that came after - including but not limited to the unresolved anger he felt as a youth, which contributed to both his success as well as failure; the complete destruction of his marriage and family; and the helpless feeling he now has watching his youngest daughter heading down an all-too-familiar path.
It's a show about a mother who was forced to work two jobs and thus, has had to deal with a lifetime of guilt over not being there for her son during the most critical times. Not to mention, the subsequent mushroom cloud of consequences that followed, wreaking havoc on her life, her son's, and her grandchildren, as well.
It's a show about a brilliant and beautiful Harvard-educated daughter trying to figure out why, with all that she has going for her, does she feel so empty and lost inside? And, why is it so hard for her to trust another human being? Even her life-partner.
It's a show about a pretty, lonely woman from a small town, who, at a young age, was raised to believe looks were everything and was told she was going to be a star. But, when things didn't go as planned, ended up so bitter and jealous she dedicated her life's energy to making sure everyone around her suffers. Even her own daughter.
It's a show about the daughter of two completely dysfunctional parents, who's being forced to grow up in the spotlight. And who, despite having "everything", just wants to be loved.
It's a show about two soul mates who met way too early on, yet, who years later - in their 50s - are scared to find themselves wondering, after all the damage that's been done, could there still be hope?
It's a show about lifelong friends and the impenetrable bond formed in childhood that you think will never be broken, but, as it turns out, life has other plans.
It's a show that mocks and at the same time examines the self-absorbed state of the self-gratifying, spiteful behavior of the "Me! Me! Me!" reality culture that currently engulfs more than a little of our entertainment and socio-political environment.
And lastly, it's a show about whether or not a middle-aged man, who most - including himself - believe is a has-been, is able to overcome that soul-draining label and prove to himself and those around him, that, not only is he still relevant, but he has the potential to be better than he ever was. In every area. He just needs to convince himself, first.
And it all starts with forgiveness.
Just in case you're still not clear, we made a funny little video with "Grandma" pitching:
Actors who are - or were - on board at any one point, range from the amazing Rosanna Arquette (After Hours, Pulp Fiction, Ray Donovan) to the versatile Steven Weber (Wings, The Producers, 2 Broke Girls), to the legendary Rita Moreno (pretty much everything), to the hilarious Ed Asner (Mary Tyler Moore, Lou Grant), to 80s heartthrob Andrew McCarthy (obviously not for Ed's part), to the iconic Lesley Ann Warren (Jobs/Victor Victoria), to Ashley Hamilton, to musician Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's, and even MC Hammer!
Meetings (oh, the meetings!) have taken place everywhere from the offices of 19 Entertainment (American Idol) to the bungalow of Lorne Michael's Broadway Video to Super-agent Rick Yorn's hi-rise conference room, to Charlie Sheen's back-lot production company, to some guy who said he was a producer on a bench on Fifth Ave.
I really wish we made a documentary of what it's like trying to get a show like this made because that could be a show in itself.
--The plane flights out to the west coast to meet with the big show-runner/e.p. who says he "LOVES!" the project - only to sandbag you the next day in the pitch meeting in front of the studio exec's by claiming he needs to rewrite every word from scratch.
--The pitch on the Warner Bros. lot with a certain "Idol" judge who loves your ideas so much, he begins telling his assistant they should do that with their show, right in front of you.
--The conference call with the "Mega-Producer" who, after claiming to have read the entire script, only talks about changing the location of the story because, "There are too many things shot in L.A."
--The trip booked specifically to meet with the legendary show creator who, at the last minute, sends his 22 year-old intern - who hasn't even read the script - in his place. She was hot, though.
This town is so "bass-ackwards" that to this day, IMDB still lists the show as being produced by Brett Ratner's RAT TV (along with a composer and cinematographer none of us have ever heard of) even though the project's been more than a year removed. Jeez!
LET'S DO THIS:
As touched on in the pitch, the show has come very close to pilot several times - most recently with Eone studios and Russell Simmons exec. producing. However, as with most projects these days, it's not about whether the script is good or not. It's about "who's attached".
In our case, even with Rosanna Arquette, Steven Weber, Lesley Ann Warren, Ed Asner, Rita Moreno, and Griffin Dunne all attached at the same time, and all found without any agency representation, it still wasn't enough to persuade the execs at the top that this was a project worth taking a shot on.
The one thing we've heard time and time again, as if it was/is newly passed federal legislation is, "Without a major show-runner attached, you won't get a studio". And then conversely, "Without a major studio attached, you won't get a show-runner". Very much like something the Mad Hatter would say.
Eventually, even Sisyphus gets tired of pushing that heavy rock to the top, only to watch it roll back down. In our case, we've had enough of the Catch-22 we keep finding ourselves in.
However, the one thing we learned in all of this, is that screenwriter William Goldman's quote about Hollywood is truer today than ever before: "No one knows anything".
We firmly believe we are going where the future of the business is inevitably heading - Original, online content. And, judging by the fact we still have Rosanna, Ed, Rita and 80s hit-machine Richard Marx waiting patiently to write a few of The Prix' punk hits, and the latest addition, director Gil Junger (10 Things I Hate About You) on board, amongst others, we're feelin' pretty good about things.
Since day one, in every meeting we've taken, we've always said, "Everyone who reads the script and/or sees the trailer asks, 'Why isn't this on television?'" Thus, in spite of all the close calls, I truly believe we're exactly where we need to be. Now, it's time to let you guys decide. If you feel as we do, that this show with these characters, could be as good - if not better - than most of what's currently out there, then perhaps you'll kick in a few bucks to help us make it. If not, no regrets. We will rest easy knowing we gave everything we had.
If You Build It, They Will Come.
We hope you like this show as much as we do and will help us build it.
Have a great holiday,
David, Stephanie, Gina, and Rosanna :)
P.S. A special "Thank You!" to our managers, Greg Weiss and Heather Reynolds @OneEntertainment who've been shopping this thing since the year one and haven't given up!
Risks and challenges
Shooting your own pilot is definitely a risky proposition, even in this day and age, but thanks to that thing called The Interweb, there are numerous outlets in which any series or film can find a home. And, in some cases, several homes.
With each passing day, and with each new or previously established entity declaring their entry into the 'Content Game,' the playing field swings more and more toward the artists' favor. I guarantee you that, by the time we're ready to release this pilot, at least 10 more companies will throw their hat into the content game. Whether they're run by studios, entrepreneurs, celebrities, or a combination of all three, these "digital networks" are the reason artists everywhere can now grab a camera and feel much more confident about getting their work out there. Same as a rock band making a record.
Of course, there's always a chance no one will pick your pilot up. There's always a chance it will turn out like crap. There's always a chance you will run out of money. Having been in these situations before on several shoots, the most important thing is to plan well - which we are, and be realistic about your goals - which we are.
As stated above, we feel very confident there are numerous content providers out there at the moment (Hulu, Amazon, Yahoo, AOL, Google, FacebookTV? -no, not Netflix, as it's run similar to terrestrial networks) and more springing up on a daily basis to increase the chances of this show reaching and acquiring an audience and a fan-base, tenfold, as opposed to just a few years ago. In fact, we are in talks with several already.
It also helps when you surround yourself with people who are great at what they do. Which we are. Through several friends, associates, and Gina's terrific production/casting contacts, we will be able to shoot at Raleigh Studios, L.A. sometime in early February, as well as on-location throughout Los Angeles.
It is our every intention for the final product to look no different than an episode of 'Shameless' or 'Californication' and, due to our double-secret marketing ninjas, draw an audience no different than a premiere on IFC.
Keep in mind, gone are the days where the success/failure of a pilot is determined solely by it's opening night viewers. "Portlandia" debuted to just over 250,000 viewers, but, due to subsequent online and DVR views, reached over a million in the days that followed. Not that we are anticipating the success of a Portlandia, but you get the point.
Depending on which site(s) we ultimately partner with for broadcast, the show will either be released as 4-5 ten-minute long "mini-episodes" or one 'standard-length' cable pilot - or both!
Budgets are in place for a 7-8 day shoot in L.A. and available on request. Every dollar, and then some, will go towards making this show the best it can be. Thanks again for your support! :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)