(I expect all of those hashtags to be trending by morning. You have your assignment.)
Anyway, today feels like a day for an #AbbyBlog, and in the grand tradition (this is the second #AbbyTour blog post!) of applying no rhyme or reason to the order of #AbbyTour blogs, today we're going to focus on a few different highlights from the trip. But you see, there is a bit of a common thread.
When you're visiting New York City, you can't help but feel like you are in a postcard or, if you're movie-obsessed like I am, you can't help but feel like you have walked onto the world's largest movie set.
Welcome to New York, through the eyes of a pop culture junkie.
That photo was taken from the Empire State Building, which, of course, is practically a full time movie set. You may think of King Kong, An Affair To Remember, or any number of other film appearances. For me, the Empire State Building in movies is respresented by three scenes:
- Buddy pushing all of the buttons in the elevator in Elf. Was not surprised, but still disappointed, to discover the Observation Deck elevators run on remote control. Yeah. Good move, ESB.
- The aliens' synchronization to, you know, destroy Earth, culminating with the spaceship opening up over, and soon destroying, the Empire State Building in Independence Day. ("It's so pretty...")
- Sleepless In Seattle, Sleepless In Seattle, Sleepless In Seattle
Love the script. Let’s do it. (But you do know that the point was for us to work together, don’t you?) Call me when you get back.
That short note f rom Tom Hanks, in my mailbox the day after I got home from Paris, was actually the first time I had thought about Sleepless In Seattle since I sent it off to him. I’d kind of forgotten that I had sent it, with everything that had happened since.
The plot as it existed in the first draft of the script was basically what the movie ended up being, at least at its core. A young, charming widower uproots his young son and moves to Seattle after the death of his wife. He ends up on a late night radio show and comes to be known as “Sleepless In Seattle.” And while thousands of women all across the country want to be with him, one woman on the opposite coast feels a deep connection to “Sleepless” and sets about meeting him. Of course they are soul mates and destined to be together. That was the original plot.
After I received Tom’s note, and I knew that we were going to make this movie happen (since all Tom Hanks has to say is “Let’s do it” and studios will jump at the chance to get it done), I set aside My Best Friend’s Wedding and pulled out Sleepless In Seattle again, and that was probably for the best. With MBFW, the first draft featured the names of Chris and Abby and Isabelle and George - I wasn’t even trying to disguise what it was about. Ultimately only George’s character got to keep his name, but the George of my MBFW counterpart Julianne, as she was eventually christened, was gay, so at least I made some small attempt to show it wasn’t exactly like my life.
Sleep deprivation was kicking in. I was jet lagged and had worked on MBFW all night long, and I had just written a version of Chris’s wedding weekend dinner party in which all of the guests joined together in singing Burt Bacharach’s “I Say A Little Prayer For You.” The scene made me laugh, and I knew there was no way it would actually make it into the film (what do I know?), but there was something very satisfying picturing the Duchesnays with lobster bibs on, doing their best Dionne Warwick imitations. My writing had become my therapy.
I set it aside, pulled out and re-read Sleepless, and started making revisions. Of course, that’s what you do, right? If Tom Hanks says he loves your script, you should instantly set about changing it! I just had some new ideas, stemming from my state of mind at the time, that I thought would make it even better, and I wanted to get it where I wanted it before I called Tom.
First, I gave Annie, my heroine, a fiancé. I knew that she and “Sleepless,” formally known as Sam, would still end up together, but I really wanted her to go out on a limb and take a chance on what could be rather than what was safe and secure. It was what I wished Chris and I could have done, and like I said, unlike in real life, you can get away with it in the movies.
The second change I made became a theme throughout the story. I introduced the idea of bad timing. Sam and Annie would just keep barely missing each other. You knew they were destined for each other, and if only one thing after another after another would get out of their way...
I called Tom after the changes were made, and he was even more anxious to make the film. He did tell me, however, that I had better get to work on the next film for the two of us, because our five minutes of screen time together in Sleepless wasn’t going to cut it.
You're welcome, Hollywood directors, I've made it easy for you.
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