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Semi-Weekend Shenanigan: The Big Payback?

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This is a sort of flashback shenanigan.  Something that’s bothered me the last couple of years and has really been on my mind of late...


A few years back, before my wife’s cancer recurred, and our lives were thrown further into a tailspin, I worked on a television show.  I made friends with one of the writers working on the show and I even arranged for him and his friends (and girlfriend, now wife) to use my mom’s house for a weekend.  The house is in a pretty choice location, especially if you’re coming from a 1920s one bathroom apartment with no air conditioning in an inland Los Angeles summer.  It was a generous favor on my part.


I had previously told him about my wife’s situation, which was no small inclusion because I typically wouldn’t tell people about it.  It wasn’t doing them any favors, and unless they could care cancer, it wouldn’t get me anything other than the ‘sympathy face.’


When the Academy Award nomination ‘screeners’ were sent out, my friend – let’s call him Ira – Ira, was excited as he’d just been admitted into the WGA and this was his first batch of screeners with his name supposedly embedded in the disc.  It’s a mixed bag:  you receive some movies, but not all of them.  So trading and borrowing is pretty common place.


I asked to borrow a movie which I presently can’t remember the name of.  Though it had not been released at that time, it would turn out to be a flop.  Wait, just remembered...”The Lovely Bones.”  Depressing movie.  Not that good on top of it all.


Shortly thereafter, and unbeknownst to me, my wife lent that screener to my mom.  A giant mistake as my mom will find a way to lose anything important.  Purses, cash, screeners.


Of course, she soon lost it and I had to explain to Ira, awkwardly, what had happened and that I even drove to my mom’s house to look for it and could not find it.  I screwed up.  I should’ve had total control over that DVD, and though I thought it was in safe hands at my house, it was taken away and lost forever in the mom abyss. 


About this same time, my wife was showing some not sensible behavior, such as loaning out screeners, forgetting things, random acts of anger and so on.  I would later realize that her brain tumor(s) were back and these were the creeping symptoms.


Ira was pissed, and wouldn’t let it go.  “Call your mom right now.  Tell her I’m driving down to look for it.  I don’t care if she’s asleep...”  And so on.  Very unreasonable, very put upon.


I went to a fairly important party later that week, taking my wife.  Ira took his girlfriend and needless to say, my wife felt awful.  We left early.  Though she had previously met and liked Ira, he wouldn’t acknowledge her this night.  He was now taking the situation and lording it over me.  I did not appreciate it, but I created the problem and was stuck with it. 


I told Ira I would figure a way to remedy the situation.  At first, he would ask me about it literally about every hour.  Really rubbing it in.


After a couple days he was not talking to me, which, in the close confines of putting a tv show together, is very bad mojo and if the executive producers and/or showrunner gets wind of this, things can be bad and there can be firings.  You do not mess with the energy in the office.  So, it was a very delicate matter and I had to watch the politics of it all.


I called a mutual friend of mine and Ira’s and told him my situation.  He laughed his ass off.  “I borrowed a screener from him and he’s never even asked about it.  Nobody cares.”


So, he was clearly using the f’ing screener as energy against me, for who knows what.  Maybe he was pissed he wasn’t climbing the ranks faster on the show, and hadn’t been given a writing assignment/episode yet and I was the dog that got beat.


Hearing this, I decided to get a copy of that screener, but do it in a way that would show Ira I meant business.  If Ira wanted to make this a bigger deal for personal gain, I could also engage.  


I called a friend who is pretty connected.  Actually, I called his assistant because my friend would be pissed I was using his time for this tiny favor.


It worked like a charm.  The assistant contacted Ari Emanual’s office.  Ari’s pretty much the gnarliest agent in town, then and now.  He’s the template for Ari Gold in “Entourage.”  More importantly, he’s the agent to some of the big wigs working on the show and was/is a necessary cog to the studio producing the show, so word might get around but with things getting lamer in the office, it was worth the controversy it could cause.


Ari Emanual’s office messengered a screener to our show’s office that afternoon.  (I remember the call from Ari’s assistant:  “The soonest I can have it to you is this afternoon.  Is that acceptable?”)  Uh, yes.  Quite.


So, “The Lovely Bones” arrives via messenger.  I waited until Ira was by himself in the kitchen.  I didn’t want to discuss it in front of the staff, though I was tempted.  “Here ya go dude.  I’m really sorry it took so long.”


“You found it!?  Where was it?”


“No,” I told him.  “Still haven’t found it.  I called in a favor to Ari Emanual’s office.  He had it sent over just now.  I told him how important it was to you and the atmosphere in the office was suffering because I lost your screener.”


The Home Depot paint department doesn’t stock the shade(s) of red Ira’s face turned.


Then, “You told my boss!?”  Ira literally put his hands to his head and pulled on his hair.  By ‘boss’ he meant the show runner of the show who was represented by Ari.  He knew right away that word could well circle back that Ira was having a hissy fit over a stupid screener.  Point made.


Furthermore, Ira was represented by Ari’s agency but by a junior agent, and the junior agent would likely hear about it from Ari’s assistant (“Why are we being bothered with this screener for this baby writer?”)  Might even bill the messenger service to Ira for all I know.  I knew this wouldn’t get Ira into any real trouble, but I thought it important for him to know that if he’s going to make a bigger deal of something than it really has to be, AND he starts messing with my workplace (ergo, my wife’s all important health insurance!), then there’s only so far one can push. 


So, as you might imagine, Ira doesn’t talk to me for the rest of the season.  I didn’t care no more because I had a pretty good idea Ira wouldn’t be back the following season, if there was one (he wasn’t.  Pretty much the entire staff was cleared out when the show runner was replaced.  I had the inside scoop on this).


But, still, Ira’s behavior continued to disrupt the work environment.  He’d shoot down my ideas, and so forth.  These are big issues in tv land.


Sometime after, when my wife was getting sicker and sicker, the issues with Ira kept popping up in my head.  He knew my wife was not doing great and yet he used this fracking screener as a weapon against me.  My thoughts were something like, “You know, he’s got it pretty good...he’s making a tv writers wages, his fiance is healthy, and he has no idea how shitty it can be.  Maybe I should send him an email if only to let him know that the stress he put on my wife wasn’t healthy for her.  He needs a head’s up that life can turn on a dime.  His included...”


A thought it petty at the time and would continue to ignore these thoughts bouncing around.  Maybe he learned his lesson.  Maybe he didn’t.  I doubt it. 


But lately, I’ve wanted to do something.  This will probably sound ridiculous to those who haven’t experienced it, but I feel my wife’s presence and picture her face when I think about Ira’s actions.  No pushover, she hated to be walked on and she always stuck up for herself.  Maybe I’m using her as an excuse, but it seems like she wants me to give Ira – not in a mean spirited way – an idea about his actions.  I feel like she’s asking me to stick up for her by maybe sending an email or something.  I dunno.  Crazy, I know, but that’s the shite that goes through my head sometimes when I flashback to everything she went through.


I also think of YK’s famous egg tossing incident.  How good that must’ve felt for YK.


James Brown had a song about payback, not coincidentally called “The Big Payback.”  “I don’t know karate, but I know crazy...”


What would you do?  Payback?



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DR, as you know this industry can be filled with a bunch of self serving, petty people. You can't undo the past but an email would just insure the future with this guy will always be unpleasant.


A long time ago I was told by a very successful facility owner everyone knows everyone in this business and although that is not exactly true the fact is everyone knows someone and those someones may not know you and your situation with Ira and your wife, so why risk getting an unearned reputation with a prospective employer?


You had your Home Depot shades of red moment already and I'm sure you had shared that with your wife. That moment passed and it is time to leave it there. Get your career back in order, be successful again and see Date Chick more.

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I agree with Eric. I see nothing to be gained at this point by continuing to rehash an incident that happened so long ago. It may also have negative consequences for you down the road, in the unlikely event that "Ira" has some input into your hiring for a project with someone who listens to him. We don't fix the past by reliving it.

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Yeah.  She will look down on you from above with love and admiration for dropping the issue.  You are a great man.  He is not.    This catches up to people in life.  You've shown us all here how strong of a person you are and what character you have enduring such loss. 


Keep traveling forward DR.   You're on the right path without looking for the hitchhikers in your rear-view mirror.

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If I learned anything from my Pop, it is that you cannot always just speak your mind. Pops has been screwed more than once for making a stand at the wrong time or for an issue that in the grand scheme of things wasn't that important.

As hard as it might be, let this one go.

Edited by Slegnaac
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If I learned anything from my Pop, it is that you cannot always just speak your mind. Pops has been screwed more than once for making a stand at the wrong time or for an issue that in the grand scheme of things wasn't that important.

As hard as it might be, let this one go.


My father was career military. He never got that one last promotion he was seeking. Men who served with him told me years later it was because he spoke his mind too freely too often, usually without caring who was in the vicinity. He was quick to point out what was being done wrong, and what he thought about the people making the ultimate decisions. He was very good at what he did, but because of his continual complaining he never made the last step.


This is in the past. As painful as it is to deal with, your wife is gone. She will gain no benefit from you pursuing this further. You defended her honor when she was around to know it, and that is what counts. I'm sure she was grateful.


You are a better man than "Ira". Prove it by not stooping to his tactics.

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