THINGS KEEP changing in the movie business all the time. A friend of mine has been working on a movie script about a funny cat who does TV commericals. He has very good connections in the film industry and, therefore, thought he would have no trouble seling it to one of the studios.
But Leo hadn't reckoned with the MPPA ratings system, which is supposed to be a guide for audiences as to the content of the pictures.
The first knowledge he had that he was in serious trouble was when is agent called and said, "What's gotten into you? You just sent me a movie script which is for kids."
"It's not only for kids," Leo said defensively. "It's for the whole family."
"But all you can get with it is a 'B' rating!" the agent said. "I can't go to the head of a large studio and ask him to make a 'G' picture. They have their standars to think of."
"Maybe they're looking for a change of pace," Leo suggested. "After all, there hasn't been a 'G picture in years."
"I'll take a stab at it," the agent said, "but they're going to laugh me out of the studios."
Leo later ran into a studio executive at a party and asked him if he had read the script.
The executive was very patronizing. "I loved it. It was really funny and very light. It's a great family picture. We wouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole."
Two days later, Leo was having lunch at Ma Maison with a writer friend.
"I think I ought to tell you this for your own good," the writer said. It's all over town that you wrote a script for a 'G' movie, and I don't think it's doing your reputation any good. Your name came up for a job at one of the major studios the other day involving a picture that included incest, three ax murders and the seduction of a 14-year-old boy by a 40-year-old-woman. Everyone knew about your cat picture and they said that you had lost your touch to write a real movie."
"I beleive in the cat picture. Maybe I can sell it to an independent producer who will take a chance. You never know when a family picture could take off."
"I'm talking to you as a friend," the writer said. "This town is dead set against 'G' films. Your best bet is to take your name off the script before everyone in the business has you marked down as a weirdo."
Leo did get one bite on his project. A producer called him in and said, "I don't like the story now, but maybe you could fix it up."
"Well, let's suppose the cat is owned by this lucious, divorced chick played by Bo Derke, and one night she gets raped in her apartment while the cat is watching. Bo's a mental wreck and seeks help from a doctor like Dustin Hofman. She goes for him and you have this great nude scene between them, which we watch through the eyes of the cat.
"Then they try to find the rapist. The cat recognizes him on the street and chases him across town with Bo and Dustin in hot pursuit. They finally catch him and beat him up. It turns out the rapist is Bo's ex-husband. What do you think of that?"
"You want to make a picture like that for movie theaters?" my friend asked.
"What do you mean theaters?" the producer said. "I want to make it for television."