Mike Myers emerges from a nondescript office building, adjusts his toupee, and strides toward a sleek BMW in the parking lot. It's night and the lot is dark. He reaches into the pocket of his Christian Dior slacks, fishes for his keys, and spills change onto the ground. "Goddamn it!" he mutters, then stoops to grab a quarter rolling in concentric circles on the asphalt. The quarter eludes him, but Myers perseveres. It finally stops, and he snatches it. "Heads, I win!" he shouts. "I always win!"
He slides the quarter back into the pocket of his slacks, taps it appreciatively, opens the BMW with a touch of the keyless remote, gets in the car, and squeals out of the parking lot. Speeding down a two-lane road through a light-industrial area, Myers divides his attention between driving and cueing up track seven on his Mikis Theodorakis CD Canto Olympico.
He doesn't notice the car slowing down in front of him until he is almost on its bumper, and then he stomps on the brakes. "Move it, buddy," he shouts through his open window. "My time is money!" There's no stop sign, but the car ahead brakes anyway. Myers pounds the steering wheel with his fist. "Drive, dammit, drive!" he shouts. He's so angry he barely notices the dark blue Ford Mustang that has pulled alongside his car, heading in the opposite direction. Then he realizes the Mustang has stopped.
In one sickening second, the scenario becomes crystal clear. Myers turns his head to the left just as the driver's window of the Mustang drops, revealing the barrel of a gun.
If the story sounds familiar, it should. With a nod to cinematic license, it's the tale of the last few minutes in the life of Hollywood (Florida) multimillionaire businessman Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, who was murdered gangland style in Fort Lauderdale in February. Boulis's death launched a thousand conspiracy theories. And now it has launched a screenplay by Hollywood activist and filmmaker John Lundin.
"It's fascinating," says Lundin, age 47, taking a break from his job running the audio-visual equipment for conferences at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale. "You've got public figures, politicians, made-for-TV violence. Not to mention that he was an arrogant motherfucker."
The story does have the makings of a decent TV movie. Add to that Lundin's naked political agenda, and Undercurrents is thinking minor splash. "It's a political tool to destroy [Hollywood mayor] Mara Giulianti," says Lundin. "She has all the money, and the people who oppose her are always at a disadvantage."
That reduces the project -- working title Hollywood Gambler: The Gus Boulis Story -- to the level of propaganda. But don't hold that against Lundin. It's a case of art imitating life, and political life in Hollywood is as seamy as it gets.
For the most part, the plot sticks to the facts of Boulis's life but occasionally detours into the kind of dark fantasy that inhabits the mind of every conspiratorial Hollywood activist. (Lord knows plenty of them reside in Tinsel Town East.)
Lundin's choice of Myers in the starring role is questionable; Austin Powers as a Greek tycoon? The only rationale Lundin gives is that Myers wears a toupee about as well as Boulis did. Hey, it's Lundin's movie.
The script opens with the murder of Boulis. After a swirling montage of news coverage, it moves back in time two years to find the tycoon on his SunCruz casino ship meeting with a pair of sleazy lobbyists (Hollywood, California, typecasting). The lobbyists urge Boulis to pay off Giulianti if he wants to do business in Hollywood, and the gregarious Greek acquiesces. The three men share a hearty laugh, and the camera pans out to reveal a newspaper reporter (Undercurrents believes we would be perfect for the role) hiding in the shadows, watching the meeting.
Subsequent scenes involve heroic beach activists battling a corrupt mayor, who can't pocket Boulis's cash fast enough. In one scene the sheriff swoops in and confiscates the multimillionaire's gambling machines, but the mayor pulls a few strings and gets the charges dropped. As payback she demands Boulis build a high-rise on the beach.
Soon a greedy Washington, D.C., developer jumps into the cesspool, throwing his weight behind the high-rise. But vociferous activists save the day when they shout down high-rise backers at an emotionally charged city commission meeting. Meanwhile Boulis hits hard times when he's forced to sell his casino boats because he lied about his U.S. citizenship to the feds. Depressed and angry, he physically attacks the man who buys his boats, unwittingly sealing his fate.
A murderous cabal of the mayor, the developer, and the boat buyer convene in a closed-door session to discuss the Boulis "problem." A few days later, across town, Boulis meets with his confidants in a scene reminiscent of the Last Supper. Both the boat buyer and the D.C. developer are there, dual Judases ready to betray their friend.
Boulis gets in his car after the meeting, and the rest is bloody history.
Entertaining, yes. But will it get made? Undercurrents has doubts.
Lundin went to film school, and he has a couple minor credits to his name -- most notably Morning Swim, a political talk show pilot he produced for WAMI in 1999, and a documentary on the Miami goth scene titled Gothic that aired on the same station, also in 1999. He's betting heavily on his film-school contacts giving him a hand, but it's funny how people suddenly get real busy when you push a screenplay across their desks.
He's lived in Hollywood for five years and ran for city commission in 1998. "I will never run for anything like that again for the rest of my life," he muses. "It's got to be the worst job in the world."
Why? People like him, for one reason.
"People in Hollywood attack you," he says, fully aware of the irony. "Look at me. I'm trying to destroy Mara's reputation."
While we're at the movies, we might as well mention that South Florida is the likely backdrop of another flick -- this one scripted by Tony Tarantino, a.k.a. Quentin's dad.
The working title is New Horizons, and Undercurrents has a copy of the screenplay in our waterlogged claw. Speaking from his office in Lancaster, California, Tarantino Sr. describes his baby as "a chick flick, because it has a serious love story," but to us it reads more like an action/adventure/sci-fi vehicle for Tom Cruise. In other words it's a typical Hollywood offering these days.
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Tony Tarantino wrote the screenplay with Cruise in mind. "I said, "Shit, this kid deserves an Academy Award. I'm going to write the vehicle that gets him one.'" Cruise isn't 100 percent onboard yet, he notes. But the deal is this close to closing. (Translation from Hollywoodspeak: Give it a 50-50 shot.) It's an independent effort from the man who heads the production company responsible for obscure movies including Family Tree and the soon-to-be-released Holy Hollywood, along with a TV series or two and a few radio programs.
The story revolves around Jim Terrell, a young lad raised by his rich uncle Al Terrell after the untimely death of mom and pop. Al heads up Terrell Pharmaceuticals, a company that -- unbeknownst to its stockholders -- has perfected human cloning.
Young Jim leads a carefree lifestyle, but he lacks true love. Then he meets Jolene Coe (Tarantino would like to see Catherine Zeta-Jones in the role), who is on the lam from a Colombian drug lord. They hop aboard Jim's boat, the New Horizons, with hopes of sailing away from the world's troubles. Alas, the Colombians catch up to Jolene, and she has a terrible "accident." As she lies dying, Uncle Al sends a special medical team to extract her DNA. Meanwhile Jim vows revenge and goes Rambo on the Colombians. Once his murderous rampage is complete, he returns home to raise his "son" and "daughter," who turn out -- plot twist coming -- to be clones of himself and Jolene!
The yacht scenes will be filmed here and in New England and Italy, says producer Annie Gabriel, who is in town scouting for locations and extras. She hopes to start filming in June or July. New Horizons could cost as much as $90 million to make, says Gabriel. "We're still working on funding," she says in an annoyingly cheerful singsong. Ciao, baby.