Skip page navigation

Eric D. Snider

· website | e-mail | twitter

Eric has been a film critic since 1999, and a beard wearer since 2008. He holds a degree in journalism and used to work in "the newspaper industry," back when that was a thing.

Pitch Meeting: ‘Playing for Keeps’

One of the lesser-known elements of the Patriot Act is that it grants all Americans blanket permission to plant hidden microphones in Hollywood studio offices. It’s true! Go ahead and read the Patriot Act for yourself if you don’t believe us! We have listening devices in all the major executive suites in Hollywood, and as part of our ongoing commitment to public service, we bring you a transcript of the meeting that led to the film “Playing for Keeps.”

The Pitch Meeting for ‘Playing for Keeps’

STUDIO EXEC #1: Gentlemen! I come to today’s meeting with a great surprise!
STUDIO EXEC #2: The studio is financially solvent?
STUDIO EXEC #3: California’s age of consent has been lowered?
STUDIO EXEC #4: They found a way to get dead-hooker smell out of Lexus upholstery?
STUDIO EXEC #1: Even better! I found the screenplay that’s going to be our next big hit!
STUDIO EXEC #2: Don’t you mean you found the movie that we’re going to remake into our next big hit? Or the comic book we’re going to adapt into our next big hit? Or the board game whose title we’re going to borrow for our next big hit?
STUDIO EXEC #1: Normally, one of those things would indeed be what I meant. But not this time. This is a wholly original screenplay, not based on anything that already exists.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Well, I’m skeptical, but I’ll sit here and pretend to listen anyway.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Me too, except I’m not even going to pretend. [Puts empty stew pot over his head]
STUDIO EXEC #4: I’m listening, Studio Exec #1!
STUDIO EXEC #1: Thanks, #4. Trust me on this one. It’s a story about a professional soccer player who is reckless and irresponsible, so he gets back to basics by coaching his son’s soccer team. This allows him to prove his worth to his son, to his ex-wife and, most importantly, to himself.
STUDIO EXEC #2: “He was a pro at soccer and an amateur at life!”
STUDIO EXEC #1: What?
STUDIO EXEC #2: Sorry! Sometimes when I hear a brilliant idea, I blurt out a tagline for the trailer!
Playing for KeepsSTUDIO EXEC #1: Oh! Yes! That’s perfect. I should mention that the guy is handsome and charming, so his kid’s teammates’ mothers have crushes on him.
STUDIO EXEC #3: All right, you’ve convinced me. Even though this screenplay isn’t based on something that I’ve seen before, it sounds familiar, as if I’ve already paid to see it dozens of times in my life and am eager to pay to see it again.
STUDIO EXEC #2: I’m still unsure. Who wrote this screenplay? Screenplays are the things that have “writers,” right? Am I using that word correctly?
STUDIO EXEC #1: Yes, it was written by the man who wrote “So I Married an Axe Murderer.”
STUDIO EXEC #2: Fantastic! He won the Pulitzer for that, didn’t he?
STUDIO EXEC #1: I believe so.
STUDIO EXEC #4: Well, I’m convinced. This movie sounds like it will be very familiar and sellable and won’t cost very much to make and can run on a continuous loop on TBS in three years. But who will star in it? Who has the right mix of generic handsomeness and forgettable charm?
STUDIO EXEC #1: I have five words for you: Gerard Butler.
STUDIO EXEC #2: Perfect! The man is gold on the silver screen!
STUDIO EXEC #3: He makes the silver screen turn gold!
STUDIO EXEC #4: He goldenizes all silver things, especially screens!
STUDIO EXEC #1: It’s true. In the six years since he starred in “300,” he’s made 82 films, and almost half of them were profitable once they factored in DVD sales and made some numbers up.
Playing for KeepsSTUDIO EXEC #2: Can his ex-wife be someone ridiculously beautiful who’s too young for him?
STUDIO EXEC #1: I have Jessica Biel lined up.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Excellent. Now, let’s talk titles. It sounds like this isn’t a “holiday” movie, but it’s the kind of movie that doesn’t really have a story that we release in December because it’s cheerful and your mom will want to see it.
STUDIO EXEC #4: Moms love Gerard Butler.
STUDIO EXEC #3: Right. And as you know, we like our non-holiday December movies to have titles as interchangeable and meaningless as the films themselves. “It’s Complicated.” “How Do You Know.” “Something’s Gotta Give.” “As Good As It Gets.”
STUDIO EXEC #1: I suspect you’ll be pleased when you hear what this one is called.
STUDIO EXEC #4: May we make some guesses first?
STUDIO EXEC #1: By all means.
STUDIO EXEC #2: “Whatever You Say”?
STUDIO EXEC #3: “Now You Tell Me”?
STUDIO EXEC #4: “For What It’s Worth”?
STUDIO EXEC #2: “By All Means”?
STUDIO EXEC #3: “It Is What It Is”?
STUDIO EXEC #4: “Don’t Give Me That”?
STUDIO EXEC #2: “In It to Win It”?
STUDIO EXEC #3: “Why I Oughta…”?
STUDIO EXEC #4: “Nobody Asked You”?
STUDIO EXEC #2: “Whaddaya Gonna Do, Am I Right?”?
STUDIO EXEC #3: “This Guy Knows What I’m Talkin’ About”?
STUDIO EXEC #1: All very good guesses, but no. The title of the film is “Playing for Keeps.”
STUDIO EXEC #4: I was just about to say “Playing for Keeps”!
STUDIO EXEC #2: “He was a pro at running a movie studio but an amateur at guessing titles!”
STUDIO EXEC #3: Gold!

“Playing for Keeps” is in theaters Dec. 7. The preceding is a work of fiction.


Categories: Features

Tags: Catherine zeta-jones, Dennis quaid, Gerard butler, Jessica biel, Judy greer, Playing for Keeps, Uma thurman