THE KING OF HOLLYWOOD
We see a stylishly dressed young man about 32 years old sitting at a desk covered with framed photos in a dimly lit office. A phone, computer and several stacks of papers and files complete the scene. The young man, Eugene Hummel, is talking on the phone. He is very animated and a little loud. He appears to be closing a deal regarding a movie. Names like “Bobby DeNiro”, “Julia”, “Soderbergh” and “Alan Ball” are being mentioned. Amounts like “a Hundred Mill” and terms like “Options” and “European Distribution Rights” enter the conversation.
Suddenly the door opens and lights come on.
Cue music – “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”
The room is dingier than we first assumed. We notice that the computer is just an unplugged monitor, the phone is not wired to the wall and the photos are of Hollywood personalities with cutout pictures of Eugene scotch taped to them – a crude attempt to insert himself into the picture.
Flo Hummel: Eugene, honey! Dinner time.
Eugene: Maaaaaaaaa! I told you not to bother me without knocking first. I was in the middle of a big deal!
Flo: Yes, dear, I’m sorry. Now come on, it’s your favorite - Franks and Beans.
Eugene rises and walks to the door still complaining. His mother smiles indulgently.
Eugene stops suddenly.
Eugene: Franks and Beans … Franks … Frank … Frank Stallone! I have just the part for him!
Eugene rushes up the stairs.
A montage of sights and sounds. Southern California. L.A. Hollywood. South Central L.A. West Hollywood.
We see several scenes depicting Eugene’s life. It is as unexciting as you could imagine.
Eugene works as a bag boy at the local “Pig in a Poke” supermarket in West Hollywood. He’s not very good at it. He has to wear a white shirt, black tie and pants as part of his “Pig in a Poke” uniform. His boss, Rahj, (a pimply kid of about 19) constantly criticizes him about the quality of his work. According to Rahj, Eugene's shirt is never white enough and his tie is never tied well enough.
Eugene has no friends. Whenever he is not in his “office” brokering deals or writing scripts, he is watching TV. Sometimes he sits with his mother in the dark watching old movies or entertainment news on E!. Other times he is alone, watching videotapes he rents from the supermarket at an employee’s discount.
Whenever “Dad” gets mentioned, Eugene’s mother cuts off the conversation and changes the subject to more “pleasant and pleasing topics”.
One day, while taking out the trash at the supermarket, Eugene notices a cell phone laying on the ground next to the dumpster. He looks around. Surreptitiously, he picks up the cell phone and slips it into his pants pocket.
Eugene can’t wait for work to be over. The second that the clock hits 5 pm, he tears off his apron, punches out, grabs his jacket, and flies out the door.
He grabs a bus at the corner of North Sweetzer and Route 2. As he sits on the bus, a physical change seems to come over him. His normal slouch is gone. He takes off his tie and stuffs it into his jacket pocket. As the bus turns onto Fountain, he begins to whistle. He fixes his collar. He puts on dark glasses. A left onto Vine. He appears more confident. Self assured. The bus stops at the corner of Hollywood & Vine. A very much different Eugene gets off and strides up the boulevard. He snaps open the cell phone and begins talking.
Halfway up the block, a pretty, blonde woman who was window-shopping, makes a sharp turn and bumps into Eugene knocking the cell phone out of his hand. Eugene quickly bends over to pick it up. He holds it to his ear.
Elaine: Oh, I'm so sorry. Please … (she continues to apologize)
Eugene: Hello … Hello … Bob?? Hello …
Elaine: It’s all my fault. I’ve always been clumsy. Was it important? …
Eugene: Whoa. It’s OK. Bob will understand. (Holds phone to ear and shakes it) But this phone is in trouble.
Elaine: I'm so sorry. Was this important? Who’s Bob?
Eugene: Zemeckis. And yeah, it was. But you know Bob. He’ll be OK about it.
Elaine gives a blank stare at the name.
Eugene: Bob Zemeckis … Robert Zemeckis … Back to the Future … Roger Rabbit … Forrest Gump … Cast Away?
Elaine: Is he an actor?
Eugene: No. A director. He directed all of those movies. He's one of the really important men in Hollywood.
Elaine: In the movies!!! And you know him?
Eugene: Yeah. Among others.
Elaine: Oh. Among others. You must be pretty important.
Eugene: Well, I work hard. Bring talent to light. Scripts - actors. Get movies “greenlighted”. You know.
Elaine: Well, I won’t bother you anymore. Once again - sorry.
Elaine turns to leave.
Eugene: Wait. I’ll call Bob later. And the rest of my afternoon is open. So … do you want to get a cappuccino, or something?
Elaine : (turning back) I’d love to. If you’re sure …
Elaine: Just a sec. I now know Bob Zemeckis, but do you have a name?
Eugene: Sorry. I’m Eugene Hummel, the King of Hollywood.
Elaine: Very nice to meet you, King Eugene. I’m Elaine Karpinski.
They shake hands, smiling.
They go to a small café near Argyle Ave. As they sip their cappuccino, Elaine opens up to Eugene. She tells him that she just arrived in Hollywood a week ago from Kansas with her brother, Duane. A twister destroyed their family’s farm, so they decided to head west to make a new start. Duane was going to start an auto repair shop, and Elaine was going to help with the start-up money by working in commercials. Eugene is extremely taken with her.
They talk until dark. Elaine notices the time and tells Eugene that she has to leave. Duane will be waiting to pick her up. Eugene offers to walk her back. She accepts with a smile.
They walk back to the corner of Hollywood & Vine. A young man is standing next to a ten year old Toyota. It’s Duane. Elaine waves – he waves back. She thanks Eugene for a very nice time and begins walking toward Duane.
Eugene: Elaine! Wait a sec.
Elaine stops and turns.
She begins to walk back toward him.
Eugene: Funny thing. Y’see, I just realized that I have a couple free hours around lunchtime tomorrow. And I was wondering …
Elaine: You were wondering … what?
Eugene: Would you have lunch with me tomorrow?
Elaine: Lunch? Why …
Eugene: C’mon, you’ll love it. I know this nice little place – on Sunset near Schrader. How about it? Meet me there? Noon?
Elaine smiles and gives Eugene a kiss on the cheek. She turns and walks toward the car. She stops and looks back.
Elaine: See you tomorrow. Noon.
She gets in the Toyota with Duane and they drive off into the night. Eugene stands there for a moment. A big smile spreads across his face. He turns and, whistling, heads down Vine Street.
Eugene and Elaine see each other every day for the next week. Eugene is walking on air. They are getting closer and closer. Eugene is in love. But at the end of every date, Duane and his beat-up Toyota are waiting.
Eugene wants to get to know Duane better. He talks about this to Elaine. He wants to calm any fears that Duane may have about his sister’s welfare with Eugene. One night Eugene makes arrangements to have a drink with Duane. They meet in a small bar off Melrose. They exchange pleasantries for a few minutes. An awkward silence ensues.
Eugene: Well, Duane, how’s the repair shop coming?
Duane: Oh, fine … ah, shit … it’s not going at all.
Eugene: What do you mean?
Duane: Everything is far more expensive out here than we imagined. Elaine hasn’t been able to catch any commercial work. And now Mom …
Duane: Yeah. She’s back in Kansas with Aunt Minnie. She needs an operation. We sent all the money we had … but …
Eugene: Are you guys going to be OK?
Duane: I don’t know. We’re living hand to mouth right now. I’m picking up some odd jobs … anything to earn a buck. If only Elaine could catch a break … She’s got real talent, you know.
Eugene: She can act?
Duane: She’s wonderful. All the leads in the school plays … local TV … studied it for a while in college. But Hell, I guess you gotta know someone out here to catch a break.
Eugene thinks for a moment.
Eugene: Duane, she does know somebody out here.
Duane: Oh no. I couldn’t ask you to … it’s not right … such an imposition …
Eugene: Nonsense. I’d be glad to. C’mon … you need connections … I’ve got connections. Let me do this. Listen, if she’s as good as you say, this will make me money. What do you say?
Duane sits silently. Moments pass.
Duane: OK. As long as it’s not an imposition.
Eugene: Done deal, my friend … done deal.
Eugene goes home. He’s frantic. How can he help her? How can he help the woman he loves? He paces the floor of his “office”. Hours pass. He sits down behind his desk. Soon, he falls asleep in his desk chair.
He wakes up the next morning. He pulled pages of “Variety” over him in lieu of a blanket. As he takes them off, he notices an article - “Thornton to Direct ‘My Eyes Denied You’ for Miramax”. He reads the article. It says that Billy Bob Thornton wants a fresh, new face to play the role of Melissa, the youngest daughter - a blonde, with a smile like sunshine and a soul in pain. Eugene immediately knows that it must be Elaine in that part.
Eugene still sees Elaine every day. But during the other times, he starts to stalk Billy Bob Thornton.
By sheer luck, Eugene is near Billy Bob when a car jumps the curb and heads straight for him. Eugene pulls Thornton out of the way and from that point forward, Eugene becomes Thornton’s “Lucky Charm”. Eugene now has access to Billy Bob Thornton.
Because of his relationship with Elaine and his obsession with Thornton, Eugene has no time to go to work. One day he stops in to get his paycheck, and Rahj stops him before he gets outside. Rahj is livid. He screams at Eugene. He is firing him and letting everyone hear. He is telling Eugene exactly what he thinks of him.
Eugene calmly picks Rahj up and throws him into the end display of Scott Toilet Tissue. Eugene walks up to Rahj.
Eugene: Have a nice day. And remember, “If high prices make you choke, shop Pig in a Poke”.
Time is running out. He heard from Duane that their mother needs another operation. In Thornton’s office, Eugene confronts Billy Bob directly about casting Elaine as Melissa in the new film. Thornton laughs.
Thornton: Excuse me. An unknown … in a sure fire Oscar nominating role … where the fuck did you get that idea. I’m going to cast Angelina in it. What a fuckin’ kidder you are.
Eugene: I’m not kidding. I read it in “Variety”. She’ll be perfect. You have to give Elaine that role. It’s her. She’s blonde. She’s got the smile. The pain.
During his dialogue, Eugene closes on Thornton, ending up in his face.
Thornton: You, my boy, are a certified nut-job. (call to the bodyguard outside the door) Ralphie! Get in here.
Ralphie: (entering) Yeah, boss?
Thornton: Escort this asshole the fuck off the premises. He’s outstayed his welcome.
Eugene is frantic. As Ralphie approaches, Eugene grabs the gun from Ralphie’s holster and, with a deft maneuver, smashes it into Ralphie’s temple – knocking him unconscious. Eugene then turns to Thornton.
Eugene: Now as I was saying …
Eugene swings the gun at Thornton’s head.
Thornton awakes in a small warehouse. He is alone - tied to a chair sitting under a naked bulb hanging down from the ceiling. Duct tape covers his mouth. He struggles. It’s no use.
Eugene meets with Elaine at the small café where it all began. He tells her he has gotten her an audition with Billy Bob Thornton for the part of Melissa in “My Eyes Denied You”. He tells her that it is a great role – a sure Oscar nominating part. Elaine can’t believe it. It’s too good to be true. How can she ever thank Eugene? Eugene smiles. He tells her to meet him at the South Gate of Exposition Park at 8 that night with Duane. They’ll drive to the audition from there. Elaine leaves Eugene sitting at the table smiling.
Eugene is waiting directly in front of the South Gate. He is pacing and looking at his watch. Duane and Elaine drive up at 8 sharp. He gets in the car and directs them for 5 minutes to a row of old warehouses on a side street. They get out of the car.
Elaine: Is this safe?
Duane: I wouldn’t come here in the daytime, no less after 8 at night.
Eugene: Relax. Billy Bob is scouting locations. Don’t worry. Safe as houses.
Eugene leads them into the third warehouse on the left. He opens the door. They follow him down a short hallway and into an open room. There they see Thornton tied to a chair in the center of the room.
Duane: What the fuck???
Elaine: Are you out of your fucking mind?
Eugene: (confused) What … ?
Duane: Oh, shit. We gotta get out of here! This is kidnapping. Federal shit! Oh, damn it!
Duane starts pacing around the room, muttering.
Elaine goes up to Eugene, who is very confused.
Elaine: Are you crazy!! He’s tied up! I really doubt he’s going to consider me for the part under these conditions! You asshole!
Eugene: But Elaine … I love you … I did this all for you … Duane told me about your Mom’s operation … how you guys were living hand to mouth …
Elaine: But that was only supposed to get you to give us money!! Or line me up with legitimate parts through your contacts. That was the plan!
Eugene: I … don’t understand.
Elaine: You silly, stupid shit. It was a scam. Now do you understand? Duane and I are from Hollywood, not Kansas. There is no sick mother, no farm destroyed by a twister. In fact, Duane isn’t my brother … he’s my husband!
Eugene sinks slowly to the floor. Duane comes up to Elaine.
Duane: C’mon, baby. Let’s get the fuck out of here. We’ll do this again with someone else. But we can’t get caught here. We’ll do time as accessories or something.
They walk toward the door. Duane exits, but Elaine stops and looks back.
Elaine: Tell me something, Eugene. Really. Do you have any contacts? Are you successful, at all? Come on ... tell me. Or are you just a full blown psycho loser?
Eugene stares blankly at the floor. He slowly looks up and stares at Elaine.
Eugene: My name is Eugene Hummel. I’m 32 years old and I live with my mother. I work at the “Pig in a Poke”. I have no friends … And while you may think I am a loser, there once was a time – for a very brief instant - I really was the King of Hollywood.
She exits. Eugene and Billy Bob are alone. Billy Bob bangs his feet on the ground. Eugene doesn’t move. Billy Bob keeps at it. Eventually, Eugene looks up.
Thornton: (jerking his head) MMMMPH. MMMPH.
Eugene rises, walks to Thornton and pulls the duct tape off his mouth.
Thornton: MMMM. Wow. Much. Thanks.
Eugene: I’m really sorry.
Thornton: Boy, what the fuck were you thinking?
Eugene: She had this incredible smile … and I believed everything she said.
Thornton: You know they’re going to call the police from the first payphone they see.
Eugene: You think?
Thornton: Oh, come on, Lucky. They fuckin’ hosed you good. And now they’re going to cover their own asses. Jesus, boy. Wake up and smell the coffee.
Eugene: I really stepped in it, huh?
Thornton: Stepped, sat, laid down and rubbed it in your hair.
Sirens. Approaching fast. Getting louder.
Eugene: (noticing the sirens) They’re here…
Thornton: And so are we.
They fall silent.
Police outside(bullhorn): You in the warehouse! Let the hostage go and surrender!
Thornton: What are you going to do?
Eugene: I don’t know.
They fall silent again. Only the police talking on the bullhorn is heard.
Thornton: (after a while) Can you give me a cigarette? I really need one.
Eugene: Sure. Where are they?
Thornton: Coat pocket. Right side.
Police outside(bullhorn): You have five minutes to respond. Then we will consider the hostage dead and we will come in. In force. Five minutes. Starting NOW!
Eugene takes two cigarettes from the pack. He looks at Billy Bob who nods. Eugene puts one in Billy Bob’s mouth and one in his own. Eugene lights both of them.
Thornton: You giving up? Or fighting it out?
Eugene: Fight it out? With what?
Eugene remembers and looks down at the gun in his belt.
Eugene: Oh, yeah. I forgot.
Thornton: What about me? Will you at least push me off to the side when they storm this place?
Eugene: Oh, sorry.
Eugene unties Billy Bob.
Eugene: Not much point to this now, huh?
Billy Bob stands up and stretches. Suddenly he throws a punch – catching Eugene on the chin. Eugene reels backwards.
Thornton: No hard feelings, Pal. That was just payback for the office. My head still hurts like a bitch.
Eugene: (rubbing his chin) None taken.
Billy Bob points to himself and then the door. Eugene nods. Billy Bob walks to the door and turns back to Eugene.
Thornton: Shit, I kinda like you. C’mon, any chance you’ll give yourself up? Walk out of here with me?
Eugene sadly shakes his head.
Eugene: Go on. Get out of here. You have movies to make.
Billy Bob gives a wave, turns and walks out.
Thornton(O.S.): I’m coming out! I am the hostage! Don’t shoot! I’m coming out!
Eugene takes the cigarette from his mouth and looks at it.
Eugene: And my Mom told me that these would kill me.
Eugene flicks the cigarette away in a high arc toward the corner. It lands near a 55 gallon drum that is leaking. The liquid surrounds the smoldering cigarette butt. It ignites the liquid. The drum explodes knocking Eugene off his feet. The warehouse erupts into flames.
Eugene gets up. The only exit is blocked by the flames. He frantically looks around and sees a metal ladder bolted to the wall – access to the roof. He rushes to the ladder and begins to climb. Higher and higher. He reaches the access hatch to the roof. It’s not locked! The flames are close behind him. He opens the hatch and bursts through to the roof.
Smoke is coming out of the vents on the roof. There are large searchlights shining on the building. Eugene runs left, then right. The vents erupt in flames. The fire is consuming the roof.
Eugene climbs on top of an air conditioning duct near the edge of the roof. The flames are all around him, licking at him. A helicopter from channel 9 news circles the roof. They are filming him. He raises his arms to the sky and shouts …
Eugene: Made it, Ma! Top of the world!
Eugene leaps off the roof of the warehouse – arms spread like the wings of an angel.
He immediately lands in the safety fencing erected around the roof a few feet below the edge. It was installed to save people who accidentally fall off.
Eugene, still in the angel position, closes his eyes and begins to cry softly, as the fire hoses spray the roof and extinguish the flames.
Cue music – “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”
Roll Closing Credits