Summary (Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition)
Joel Coles, a twenty-eight-year-old screenwriter, son of a once-successful stage actress, has spent his childhood between New York and London, trying to separate the real from the unreal. For six months he has been in Hollywood writing scenes and sequences for films as a continuity writer. He is invited to a Sunday cocktail party at the home of the Miles Calmans, a mansion in Beverly Hills “built for great emotional moments.” Miles Calman is the most significant director at the studio; his wife is the star Stella Walker, whom Miles has created (“brought that little gamin alive and made her a sort of masterpiece”). Joel sees the invitation as evidence that he is getting somewhere in his career, as well as an opportunity to mix with the important people of the industry.
Though he resolves not to drink at the party—Miles Calman is “audibly tired of rummies”—Joel breaks his vow. As a result, he performs for the crowd a tasteless impersonation of a crass independent producer, Dave Silverstein, burlesquing the man’s cultural limitations. Tempted to show off for the attentive Stella Calman, Joel seizes on this routine, which has been well received at other parties. The result is disastrous: The feeling of the audience is expressed by the booing from an actor, the Great Lover of filmdom. “It was the resentment of the professional toward the amateur, of the community toward the stranger, the thumbs-down of the clan.”
The next day,...
(The entire section is 809 words.)
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Joel Coles is a twenty-eight-year-old screenwriter who arrived in Hollywood six months ago. Already, he has enjoyed some success and has impressed many of the right people. He is enthusiastic and optimistic, not yet jaded by the competitive industry he has chosen.
It is Sunday, and having been invited to a party at the home of a major director, Miles Calman, Joel imagines how he will impress him. He promises himself he will not drink and that he will prove his worthiness to be in the kind of company Miles keeps. Once he arrives, he is reunited with Stella Walker (now Stella Calman, Miles’s wife), whom he knew as a struggling actress in New York. They are comfortable with each other, and soon Joel has finished a few cocktails. He meets up with another writer, Nat Keogh, and they join the other guests to watch a hired singer perform.
After the singer’s performance, Joel asks Stella if he can entertain the guests with a short act he wrote. She agrees and even stands in as the second actor. As he performs, he realizes that the audience is not enjoying it, and he even hears someone ‘‘boo’’ him. Humiliated, he sends a note to Miles the next morning apologizing for the display. Later, he receives an invitation from Stella to her sister’s house for supper the next Sunday. Delighted, he accepts.
At the supper, Joel and the other guests witness tension between Miles...
(The entire section is 709 words.)