A Big Draw

President’s Message

By Jerry Zezima
President
National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima

(SCENE: The office of Ron Howard at Imagine Entertainment in Beverly Hills, California. It’s noon. The door opens.)

SECRETARY
“Mr. Zezima is here to see you, Mr. Howard.”

HOWARD
“Who’s Mr. Zezima?”

SECRETARY
“That newspaper columnist who won the charity raffle to pitch his idea for a movie or TV project.”

HOWARD
“You mean that guy with the dumb idea for a sitcom?”

SECRETARY (apologetically)
“That’s the one.”

HOWARD (sighing)
“OK, show him in. But come back in five minutes. I’ve got a lunch date with Spielberg.”

ZEZIMA (bursting into the office with hand extended)
“Ronny, Ronny, Ronny!”

HOWARD (ashen and spluttering as the two men lock hands)
“It’s, uh, nice to meet you, Mr. Zezima.”

ZEZIMA
“The pleasure’s all yours.” (He chortles.) “That’s a joke.”

HOWARD (extracting his hand)
“Of course.”

(The two men take seats opposite each other.)

HOWARD
“So tell me about your idea, Mr. Zezima. But please make it short. I have a luncheon appointment.”

ZEZIMA
“With Spielberg?”

HOWARD
“How did you know?”

ZEZIMA
“I have a reservation at the same restaurant.”

HOWARD (moaning softly)
“All right, let’s hear it.”

ZEZIMA
“You remember that great movie and subsequent TV series you created, ‘Parenthood’?”

HOWARD
“Yes.”

ZEZIMA
“Here’s my idea: ‘Grandparenthood.’ I can see it now: I play myself, a kindly but slightly confused newspaper columnist living with three generations under one roof. The only one who really understands me is my 3-year-old granddaughter, who is already more mature than I am. Naturally, I’ll write the series, too, with lots of great jokes and snappy dialogue.”

HOWARD
“You mean lines like, ‘The pleasure’s all yours’?”

ZEZIMA (chuckling)
“You have a good memory.”

HOWARD (looking at his watch)
“How could I forget?”

ZEZIMA
“Well, what do you think, Ronny?”

HOWARD (politely)
“Ron. Actually, Mr. Howard.”

ZEZIMA
“The name Howard has a great Hollywood legacy. Remember Shemp, Moe and Curly?”

HOWARD (frantically pressing the button on his desk to summon his secretary)
“I’m sorry to cut this short, Mr. Zezima, but I’ll have to think about it. Before you go, however, I have one question: How did you ever win that drawing?”

ZEZIMA
“I put my name in the hat 47 times.”

HOWARD (rising as his secretary re-enters the office)
“Thank you, Mr. Zezima. I’ll have my people call your people.”

ZEZIMA
“I don’t have people.”

HOWARD (to his secretary)
“Please show Mr. Zezima out.”

SECRETARY
“Right this way, Mr. Zezima.”

(As Zezima exits, he trips on an untied shoelace, falls and hits his head on the corner of Howard’s desk. An inky blackness envelops him and he passes out. When he wakes up, he is in his own bed at home.)

Faux streetsign of Hollywood at Sunset,, at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort

Actually, this street sign post is at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Too far to walk from the hotel.
Wikipedia photo

ZEZIMA (to his wife, Sue, who is next to him)
“My God, it was all a dream!”

SUE (yawning)
“What was a dream, dear?”

ZEZIMA
“I dreamt I was in Ron Howard’s office, pitching my idea for a sitcom.”

SUE
“I told you not to have that second glass of wine at dinner.”

(Zezima sits up in bed and thinks about the circumstances that have led to this crazy situation. With harp music playing softly in the background, as it does whenever a sitcom character is thinking, Zezima recalls looking forward to the National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ conference in Los Angeles June 24-26.
(He remembers that one of the highlights will be the panel headed by Bruce Cameron, “Pitching a Column as a Television Show or Movie.” The panel will include several Hollywood insiders.
(Attendees have a chance to offer a pitch to a panel member by entering a drawing for the modest sum of $20. They can enter as many times as their beer money will allow. The money will go to the NSNC Education Foundation. The information all comes back to Zezima, who hops out of bed, logs onto his computer and registers for the conference.)

ZEZIMA (to Sue)
“I’m going to win that drawing and meet Ron Howard.”

SUE (smiling)
“The pleasure will be all yours.”

(Fade out. Cue sitcom jingle. End credits roll.)

• • •

Stamford Advocate humor columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of three books. His latest is Grandfather Knows Best.

• • •

This piece first was published in the April 2016 issue of The Columnist, the monthly membership newsletter of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

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