“They’re building an artificial ocean,” the producer says.
“Several, in fact.”
I adjust my sunglasses, look at my hands. Roger readjusts my sunglasses. This moves the producer to get down to business.
He begins gravely. “An idea for a movie. It’s actually an idea that has been halfway realized. It is, as we speak, sitting in a vault being guarded by some of the most dangerous men at Warners.” Pause. “You’re sensing it’s a really hot property.” Pause. “The reason we came to you, Bryan, is because there are people who remember how intense that movie turned out about the life of the band.” His voice gets high and trails off and he studies my face for a reaction, a tough job.
“I mean, holy Jesus, the four of you guys—Sam, Matt and …” The producer stops, snaps his fingers, looks at Roger for help.
“Ed,” Roger says. “His name was Ed.” Pause. “Actually, at the time the band formed it was Tabasco.” Pause. “We changed it.”
“Ed, gosh,” the producer says, pausing awkwardly with such a false reverence that it almost moves me to tears. “What is known as a ‘real tragedy.’ A real shame. Real upsetting too, I bet, no?”
Roger sighs, nods. “They were already broken up by then.”
The producer takes a huge toke off the joint and while inhaling manages to say the following: “You guys were probably one of the pioneering forces in rock during the last decade and it’s a shame you broke up—can I interest you in some waffles?”
Roger delicately sips sake, says, “It is a shame,” and then looks at me. “Right?”
I sigh. “Sí, señor.”
“Since the flick turned out to be so cool and profitable without exploiting anyone, we thought that, um, with your”—the producer glances at Roger for help, falters—“presence, you’d be interested and thrilled to actually star in a movie.”
“We receive so many scripts,” Roger sighs, adding, “Bryan turned down Amadeus, so he’s got rather high standards.”
“The movie,” the producer continues, “is basically the rock-star-in-outer-space thing. An alien creature, this E.T., sabotages the—”
I clutch Roger’s arm.
“E.T. An extraterrestrial,” Roger says softly.
I let go. The producer continues.
“The E..T. sabotages the dude’s limo after a gig at the Forum and after a rather large and fiery chase takes him to this planet where the rock star is held captive. I mean, yadda whatever and there’s a princess, who is basically a love interest.” The producer pauses, looks at Roger hopefully. “We’re thinking Pat Benatar. We’re thinking a Go-Go.”
Roger laughs. “Oh, that’s bloody great.”
“The only way the guy can get released is to record songs and perform a concert for the planet’s emperor, who is basically a, um, tomato.” The producer grimaces, shuddering, then looks worriedly at Roger.
Roger is squeezing the bridge of his nose and saying, “So it’s madcap, right?”
“It’s not tacky and you have a copy,” the producer tells Roger. “And everyone is getting excited by the thing in the vault.”
Roger smiles, nods, looks over at the Oriental girl and sticks his tongue out, winking. He tells the producer, “I’m not bored.”
I actually remember the movie that was made about the band and the movie had gotten it pretty much right except the filmmakers forgot to add the endless paternity suits, the time I broke Kenny’s arm, clear liquid in a syringe, Matt crying for hours, the eyes of fans and “vitamins,” the look on Nina’s face when she demanded a new Porsche, Sam’s reaction when I told him Roger wanted me to do a solo record—information the filmmakers seemed to not want to deal with. The filmmakers seemed to have edited out the time I came home and found Nina sitting in the bedroom in the house on the beach, a pair of scissors in her hand, and they cut out the shot of a punctured, leaking water bed. The editor seemed to have misplaced the scene where Nina tried to drown herself one night at a party in Malibu and they cut the sequence that followed where her stomach was pumped and also the next shot, where she leaned into the frame next to my face and said, “I hate you,” and she turned her face, pale and swollen, her hair still wet and plastered to her cheeks, away from me. The movie had been made before Ed jumped from the roof of the Clift Hotel in San Francisco so the filmmakers had an excuse for that scene not being in the movie but there seemed to be no excuse for the rest to have been omitted and for the movie’s being made up of bones, an X ray, a set of dull facts, that became wildly popular.