THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Recently I received a surprising phone call from a production company interested in doing a film or television series based on what I’ve been writing in this space.
Having spent most of my life in showbiz, I know the humongous distance between “interest” and the actual production of a hit film or show. But if there’s one thing I’m interested in it’s getting events here in Paradise to the largest possible audience, so, as they say in the trade, “We’re in talks.”
I’ve also been talking to the real Paradise gang, getting their opinion about what any potential Live! From Paradise! film or TV series should be. And would you believe it?, ten times out of ten we start with casting because, also ten times out of ten, everybody I talk to begins their side of the conversation with, “I’m no show business professional, Larry B, but here’s who I think should play me….”
The first person I broached the subject with was Brannigan, of course. He shot straight from the hip, coming out with his choice before I even finished telling him what was up.
“Remember that movie The Big Lebowski?” Brannigan said. “I want to be the guy from that.”
“John Goodman?” I said. “Good choice.”
Brannigan looked disgusted. “John Goodman’s a terrible choice,” he said. “I’m talking about Jeff Bridges. Jeff Bridges as Brannigan! Absolutely!”
“Jeff Bridges is a leading man. He always plays the main character,” I pointed out.
“So?” Brannigan said. He regarded me unwaveringly.
“So…um…Larry B is the main character here,” I said.
“Not to me!” roared Brannigan. He called across the kitchen to his girlfriend, Sweet Jane. “Janie! What actress should play you?”
Sweet Jane is kind of shy. Which means it took her about six seconds to respond. “I loved The Bridges of Madison County. Ever since I saw it I’ve wanted to be Meryl Streep.”
“So she should be you! Perfect!” Brannigan said. He turned back to me. “Unless you’ve got some other crazy idea…?”
“Well, you know, Meryl Streep’s a star. She always plays the heroine. So actually—”
Brannigan’s face was getting red. Gwen the Beautiful stepped between us.
“What a wonderful choice,” she said. “Meryl Streep’s perfect as Sweet Jane. Isn’t she, Larry?”
“Absolutely,” I heard myself say.
The next person I brought the subject up with was Doug the Dog Breeder. He interrupted me more quietly than Brannigan had, but just as quickly.
“Even dead, John Wayne’s more Doug the Dog Breeder than anyone alive,” he said. “And who’s that woman who played Queen Elizabeth not long ago?”
“Helen Mirren, exactly! She and Anita are both from England, so they sound the same.”
I started to give my “star” speech, saw the look on Doug’s face. Thought of the look on Gwen’s when we were at Brannigan’s house. “The Duke and Helen,” I said. “Wonderful choices. Absolutely.”
Over the next week I reached out to Dwayne the Earth Mover, Buck the Ex-Navy Seal, Delly the Interstate Trucker, Donny the Storyteller, and Burl Sr. AKA the Farmer of the Year.
Dwayne thought that Hugh Grant was the right man for his part. (“His accent’s not all that different from my drawl.”)
Buck’s choice as himself was Pierce Brosnan. (“Although he’s a little long in the tooth to be me.”)
Delly saw herself as Goldie Hawn. (“I used to look just like her once upon a time.”)
Donny’s instant pick was Adam Sandler. (“Even though he’s nowhere near as funny as me.”)
Burl Sr. allowed as how the best man to play him was Harrison Ford. (“He’s got my swagger.”)
Stars, dead or alive.
Which reminds me of something the late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. once wrote. About how he thought novels—even his—gave people the wrong outlook on life because there always was a main character, a hero, who was more important than anyone else in the book. Even though in real life no one person is more anything than another.
In other words, no one I talked to was wrong in picking who they did. Because each and every one of us is the hero or heroine of our own story.
We’re the stars of our own lives. And that’s the way it should be.
Here’s another way it should be:
Andie McDowell as Gwen the Beautiful. And Michael Douglas as Larry B.
Betcha can’t guess who came up with those.