the Meta Movie Remix by
VOICEOVER: When Dustin tells people how he and I got together, they coo and tell him it's the most adorable story ever. When I tell people how me and Dustin ended up together, they almost don't believe it. I barely believe it myself.
(Fade to black. Insert wistful female vocal plus acoustic guitar. Display (working) title: "You and I Both")
(Fade in to VANCE jogging in Central Park. Insert static and tracking shots of scenery. Possible time-lapse imagery to suggest daily ritual jogging?)
(Zoom in on VANCEís face as he mutters to himself as he jogs.)
VANCE: I am not that hungover. Not that hungover. I can do this. I can do this. Running is good. Very good. Very—
(Pan quickly from VANCEís face to DUSTIN sitting on a park bench. Insert reaction shot of startled/attracted VANCE. Cut back to DUSTINís face, linger.)
VANCE: Heís cute, but these beer calories arenít going to lose themselves. (Insert shot of child DUSTIN is attending to, ASHLEY.) Oh, great. And he has a kid. Forget this. (Static shot of VANCE running into the distance, away from DUSTIN).
"So?" Howie said, leaning forward in his rolling chair. "Now that youíve read the script, Iím sure you can see the potential for a major hit here. Iím talking Blockbuster. Or a whole new level. Netflix-level, even."
"Actually," Christina said, lighting up her ultra light menthol. "My assistant read the script and the intern wrote up the notes."
Howieís face fell. "But you at least read the no—"
"Can a page of notes sum up a Picasso?" AJ, slumped in his chair, sunglasses on and presumed asleep, suddenly came to life. "Can a word describe a Beethoven? Art is beyond language, beyond—"
"AJ, no no, please," Brian stepped in smoothly. "You misunderstand Christina. Of course we inspected the script quite thoroughly, but itís a matter of practicality, you understand. With the multitude of scripts we read every single day itís simply impractical to work without notes."
This mollified AJ somewhat, and luckily he didnít seem to hear Christina mutter, "Show me a Picasso and then we can talk about art."
"Even though we love what we read—just couldnít put it down—Christina and I, and of course, the studio, are a little concerned. About the subject matter."
"Oh, thereís no on-screen sex or nudity," Howie hurriedly explained. "In fact, the scriptís been tweaked so that there has to be little to no actual on-screen physical touching between the two leads beyond hugs."
"Thatís not exactly," Brian and Christina exchanged a significant look. "The studio is just a little concerned that what with the wave of alternatively themed films that have come out recently—to name a few examples, Fixback Mountain, TransUSA, and that one with the straight guy playing a gay guy, well. You get our point. Weíre a little concerned that the Ďhip to be gayí phase is over. Maybe people donít want to see any more cowboys loving each other amidst mountain vistas."
"Mountains?" AJ sputtered, "This story takes place on the Upper East Side!"
"Brian was talking metaphorical mountains," Christina said, exhaling a ring of smoke into Howieís eye. "Mountains being obstacles. Like forbidden love and tire irons. Or money."
"Speaking of money and the Upper East Side," Brian said without missing a beat, "Thereís the question of budget. Iím not sure if you gentlemen truly understand the costs associated with hauling a cast, crew, and support staff out into the city to shoot for two weeks and then being forced to feed, house, and possibly pay them union mandated wages. The costs are, let me assure you, sizable. Most sizable indeed."
"And itís not like we can even cut costs by forcing them to shoot in or around Sri Lankan villages with economies still based on the barter system," Christina added. "Thatís the problem with setting films in New York: you canít fake New York."
AJ shrugged. "I think as long as the actors capture the essence of New York in their performances, the rest will just fall into place."
Everyone stared at AJ for a minute. Then Christina said, "Did you seriously write an entire screenplay based in a city youíve never actually been to?"
"The essence of New York lives within me," AJ said serenely.
"Um," Howie said after another awkward pause. "So are you saying you donít want to do it?"
Christina chuckled heartily and punched Howie on the shoulder. "Nah. Weíre just messing with you. Weíve already got Kevin Richardson signed onto the project so youíre golden."
"Um," Howie said again and rubbed his shoulder. "Are you still messing with us? Kevin Richardson—the Kevin Richardson—is interested in directing our movie?"
"We donít look precious gifts the Universe bestows upon us in the mouth," Brian said. "For all we know, Kevin Richardsonís pet psychic told him that Lassie said your film was a solid bet."
"Kevin Richardson has a pet psychic?" Howie asked.
Brian laughed, "Well. I wouldnít want to be accused of spreading rumors, but the last time we ran into each other at a benefit he just would not stop with all the profound advice Lassie gave from beyond the grave." Both he and Christina laughed. "In any case, we have two last conditions. Well, one is less like a condition and more like common sense." Christina nodded. "Itís common sense that the studio will be very interested in the progress the film is making as it continues on its merry shooting way. And any, well, choices, that are considered major by the studio will have to be, of course, approved by the studio. Not that we would in any way try to hold you back creatively, but the studio has a certain caliber that it holds all its films to. Iím sure you understand."
"But—" Howie started.
"Great," Christina said. "Now, the second condition. Your male lead—the angelic one? Heís going to be played by Justin Timberlake."
"First of all, there are no angels in the story," AJ started with some heat. "All of my characters are fully rounded, complicated, messed up—"
"Not now, AJ," Howie put a hand over AJís mouth. "I just want to be clear: are we talking about the male model slash socialite slash internet leaked home porn video Justin Timberlake?"
"Heís an actor now." Christinaís mouth was tamped down in a strict line and Brian nodded solemnly. "Heís interested in starting with a splash. Edgy stuff."
"This is a romantic comedy starring two upper- and middle-class white men in Manhattan," Howie said slowly.
AJ nodded appreciatively. "I can see how you could consider it edgy. At its essence."
VANCE: Iím really drunk. Night air does you crazy good when youíre drunk. (VANCE stumbles down a dark city street, completely drunk. He is lost.)
VANCE: Shit. Where the fuck am I? (VANCE walks aimlessly, runs into DUSTIN, and falls to the ground).
DUSTIN: Oh, hey, sorry about that man. Let me help you up. (DUSTIN offers VANCE a hand up. VANCE waves it away at first and then takes it.)
VANCE: You again?
VANCE: I saw you—like, a day or. Um. A couple of days ago. In the park… and the cafe… and the bookstore.
DUSTIN: Are you… stalking me?
VANCE: No! I just. See you a lot. When you… donít see me.
DUSTIN: You know what? I think I should let you go on your merry way.
VANCE: Iím really not as creepy as I sound. Iím really drunk. Really. Not creepy.
DUSTIN: Itís funny, the little intersections that life makes. What do you think?
VANCE: I think… I think I might puke. (VANCE pukes).
"Thank you, Ashley. That was great," Mandy said flatly. "Weíll let you know."
Ashley waved cheerily as he exited and the new casting hopeful came in. "Hey," the new guy said. "Iím Lance Bass."
"Lance, youíll be reading for the part of Vance, the spoiled gay son of a tycoon," Mandy said, handing him two pages of a scene. "Youíll be reading with Justin here, who plays the role of Dustin, a male nanny."
Justin narrowed his eyes. "I prefer the term au pair."
"Right," Mandy said. "Lance, in this scene you are drunk and lost in the city at night. Justin magically appears and sparks fly. Have you ever done anything like this before?"
"I was on Passions for a few episodes," Lance said, folding his hands nervously in his lap. "I played the illegitimate son who comes back to seduce his mother in revenge for her leaving him on a hospital stoop. Unfortunately, I was blinded and then thrown into the river. The producers say thereís room for me to come back in a later season but I really think—"
"Great," Mandy intoned. "Your motivation: entitlement."
"Whatever," Justin said, inspecting his nails. "Can we start already? If Iíd realized how pathetic this was all going to be, Iíd be a lot more drunk than I am right now."
"Mandy?" A casting aide stuck his head in the room. "Urgent call for you. Should I take a mess—"
"Great! Iíll take it! Right now!" Mandy turned to her assistant, "Why donít you start with these two?"
"But I—" the assistant started, but Mandy was already gone.
"Mandy," Brian boomed into her ear when she reached the phone. "How are you?"
"Iím great!" Mandy made gagging motions at the production aide. "And you?"
"Fantastic, just fantastic. You know, Iím calling about, well, Iím going to be frank with you. We have some bad news."
"Youíre making me nervous, Brian."
"No need to be nervous, none at all. Iím sure youíll manage like you always have—youíre a trooper. And hardship brings out the best in everyone, as Iím sure you know."
"Iím not sure I under—"
"Anyway," he continued. "To cut to the chase, it turns out that we donít really have a director helming this project right now."
"I. Thatís. Is production being halted?" Mandy was torn between horror and intense relief. "Do I not have to cast anymore?"
"Well, no," Brian said. "No, as it turns out, well, you met Justin of course, but he really loves the script. I donít know if he told you."
"Heís not really. A talker," she replied. As it turned out, the only time Justin had ever spoken directly to Mandy was when he had demanded a fat-free mocha frappuccino .
"Hah, well. That Justinís something alright. Anyway, his father, Mr. Timberlake, is very anxious that Justin star in a title role in an upcoming movie. And Iím sure youíre aware of how highly the studio values Mr. Timberlakeís… input."
Mandy sat down very heavily. "And thereís no way to convince Kevin Richardson to come back?"
"I wonít lie. He was less than thrilled about… the costumes. Yes, the costumes were what got him."
"So he didnít take the news about… the costumes… well?"
"It is possible that our last conversation could have gone better."
BRIAN: We have some great news, Mr. Richardson!
KEVIN RICHARDSON: Kevin, please. My last name makes me sound like some famous artist on a pedestal. And thatís not the image I want to project.
BRIAN: Kevin. Yes. Itís about the ĎYou and I Bothí gay socialite and male nanny romantic comedy—weíve managed to snag Justin Timberlake!
KEVIN RICHARDSON: Are you fucking kidding me? Home video porno leaked onto the internet Justin Timberlake?
KEVIN RICHARDSON: That video fucking sucked!
BRIAN: Heís actually, heís an um, actor now—
KEVIN RICHARDSON: Youíre not fucking kidding me?
BRIAN: One of the studioís investors really supports Justin, in fact, insists—
KEVIN RICHARDSON: You think Iím going to throw away my integrity, my professional reputation because some not so silent studio partner stooge tells me to? Iíve made war movies! Iíve made Holocaust movies! I have fucking Oscars lining my toilet seat!
BRIAN: …Didnít stop you from making War of the Globes or Artificial Sentience, now did it?
KEVIN RICHARDSON: What did you say?!
BRIAN: Kevin, I—
KEVIN RICHARDSON: I donít have to stand around and take this! I have a reality TV show!
KEVIN RICHARDSON: And itís fucking Kevin fucking Richardson to you, you fucking prick! (Door slams).
(VANCE is jogging. He sees DUSTIN with ASHLEY feeding the ducks).
VANCE: Great. Norman Rockwell with a gay prettyboy and his illegitimate daughter feeding ducks.
DUSTIN: Hey! (VANCE tries to ignore DUSTIN and keep running, but DUSTIN and ASHLEY intercept him.) Iím assuming you made it home last night.
VANCE: All in one piece. Woo hoo. See ya.
DUSTIN: Hey, whereís the fire? (DUSTIN reaches out and grabs VANCE with his free hand). I tried to explain to the cleaners how a complete stranger came up to me in the middle of the night and threw up all over my clothes, but for some reason they just laughed.
VANCE: Yeah… that was. That was unpleasant.
DUSTIN: ĎUnpleasantí? Really, your profuse apologies are too much.
VANCE: Apologizes are lame. You want money for the cleaning bill?
DUSTIN: Maybe I just want to know your name.
VANCE: Boss. Vance Boss.
DUSTIN: Boss, huh? I've heard that somewhere.
VANCE: Youíre probably imagining things. And you are?
DUSTIN: Oh, sorry. I'm Dustin. Pinepond.
(They realize they are still holding hands and let go. Awkward silence.)
VANCE: I…I should go.
DUSTIN: Think you'll be able to find your way?
VANCE: Whatever. Rub it in my face. Thanks.
DUSTIN: I didn't mean it like that.
(VANCE takes off down the jogging path and doesnít look back.)
"Right, guys, that was definitely a point of view. A definite point of view," Nick said. "But I feel like we, Aaron and I, have a point of view that might not be really gelling. And by gelling, I mean we clash. Clash like orange and blue." Aaron nodded solemnly from his directorís chair. "Not that your point of view isnít valid. Itís just like blue and orange symbols, you hear me?"
Lance stared at the fake grass and the fake jogging path and wished the fake pond was deep enough to throw himself in.
"Only a thought," Nick said, waving his hands emphatically.
"I totally get you. And I was thinking," Justin waved one of the on-set makeup aides over to blot his face. "I was thinking about the future of our points of view. Specifically, the next scene weíll be shooting where weíre at the party."
"Ah yes, the party scene."
"Uh," Justin stared at Nick. "Right, what I just said. Anyway, I was thinking that everyoneís totally going to think my characterís a total girl when I throw the drink in Lanceís face. Which is not hot. Not hot at all. So I was thinking I could punch him instead."
"Eh?" Lance looked up in alarm, "Eh?!"
"And not one of those fake studio fixed punches because those look so fake I could hurl. I mean, I really punch him in the jaw. Just haul out and commit."
"I totally get your point of view," Nick said as Aaron nodded in agreement. "Youíre thinking outside the studio box and I totally get you. I think we might be on the same vibe, the same length of wave, you know?"
"Justin," Lance turned in horror. "Your character is a male nanny. A male nanny. You think punching me in the face before you let me fuck you in the ass is going to make you seem more like a man?"
Justin reeled back, aghast. "I am, I am an au pair, you low life, small time, small screen, soap opera wannabe—"
Things, as one can probably imagine, only went further downhill from there.
DUSTIN: You're an easy man to find, but a hard one to keep around.
VANCE: Are you stalking me now? What the hell are you doing here?
DUSTIN: Now the tables have turned, muahahahahhah!
VANCE: Oh hardy har har.
DUSTIN: Whatever, man, I think I should be the one thatís freaked youíre here.
VANCE: Freaked? Please, you should be so lucky to see me everywhere.
DUSTIN: Iím not sure luck has anything to do with it.
VANCE: So do you crash parties on a regular basis? Or only the ones that Iím at?
DUSTIN: Wow, okay, I didnít realize when my teacher told me Earth revolved around Ďthe suní she actually meant ĎVance Bossí.
VANCE: Youíre a real joker tonight, you know that?
DUSTIN: Thanks, Iíll be here all week. Anyway, I donít crash parties. I know Joey from high school. You and me? That's just life being zany!
VANCE: ĎZanyí? I canít believe you used the word Ďzanyí in a conversation with a straight face.
DUSTIN: If I had a nickel for every time an alcoholic said that to me…
VANCE: I am not an alcoholic! It's not my fault you happen to catch me…drunk…or drinking. I donít owe you an explanation!
DUSTIN: I think that martini in your hand is all the explanation I need.
VANCE: Please. At least my liaisons with liqueur have never led me down the path of illegitimate children.
DUSTIN: Excuse me?
VANCE: Children are just so expensive to keep up nowadays… I canít even imagine the kind of trust fund it would take for someone to be able to not work and instead spend their days frolicking with ducks.
DUSTIN: You know, this might seem a little clichť but Iím afraid youíve forced my hand. I think Iím going to go Ďfrolicí elsewhere. (DUSTIN throws his drink in VANCEís face.)
(VANCE stands, stunned and speechless.)
DUSTIN: For future reference, that little girlís name is Ashley. As wonderful as I think she is, I am paid to spend time with her. And thatís because, drum roll please, Iím her baby-sitter. Unlike you, I canít go running to my parents every time I want to buy, say food, or clothing, or in your case, a new yacht. So unfortunately, like the rest of the world, I go out and work. If you want to make fun of me for that, be my guest. Iím even going to give you the opportunity to do it behind my back because I guarantee you this is the last time weíre ever going to talk again.
The image on screen cut to black and everyone in the screening room shifted uncomfortably.
"Themís the daily rushes, folks," Joey said, standing up.
"Are we supposed to see the mike boom in every other shot?" Justin asked. "Because Iím starting to think itís a problem when itís blocking my head."
"Did you guys steal footage from my grandmotherís funeral reception? I got a creepy deja vu mood thing going on that I canít shake," Lance added.
"There are some problems, Iíll admit," Joey said. "But itís nothing that we canít go back in the editing room and fix with some CG. Weíll put a lamp fixture over the mike boom and over Justinís head. Itíll look artsy."
"Artsy," Justin repeated. "Fuck artsy! I spent five hours in the makeup chair on hair and eyelashes alone that day! My fucking face is all the art you need!"
"Justin," Chris, Justinís manager, put his hand on Justinís arm soothingly. "Remember what we talked about with the yelling and the high blood pressure? Remember?" Justinís nostrils flared and he may have thrown his head about a little bit, but he quieted.
"If nobody has any more constructive comments theyíd like to throw in here about the rushes…" Joey said as the audience began to file out of the room alternately grumbling and bemoaning the state of the film thus far. Lance stayed behind to talk to Joey alone.
"Hey, so I was thinking," Lance said.
"Uh oh," Joey said. A second later he added, "Just kidding." Oddly enough, it didnít sound like he was genuinely kidding.
"I know the studioís not really big on the whole altering the script thing," Lance said. "What with the Carter brothers being dismissed from the project over the Justin punching me in the face instead of throwing brown water in my face. But, you know, I think the studio really had a point with the um, not wanting the movie to be too dark or violent or non-teen friendly."
"Are you saying teens dislike both darkness and violence in movies?"
"Why yes, Joey, I believe the nationís youth consists of wingless cherubim delicate and as easily tainted as snow," Lance said. "What I mean is, I think the change I want would send a really positive message to the godless youth of today. A message of redemption."
"Lance, I hate to break it to you, but you play a bitchy rich gay socialite; Iím not sure your character is even worth the effort of redeeming."
"But thatís exactly why I need to be redeemed, Joey," Lance said. "Give my character a moment of vulnerability and humanity so all previous sins will be forgiven. The audience may hate Vanceís guts, but theyíll also feel sorry for Vance at the same time."
"Iíll think about it," Joey said. "But Iím not even sure how a scene like that would play out."
"So how was I?" Justin asked once he sat down at the vanity. "On set. How was I?"
"Oh, you know, gorgeous, darling," Chris said airily, flipping through a magazine on the coffee table.
"Iím serious, Chris," Justinís brow furrowed very handsomely. "I thought today was a good day, like I was on my game but I canít—I need to know whether all the emotions I was feeling as the character made it through. Really."
"Justin," Chris said patiently. "You know the studio wouldnít have cast you if they didnít think you were up to the part. Youíre carrying a major motion picture here. They had to see something in you—the same thing Iíve always seen."
"I just," Justin toyed with the black marker heíd been using to sign glossy photographs of his face. "Nobody takes me seriously except for you, Chris. Everyoneís trying to get a piece and I donít know if itís a piece of me, or my money, or my father, or what, except itís never. Itís never about my talent. And itís stupid, but I wish it were about my talent. Sometimes."
"Justin," Chris put down the magazine. "Whereís this coming from? You know who you are. What you have to offer."
"None of my coworkers like me. Lance Bass hates my guts and runs off the set as soon as the scene is done. Nobody even looks me in the eye." Justin looked at Chrisís reflection in the mirror. "If I didnít have you, I think Iíd probably have no one."
(VANCE calls DUSTIN to apologize.)
VANCE: It's Orange. Blue made off with Red, so I think weíre stuck, you and I.
DUSTIN: I would recognize those feeble jokes anywhere. Iím hanging up.
VANCE: No, come on, please. Give me a chance. Iím sober and this is very hard for me.
DUSTIN: I can tell. I canít smell the alcohol through the receiver.
VANCE: Could we meet somewhere? To talk.
DUSTIN: Letís skip the witty banter and jump to the part where I say no.
VANCE: But Iím asking so nicely.
DUSTIN: Begone, harpy. I wonít let your siren song sink my ship.
VANCE: Iím going to be wearing a pair of ridiculously ugly designer shoes with strands of gold actually threaded through the laces.
DUSTIN: …I hate that you know I canít resist a freakshow.
VANCE: We prefer the term Ďcrazy peopleí nowadays.
DUSTIN: I donít get why youíre doing this.
VANCE: I was getting used to seeing you everywhere I go. Now that Iím not itís kind of freaking me out. I kinda got used to having my own personal stalker.
DUSTIN: Iíve got plenty of better things to do than fill your calendar.
VANCE: But do you have anything funnier than my shoes to make fun of?
DUSTIN: …I know this will only end in suffering.
VANCE: Are you free tonight?
DUSTIN: Youíre persistent, arenít you?
VANCE: Ooh, big word. Meet me at the park at noon today.
VANCE: I totally knew youíd cave.
(VANCE hangs up.)
"I want to emphasize that what you just saw is only the rough cut. I havenít finished filming the ending scenes yet and, obviously, havenít added the extensive CG work yet," Joey said.
"CG in a gay romantic comedy?" Christina raised an eyebrow.
"CG makes everything better," Joey declared with a happy sigh.
"Right," Brian said. "Well, other than that, everything looks fantastic!"
"Um," Mandy said. "So youíre telling me that Dustin magically agrees to go on a date with Vance, who has been nothing but a selfish, arrogant, snobbish prick up to this point?"
"The path of love always did run smooth," Brian said, smiling graciously.
"I donít think thatís right," Mandy said slowly. "I think it might be more—"
"Itís too expensive to re-shoot anything at this point," Christina said crisply. "Weíve only booked the sound stages for two more weeks and we canít afford to keep hemorrhaging money for the crews and the sets and service people. Shoot the ending and get the hell out of Rodge."
"That doesnít sound quite right either," Mandy started, but was again cut off.
"Roger Dodger," Joey said.
"Joey, whatís going on with that mike boom over Justinís head in half of his scenes?" Mandy asked.
"Oh, that," Joey replied airily. "Donít worry, Iím going to replace that with CG. I was thinking of creating a CG mask over Justinís face that reacts just as any live human would."
"Uh. I donít. I donít think I get it," Mandy said.
"Itíll be artsy," Joey said.
"And block Justinís face?" Brian seemed horrified.
"I have a vision!" Joey waved his arms around and Mandy closed her eyes.
DUSTIN: I think the shoes speak for themselves. Anything I would have to add would be empty.
VANCE: I knew youíd approve.
DUSTIN: And I never knew taste could be quite so bad.
VANCE: These shoes were only a joke; my taste is actually quite good.
DUSTIN: Iíve seen no evidence to support this claim.
VANCE: Well, I chose you, didnít I?
DUSTIN: You know, it looks like Vance Boss, but…
VANCE: Iíve been an ass. Iím sorry.
DUSTIN: Iím. Iím speechless. Where is this coming from?
VANCE: From me. What?
DUSTIN: Iím waiting for you to give me a laundry list of excuses. A sob story about how you were burned before and thatís whatís made you into the bastard you are today.
VANCE: I donít have one. Iím just spoiled and bitchy by nature. Well, by my parents. But thatís no excuse—everyoneís parents screw them up.
DUSTIN: I have no clever remark.
VANCE: Excellent. Youíre more fun to look at when youíre not talking.
DUSTIN: Ah, now thatís more recognizable. So what happens now?
VANCE: Well, according to my schedule, I kiss you and then we ride off into the sunset.
DUSTIN: Itís noon.
VANCE: Then I guess weíll have to kiss for a long time, now wonít we? (They kiss.)
"Why arenít you out there celebrating at the after-party like everyone else?" Lance closed the menís room door behind him quietly.
Justin shrugged. "Iím going to arrive fashionably late. Being on time is for people who have nothing better to do."
"And you have something better to do?"
Justin gave Lance a look. "I always have something better to do."
Lance put his hands up in surrender. "Forget I asked."
Justin regarded Lance out of the corner of his eye. "What are you doing here?"
"Hiding," Lance smiled. "Taking a little break before I have to be blinded by the light of a thousand bulbs."
"You donít like the cameras?"
"I donít like the ones that make me look fat, fifty, hungover, coked up, or mentally disturbed."
"So you donít like the cameras," Justin said.
"Right," Lance chuckled. "You know, I think this is the first time weíve ever had an unscripted conversation."
"Let me guess: Iím smarter than I look."
Lance cocked his head thoughtfully. "I wish it hadnít taken this long." Justin looked away, and after a moment Lance straightened. "Iím done hiding. You ready?"
Justin smiled crookedly. "Iím always ready."
Lance opened the door and bowed. "Theyíre ready for your close-up."