Following Jordan’s performance, Dag, Shirley, and Rudy gave a standing ovation.
“Bravo!” Dag shouted. “Bravissimo! Encore!”
“Take five, people,” a stage hand cried.
On stage, the performers milled about. Guy caught Jordan just as she was about to leave. “Jordan, darling, I positively must talk with you about another film I’m working on…”
Off stage, the agent and assistant producer engaged in negotiations.
“Did I tell you she’s got it or did I tell you she’s got it?” Dag asked.
“She’s definitely got it,” Rudy said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
“Stop the auditions,” Dag said. “Draw up the contract.”
“She’s also not Hispanic,” Rudy said. “Your girl is whiter than a jar of mayonnaise at a tractor pull.”
Dag shot Rudy an incredulous. “What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”
Rudy clutched his chest as though he were grasping a pair of imaginary pearls. “Dag, you can’t talk about the tea in China anymore…”
The agent looked at his assistant. “I can’t?”
“You can’t,” Shirley replied.
“No one tells me anything,” Dag said.
“I’ve been sending you monthly memos about words and phrases you can’t use anymore,” Shirley said.
“Like I have time to read your e-mails, Shirley,” Dag said. “I’ve been so busy, running around like a one-armed paper hangar at a…”
“You can’t talk about one-armed people anymore either,” Dag said.
Dag sighed. “Thank God my time on this planet is getting shorter and shorter…”
“’God’ and ‘short’ are words you’ll also want to avoid,” Shirley said.
A vain bulged in Dag’s forehead. “You were saying, Rudy?”
“Your girl is so white she looks like one Disney princess fucked a Disney prince and created a baby prince and then another Disney princess fucked another Disney prince and created a baby princess and then those babies grew up and fucked and created a daughter…”
Dag chomped on his cigar. “I know you millennials think hyperbole is clever but it really isn’t. The point, please.”
“A white woman can’t play a woman from Ecuador,” Rudy said.
“Sure, she can,” Dag said. “You slap a black wig on her, apply some liberal doses of spray-on tan…”
“I’m just going to stop writing the memos if you’re not going to read them,” Shirley said.
“Memos schemos,” Dag said.
“We can’t put a white actress on screen in brown face,” Rudy said. “Sorry. We just can’t. Lifebox posters will rail us royally.”
“Is that what we do now?” Dag asked. “Allow sexually frustrated nerds with nothing better to do than bitch and moan on their computers decide by consensus how our movies are made?”
Rudy and Shirley traded glances. “Boss,” Shirley said. “Did you get that e-mail about that retirement village in Boca Raton I sent you?”
“Enough with the e-mails!” Dag barked.
“Besides,” Rudy said. “Marisol Villalobos is gunning for this part. Her people having been practically battering down Paradigm’s door.”
“Marisol Villalobos is wonderful,” Dag said. “But she’s won every award imaginable. She’s going to want a ton of dough for this picture. A ton. Mark my words. Jordan is young and hungry. You’ll be able to get her for half of what you’ll pay on trailers to house Marisol’s entourage.”
“Huh,” Rudy said. “Well, you’ve got me there.”
“I do and you know it,” Dag said. “Draw up the paperwork.”
Rudy stayed firm. “No, Dag. She’s the wrong color.”
“Reverse discrimination!” Dag said. “I’ll see you in court, sir.”
Rudy scoffed. “Don’t give me that.”
“Rudy baby,” Dag said as he put an around the assistant producer. “Look. ‘Bobbitt’ is about as whitebread a name as they come. The vast majority of dopes that show up to movies every Friday night and slap their fins together like train seals at whatever schlock we throw them will not have any idea that Lorena Bobbitt is Hispanic and the geeks and dweebs and nerds who sit around typitty-typing away on their computers all day are all probably too young to know a damn thing about anything that happened in the early 1990s.”
“They can search the web easily,” Rudy said.
“So, you apologize,” Dag said. “And you take the heat like a man for a minute and then you move on, knowing that you brought a surefire moneymaker of a flick home on time and underbudget. Yes, the press will call for your ass on a platter for a few days but then they’ll move on to some other bullshit. Some actress will get caught coming out of a limo without her panties on or some reality TV star will fart in a church or Stugotz will post a dick pic on Lifebox or what have you.”
Rudy nodded. “Say no more. Sold.”
“You won’t regret it,” Dag said.
“You could talk a teetotaler into a brandy, Dag,” Rudy said.
“Son,” Dag said as he chomped his cigar. “I could talk a nomad into a sandbox.”
“Yeah, well,” Rudy said. “I’m not the only one you’re going to have to talk to.”