Friday, August 11, 2006

Face-Lift 153


Guess the Plot

Dennis Hopper Unauthorized

1. From Hollywood to Bollywood, from Pinewood to Cine Citta, a look at international cinema and the one rule they all have in common.

2. What he doesn't want you to know: Hopper puts the milk in before the tea; he loves Siamese kittens; and his dialogue in Blue Velvet was dubbed because he refuses to utter the "F" word on screen.

3. Mrs. Schuler's memoir of the year that little hooligan terrorized her second-grade class: sneaking off to the bathroom to smoke, chewing gum in class, murdering Johnny Barnes. Hollywood star, hah! Has he ever earned as much per film as that nice Tom Hanks?

4. Doing drugs with James Dean, hitting the sheets with Natalie Wood, becoming a Republican--it's all here and more in this tell-all bio of a rebel's rebel.

5. Bobby's mom was a groupie who lived the wild life - until one drug-fueled night with Dennis Hopper left her pregnant and alone. Armed with a copy of his mom's home movies, Bobby sets off on an odyssey to confront Hopper and discover the truth about his mom.

6. TSA thought they had their hands full when Teddy Kennedy showed up on the No-Fly List. They hadn't seen anything yet.


Original Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Actor and director Dennis Hopper has survived enough personal and professional catastrophes [Not the least of which was his agreeing to appear in Meet the Deedles.] to become a one-man Hollywood Babylon. Hopper’s memoir will be published by Little, Brown in 2008. While Hopper promises the usual revelations and candor, we know that his book will follow the road taken by so many celebrities before him and be an exercise in revising, editing, and burnishing his star image. [We know this? If the guy's been a rebel throughout his career, how can we be so sure he won't go against the grain now?]

That’s why I’m proposing Dennis Hopper Unauthorized: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel. Based on extensive research, including published interviews with Hopper and his colleagues, Dennis Hopper Unauthorized will be an unfiltered, no-holds-barred look at his tumultuous, talented, and troubled life and 50 years in show business. Dennis Hopper Unauthorized will be 70,000 words long and contain 20 black and white photos. The book will reveal, among many things:

• How an eighteen-year-old Hopper ended his first Hollywood meeting by telling studio chief Harry Cohn, “Go fuck yourself.” [You've pretty much just revealed it.] [One wonders what he'll say if you attempt to get an interview with him for this book.]

• Hopper’s role in the incredible backstory of making Rebel Without a Cause, where he clashed with Nicholas Ray when both carried on affairs with a teenage Natalie Wood. [Interestingly, William Hopper, who played Paul Drake on Perry Mason, was also in Rebel Without a Cause. I have no inside information on whether he, too, had an affair with Natalie Wood.] [Then again, who didn't have an affair with Natalie Wood?] [If you can come up with evidence that Dennis Hopper killed Natalie Wood, I think you've got a winner.]

• How Hopper smoked reefers and took peyote with James Dean and how their friendship nearly destroyed Hopper’s career. [Yeah, blame it on a guy who's not around to defend himself. Way to go, Hopper.]

• How Hopper created Easy Rider, which toppled the studio system, ushered in the ‘70s film renaissance and foresaw today’s independent film movement. [I liked that movie when it came out. Tried to watch it again recently, and couldn't even keep my eyes open.]

• How Hopper overcame decades of alcoholism and drug addiction, resurrected his career and became a Republican. [Republicans will welcome anyone into the fold, even someone they once used in their attack ads. I still remember the highly effective anti-Jimmy Carter ad that went, A vote for Carter is a vote for the party of Fidel Castro, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Dennis Hopper.]

I have written about movies for Playboy, CineFan, Crime Magazine, Filmfax, and Spiked; and reviewed laserdiscs for Video Theater, where I served as associate editor (1988-1992). I have also written for PICO-Laptops and Portables, PC Laptop Computers Magazine, and Smart TV & Sound. As a computer consultant, I was one of the most popular guests on Los Angeles radio station KIEV’s program "Executive Money."

I would appreciate the opportunity to send you my book proposal for Dennis Hopper Unauthorized. Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,


Revised Version

Dear Evil Editor:

Actor and director Dennis Hopper has survived enough personal and professional catastrophes to become a one-man Hollywood Babylon. Hopper’s memoir will be published by Little, Brown in 2008, and while he promises revelations and candor, we know how often celebrity memoirs prove to be mere exercises in revising, editing, and burnishing their star images.

That’s why I’m proposing Dennis Hopper Unauthorized: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel. Based on extensive research, including published interviews with Hopper and his colleagues, Dennis Hopper Unauthorized will be an unfiltered, no-holds-barred look at a tumultuous, talented, and troubled life and 50 years in show business. The book will be 70,000 words long and will include 20 black and white photos.

Dennis Hopper Unauthorized will reveal:

• What drove an eighteen-year-old Hopper to end his first Hollywood meeting by telling studio chief Harry Cohn, “Go fuck yourself.”

• Hopper’s role in the incredible backstory of making Rebel Without a Cause, where he clashed with Nicholas Ray when both carried on affairs with a teenaged Natalie Wood.

• How his friendship with James Dean nearly destroyed Hopper's career.

• The details behind Hopper's producing Easy Rider, which ushered in the '70s film renaissance and spawned today’s independent film movement.

• How Hopper overcame decades of alcoholism and drug addiction, resurrected his career and became a Republican.

• My theory on how Hopper was responsible for the deaths of Natalie Wood, James Dean and Humphrey Bogart, and why Keanu Reeves had better watch his ass.

I have written about movies for Playboy, CineFan, Crime Magazine, Filmfax, and Spiked; and reviewed laserdiscs for Video Theater, where I served as associate editor (1988-1992). I would appreciate the opportunity to send you my book proposal for Dennis Hopper Unauthorized. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,


Notes

I see no big problems here. It'll boil down to whether the publisher or agent believes you are the person most qualified to write the book, and whether you have anything to say that isn't already in other books--and won't be in Hopper's book.

I assume you've had no personal contact with Dennis Hopper, as you would have mentioned this in the query.

20 comments:

Cathy said...

I am the least likely qualified to comment, as I do not read biographies. I like the condensed versions.

For those who do like biographies, I think it's a winner.

Bernita said...

Who is Dennis Hopper?

Anonymous said...

He's a frog or a rabbit, I think.

mark said...

Non-fiction is a totally different world, isn't it?

bonniers said...

In the revised query, "How James dean's friendship with Hopper nearly destroyed his career," the pronoun is ambiguous. It could refer to either Dean or Hopper.

But on reflection, maybe that's intentional.

verification: infodvrz. I gagged on an infodump.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like good timing, if you can get this released at the same time as the autobiography.

I like Dennis Hopper. That painting he did of the diner...wow. (Just kidding.) I do think Hopper's life story would make an interesting read.

Anonymous said...

He's a frog or a rabbit, I think.

You sure? I thought he was a kangaroo.

Evil Editor said...

I was under the impression the pronoun referred to the closest reasonable noun, but to please you I've altered the sentence.

Anonymous said...

I think Dennis Hopper is a good character acter and a somewhat interesting character. I would read a well-written, no-holds-barred book about his life. -JTC

Anonymous said...

Maybe this book can tell us the last time Hopper did a decent film. Sorry, I'm too young to remember him for anything except the crazy guy in "Speed" and those Nike ads.

pacatrue said...

I agree with EE that the query seems fine. The question is whether or not a publisher thinks we really need a bio of Dennis Hopper and whether or not you are the one to write it. If there is anyway to emphasize even more your qualifications for writing the bio and, moreover, good arguments that the world wants such a bio, then that will have to help.

For the entire query I was thinking 1) I don't even like Dennis Hopper and never see his movies and 2) anyone can read old Rolling Stone interviews and write something up. You can't do much about my reaction number 1 except for make the case that there are thousands of people who do want to know about Hopper. Basically, provide market research if possible. And then my reaction for number 2 changed when I saw that you the author do have some decent credentials for the project. If you ever wrote some great profiles of similar people, if a short bio you wrote ever got an award or was the most popular article in an online journal, etc., maybe that could be worked in. Build your platform.

I guess one more thing you might work on in the query is cultivating a style that the book will personify. I would expect that fans of Hopper like a rebellious, artsy, free-wheeling attitude and would expect a similar tone from his bio. Perhaps you could get that feel a little more in the query.

Good luck!

Evil Editor said...

Sorry, I'm too young to remember him for anything except the crazy guy in "Speed" and those Nike ads.

He played Victor Drazen in 5 episodes of 24 a couple seasons ago. Among movies worth renting if you're too young to have seen them are Apocalypse Now and Blue Velvet--if you can take violence and profanity.

Anonymous said...

I have seen Apocalypse Now--or the recut version anyway--but I couldn't remember who he was in it until I checked IMDB. That guy sure has done a lot of stuff...a lot of it not so good.

Makes me wonder how you can cram it all into an unauthorized biography.

Southern Writer said...

I watched a scene from one of Hopper's movies being filmed once. The director was very ticked off when my dog barked and they had to start over. Oops.

The movie, "Flashback," also starred Kiefer Sutherland and Carol Kane. What stuck me most about them is how small they all are. Kiefer is not much taller than me (I'm 5'3") and I dwarfed Hopper and Kane. Maybe I was wearing heels at the time, but I doubt it, because it was in Colorado.

Between takes, they played cards. It looked like an incredibly boring job to me. It turned out to be a terrible movie, but I like Hopper. For those who don't know, he's a 60's icon from the drug culture, and a good character actor. Apocalypse Now was a great movie about the Viet Nam war, and considered groundbreaking at the time. Marlon Brando was in it, too. Good dog, I hope no one asks, "Who is Marlon Brando?"

Peter L. Winkler said...

I suppose I don't expect Hopper to rebel against the trend for celebrities to rehabilitate their images because Hopper gave up rebellion at about the same time he gave up drugs.

I attempted to interview Hopper several years ago for another project and was rebuffed. More recently, one of the authors of a book about the making of Rebel Without a Cause published last year told me that Hopper was the lone holdout for an interview among all the film's surviving participants.

Peter L. Winkler said...

Dear EE:

Thanks for giving my query the once over and for your notes. I assume I can incorporate your suggested changes in my revised query without fear of a copyright infringement action at some later date? If so, thanks once again.

Best wishes,

Peter L. Winkler

Peter L. Winkler said...

William Hopper was gossip columnist Hedda Hopper's son. I recently read somewhere that he was gay.

Evil Editor said...

Incorporate away. And when you're writing the dedication, you know what to do.

Anonymous said...

"6. TSA thought they had their hands full when Teddy Kennedy showed up on the No-Fly List. They hadn't seen anything yet."

ROFL. What a great scene this conjures up...

Anonymous said...

"Then again, who didn't have an affair with Natalie Wood?"

what a classy comment to make...

even "evil" should have some class, don't you think?