Filmmaking | Letter from L.A. | Reports

All You Need is a Little Clout

1 Feb , 1998  

Written by M.M. Goldstein | Posted by:

Former Cambridge/ Brookline resident reports from another world... LA. With enough clout, you can do anything, have anything, be anything. The problem is, without it, you can’t do squat, so how do you get there from here?
Clout, here in L.A. or anywhere else, is the ability to get things done, make things happen. With enough clout, you can do anything, have anything, be anything. The problem is, without it, you can’t do squat, so how do you get there from here? How do you get clout to do, have, be all the things you want if you don’t have enough to do, have or be any of the things you want?

Well, basically, you have to invent it, imagine it, believe it exists, and somehow, miraculously, it will happen, you hope. So, what do you want? You want a major studio deal? Imagine it, and it will come about. You want a yacht, and you don’t have two nickels to rub together? Well, with the right, cloutful attitude, you can have that too.

Which brings us, as attentive readers have no doubt already suspected, to our old friend Ruben, the "creative" Israeli Producer who managed to beat the ATM in last month’s letter. Well, this month he’s got, guess what? — a studio deal and a yacht. You don’t believe me? Okay, listen up.

Well, actually, as for the studio deal, it involves Paramount Pictures, a $15-$20 million youth oriented film, a co-production with a MTV Pictures, and, not incidentally, a very good script by a very good screenwriter, who is, alas, not moi, though I do know him. More I cannot tell you until next month, but as it unfolds and develops, you will see how it is actually happening here in Hollywood for our friend from across the seas, the man who would be mogul, busy inventing himself right before our eyes.

But the yacht, now that I can talk about. It goes like this: One day, about four months ago, Ruben is down in the Marina sailing with friend, let’s call him Captain Jay, on his friend’s 27-foot catamaran, the "Captain Chaos." He was introduced to the Captain by his friend Gil, another cloutmeister who is very funny and knows billionaires, but doesn’t know any funny billionaires yet, but we’re working on it. Anyway, the friend is a big-time radio programmer, big bucks, but not happy. Why? Because his first true love is sailing. He’d like to do it full-time, but how do you make money on it?

Doesn’t matter, if you want to do it, if it’s your passion, you must do it. The money will come, somehow. Sounds like Ruben, because it was, and Captain Jay listened. Cut to a month or two later and the Captain’s in Miami starting a charter boat business with his son, a world-class open ocean catamaran racer. He calls Ruben; he needs a bigger boat. How big? 58-foot. Why not bigger, says Ruben. Well, there’s this 82-foot catamaran, with eight bedrooms, the creme de la creme of catamarans, made by the French company, Dufour. Okay, says Ruben, let’s get that. How? Trust me.

So Ruben puts his plan in gear. He buys some clothes from a local company whose logo literally floats his boat, or so he hopes, a company called "Clout." With the beret, shirt pants, bathing suit and obligatory babe in it, he gets his picture taken, looking like, well, a mogul with clout. Then he and the Captain fly to Paris in December (courtesy of American Express) for the International Boat Show. Paris is beautiful, the City of Light lit for the season, cold, crisp, utterly captivating. And at the boat show he somehow gets him and the Captain into a room with about 10 major executives of Dufour, including the president of the company.

And then he uses his clout, which he has because he thinks he has it. Besides, he’s wearing it, for heaven’s sake; image really is everything, I guess. Anyway, he tells them they are interested in acquiring a boat to charter, on which to take all the executives of the major studio and music network he’s involved with in his major movie deal. He’s not lying, really, just perhaps a bit optimistic.

And they’re starting to see images of their beautiful boat with the movie and music studio logos on the soaring white sails docked in the harbor at Cannes during the festival…

They’re nibbling, but not biting yet.

Then he pulls out the picture and lays it on the table. Well, men are men the world round, and ten Frenchman (and an Israeli and an American) all look at the babe in the Clout bathing suit, then at Ruben with the Clout beret, and they all in their minds think — that’s me, next year. If he can do it, so can I.

All men are scum, what can I tell ya, but some of them own boat companies. The president of Dufour licks his lips and says that just by showing that picture, Ruben has bought himself half of a boat. Well, for Ruben, that’s a whole lot more boat than he had five minutes before, and half a boat is enough to parlay into a whole one, once you get the hang of it.

So before you know it, after a little Parisian wining and dining, Ruben and the Captain have use of a whole 82-foot, 16 passenger, 8 cabin Nemo, with guests of their choice, in the Caribbean in February, gratis, courtesy of Dufour.

Which is where he is now, as you read this. Is he on to something, or what?