I know exactly how this is going to end, which is why the level of absurdity is ramping up even more. Kinda tipping the direction with Curtis's introspection, but you knew that there was somewhat of a surprise ending lurking, didn't ya? Anyway, next week we got the conclusion, followed by the epilogue that I'm still working on. But until then, here we go!
the Conqueror's Flag
The Fox deal brought yet another member to the Team Curtis party, this time a powerful agent at CAA in Hollywood named Martin Kleinman. Since the fateful Kimmel show walk-off moment, Curtis had been pursued by a gaggle of agents, managers and cigar-chomping shysters laying even more promises of riches and a brighter tomorrow at his feet. Although still spiced with a sense of grandeur and hype, Kleiman was the most demure. That and his love of animals (whether actually true or merely well-researched by his assistants) sealed the deal.
"Everybody's so different," Curtis explained to his parents during a late-night catch-up call, echoing the words of Joe Walsh in the process. "I haven't changed. I think. Uh, I hope."
While ecstatic with the latest development, Lisa was certain that signing with such a stellar agency would put Joey's nose out of joint, but Joey actually welcomed another player in the mix. He knew he was way out of his league negotiating broadcast deals and beyond, and wisely figured he'd learn a whole lot more by climbing into the backseat and handing the ultra-connected Kleinman the steering wheel...not to mention position his own future standing in Hollywood.
With The Spin, Team Curtis had successfully created, constructed and climbed Sugar Mountain, but by finessing the Fox deal, the bespectacled and prematurely-grey Kleinman deftly planted the conqueror's flag atop it. In a format similar to that of American Idol, he pushed Fox to break The Spin into two separate, but connected, specials.
The first would be a one-hour "Who we are and how we got here" set-up overview that would focus on Curtis and his life, the history of gambling and the nature of odds and mathematical probability. Guests would include well-known celebrity gamblers like George Clooney, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Jennifer Tilley, Celine Dion's husband Rene Angelil and Steve Wynn himself. Less famous but equally as interesting would be Sir Earl DeMontague, a broom-mustached Brit who is the world's foremost expert on roulette as well as the brainy John Allen Paulos, a renowned professor of math at Temple University in Philadelphia and the author of eight myth-busting books on numbers and statistics. Show #1 would culminate with a push to the "real show," the live broadcast of The Spin itself, and all the bombastic brouhaha that would embrace it.
"Even more impressive," Kleinman explained at a team meeting in CAA's majestic Century City headquarters, "is that for the first time in its history, Fox is splitting the project's producing responsibility between three different divisions, Alternative Entertainment, Sports and Digital."
"Which means?" asked Joey.
"These guys don't play well with each other, even though they're in the same big sandbox," Kleinman continued through sips on a Diet Coke. "The fact that they're coming together for you is big industry news. It's an unprecedented one-two-three punch that mashes up the drama of a championship sporting event with the superstar puffery of a New Year's Eve show, broadcast live on TV and steroid injected via the Internet."
Said puffery would include a lengthy guest list of checkout rack magazine-level celebs plunked in plush, multi-tiered, horseshoe-shaped love seats surrounding a specially-constructed roulette wheel onstage at the Encore Theater. The seating would be spilt in two, to signify "Team Red" and "Team Black." Depending on The Spin's ultimate outcome, the winning "team" would benefit from a $500,000 windfall donated to five charities of their collective choice.
The guest list would also feature six very diverse performing bands: three from "Team Black," namely The Black Eyed Peas, Black Sabbath and the Black Keys; two from "Team Red," The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Simply Red; as well as The Blue Oyster Cult (a seemingly off-color choice at first glance, but explained via the tune "The Red and The Black" from their album "Tyranny And Mutation"). Lucky fans would see it all from the theater's usual seating area directly opposite the star-studded on-stage grandstands; slightly less lucky ones would watch on giant screens set up throughout and outside the casino.
Instead of leaving the fateful spin in the hands of a seasoned croupier, the wheel itself will be set in motion by the push of a button by perhaps the most famous celebrity on earth--Muhammad Ali (whose advanced Parkinson's Disease sadly prevents him from actually spinning the wheel). As for the ball of destiny, it too will be removed from any human contact, fed instead into the spinning wheel via a Tiffany-designed sterling silver tube (official Jewelry Provider to "The Spin"). To pay homage to old and new Vegas in the process, five of the city's icons--Wayne Newton, Don Rickles, Elton John, an Elvis impersonator and a contortionist from Cirque du Soleil--will simultaneously pull the lever to release the ball and set it down the tube on its path to destiny.
To top things off, the show would open with the Kanye/Jay-Z duet performed live in front of thousands outdoors on a closed-to-traffic, two-block section of Las Vegas boulevard. The pair would be lowered by two separate helicopters (yes, one red, one black) onto a round elevated stage balanced on the pedestrian bridge that connects the Wynn properties to the Fashion Show Mall across the street.
Yeah, just another modest Fox event...
The license fee for the spiraling extravaganza?
"Eight whopping figures!" laughed Kleinman. $10 million, to be exact, one of which goes right to Curtis.
"But th-th-th-that's not all folks," he continued, parodying the Porky Pig stutter that used to close all Warner Brother cartoons. "I managed to bring 20th Century Fox, the film studio, to the table, too. They bought the rights to Curtis' life story for another million minimum, plus a producer credit, plus a nice piece of back-end, Blu-ray and cable sales...the works!"
Lisa could hardly contain her joy, letting out a little squeal at the news. Joey slapped a very self-conscious Curtis on the back and upped Lisa's squeak with a whoop.
"You guys have done a great job to this point," Kleinman said. "You've got a lot on your plate between now and The Spin. Take care of your corporate deals. Make sure Wynn is happy. Leave Curtis and Hollywood to me. This is a monster."
"Frankenstein or Jeffrey Dahmer?" Curtis thought.
"Don't go tweeting this now!" Kleinman barked as Joey reached for his iPhone. "You'll fuck everything up in half a heartbeat! All of this is confidential. It's up to me and Fox to decide what is said when."
"No problem boss," Joey smiled. He was sucking up and learning his place at the same time.
As the words left Joey's mouth, Curtis's own iPhone vibrated. It was yet another text message, but for this one, he was able to look up and see the bright, smiling, impeccably made-up eyes of the person who sent it.
Like the email from Fox, Lisa's text spoke volumes, and it spoke loudly, in only four words.
"Our tomorrow starts today ;)"
Curtis smiled back, but it was more a smile of resignation than one of confidence. He still didn't know exactly where she was going with all this.
Later that night, after yet another round of congratulatory cocktails, celebratory meals and late-night strategic drinking sessions, Curtis opened the balcony doors in his top-floor suite, sat down to a 270-degree view of the Los Angeles environs, and took stock of his situation.
Things were crazy, but under control.
Just not under his control.
He was indeed living the dream, but perhaps somebody else's.
His professional future--once a simple straight line--now resembled something like the root structure of a large tree.
His longtime girlfriend had left him, and was aggressively suing him for half his net worth.
One of his beloved dogs was on life support.
He was followed by wrist-whispering bodyguards in public.
He was invited to every major cultural and social event, and asked for his opinion on subjects he had little knowledge or interest in.
People talked about him, judged him, text messaged him, emailed him, tried to call him, shouted out to him in public, sponsored him, laid bets on him, put their faith in him and depended on him.
He was not just a "personality," he was an industry.
Curtis never really wanted for any of this; all he really wanted was to let a simple red or black/double or nothing choice determine his fate. In essence, that's precisely what happened, but fate turned out to be a lot stronger a force than he could've imagined, grabbing him by the scruff of the neck and tossing him headfirst into a whirlpool of mad change.
Everything was now being taken care of by others.
Everything was out of his hands.
Well, almost everything. All that was left for Curtis Stanfield to do was choose the right color on Spin Day.
To be continued next week...