OUR PRODUCER INTERVIEWS THE WRITER
PRO: Well, it's so nice to meet you,
Mrs. Warden – may I call you
NADJA: Of course.
PRO: Our staff reader has reviewed
your screen play and recommended
we take another look at it. I’m
curious, how did you happen to take
on this project? You aren’t a pro-
fessional writer, are you?
NADJA: No. Actually, my husband,
who then was a trial lawyer, started
working on the story as a novel.
Lew had a client and a close friend,
whose name, for obvious reasons, I'm not at liberty to disclose.
It seems that many years ago our friend and his family had escaped from Cuba with one of Castro’s planes. Over a period of time he revealed that he, his brother, and their father had been active in the Bay of Pigs invasion, that his brother had been captured and impri-soned by Castro, and, on being ransomed and returned to the United States, engaged in anti-Castro activities for many years, making raids on Cuba both with and without the assistance of the CIA.
Our friend also hinted that he had more knowledge about JFK's assassination than was good for him. But when Lew began asking questions, he broke off relations and, I guess, we aren’t friends anymore. Which, of course, only intrigued us more.
So when we retired, Lew began researching the matter more fully, in the course of which he met another sailor in Long Beach who was an avid Oswald "buff," as they call people who closely follow the Warren Report and other investigations into the Kennedy assassination. This man knew just about everything that had been published on the subject.
Thus armed, Lew started blocking out a novel about a Cuban family who had lost a son in the Bay of Pigs fiasco and thirsted for vengeance, comparing their reactions with Bobby and Ted Kennedy's apparent reluctance to do likewise, which, in itself, is a fascinating phenomenon and raises many unanswered questions about Bobby's assassination just as he appeared to be assured of winning the Democratic nomination for the presidency, which, of course, could have armed him with the full power of the US government to help him avenge his brother's murder.
We, and of course many other people, never did put much credence in the Warren Report, which seemed more of a rush to judgment and a cover-up than a genuine search for the truth of the matter. We felt that such a terrible and highly risky deed demanded killers with very powerful motivations and extraordinary access to inside information. Oswald’s last public words “I’m only a patsy,” had implications which really have not been explored in the scholarly literature until just recently..
PRO: Forgive me for interrupting, Nadja. We all know what a fascinating subject this is. But, as you must know, it may have been rather worked to death, and the movies that have been produced have rather uniformly been somewhat dull. What interested us was the spin you put on it. The DEA girl, Mona, is a novel concept, and the sun-drenched Baja settings seem to us to offer considerable potential for high entertainment. We really aren’t interested in educating the public.
NADJA: I couldn’t agree with you more. And I promise you I won’t tell my husband!
PRO: (Laughs) Well, then, tell us where you come into the writing picture?
NADJA: Years ago — more than I’ll ever confess — I worked in radio, then ensemble theater. I came to California and attended Rhinehardt’s for a time, but ran out of money and went back to theater and club work. Acting, dancing. Then, after marrying my husband and getting our daughter started in school, I did little theater. I had the bug, you know.
PRO: I thought your name had a show biz ring to it.
NADJA: Yeah. I took it as part of an act.
Anyway, I started pressing Lew to get away from the heavy stuff and to try writing a screenplay. Well, he quickly learned that this was a lot different style than writing a brief or a novel, although, curiously enough, not unlike the kind of fast moving production a trial lawyer has to put on to hold a jury's interest. So the next thing I knew I was reading, commenting, and arguing -- endlessly it seemed -- about the dramatic virtues and pitfalls of this and that.
PRO: So why didn’t he respond to our invitation, too?
NADJA: He said he’d probably just bore you to death, and that since I was the actress of the family, this would be the right time for me to see if I was any good at it.
PRO: All right. Let’s get down to business. Give it to me in a nutshell. Just what’s this picture all about?
NADJA: Well, you might call it “Barbarella meets Captain Nemo on Golden Pond.”
NADJA: I mean, really. It has a certain basic, low level entertain-ment appeal. Gutsy young woman, with mean-spirited ex-husband, works for DEA undercover as the skipper of a sailing yacht fingering wealthy drug dealers for bounties. Wants to score big to get her kids back. So while Rocking Chair is in Cabo San Lucas, Mona gets dragged into a CIA plot, ordered by a vengeful President, to kill two brothers — former Cuban CIA agents who many years before had made off with secret documents highly unfavorable to the President and his revered predecessor. But the big question is, did they really kill JFK?
The President thinks so -- but now the story gets complicated. What started out as a single plot becomes several intertwining back stories, with significant conflicts between the individual members of the several sides. Lew is big on conflict -- comes naturally to a trial lawyer, I guess (LAUGHS) -- and the several sides become triangles, which are always fun. He also likes symbols, double entendres. Gets a big laugh out of the Mona working "under cover" concept. Mona does a lot of that. (LAUGHS) Which makes her a rather complex and perhaps uncertain heroine.
Anyhow, while her employers are back in the States for Christmas with their family, the CIA's man in Cabo tells Mona that she's been drafted to plant a radio transmitter on a fabulous motor yacht, the Gold Dolphin, that has just arrived in Cabo. We just want to keep track of the guy, the CIA man says, and promises her 5 Gs for the job.
Well, Mona, whose vindictive ex-husband has custody of her two little boys and won't let her even talk to them until she is current in her child support obligations, will do just about anything for five grand. And with a body like hers, getting on board the Gold Dolphin is a piece of cake. So, with practiced efficiency, Mona gets aboard the Dolphin and quickly becomes best buddies with Roberto Delafina, the Dolphin's mysterious owner. And when Roberto invites her to go for a boat ride, she jumps at the chance, leaving Rocking Chair in the care of the CIA's man in Cabo.
And so Mona's journey begins. And then it becomes just one damned thing after another. First, Mona has a bit too much to drink at a barbecue on a lonely beach, loses Roberto's respect, and has to kick his three horny crewmen around to get back in his graces. Then the Gold Dolphin comes under rocket attack by a helicopter launched from a Coast Guard Cutter and reveals its own power as an ultra-fast miniature pocket battleship. Mona realizes her own people have betrayed her and is compelled to switch sides in order to survive.
PRO: OK, I got the idea. Betrayals and revenge, escalating crises and growing romance. Not a bad formula. With a surprise ending too, I presume?
NADJA: You got it. Bullets and bikinis with a James Bond leading man and some fascinating history and gorgeous scenery as back drops, all played out on this incredible boat, the Gentry Eagle, the world's fastest luxury motor yacht, which really is the star of the story.
PRO: Well, I see your hand here. A stogy old lawyer would never come up with that spin.
NADJA: Oh, he's not so stogy. We get along pretty good.
PRO: OK. I'll take a look at the script myself and get back to you. And it was very nice meeting you. Was there anything you'd like to add?
NADJA: Well, I kind 'a thought I'd like a shot at playing Susan. (Laughs)
PRO: Sorry, I'm the wrong one to pitch. We don't produce movies. We just put together packages to sell to producers. If the deal gets done, I'll be happy to put in a good word for you. But, as you know, that and a two dollar bill will get you a cup of coffee in any Denny's in Hollywood.
Thanks for meeting with us, Nadja. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Tell Lew he made a good decision having you come alone.
NADJA: He’s no fool. That’s why I married him. (Laughs) It was a pleasure talking with you.
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