10-30-91: Whatever cockiness that surfaced, and was deliciously enjoyed, a few months ago is disappearing fast. Every conversation with the studio lately is about the Cards. The future course of this movie will be set by 400 Glendale [California] moviegoers between the ages of seventeen and thirty-four, recruited mostly at malls. They will fill out . . . the Cards. The Cards are then tallied, and the result is what WB is truly after . . . the Numbers.
11-6-91: Today is the first preview. I get a speeding ticket. I'm a mess. I inch toward the preview, feeling very nervous. The movie begins on time; the audience seems to really pay attention. Then, a restlessness sets in. I die with every walkout. I study the way they walk. Are they going to the bathroom? Will they come back? Come back! (Most do.)
The Numbers are average. There is an immediate and powerful desire to point fingers. Typically, I think I've run from the raw emotions in the movie. I went for the jokes. I'm reminded of words I've heard from close friends my whole life: "I don't know when you're kidding and when you're being serious." Tonight, I think it's true of Singles.
11-11-91: I show the movie to a trusted friend, and his reaction is eye opening. "I'm with the movie," he says, "and then something gets lost. You don't ever fully explain why Steve and Linda break up."
11-24-91: It's true. We're still missing a definitive breakup sequence. I've asked WB to let me shoot these new scenes. Since our first preview, I've felt the unmistakable studio chill. It's predictable. WB is in the business of making big, big hits. They are in the rhinoceros business, and I am an ant. It's not us, they seem to say; it's the Numbers. An old friend sees me; he's shocked at my appearance, tells me to get some sleep.
12-7-91: Paul Westerberg records a new song, "Dyslexic Heart," in Los Angeles. It's classic Westerberg, all about love and confusion, and it's the perfect song to end the movie. Elsewhere, Warner Bros. agrees to the shooting of the new breakup sequence.
12-19-91: I agree to take the French Club scene out for one screening.
1-1-92: Soundgarden's Chris Cornell sends in a rich collection of incidental music. This movie takes music like a sponge. For me, Cornell is the very soul of Seattle music and its endearing darkness. I remember him the night Andy Wood died. He put a hand on Jeff Ament's shoulder. "I'm gonna call you tomorrow," Cornell said, angry at the world. "We're gonna ride bikes and fucking smoke cigarettes." It's an odd moment to remember so clearly. Something about it just nailed this city.
1-8-92: Back in Seattle, shooting the new material. Campbell's biggest scene takes place in a pay phone, as he leaves a lengthy, impassioned message for Linda Powell. After a handful of takes, we have it; it's finished. I walk Campbell up the steps. I still have a little wetness in my eyes from the scene. It's one of those awkward moments. We're probably supposed to hug, do something emotional, but we've burned each other out. We nod respectfully and quickly head off in opposite directions.
1-20-92: Sadly, I agree to leave the French Club scene out for one more screening.
1-23-92: "This is a good theater," whispers Art Linson. "Even Bonfire of the Vanities previewed well here." My heart sinks. This second marketing preview takes place in Marina del Rey. (Can we ever show this movie outside of Los Angeles?) I feel like I'm in court. I sit at the back, right behind WB president and COO Terry Semel, who is seeing the movie for the first time. Singles plays well; the audience is alive. Then, heading into the dramatic section of the movie, two 15-year-old guys in Harley shirts get up and head for the lobby. Executive heads turn. They're not seeing two 15-year-olds leave; they're seeing a nation of 15-year-olds leave. I look down. I'm dying. I turn to Nancy. "I'm dying," I say. She reminds me that it was worse when we previewed Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
"What did I say then?" I ask her.
In front of me, Terry Semel twirls a piece of popcorn and brings it slooooowly to his lips. This more complex version of Singles holds the audience's attention, but there is only tepid applause at the end. Standing, waiting for the Numbers, the mood is dark and brutal. The Numbers arrive. The scores go up modestly. "We're not reaching the Young Males," says one executive gravely. (I heard this on Say Anything.) "But you got yourself a star," says another. "Campbell Scott."
1-24-92: WB has offered new title suggestions: In the Midnight Hour, Love in Seattle, Leave Me a Message and a grim selection of others. It's all done politely, of course, but the pressure is unmistakable. Now, with the success of Nirvana, they've come up with yet another titlee: Come as You Are. I am powerless to stop them.
2-7-92: There is confusion about how to sell a realistic movie about love in a Lethal Weapon world. I tell the marketing executives that Singles is a movie for college-age audiences. They don't believe me. Their research says the movie appeals to Young Girls. We have lost our April release date. Singles is adrift.
I have to put all this out of my mind. We have looping to do with Campbell Scott. Our past scrimmages still hang in the air. He asks about this journal. I tell him if it ever gets published, it shouldn't be a fluff piece. "Write about us fighting and everything," he says.
2-10-92: My stealthlike attempt to return the French club scene to the movie is thwarted by Richard Chew.
2-13-92: L.A. is in the midst of an intense thunderstorm. Our third preview goes well nonetheless. The Numbers inch upward. (Tonight, the rating goes up with Young Males and down with Young Females. A new corporate panic sets in.) I'm happy, although I feel that there is still something missing at the end.
I read the Cards for an answer. I get the creepy feeling that the same 400 people are shaping this movie . . . and every movie. To read their comments, they seem drunk with the power . . . or maybe just drunk. "More wicked tit," says a fourteen-year-old, who also adds that he's married. A nineteen-year-old who checked the boxes "Male" and "Female" ("I'm bi") as well as "Black" and "White" ("Nabisco Oreo") writes in large, looping letters: "I love the sexual activity and the hooters. I love the Anal Fury. The music was awesome, bra." This one goes on my refrigerator. It's hard to read this stuff. It's like hearing people talk behind your back. I've got to remember the goal . . . a personal movie about relationships, a collage of lives and emotions. "It's honest," says another girl. I want to kiss her. I've got to sleep a little, wipe the stress off my face. What is Anal Fury?
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