Friday, May 18, 2012

Artistic License

Gabriella Herkert
Catnapped and Doggone

I have been casting about for more than a week to find the perfect character for my cross-over episode this week. We’ve all seen them. Politicians making guest appearances on the West Wing, singers showing up as the house band on 90201 and Elmore Leonard short stories finding new life as serial dramas like Justified. Or even the ultimate “borrow,” Boardwalk Empire where everything is fictional but it all really happened. I have frequently thought about writing fiction using John Mitchell’s, he of Watergate infamy, more fascinating better half, Martha. But for this week’s blog, I decided to go further. I’m redirecting not only a character but his context. Imagine The Artist’s George Valentin as my contemporary detective, in black and white and silent.

He’s my anti-Columbo.

I can’t stop imagining the interview sequence from The Usual Suspects. Chazz Palmenteri’s detective rails at Kevin Spacey’s Keyser Soze. Would the detective have missed the obvious if he’d just listened instead of talked? It’s not like Soze isn’t suffering from verbal diarrhea without any prompting from the cop. I have used this technique in my day job. If you can hack it, the uncomfortable silence almost always gets the other side to tell you things they shouldn’t be saying. Picture a raised eyebrow as a rubber hose. Imagine Kevin with his rapid-fire speech and physical ticks, dressed like a homeless guy. Cut to George, silk cravat knotted, hands steepled, one side of his mouth quirked up in disbelief. Even the color chart metaphor works great here. Mister black and white not falling victim to a kaleidoscope of lies guy.

George could move into one of Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar’s as the new sidekick, replacing the verbose Win. While Win might answer his phone with the single word ‘Articulate,’ imagine the creep bar being raised to new levels when dialing that number results in silence. Not even disturbing but slightly humorous heavy breathing but dead air. Is he there? Is he listening? Is this the right number? I’m calling for help in a moment of crisis and this guy won’t make a sound. Somebody should scream with tension. Maybe it should be me. All against a brilliant Manhattan skyline and the colorful fashions of the movers and shakers that populate a sports agent’s world. The black and white works here, too, and not just because most professional sports team uniforms are so loud they can be seen by Stevie Wonder. It’s like choosing the right name for a character. Psychotics are rarely called Skippy, at least the fictional ones. Leaving George two-tone here shows the many shades of grey necessary to make the second banana/dark side of life influence magical.

I’m falling in love with this idea. The back and forth between black and white might be a technical nightmare on screen and hard to convey in print but that is one of the beautiful things about being a writer. Imagination is limitless. Ideas come from everywhere. And today I’ve got to play.

Thanks for reading.



That line that George has at the end of The Artist that gives it away, I like Peter Cook’s interpretation better. Picture my detective –Mwwuhduhr. Fewonee mwwuhduhr. See for yourself.

I have been with 7 Criminal Minds since it was a gleam in Kelli Stanley's eye.  I have loved my time here but it is that moment for me to move on.  I will be visiting my friends often and treasuring my memories always.  Thank you all.



Michael Wiley said...

I like the idea of him as an anti-Columbo, Gabi.

It's been great blogging with you for the past couple of years!

Meredith Cole said...

We'll miss you Gabi! Please come back and visit VERY often.

TracyK said...

We will miss you very much, Gabi! I hope you visit us often!

Gabi said...

You guys won't have a chance to miss me. I majored in stalking.

Reece said...

It's been great fun, Gabi. I hope you come back and heckle us often.