Recognizing that striking writers could really use a positive story to lift their flagging spirits after enduring so many disheartening months of marching in circles and dodging the occasional vehicular manslaughter attempt by lead-footed studio employees, this week's LAT Scriptland column relates the inspiring tale of improbably named WGA member Billy Frolick, who, by accepting "a mysterious offer" to script a Ukranian animation project, suddenly found himself transported to a kind of Bizarro Hollywood where scribes were not only not regarded with typical scorn, but treated as royalty. We join our narrative in progress, as Frolick alights in Kiev to meet his new collaborators:
The Ukrainians apparently considered this a momentous occasion. When he finally stepped onto the tarmac in Kiev, Frolick was greeted with a dozen roses and a row of shivering reporters who had been waiting two hours to shove microphones in his face.
"What will feelm be about?" one asked.
"About 80 minutes long," Frolick said to mute stares.
In a way that dramatically upended the skewed hierarchy of the Hollywood system so embedded in the subtext of the current contract deadlock, Frolick was suddenly in the flopped position of being a big fish in a small, frozen pond. And the star treatment reflected that.
Frolick was put up in the Boris Godunov Suite at the Opera, a five-star hotel. He was escorted to every great restaurant and nightclub in the city by a chauffeured Mercedes town car, from which he was frequently captured embarking and disembarking by paparazzi (yes, Frolick was an excellent American ambassador and kept his underwear on).
Over the week he was in Kiev, Frolick starred in half a dozen crowded news conferences, saw "Carmen" performed at the Kiev Opera House and dined with Richard Steffens, the U.S. Embassy's cultural attaché. He participated in a charity event for McDonald's (which has a tie-in to the movie) with the country's top athletes, politicians and celebrities.
His picture was all over the local magazines. One night he was watching the news in his hotel room and saw coverage of the Writers Guild of America strike rally at Fox that he had marched in the week before.
"The press coverage was staggering," Frolick says. "I was Chernobyl without the toxins. Billy Frolick is now to Ukraine what David Hasselhoff is to Germany."
Thankfully, the piece gives every indication that Frolick is a self-deprecating, level-headed sort likely to resist the temptations of meteoric fame that ultimately reduced Hasselhoff to a haunted, floorburger-consuming shell of the megastar with whom his Teutonic fans first fell madly in love. But while the lucky writer seems to have emerged from his Ukrainian odyssey no worse for the wear, we fear the publicity the article will bring to this once-secret Scribetopia will quickly result in its ruination. Soon, agents will flock the hotel bars of Kiev in a desperate attempt to land their idling clients the same kind of commissionable, WGA-approved dream gigs just completed by the pioneering Frolick, an unwelcome infestation that will render the onetime paradise unrecognizable from the Hollywood wasteland from whence the Armani-clad invaders came.