THE ASSHOLE HOTDOG
THE ASSHOLE LOBSTER
After approving of our new episodes, there was now only one more step: present this great new show idea to the CEO. Potentially, I would have been flown to Stockholm, stayed in the Raddison BLU on the water, been employed for six weeks with two pay rates (scale actor/co-production), and put down 14 ten minute episodes of whatever foodie show they wanted to craft with me. After the CEO saw the clip, he went into a 20-minute tirade and then all hell broke loose. There was a major restructuring of top brass. The casting agent was fired from her lucrative engagement with this North American giant of Norwegian TV. I was told the CEO thought it was the worst show he had seen in a decade and the only three assholes worse than The Asshole Chef were the three assholes that wasted his time presenting the material. It was my proudest moment, and I promise that the next episode of The Asshole Chef will be the Swedish Meatball Episode, and I can't wait to stuff those balls in my mouth and chew and swallow. What follows (identities redacted to protect the innocent) are the actual emails from the start of the deal to the finish on November 21, 2012.
11/12/2012 - Email to Tom Miller
Dear Tom Miller,
My name is xxxxxxx, I am a casting director in South Florida. Please see my website:http://xxxxxxx.com/
I was passing through Gainesville this year and I read about you in one of the newspapers there. For some reason your name stuck in my mind. I googled you and you seemed to be a very unique character. I kept you in the back of my mind, I like to think have a knack for this sort of thing. I have been a fan of your Asshole chef work.Anyway the reason I am emailing you, out of the blue as it were, is because I have an opportunity for an overseas cooking show. Part of a new Swedish channel for xxxxxxxCook.com, please feel free to check it out. I don't know if this is something you would be interested in pursuing, but that's how these things start. One thing is, I showed them some of your stuff, and they liked it, but they were wondering if you could be more "American". How soon could you put up a new video with a more "American" flavor? If you are, in fact, interested, please let me know ASAP.
11/13/2012 - Email to Tom Miller
Hello Tom, terrific to hear that you are interested. Good questions. Basically the execs involved want to see more "AMERICAN" presentation. Mannerisms, clothing, eyewear, everything, but it's important to me that you retain your own style. I'm sure that'd be important to you as well. Don't feel you need to pander. The Swedes respect individuality let me assure you. I am working with Producer xxxxxxx and Marketing exec xxxxxxx, who have up until now only hired chefs with extensive cooking backgrounds, but what they're looking for here is something a bit different. They want attitude. I don't know if you're familiar with Scandinavian television, but in terms of marketing and media savvy, Swedish TV is a bit behind the times.
They are thinking outside the box, and as a result they are exploring new and different, some might say, radical things. I showed them your clips, and they admired them for their humor and "in-your-face-ness" for lack of a better word, they detected a kind of cynical honesty. They want to see more creativity and innovation and more "AMERICAN" though I'll leave it up to you to decide what that means. You are, after all, American I presume. Don't try to be something you're not, just do what you do and make it work.
As for what may come of this, they are talking about flying you to Sweden for filming for a 6 week period from mid February to late March 2013, where you will choose a set of recipes to cook, and be given a reasonable budget for filming as well as being paid the industry standard. You would also be paid a standard producer's credit, because you will have a say in some of the filming decisions, as each of the 14, ten minute shows will revolve around your "personality". You would stay at that Radisson Blu in Stockholm for the duration of filming.
xxxxxxx has authorized me to mention the above details as an enticement, and to let you know that we are serious. But I think it is only fair and right for me to say that at this point, none of this is guaranteed. In my years in the industry I can tell you that this is standard industry prelim talk. And that while you have every reason to be hopeful, don't sell your house or anything drastic. That being said, I can tell you with certainty that they are interested and I have a good feeling about this. And let me say Tom, I am in your corner.
All they need to see from you now, to make a decision, is two five minute shorts. With invigorated attitude, creativity, innovation and "AMERICAN" maxed out, Tom Miller style. Please forward me the links as soon as possible. And I can't stress this enough, the sooner the better. Swedes are extremely punctual. In fact, if you could give me an estimated time by which you might complete these next two videos of yours, then I think we will all be satisfied to wait a few days for the results.
11/14/2012 - Email to Tom Miller
Tom, they admired your frank sexual crudities, and innuendo. A lot of adult television in Scandinavia has a sort of casual ribaldry. In Sweden and Stockholm in particular, we are very free in terms of censorship, and all TV is in some way viewed as art. Don't worry about offending anyone about any subject. Muse upon that. They watched Tenderloin and Leg of Lamb. They say please do attempt to see it from the European perspective. A kind of meta-critique of the European view of Americans could be in order Tom, good thinking!
In fact, xxxxxxx said he would very much appreciate such a subversive comedic subtext for the overall tone of the next videos.
I will tell you, there are no other famous American chefs in Sweden, so if this takes off you will effectively own the genre. xxxxxx says the outdoor grill is grand. Very "AMERICAN". They want to see flags. And just amp up your "AMERICAN"-ness, really. Also, every single television star in Sweden has a catch phrase at the moment. Swedish culture, much like Japanese culture, tends to be insular and homogenous. You must understand that a fad quickly becomes a standard, even necessary marketing commodity. xxxxxxx says you need a catch phrase for these next two videos. Don't forget the subtext and the ribaldry.
xxxxxxx suggests you examine some of the earlier works of other famous Swedish/American crossovers for inspiration. He really knows what he's talking about. He has been doing this his whole career and is easily the top Scandinavian Food Television producer in all of Northern Europe.
If you had the choice, would you prefer a male or a female assistant?
Looking forward to seeing them by the weekend. Please send the links when you are done.
11/20/2012 - Email to Tom Miller
Thanks for the links. xxxxxxx and xxxxxxx are fans. Our favorite was the hot dog one. Though it didn't make sense to us to film it at night. And we are not quite sure why you don't have tongs for taking the hot dogs out of the pot. And next time, have the buns at the ready. [Tom's Comment: Uh, you guys do get tounge-in-cheek humor? Irony? Comedy?] But the food was looking good, and xxxxxx feels you got the whole "AMERICAN-ness" thing down pretty pat. Tomorrow we're going to show it to CEO of xxxxxxx, xxxxxxx. Everything goes through him, and without his approval we will not get funding.To be honest, we're never quite sure how xxxxxxx makes his decisions, or what they're based on. But he broadcasts on 125 channels in Northern Europe, so he knows what he's doing. We'll let you know what he thinks.
11/21/2012 - Email to Tom Miller
We showed xxxxxxx your video. I was going to sugar coat it, but I am quite exhausted by the ordeal actually, so I'll just tell you how it went down. Maybe it will be cathartic for me.
We went into his office and pulled up the links on the big screen.
xxxxxxx watched from it from beginning to end. When it was over, he turned to us and asked if we were joking. When we said that we weren't joking xxxxxxx proceeded to literally yell at us for no less than 20 minutes for wasting his time. He said you were the worst thing he's seen in the last ten years, possibly his whole life. He said, "there are probably only three bigger assholes in the whole world and they're standing in front of me right now." xxxxxxx was nearly fired on the spot. xxxxxxx tried to justify our choice, and he was given the choice of taking a pay cut and being demoted, or resigning.
I no longer work casting for the xxxxxxx. I have been made redundant in that capacity.
Frankly I am surprised by his reaction, and in my opinion it was, for lack of a better word, an overreaction. But I suppose that's the style that works for him. I am not prone to speaking ill of former employers. Especially because I have done some quite good work with xxxxxx in the past. I guess you're not for everyone. Though even if he didn't like you, I didn't expect this sort of extreme revulsion. Perhaps you stirred something deep inside xxxxxxx. Something he has trouble acknowledging. I don't know. It's anyone's guess. I am taking the next connecting flight from Stockholm to Miami.
Frankly, I hope you will understand if I don't contact you again in the future. I don't think I want to revisit any of this experience.
That being said, I personally still think you are quite good and will continue to watch you from afar, and wish you the best in your future endeavors. Also, for what it's worth, I apologize for getting your hopes up, only to have them dashed. That is the biz though. On the bright side, at least you haven't been fired.