After one triumph and one flop, Mafia loanshark-turned-Hollywood producer Chili Palmer is desperate for another hit...of the celluloid sort. And when a similarly relocated former mob associate takes a hit of the bullet-in-the-brain variety while they're power-lunching, Chili begins to see all kinds of story possibilities. The whacked recording company mogul's midday demise is leading Chili into the twisted world of rock stars, pop divas, and hip-hop gangstas, which is rife with drama, jealousy, and betrayal -- all the stuff that makes big box office. Tinsel Town had better take cover, because Chili Palmer's working on another movie. And that's when people tend to die.
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January 25, 2005
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Excerpt from Be Cool by Elmore Leonard
They sat at one of the sidewalk tables at Swingers, on the side of the coffee shop along Beverly Boulevard: Chili Palmer with the Cobb salad and iced tea, Tommy Athens the grilled pesto chicken and a bottle of Evian.
Every now and then people from the neighborhood would stroll past the table--or they might come out of the Beverly Laurel, the motel nextdoor--and if it was a girl who came by, Tommy Athens would look up and take time to check her out. It reminded Chili of when they were young guys in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and Tommy never passed a girl on the street, ever, without asking how she was doing. Chili mentioned it to him. "You still look, but you don't say anything."
"Back then," Tommy said, "I went by the principle, you never know if it's there you don't break the fuckin ice. It didn't matter what they looked like, the idea was to get laid, man. Our young bodies required it. Now we're mature we're more selective. Also there's more quiff in this town per capita, you take into account all the broads hoping to get discovered. They act or they sing, mostly bad, either one. Turn around and take a look--walking her dog, the skirt barely covers her ass. Look. Now she's posing. The dog stops to take a leak on the palm tree it gives her a chance to stand there, cock her neat little tail. She ain't bad, either."
"Yeah, she's nice."
Chili turned to his salad. Then looked up again as Tommy said, "You doing okay?"
"You want to know if I'm making out?"
"I mean in your business. How's it going? I know you did okay with Get Leo, a terrific picture, terrific. And you know what else? It was good. But the sequel--what was it called?"
"Yeah, well that's what happened before I got a chance to see it, it disappeared."
"It didn't open big so the studio walked away. I was against doing a sequel to begin with. But the guy running production at Tower says they're making the picture, with me or without me. I thought, well, if I come up with a good story, and if I can get somebody else to play the shylock . . . If you saw Get Leo you must've noticed Michael Weir wasn't right for the part. He's too fuckin short."
"Yeah, but it worked," Tommy said, "because the picture was funny. I know what you're saying, though, a little guy like that into street action isn't believable. Still, it was a very funny picture."
"Also," Chili said, "I didn't want to have to deal with Michael Weir again. He's a pain in the ass. He's always coming up with ideas for a shot where you have to re-light the set. So I said okay to doing a sequel, but let's get somebody else. The studio asshole says, in this tone of voice, 'If you don't use the same actor in the part, Ernest, it's not really a sequel, is it?' He's the only person in L.A. calls me Ernest. I said, 'Oh, all those different guys playing James Bond aren't in sequels?' It didn't matter. They'd already signed Michael and had a script written without telling me."
"This is Get Lost you're talking about?"