Who wants to be a filmmaker?

Plus, can Diesel stand firm on It’s Me or the Dog?
By JAMES PARKER  |  May 29, 2007

ON THE LOT: Carrie Fisher was offered torture by belt thrashing and then a 300-pound mouse.

Anybody who’s had dealings with small children knows the importance of “the pitch” — the succinct, attractive, punchy, mentally digestible presentation of a new idea. Faced with a frowning toddler, you have about six seconds to make the sale, and it has to be as sweet and as tight as a radio jingle. You will be pitilessly scanned for irregular body language, unevenness of tone, and pupil dilation. The air is electric with feral mistrust. If you start sweating, if they smell your fear — it’s over. Such was the predicament of the 50 apprentice filmmakers gathered in the premiere episode of Steven Spielberg & Mark Burnett’s ON THE LOT (Fox, Tuesday at 9 pm), since their first challenge was to pitch a movie idea to the Hollywood triumvirate of Garry Marshall, Carrie Fisher, and Brett Ratner. The hopefuls were touchingly hopeless: they dried up into gaping silence, or ranted like prophets, in visionary isolation. Jeremy Corray, expounding upon a torture scene that formed the centerpiece of a film he planned to call Synergilistic, took off his belt and thrashed the floor. “Mickey Castellucci is a run-of-the-mill New York mobster,” began another contestant, more promisingly, “but for the last 10 years, he’s been informing for the FBI. One day he wakes up and he’s turned into a six-foot-two-inch 300-pound mouse.” Quality stuff so far, but here — eclipsed, perhaps, by the brilliance of his own conceit — the pitcher appeared to enter some sort of fugue state or light aphasia. Suddenly, no more words: some helpless movements of the hands, and a bit of rocking back and forth. The judges looked at one another. “Then . . . ?” prompted Garry Marshall, to no effect.

Competing for the title of last week’s Least Enthralling Reality TV Hunt: Tred Barta, of THE BEST AND WORST OF TRED BARTA (Versus, Friday at 9 pm), doing “spot-and-stalk” on some javelinas in the deserts of southwest Texas, and Sandra Scott tracking a fugitive drug taker on WE’s WIFE, MOM, BOUNTY HUNTER (also Friday at 9 pm). Tred puffed up inclines of scrub and boulder, squirting his little bottle of scent suppressor, his longbow trained on a distant javelina family rooting blamelessly for their dinner. There were the usual lectures on technology and the principle of “fair chase,” but nothing could allay the impression that these silky, cross-eyed micro-pigs were an unworthy quarry for the great Tred. When he finally loosed one of his stone-tipped arrows, it almost chopped his target in half: “I saw blood gushing from both sides — I think it was a femoral artery. I knew I had sealed the deal.”

Sandra Scott, meanwhile, trolled the motels and breakers yards of southern Arizona in pursuit of her man and was greeted by universal shrugs of low-grade mendacity. “No, I don’t have his cellphone number. I don’t remember it. I didn’t have it, and then he, uh, changed it.” “I haven’t seen him since he owed me 20 bucks.” Sandra’s no fool: “I think we’re gettin’ the run-around here.” With fellow bondsman JD, she drove on wet roads toward Coolidge. They saw a rainbow. JD: “Arizona’s pretty when it rains.” Their prey, a bail skipper named Robert, was eventually apprehended skulking out of a Wal-Mart men’s room. “I’d rather live in a drug world,” he said sadly.

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  Topics: Television , Federal Bureau of Investigation, Carrie Fisher, Steven Spielberg,  More more >
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