Memo: to Hollywood Producers
From: Botsford/Botsford Fraser
Re: Geriatric Superstar Chick Flick. URGENT!!!
[this is a piece I dashed off with my sister the actor Sara Botsford, in August, 2000. It appeared in the National Post.]
Okay, here's the one-liner: four gorgeous, superstar,
action-hero, geriatric babe nuclear sub experts reunite
for spectacular underwater adventure.
Building on this summer's blockbuster old-boy flicks (Eastwood's Space Cowboys and Dreyfuss' upcoming Crew), a sensational babe-and-action-packed version starring the biggest, oldest female box office draws in Hollywood. Deep Sea Dames will bring together some of the best-known female faces, voices and bodies in the business in an all-star, all-action dazzler.
Premise (hard on Space Cowboy's winning formula): a hotshot team of nuclear submarine experts, who blew off great careers during the Cold War testing subs because they took too many chances and destroyed a lot of hardware, is begged by the Pentagon to reunite for one last dive some forty years later, to recover a mysterious old submarine found in the depths of South Pacific. (Historical accuracy cover: this all-female nuclear sub team in the 50s was a top-secret mission; not even the President knew!)
Lineup as follows: Barbra Streisand in the Clint Eastwood role, as star, director, producer. (We'll want to get her on board first; deal sweeteners to include writing score, singing title song, real-life husband Brolin playing husband etc.). She's the brains behind Team Neptuna (name of the old gang) and also the bitter enemy of Navy General Cassie Jones (Julie Christie first offer here) who fired Team Neptuna in the 50s. Streisand ("Cracker") went on to a brilliant career as a submarine designer and is now happily retired; we first see her (DKNY or Blass for this?) on the floor of her upscale Hamptons kitchen ripping apart the convection oven.
Jane Fonda in the sexy, sweet-talking numbers-genius Don Sutherland role. Fonda is looking for a big comeback property; we think this is it! Industry has signalled real readiness. Fonda ("Godiva" is her Team Neptuna nickname) will steam in this; she plays fast and easy with every young man she sees. Since the great Cold War days she has built a big business off Cancun as a diveboat owner/operator and is hungry to get back in the action. Possible love interest (nice cameo here) once the team is reunited and back in training (they have thirty days to achieve top conditioning and learn forty years of sub technology): Howie Mandel or the guy from The Practice as one sweet, sympathetic nurse.
Julie Andrews ("Andrews Sings Again!") in the lovely, warm, vulnerable James Garner role. Andrews ("Virge") was the team navigator. Now Mother Superior in a remote but stunning Rocky Mountain nunnery. Singing op: duet with Streisand (to be negotiated with BS first!) on title song; also snatches of you know what when we first see her roaming the hills outside her beloved mountain nunnery teaching novices how to make warm wooly mittens.(Crossover demographics with the sing-along Sound of Music cult folk). No love interest here for obvious reasons, but a tender little friendship, no sex, could develop between her and one of the junior nuclear sub experts the gals are forced (plot reasons/details to follow) to take with them on the mission.
In the Tommy Lee Jones drop-dead gorgeous, sure-handed, nerves-of-steel superhero role: Whoopi Goldberg. She could land a submarine up a creek backwards and blindfolded if she had to and has. Superstar fireworks between BS and Whoop, who had sizzling love/hate, tear-each-other's-hair-out relationship in the old Team Neptuna days. Since the team broke up, she's built one of the most successful hotshot jet-ski businesses in the Florida Keys. We first see her blasting through twenty-foot waves on one of her custom-designed machines giving some poor kid the ride of a lifetime. (She's also been secretly developing prototype underwater jetski; this becomes crucial plot pt.) Nice chance for Whoop (nickname "Buzzard") to show both brawn and sweetness; her husband recently died; everyone she knows is dying; might she...? Love interest for Whoop: in the role of the head engineer/communications brain behind the submarine rescue; Rob Lowe (good build for him in his climb back to credibility as a human being)..
Other characters: Vanessa Redgrave as the evil Russian general (we'll bulk this up); Rhea Perlman as the cool, tough, sneering but supportive mission dive director on land (actually, pending availability this will happen on one of the Navy's supersonic sub and aircraft launchers, ideally off the coast of Tahiti pending hurricane skeds). In the role of talkshow host (when it becomes known that the old team will reunite the public goes wild resulting in money for new subs from Congress): B. Walters/O'Donnell; fallback Letterman. (We'll focus-group this one; might be carrying the gender thing too far to go with Barbara or Rosie and Letterman will pull more numbers in pre-release publicity.)
Budget: smaller than Clint's; bigger than Dreyfuss'. Possible tie-ins and product endorsements: Oil of Olay (they'd kill for this); San Pellegrino; the new VW Beetle for Jane or Audi Sports for BS. We considered one of the HRT products, still too edgy. If Streisand's hot we'll get a sound track; maybe a comeback concert for Babs and Julie choreographed by Jane, hosted by Whoop. Wardrobe notes: once they're in training, jeans and T's; designer sequined V-neck Ts for BS; Hawaiian shirt tied high for Jane; Julie always in simple understated black jeans/white T. Whoop to be determined; will the Tommy Lee cowboy hat work for her? Full range of sub gear and accessories by DKNY. Possible action figures (Mattel keen) with outfits in sub-shaped suitcases; how cool is that? Might get Martha Stewart in on interior sub design.
Note for negotiations with stars: the naked butt/medical exam scene. We pretty much saw all in Cowboys; here we'll either go with uncredited doubles (we hope they didn't in Cowboys!) or some kind of butt-covering shot/editing. Maybe another focus-group issue here.
Writer, not important, to be determined; pull someone from the Titanic/Perfect Storm/U-571 crowd; we'll want some big underwater special effects and pyrotechnics. Once the team gets down on the ocean floor and approaches the old sub, they realize it is loaded with missiles; we up the drama/thriller ante big time here. Boarding the sub becomes hugely dangerous; they realize they can't bring it to surface without blowing up the United States so Whoop volunteers (she was diagnosed with cancer just before they took off) for death mission: to drive the sub into deep, deep ocean floor trench (details to follow) where the missiles become buried and rendered useless or something. We'll check with Navy on this.
Key market positioning note: as Deep Sea Dames is a chick flick, we're deepsixing, so to speak, the Tommy Lee Jones tragic death. Final sequence: the remaining members of Team Neptuna, who barely make it back to surface in a heartstopping sequence of bubbles and exploding hardware, are holding Whoop's showstopper memorial service on the seashore at sunset (huge candles in the sand, silk banners; great chick touch this) when Whoop surfaces just offshore, ideally on her proto underwater jet ski plot detail to be worked out.
Get back to our agents ASAP; we know Deep Sea Dames is is one hot, hot property and we want to be shooting (San Diego, Tahiti) by mid-September gunning for mega Christmas blockbuster.