Monday, December 1, 2008

Ok, so...

I'm an indie film producer based in L.A. with only one feature film to my credit and a few short films. I didn't go to film school, but I have worked in the studio film industry for the last fifteen years.

What I am is a movie lover. I don't watch sports and I don't really get into anything else. Film has been my life since I was seven years-old. That's it. My one true love. (Well, after my wife, anyway).

So several years back, I was sitting in a movie theater when a trailer for the latest Eddie Murphy attrocity, er, um, film came up. I turned to my friend and after I muttered something like, "Ugh," I said, "What the hell is he doing? This is awful!" To which my friend agreed. I then said that despite all of the cinematic crap he's put out ("Dreamgirls" excluded), I believe he still has it in him to be great. You can't sustain a career in film and in comedy for as long as he has without still having that spark in you somewhere... At least, I hope not.

So my friend and I started spitballing what Eddie could do to repair his career in the minds of all of those people who don't have 6 kids to take to "Doctor Doolittle 37," or whatever he was making next. Being a huge fan of 80's Eddie (as I think we all are), I settled instantly on the "Beverly Hills Cop" franchise.

Granted, the third film (or, III'd?) was a utter mess - a capper so insulting it nearly sinks the two prior films - no easy task. Now, wherever you fall on the topic of the first two films can vary widely. I happen to have really enjoyed Tony Scott's film and felt that it did what sequels are supposed to do - amped up the comedy and the action to great effect. I could go on and on about both films and can out-quote the next guy or girl at the drop of a hat. So, what do you do? Well, of course, you ignore the Landis film entirely. That's move number one. Next, you need to follow a few ground rules that I'm sure we'll all agree on:

1. The film brings Axel back to Beverly Hills in some fashion. Either he lives there now, or he's required to come back again. My feeling was that the "fish out of water" schtick won't work anymore, so he lives there now.

2. The film sticks Axel back with his buddies. They all have to be there. John Ashton (Taggart), Judge Reinhold (Rosewood), and despite the fact he's getting on in years, Ronny Cox (Bogomil).

So, with those things in mind, my friend and I worked through the entire plot. Then our movie started and we promptly let it go. It came up only once later when we were working on a set with Eddie and mentioned the loose idea to his personal costumer - a guy who's worked with Eddie for the last decade, at least. That was the end of it, or so we thought.

Cut to early this year. My friend is again working on an Eddie Murphy film. The costumer see's him and approaches him to ask if we still had a good take on a "Cop" film. My friend told him we'd never put pen to paper on it (or, finger to keyboard) but that we could probably come up with something. He called me right away and we went to work on a synopsis - the idea was to give them enough that the powers that be would get a feel for what we had in mind without actually spending time (unpaid) to write a screenplay for it. We give them the major points and leave the end a bit ambiguous ("always leave 'em wanting more!").

So I got in touch with Eddie's family member (and co-producer) Ray Murphy who I had met years earlier. We emailed everyone. When we heard Ratner got involved, and after I again sighed "ugh," we tried to get it into his company. We got it, via Eddie's costumer, to Eddie's agent. We told them that if they were interested, we'd do a full on first draft. We were told to shorten our synopsis to a page - apparently, people at Ratner's company can't read more than that (which isn't really surprising, somehow). It went around and around and then? Nothing. Correspondence stopped. Emails stopped. Not even so much as a "thanks, guys but we're going to go another way."

So now that I ave read the synopsis of what Brandt and Haas have come up with, I feel like... Well, ours would work better. So now, kind reader, I leave it to you. I am going to copy and paste our synopsis (WGA registered, of course) here for you all to read. Please feel free to tell us what you think works or doesn't. I know I don't have to tell you to be brutal - the internet is nothing but... just bear in mind that this is only a first draft treatment. In writing this, we also knew that once Eddie got involved, it would change dramatically. Also, I'm not a comedian. Neither is my partner, so... We were hopeful that Eddie could still bring the funny.

Oh, and one more thing... A last rule I had forgotten. "Beverly Hills Cop IV" would get a 'R' rating.

Read it in the next post and... hopefully, enjoy.

Full Treatment for "BHCop IV"

Beverly Hills Cop IV

Treatment By O'Banion and Ostroff

Based On Characters Created By

Danilo Bach and Dan Petrie, Jr.

Registered, WGA/w # 1281344

Logline: Axel Foley is back with Rosewood, Taggart and sexy Korean-American Vice Squad member Maggie Lin to bring down a human sex trafficking ring in L.A. run by the Korean mafia that has ties not just to a new elite Vice unit known as S.I.D. (Special Investigation Division), but to City Hall as well!

Synopsis: It’s been 14 years since we caught up with Detroit Detective Axel Foley, but he’s in just as much trouble as ever – and his old friends are coming along for the ride!

Foley has spent the last few years running a Private Investigation firm in sunny Los Angeles, where he gets the occasional assist from Billy Rosewood, now the owner of the uber-trendy High Tech Weapon Supply & Shooting Range.

While pulling a routine surveillance gig one night outside of a Century City condo complex, the two men are bored. Pulling a familiar joke, Foley and Rosewood decide to call and wake their old friend John Taggart (now retired in Arizona). Foley and Rosewood are shocked when members of the elite S.I.D. (Special Investigations Division) Squad, a hotshot group from Vice pull up… and arrest them!

Eventually cleared of any charges, and bailed out by Beverly Hills Detectives Foster and McCabe (the “B” team from “Cop I”), the pair are introduced to S.I.D. Detective Sergeant Kieran Reilly. It seems that while Foley and Rosewood sat outside unaware, the man they were surveilling and two Korean escorts in the condo were murdered by single tap bullets at close range. The mark of a professional hit.

Unhappy with a triple homicide happening mere steps away, and not satisfied to let the S.I.D. handle things, Axel decides to call on an old friend… Former Beverly Hills Chief of Police Andrew Bogomil. Bogomil gets Foley (and Rosewood) access to the S.I.D. case file and crime scene.

Rosewood leaves the Gun Shop in the faithful hands of his employee for the last few years, Serge, and heads off for adventure with Axel.

S.I.D. Detective Maggie Lin, a 26 year-old Korean American and former member of the L.A. Vice Squad Korean Gang Unit is assigned to chaperone Foley and Rosewood by Sergeant Reilly – and she’s not happy about it at all.

Not satisfied after reviewing the crime scene, Foley requests to be taken to the morgue to examine the bodies. He’s not buying S.I.D.’s initial explanation that this was a simple “smash and grab” robbery turned fatal. At the morgue, Foley finds the victims were killed execution style with a single tap shot to the head, and though he hasn’t been a detective in years, Foley knows his stuff. This was not a “smash and grab.”

He asks Detective Lin about the female victims, the ballistics test and also about an identical tattoo that each girl has just behind her left ear. After some prodding, Detective Lin tells Foley that S.I.D. is working on a massive sting operation – set to cripple the sex trafficking business based in Los Angeles, and in effect, crushing an arm of the Jopok, or Korean American Mafia.

She tells Foley about how the system works and about the various websites and code words the traffickers use. She tells him the tattoo is a “brand.” It tells which crew the girl”belongs to.” The tattoo is how they mark girls as their “property.”

Foley and Rosewood allow Maggie to head off, as she informs them that she has somewhere to be. Rosewood immediately recognizes the look in Foley’s eyes – he wants to follow her. Sure that she knows more than she gave them, Axel heads off to follow Maggie and leaves Billy waiting for Serge to pick him up.

Axel tails Detective Lin to a rendezvous point for the S.I.D. team as they prep a raid on a Korean nightclub where the suspected mastermind of a series of recent hit-squad murders spends his time.

Using his surveillance equipment, Foley ascertains the address of the club and decides to get there before the team and have a look around. He enters the club posing as Richard James, the manager for the DJ who’s spinning at the club that night.

Once inside, Foley notices several other women with tattoos behind their ears – but these are different than the girls in the morgue. He soon figures out who these girls “belong to,” a Korean gangster named Han. Axel decides to investigate further – but before he can get close to Han, Maggie spots him.

Then all hell breaks loose. S.I.D. comes in weapons up and Han’s bodyguards open fire. Han escapes through a stairwell leading down beneath the club and Maggie’s in hot pursuit. Axel disarms another of Han’s bodyguards but not before taking a few hard hits from the man who is clearly a student of Kuk Sool Won (Korean Martial Art).

Racing down the hall, the two are fired on by Han as he makes his escape. In the hallway, which is lined with doors on either side, escorts and their “johns” step out and a few are hit by Han’s maniacal shooting rampage.

Han makes it out the other end of the hall and Maggie and Axel pursue, ending up in the clubs valet lot, where they grab a 7 series BMW and tear off after Han who races away in a Lotus. A frenetic high speed chase takes place through the streets of L.A. with Foley firing at Han while Maggie shows off her driving prowess. Eventually, Han escapes.

Meanwhile, in the Hollywood Hills, Andrew Bogomil is awakened by a loud crash in his front yard. He emerges to find that several Asian punks have t-boned his car which was in his driveway. Nearby, a Nissan revs up it’s engine. Bogomil has no reason to be suspicious about any of this… yet. He questions the kids (“Have you been drinking?”) and starts to head inside to call the police when the lead kid, Kwan Joo tells Bogomil he thought Bogomil was the police – at that moment, Bogomil knows something’s wrong. By the time he realizes this is a hit, it’s too late… the punks open fire and Bogomil is sprayed with automatic gunfire. The punk shooters jump in the waiting Nissan and speed away.

Back at the nightclub, Axel is being railed at by Reilly for potentially ruining a 2 year investigation, when Maggie gets a radio call. She whispers to Reilly who tells Axel to sit down. Axel refuses. He’s told about the murder of Bogomil.

At the funeral, Axel and Rosewood are reunited with Taggart. Foley knows something bigger is happening and he’s intent on finding out what it is – Taggart, who started out on the Beverly Hills police force with Bogomil years ago, is intent on finding his friend Andy’s murderer. And with that, the chase is on…

The three former detectives are in a race to find Han as well as Kwan Joo and the kids that murdered Bogomil…

In the course of their hunt, they’ll turn the city upside down, uncovering an enormous warehouse cum gentlemen’s club where over 100 Korean women are being forced into prostitution, they’ll piss off the local police, come into contact with the hardcore members of the Korean Mafia and eventually expose a group of dirty cops within the ranks of S.I.D. who are running prostitution and drug smuggling rings and who are very quickly eliminating their competition under the guise of undercover police work!

All of this of course requires Axel to take on various identities (some of whom we may recall - Richard James, anyone?). The kick is, Axel may have already seen the evidence to bring down the whole thing – the body in the morgue? The man he was surveilling in the first place, may in fact be a key piece of evidence.

What Foley, Rosewood and Taggart uncover threatens to bring down not only key members of the department, but several high-ranking City officials as well!