Grant was busy writing emails when his secretary buzzed through.
“Excuse me sir. Gloria Stanhope is here to speak with you.”
He weighed his options quickly and mentally ran through the list of what this could possibly be about.
Mentally preparing himself, he answered, “Let her come in.”
Gloria entered less then five seconds later. Clearly she had never doubted he’d see her. This annoyed him and he almost wished he had put her off after all.
“How can I help you Gloria?”
The woman took a seat and crossed her legs, getting comfortable and settling back in the chair. “I’m sorry to barge in like this Malcolm, without a meeting set up, but it was rather timely. You have a meeting with Henry Donne this afternoon don’t you?”
He frowned. “How do you know about that?”
“It’s not a secret is it?” she asked innocently. “It’s at two o’clock. I called up Henry and asked him. Since you and I are both part of Montell Connected Studios and you are meeting on studio business, he saw no reason not to confirm the time.” She smiled.
Grant kept any reaction off his face but in his head he swore. He wasn’t sure what Gloria was up to but had no doubt she’d be letting him know soon.
“Yes, Henry is dropping by later today,” he agreed, “and I have rather a lot of work to take care of before then so if you can speed this along…”
“Of course. I never want to be a nuisance. You see I, and several other members of the board, are interested in Antigone. Of course it will need a new cast and re-shoots but we’ve read the shooting script and are quite interested. We think we could get it into Sundance next year. And you know there are several members on the board who are quite interested in smaller films and given them more of out attention. We think this is the perfect movie to start with.”
Grant raised an eyebrow. “Why this one? A lot of money has already gone into it. The re-shoots would just increase-”
“As I said: we like the script. Now as I understand it, you have offered to personally purchase the film from Henry so he’ll be freed up to work on some….what is the movie again?”
“A historical bio-pic.”
“Exactly.” She smiled serenely and there was something in her tone that conveyed exactly what she thought of a historical bio-pic and that it wasn’t positive. “But I also understand that you have no intention of doing anything whatsoever with Antigone once you have those rights.”
“I don’t think it’s financially viable.”
“But that’s an awful lot of money to spend on a film you don’t want to do anything with.”
Grant leaned forward and crossed his hands. “You have an awful lot of information on something I only spoke with Henry about.”
Gloria shrugged. “Like I said, Henry knows you and I work together. And this…historical bio-pic is Montell Connected Studios business…isn’t it?”
“Well you’ve done an amiable job of stating the facts.”
“Again, as I said, several members of the board, myself included, are interested in Antigone and since you’re not actually interested in doing anything with the rights, we want Montell Connected Studios to purchase them instead.”
“You heard me. And I can’t honestly see why you’d refuse. You aren’t going to make the movie. You’re going to be working with Henry on this bio-pic. Antigone would just be a drain on your wallet. Under those circumstances how could you explain to those board members that you were refusing to let them purchase the rights to a film they’re quite excited about? I thought we were all supposed to be on the same side here? Working together for the good of the studio.”
“I’m not convinced Antigone is for the good of the studio. It’s Greek drama. You have more sense then to honestly think that that’s going to be a box office draw.”
“Of course not. But we have all agreed that we want a branch of the studio to explore more serious drama in order to hopefully go after awards for the studio. You yourself recommended Donald to spearhead that. And when I told him about Antigone he was thrilled.”
“Why do you really want this film Gloria?”
“I’ve told you.”
“I doubt you’ve told me everything.”
He studied her. Did she hope to bring Holly under the protection of the studio? But she was right….saying no, given his plans for the film, would be hard without alienating Donald or anyone else on the board Gloria had talked to about this. And at the moment he could ill afford to lose friends.
“Henry was supposed to sign over the rights this afternoon.”
Gloria beamed. “But he’s not coming until two. I already have a rough draft of an alternative contract. Two o’clock gives me plenty of time to finalize it. We’d of course agree to all the same conditions you’d previously offered Henry so he’ll have no reason to agree with the change in plans himself. And I’m sure he’ll be happy to see the film realized in one way or another.”
Grant smiled, an idea occurring to him. “It sounds like a good suggestion…on one condition.”
“A condition? I’d think you’d be thrilled by this offer.”
“I’m interested but while I don’t have time for Antigone right now, I admit I’ve read and enjoyed the script myself. When I offered to buy the rights I had no intention of ever making the film, but now…”
“Now? How recently did this change come about I wonder?”
“But,” he continued, ignoring her, “right now I just don’t have enough time to fully commit to the film. Donald is an excellent choice but I would like some creative input. How about…casting for instance?”
“Yes. You said it would need to be recast. I know some people who would be great in it. So as long as I have creative control over the casting…I’d be happy to have Montell Connected Studios own the rights.”
Gloria tapped her fingers. “All you want is casting control? All other controls…”
“Can be handed over to anyone else.”
“But when Montell makes the film…you choose the cast?”
“All the cast?”
“All the cast. I’m sure Donald will feel that’s more than fair. But if you want to run that past him, we could call…” He reached for the phone.
“You can tell the members of the board who are interested. Since they’re so excited about the film as you say, I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear I’ve agreed to this idea.”
“Oh. Of course.”
“I guess I’ll be seeing you at two o’clock then?”
“Yes…I suppose you well.”
Gloria waited until she left the office before smiling. She’d run it past the lawyer but she’d be sure once the contract was done, Grant would lose all call on the casting, as soon the movie left Montell Connected Studios. That should make McCall happy.
Back in his office, Grant was undecided. Gloria had certainly backed him into a corner, and without losing valuable allies on the board it would impossible to refuse the offer. However she was up to something. But if she had hoped to use Holly against him, it was out of the question now. As long as he was in control of casting, Holly wouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the film. But all the same he felt uneasy. And it was always best to be prepared.
He picked up his phone and dialed a number.
“Jacob. It’s Malcolm. Yes, I’m good. How are you?…That’s great. Thank you again for being so understanding about that little favor. I’ve already recommended your art gallery for several, bigger films. You should be hearing from several directors fairly soon. In the meantime, about that thing we talked about…yes. I’d like you to make the call….of course. I’ll cover all the costs. You’ll have the check by tonight.”