Hardcore
Hardcore

In 1994, Dave Hines and I were considered "hot" screenwriters. We had just written a script for Ivan Reitman and our last spec screenplay had sold for half a million dollars, so people were waiting eagerly to see what we would do next.

For our next project, we teamed with a comedian named RODNEY LEE CONOVER, using a character from his act named "BachelorMan," who gave tips to guys in the audience on picking up women.

On the morning we turned in the finished screenplay to our agents, eight couriers were waiting in front of the building to transport copies to various studios and production offices. After writing until midnight and delivering 28 scripts, we all went to bed, exhausted. Bids were to be in by that afternoon, starting at $500,000. I woke up to a phone call at 3pm. It was STEVE WHITE, my agent. "We're pulling the script," he said. "They all say it's the most offensive thing they've ever read." Suddenly, Dave and I were considered "very cold."

Hardcore


Rodney Lee Conover, early 1990s (click to enlarge)
The screenplay for the 2003 film "BACHELORMAN" was actually started in the early nineties, in the bars and restaurants of Hermosa Beach, where Rodney lived. I had met him at a comedy show, and had been impressed because of his sheer determination to make people laugh. The crowd hadn't started off liking Rodney at all! They were largely Middle-Eastern and he had come out as the character 'Hadji' from "JOHNNY QUEST," staging a musical comeback. But through showmanship and tenacity (that he would soon need for this project), Rodney had eventually won the crowd over. One bit that I really enjoyed was when he offered a tip for men on a date, saying, "Before she comes over, spray furniture polish over the door -- that way when she comes in it'll smell like you've been cleaning all day." After the crowd laughed, he puffed out his chest and announced, "I am BachelorMan!"

It will become obvious over the course of this story that Rodney is the hero of this insane, unlikely saga. The same dogged determination that helped him win that crowd over would carry "BACHELORMAN" through to its eventual and completely improbable production and eventual success. Although I co-wrote the script and co-produced the film, I was just like Ishmael, watching Captain Ahab's 12-year pursuit of a spec sale on the Indie Seas.

After that show, Rodney and I had a few beers with our mutual friend, TED RAMSEY (who was my roommate in college).¹ Rodney and I hit it off, and became friends. Rodney wanted to write screenplays, while I was trying to supplement my income as a gag writer. He and Ted would play the comedy club in Oceanside, "Comedy Nite," and stay at my place instea of the club's "comedy condo." Other times, I would visit him in Hermosa Beach. We would jot down jokes and ideas together on cocktail napkins and paper placemats, wherever we were drinking.


Ron Kovic
There was inspiration everywhere: We watched eager drunks approach women all night in the bars, hearing every pick-up line in existence (many of them ended up in the movie) -- as well as every come-back from the women they were hitting on (many of those are in the movie, as well). We witnessed author Ron Kovic, whose autobiography "BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY" had been turned into a Tom Cruise movie, carry copies of the book in his wheelchair every night into Hennessey's Tavern, where he would use them to pick up women. ("Lucky parapalegic war vets -- they get all the chicks!") Rodney also had a housemate who worked at a print shop and copied one and five dollar bills at his job to use on his dates (he said the FBI wasn't interested in small bills, and as long as he didn't make large currency and settled for small amounts, he would never get caught -- which was true, as far as we know -- he wasn't the kind of guy you wanted to stay in touch with). Everybody had a scam.

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  • Poopmoose
    PEZ DISPENSER: In a scene that remained relatively intact from the first cocktail-napkin draft, Ted seduces a woman who is feeling old on her birthday by offering her a common symbol of the boomer generation's collective childhoods -- a PEZ candy (we witnessed something like this actually happen at Hennessey's Tavern). When PEZ proved too expensive to license for the film, the candy dispenser was switched to something called a Poopmoose, in which candy drops out of the rear end of a wooden moose when you lift the tail (eyew); Nobody had ever heard of a Poopmoose, let alone remembered it from their childhoods, thus ruining the point of the scene -- but whatever, we weren't sued. (I wish we would've kept the wax lips stuff in the bedroom -- gives the scene some personality compared to the typical 'she-kisses-her-way-down-under-the-covers' scene.)
  • SINGLE MOM: The first few versions of the script had Ted go out with more women, but as time went on (and the budget went down) many scenes and characters were dropped, condensed or combined -- which somehow made it more palatable to development people. (I guess an unintended result of combining characters was that it seemed like Ted was pursuing ongoing relationships rather than having one-night stands.) Anyway, this sequence was in an early draft but got dropped completely -- I don't remember why. These scenes were probably too expensive and complicated for just a short series of gross-out jokes with no plot or character development, and the woman and son never return... but a few years after the film's release, I brought the rollercoaster gag up to John Putch, he said that he knew a cheap way to film it. Maybe Donna or Sherry could've had a kid and returned in another sequence. Oh well, too late....
  • Vitale & Judd
    "I'm in there, baby!"
    SPORTSCASTERS: It wasn't just the scenes with female characters that were condensed and combined. The TCSN salesman played by Blake Clark is actually a conglomeration of real TV sports analysts and commentators such as Dick Vitale, John Madden, and Marv Albert, who were to give Ted plays and strategies to try on women at the sports channel -- but they were all cut along with the budget (including a depressed Chick Hearn wearing a thong on "Celebrity Axe-Throwing," because of an ambiguous clause in his contract: "And the Jello's jigglin'"). In fact, the entire sports channel was scaled back drastically -- you'd think more people would have noticed that all of the meetings at a supposedly high-tech sports TV network featured poster boards with wooden pointers and 25-inch TVs rolled in on high school-style AV carts (I even played with having Ted comment on it, to make it a joke).
  • TED DAVIS CONDOM PSA: As time went on, we cut a more and more of Ted talking directly to the camera, too. The sequence features a woman named Karen ("Sherry Kappleman" in the film -- I assume we changed it because our producer had the same name); Anyway, the full Karen sequence featured dinner in the kitchen, necking in the den, and sex in the bedroom -- and it was way too long, so this scene was cut out of the middle (now we go from eating straight to sex, just the way I like it). Again, I wish we would've kept the dialogue in the bedroom though -- it's kinda' funny, and has a different feel than the typical sex scene while it eases us into the superhero fantasy.

  • RIP, ultimate BachelorMan!
    MENTOR MATCH: The TV show that Ted and Gordie watch, "THEN CAME TREE," was obviously a stand-in for the seventies TV show "KUNG FU," starring David Carradine. ("Tree" was supposedly the illegitimate son of Richard Roundtree, the original "Shaft.") In the original screenplay, Ted and his friends constantly argue over which movie mentor was better: Lou Gossett Jr. ("AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN"), Mr. Miage, ("KARATE KID") or Master Po ("KUNG FU"). It results in Ted's big comeback show at the sports network.
  • FINALLY: At one point, James "The Coburn" Coburn was to have appeared at Ted's wedding to teach Kelly and Artie the move we named after him, in the last scene. Coburn and Rodney had met in 1999 when Coburn appeared briefly in "BEHIND THE SCREAMS," a movie Rodney was acting in. Unfortunately, Coburn had stopped acting by 2001, because he was suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis that had crippled his hands and made even standing painful (he died in November of 2002, just a couple of months before the film premiered). So Coburn was replaced by "Tree," the main character of Ted and Gordie's favorite TV show, "Then Came Tree." (Coburn was inserted into the script during the Wessler era; before that, Ted gave PEZ dispensers to his single friends, Artie and Kelly, as gifts at the wedding -- Gordie was married.¹¹)

    Again, it's more believable that Coburn would have been in an L.A. restaurant carrying a PEZ than a fully-costumed Kung Fu character from a 70's TV show carrying a Poopmoose, but you work with what you have.
  • -- ©2007 by Jeff Hause   
    Revised, 2019   


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