By Rodger Jacobs
"It's 'Moby Dick' with cops and robbers," Trace insisted.
Hovick leaned his bony elbows on the desk top and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He was one of the youngest development executives in the movie business, rising from script analyst to administrative assistant to junior exec in less than a year and a half.
"Has there ever been a good movie made from 'Moby Dick'?" Hovick mused.
"The John Huston version wasn't bad." Trace tossed back a long swallow from the 20 ounce bottle of Aquafina in his quaking hands and screwed the cap back on before tossing it in the canvas bag at his feet.
"Never saw the Huston one. I saw the TV movie with what's-his-name, though."
"Patrick Stewart," Trace muttered. "I'll take Gregory Peck any day. But back to the script."
"Yes, please, back to the script."
Trace squirmed fitfully in the luxurious armchair at the side of Hovick's desk. Cheeky little bastard, he thought, 23-years old and he owns office furniture that's worth more than I'll ever have in the bank this year.
"It's the story of this female FBI agent whose sterling career is cut short when she encounters a notorious bank robber, attempts to perform an arrest, and he blows her leg off with a shotgun. That's the beginning of the movie. From there we cut to three years later and the woman has become a psychotic mess as a result of losing her job with the Bureau and she begins this crazed cross-country journey to find and kill the man responsible for ruining her life. And one more thing: because of losing her leg and all she's constantly on heavy duty painkillers, so she's a drugged-out psychopath with an expert marksmanship certificate from the FBI on an obsessive quest to seek revenge. See? It's just 'Moby Dick' with cops and robbers, like I said."
Hovick sighed. "It's not a bad idea, Trace, but there's the literary pedigree to consider."
"What literary pedigree?" It took all of his self-control to prevent the words from leaping out as a bark and growl.
"You said 'Moby Dick' with cops and robbers."
Now he did bark. "That was the pitch, Hovick! I didn't mean it too literally."
Hovick shook his head. "It's still going to be hard to get around with the studios. Everyone sees 'Moby Dick' as a boring book. It's a joke on that level."
"Have you ever read it?" Trace growled. "It's actually quite good, you know. But I only used it for the pitch. You know, the hybrid. You guys like to hear that a script is a cross between this and that. The script isn't literally 'Moby Dick'."
"But it is 'Moby Dick'," Hovick persisted.
"No, I just use the paradigm of 'Moby Dick' to tell the story. The chick is Ahab, the guy she's chasing is the big white whale, and the cops pursuing her sort of fill out collectively the role of Ishmael. They are the survivors, the ones who live to tell the story."
"Everyone is going to recognize the story as 'Moby Dick' with cops and robbers, Trace, and they'll shy away from it."
"Why?" Trace said pleadingly.
"Because it's Moby-Fucking-Dick!"
"It is not." Trace set his jaw in a defiant pose.
Hovick withdrew a long breath that sounded like a balloon slowly losing its helium.
"Trace," he said in a measured tone, "you pitched it to me as 'Moby Dick' with cops and robbers."