By Catherine Wagley
By Catherine Wagley
By Wendy Gilmartin
By Jennifer Swann
By Claire de Dobay Rifelj
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Catherine Wagley
By Zachary Pincus-Roth
I step onto a plush-carpeted straightaway and head for the small nexus of offices in the distance. When I’m within the bustling half-circle of brightly lit desks manned by good-looking 20-somethings with matching Mac computers, a lean Asian woman in black jeans and a cashmere sweater carrying a bottle of Smart Water introduces herself as Yuko. She takes me round another bend, knocks on a nondescript door, and ushers me into the outer room of Rumer Hawke’s inner sanctum.
Illustration by Paul McCreery
(Click to enlarge)
Within, a vista of greenery fills the frame of a wall-length picture window. Rumer’s offices are atop a building nestled in the Hollywood foothills. I was wowed on my one prior visit by the impressively parklike view and the sleek Jetsons-style desk that sits before it, but this time I’m distracted by the sound of breaking glass and screams to my left. A huge flat screen dominates this wall, and on it a sexily disheveled Korean woman cowers in the corner of a closet, covering her mouth with a bloodied hand while an unseen monstrous intruder hacks at the door above her with a hatchet.
Three teenage girls sit rapt on a black leather couch before the imminent Technicolor carnage on the screen, pawing at a small vat of popcorn in the middle of a low glass table. To their right, a young man sits in a chair facing me, hands poised over a laptop. His black button-down shirt and Levi’s, close-cropped hair, and requisite phone device covering his left ear say: office assistant.
“Dead meat,” calls one of the girls, indicating the cowering woman on the screen, and the other two giggle. I note the assistant attentively typing in response.
“Joely Hawke,” Yuko murmurs at my ear.
“Ah,” I say, recognizing the teen’s bright mop of orange-streaked hair from magazine photos. Rumer’s daughter, paparazzi bait since she began dating the son of a prominent actor while still in high school, pauses mid–popcorn munch to glance briefly in my direction, then away. “I can’t watch,” she says.
“I’d be peeing,” says the girl beside her. The assistant types again.
“Something we’re looking into as a remake,” says Yuko.
I nod, finding something peculiarly familiar in the tableau of closet-trapped heroine and splintering wood as the assailant grunts and heavy-breathes, closing in.
“It’s like Halloween,” I say.
“It is Halloween,” says Yuko. “Tsuo Jung’s version. He’s very hot.”
Which means the potential project that Rumer is test-screening, with his daughter and her friends as focus group, is to be an American remake of a Korean remake of an American movie.
Yuko straightens suddenly, saying “Okay” with a smile in response to a summons from her earpiece. “Rumer’s ready for you now,” she tells me, and indicates a doorway to an adjoining office. I steel myself for what waits within.
There are two things people who’ve met Rumer Hawke know about the man. One is that he possesses a megawatt charisma of uncanny seductive power. It isn’t just the prematurely silver mane of hair swept back from a prominent forehead, the piercing blue eyes that could qualify him as a movie star. It’s some near-mystical glow that emanates from Rumer when he talks to you. You feel that you, not he, are the most fascinating human being on the planet, and thus the time he is spending in speaking to you is infinitely precious to him.
The other thing about Rumer is that he suffers from Tourette’s. The peculiarity of his particular syndrome is that he doesn’t yell obscenities and bizarre non sequiturs. He releases at unpredictable intervals the strangled squawks, hackings and cries of what sounds like a large winged predator in pain. In town there are two cliques of belief regarding this. Some believe that Tourette’s is God’s way of evening the balance in Rumer, given the unfair advantage of his looks and intelligence. But others believe the disease to be pure fabrication — that Rumer has chosen this feigned handicap as a diabolical means of manipulation. It’s certainly true that no routine yelling or shoe-pounding on desks can match Hawke’s high-pitched, sputtering shrieks in their power to intimidate. One prominent studio president is rumored to have signed off on a deal favoring Rumer because he couldn’t bear to spend another minute in the meeting with him. But no one has ever determined the veracity of Rumer’s affliction, one way or the other.
Armed with this foreknowledge, I’m still nervous when Yuko opens the door for me, knowing that whatever perks and perils might lie in having an audience with the great man, my project’s fate hangs in the balance.
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