Harlan Ellison's Movie by Harlan Ellison (1990)
In 1970, Harlan Ellison was still the enfant terrible of science fiction, as well as one of the most respected writers in Hollywood. Ellison was approached by movie producer Marvin Schartz who asked him to write a film script of the movie he really wanted to write -- with no restrictions, no guidance other than to include a scene that Ellison had wanted in another film but that had been cut. So Ellison wrote the film and because it was such a personal project he titled it Harlan Ellison's Movie and Schwartz brought it to 20th Century-Fox which refused it. (Ellison said that one unnamed executive threw the script at Schwartz's head.) Time of Sixties counter-culture films had evidently passed.
But Ellison remained proud of the script. In 1973 he published in ten parts in a newspaper column. It was finally published in book form as part of a two-volume limited set (with Harlan Ellison's Hornbook) in 1990, and was the published in one volume with Hornbook in 1997 as Edgeworks.3. It's also now available as an e-Book.
The hero (antihero?) of the script is Chris Stopa who inherits the Stopa Bank when his father dies, which gives him access to almost unlimited funds. He uses the money to fund projects which he deems worthwhile, projects that other lending institutions would reject out of hand. He buys a chemical company to stop it from producing napalm. He gathers some of the brightest minds in a variety of fields and backs each in business ventures that go against the establishment. He spends a fortune buying a nightly air space from NBC to produce a news show that is about the news, a show that does not prostitute itself to special images, a show designed with the well-being of the average citizen in mind. He's flying high on success. The things start to fall apart. His investments start doing the absolute opposite of what he had envisioned. He meets the Cabal (think John Brunner's short story "The Totally Rich") and finds he does not have the power he thought.
Surrealistic, interspersed with dream sequences, film and newsreel clips, farcical scenes, and a few cameo interruptions by Ellison itself, this is a movie script of its time, firmly rooted in the Sixties and (I fear) pitifully dated now. Still, the book is an interesting read. At one point, Judge Roy Bean sentences "Lester del Fey" to "six weeks in solitary confinement reading Jacqueline Susann novel. Soon after, Ellison provides cameo appearances of Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as The Defenders, James Whitmore as Mr. Jones, Edmond O'Brien as Sam Benedict, Carl Betz and Stephen Young as Judd and Ben, and Burl Ives, Joe Campanella, and James Farintino as The Lawyers. Despite its flaws, Harlan Ellison's Movie displays the provocative and outrageous talent and the witty wordplay the author is known for.
This is one that is best read as a relic of the past.