Do Hollywood execs have a nose for upcoming talent, or do they merely cast a wide net, hoping that amid a huge catch they will blunder across the next hot thing?
A rhetorical question, you may say. But the city of Palmdale, set in north Los Angeles County, provides a useful insight into the way Hollywood works.
According to the April 2 edition of the Los Angeles weekly paper New Times, Palmdale — the West Coast equivalent of New Jersey — is undergoing a filmmaking boom.
The city is best known as the home of the Lockheed Martin aicraft company and nearby Edwards Air Force Base. Neither is it a complete stranger to the film business, having hosted a number of big-budget shoots, including Mutual Film Co.’s “Hard Rain,” which was shot outside Palmdale in an empty aircraft hangar.
But now, per the paper’s extensive article, by Glenn Gaslin, Palmdale has its own answer to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the Biggs brothers, twenty-somethings responsible for the gritty urban thriller “The X Boys.”
Moreover, the city’s third annual film fest, Palmdance, was about to take place to showcase the work of is best and brightest to execs from Disney, Miramax, Sony and New Line.
Other Palmdale-set titles causing a stir were Jorge Alexis’ fairy tale “Cacti” and Traci Aquino’s romance “Planet Miscellany.”
Even DreamWorks was said to be eyeing a patch of ground in the bustling Palmdale on which to build a “City of the Future.”
What’s more, well-known agent/producer Stephen Pevner (“In the Company of Men”) was pictured in the article in a Palmdale diner, reading scripts and talking busily on his cellphone.
Pevner was quoted as saying: “I’ve never seen anything like it. I never thought I’d say this, but I wish I was young, desperate and living in Palmdale.”
On publication of Gaslin’s piece, Hollywood mobilized. Indie distrib Seventh Art Releasing called up Gaslin for screening tapes of “X Boys.” A musician wanted to score the pic. Sources said that a senior agent at one of the big three percenteries wanted to know if Palmdale was “something he should look into.” The film liaison officer in Palmdale was keen to get ahold of the brothers Biggs. And the local TV station did a commentary piece on the city’s burgeoning film activity.
There was only one problem: The article — the Biggs, “X Boys,” et al — was a complete hoax.
Gaslin came up with the idea as an April fool’s story. He picked Palmdale, because from his point of view, he found it one of the least likely spots to spawn a thriving underground film scene.
Gaslin roped in Pevner, who happened to be in town to exec produce Neil LaBute’s follow-up to “Company of Men,” “Your Friends and Neighbors.” Pevner, who had repped Gaslin’s book “The Complete Cross-referenced Guide to the Baby Boston Generation’s Collective Unconscious,” was a willing accomplice.
Gaslin’s Palmdale is reminiscent of similar hoaxes, including Esquire magazine’s anointment of invented starlet Allegra Coleman, after which real-life model Ali Larter ended up with several offers on the table.
No such luck has befallen Gaslin. “I wish that I had given myself more time,” he says mournfully. “I could have got a film deal out of this.”