Loyal viewers of “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Originals” know that Julie Plec — who’ll be making her directorial debut on “The Vampire Diaries” later this season — loves nothing more than a good love story. Back in 1998, the future showrunner was working as Wes Craven’s assistant when she and her college friend and neighbor Greg Berlanti came up with the idea for a romantic comedy that would land them a six-figure deal.
Do you remember seeing this story when it ran?
Oh, absolutely! I was so stunned, I sent the writer a thank-you note.
How did you come up with the idea?
I would come home from work, and I’d just sit in Greg’s apartment and eat Chinese food, and I would talk about boys and then he would talk about boys. One day he said, “I have the perfect idea for a movie, and it’s because of our friendship.” He pitched this idea about a gay man who basically Pygmalions a straight man into being the perfect boyfriend for his female best friend. I liked it of course, because it was about me. I shared the idea on the set of “Scream 2” with Kevin Williamson, and he loved it. We went to every single studio, and when it came down to it, New Line and Universal had a little bidding war. We chose Universal because we were so blown away by Stacey Snider. Kevin got the richest producing deal at the time, and I got a massive producing fee — and then we never made the movie. And that was my start in Hollywood.
What went wrong?
It went through a couple rounds of addressing different concerns from other people within the studio. It was before “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” and it was in a dip period for romantic comedies. We wanted George Clooney — but “The Perfect Storm” came out as we were trying to get him. We’d send it to Sandra Bullock and she’d be interested for a minute and then pass, and Cameron Diaz would be interested for 10 minutes and then pass. Kevin went off to do “Dawson’s Creek,” and I went off to do another show. And the project just kind of never found its feet.
What did you learn from the experience?
I learned that getting a movie made in Hollywood is a near impossibility, and the process can be a wild adventure. TV is a lot more consistently productive, no offense to the beautiful world of feature film.
Is there anything you would do differently?
That’s a good question. I would’ve sold it to New Line, and we would have made it!