7 FEBRUARY 1981, Page 27

High life



New York It's been six weeks since I came to the Big Apple and I think for once I've just about had it. My reasons for coming were twofold; the birth of my son and heir to my debts, and to write a screenplay and a 'treatment', which in case you don't know is an outline of sorts for a film. Once you have written the treatment, some Hollywood sharpie takes it to a bald-headed producer, who in turn gives it to a screenwriter who doesn't even bother to read it but writes something he presents as original but is more often than not a variation of some successful film of the time. When the producer — who certainly has not read the treatment — asks the screenwriter -if his screenplay followed the treatment, the writer says that he didn't follow it because he found certain flaws in the original idea, 'but look here, Irving, I've made a couple of adjustments which should get the public to notice the resemblance between our characters and those of Dallas. That is always good enough for the bald-headed one and the man who wrote the treatment gets his money, the screenwriter ditto, and everybody goes home happy.

Unfortunately, however, my case is different. The person I am writing about in my treatment is John Aspinall, a friend of long standing and a man I have to be nice to as he owes me a lot of money. The other hero of my story is myself, and I wouldn't' want anyone to get the wrong idea about the world's greatest living Greek since Alexander the Great caught a cold. The person who commissioned the treatment is my friend and mentor Clay Felker. The story should be one of the greatest hits since Gone with the Wind. There is Rhett Butler, suave, at times cruel, but with a heart of gold which he busily tries to hide at all costs, in the Aspinall character. There is sweet, kind, compassionate, understanding, courageous Melanie, taken after Lady Sally Aspinall. There is the tempestuous, beautiful, magnetic, feline, ambitious Scarlett, a composite of all my wives, girlfriends, mothers of my children. And finally there is Ashley, honest to the point of silliness, morally as well as physically brave beyond belief, loyal, monogamous. Ashley is based on me. Although my treatment does not follow the plot of Gone with the Wind (even I wouldn't try that) I think it's a great story and is bound to be a success.

My other project is a screenplay. This one I cannot talk about because 'it is for two English gentlemen producers who are neither bald, nor vulgar. They are probably the only two gentlemen in the real sense of the word that I know in the film business, and they have been very patient. I am two months behind and I can barely see the light at the end of the tunnel. Nevertheless I think both projects should be finished by 1984 so that I can begin the pursuit of the good life once again. In the meantime I try and do the best I can. Last week, at the Carlyle Hotel where I am staying, I spotted the senior Senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He had a ravishing creature by his side, a truly pretty girl, not the kind that Vogue and Hustler use to titillate impotent old men or women, She turned out to be his daughter. I was with somebody who.knew them, and we had a drink together. For me it was love at first sight. But Miss Moynihan, although extremely intelligent (how could her father produce anything else?) seems to have very poor taste in men. She did not feel as ardently about me as I did about her. So once again I reverted to the old routine: flowers, telephone calls, candle-lit dinners. I even took her to a chic party full of stars like James Taylor and Carly Simon who were willing to speak on my behalf. But nothing doing. The demented girl only likes classical music and so, like all good Greeks, I finally gave up. I told her that she was a fool and that she didn't deserve me, that she had caused me to lose a week of writing time and that I would never make a mistake like that again.

So now I am back at the old typewriter, but I am changing the characters of my treatment. I am now Scarlett and Miss Moynihan is Rhett. Her last words to me were, 'frankly Tacky, I don't give a damn'.