The morning of L.A. meeting #2 started with someone else’s wake-up call. I was to meet Lee Zahavi-Jessup and a very successful producer at a popular L.A. cafe in twenty minutes and looking at the valet’s grim expression, I wasn’t going to make it on time. My stomach bubbled and I rested my head on the steering wheel for a moment. I couldn’t be late. I just couldn’t.
Successfully negotiating the rush hour traffic, I hunted for a parking space and emptied my pockets into the hungry meter. Inside the cafe, I quickly ordered breakfast and entered the crowded dining area. Lee and the highly successful producer were chatting and laughing over lovely pots of tea. I was late and I was drinking coffee. Swallow, step, smile, shake hands and sit.
I was so anxious to be in the presence of a producer known for shepherding authentic and unusual stories. She’s passionate about scripts that Hollywood should hate: period pieces, musicals, and dialogue-laden plays. Her first feature film began as a play on the east coast, but her determination transformed it into a film, starring Johnny Depp that was nominated for seven Oscars. Despite her success, she was so humble, lowering her voice to mumble names and titles, because in Hollywood someone is always listening. She was lovely in that easy California way and staring across the tiny table, I dug deep for a spectacular conversation opener. I asked, “Was it awesome working with Maggie Gyllenhaal?” Oh boy.