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This story is dedicated to the late Jeanne Mullich, who in all honesty never thought these things were all that funny.
Special thanks to Jesse Merlin and Mara Marini for not killing me.
Hover your cursor over underlined textYeah, like that. for an explanation of its meaning.
Once upon a time, there was an enchanted realm called Hollywood. It was a wondrous fantasy land where people came from all over the world to make their dreams come true. For this was the place where gorgeous, charismatic gods and goddesses stood in front of movie cameras and acted out stories that captured the imagination and enriched the soul. The celluloid magic they created there would be released all over the planet to make the lives of everyone who saw it a much happier existence. And the special people who crafted the films were put on pedestals as golden idols who the rest of us looked up to with awe.
Everyone who lived there hated the dump. Oh, it was great for the infinitesimal percentage who got paid mountains of money to make any film they wanted to. But the overwhelming majority of its inhabitants were desperate for even a bottom-dwelling job in the movies. They waited tables at night while spending their days going on auditions or sitting in overpriced coffee shops writing screenplays, all the while hoping for that one big break that would transform their lives. And even the people who were making a fat salary were bitter because they could never be happy with what they had; they always had their eyes on that next rung of the ladder. They were making good money cranking out hack work, but these lucky few who were managing to make their living doing what others only dreamed about also wanted their output to be respected as art. And in Hollywood, that meant only one thing: winning the Academy Award.
“Why won’t the Oscars give me any recognition?” screamed Jesse Merlin, a well-known movie star famous for bringing a blisteringly funny creepy lecherousness to a schlocky series of horror flicks about an ominous character named Professor Morlock. He looked ruefully at his empty trophy case and complained “My tremendous talent has been showcased in dozens of great movies like Professor Morlock, The Curse of Professor Morlock, The Bride of Professor Morlock, and as Werewolf Hitler in FDR: American BadassA real movie in which Merlin plays a character named Werewolf Hitler. Check it out on Netflix.. But I’ve never been so much as nominated! In the mean time, they’re giving awards to no-talents like Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey. If the square-jawed idiots who starred in Gigli and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days have Oscars on their mantel, why the hell don’t I?”
Merlin looked ruefully at his empty trophy case
“I’ve been doing some research on it,” replied Bobbi Crachette, Merlin’s harried assistant who set aside her own dreams of movie stardom to take a job answering her boss’ fan mail and covering up his temperamental egomania from his adoring public. “The guy who wins the Best Actor Oscar always gets it for playing a character with some horrendous physical or mental obstacle. McConaughey and Tom Hanks won it for playing guys with AIDS; Jamie Foxx was blind; Jon Voight was paralyzed; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nicolas Cage and Jeff Bridges were alcoholics; Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hanks (again) won it for playing mentally challenged guys; and Jean Dujardin played a guy who couldn’t talk in The Artist, which is a really funny joke for the smarter people who read the idiotic story.”
“Keep talking,” sneered Merlin through clenched teeth, visions running through his mind's eye of his many enemies choking with bitterness as he ascended the stage to accept his golden statuette.
“Well, it’s not enough to play a train wreck of a human being,” answered Miss Crachette as she poured over her spreadsheets. “In order for your performance to be fresh in the voters’ mind, the film has to be released on Christmas Day.”
“Excellent,” snickered Merlin as he glared at his empty trophy case, happy that this moronic tale had established its loose connection to the Yuletide. “So all we have to do is find someone with a life story so revoltingly wretched that anyone who hears it will have their stomach turn, and then make a movie out of it with me in the leading role. We release it on Christmas Day and the Oscar is a sure thing. The only problem is, who can we find who’s that pathetic?”
At about this time, a young muse named Jonny M. was releasing his annual Christmas story into cyberspace. For years, the muse would spend months writing a Yuletide-themed tale on his website madbeast.com which depicted him saving Christmas for some idiotic schnook, and he would illustrate it with pictures of scenes from the story in which the people in his life were Photoshopped in as the characters. When the story went “live” on the site, everyone he knew would inevitably bitch that their pictures were used too much, weren’t used enough, weren’t used at all, weren’t used in a flattering enough fashion, or were used in too flattering a fashion. But in addition to using pictures of the flotsam and jestam he associated with to illustrate the story, every year Jonny would have a contest for his fans to submit a celebrity that they would be pictured in an illustration with and as luck would have it, the winning entry this year was Professor Morlock star Jesse Merlin (submitted by Jonny’s friend Dr. Marcus Ringer, who had since been imprisoned on charges surrounding erotic photographs taken with his dog Milton that were posted on a website that charged a monthly membership fee). That meant when Merlin did his daily Google search to see what websites he was mentioned in, Jonny’s Holiday Extravaganza came up in the results. Puzzled, he clicked on the link to see what the strange title had to do with him.
Jonny had Photoshopped a picture of Merlin as the featured celebrity in his annual Christmas story
At first, the actor was appalled that his famous name was included in this collection of filth and debauchery masquerading as a Christmas story. And when he looked at the rest of Jonny’s website, he was even more disgusted. But then Merlin came across Jonny’s Enemies List, the section of the website in which the muse methodically eviscerated the five people who had caused him the most offense for the previous week. As the actor read Jonny’s paranoid ranting, he quickly realized that he was getting an inner look at the most darkly disturbing individual that he’d ever encountered. The more he read, the more he had to stifle his gag reflex; but after spending a couple of hours on the Enemies List, Merlin determined that if this wretchedness were to be dramatized on the Big Screen, it would be the most unsettling depiction of humanity ever presented to an audience. Quietly, Merlin picked up his cell phone and dialed Miss Crachette.
“I want you to set up a meeting with Jonny M.,” he said. “Find out if he’s interested in having his life story turned into a movie… an Academy Award-winning movie.”
Jonny was puzzled when a limousine arrived to take him and his beloved pug Winston to Mammoth Studios to meet with Merlin and his production company. Winston knew they were in trouble when he saw a courtesy bar as they got in the back of the limo and Jonny lunged at the free booze so by the time they had made the short drive to their destination, the muse was bombed out of his mind. The pair entered a conference room filled with attorneys, associate producers and a slovenly, depressed-looking guy sitting in the corner by himself and playing video games on a laptop. As soon as the muse walked in the door, he was warmly greeted by Ms. Crachette while the famous figure of Jesse Merlin looked him up and down from across the room.
“We’re interested in making a movie of your life,” said the assistant in her best businesslike fashion. "We think it’s a story that needs to be told, and we’re extremely lucky that one of the greatest actors in the world – the one and only Jesse Merlin – has agreed to play you.”
“Jesse Merlin” laughed the muse as he spit up the last of the $2000 bottle of Swarovski Alizé Vodka that he guzzled in the limousine. “Isn’t he the guy from those god-awful Professor Morlock movies? I watch those things when I get suicidal in the middle of the night just to remember that there are things in the world even dumber than me!”
Everyone in attendance gasped in astonishment, preparing themselves for one of Merlin’s famous temper tantrums. The star slowly made his way through the entourage as all his hangers-on shrank from him in fear, making it plain that everyone in the room was terrified of him. He stopped in front of Jonny and studied him hard for a moment. Then, instead of the explosion of angry expletives that his crew of yes men had braced themselves for, the star let out a peel of manly laughter.
“It’s true, Jonny,” chuckled Merlin. “I think the Morlocks are as bad as you do. That’s why I’ve been looking for a project that I can finally sink my teeth into. I think your life story is just that project.”
The muse looked at Merlin in a daze, since the alcohol that he had cannon-balled in the car had so overwhelmed his brain that he couldn’t grasp how the evil Professor Morlock had suddenly escaped from his DVD player and was now standing before him in the flesh. Fortunately, Merlin was so self-absorbed that he failed to take in Jonny’s confusion and just kept talking.
“I’ve been looking over your Enemies List and I think there will be a fine movie in it.,” said the star. “We’ll need to tone down a few things here and there, of course – if an audience saw the real you, there’d be vomit saturating the theatre’s aisles by the end credits – but that’s what we’ve got Robert RichRobert Rich was the pseudonym blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo used when he won the Oscar for “The Brave One” in 1956. Clever, huh?, one of the top writers in Hollywood for.”
Recognizing his cue, the slovenly fellow in the corner quietly rose, mumbled a few incoherent words of acknowledgement at Merlin’s praise, and returned to his video game. The star fixed his gaze back upon Jonny.
“The only thing we need to iron out now is acquiring the rights to your story,” Merlin announced with a disconcerting reptilian smile. “That’s what my attorneys are here for. They’ll iron out a deal for you that will make it plain why Tinsel Town is the home of the happiest, most well-adjusted people on earth.”
With that, Merlin’s lawyers descended on Jonny and bullied him with show business legal doubletalk about points after net zero. By the time the muse found himself signing the massive stack of papers in utter confusion a few hours later, Winston calculated that the movie would have to be the highest grossing film in history for Jonny to be paid a dime. Miss Crachette glared at her boss disapprovingly, knowing that Jonny was being screwed.
Merlin's lawyers descended on Jonny
But the muse appeared to be delighted as he signed the massive stack of papers which gave Merlin the movie rights to his life story for nothing in return.
“Just think how happy this is going to make people,” marveled Jonny as he scrawled his signature with a flourish. “And they tell me that the film is going to open on the most magical day of the year: Christmas Day! Why, I’d happily pay them to be a part of this!”
Winston studied clauses 17 through 25 on page 132 of the contract and determined that if the film didn't perform well in Guam, Jonny just might get his wish.
But first, Merlin’s writer would have to carve out a screenplay from the insane ravings found in Jonny’s Enemies List. The task was in good hands; Robert Rich had been gradually making a name for himself by posting videos on YouTube of his cat urinating in his sleep until a spec script he had adapted from Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens (retitled Titty Fuckers to make it more commercial) had fallen into Merlin’s hands while he was shooting the last Professor Morlock potboiler. The star loved the sensitivity of the scribe’s writing; but best of all, Merlin knew that only an unproduced writer who was desperate for a job would put up with his legendary temper tantrums.
Rich had already read through every comma of the collected Jonny’s Enemies List. But now that the company had acquired the rights in earnest, he really went to work; camping out in his office (a Starbuck’s on Hollywood Boulevard) and personally interviewing everyone who had ever been a target of Jonny’s online ranting. It didn’t take long for the writer to learn that with the exception of Jonny’s beloved pug Winston, everyone who had ever come into contact with the muse hated his guts. But Rich also decided that if a movie was going to be crafted from Jonny’s twisted antics, its central theme would have to be his fanatical abuse of a long-suffering actress named Mara Marini.
The screenwriter interviewed everyone who had been featured on Jonny's Enemies List
Miss Marini was one of the most popular personalities in Hollywood, beloved the world over for her recurring role as porn star Brandi Maxxxx on Parks & Recreation and for her appearances in such film classicsThese are all actual films in which Ms. Marini has appeared. as Gothic Vampires from Hell, Porntourage, and Slaughterhouse Phi: Death Sisters. She had brought an old-styled glamour back to Tinsel Town which made all men want her and all women want to be her. But she had become an obsession for Jonny. No Enemies List was complete without some pathetic attempt by the muse to win her attention. She put up with Jonny’s infatuation patiently at first, enduring his online ravings and crude Photoshopping of their images into illustrations of implausible romantic encounters. But when Jonny refused to accept her gentle rejection she had to get tough, ordering her battery of attorneys to issue restraining order after restraining order against the muse to get him to stop. They didn’t even slow him down, and Rich knew that Jonny’s grotesque obsession with the actress would be the foundation of a movie powerhouse.
There was just one problem; Ms. Marini was horrified at the idea of a film about this sick deviant’s fixation with her and she refused to even speak to Rich about it. So the screenwriter began pecking out the draft of a screenplay based on what he had and left the pages where he knew Miss Marini would find them; under the door of her star dressing room on the NBC lot, at the grotto in the Playboy Mansion, texted to the cell phone that she used to snap daily selfies and post them to Instagram for her adoring public to rhapsodize over. She always threw the pages out and deleted the texts without reading them until Winston finally got into the act and seduced the actress' female Chihuahua Monroe into leaving the script on the pillow of her owner's hot pink canope bed just before she retired for the night. Cornered by the pleading, wide-eyed gaze of Monroe (who wasn't the first hairless bitch to be enticed into doing Winston's bidding), Ms. Marini finally opened the script to read it. When Rich awoke the following morning, he found a text message from the actress informing him that she would meet with him.
Rich arranged a meeting at the swimming pool of Merlin’s Beverly Hills estate, planning the venue so that Ms. Marini could be shown in one of her trademark pink bikinis for the illustration that accompanied it. She arrived punctually and painfully described a horror story of Jonny’s systematic cyber-stalking which had made her life a nightmare. Rich was aghast at the disturbing ordeal she related, but Merlin’s eyes were ablaze with visions of Oscar gold. By the end of the meeting, she finally agreed to play herself in the film on one condition: that Jonny not come anywhere near her.
Mara Marini described a horror story of Jonny’s systematic cyber-stalking
That was going to be a problem because one of the few things that the muse was given in his one-sided contract was the role of creative consultant. That meant that he would be present during casting and at the filming of the movie. Merlin was so anxious to have Miss Marini take part in the film after hearing her chilling stories about Jonny that he agreed to have a special viewing room constructed that was 500 yards away from wherever Miss Marini would be filming (the exact distance required by her restraining order against him) that had a live video feed from the set so that Jonny could watch without being anywhere near her. As for casting, Merlin would simply have his assistant read Miss Marini’s lines opposite the auditioning actors.
“It happens all the time,” he snarled. “Some faceless drone reads from the script as woodenly as possible while the workaday actors auditioning opposite them try do make something with what they’re working against, while the stars and director sit on the other side of the room staring at them ominously while laughing sadistically at their desperation. It’s one of the best perks of being a star!”
But from the very first readings, one thing became abundantly clear: Ms. Crachette was a great actress. No matter whom she was reading against, Jonny, Merlin and the director couldn’t take their eyes off her. She wasn’t trying to upstage anyone; her generosity as a performer actually made every actor she read with seem better than they ever had been before. She simply had an indefinable charisma that was only found in movie stars. Jonny quickly learned that his title as consultant was meaningless and that any suggestions he gave were ignored, but he still lobbied for Ms. Crachette to be cast in a role – any role – in the film.
One thing became abundantly clear: Ms. Crachette was a great actress
“She’s not attractive enough,” dismissed Merlin after the muse brought the subject up for the umpteenth time. “To make it in Hollywood, an actress has to be drop-dead gorgeous and project a glamour that makes her stand apart as a goddess compared with other women. She has to be…well, she has to be Mara Marini.”
Jonny stared sadly at the bespectacled, button-down figure of Ms. Crachette and felt certain that Merlin was missing something.
The production wouldn’t be filming anywhere near Hollywood, of course. The movie capitol was far too expensive to shoot in so the studio was rebuilding Jonny’s home town of Van Nuys, California in Toronto to save money. The film was finally cast, the finishing touches were put in the script, and the crew was assembled to make the trek to Canada. Coming along would be Jonny, who would spend most of the shooting in a cramped box 500 yards away from Mara Marini but who had also been given a tiny cameo as a bellhop as a publicity stunt (his single line in the film, "paging Mr. M., paging Mr. Jonny M." would ultimately be dubbed over by legendary voice actor Eddie Frierson); and Ms. Crachette, who would be returning to her place as Merlin’s constantly abused doormat. When he found himself seated next to the assistant on the plane trip to Toronto (they were in coach while Merlin lavished in first class), Jonny asked her why she put up with it.
“You’re as talented as any actress in Hollywood,” said the muse. “You should be a star!”
“I tried for years,” replied Ms. Crachette sadly. “But producers were only interested in casting 25 year-old girls with perfect bodies and gorgeous faces. Nobody wanted to give a four-eyes like me an acting job. It was just a silly dream.”
Jonny's face became a mask of bewilderment. In his experience, most of life was silly from beginning to end. The one thing that was always deadly serious – sacred, in fact – was a person's dreams.
“If someone gave you an acting job now," he asked, "would you still want it?"
Ms. Crachette smiled sadly at Jonny and responded as if she were talking to herself. “Of course. But no one ever made an offer and I have bills to pay. At least I have a job working in the movies. A lot of people would love that.”
“You mean slaving away for Merlin?” countered Jonny. “He treats you like dirt!”
“I’m abused, underpaid, overworked and have my immortal soul trampled over on a daily basis,” she answered with a weary smile. “But I’m in show biz.”
Jonny responded with a quizzical look, certain he was sensing something about her that everyone else had overlooked, and buried his face in a copy of Skymall.
As Jonny watched the filming, two things became obvious about Merlin. One was that he would give a magnificent performance in the role of Jonny M. The other was that he was an egomaniacal assholeThe real-life Jesse Merlin is actually a really nice guy. My lawyers suggested I point that out as protection against the defamement lawsuit that he's certainly going to file against me over this.. No one in the cast or crew was safe from one of his tyrannical outbursts, with the most frequent target being his overworked assistant. Scarcely an hour went by when she wasn’t a victim of one of his savage eruptions.
Merlin would give a magnificent performance in the role of Jonny M.
“Why the hell is my latté so cold, Ms. Crachette?”
“Because you asked for it two hours ago and spent the whole time since screaming at a grip for being in your sight line while you were filming the scene where Jonny is glumly masturbating to Internet porn.”
“He deserved to be screamed at! He’s almost as incompetent as you are! He shouldn’t be working in this business!”
“He’s not. You fired him.”
“Unless you’d like to join him, I’d better be drinking a hot latté in two minutes!”
…was a typical exchange. Yet despite all the abuse she took from Merlin, she showed up early every day to work and when the director yelled “Quiet on the set! ACTION!!!” she felt her heart pounding with excitement. She loved being part of the movies. And that excitement was never as palpable as it was the day that Mara Marini and her entourage showed up to begin filming her scenes. The cynical crew, used to interacting with the most famous names in the movies, became tongue-tied with awe when they were in her presence. And no one felt it more than Ms. Crachette, who gazed upon Ms. Marini’s indefinable beauty with reverence and then dolefully thought of the thick spectacles perched upon her own Plain Jane face. Merlin was right; Bobbi Crachette didn’t live in the same universe as Mara Marini.
Ms. Crachette couldn't hide her excitement when Mara Marini and her entourage showed up to begin filming her scenes
But neither did Jonny M., who by agreement was locked up in a screening room far away from Ms. Marini when she first stepped onto the soundstage. On one of the frequent occasions when Jonny was so drunk that he could hear and understand his beloved pug Winston speaking to him, Winston approached him about his master’s mania for the actress.
“What is it with you and Mara Marini?” asked the pug. “There isn’t a woman on the planet who will give you the time of day. You’ll usually just make a few painfully awkward attempts at asking them out which are rejected in the most humiliating fashion possible, and maybe Photoshop an image of them in a cheerleader uniform standing next to you that you post on Facebook. But you are unremitting with Ms. Marini, even after she’s had restraining orders issued against you to keep from bothering her. Why are you so obsessed?”
The muse only stared at a picture he'd Photoshopped of him and Ms. Marini into a screenshot from a scene from How to Stuff a Wild Bikini and wondered why the pug even needed to ask.
The crew was elated with excitement when it was finally time to film Ms. Marini’s first scene. The atmosphere was enthusiastic because despite Merlin’s egomania, it was obvious that he was giving a masterful performance which could very likely win him the Academy Award that he coveted. But Ms. Marini had a star quality which overwhelmed everyone. She accepted the role with a great deal of trepidation, but her inner-circle convinced her that only by acting out the trauma of her abuse at the hands of Jonny M. could she ever truly get over it. And so she found herself standing in front of a crew of a hundred people preparing to reenact the first time that her attorney Sol Sidstein came to her Malibu estate to talk about taking out her initial restraining order against Jonny. She was queasy at the thought of it.
“That little freak has made my life miserable for years!” she ranted to Sid Solstein, her representative from the Artistic Creators Agency. “You have no idea what it’s like to log onto the social network every day, not knowing if you’re suddenly going to see yourself plugged into a movie scene or famous painting standing between an obese pug and a drunken nerd with granny glasses and patchy facial hair!”
“It’s been hard on all of us,” admitted the agent. “But it’s made you an even better actress, if that’s possible! Remember when you were filming Chicks Dig Gay GuysThis is another title from the real-life Mara Marini filmography. I'm telling you, the lady works all the time. and you were having trouble getting bile to rise to the top of your throat when you saw your best friend being victimized by homophobia? You just thought of Jonny and you suddenly went into dry heaves! And if that’s not enough inspiration, just think of the fifteen million dollars they’re paying you to make this movie. That will pay for lots of extra bodyguards!”
Ms. Marini braced herself and took her mark to shoot the first take of the attorney walking in the door. But instead of the expected figure of Christopher Walken portraying Solstein entering the scene, a drunken Jonny M. staggered onto the set and collapsed at Ms. Marini’s feet, with a visibly embarrassed Winston following him.
“Forgive me, goddess,” slurred Jonny as he pressed her cheek against Ms. Marini’s Christian Louboutin Maralena Flame Sandals. “I love you.”
Ms. Marini was horrified.
“What is he doing here?” she hissed at the stunned figure of Jesse Merlin, who was standing off to the side. “You guaranteed me that I’d never lay eyes on this freak. I quit!”
With that, Ms. Marini scampered into her trailer, quickly followed by her psychic, hairdresser, makeup stylist, personal trainer and nutritionist.
“This is a clear breach of contract,” said Sidstein the agent as Merlin stood wide-eyed in shock. “You’ll be hearing from Solstein the attorney this afternoon. Good day!”
The agent followed his client into the trailer as the crew stood aghast at what they had just witnessed. The silence was finally broken by Merlin kicking Jonny mercilessly in the face.
“You idiot!” screamed the star as Jonny rubbed his cheekbone, hopeful that the attack couldn’t make his disturbing appearance any worse. “This is going to cost the production millions of dollars!“
“I couldn’t help it,” moaned Jonny as he desperately sniffed the air for a final remnant of the scent of Ms. Marini’s Chanel #5. “She’s got me bewitched so that I do things I don’t want to. You think I like getting up at 5:00 a.m. to Photoshop the two of us into screenshots from When Harry Met Sally? I have no control over it. But I realize that’s no excuse. You’ll find Christopher Walken tied up in his dressing room. I’m really, really sorry.”
“A fact lot of good that does me now,” said Merlin as he turned to escape to his own trailer. “I’m ruined. What’s more, we’re on a tight shooting schedule and now we have no one to play Mara Marini.”
The star was almost out of earshot when he was stopped by the pathetic whine of Jonny M.
“Yes, you do.”
Merlin turned around to display his trademark scowl. The crew instantly scattered so as not to be in the path of his wrath. The only people in his eyeline were Jonny and the meek figure of Ms. Crachette, who was used to her boss’ tantrums and no longer ran from them.
“And who exactly is that,” hissed Merlin.
“Your assistant,” answered Jonny, trying desperately not to pass out from the cranial damage he suffered from Merlin’s kick to his face. “You saw how brilliant she was in the auditions. She could make this movie even greater, if you’d only give her a chance.”
“You expect her to play Mara Marini?” snorted Merlin. “We’re talking about one of the most beautiful women in the world. She’s just a four-eyed nobody!”
“I’ve been thinking about that,” replied Jonny. “Then I remembered that these are the movies. I’ve seen too many teenage gross-out comedies loosely based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion not to know how to handle this. Ms. Crachette, take off your glasses and let down your hair!”
Ms. Crachette took off her glasses and let down her hair
The assistant was initially bewildered. The crew slowly returned from their hiding places to see what would happen next. With all eyes upon her, Ms. Crachette carefully removed the 138 bobby pins that held up her platinum locks, allowing them to finally cascade freely to her shoulders. Then, she did what no one had ever seen her do before: she slowly removed the thick granny glasses which perched heavily on her nose like a disapproving owl. Everyone on the soundstage was stunned.
“My god,” said the director. “She’s…she’s gorgeous!”
The cavernous soundstage was momentarily silent as the crew stood in confounded awe at Ms. Crachette’s newly-exposed beauty. Only Winston was unimpressed, realizing that the obsessed creative team for this idiotic story was just using Mara Marini’s picture for both characters; but in a characteristic statement of tact, he said nothing. Merlin slowly crossed the set to reexamine his assistant.
“Not bad…not bad at all,” said the star as Ms. Crachette began to feel like a piece of meat being judged for its USDA seal of approval. “With the right hair and makeup, it just might work. It just might…NO!”
Merlin suddenly turned and began to storm back to his trailer. Jonny quickly followed him.
“What’s the matter?” asked Jonny. “She’s got the talent and the looks. Why won’t you give her the job?”
“She’s the only assistant I’ve ever had who would put up with me for more than a week,” sneered Merlin. “If she’s in the picture, there won’t be anyone to get me my latté. It’s not going to happen!”
Ms. Crachette felt her heart sink as her cherished dream of being an actress looked like it was finally going to die. Merlin was almost off the set when he was stopped once again by the voice of Jonny:
“I’ll be your assistant.”
Merlin stopped in his tracks. He thought of his own dream of winning an Oscar and realized that Ms. Crachette taking over the role could make that happen. But he was still unconvinced. He walked back to the pair and stared at them with his famous steely eyes. Ms. Crachette felt like her heart was about to pound through her chest as Merlin studied her for a long time until finally fixing his gaze upon Jonny.
“Get my latté order wrong once,” he finally said, “and it will be your ass. And what are you standing around for, Crachette? Get into costume and makeup!”
The next eight weeks were the happiest of Bobbi Crachette‘s life, but they were hell for Jonny. Merlin proved to be the harshest of task masters and would give the muse a brutal tongue-lashing if the actor's every impulsive whim wasn’t fulfilled immediately, cursing Jonny with every expletive imaginative. Everything Jonny did was too fast, too slow, or simply carried out incompetently even if was exactly what Merlin had asked for. The muse would find himself working 18 hour days only to be told by his boss that everything he had accomplished fell far short of expectations. Jonny would cry himself to sleep every night, with the only thing buoying his spirits being the knowledge that Ms. Crachette was finally getting her big break. But Merlin’s vicious reprimands of his former assistant didn’t end when she became his co-star. If she messed up a line, was late for a cue or stood a half-inch off her mark, Merlin would take ten minutes to verbally lambast her in front of the whole crew. He would inevitably end his outburst by looking at her disdainfully and proclaiming “once a personal assistant, always a personal assistant.”
Shooting finally wrapped and everyone involved was confident that it all been worth the agony of Merlin’s egomania when the film was handed to the editor to be cut together. There were times during filming that Jonny was convinced that they were making a masterpiece and that Bobbi would emerge from it a full-fledged star. And when he watched the dailies, he felt certain that Merlin would walk away with his objective in making the movie in the first place: the Academy Award for Best Actor.
But first audiences had to see it and for that to happen, there would be a publicity junket. In October, Jonny was surprised to be contacted by the film’s publicist and told that since it was his story, he would be part of the group of people who would be interviewed. Jonny was pumped with excitement when he went to see a screening of the director’s cut, and he was thrilled as it unspooled before him. It was three hours of Merlin at his most magnificent playing the strangest and most disturbing role ever presented on film. And Ms. Crachette was superb playing the harrassed Mara Marini; there was audible weeping from the film's insiders watching the screening at the scene where she first logs onto Facebook and is horrified to be confronted by a Photoshopped image of her in a passionate embrace with a highly retouched picture of Jonny. As the final credits rolled, the meager audience rose to give the film a standing ovation.
But when the lights came up, the muse was surprised to see Merlin’s face had turned white with anger.
“What the hell did you do?” the actor screamed at the film editor. “You gave all the best moments to Bobbi Crachette as Mara Marini! This film is meant to win me the Academy Award, not some secretary who can’t even get my latté order straight!”
“But Jesse,” whimpered the director, “the film is wonderful. And you’re wonderful in it.”
“Don’t give me that!” hissed Merlin as he took three ball bearings out of his pocket and began rubbing them together in his trembling palm. “I see what’s going on here; it’s a conspiracy to rob me of what’s rightfully mine! You’re going to re-cut that fiasco and take an hour out of it…an hour of Bobbi Crachette!”
“But Mr. Merlin,” pleaded the film editor, “the film is perfect as it is.”
Merlin’s eyes tightened in a threatening squint.
“Either you cut an hour out of it,” sneered the actor, “or I’ll hire someone else who will.”
Merlin made the editor cut an additional hour out of the film
The re-edited film had moments worth watching, but it paled next to the three hour director’s cut. Merlin was delighted with it though, because it was exactly what he wanted it to be: two uninterrupted hours of Jesse Merlin onscreen. There were only a few scattered scenes in which any other actor spoke, and Ms. Crachette’s part had been whittled down to an insignificant cameo. When the lights came up following the first screening of the new version, there was only one face in the room that didn’t have a disappointed expression of total gloom on it. Unfortunately, that face belonged to Jesse Merlin.
“Now that’s a movie,” said the actor cheerfully, not noticing the chill of disillusion that filled the room. “I’m sure Jonny was thrilled with the way we told his story.”
The muse said nothing but only fixed a compassionate gaze on Ms. Crachette, who was bravely holding back tears. Winston sat next to him and ruminated on the 18 times he counted Merlin’s name listed in the credits.
“It’s going to be a big fat hit,” chimed the actor gleefully. “Now we’ve just got to go out there and sell it!”
December frost filled the air as the filmmakers met with the press to talk about the film before its premiere on Christmas Day. Merlin had decided to open the movie “cold” without any advance screenings for reviewers to give it an air of mystery. This is usually done because the studio knows they’ve got a turkey on their hands and want a chance to show it for a couple of days before the critics decimate it, but in this case it was to provide an implausibly contrived Yuletide-themed happy ending for this idiotic story. Fortunately, no one noticed.
Least of all, Jonny. December was his favorite time of year, filled with the joyously colored lights, merry music, and enticing smells of the Yuletide. And with the end of shooting, he was finally released from the cruel yoke of being Merlin's personal assistant. Add to this the happy fact that it was almost his birthday on December 15th (in which gifts of alcoholThis has been a running joke in the Jonny stories for years. In real life, Jonny needs more booze like he needs a 10-penny nail hammered into his scrotum. were the traditional tribute) and he was one happy camper.
The same couldn’t be said for Ms. Crachette. After the movie had finished, she pinned back up her hair, put on her glasses and returned to Merlin’s savage cruelty. But when she learned that her performance had been edited down to nothing, she never complained or even said a word. The color seemed to vanish from her face and she fulfilled her boss’ menial assignments with a gray detachment, but Merlin didn’t seem to notice. He was happy just to have his assistant back and thrilled that the two-hour version of Jonny: Scourge of a Nation, as the film was now called, would be safely dispatched to theatres on Christmas Eve for its cold opening the following day.
The publicity junket consisted of Merlin, Jonny, the director, screenwriter Robert Rich, and actor Gary Busey (whose performance as Glenn “Piece of Shit” Simon was the only one besides Merlin’s not to be ripped to shreds by the editor’s scissors). Ms. Crachette would come along as well, but only in the role of Merlin’s personal assistant. Her appearance in the two-hour cut of the film was considered so trivial that her name didn’t even appear in the credits. Everyone connected with the film did their professional best and said only wonderful things about it to the throng of international reporters who asked them the same questions over and over and over again. But their gushing only covered up the sad truth that the movie's heart and soul was lying on the cutting room floor. And as if they were reading a script, everyone who was interviewed made sure to say that Jesse Merlin was a cinch to win this year’s Academy Award.
Christmas Eve was usually Jonny’s favorite night of the year (with the exception of his birthday on December 15th, in which the muse had once again cleaned up on gifts of alcoholNow that I think about it, a bottle of Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka (available at BevMo) is always a good gift. from the grateful readers of this story who realized how much work went into it and they really needed to display their appreciation to Jonny in a tangible way), but this year he was uncustomarily depressed. The good boys and girls of the world would be waking up to find presents from Santa that rewarded them for a year of obedience that was intended to mold them into the gray worker bees manning the cubicles and deep fryers that keep our society going. But the only gift Jonny wanted was to see his friend Ms. Crachette’s brilliant work shown to the public. Knowing that the prints would be shipped to theatres at midnight, he decided to crash Merlin’s Christmas Eve party at his massive estate to make one final appeal to show the three hour director’s cut.
The staff had been given strict orders not to allow Jonny onto the premises now that he was no longer needed for the movie. But Merlin hadn’t accounted for the charm of Winston the pug, who showed up at the servants’ entrance and so delighted the security guards with his roly poly magnetism that as they petted and fussed over the little dog, Jonny was able to slip past them undetected. He made his way into the ballroom where Merlin was holding court.
The muse edged his way through a who’s who of A-List celebrities, all of whom seemed to fall over each other with adoration when they made eye contact with each other but then savagely disparaged that same luminary when he was out of earshot. This was never more apparent than with the host, who all the partygoers accepted the buzz that he would soon be anointed as the new King of Hollywood at this year’s Oscars and fell at his feet in adoration, only to mock him when he moved across the room.
Jonny thought security would throw him out as soon as his foul body odor wafted to Merlin’s patrician nose, but the star was so euphoric over the success of his plan to win Oscar gold that he unexpectedly threw his arms around the muse the moment that he saw him.
”There he is!,” beamed the star. “There’s the sorry sack of social awkwardness that’s going to be my Christmas gift to the world tomorrow!"
”Christmas!” countered Jonny angrily. “You dare to speak of Christmas after the way you’ve treated everyone in your wake? This is the time of year when – more than any other – we set aside our own selfish wants and ambitions to concentrate on others. Hundreds of people have put their heart and soul into this film, but you can’t see past your own egotistical point of view to realize that. You don’t care about Robert Rich, who had to rub elbows with the most loathsome scum and muck slithering through the sea of humanity that I write about in my Enemies List in order to craft his screenplay. You don’t care about the director, whose name we can’t even mention in this stupid story because we don’t want to get a cease-and-desist letter from DreamWorks. You don’t care about Ms. Crachette, whose magnificent work could inalterably change her life for the better if only the world could see it. And most dastardly of all, you don’t care about the audience, who could enjoy one of the greatest and most memorable movies ever made, but will be robbed of that joy because it doesn’t fit in with your career path. All the good-looking phonies you’ve invited here claim that they’re celebrating Christmas, but they’re not doing anything of the kind. Shame on you all…I say shame!”
With that, Jonny grabbed a $500 bottle of Dom Perignon champagne from off a serving tray and began guzzling it as if he was playing Beer Pong. The onlookers held their breath as Merlin’s whole body shook with rage. Before he could explode, the silence was broken by the unexpected arrival of Ms. Crachette, who awkwardly negotiated her way through the famous faces in the room while carrying a large gift-wrapped package, meekly apologizing to everyone she crashed into while carting the mysterious parcel. She finally made it to he center of the ballroom where, after accidentally stomping on George Clooney's foot and plowing the corner of the bundle into Jon Hamm's massive penis, she stood face-to-face with Merlin. Everyone knew about the last-minute hatchet job on her performance and waited in anxious expectation of a juicy confrontation. Instead, she smiled warmly at her boss and handed him the gift. Merlin was so stunned that he momentarily forgot about Jonny.
”You got me a Christmas present?” he asked. “After the way I treated you?
“It didn’t work out as I’d hoped, it’s true,” replied the assistant. “But for eight wonderful weeks – the whole time we were shooting – I got to live out a dream life that I could only fantasize about before. Rather than be bitter that it didn’t end up as I wanted it to, I’m choosing to be grateful that I was given what I had. And I got it because of you. For that, I’ll always be indebted to you. Thank you, and Merry Christmas.”
“I knew it was what you wanted,” she said
The galaxy of celebrities surrounding them glued their eyes to to pair while an unsightly globule of vomit dribbled from the corner of Jonny's mouth. Merlin’s body seemed to freeze as Ms. Crachette wrapped him in an affectionate bear hug. The star said nothing, but peeled himself away and silently unwrapped the gift that she had brought. It was a huge framed painting of Jesse Merlin painted by a Chinese artist who used to specialize in portraits of Mao Tse-tung during the cultural revolution.
“I knew it was what you wanted,” she said.
Merlin stared at the portrait and then his eyes darted back to Ms. Crachette. Before he could speak, security guards stormed in to bring order to the gathering. The star spun around the room in confusion and then pointed his claw-like talons at Jonny and Ms. Crachette.
“Get them out of here!” he shrieked. “Get everyone out of here!"
There is no time more magical than Christmas Day, when everyone sets aside their blinders and views whoever they encounter with a jolly welcome as a fellow member of the human family. There seems to be as many ways to celebrate the Yuletide as there are people celebrating it, with countless millions following the proud Jewish tradition of observing December 25th by going to the movies. And of all the films premiering that Christmas Day, the most anticipated was Jesse Merlin in Jonny: Scourge of a Nation.
Jonny, Winston and Ms. Crachette were assigned seats in the upper balcony of the fabulous Chinese Theatre where the film was given its first public showing. Before entering the theatre, Jesse Merlin enshrined his footprints in cement in the famous forecourt of the theatre and inscribed the block “I did it my way.” As the house lights dimmed, Jonny and the pug looked at each other forlornly and determined that the next two hours would be the most painful of their lives. The opening credits began scrawling as they always did: A Jesse Merlin Production personally produced by Jesse Merlin based on an idea by Jesse Merlin and starring Jesse Merlin. But then, words appeared on the screen that caused the trio to jump out of their seats:
“…and introducing BOBBI CRACHETTE as Mara Marini.”
Jonny, Winston and Ms. Crachette felt like they were watching the movie from atop a cloud as the full three-hour director’s cut unspooled before them. Every frame of her glorious performance had been restored to the print and by the time the closing credits rolled across the screen, the audience was on their feet in a rapturous standing ovation. Jesse Merlin slowly rose from his seat and ascended to the stage to speak. But rather than basking in the cheers of the crowd, the star momentarily turned his back to the audience to collect his thoughts. When the applause finally died down, his voice choked with emotion and he was only able to sputter a few words.
The star momentarily turned his back to the audience to collect his thoughts
”Merry Christmas,” Merlin began. That started a whole new round of cheering, and as the crowd roared he squinted his eyes and stared across the vast expanse of the auditorium until he finally focused on Jonny, Winston and Ms. Crachette in the balcony. A wide smile suddenly warmed his face and he waved at the trio. “You just watched a movie about a loathsome and despicable man, but I learned last night that even the lowest of the low can serve a purpose if you wait long enough.”
Jonny squirmed in his seat waiting for Merlin to make his point.
"There was a time long ago when I was just an upstart wannabe with visions of stardom in my eyes," the star continued. "Once I had achieved my dream, I became cynical and forgot how treasured an ambition it was to the people who shared it. People with the same talent, drive, and staggering good looks that I have, but without the breaks."
Merlin fixed his penetrating glance at Ms. Crachette in the balcony so it seemed to her like they were the only two people in the cavernous theatre, and he was speaking to her alone.
"It took Jonny's constant badgering and Winston slipping a very talented actress' headshot under my dressing room door every morning to make me realize that the dream I once cherished was still blooming in my very midst," continued Merlin, as a lump grew in Bobbi's throat at the realization of how instrumental her friends were in making this moment possible. "It wasn't until last night – Christmas Eve, the most magical night of the year – that I realized that since my dream had come true, it was now my task to help someone else turn their dreams into a reality."
Merlin paused as the audible wailing of the audience nearly drowned out his magnificent voice.
”I've spent too much time thinking about myself,” admitted the star. ”It took the worst human being I've ever met, his dangerously overweight pug, and all the magic of the Christmas season to teach me that thinking of others is all the award I need. Thanks for that, and Merry Christmas to each and every one of you!”
The crowd went wild as Jonny and Winston sat bitterly in their seats, pondering on what the hell Merlin meant by that ”worst human being I've ever met and his dangerously overweight pug” crack. Then they looked over and saw Ms. Crachette still euphoric over her unexpected godsend, and their hurt feelings drifted happily away.
Merlin disappeared in his limousine and Jonny, Winston and Ms. Crachette went to a bar across the street to soak in the reviews from their triumph. They were universal raves. And while all of them praised the acting, every single critic employed the phrase “stunning ensemble” to describe it. In giving the audience the better movie, Merlin had denied himself the award-winning showcase that he had set out for. The gesture moved the trio to the point where they sat in stunned silence, until Winston logged onto BoxOfficeMojo.com and they read that Merlin was projected to personally make over a hundred million dollars from his participation in the smash hit.
Jonny, Winston and Ms. Crachette went to a bar across the street to soak in the reviews from their triumph
”That bastard!” exclaimed Ms. Crachette. “I got paid union scale for the thing!”
“And because of that straightjacket of a contract he made me sign,” fumed Jonny, “I won’t make a dime out of it. He’ll be hearing from my lawyers, the snake!”
Then the muse looked down at the loving face of Winston the pug, and he realized that he’s forgotten what day it was.
“But all that can wait until tomorrow,” he reflected with a smile. “I’ve just seen a great movie and now I’m sitting between a beautiful lady and an adoring pug, having a cup of egg nog with enough alcohol in it to enlarge my liver to three times its normal size. I’d call this the best Christmas ever.”
So all was happiness in Hollywood. Jesse Merlin didn’t win the Oscar for Jonny: Scourge of a Nation but he was awarded the Teen Choice Award for Favorite Movie Pervert and made so much money from the film that he was able to buy a private island in the Bahamas. Mara Marini did win the Academy Award that year for the film she made after walking off the Jonny set, Sharknado VII: The Search for Chum. And Bobbi Crachette began a long and successful career as an actress, winning stardom for her role as flabby comedian Bobby Moynihan’s implausibly hot wife on the hit TV show Generic Sitcom Set in a Living Room.
But happiest of all was Jonny M. He wound up not making any money from Jonny: The Scourge of a Nation, but it filled his heart with joy to know that his story had brought happiness to millions of people. So with a mischievous wink to his new friends, Jonny sat down at his computer to Photoshop some demeaning illustrations featuring himself, Winston, and Bobbi Crachette.
And joy to you, dear friend. Whether you’re spending the holidays creating some work of art with the hopes of selling it for mass consumption, making something unique for the people around you to enjoy, or whipping out something special just for yourself, I hope that whatever you are doing brings you the satisfaction and fulfillment that you need to live a truly happy life. And I hope that this holiday season unites us all in a spirit of love and friendship as only the holidays can.
And know that you always have a loving friend in Jonny M.
(and a team of ghostwriters)
Anything in Jonny's refrigerator with an expiration date of 2005 or later
Woman in picture
Man in picture
Man in picture
Man in picture
Man in picture
Dr. Marcus Ringer
Glenn "Piece of Shit" Simon
Guy Holding Sign
Model on Cover of Porn Mag
Model on Cover of Porn Mag
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Hot Chick in Headshot
Woman in picture
Man in picture
Man in picture
Man in picture
Drunk at Bar
Dan E. Campbell
Iron Eyes Cody
Steven B. Green
Mary Kay Dean
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