My return was met with unbridled enthusiasm by Thomas. He produced a forgotten world record to get my interest rolling.
“On July 2, 1973, Julie Kravets became recognized as the world’s first woman to use her mouth as a food processor. She could slice, dice, mince, knead, chop and puree with her magic jaws. What did her husband say about her talent? ‘It’s exciting kissing her while she’s dicing carrots!'”
The matter concerning how to present these records to the public was still unresolved. I approached Thomas to say that I was thinking of writing a book when he announced, “I am leaving for Brazil.”
“Okay,” I said, “but what about the project?”
“It’s in your hands.” He paused, then said, “But don’t write a book.”
He must have been reading my mind. “Why not?!”
“We must film a movie about it! Do you think we could get Brad Pitt to star?” With that he ran out of the room and headed for Brazil.
Two weeks after his departure, Thomas sent me a telegram. “COME DOWN IMMEDIATELY!” I called him in Brazil.
“I got your tele-” I started to say but he interrupted.
“Then why aren’t you on a plane down here already?!”
“Because I’m trying to organize the world records. And, besides, I don’t know why you’re in Brazil and nor do I want to go there.”
“I’m trying to sell some property that’s been in my family for generations. The money will be needed to pay Brad Pitt when he stars in our movie.”
“You have property in Brazil?” You never knew what Thomas would say.
“Yes. I own the Amazon River,” he said.
“How could you possibly own the Amazon River?!”
“That’s just what the Brazilian authorities said to me. So I showed them my deed, and they still didn’t believe me. So when are you coming down?”
“Look, Thomas. I don’t know how I could help you. Besides, even if you do own the Amazon River and could sell it, I don’t think Brad Pitt is going to star in your movie.”
“Yes he is. I spoke to his agent and got a call from Brad asking about a start date. I told him that I was still organizing the material and he said that he wants to be included in that process. He’ll be calling you soon.”
“What?” I said, meekly.
“And you know what? He’s as annoying as you are, always concerned about the details. I told him, don’t worry! We’ll get it done. And he wants a part for Angelina in the movie. I don’t know though. I don’t think she’s box-office material anymore.
“Anyway, I want you to bring me down some Amazon River papers I have in my safe. Do it today!”
I grabbed the papers and hopped a plane. When I arrived I found Thomas imprisoned for abusive behavior. The police let me bail him out on the condition that we both left the country immediately.
The return flight was filled with arguments. Thomas was still screaming at Brazil and I was shouting at Thomas. When we were over Florida, the airline stewardesses strapped parachutes on us and we were tossed out over the Everglades. Arriving home, I got back to work.
“Alexander Ludworthy, a geologist, made the world’s most unusual discovery when he, on an expedition in Antarctica, unearthed a Neanderthal man dressed in a 3 piece suit holding a brief case. It was further reported that the man’s tie did not match the color of his suit.”
I felt that I was making progress. I even started writing the first draft of the movie screenplay. (Brad Pitt did call, making suggestions.) I presented my efforts to Thomas but he pushed them aside complaining of an illness. Unbeknownst to us, it would be only a matter of months for him.
The end of the year approached and so did my first draft. Thomas reviewed it and wondered why there were no “gladiator-type” of scenes. I answered, “Maybe because there are no “gladiator-type” of world records?”
“Then make one up! There’s gotta be a scene with Brad Pitt chopping off somebody’s head!”
I tried to be polite, due to his illness, but his erratic behavior eventually wore me down. I took a break and left for a month. Upon my return, Thomas threw me out for another month, complaining that he refused to work with a man who didn’t look like Brad Pitt. After another month, he asked me to return.
We resumed work on the screenplay. With daily calls from Brad Pitt demanding more scenes for Angelina, and Thomas actively resisting, the pressure was on. I could hear screaming matches from them and I was stuck in the middle.
When the screenplay neared completion, rehearsals had started. Thomas was flying out to Hollywood on a weekly basis to confront Brad Pitt about the “Angelina problem”. At one point I heard Thomas had approached Bruce Willis to star, but Bruce was committed to another project at the time.
Everything seemed perfect when, without warning, Thomas passed away. We both underestimated the severity of his illness. At this point, everything evaporated. Brad Pitt pulled out, and no one else in Hollywood was interested.
The wake and funeral for Thomas were swift as I was “almost” the only one attending. I don’t understand the connection, but Steven Spielberg showed up for the wake.
It took a few months but eventually I got back to work. Thomas left everything to me – the world records, all of his property which included the Amazon River. I returned to my original plan, to write a book on the subject. I did receive one call from Martin Scorcese but it never went anywhere.
“George Peters developed the world’s first line of ‘gasoline clothes’. Produced in a variety of styles and colors, ranging from suits to dresses to blue jeans, these clothes can power a car. ‘So if you ever run out of gas on the highway,’ Mr. Peters said, ‘you simply take off your shirt, put it in the gas tank and drive off.'”
I can’t wait for the book!