As a StoryTerrace writer, Alan interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know him better by reading his autobiographical anecdote below
Deep within every author is a would-be screenwriter. Who wouldn’t trade toiling alone in front of a laptop for six-figure sales, critical acclaim, and power lunches at the Polo Lounge?
My big break came after a friend approached me about writing a book about the colorful history of the old American Football League (AFL). Through determination, hard work, and billion-dollar trust funds, the original eight owners eventually forced a merger with the powerful NFL – which earned them even bigger fortunes. Could our book do the same for us? Michael MacCambridge, one of the nation’s leading sportswriters, gave us other advice: “You can’t make money writing sports books. Write a screenplay instead.”
Our research led to a chance meeting with Barron Hilton at an awards dinner. Barron – son of hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and grandfather of Paris – purchased the Chargers for $25,000 in 1960 and later sold them for $600 million. Barron invited us to interview him in his office at Hilton headquarters in Beverly Hills.
Lacking the resources of the Hilton family, we were excited to rent a plum-colored, convertible PT cruiser for the remarkable price of just $90 for two days. The night before our meeting with Barron, we met for dinner with a possible writing partner at The Palm restaurant in West Hollywood. Again being resourceful, we parked the Cruiser on a side street to avoid the $10 valet parking charge.
The dinner, wine, and conversation were engaging as we made plans to convince Barron to invest in our project. Several hours and several bottles of wine later, we walked back to our car – which was nowhere in sight. I noticed a sign high above the street: “Residential Parking by Permit Only. Violators will be Towed.” We soon found that the trendy vibe in West Hollywood does not extend to the tow lot. Our conversation, repeated for at least ten minutes, went something like this:
ATTENDANT: “You can’t get your car unless I see your papers.”
US: “Our papers are in the car.”
ATTENDANT: “You can’t get your car unless I see your papers…”
We finally got our point across around midnight. The impoundment charge came to roughly four times the rental fee for the car, and Visa added a surcharge after we got home. Add in dinner, and it was roughly a $1,000 evening.
The next morning, we had a wonderful meeting with Barron Hilton, who was an informative and gracious host. However, we were unable to convince him to invest a sliver of his fortune in our project. We flew home that day, still motivated to write our screenplay, but a little wiser to the ways of Hollywood.
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