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In 1979, Frances Doel, Roger Corman’s assistant at New World, got in touch with me about rewriting a t.v. pilot called Georgia Peaches, by Mick Benderoth and Monte Stettin. As I had never worked in television it seemed a challenge, plus I needed the money, so I quickly took the assignment. The existing script, a pedestrian mix of cigarette smuggling and car chases, needed a fair amount of internal fixing. My repair work must have done the trick for the film got made and aired on November 8, 1980 as a CBS Special Movie starring Tanya Tucker. Years later, I bumped into one of the original writers/producers in the Murray Hotel bar in Livingston, Montana. He bought me a drink and told me that my draft had saved the project from oblivion. A nice compliment, especially coming from a fellow writer.
I’m still proud of two things about this project. The original villain had been fairly conventional. I turned the tables on the bland by making the bad guy a woman. Sally Kirkland played the part (Vivian Stark) and in the summer of 1998 when she was in Livingston making Cold Feet, we had lunch together and she said the part had changed her career. Casting directors starting taking her more seriously, leading to the role in Anna, which earned her an Oscar nomination.
My other proud moment was a shot I wrote for the title sequence. Here it is:
INT. GEORGIA PEACHES GARAGE – DAY
At first, we SEE only a dazzling firefall of sparks.
It is a welder, working on the front end of an automobile. The title comes OVER as the
helmeted figure expertly wields the torch, extinguishing the flame when the work is done.
Gloved hands reach up to remove a concealing visor. Behind the mask is a beautiful young
woman, SUE LYNN PEACH.
Anybody who has seen the 1983 film Flashdance will remember that shot. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but in Hollywood, where original ideas are as rare as virgins, such “borrowing” takes on an entirely more larcenous aspect.