A Sweet Money-Making Opportunity
by Jeff Lewis

Ben,

I’m letting you and Jake in on this deal at the ground floor.  You’ll probably agree with me that it’s just too great to pass up:

I’m considering raising capital for a musical/ice skating adaptation of Out of Africa, tentatively called “Out of Africa—The Ice of Kilimanjaro.”  I’m hoping to cast Danish speed skating star Per Janson in the role of the syphilitic husband, with spinning sensation Lucinda Ruh in the role of the Baroness.  Are you interested in getting in on this sweet money-making opportunity?

Jeff

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Jeff,

Am considering your proposed investment opportunity.  Question:  why should we pay for the Danes (who command top dollar) when we can handle all of the main roles ourselves?  I have lots of khaki clothes.  Sometimes, when I get bored with my dissertation, I put them on and pretend that I’m the ever so cool and composed Bror Blixen.  I have a nice matching rifle, but it hasn’t seen much use since I scared the kids in the sandlot (the police were not very understanding, charming as my Danish accent was).

Sometimes, when I’m in a rakish mood, I choose instead to play the part of the lovable rogue, Denis Finchhatten.  Sometimes I even pretend that I’m the tortured, idealistic, and yet passionate-in-spite-of-himself Count Lazlo de Almasy (from The English Patient).  You get the point—I have lots of experience doing the expat-European-aristo-in-Africa thing.

I don’t know how to ice skate, though.  I don’t know if Jake ice skates either.  I do think, given the proper wardrobe and a bit of makeup, that he would make a smashing Baroness Blixen.  (I know he’d jump at the chance to address the many inadequacies of Streep’s rendition.)  You yourself would make a handsome Berkeley Cole, though I’m not sure Lynn is right for the role of Cole’s Somali mistress (played in the original by Iman).  Maybe she could play the Baroness, and Jake could play the Kikuyu houseboy—another role I know he secretly covets, mostly because he’d get to wear a fez.

About skating:  maybe, instead of ice, we could do roller.  How does “Out of Africa—On Wheels” strike you? With the proper lighting and the right music (I’m thinking Bee Gees), we could reinterpret the original in an altogether contemporary light—“Saturday Night (African) Fever,” etc.  I think it has much more mass appeal, and there would, of course, be many more venues for our tour.

Just some thoughts.  See you soon.

Ben

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Ben,

Thanks for the prompt reply.  I think you aren’t thinking big enough, here.  Sure, Danes are expensive, but I don’t think you appreciate how Per Janson fills out his tights.  I certainly do visualize a role for you, but I think a smaller part—perhaps as the governor—is more realistic, particularly if you are to take on the role as executive producer.  I showed it to Jake.  He’s in line with me on this, although he did get a kick out of your jests (by the way, he does ice skate), although he got a bit riled up about that jab at Streep.  You know how to push his buttons.

I’d really like to expand and age the Berkeley Cole character, so that Michael Kitchen could reprise his role from the movie.  Love his work on the Foyle’s War series; he would really lend credibility to the project.  His people say he doesn’t skate, but as he is bedridden with Black Water Fever for the duration, this is a non-issue.

As for the roller skating idea—I like it, but I don’t think Out of Africa plays in roller skating communities anyway.  I’d like to get some focus group data on this before we proceed.  If we get Kitchen, maybe we can do a complete overhaul on the script and sell it as a “Black Water Fever:  Out of Africa on Ice,” with Cole as the lead character instead of the Baroness.  Also, I’m reconsidering my original cast—perhaps we should take a run at Katarina Witt.  She can’t jump anymore, so she isn’t commanding as much on the exhibition circuit, but she still has sex appeal, particularly from the vantage point of stadium seating.

We had to nix Jake’s suggestion for casting Apolo Anton Ohno as Finchhatten for a couple of reasons.  First of all, we’re thinking of starting off in S. Korea, and his numbers aren’t good there, despite what Jake says.  Also, he may make Witt look, well, large.  He’s the closest to matching Redford’s panache of anyone we’re currently considering, but these are weighty issues.  Any suggestions?  What about Flavor Flav?  His people say that he’s willing to break out a new Flavor dance for the show.

Let me know what you think of the new direction.  Make sure you don’t forget to ring up the Bri-Bri to get his input.  Give my best to Gladys.

Jeff

Copyright Jeff Lewis, 2004