Ebony and Ivory

So I stole a pile of them. Some blowjob princess wearing a so-last-season headset in the reception area asked me where I was going. I immediately made myself look ambitious and sleep-deprived so I could pass as a mail room troll and replied, “I have to get these scripts to Hal Ashby right away.” “Whor” “Hal Ashby, the director. His last movie was with Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette. God, don’t you read the tradesr” She masked the embarrassment born of her ignorance quickly, “Oh! See, I thought you said Al Ashby. You better get going.” As I left I saw her type “Hal Ashby” into her computer and by the time she figured out that he hasn’t made a movie since “8 Million Ways To Die” with Jeff Bridges and Rosanna Arquette in 1985 because he is fucking dead, I was back in my valley shithole reading “Ebony & Ivory” by Stuart Blumberg.

I tell you about this script because out of the ones I read it seems like this one has the best chance to get made and subsequently marketed down our throats. The draft I took a gander at was dated May 14, 2001 and tattooed 123pages. If you want to know about the writer, but are too fucking lazy to go to the IMDB, don’t worry, I did it for you. Senor Blumberg roomied with genius actor (and current Hayek dipstick) Ed Norton at Yale, wrote and produced his buddy’s movie “Keeping the Faith” and did a funny turn as the Car Salesman in “Fight Club.”

I’m sure his script will be changed when/if it is made by Imagine Entertainment and Universal Pictures, but I’m a lousy bastard, so I’ll review it anyway while trying to keep the spoilers to a minimum. “Ebony & Ivory” is a high-concept comedy about a wealthy, white plastic surgeon named Ted Pickford who has a lot of preconceived notions about his neighbor, a wealthy, black rapper named Master Peace. Master Peace, who also happens to have a lot of preconceived notions about Ted, has been cheating on his woman. To get revenge, she enlists her grandmother, an overweight voodoo priestess who farts a lot (did I mention already this will be from the producers of “The Nutty Professorr”) to cast a spell that will cause Ted and Peace to switch bodies.

The two live through each other’s skin, learn it isn’t easy to be a white surgeon or a black rapper and that they’re not all that different after all and become great friends at the end. It’s a feel good race relations satire. And since it’s written by a Yalie there are some good points made;particularly about the hypocrisy behind the business of hip hop and how the form has degenerated from the social commentary made by Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy in the 80’s to the booties and Bentleys grandstanding of today. Blumberg’s ear for dialogue is very good and the characters are all nicely drawn with a few exceptions: the hyperactive, street slanging Asian intern at Peace’s record company who is a cheap plot deivce, offensive and, even worse, ripped off from Trey Parker’s “Orgazmo.” Ted Pickford is supposed to be very superficial and only attracted to the Barbie-ized bimbos he does boob jobs on, but I think that aspect of him wasn’t developed sufficiently enough to pay off at the end when he reconciles with his put-upon wife. And then there were the black racists.

Blumberg has the gonads to explore racism as a two way street. It’s not a very safe and popular choice–particularly in a movie that I’m sure will be heavily marketed to African-American audiences–to show how black people can be racist, but I’ve met Spike Lee and I gotta tell you, they can. Blumberg shows us these cracker hating people, but unlike the white racists who get their well deserved come-uppances, the black racists get off scott free and I’m sure it’s because Blumberg is afraid of offending somebody. White people don’t get offended when they see movies about the Klan, why should black people get bent out of shape seeing a narrow minded African-American learn that white people aren’t all badr

Blumberg comes dangerously close to saying that for a black rapper to be racist is not only socially acceptable, but justified. Growing up as an ethnic and religious minority in the Rocky Mountain bible belt, I have a problem with all forms of racism no matter who it’s coming from and I think that a script of this nature has an obligation to play it fair from all sides.

Now I’ll step off my soap box and tell you that the plotting of the script seemed pretty episodic and not very sharp, but that can be fixed through subsequent drafts. There were a lot of typos in the script, suggesting Blumberg was in a time crunch to get this thing handed in. Given the time, I bet he can fix the holes and maybe replace the fart jokes with material a little more befitting for one with an Ivy League education.

But look, the real appeal of this script to me was the examination of race relations in America. I hope Blumberg is allowed to explore these themes further and give some director somewhere the chance to shoot a comedy that is not also funny, but really thought provoking. There’s a chance here to make a 21st century “Blazing Saddles” and from what I’ve seen here, Blumberg has the talent to pull it off. But I’ve been in this fucking town too long and I am almost certain that Blumberg’s bosses–the people who raped the memory of Dr. Seuss and contributed to the castration of Eddie Murphy–will probably tell him to scale it back, make it safer, less potentially offensive, but with more jokes like the one where the pit bull fucks the toy terrier. I mean, Christ man, these people don’t even remember who Hal Ashby was…

Rating: B-