We were writing an episode of a series for a Major Television Producer who had dozens of hit shows to his credit. This particular series, however, was not destined to be one of them.
For this episode, he wanted to do a “modern take” on a “cowboys and indians” story. He wanted to see “indians on the warpath” only with “a contemporary sensibility.”
“Call’em Native Americans instead of injuns,” the Major Television Producer instructed us, “that’ll make the story instantly relevant.”
He also wanted it hip, sexy, and edgy. And he wanted women, lots of beautiful women.
I joked that we could have seven super-models lost in the desert. His eyes lit up. “Yes,” he said. “That’s perfect. That would give the show… sophistication.”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t kidding around. We were stuck with seven super-models. I learned an important lesson. I never joke about the story in a meeting… or the joke could become the story.
We went off and worked on the outline for our script. We came up with a scene in which some bad guys destroy some sacred Navajo ruins, upsetting the Native Americans, causing them to go “on the warpath” and attack the bad guy’s camp. But when the Major Television Producer read our scene, he was outraged.
“You can’t have the bad guys destroy Navajo ruins,” he bellowed. “It’s unthinkable. Those ruins are priceless, historical artifacts. The American public will never stand for it. You’ll offend our entire audience!”
We apologized, explaining all we wanted to do in the scene was provoke the Native Americans into attacking the bad guys.
“Why not have the bad guys rape the seven supermodels,” the Major Television Producer said.
“Sure,” I replied. “That won’t offend anybody.”
“Exactly,” the Major Television Producer said. “Now you’re learning how to write television.”