The Path to Power
The competition to get the exclusive had been intense. Entertainment Tonight would get their bits without a doubt. They always did. They’d get the first shot and what everyone else would be airing about 15 minutes later. This is different. This is a behind the scenes following the guy around for the whole filming documentary style. Dillon Quartermaine had fought it but then had given in using it to promote the film he wanted to make... not necessarily the next blockbuster, or the next Oscar winner although he had both. The guy while private isn’t exactly an enigma. They still run parts of MTV’s behind the scenes from 15 years before to show the way the guy came up whenever ET is trying to figure out who the guy is..
The year his grandmother died and left him independently wealthy with the emphasis on independent. He’d gone to college at Port Charles University living the whole time with his brother and his wife. Dillon Q sponsors scholarships to the film program there now. But he didn’t get his education just from PCU. He’d summered either working in the theater end of the movie business or working on indie films up in Canada or down in the city. His directorial debut at the age of 22 had taken Sundance by storm. He’d followed it up the next year with a project he’d had half done before Sundance... he’d gotten an Oscar for that one... best screenplay. And he hadn’t looked back. It’s another clip always shown when there is a story about him.
“I wouldn’t have this without the women in my life.” Dillon had declared. He was a little out of breath... as the dark horse he’d been put back more than a few rows at the ceremony... and not on the aisle. “This is for my grandmother Lila, who gave me a love of film as blood in my veins. This is for my mother, Tracy who taught me manners and business– Quartermaine style. Georgie, the first love of my life who always believed in me. This is for Faith. Thank you.” With that he’d turned to one of the presenters who show’d him the direction to exit and face the press.
As a long shot, nobody had figured out what he meant in that speech until after. There were probably 22 million people out there who believed that Dillon Quartermaine had finally found an original way of thanking God. But the guys at MTV had been following Dillon from the time he was 17. They knew exactly who Dillon was thanking. They still had the unused footage of Dillon with Faith Ashton. Faith died the same year Dillon won his first Oscar. Her car had been forced off the road. She’d hit a tree going 60 miles an hour. Even her seatbelt hadn’t been able to save her. It had been the trial of the decade in upstate New York. Crime Lord Sonny Corinthos had been linked directly to the murder... ten years later he is still awaiting his needle courtesy of the New York Penal System. Her death had done what she’d never been able to do in life... take out Sonny Corinthos. The press had been crazy on that one. Dillon and his six year old niece Kristina had been at the trial every single day. They never let the jury forget that Kristina would be growing up without the only mother she’d ever known because of Sonny Corinthos.
The reporter is drawn back to the now by the sound of raised voices on the set. She starts running tape. This is something that nobody talks about. Actors, writers, trades people fought to get in on anything with Dillon’s Quartermaine’s fingerprint on it whether it was writing, producing or directing. But he has the reputation of control. And he’s lost it. The set is totally silent listening to the director ripping into the lead actor, Dirk Johanssen. An actor they’d paid millions to have star in this film and Dillon Quartermaine is verbally ripping the guy to shreds and nobody is stopping it.... or even trying.
“That’s enough, Boss.” Dillon’s driver and assistant finally steps in. “I think he gets it. You get it right? Guns even prop guns aren’t toys and you shouldn’t point them at people, right?” Bruno prompts the lead.
“Yeah, right. Whatever.” The multimillion dollar hunk shrugs, trying to save face.
“Maybe everyone should take a break... cool off.” Bruno looks over at the assistant director. “You think 15 minutes is going to break the bank?”
“Everyone take 15!” The assistant director shouts out quickly.
“What are you doing here, Bruno?” Dillon doesn’t look away from the actor who at this minute he’d just as see in the ground.
“Baby called. She says she’s either coming out to see you for break or she’s going wild in Mexico.”
Dillon looks over at Bruno and its takes a second but then he grins. “Get her on the phone.” He heads off to his trailer with the big guy, leaving behind everyone taking huge sighs of relief. Although more than a few figure that the Johannsen is heading back to his trailer to call his agent to complain about the way he’d been treated. Course those same people wondering also suspected that the agent would tell the guy to blow Dillon if it meant staying in the picture. Hell the agent would probably offer to come to the set to blow Dillon to keep her guy in the picture.
“What did I miss?” The reporter asks the prop manager.
“Dirk Johannsen doing a Dirty Harry impression with a loaded prop gun. Decided to pull it on Mr Quartermaine.”
“Okay?” And what is the big deal on that?
“Mr Quartermaine is a prop master, stunt producer and insurance assessors dream of a director. He’s made a fortune making cop flicks but he doesn’t tolerate anyone being stupid around guns.”
“But it’s a prop.” The reporter shakes her head.
“Might have been before your time. But a prop gun will kill ya just like a real one. It might not have the lead bullet but it has the explosives. Mr Quartermaine is very big into gun control.”
“He’s one of the biggest firearm collectors on the west coast!” The reporter
“I didn’t say he wasn’t into guns. I said he’s into gun control.”
Inside Dillon’s trailer, “How badly did I screw that up?” Dillon asks Bruno.
Bruno shrugs. “I don’t think you did, Boss. Guy needed to be set straight. He needs to either mind his Ps and Q’s or switch over to porn where they don’t mind if a guy plays with his gun.”
“I’ve got too much in the can to have Johannsen walk now.” Dillon worries.
“Tell you what. We’re supposed to shoot for shotgun tonight. How about we take him along to the range and show him what a real sidearm will do?” Bruno suggests. “I’ll go invite him right now.”
“Thanks, Bruno.” Dillon is already reaching for the phone in his trailer to call Kristina back. “Hey Baby, what’s this I hear about Girls gone Wild?” Dillon grins at Kristina’s reply. “I’ve got my book right here.” Dillon flips to the dates Kristina indicates. “You sure you don’t have to do anything with Ned or the Cassadines? I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Okay.” Dillon makes a note of the date. “I’ll have the ticket waiting for you at the airport; bring your passport. We’ll be promoting a movie in Japan and then do a little vacationing in Perth so just bring a party dress. We’ll pick up everything else in Australia. AJ and Lydia are supposed to be there the same time. Michael is graduating. Yeah, I know I’m the best. But you’re not bad either. Love you too.” Dillon is still smiling when he hangs up. He leaves a note for his assistant to make the travel plans for him and Kristina. He realizes it’s time for him to give the same speech to his niece that Faith had given him once upon a time. She’s reached that awkward age where guys her age weren’t good enough for her and guys old enough to appreciate her wouldn’t want to go to jail. Maybe Lydia would do it.
A much chasten star arrives at the shooting range right on time. His agent had gone off on him but at least she had done in privately rather than in front of a full set. He’d been directed to make nice and reminded that he may or may not be nominated for his work on this movie but it definitely would open doors for him. It had been romantic comedies and buddy flicks to this point. Good box office but anyone could play the part. This is his chance. He hits the buzzer on the door and waits for the click of the door to open. The muffled sound of gun fire comes from the back. “I’m supposed to meet Dillon Quartermaine here.”
“He’s in back.” The gallery owner answers disinterestedly. “You’re going to need these.” He hands over ear protectors and safety glasses.
Dirk takes them but doesn’t put them on until he opens the door to the actual gallery and the noise is deafening. He spies Dillon and Bruno at the far end of the building shooting side by side. He watches from behind the two men as round after round enters the center of the paper targets. Only once the gunfire stops does he say anything. “That was amazing. How long have you been shooting?”
“Since I was seventeen... on the average of about three times a week.” Dillon replies. “This is the live model of what you’re using on the film-- a glock 9mm with a 13 round clip. One thing you may or not noticed about my movies... I count bullets and my characters have to reload.” Dillon reloads the firearm efficiently and steps back from the counter. “Your turn.”
“It feels differently from a prop round. Good experience to know what it really feels like, sounds like. If you were playing a character who was a novice with firearms it would be one thing. But you’re playing a cop and you’re acting like every crap movie put out in the last twenty years rather than anyone who really handles a gun.”
If he hadn’t see the director just put thirteen rounds through a circle the size of a quarter, he might have taken offense. Instead he steps up to the counter and picks up the pistol. Squaring off he brings the pistol to shoulder height.
“All wrong.” Bruno shakes his head. “You’d be down and out in 45 seconds. Pretend like I’m the guy with the camera and the guy down there is your target.” Sure enough the actor turns so his body is facing Bruno as he looks down the alley. “Now bring up your other hand to balance and steady. It only takes three pounds of pressure to pull the trigger but that thing gets heavy holding it out there.” Bruno suggests. The actor follows his directions exactly. There are all kinds of rumors around Hollywood about Dillon Quartermaine’s driver. And looking at the guy, he could believe all of them.
“Fire through the clip and then reload and do it again.” Dillon orders.
After about 45 minutes of shooting they pack it all up and after securing the weapons head to a nearby tavern. This little town is getting an influx of income from the movie crew but not everyone is a fan of the disruption. There is always some advance people who have done PR for the studio and bought up all the permits but Dillon had gotten into the habit of sending in his own advance people: Mouse and Manny had been in town for a couple of months before the film crew arrived. Mouse’s task is two fold: find out where the bodies are buried and also to line up the local worthy charities. Manny would find a construction project around that needed doing making sure to hire plenty of locals. Faith’s real estate ventures are now nationwide, hell worldwide. Because where ever they went they’re more than willing to stick their fingers in whatever pies are there for the taking.
Dirk volunteers to get the first pitcher and goes over to the bar. When he comes into the back room he finds not only Dillon and Bruno but also the two other men that he’d seen around but never really.
“Dirk, this is Manny and Mouse.” The guys nod in the movie stars direction. “Why don’t you guys play some pool while I review this stuff?” Dillon suggests as he pours himself a beer. His mother would be having a fit. But unlike Faith he’d lived with these guys and was as comfortable with them as if he’s in his own house. Dillon takes the briefcase from under the pool table and over to a long table camouflaged by the pool tables. He pulls the laptop out of the briefcase and plugs in. Part of Mouse’s prep work... this place is set up as a hotspot. Bruno, Manny and Mouse keep Faith’s business in line. They’d gone mostly legit in the last ten years; Jensen, Campbell and Winthrop insist.. They definitely made enough money to cover the stuff they did on the side. His tax guys lived on Tagamet and Rogaine but they’re paid well to make it work for all of them.
“Yo, Dillon, Bruno says Baby called.” Manny gets his boss’ attention.
“Yeah, we’ve got her for spring break. Tokyo for the premiere and then meeting up with you guys in Perth. Sun, surfing– AJ and Lydia are planning on being around there. Go to Michael’s graduation and pick up more supplies. Karinen Foundation has been going round the clock in Sumatra since the Tsunami back in ‘04.”
Bruno shudders. The thought of being swallowed by mud and debris scares the hell out of him. “If they hadn’t decided to spend Christmas in Port Charles that year...”
Dillon agrees. “We would have lost AJ, Lydia, Michael and Karin.”
“You guys talking about that big yacht that cruises the Tsunami zone giving aide?” Dirk asks.
“You know about that?”
“I did a couple of benefits for Doctor’s without Borders back in my soap days. Talked to some of the doctors after they got back to the states from South East Asia. They said that this yacht would sail in and bring in supplies: tools, fresh water, mosquito netting, drugs.”
“My cousin and his wife.” Dillon nods. “They left Port Charles back in 2002 after my grandmother died and after they had their baby, Karin. Just packed up AJ’s son, Michael, the dog and started living on Lydia’s boat.”
“It’s a big ****ing boat.” Bruno adds. “Faith said it was bigger than the cottage and had nicer stuff in it. Lydia’s got an orchard of money trees that she shakes on occasion. Faith and Skye both wanted to sit on her she was in such a hurry to get back to the yacht and check on all their friends over there. Dr Alan came through then. Telling her a suitcase wasn’t going to help anyone and if she would just take a couple of days they could get some real rescue supplies going.”
“We did it too.” Mouse says proudly. “Dr Quartermaine’s list, Lydia’s credit card and my computer skills... we had a plane of first aide supplies in the air in twelve hours to a staging area in Perth. Since sanitation was an issue Dr Quartermaine went along with the first plane and had one whole end of Lydia’s yacht converted into operating rooms. Lydia, AJ and the kids arrived on the second plane. It must have been hell. Those first few days– they were still pulling bodies out of the water.”
“I’m your basic chicken.” Dirk admits. “I couldn’t do it.”
Bruno nods agreement. “Me either. That Lydia. She comes across all lady like and polished... but she’s a ball buster.”
“And if Lydia wants to do it, then AJ and Michael are right there egging her on.” Dillon shakes his head. “At least we tried to rein in Faith on occasion.”
When Dirk Johannsen returns to his room he is still a little buzzed but the evening had turned out to be more about playing pool than drinking. Everyone knew there is an early call in the morning and Dillon has a habit of being there even earlier. Dillon had caught a ride back to the hotel with him because Bruno was planning on closing the place with his buddies.
“How did it go?” The reporter says from the bed. The light is on next to the bed... and she is clearly not wearing many garments already tucked into the far side of the bed. “After what happened on the set... did he apologize?”
“No. Don’t think he’s going to.” Dirk shrugs out of his jacket and starts unbuttoning his shirt.
“So he took you out for a beer and all is well?”
“He took me out to a shooting range and gave me lessons in handling firearms which is going to be a huge asset to my career. And then he gave me this.” Dirk takes a rolled up photo from his jacket pocket and hands it to the reporter.
“Oh my GAWD. What is this?!” Because I think I just almost threw up. If I wanted to do a police beat I’d have hung with my dad.
“That’s a picture of Jon-Erik Hexum after he put a 44 magnum prop gun loaded with blanks to his head and pulled the trigger. He died six days later, Anna.” Dirk toes off his shoes then slides out of his jeans.
Anna Holtz watches the show with appreciation. Dirk Johannsen is a fine looking man. Sleeping with him is no hardship and her boss didn’t mind if she mixed business with pleasure as she wasn’t actually sleeping with the subject of the piece. “You need to run lines or anything?”
“Not too much dialogue tomorrow.” Dirk crawls into bed next to her and sets the alarm for too early in the morning. He has a wake up call scheduled too but he doesn’t want to be late the day after what happened today. “I’ve got it down. I’ll run lines in make up.”
“So how did it go?”
“The guy can empty a clip, that’s 13 shots, into a target the size of a quarter. The world should probably be thankful that he went into film. Because he’s got skills in a way different direction. He and his driver Bruno go shooting every week to see who is driving and who is riding shot gun.”
“The studio doesn’t send a limo?”
“Lincoln town car. Somehow they figured who won this week, I couldn’t tell. The targets looked the same to me. Bruno is driving this week and Dillon is riding shotgun.”
“So is riding shot gun winning or losing?”
“They didn’t say. Aren’t you going to ask how I did?” Dirk asks cynically. He knows exactly why Anna Holtz is there but she is a fine piece of ass.
“How did you do, Dirk?”
“I hit the target... mostly.” And to keep that fine piece of ass in his bed he’s willing to give a little more. “They were making a big deal about someone named Baby. Not the first time Dillon has taken a break to get a call from her.”
Anna nuzzles in close to Dirk. “His niece. More like a little sister really, Kristina Ashton. You watch the old MTV footage and the way his sister in law ran that house, everything was about The Baby. And that’s pretty much the way it’s run ever since. All those guys in Dillon Quartermaine’s entourage? All used to work for his sister in law, Faith.”
“Hey Mr Q.” Dillon’s assistant is up late. She knows her boss’ routine. He’d put in 12-15 hours a day on the set when he was filming. But more often than not he’d come back to the hotel and work on everything else: the prep work for his next project, the promotions on the last project, and the forecasts on the one he’s doing. Sometimes– normally on a 12 hour day he’d run dailies but it isn’t a habit because he is such a visual guy he knows exactly what is in the can already. Mr Q also believes in keeping New York and California real separate. So all she tracks is the film side of his business. Bruno is the only guy who knew both sides... well he and Gia Campbell, his attorney back in New York.
“What do you have for me?”
“Gia set a packet over. She is really torqued about the latest contract. I’ll let you read what she put in the note, because I don’t use that kind of language and the contract has flags and red ink all over it.”
Dillon grins. Gia is hard ass when it comes to contracts. She’d started her career cleaning up other lawyers’ messes. She’s all for a fair contract where everyone made money, including her, but if there is going to be any favorites played it’s going to be her client getting the bennies. As an entertainment lawyer, she’d always sided with the talent. Because most often the talent is the one getting screwed by the big bad Hollywood machine. “So if I read this I’m just going to be so annoyed at the studio that I’m not going to want to do business with them?”
“Um... basically.. yeah.” The assistant agrees.
“She sent back a counter contract; Gia always does. Messenger that to the studio and put the original copy with Gia’s comments aside for safekeeping until I’m ready to be pissed off. Next?”
“Three scripts were forwarded from the office. The first one seems pretty good but I haven’t read it all yet. Figure I’ll finish it by tomorrow and let you know. The other two will be later this week.”
“Okay.” Dillon nods. Because he’s been known to write his own scripts he likes to keep a wall between him and other screenwriter’s work. And it’s always been that way. It’s why picking his assistant is so important. They had to have similar tastes in scripts or they’d have to know what he liked or could work.
“And the scholarship tapes have come in. I think you’re getting predictable, Mr Quartermaine.”
“The rules say that the applicant has to make two spots for their favorite charity. But the cancer awareness spots have won the full ride to PCU the last two years running. Ninety percent of the tapes coming in are PDAs for cancer awareness. I know you’ve lost a lot of people in your family to cancer...”
“My grandmother, Lila, my aunt, Monica, my cousin, Emily.” Dillon lists them off.
The assistant flinches. “And there are some great cancer awareness tapes in there. I’m sure they’ll be picked up for some spots. But the applicants are supposed to be showing their favorite charity– not yours. I think more people need to adopt animals from a shelter... and spaying their pets. HIV? Heart Disease? Libraries? Giving books to little kids? Habitat for humanity? Doctors without Borders... how about that one where they buy a village a goat or something? Where are those spots?!”
Dillon winces. “Okay, I’m hearing you. Something other than cancer is going to win the grand prize this year. But every spot that is selected by the charity to go into syndication is money in a student’s pocket.”
“And a cred on their resume.” The assistant nods, glad to have her way. Mr Q is reasonable like that. “Now the forecast.” She hadn’t understood the way Mr Q always ordered up a white board first thing. He had it first thing. Other directors or stars would want limos. He wanted the biggest white board the local office supply place could come up with. She kept track of his calendar on her PDA of course but within a week she’d been a convert to seeing things as a big picture. One side of the board is for the shoot, split out into 45 days that’s the one anyone coming into the room would see. She flips over the white board so that a calendar stretching out a year and a half. It’s split out by month.
Spring break with Kristina is already in there in black which means that the tickets and arrangements have been made. The film they are making now is in black but the outermost edges are in green, days set aside with nothing else going. If everything goes right it will be the time when Dillon is back in Hollywood catching up on sleep. The boss always loses about 10 lbs on a movie because he doesn’t sleep or eat enough.
Course he’d probably fill that time with premieres, meetings, post production on this movie and promotion of the movie due for release. Which means time in Hollywood, New York and Chicago for Oprah. The next shoot is about 3 months after this one is due to wrap. It’s got a shooting schedule already locked in black. The movie after that is in green. The contract Gia just sent is for the movie beyond that is oranged in as tentative. The assistant is almost hoping it will fall though because the boss needs a little R&R. Grabbing the black marker she boxes in a week here and stepping back a week in another slot.
“Your vacations. Pay yourself first, boss. You’ll probably use them for writing time but I can try.” Such a glamorous life. Course that was before she’d been hired and found out that her new boss worked on average bout ten hours a day, including Sundays. And the only reason he was ever home was because the post production facility was within 30 minutes of his house. Half the year he is on the road, on location, doing promotions or charity gigs. It’s ironic really, how hard he works when the guy could quit tomorrow. Hell he could have quit before he ever got started, never had to lift a finger and just been one of those country club set.
“Your grandfather called. He must not have been able to sleep; it was about 2am his time. He really wants me to schedule in you getting married and having babies... or just schedule in some making babies because he’s not getting any younger. He needs someone to run ELQ since Ned is being difficult again.”
Dillon groans. “I’m going to bed.”
“Alone. Again. Which is exactly what your Grandfather thinks the problem is. Sorry, Boss– I’m just the messenger.”
“And you enjoy giving the message just a little too much. Goodnight.”
“Night Mr. Q.” The assistant recaps the pen and puts it away.