"Why should I let you write a column about me, Lopez?
"Not when you're doing the printing. I swear, if you'd written one more smart-aleck column about beach access at my place in Malibu, I'd have had you fired. And don't think your new owner won't do the same."
"Didn't you hear?" Lopez asked. "I just bought Geffen's beach compound."
Sam Zell lifted a glass and narrowed his eyes.
"Where'd you get that kind of dough?" he asked Lopez. "I knew I was paying you too much."
"Just sold a screenplay, Sam. They're shooting the movie as we speak."
Stage 27, Sony Pictures Studio, Culver City
"And, action!" said the young director, who was working his first feature film after six years in reality TV.
"He's brilliant, this kid," Charlie Bonner told his new partner and executive producer. "I may not know much, Ernesto, but I know talent when I see it."
Ernesto Padilla still didn't like Bonner. A G-man never goes soft, and he still resented the fact that Bonner had lawyered up big-time and was out of the can in three months.
But Ernesto was no dummy. A cool couple of million for a modest amount of consulting? Come on, it'd take 20 years to knock that many coconuts out of the tree as a DEA agent.
And then there was his beautiful wife, who was pulling down another million playing the pole dancer, fresh off a Golden Globe nomination for her star turn in the latest Bond movie.
"Ernesto, you're a lucky man," Bonner said as Carmen Madonna Louise Ventura slithered up and down a shiny brass pole on the set of "Birds of Paradise." They were six weeks into the $96-million production, starring Keanu Reeves as Charlie Bonner.
Ernesto puffed on a Cuban and smiled like a thief.