30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)


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Only Famous – A Romantic Comedy
Today’s idea is a concept for a romantic comedy feature film. It’s about a guy who works at an independent television production company that has had a string of failures, and is on the verge of bankruptcy.

In a last-ditch effort to create a hit and save the business, our hero (let’s call him Mike) comes up with an idea for a TV show in which they take a member of the public with no particular skills, talents or notable achievements – and then makes them famous.

The idea is that as the series progresses, the person that they choose will get PR, publicity, billboard campaigns, a ghost writer to craft their autobiography, interviews in celebrity magazines, an appearance on Oprah (etc.) – and all the trappings of fame, but without having done anything in particular to warrant the attention, other than simply being the subject of the tv show.

But things don’t go entirely to plan…

Famous for no reason
Mike’s touchstone for the series is the success of the many reality and talent shows, and – in particular – the public’s desire to put themselves into the spotlight in the hopes of being famous. His idea is to take these shows to their logical conclusion – and just make someone famous for no reason – and make their newfound fame the subject of the reality show.

While he’s aware that the show he’s suggested to his bosses is exploitative, he’s quietly hopeful that it might serve as a kind of antidote to the vacuous quest for fame that is the hallmark of other TV shows. Mike is, after all, an idealist.

His colleagues – cynical and seasoned TV producers – see the value of the show and its potential exactly because it plays into the ‘anyone can be a star’ dream – and has the opportunity for the kind of car crash television that draws in millions of viewers. They pitch it to a network, and it’s commissioned – but it’s clear they’re on probation, given their track record to date.

Finding the star
They hold an audition for the show – and thousands of people turn up, hoping for fame. But the audition doesn’t go exactly to plan, because half of the people who arrive can clearly do things reasonably well (play the guitar, juggle, sing…) and the other half are scary nutters. Cue a comedy montage.

But then Mike notices (let’s say…) Alice – who works part time at the theatre where they’re holding the auditions. She’s perfect. Normal, ordinary – a little cute, perhaps – but unremarkable.

Alice is reluctant to get involved in the show. Some backstory about a recent divorce, perhaps – and maybe a child. But her financial worries and the fact that she finds Mike just a bit attractive (in an annoying sort of way) convinces her to go ahead with it.

The meaning of fame
And then the onslaught kicks in. At first it’s a rollercoaster ride and it’s fun. There’s the stylist, the PR crew, the television news reports about the show, and the mysterious new celebrity. But it’s not all fun: there’s the media training, the endless photo sessions, and the pompous ghost writer who is determined to ‘sex up’ the autobiography. The TV show gets going and the camera crew takes over her life, while her every move is stage-managed.

The show is immediately a super-hit, and Alice becomes a massive celebrity. The audience loves her, and the media adopt her as an everywoman megastar: “One of us becomes one of them”.

Meanwhile, she and Mike start to develop a bit of a crush that turns into a blossoming romantic relationship – and things look to be going very well.

What if I don’t WANT to live forever?
But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, of course. There’s the unwelcome attention from the crazy fans. There’s the kiss and tell stories from her ex-husband and people from highschool. The tabloids start to print fabricated stories about her, and the paparazzi follow her every move.

She hates it, it’s ruining her life – as well as her new relationship with Mike – and she wants out. And when she learns that Mike’s plan all along was for it to go horribly wrong, she feels betrayed, furious – and trapped.

But Mike’s fallen in love with her, and needs to redeem himself. He wants to save Alice from the mess he’s created, and will do anything to restore normality – rescue her from the spotlight and undo the fame so that they can be together and have a normal life.

But how do you make someone un-famous?

_____________________________

My Fair Lady – Part 2?
‘Only Famous’ is a kind of contemporary Pygmalion… but in reverse. Alice is groomed for a new and exciting world – but her happiness depends on becoming ‘un-groomed’ again.

All of the classic rom-com tropes are here, and you can imagine Mike being a little bit hapless and Alice a little naïve.

To be honest – if I saw a trailer for this film, I probably wouldn’t go and see it. Not nearly enough stuff blows up for my liking – but it is the sort of film that a lot of people would go and see, and it could be done with intelligence and grace, rather than the usual hamfisted collection of archetypes and cliché.

It obviously needs developing (and an ending) – but the framework, the story arc and the key characters are there. Maybe Alice has a friend who advises or envies her. Maybe Mike has a mother that’s pressing him to find a girlfriend, settle down and get married. Perhaps Mike’s boss starts out as a ruthless, ‘succeed at any cost’ media power-player, but who is revealed to have a heart of gold when she helps Mike and Alice escape to anonymity. Maybe there’s a tiny dog in there somewhere. Who knows?

But if you like it… It’s all yours. And if you do make it, I promise I’ll come and watch it. As long as something blows up.

Table of contents for 30 Days of Ideas

  1. The other way of following first
  2. Now we’re up and dancing
  3. 30 days of ideas – 01: Keymash
  4. 30 days of ideas – 02: Radio Alerts
  5. 30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)
  6. 30 days of ideas – 04: Modcasts
  7. 30 days of ideas – 05: Numberless Calendar
  8. 30 days of ideas – 06: SpringCleanr
  9. 30 days of ideas – 07: Street Gallery
  10. 30 days of ideas – 08: Smart Business Cards
  11. 30 days of ideas – 09: Recordings in Concert
  12. 30 days of ideas – 10: Vinyl scanner
  13. 30 days of ideas – 11: Photo Stack-and-Scan
  14. 30 days of ideas – 12: A Box of Cool
  15. 30 days of ideas – 13: Karaoke-Tube Celebstar Idol
  16. 30 days of ideas – 14: I Made You A Tape
  17. 30 days of ideas – 15: Newspaper download codes
  18. 30 days of ideas – 16: Pebble Splash
  19. 30 days of ideas – 17: Digital radio, somewhere useful
  20. 30 days of ideas – 18: Public domain music collection
  21. 30 days of ideas – 19: Blog cast-list automator
  22. 30 days of ideas – 20: The Retirement Pile
  23. 30 days of ideas – 21: Nationalise EMI
  24. 30 days of ideas – 22: The Stainless Steel Rat (the movie)
  25. 30 days of ideas – 23: WordPress Bandcampify template
  26. 30 days of ideas – 24: Rollercoasters as public transport
  27. 30 days of ideas – 25: Next-gen personalised music radio
  28. 30 days of ideas – 26: New Music Trust
  29. 30 days of ideas – 27: Tamagotchi Gardening
  30. 30 days of ideas – 28: Charity shop clothing subscription
  31. 30 days of ideas – 29: ‘Now Playing’ social music app
  32. 30 days of ideas – 30: House of Spare Ideas
  33. Mixtape for You by Ray Kuyvenhoven
  34. What can you do in 30 days?

One Response to “30 days of ideas – 03: Only Famous (a romantic comedy)”

  1. Alan says:

    For the first plot the cop out is that Alice wakes up in the theatre and it was all a dream. Perhaps we see some of the characters from her fantasy as caricatures of who they are in real life – the PR guy is a gossipy co-worker, etc.

    Far more interesting would be a darker twist. She kills Mike in a lover’s quarrel and is subjected to the celebrity justice circus trial followed by prison. She thinks she’s free from the microscope but after the other inmates make it clear she ruined their fantasy, she is forced to accept a starring role in a prison reality show for the protection it will provide.

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