Leo Johnson

Diary - 22 May 2004

Introducing Stanko, the sausage-fixated pastry chef

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A year ago this week I tried to sell my idea for a blockbuster movie to Sam Goldwyn Junior. It was 12 noon, at the Majestic Hotel. I picked up my briefcase and strode past the upturned packet of Paprika Pringles on the floor. You don’t mess around before this sort of meeting. You prepare — numbers, market share, audience demographics. ‘Tell me,’ opened the mogul, ‘about your film.’ Without hype, but without understatement I laid it out. ‘Eating & Weeping is a Hollywood classic,’ I told him. ‘It is the mainstream, genre movie of Stanko the Bulgarian pastry chef, who accidentally causes the collapse of capitalism.’ Goldwyn looked blank so I pressed on. ‘Stanko casts off the shackles of liberty, deflating the soufflé of capital and licking clean the spatula of injustice.’ Goldwyn spoke: ‘Let me tell you something. I have been in this business a long time. This is the worst story I have ever heard.’

That was a year ago. Samuel Goldwyn Jr is a great man. He did The Madness of George III, and he was the one to warn them that if they called kept on calling it ‘George III’ everyone would think it was a sequel. He knows the industry. So we have ignored everything he said, and gone ahead.

I am trying to penetrate the Riviera Pavilion, where there are 550 distributors who have been personally informed of the project’s merchandising opportunities, including back-end product linkages to our Bulgarian hero cook (Stanko Mayonnaise©, Stanko Motor Oil©, Stanko Underarm Spray©). The queue for entry inches forward. It’s moving slowly, because there is a demo outside on the Croisette. The Partie Communiste Fran