Don Fried — Playwright & Author

“Can’t Act, Can’t Sing, Can Dance a Little”

Posted on: January 26, 2010

According to Hollywood folklore, the words in the title of this post are what a studio functionary is supposed to have written about Fred Astaire’s screen test for RKO Pictures in the early 1930s.

That quotation comes more and more to mind as Shakespeare Incorporated and several of my other plays begin having some success.  Each of these plays was  rejected — occasionally quite rudely — by quite a number of the theaters and contests to which I submitted them.  I’m also reminded of another Hollywood executive who had an option on the screenplay for ET and sold it to Steven Spielberg.  And of the guy from Decca Records who turned down the Beatles.

OK, so I may not be in the Beatles’ class in terms of recognition any time soon, and Shakespeare Incorporated may never rival ET for commercial success.   But  just in case, I’ve decided to follow the lead of the Lord High Executioner in The Mikado, and I’m compiling a little list (they’d none of them be missed).   If Shakespeare Incorporated ever wins a Tony or a Pulitzer, I’ll be ready to look up each and every person who rejected the play and make them eat their words.  Preferably, I’ll force them to ingest the rejection letters they sent me.   (If they ignored me and didn’t even have the decency to send a rejection letter, I’ve saved up some old scripts that should be particularly appetizing.)

Yes, I do take all this very personally.  But hey, I’m a crusty old fart; that’s my job.

I know it’s not the Boulder way.  Instead of being bitter and twisted and savoring thoughts of revenge, I should be grateful for whatever success I achieve, and we should all hold hands and hum and frolic semi-naked in the snow of a Colorado January.  Screw that!  You must be mistaking me with someone else.

Those of you in Boulder, don’t expect to see me any time soon.  No doubt when this post becomes public, they’ll rescind my visa to the People’s Republic.  Again.

3 Responses to "“Can’t Act, Can’t Sing, Can Dance a Little”"

I imagine the Beatles were turned down by a lot more than RKO Records. They were a risk, as most artists are, and anyone who doesn’t immediately see a market for a product is not going to buy it. These people aren’t in business to help people out up-and-comers, they’re in business to make money. And generally, the cream has a way of rising to the top.

Literally thousands (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands) of incredible screenplays, books, albums, etc. are turned down by big studios every year. It’s nothing personal. No need to force them to eat anything, just be proud of how far you’ve come.

[…] Can’t act, can’t sing, can dance a little […]

Rosario, Can you tell me which ones? I’ve looked at them all, and they all work for me. Thanks, Don

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