By the way, I didn't make the final call, I just took the 2,000 tapes and weeded it down to the 50 contenders and passed them on to the executive producer. But Jeff Sagansky's niece did get selected for the show. So a year later when I'd finished my first novel and had it in bound galleys, I sent a copy to Jeff Sagansky, who'd moved from president of CBS to president of Sony. So I wrote a ludicrous letter: "Dear Mr. Sagansky, You may remember writing to me last year in regards to your niece appearing on Channel One. Gosh, we sure loved her. She was great. I was hoping you might do me a favour in return and pass along my manuscript to any show that you're in contact with involving teen characters."
I wasn't naive, I believed there was a 1 in 100 chance that he would ever even see this envelope. I believed there was a zero percent chance he'd read it. I believed if he even got it, there was a 1 in 10 chance he'd hand it to an assistant. So I wasn't staking anything on this, I just thought it was the one name I knew in television.
A year later – a year later – I got a call one night, and it's Jeff Sagansky.
I'm living in Texas at this point working on my second novel and he says, "Hey, I just finished your book and I think it's great and I think you should write for My So-Called Life. I just got done doing a movie with Ed Zwick called Legends of the Fall so I'll recommend you to him if that show gets picked back up, so fingers crossed. Hey, do you have any screenplays I can see?" Uh, no. I admitted I had not written any screenplays. He said, "Well, if you do, send it to me."
So I spent the next six months waiting to see if My So-Called Life got picked back up, which it did not. In the meantime, a film school grad asked me to write a feature for him. He wanted a romantic comedy that he was going to shoot for $100,000, so he wanted something with very few characters and very few sets. So essentially I wrote My Dinner With Andre with a teenaged couple, a twentysomething couple, and a thirtysomething couple in a Chinese restaurant. When I finished, I gave it to the guy who bought it from me and I sent a copy to Jeff Sagansky.