Dear Mr. Maddock and Mr. Wilson,
I recently received and reviewed your spec script for your proposed film Busy Dad. I must say, I am very impressed with your work. It shows definite potential. I agree with you that in this, the late 1980s, many fathers are overly busy with commitments to their lives as working professionals and dedicate far little time to child rearing (I myself haven’t seen my daughter in 16 months). This is especially true of businessmen. And widowers.
Our research shows that the children of businessmen and widowers often end up turning to gang violence (have you read about this? It might be a good jumping off point for another screenplay, but I digress…) as a way of validating themselves, due to mounting neglect on the part of their businessman fathers and deceased mothers. What we have is a very topical film, with flashes of humour and genuine compassion, which I feel will score big with a mainstream audience.
That said, I offer the following, mostly minor, notes:
- While the studio agrees that Corbin Bernsen would be excellent in the starring role Elliot Hooper, we are interested in casting an African-American actor in the role. Comedian and talent Bill Cosby has already proven himself competent in parenting-related roles, and has already agreed to take the role.
- In the first act, when Elliot is taking a cab home from a business meeting, how about instead of making it home, he dies in the car crash?
- LIGHTBULB! Make the dad a ghost! This can only make the movie funnier and more resonant with a contemporary film-going audience now accustomed to the comedic rhythms of Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice and High Spirits. The dad can still be busy. But he’s also a ghost.
- Considering that Elliot (Cosby) is now a ghost, your promotional material will have to be revamped accordingly. For example, your proposed tagline “The Man Too Busy To Just Be Dad” can be changed to “The Man Too Busy To Just Be Dead.” Or, alternatively: “America’s favourite Dad in a Spirited New Comedy!”
- In Act II, when Elliot sits down with his daughter’s boyfriend to speak frankly about the boy’s intentions with his vulnerable daughter, instead have Elliot (now a ghost) magically come through a telephone and alarm the boyfriend. Much funnier.
- Sidney Poitier has expressed interest in directing something for the studio. He’s up for anything, so maybe he’d be up for this.
- Add a robot. Kids love robots. If you can’t figure out a way to do this seamlessly, no big deal.
- LIGHTBULB 2! The dad can also be a robot. Ghost is obviously better, but if you make a strong case for a robot, we can go in that director. Wait, scratch that, ghost is the way to go. Go with ghost.
- Your film is now called Ghost Dad.
I think that if you two make these changes, and if we at the studio keep costs down, we can have a box office hit that will resonate both with modern single-dad families and the critical community.
I look forward to conducting business with you.
Production Dept.,Universal Studios
Dated: August 17, 1989