‘Hollywood Jock’

If “Hollywood Jock” were a movie, the log line would run: “A sports-mad writer gets a shot at redemption when his wife gives him a year to sell a project to Hollywood.”

Imagine Paul Newman in “The Color of Money” (pool). Imagine Paul Newman in “Slap Shot” (hockey). Imagine Paul Newman in “The Sting” (fraud).

“Hollywood Jock” collects the 34 weekly columns he wrote for ESPN.com, and another 19 that continues the story of Rob Ryder, Hollywood Hustler. We follow him as he tries to sell anyone he can get ahold of on the merits of scripts such as “Zulu Wave,” about a black surfer in apartheid-era South Africa, “94 Feet of Hell” that takes you inside a fictional college basketball game; and businesses such as a 4-on-4 summer pro basketball league. He’s calls on agents for pro athletes who want to get into producing, directors he has worked with (such as Rob Shelton, who directed “Bull Durham” and “Tin Cup”), production companies, money managers, agents, anyone who knows anyone with two cents to rub together who might be able to get a movie launched.

Along the way, Ryder empties the memory bag and talks about being dissed by Dennis Rodman on the set of “Eddie,” crashing the Reebok party during the NBA All-Star Weekend, dealing with the irascible Tommy Lee Jones on the set of “Cobb,” and his encounter with a naked man in snakeskin boots — who later ran, clothed, for governor of Tennessee — while filming “Southern Comfort” in Louisiana.

When he’s telling his war stories, Ryder is a genial companion, and you can sympathize with his struggles to get his projects off the ground.

But “Hollywood Jock” is also a mess, a shapeless diary that’s as chaotic as the way Hollywood puts together movies. The “wife gives him a year to make good” conceit holds no drama or emotion — and once he loses his paying gig at ESPN.com, the chapters move away from the look at Hollywood and pro sports and becomes a recitation of e-mails, meetings, appointments and cancellations, writing sessions and what Elmore Leonard would call stuff readers would skip over. The frequent knee-jerk rants about Bush and Iraq frequently dampen the goodwill Ryder earns with his plucky, never-say-die spirit.

The only laugh I got out of the book was on page 224, when he lectures us about the first rule of being a man — “You don’t take shit from anybody” — after he spent the previous 223 pages doing
just that.

But with that in mind, future studio moguls, screenwriters and budding Sammy Glicks should grab “Hollywood Jock.” If you can read this and still want a career in the movies, then you might actually have a shot at a star on Hollywood Boulevard.

Web site: Rob Ryder’s Hollywood Jock

‘Hollywood Jock’ Handy Index For Hollywood Ego-Googlers

Rob Ryder’s “Hollywood Jock” doesn’t come with an index, which is a shame in the age of ego-Googling. So as a public service for those who want to know if they’re mentioned in Rob’s book, here’s a hastily assembled and not-proofed list of most of the people mentioned, with the list tilted toward the more profane stories and harsh judgments:

94 = “94 Feet” aka “94 Feet of Hell”
BC = Blue Chips
CH = “Canned Heat”
HJ = “Hollywood Jock, the movie”
RR = Rob Ryder
ZW = “Zulu Wave”

Ben Affleck, trashed, 124, asked for pummelling, 240
David Allen (“Getting Things Done”), “changing my life” 288
Marcus Allen, picks up Tawney Kitaen, 198
Matt Alvarez, pitched HJ, 219-21
Red Auerbach, criticizes RR-assembled basketball team 8
Steven Bach, fired from UP, berates exec, 76
Peter Bellwood, “you too must fail”, 130
Mikkel Bondesen, “I am quite the stud”, 268
Russell Boyd, ignores Tommy Lee Jones’ taunts, 138-9
Mark Burg, called “piece of crap” by RR, 31-7, pitched 94, 211
Sean Connery, limo blown up for in “The Next Man”, 26-8
Ice Cube, pitched 94, 159, 170-1
Baron Davis, pitched 94, 112
William “Billy” Friedkin, directed BC because of wife 7, trades homosexual barbs with Bobby Knight 53-4
Mel Gibson, “one of the worst actors in the business” and “obvious lunatic”, 120
Andy Given, asks about column, 157
Whoopi Goldberg, reams Mark Burg new asshole, 32
John Goldwyn, pitched ZW, 149-55
HP Pavilion 750n, filled with viruses, 255, crashes beyond repair, 256, replaced with Mac, 257
Walter Hill, blows up Cadillac 19, hires RR for fight scene for “The Warriors” 117-8
Phil Jackson, whipping boy, 174
Stoney Jackson, ejected from Y basketball game for hitting RR, 247-8
Tommy Lee Jones, breaks ankle training for “Cobb”, 136-7, taunts director of photography on “Cobb”, 138-9, defended by Rob Shelton, 144
Tawney Kitaen, picked up by Marcus Allen, 198
Bobby Knight, trades homosexual barbs with William “Billy” Friedkin, 53-4, despised by RR, 224
Harry Knowles, attempted bribe with development deal, 124
Tony Kornheiser, RR aghast at Jason Alexander-starring sitcom about, 97-8, praised by Dick Schapp, 260
Oren Koules, pitched 94, 211, sets up meet, 218, pitch meet moved, 226, pitched, 228, e-mailed, 237, written off, 239, produces “sick, twisted stories”, 253
Sonny Landham, naked with knife in motel room, 177, running for governor, 178
Tomm Looney, 109-110
David Madden, pitched ZW, 105-8, “cold as a corpse” about ZW, 206, suggestions for CH, 245, tied up in pilot, 252, rejects CH 260, likes ZW, 267
Gavin Maloof, 183-5
Frank Marshall, calls RR “Princeton fairy”, 49
Scott Matthews, seeks work from RR, 238-9, told by Aaron Goodwin not to pay for it, 245
Nancy Meyers, whiney director, 108-9
Nigel Miguel, needs help with basketball commercial, 10
Dennis Miller, RR despises, 98
Todd Ramasar, pitched ZW, 112
Pepper Rodgers, tells basketball story, 165-6
Dennis Rodman, ignores RR on “Eddie” shoot, 70-3, confrontation with RR at NBA All-Star party, 74
Meg Ryan, killed “Against the Ropes” movie, 125-6
Dick Schapp, praises Tony Kornheiser, 260
Scott Schwartz, “surfer-yoga-agent”, 269
Steve Shin, loves ZW, 263, sends to Miramax script reader, 263, script reader trashes ZW, RR hates script reader, 265
Isiah Thomas, “single-handedly destroyed” CBA, 128
Pookey Wigington, 3-5, 6-10, pins assistant to wall, 41-2
William Morris Agency, “the black hole”, 75