I wrote The Last Hurrah for fun on a weekend in November 2005. I was in a strange place at the time. Although, I suppose I am always in a strange place.
In October, my reps had gone out with my script "The Pirates of Nantucket." Everyone clapped me on the back and told me I would make a lot of money on it. Reading the tracking boards, my manager told me to go out and get drunk. The script was sent out to 26 production companies and read by 44 production companies by the end of the day. But despite the excitement, no studios bought it because Fox had just set up a deal for a competing project, "Midlife Pirates."
Undeterred, we went out with a new script the next month. I was very excited that my comedy, "The Last Man on Earth" received similar praise and attention. But again, Kevin James had a project by the same name, so no studios bid on my script.
I went on to complete nine screenplays that year. After years of study and practice, I was confident in my abilities. I'd performed in hundreds of improv shows, written dozens of sketch shows, taken dozens of writing classes, and written thousands of pages of material. They say Hollywood is the only place where you can die of encouragement. On every studio meeting I went on, I felt pumped full of attention and praise. But one thing was becoming abundantly clear: Hollywood is full of perfectly competent writers who never have a screenplay produced.
Writing The Last Hurrah
I decided to write a screenplay that would cost zero dollars. Something no production company could say no to! To cut costs, I knew the script had to take place in one location. I knew it needed a hook. And I also knew I wanted to practice my dialog writing...
So I decided to write a comedy in a single take. One slug line followed by 88 pages of dialog. I gave it 12 act story structure and arced all the characters in a single continuous scene. Multiple plot lines are followed through camera hand-offs, a la Slacker. I wanted to see if I could maintain audience interest, or even make the audience forget I wasn't cutting.
It was a blast. I wrote it over a weekend. Just three days in my pajamas eating Chef Boyardee. Sitting in front of my computer with my eyes closed, transcribing what I hear. It came out fully formed.
I wrote The Last Hurrah for me and not for Hollywood - I knew it was indy and not commercial. For fun, I showed the script to my manager and agents and was shocked when they said they loved it. Excited, I told my manager I wanted to produce it. But he advised me I'd be wasting my time, and that I should focus on writing scripts that can sell to the major studios!
So like most of my scripts, I put The Last Hurrah in a drawer and forgot about it.