"Mr. Dern to see you, Mr. Sharp"
Matt sat behind his massive desk in the position of power as Brandin Jessup's agent, Thomas Dern was shown in by Gabriel. As Dern walked to the desk, Gabriel closed the door and crossed to a beverage cabinet where he remained, arms folded across his chest, watching the wiry agent like a hawk. Dern walked past the comfy sofa and chairs to the supplicant's seat directly in front of the desk. He had expected nothing less, knowing quite well how the power game is played.
His only real surprise was that Danielle Sharp was not here. He had expected her, as Matt's business partner and co-producer, to make a point of being present. In fact, he had rather hoped that she would be. Danielle's reputation for volatility was well known and might have provided Thomas' client with additional ammunition.
Ah well, he thought, it was worth hoping for.
He turned his attention to Matt Sharp. The man was definitely a force to be reckoned with. He was also quite a poker player, as his face was an expressionless mask. There was a long pregnant pause as Thomas Dern opened his briefcase and began extracting documents. He gathered a few extraneous pages and sorted them in his lap before returning his gaze to the film director, whose face might have been carved in granite.
"Mr. Sharp, I appreciate your kindness in taking the time to see me on such short notice."
As he spoke, his eyes wandered casually about the office, noting that Matt's personal assistant had remained in the room. That was unexpected, but he was not certain whether it was a good or bad thing.
"As you are aware, my client has had a minor setback in his recovery, and he regrets the inconvenience that it may have caused to yourself, or to your production company, Dark Fantasy Films."
Matt remained silent, watching the other man.
"I have been assured by my client's doctors that the test was accidentally contaminated and that another test was done which proves my client is drug-free and capable of fulfilling his commitment."
"What commitment would that be?"
"Why the commitment to star in Soft Kill, of course."
"Ah. I see there has been some confusion. Brandin Jessup is not under contract to play any role in that project."
"I have the contract right here, and it is signed by all parties."
"I'm sure that you do, however that contract was voided when your client voluntarily entered drug rehabilitation. By the way, please inform him that my wife and I are big fans of his, and while we regret that we were unable to do this project together, we both applaud him for his integrity in seeking help for his off-screen issues. We wish your client well in his recovery."
Thomas Dern frowned at the director. "Let's cut to the chase, Mr. Sharp. My client was an idiot and he is willing to make concessions...serious ones."
Matt's laughter was brief, "Your client is a fucked up little shit who thought he could screw me for an extra few million to feed his drug-fueled lifestyle. I don't need that kind of a headache."
"I can guarantee that he will remain clean, follow every instruction, and take the role for ten percent of the previous agreement, with the same points as before, of course."
"No? Can you really afford to shelve the project? We both know that this role is perfect for Brandin. There is nobody else in town that can make it work."
"Who said anything about shelving it? Soft Kill is going into production on schedule...despite the best efforts of Brandin Jessup."
"Impossible. Who else could you possibly find that can play it?"
"Thank you for your concern. I'm sure you can read about it in Variety. Gabriel, show Mr. Dern out."
Thomas Dern stood, his face a frozen mask. "Are you sure you want this kind of trouble? You are leaving me very few options."
"Actually, Brandin Jessup may well be a star on the decline, and your problems, as well as your options, are his doing, not ours. Good afternoon, Mr. Dern, and please give him our regards."
Gabriel returned after showing the agent out. Matt was still sitting at his desk with a pensive expression on his face. Danielle was sitting on the desk facing her husband. As soon as Gabriel closed the door, she looked up at him with troubled eyes.
"The playroom, Gabi. Now!"
Gabriel shivered with anticipation before hurrying across the room to the far door.
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