Burning Annie Burning Annie

The Unofficial Folk History of Burning Annie


  The story starts at Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts) in the late 1990s, where two young undergrads are bored and miserable, like everybody else on campus. Zack Ordynans [Pisces] is struggling through "Films of the 1980s: the Marxist Subtext of John Hughes" as part of his grueling Media Studies major. Randy Mack [Cancer] is enjoying a semester of pre-assigned A+'s that had been "negotiated" over the break, and is using the time to produce a televised debate between political humorists Michael Moore and P.J. O'Rourke. Zack begins work on a screenplay, hoping it will be light-hearted and fancy-free.

  Two years later. Randy has moved to Los Angeles and now works for George Clooney (Mr. Clooney vigorously disputes the term "work" in connection to Mr. Mack's employment). Zack's script is neither light-hearted nor fancy-free, having somehow become fancy-hearted and light-free. Randy gives notes on how to make it so depressing even goths hate it. Six months later, Zack produces a 400-page draft that actually breaks a well-known literary agent's desk (along with his will to live). Success. Unfortunately, Randy is now selling meat door-to-door and living on a tugboat in the canal. He senses the time is right for a brazen act.

  Randy tells Zack that he wants to produce his script. Intense negotiations ensue. Randy walks away with Zack's screenplay and a 1977 Alan Trammell rookie card, Zack walks away with two Nintendo controllers and a copy of the video hockey game from Swingers, signed by Jon Favreau. His greenlight bonus will be a set of Ernie Ball guitar strings and free plastic surgery on the body part of his choice. Everybody goes home believing they have been shafted.

  While Zack hastily moves to New York City to begin life as "another fucking screenwriter" (his mother's description), Randy shows the screenplay to incontinent heroin dealer Van Flesher [Libra]. Van is immediately smitten with the title, but suggests changing the story from "the unabridged retelling of The Ilyad set during the Norman Conquest" to "something about geeks in college." Thus inspired, the ending is immediately rewritten. Van, owning his own make-up table, is hired as the director, a title which he naively assumes is honorary.

  2001. National Lampoon's Van Wilder is released and immediately sets a new low for the portrayal of college life in the movies. Zack, incensed, sneaks into Van's apartment and destroys his entire Whit Stillman collection in a drunken rage. Randy, by now living in a filing cabinet in the alley behind a Bueno Taco, declares the project greenlit.

  2002. Van and Randy enter production, having noticed that the script won't shoot itself (although the same can't be said of the writer). Marshall University is inspired by the boys' Quixotic attempt to portray college as it really is and gives them the run of the campus; later, they will issue a statement of general dismay and disavow all knowledge. Somewhere around this time, Zack begins declaring "this script is my life story," as does Van, Randy, and George Clooney (who has nothing to do with the movie, and, to be honest, is obviously trying to ride our coattails.).

  2003. Post-production, an ancient Greek word meaning pillar of vegetables, proves to be confounding and expensive. Randy, flexing mighty produsorial muscles, fires everybody including himself. After extensive arbitration, he returns to edit. Rough cuts are passed around, including the "Gone With The Wind cut" that is shown with an intermission. The film is leaked onto the internet as a stop-motion ASCII animation, and film festivals begin offering invitations. The filmmakers accept, despite the movie not being even close to finished.

  2004. The film plays tons of film festivals. Famous producer and producers rep Steven Beer joins the team, despite having worked with Britney Spears. Van becomes the starting quarterback for the Houston Rockets, despite not knowing anything about hockey. Implausibly, the film struggles to finish itself, while Randy and Zack get good at making Q&As uncomfortable for everyone present. Meanwhile, America has its first legitimate election since before you were born.

  2005. Enron announces it will acquire Burning Annie for a fall release, throws several lawyers out a window, and then blows their financing on Columbian snowflake. The deal falls through regardless. WorldCom then tries to acquire it, but accidentally acquires a cheap thriller called Chapter 11 instead.

  2006. Zack quits his job at the Ice Capades to be a canine marriage counselor. Crazy people throw money at Randy, and somehow this results in the film coming out on DVD. Then the crazy people ask for their money back, and the film ends up playing the Pioneer Theater in New York City... in 2007. But not by much.

  2007. None of your business.