Bradley Cooper is desperate for an Oscar.

Nominated for so many Academy Awards he’s lost count, “Maestro” was to be his masterstroke. True to the title, the bombastic biopic was produced, written, directed and starred Bradley in the lead role. It was tailor-made to win Oscars.

Now Bradley is meeting executives at Netflix to find out what the hell went wrong.

“Maestro” is a Hollywood short story about blind ambition.

Will Bradley see the error of his ways?

1,000 words / 4 minutes of virtuoso reading pleasure

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‘You exist only in what you do.’ Federico Fellini 



Copyright 2024 Stefano Boscutti
All Rights Reserved

Bradley Cooper doesn’t want to meet the Netflix executives in the boardroom.

Too many glass walls at the Netflix headquarters in Hollywood, California. Too many employees gliding past, pretending not to look in.

Bradley wants the meeting to take place at the historic Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard that Netflix spent close to ninety million dollars bringing it back to its former Golden Age glory. But there’s a shoot underway so Bradley settles for the large theatre on the lobby level of Netflix’s headquarters.

Bradley, forty-nine, paces the stage, sweeps a long knitted scarf around his neck.

‘Darlings, what must I do to win an Oscar?’

There’s a handful of strategy and publicity executives scattered across the front row. Two or three are looking at their shoes. One Executive speaks up.

‘You got nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography -- ’

‘Best Sound.’ says a Second Executive.

‘Best Makeup and Hairstyling,’ says Another Executive.

‘ -- Best Actress for Carey, Best Actor for yourself.’

‘All nominations! All of which I publicly lost. Imagine the humiliation, the slap across the face, the sting of disgrace. In front of everyone, darlings, everyone! Friends, peers, lovers, family. Really, it’s intolerable.’

Bradley’s on a roll.

‘Do you have any idea how hard we worked? How much research we undertook? How many cigarettes I smoked? How many cigarettes Carey smoked? I’m positive I’ve given her lung cancer, absolutely positive.’

Bradley rolls his eyes.

‘And for what? To watch Chris Nolan and “Oppenheimer” win every award. A three-hour physics lesson on how to kill hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians with a single atomic bomb.’

Bradley places an open palm over his heart.

‘All the press I had to do, all the interviews, all the tears. I wasn’t even up for Best Editing. Or Best Production Design. Or Best -- ’

An Executive winces. Bradley lowers his head.

‘ -- Director.’

It’s as if his voice has collapsed.

‘What did Chris do on “Oppenheimer”? Shook the camera a little, flashed Florence Pugh’s breasts. Shot it on seventy-millimetre film. I could have shot “Maestro” on seventy-millimetre if I’d wanted to. But no, I chose to shoot on thirty-five-millimetre colour and black and white Kodak stock for authenticity. Where was my Oscar?’

It’s true that “Maestro” was purpose-built to win Oscars. Playing the life of a great self-made American artist, mid-Atlantic accents, closeted gayness, Hollywood, Broadway. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese both credited as producers.

One Executive thinks about bringing up all the media blowback around Bradley’s prosthetic nose, the whole Jewface debacle. Bradley had worn the fake nose because he was self-conscious about his own nose. Especially after the operation.

Bradley is staring straight at him. It’s as if he can read his mind.

‘Really? You want to discuss the nose? Want to share your thoughts? Was it too big? Too pointed? All three of Leonard Bernstein’s children approved the nose. The Anti-Defamation League released a statement in support of the nose.’

One Executive moves to speak but Bradley cuts him off.

‘How in god’s name could it be antisemitic? So I’m not Jewish playing a Jew. So what? I’m an actor, darlings. An actor. Cillian Murphy is not Jewish and played a Jew. Did he get a slapped? Did he cop all the flack? No, he got the Oscar for Best Actor!’

Bradley looks close to tears, hangs his head.

‘It’s a tragedy, a terrible tragedy.’

No executive wants to mention how overwrought the film is. The overblown camerawork and the disease-of-the-week TV movie tropes at the end did it no favours. No one but no one wants to tell Bradley to stop trying so hard to win.

An Executive pipes up.

‘You know, Spielberg was snubbed for “Jaws”.’

‘Yes, I’m fully aware of that. And I don’t care. Just like I don’t care that only two actors have won the Best Picture Oscar for films they’ve starred in and directed. I simply don’t care who’s been snubbed in the past.’

Truth is Bradley was worried that letting Netflix pay to make “Maestro” was going to play badly during the award season. Streaming services like Netflix are still seen as the antichrist in Hollywood.  

Bradley knows Netflix has fallen short, especially in the Best Picture race, when the likes of “Roma”, “The Irishman” and “The Power of the Dog” all missed out. Everyone at Netflix was hoping “Maestro” would be the breakout.

Bradley looks over the executives and smiles.

‘Really, what do I have to do to win an Oscar? Who do I have to fuck? Who has to fuck me? Really, give me the list.’

Another Executive laughs. Bradley tightens his lips

‘I’m not joking, really. Give me the list.’

Crackling as the overhead speakers come to life. Reed Hasting’s voice wafts over the theatre. Flat, Boston accent.

‘Bradley, Hollywood doesn’t care how many sacrifices you made, how long you had to spend in the makeup chair each day of the shoot. There are few things people love to dislike more than an actor who talks endlessly about how hard they work. It’s insufferable.’

Reed founded Netflix and was the long-term chief executive officer before becoming the executive chairman. Bradley covers his eyes from the stage lights and looks up at the projection booth at the back of the theatre. Reed’s voice drifts out.

‘People don’t want to see how the magic is done. They just want to see the magic and go ahhh!’

Bradley lowers his head. Reed’s voice flows down.

‘Of course it’s difficult, of course it’s shameful to lose. It’s heartbreaking. All the effort, the commitment to craft. The endless and winless press tours. Do you know what all that disappointment will do for you, Bradley?’

A single tear slips down Bradley’s cheek. Reed’s voice swirls over him.

‘It will make winning your first Oscar all the sweeter.’

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Copyright 2024 Stefano Boscutti

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This is a work of fiction. While many of the characters portrayed here have counterparts in the life and times of mainstream publishers and others, the characterisations and incidents presented are totally the products of the author’s enthusiastic imagination. This work is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. It should not be resold or given away. Thank you for your support. (Couldn’t do it without you.)

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