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the take

From the Secret Diary of Paul Dergarabedian

Courtesy of IFC Films, Amazon.com

September 4, 2007:

For so long, so long, Dear Diary, I have worked nearly unnoticed in the trenches of Hollywood, my brilliance rarely remarked upon by the public. Sure, I've had my small-scale successes: appearances on the Today show, quotes in USA Today. My old pal David Germain at the AP calls me every Sunday for a quote on the past weekend's box office, and every once in a while, Newsday would come knocking for some of Paul Dergarabedian's sweet, sweet sugar. But I knew, I knew, that if I could ever get my one big break, my career as a box-office guru would launch into the stratosphere.

And now, Dear Diary, it's finally happened.

It was Labor Day weekend, but I wasn't at a family picnic or relaxing at home. No!!! Paul Dergarabedian does not rest. When the phone rang, I was just closing the thesaurus, drilling myself on synonyms for "successful." (Yes, drilling synonyms! You think a quote machine like Paul Dergarabedian comes by it naturally? No! It takes hours and hours of preparation to generate a single quote's worth of material!) "Flourishing, prosperous, thriving, triumphant, booming, roaring, robust," I declaimed, then picked up the phone. "Media by Numbers, Paul Dergarabedian speaking," I said.

"This is Brooks Barnes of the New York Times," the voice at the other end of the line said.

That's right, Dear Diary. The New York Frigging Times finally came calling! PAUL DERGARABEDIAN HAS HIT THE BIG TIME!

I admit that at first I almost choked, almost blew it. "The summer box office has been sizzling!" I shouted. "Halloween put a scare into the competition! Threequels – uh – three times the fun for the moviegoing public!" Then the reporter explained that he was working on a story about the studios downplaying this summer's receipts in light of the coming labor difficulties. I took a sip of Tab, controlled my breathing, and got into The Zone. Dear Diary, I was magical. "There was certainly brisk business at theaters this summer," I said – right there was where I almost lost it again, went overwhelmingly positive, but I regained control and brought the quote home. "But I think a lot of people expected attendance would rebound to a larger degree.”

Sweat dripping down my neck into my open collar, I thanked the reporter and hung up. I think I might have said, "I love you" – it's all a blur. And on Monday, I opened up the New York Times, and there I was. Paul Dergarabedian, right there on the pages of the Paper of Record! Obviously, I mailed a copy to my mom. I also got the article framed; it's sitting on my desk because I need to get the super to come hang it on the wall. I don't know what the story is with the walls here, whether I can just pound a nail in, or if I need one of those plastic anchor dealies.

Anyways, what a rush, Dear Diary! I expect that today the phone should be ringing off the hook. Never before has a weekend shown off my quote versatility. You need a quote about how the box office is kind of disappointing? Check me out in the Times. You need a quote about how the box office is great? Check me out in the AP, where I release my pent-up box-office love in a raging torrent. "Halloween was far beyond anything we've seen on Labor Day," I told David when he called. "It was just a perfect ending to a perfect summer. Hopefully, we can do this every year."

As Labor Talks Near, Studios Play Down Numbers [NYT]
'Halloween' Scares Up Record At Box Office [AP]