The Lost Corey

Around 2004 I decided The Two Coreys (Haim and Feldman) were due for a major comeback. I’d seen Lucas, The Goonies and The Lost Boys, but all I really knew was that they were 80’s child stars, too famous too early, who fell into trouble with drugs and money. And, they were still out there.

I began watching some of their old movies and I became interested in Haim because he seemed to burn out quickest and most thoroughly. He was a Toronto kid who rocketed to fame fast, but many of his movies are barely watchable. It seemed that the bulk of his work consisted of disposable comedies like National Lampoon’s Last Resort, License to Drive and Dream A Little Dream. *

It’s tricky to unweave impressions of actors from the roles they play, but I figured there must be more to Haim than met the eye. I wanted to write a feature-length comedy that played with this notion. I wanted Haim to play himself, an actor struggling in the wake of former success.

I thought my script was funny. It was about a twenty-something layabout, motivated to find himself when Corey Haim crashes into his car. My protagonist had preconceived notions of Haim as a slacking party animal and slowly learns that Haim isn’t just a goof-off, but a desperate actor clawing his way through a ruthless industry.

A producer friend pointed out that if you’re going to bring back Corey Haim, you have to bring Feldman back too. I agreed. I wrote another draft of the script, changing things drastically: now it had The Two Coreys, and also Corey Hart for good measure, each in the shadow of their decades-past legacy and trying to make something of themselves in a world where their images ensure they are never taken seriously. My script was called The Last Corey. Again, I thought it was funny.

We found their agent (The Two Coreys shared an agent at the time) and gave him the script. A month or two went by and we heard nothing, so we contacted him. He said they’d pass. We asked what he thought of the script and he told us he stopped reading it after the first ten pages, feeling I’d made Haim out to look like a slacking party animal. This irked me because that was exactly point, and my script redeemed Haim in the end.

We asked the agent to read further and he came back and said fine, they’d do it, but only for a million bucks per Corey. My friend and I quietly laughed and gave up. Meanwhile, news about Corey Haim wasn’t promising. He was broke, living with his mother, and had tried to sell a pulled tooth on Ebay.

A couple years later I browsed through my script and it made me laugh. I thought it was a great opportunity we had missed, and I was surprised that we had actually made contact; only a dollar figure had stood in our way. But I couldn’t imagine going through with it and actually working with Haim, and I realized fittingly that this was because of the media-images I had absorbed of him in terrible movies.

So I thought it might be funny to make a movie about me trying to make a movie about Corey Haim: A fictitious writer named Eric Schiller, for his own strange reasons, has written a movie about Corey Haim, and he intends to cast Haim as himself. The journey to find Haim and convince him to spoof himself would be the bulk of the action. It could be hilarious. So I wrote a synopsis. It was called The Lost Corey.

About a year or two had passed since we spoke to The Coreys’ agent, and we hadn’t even considered showing him this idea. Then, like a slap in the face, A&E announced that The Coreys would reunite in a reality-style show. Someone must have agreed that they were due for a comeback. I was deflated. I never watched the show, and I basically forgot about my scripts.

Then, on March 10, 2010, Corey Haim died. “Natural causes” were cited despite suspicious drug activity leading up to his death. A representative said Haim had been drug free for about two weeks, ignoring that ”Haim had used aliases to procure 553 prescription pills in the 32 days prior to his death, having ‘doctor-shopped’ seven different physicians and used seven pharmacies to obtain the supply, which included 195 Valium, 149 Vicodin, 194 Soma and 15 Xanax.”

Looking back, I’m glad we never got to make these movies. Haim’s issues were still too raw. Both Feldman and Haim were victims of the worst part of Hollywood. Feldman claims he and Haim were given drugs and sexually molested by at least one prominent Hollywood mogul in the early years. The Oscar “In Memoriam” segment made no mention of Haim the year he died. And the body of work he left behind consisted of a few decent goofball comedies, and a lot of depressing filler.

Corey Haim’s career is the perfect example of how fame can destroy people. It’s easy to imagine how easily a child might be manipulated by promises of money and fame. In his prime Haim really was a star; before a slump in the 90s he appeared in a half-dozen major motion pictures and his face was all over teen idol magazines. In retrospect we can see the price he paid. Hollywood completely exploited and discarded him before he reached 20.

Haim’s life was much more serious and tragic than I expected. I can’t scoff at him any more; as frivolous and funny as his failures were, they now seem like symptoms of psychological torture inflicted on a child at his most vulnerable. His life is a great cautionary tale and could make a decent biopic. Justin Bieber could play Haim (it’s amazing how alike they look). Maybe if Bieber got deep enough into character he’d resolve to show the world the difference between a serious entertainer and his media image. If nothing else, it might put a redemptive twist on Haim’s life.

 

* The most fascinating product in Haim’s catalog is called Me, Myself and I (1989), a postmodern nightmare happening in Haim’s own mind. We follow him on a “typical day” where he plays hockey and baseball, records music, and fields interview questions from himself, assuring fans and the industry that he’s straightened out and ready to work. But he’s glazed over, stoned, and talking nonsense. It is truly bizarre, very funny, and retrospectively, very sad. You can watch the entire thing on YouTube.

 

The Secular Bible

This is the third time recently that Mark Frost has influenced my post (seeTwo Things “Argo” Missed‘ and ‘Walking With Fire‘). Through his Twitter feed I saw this article by Hunter Stuart about a “Hollywood Power Couple” trying to advertise their new History Channel program The Bible by advocating for The Bible to be taught in public schools.

The point this couple raises in their article (which you can read here) is that The Bible is important as a fundamental text of Western civilization, never mind the religious ethos attached to it. Fair enough. There is no doubt The Bible is one of the building blocks of our culture. It is still by far the best selling book of all time, even beating out 50 Shades of Grey.

They claim The Bible is responsible for many of the phrases that some people use every once in a while. They also claim the allegories originating in The Bible made possible the work of Shakespeare, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Matrix and so on. They even quoted the Supreme Court:

“[T]he Bible is worthy of study for its literary and historic qualities. Nothing we have said here indicates that such study of the Bible or of religion, when presented objectively as a part of a secular (public school) program of education, may not be effected consistently with the First Amendment.” (Abington School District v. Schempp)

Naturally the sticky part here is the separation of church and state. The Bible is the foundational book of one specific religion, so the outcry from non-Christians would be unstoppable. It could be argued also that The Bible had a comparable impact on the formulation of The West as Roman imperialism and Greek philosophy. Why should The Bible, taken as a historical and literary document, take prominence?

Because clearly there is more to their agenda than English and History class. If we believe, as Roma Downey and Mark Burnett do, that The Bible is the living Word of God, we have to admit that God borrowed a lot of those stories. The New Testament borrows from the Old Testament. The Old Testament borrows from Egypt, Zoroastrianism, Babylon, and more. Christianity itself would never have existed without Neo-Platonism, but I don’t remember Plato or Plotinus from public school. Don’t we care about the foundations of the foundations of Western civilization?

And as for the literary merits of The Bible, Downey and Burnett might feel a little differently if The Bible was thrown into the English class alongside The Catcher In The Rye and 1984. Imagine the book reports.

“Moses: Murderer Hero” by Little Tyler

“Leviticus: A Comedic Interlude” by Little Billy

“Sexual Motifs and the Mother of Prostitutes in Revelation” by Little Monica

The whole idea of an “historical” Bible stripped of its religious principles is absurd. Were it not for the religious aspect The Bible would not have proliferated as it did, people would not have been “converted/saved” and other people wouldn’t have been burned to death as “heretics”. Are those nasty bits part of the curriculum as well?

In order to have real significance, a reading of The Bible has to presuppose the validity of Christian metaphysics, Christian morality, and the supremacy of YHWH, the Jewish God, who is one of several gods mentioned in The Bible (and the supposed author of the book…but I’m sure He’s impartial).

Please leave your book reports in the Comments section for grading.