In Variety’s feature The One That Got Away, Emmy nominees reflect on one of their projects that never came up, got canceled too soon, or that they want to revisit someday.
Cinco Paul, fresh out of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, is writing his first graduate comedy screenplay — a tribute to the absurd, including “What’s Up, Doc?” and “raising a baby”, known as the “golden belt”.
“At the time, there were massive spec sales going on everywhere, and it was mine,” he said. “It started my career, but unfortunately, it never worked out.”
Nearly 30 years later, Apple TV+’s musical love letter “Shmigarden! ” creator and Emmy-nominated lyricist Paul never lost his thirst for the script, which has been acquired by Sony and even has several directors attached.
Had it come to the silver screen, the story would have been popular during the heyday of ’90s rom-coms, joining a series of titles named after classic love songs such as “One Fine Day”, “It Takes Two” and “Being a Man” love a woman”.
“Band of Gold” is a fast-paced R&B classic made famous by Freda Payne. “My story was about this prude, prudish doctor who was about to marry the wrong woman,” Paul recalled. “He was entrusted with an heirloom wedding ring a few days before the wedding and he accidentally sewed it into a patient’s body.”
When it comes to really meeting cute medical malpractice, the woman on the operating table happens to be the doctor’s future love — they just don’t know it yet.
“She was exactly what he needed,” Paul continued. “She’s more wild and carefree, so she kind of loosens him up. She’s in Katherine Hepburn-Barbra Streisand mode, and they fall in love while he’s trying to get it out of her.”
For some, it may have been a surgical nightmare, but Paul assured the woman was fully involved. With her obsession with the doctor, she makes him skip basketball to delay getting back under the knife because it means correcting his mistakes and getting back to his fiancé.
By the end, they realized that the ring was always with the right person. But not before a climactic wedding musical moment reminiscent of “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music.”
“We really took a detour because ‘The Sound of Music’ was featured so well in ‘Schmigadoon!’, so obviously I’ve been obsessed with that movie my whole life,” he quipped. “It’s the only musical moment in The Golden Belt, but it’s been there since the beginning.”
The script’s medical malpractice was inspired by a conversation with his wife, who was in the hospital while finishing film school. Even though she never left a ring on any of her patients, the story of the hospital incident is especially important in their lives.
Decades later, Paul said he thought the script was free and clear to find a new home, although it needed some tweaking.
“I haven’t seen it in a long time, it was written before the phone,” he said with a smile. “There are things I need to update. There are pagers everywhere.”
Paul and his writing partner Ken Daurio have had great success creating animated hits including the “Despicable Me” trilogy and “Schmicago!” while filming the second season of “Chicago” Four Emmy nominations.
But Paul admits he has never forgotten his first success.
“A lot of what I do comes from movies that made me want to do it in the first place, and that’s where it started,” he said. “I still really like that script, and so does my agent, who is still working on it. Maybe it’s time for the ‘golden belt.’”
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