The Making of Fatal Death

After all the bad weather, bad luck, and bad food, there was only one thing left for the publishers and producers of the next big adventure blockbuster to do: Kill the writer.

Mar 1, 2000
Outside Magazine
06/19/00 11:17 a.m.
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]


I guess one of the wonders of technology is the capacity to lay a passive-aggressive guilt trip on me from 10,000 miles away. What gives, Bud? A whole week with no word and then last night's (appallingly misspelled, I might add) posting on the Web site for all our readers to see? I don't like being called a "murderous saboteur fuckwad" any more than you must like writing it. And the 200,000-plus hits on the site notwithstanding, the photo of you biting into that poor boy's roasted leg was a little inappropriate. I'm sorry the last airlift wasn't exactly what you ordered. It's a mountain, Bud, not a hotel. Are you sure you can't do anything with anchovy paste? Sean is trying his best to get you some other provisions and tents but he's also very busy negotiating with PMK for a Harrison Ford cover, so we've all got to exercise a little patience.

And please, at least tell the truth, Bud. "Paying with my life for Michael's Humvee"? You know they didn't give me a Humvee, but I guess writing that I only test-drove one doesn't make as good copy. Think, Bud: How would it benefit me personally, or anyone here at Thunderhead for that matter, to interfere with the safe and proper completion of your trip? You think I want a 3,500-word hole in my November issue? You might have asked yourself that before making such public accusations. Last I checked, libel was still actionable in this country.

I'M KIDDING! A joke! Remember jokes, Bud? We used to tell them to each other. I have no intention of bringing suit. You know, Dr. Laura Schlessinger taught us a wonderful saying on the retreat: "If you say 'so pathetic' fast enough, it'll sound just like 'copacetic.'" So that's what I'm doing right now. I'm saying "so pathetic" as fast as I can. I hope you're doing the same.

P.S. And no, I won't have Sean accept your big toe COD, you kook!


06/23/00 11:27 a.m.
v To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]

So warm.....Mommy?


July 2, 2000
My dearest Susan:

It seems unthinkable that Bud is no longer with us. What a wonderful man he was, Susan. Brave, committed, talented. And self-effacing to the end. In his final, heartbreaking dispatch, he wrote, "None of this would have happened if it weren't for my editor, Michael." How he could still think to share the credit in his darkest hour speaks volumes about his character.

Susan, I'd like to run Bud's piece as a final testament to a great man and a great writer. And I'd like your permission to tell his story properly—as the cover for our October issue. Bud's story, with its tragic epilogue, will be both a memorial and a cautionary tale. No doubt you're in great distress right now, but if you'd like to talk about it, I'd very much like to send Sean, our newest editor, out to see you on Wednesday, if that's OK. Just for a little while. Plus a photographer, if that's OK. (If it's not, Susan, just say the word.)

But Bud's story must not just be told in the pages of Thunderhead. No, it must reach millions. Bud's name should become synonymous with courage, grace, and wisdom in this country. That's why I'm also sending, along with Sean, Todd Kirschenbaum, Senior Vice-President, Director of Motion Picture Development, OneWorldTech Productions, Director of Ancillary Product and Brand Management, OneWorldTech Heavy Industries. The working title for the film project is Fatal Death. It might seem shocking at first, but that's what death is, Susan: fatal.

I'd like you to think long and hard before signing the releases Todd will give you. It's not an easy decision by any means (and if any of this is not OK, Susan, please just say the word). But I hope you will sign—a lot of exciting things could be happening. I hadn't wanted to spill the beans until the time was right, but I've just heard an early demo of Luther Vandross and Lea Salonga singing a love duet between your character and Bud's, and frankly, it gave me chills. We're holding the release of Fatal Death: The Book until the epilogue is written, and 48 Hours is postponing its airdate to coincide with that, too. All of this, of course, is contingent upon your say-so. (And if you don't want to say so, Susan, just say so. I mean that sincerely.)

I'll be in touch later this week to see if there's anything else I can do. All my love to you and the girls. We've set up a tribute on the magazine's Web site. Just log on to

In the meantime, again, I send you all my love.

P.S. The story is, as I mentioned, going to be a cover. There is no easy way to ask this: A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to receive from Bud the kind offer of his right big toe, which I declined in a moment of short-sighted pique. If you can find it among the personal effects recently sent to you—it's probably a little desiccated from the elements, so it might look almost cashewlike now—I think this could be the image that says both "There but for the grace of God" and "Walk a mile in my shoes." Feel free to use our FedEx account.


September 27, 2000

Greetings from the great beyond! Or in this case, the United States Military Hospital in Bahrain, where I've spent a fun-filled summer learning how to walk again and speak with half a tongue. Some friendly online subscribers read my final dispatches and alerted the authorities—I'm sure you were on the verge of doing that yourself—who airlifted me here.

It's been a hard road back, but luckily enough, my team of doctors assures me that my diet of human flesh has only enhanced my capacity to sue your ass, Michael. You might want to call up Mr. Simon and tell him to get that frozen kidney ready. He's gonna need it.

Gotta go. Lisa Ling's here to give me a sponge bath for The View. Also, I told Charlie Rose that thing about him cleaning your house and he didn't laugh. Why do you think that is, Michael?



November 12, 2002
Dear Bud:

Just got the first Annie-Purna review from Daily Variety. It's a rave! You were absolutely right: They loved Whoopi's yak and said that Cameron Diaz's Susan the Tibetan Princess was "the most sensual cartoon heroine since Ariel lost her shell bra in Little Mermaid All Grown Up." And Fatal Death: The Book is still holding steady at No. 5 on the New York Times Bestseller List. Welcome to the world of moguldom. Do me a favor, check me into Bellevue the next time I give the writer points on the back end!

Guess who parked my car at Olive the other day? Your old editor, my former boss, Michael. He tried to get all chummy. So pathetic.

Kiss that gorgeous wife for me.

Outside correspondent David Rakoff's Masterpiece Theater teleplay adaptation of Fatal Death is in turnaround.

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