Charlie Berns is a veteran Hollywood movie producer who has had a run of very bad luck. His wife has left him; his agent won’t return his phone calls; his gardener has uprooted unpaid for plants; his pool man has chain-sawed a lemon tree into his pool; his phone has been disconnected. Charlie decides to pull the plug in a particularly appropriate way for Los Angeles: asphyxiation by Mercedes exhaust.
His suicide is interrupted by the visit of a long lost nephew from New Jersey, who has come to Hollywood to make it big as a screenwriter, bearing a screenplay about the life of the 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli. Charlie decides to postpone his suicide in order to option the script and sell it to the studios. But first he has to get it rewritten. With the aid of an alcoholic screenwriter named Madison Kearny, Charlie converts Lionel’s literate PBS style script into an action adventure middle-eastern espionnage movie entitled: “Lev Disraeli: Freedom Fighter,” and he packages it with a black action movie star named Bobby Mason, who has been looking for material to shoot in Israel following his conversion to Judaism during a shoot in the Holy Land.
And he’s off and running, pulling off one of the biggest hustles in the history of the movie industry. The only person who seems wise to Charlie’s scam is a mid-level creative executive named Deidre Hearn, a young woman in her thirties with her own problems.
Deidre watches in amazement as Charlie gets the studio to fund the picture with blocked currency in Yugoslavia and start shooting. When Bobby Mason gets kidnapped by Macedonian separatists, Charlie figures out an ingenious way to keep his scam going.
When Deidre comes after him — like Martin Sheen going up the Mekong to terminate Marlon Brando — wonderful things happen…