It’s tough to know what to say at a funeral, but here’s one simple guideline: Don’t pitch your great big Hollywood movie idea to the deceased’s son.
That’s exactly the scenario that Brian Koppelman, a writer, director, and showrunner for Billions, ran into at his mother’s funeral a few years ago. Koppelman had some time to spare while waiting for a doctor’s appointment Wednesday and decided to share the story in a Twitter thread. It serves as a valuable lesson to anyone who might want to turn a shiva into a business meeting.
It all started with the passing of Koppelman’s mother. His parents had been married for over 4o years, and his father was understandably shocked by his wife’s sudden absence. It was a poignant time for the entire family to come together and mourn. Then, during one particularly touching moment out on the porch with his father, the dad of one of Koppelman’s brothers-in-law approached him with a “humdinger” of a movie idea:
2) Now, my dad and mom had been married 40+ years. Since they were very young. We were a close family. My mom's death really sucked for all of us. My dad is a super strong person with a ton of internal fortitude. But I was still worried about how my dad would handle the day.— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
4) I followed. And sat in the chair next to him. This is how he and my mom sat all the time. When you'd drive to see them, and pull up, 90% of the time, that's where they'd be. So this was sad but nice. The two of us, in the evening air, just sitting, silently, together.— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
6) And it was a great escape from the madness inside. There were sat. Thinking. Breathing. Absorbing. My mom had died 4 hours earlier. Hold onto that as I get to the good part.— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
8) Out of the corner of my eye, I see it's the father of one of my brother's in law (now ex). This man and I are not close. I keep looking straight ahead. I don't say hello. I hope that as a human person, he will recognize the situation, the intimate and private situation.— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
10) And then I hear it. "Hey, Brian, not for nothing, but I got a humdinger of a movie idea."— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
"Not now Allen."
"But it's a really good idea."
"NOT NOW ALLEN"
"Okay. Your loss."
And he goes back inside.
(It gets better)
12) "It's just this is a once in a lifetime idea. And if I don't tell you, none of us profits. But if I do, you could really make out. And I could make out too."— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
Understand, that even as I wanted to hit him, I knew this was one of the best things ever, and I'd tell it for years.
Koppelman managed to find a graceful way out of the conversation: Tell this guy to wait until after the shiva (a three-day religious mourning period) to share his Big Idea. The guy reluctantly agreed. But at the end of the three days, he was tapping on Koppelman’s shoulder ready to get down to brass tacks:
14) so for 3 days he keeps eyeing me. Watching me. Following me. Almost speaks. Doesn’t. Then…— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
16) and then, as I break a hug w my little sister, I feel a gross hand on my shoulder. And I turn. And there he is.— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
18)”allan, you have 5 seconds.”— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
“Ok. Here goes. You ready? And you gotta cut me in on it.”
19) “…The idea is: Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Superheroes.”— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
“That’s the idea? The humdinger?”
“Yeah. Good, right?”
“Allan, you go talk to them, their rights, I’ll make the movie.”
Have a good morning folks. That story is #100% true.
And at the end of all of it, the idea was just “Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. Superheroes.” A Space Jam 2, some might say. Koppelman was understandably tickled by how—shall we say un-urgent—the idea ended up being.
Fans on Twitter appreciated the humor in the story but also marveled at Allan’s insensitivity. It was a funeral, after all. And Brian was the son of the deceased. But Brian ultimately defended his distant-relative-through-marriage, saying he “actually has a good heart,” he’s “just clueless. And insensitive. And boorish.”
He’s not a terrible person. Actually has good heart. Just clueless. And insensitive. And boorish. https://t.co/YAtM9f9nY0— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) June 6, 2018
Etiquette lesson: learned?