The commercial is to be shot tomorrow, in both languages. First Gump will have to do it in French, getting the most difficult part out of the way. He plays with a predominantly French team and lives in a neighborhood that is 90% French-speaking, but Gump has not been prepared to say things like Neo-synephrine, minipills, runny nose, sneezing and sniffling in his second language. These are not, in fact, easy things to say in a first language.
So Gump sits in the hotel room and repeats the script to Carole Mondello, a production assistant with TDF Studios, which has contracted to film the commercial for the agency. Carole is seated on the floor. Peter Thompson, the director, paces nearby. Lou Dorkin, the account supervisor, sits on a bed, occasionally consulting as Gump butchers "N�o-syn�phrine" again. Next to Dorkin is Roberta Heller, who is in charge of production, but who is not helping Gump's concentration any, since she is obviously going to catch cold wearing such a low-cut dress.
"Say centaine," Carole says to Gump, rising to her knees, reaching with her pleading little hands toward his chair.
"Centaine," Gump replies, sounding something like a Berlitz beginner in Jersey City.
"No, no, no, no, no. Centaine, centaine. Think zis, think zis. You are going to see all zees millions of little capsools."
"I remember," Gump replies, apropos of nothing, "in French you never pronounce your S's at the end."
Peter Thompson walks over. "Do your best," he says gravely, waving a finger. "Remember, people will think of you as a person, not as a pitchman."
Gump considers that. "Yeah, but what about the repercussions? Me teaching children all over Canada to speak bad French." Everybody throws up his hands. If they had wanted Marshall McLuhan down in Toronto they probably could have got him cheaper. Gump studies the script in the silence. "N�o-syn�phrine," he says at last. Still Jersey City.
"N�o-syn�phrine," Carole explains. "N�o-syn�phrine."
"N�o-syn�phrine," Gump suggests. A little better.