So, I meet Mr. Depp. Someone I admired. He was kind and encouraging. My soul was filled, and I felt like I was on the right path in my career. A little while later, I transferred to another toy store location. I become the manager at the flagship location. It was a slow January day. The holiday had passed and I was dealing with returns and late holiday shoppers. I liked to spend January reorganizing and restocking the store. On one of those days in January, an older gentleman walked in with his wife. I spent a good deal of time chatting it up with them and helping them find a late holiday gift for their grandchild. He ended up purchasing a bunch of stuff and I gave him a coupon since he was purchasing a good amount of toys. He really appreciated that. I had told him I wanted to be a filmmaker but I was having trouble finding internships or jobs. He asked for a piece of paper. He wrote his name and email down. His name was JAY WOLPERT. I had no idea who he was. He said have you seen Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. I told him I have and it’s one of my favorite films. He said, Oh, well, I wrote the script. I was stunned. What are you telling me, God? He said, to email me for any advice you need and put my name as a reference when you apply for jobs. I thanked him and watched him walk away. I couldn’t believe it. I met the original screenplay writer of the Pirates films.

Jay and I emailed back and forth for a while. We went out to dinner so we can get to know each other better. We were supposed to me at Art’s Deli in Studio City. I showed up there early and waited. I was a bit scared to meet an older man that I didn’t know very well so I had my best friend hang out in the area for the night just in case. I waited for about twenty minutes when Jay called me. He said he had left me a voice mail and he had changed the restaurant to an Italian one down the street. I never got the voicemail. I rushed out of the deli and scurried over to the other restaurant. It was about a block away. I had to do valet parking. I walked into a dimly lit room. There was Jay sitting in a corner. I ordered the simplest menu item, Fettucine Alfredo. Jay ordered wine, an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. I was nervous and didn’t want to over-order. I had a feeling he was going to pay for dinner so I wanted to be courteous. Jay told me about his own background. I took notes on my notepad. He started out in game shows. Nancy Meyers was a huge influence in his life. He worked on the Price Is Right and Double Dare. His first film was The Count of Monte Cristo. He let me in on a little secret about pirates. Originally, Jack and Barbosa were brothers but they changed the script. He was lovely. He spoke so eloquently. He shared how the cast of The Count of Monte Cristo wanted him there while they shot the film. They wanted it to honor the original script which meant so much to him. At the end of the night, he ordered a banana and ice cream dessert. It was delicious. One of the best desserts I had ever had. Indeed, he did pay for dinner.

Later, Jay recommended I watch some classic films to help with my film knowledge. I watched everything I could find on his recommendation list.

Emails from Jay

Dear Frshta,

The pleasure was mine. You are an impressive young woman, and I mean to be of help. I will indeed call Hal, and anyone else I think may be helpful to you, assuming they have the time etc, but I am of a mind that good things will come of yesterday’s meeting, although how good, who knows? I will, of course, look at both your films, but I am under a deadline until the end of next week so I can’t promise exactly when I will see them, but I promise I will get to it as quickly as I can. In the meantime, I hope you begin to act on doing some of the things I suggested and we talked about…And, by the way, I would very much appreciate it if you could jot those things down and send them along so I remember what I asked of you. We covered a lot. I will get back to you re Hal’s response as soon as I can…along with any other ideas I have for people to see. 

I don’t know yet whether you have talent until I begin to see your work…but you have drive…and that’s more than half the battle,




His name is David Lean.In my opinion these are the best of his that I’ve seen, which doesn’t mean that some of the others aren’t better: In no particular order they are

Oliver Twist

In which we serve

Brief Encounter

Lawrence Of Arabia

The Bridge On The River Kwai

Also a spectacular suspense film is “The Third Man” directed by Orson Welles. If you wanted to do that first, you couldn’t go wrong. Also, see if you can get a hold of Welles’ Macbeth. It was made on a shoe string which only shows off even more…the genius of the man in terms of how with that low budget he was able to invoke the mood that he did. I assume you’ve already seen his “Citizen Kane”. It not, rent it now….it is probably along with Casablanca, and The Godfather” one of the most admired film…and without question one of the most artful…And now goodbye for awhile.Jay

Jay and I lost contact after a while but he was such a force of nature. He tried to get me to talk to his daughter who was also in the film industry but she wasn’t interested.

Jay passed away earlier this year from Alzheimer’s which probably explains why we didn’t keep in touch. I watched some of the best movies every made off of his recommendation. All About Eve is one of my favorites.

Jay, thank you for believing in me. Rest in peace sir.

Jay Wolpert Dies: ‘Pirates Of The Caribbean’ Writer & Early ‘Price Is Right’ Producer Was 79

Cheers to Jay,


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