Last century, along with Trev Neal, I used to present a fake game show on Saturday morning television called Every Loony Wins. It didn't stop there. We also did sketches called Open Looniversity and Looniversity Challenge. On Every Loony Wins a bunch of kids would dress up with planets stuck on top of their heads. They were The Looniverse.
Then one day our boss called us into his office. "Look lads, I'm all up for a bit of fun and all that but I'm a bit mithered by all this loony stuff. And I've had some letters too, from loonies, complaining that you are making fun of mental illness." (Ok, he didn't say that, and he didn't say that quite like that, but - like a witness silhouetted and dubbed over by an actor - I feel the need to protect him). Overall, you get the gist. We kept using the 'loony' word and some folk were offended.
Of course, we meant no offence. But then that's what all offenders say isn't it? So we looked up the word and found that is means "mad or silly". We chose the silly option. Our boss was satisfied, he came out from the shadows, and Every Loony Wins continued.
Which is all a roundabout way of saying that the following story, about George Clooney, Wayne Rooney, and some loonies, is not offensive. At all.
Some time back I pitched a film idea to George Clooney's company. Clooney's Looneys (yes, I know the plural of loony is loonies, but it doesn't look as nice does it. I HAVE to think about the poster!) As I was saying, Clooney's Looneys was to be a madcap caper about a bunch of devil-may-care robbers who plan the 'Heist of the Hectosecond'.
I never heard back from Clooney, and then was a little shocked when Ocean's 11 hit the screen. Yes it was a different title, but in ever other aspect it was completely different from my pitch too. And for that reason, and that reason alone, I decided not to sue.
Clooney's Looneys didn't work out, but what of the next project I pitched to George's company, Rooney's Looneys? Wayne Rooney (played by Daniel Craig) is imprisoned in Guantanamo. He gets together a ramshackle bunch of prisoners and forms a football team to take on the American guards (led by a cheeky and likeable torturer played by George). Rooney's plan is to use the football match as a means of escape. All goes wrong when the Americans turn up ready to play 'American' Football. They are covered from head to toe in helmets, shoulder pads, thigh pads, knee pads, chest protectors, mouthguards.
A 17 minute Tarantino-esque debate over the differences between 'soccer' and 'football' follows, with a barely hidden homosexual subtext (suitably demonstrated when the Long Snapper - played by Bruce Willis - tackles the Punt Returner - played by an emaciated Sylvester Stallone - over the Two Point Conversion rule).
It looks like it's all going horribly wrong. But no! Ha! It is the dear viewer who has got it wrong! This was Rooney's plan all along! The rat-a-tat-tat Tarantino-talk is a cover for the escape. And the Americans, encumbered by their clumsy outfits and helmets, can't keep up with the nimble-footed footie fools. The film ends with Rooneys looneys sitting in a bar in Havana smoking cheroots, drinking Papa Dobles and laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing.
It's a feel-good sports comedy set against a background of torture and wrongful imprisonment. I await George's reply.