No Stopping Now

By: Dawn Atkins


ON THE MONITOR, Brody Donegan, aka Doctor Nite, slid a five under the stripper’s G-string and gave the knowing smirk that made his cable show must-see TV for every lounge lizard prowling the meat-market bars.

“I’ve got to get this guy,” Jillian James said to her cousin Nate, in whose video-editing studio they sat. “For the documentary,” she added quickly, hoping Nate hadn’t noticed the edge in her voice. She tapped the Mute button so hard she snapped a nail.

Doctor Nite, Brody Donegan’s show, featured sexy hot spots as the backdrop for advice on how to get laid and stay single. Donegan, who used women like tissues and taught his high-fiving, beer-guzzling fans to do the same, symbolized all that was wrong with a culture that exalted sex over love, external looks over inner beauty and self-involvement over emotional commitment.

Jillian had to get him.

She’d tried for weeks for an interview, but his network had stonewalled her and his agent had e-mailed that he was too busy. “For a no-name filmmaker” was implied, but Jillian got the message loud and clear.

That was where fate, through her cousin, had stepped in. Nate just happened to be good friends with Donegan’s camera guy, who just happened to be out of commission for the upcoming shoot. Nate had recommended Jillian to fill in.

“So, you have the scoop for me?” she asked Nate now.

“Brody wants to meet you tonight.” Nate handed her one of the show’s business cards, which featured the star’s face. Donegan was handsome enough if you liked the bad-boy look—square jaw…dangerous eyes…wicked grin.

Jillian could take or leave it.

“Time and place on the back,” Nate said.

She flipped the card. 11 p.m., Score was written in bold Sharpie. Score was a trendy bar in Santa Monica, she knew. “Eleven is late.”

“Doctor Nite hours,” Nate said. “Get used to it.”

“I will. You bet. Whatever it takes.” She flicked the card against her chin, her heart racing, her skin overheated, sole to scalp. This scrap of paper held the key to her future. Everything depended on this meeting. The job. Her documentary. Her career.

Well, maybe not everything, but this was big. In her pitch to the We Women Cable Network, she’d mentioned exclusive interviews with Doctor Nite, knowing that would pique the acquisitions manager’s interest. Now she had to get the damn interviews.

“So this project you want him for is about dating?” Nate asked, looking doubtful. “Doesn’t sound like you.”

“I needed a change of pace after the foster care piece,” she said. She’d devoted two years to the project, living on Top Ramen and dreams, begging favors from film school friends, selling her second camera, her extra computer and every spare piece of equipment to pay postproduction costs.

It had been her first major project since she left TV news. Her San Diego network had sponsored several small projects, all well received, but Childhood Lost took top honors at two prestigious film festivals. She’d floated on air.

Then slammed to the ground when she couldn’t find a buyer. Everyone loved it, but it was “too local” for public television and “too dark” for commercial networks who seemed to be buying only lurid exposés or feel-good pieces. Without big-buck backers, Childhood Lost sank like a stone to the bottom of the sea of lost documentaries.

How could a movie change the world if the only people who saw it were her film school profs and die-hard fans?

She’d vowed her next project would be commercial from the get-go. Drinks out with her two best friends, Becca and Dana, had given her the idea for a movie about the dark side of the player lifestyle.

Becca had just broken up with her boyfriend of two years because, at thirty-seven, he claimed to be too young to get serious. Dana had lived through a similar scenario six months before. Jillian’s own breakups had been amicable, but between the three friends, they knew a dozen other women who’d been victims of the Peter Pan syndrome—guys who refused to grow up and commit.

As they commiserated over margaritas, Doctor Nite had appeared on the bar’s plasma and guys all over the place lifted their beer and woofed approval, and the idea was born.

Soon Jillian was frantically scribbling notes on napkins for Peter Pan Prison: How Men Who Play Pay.

Bare-bones grants from a social-psychology foundation and two women’s groups had funded interviews with therapists, matchmakers and sociologists, along with women who’d dated Peter Pan boys and some longtime bachelors she’d snared outside a strip club. She’d obtained promotional footage from the Doctor Nite show, too. Now all she needed was in-depth interviews with the man himself to nail the sale to We Women.

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