Like all my back door approaches, the plan was simple and straight-forward, in a devious way. Get close to the person, make it personal. In this case, I could use my Spanish Arch picture-my “one-page rock portfolio”- to inveigle my way onto Tommy Lee’s ranch in San Saba, Texas and, hopefully, go to work for the actor. I’d heard he loved rock work. And then when the time was right, spring my manuscript, More Than A Warrior, on him. Have him play Howard Upchurch in the movie. Or just sell him the story. Anything to fulfill my promise to Howard and get his monkey off my back. Undiminished by the passing years, I was still the Back Door Approach King.
“You’re going to see Tommy Lee Jones? Tommy Lee’s a two-time Academy Award winner!” the slender young gal on the computer next to me gushed at the Kingsland public library on Lake LBJ. “You’re not going on your motorcycle, Dick. I’m taking you in my red sports car. That’s final!”
“You people are despicable! I’m gonna call the sheriff!” Tommy Lee’s new wife, a petite thing, exploded, threatening to put us in jail for trespassing. Behind her stood Tommy Lee, mute, his head bowed in some kind of catatonic trance. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. I felt sorry for the man. All his fame and fortune, a stable-full of polo ponies, and I was infinitely richer than him. I had had Sallie.
The wife is screaming at “Slender” and, incredibly, Slender is screaming back at her.
What have I done? I grabbed Slender and dragged her away. Months of planning shot to hell because I stupidly brought along a brashy, star-struck woman. Bubba Broussard, the ranch foreman whom I had befriended, saved my butt.
“It’s only Dick Frank, the writer,” he told them. From the chapter “Barbecue With Tommy Lee Jones.” I drew on that to “teach” the “schmoozing class” at the Austin Film Festival. October 2001. My quirky fifteen minutes of fame.