Simmons: All right, you knew this next question was coming …
We’re in the middle of a poker boom, you guys wrote the definitive poker movie that came out four years too early … so why the hell can’t we have a sequel? Come on, like “Rounders 2” wouldn’t make $200 million? I know Matt Damon is crazy-rich at this point, but how could he resist the chance to bring Mike McD back to life? Plus, you have all these celebrities who love playing poker and would love to be involved, like Ben Affleck, who would probably kill himself if you didn’t ask him to be in the movie.
Here’s my pitch: Mike McD (two-time runner-up in the World Series of Poker in 1999 and 2003) is living at the Palms Casino in Vegas and making a living playing in televised tournaments, running his own online Web site and ripping off celebrities and athletes whenever they come into town. He’s a multi-millionaire, a success by any measure; he even hangs out with the Maloofs and Ron Artest, owns a 5 percent stake in the Kings, and dates a former actress (played by Heather Graham) who gets naked with him in a torrid sex scene in the first 10 minutes. And just when he’s preparing for the 2007 World Series of Poker, Worm shows up in his life again, along with Worm’s brother, Gerbil (played by Ben Affleck, who was available). They’re in some deep trouble, the Russian mob is after them for stealing a suitcase of heroin or something.
Being the loyal friend that he is, Mike McD gets dragged into the situation and ends up having sex with Famke Janssen and her sister, played by Anna Kournikova (in a torrid three-way in a hot tub at the “Real World” suite in the Palms) to convince Famke to call off the Russian mob. But Famke slips him the date-rape drug, and before Mike McD wakes up, she’s transferred $3 million of his money from his computer to Teddy KGB. Plus, Heather Graham walked in during the three-way (unbeknownst to Mike McD) and decided to move out. Now he’s broke and single. When he wakes up, Teddy KGB calls to tell him, “I have your three million, you have to play me for it, I want revenge for the last time we played.”
But Mike McD says, “You know what, I’m not playing this game. I don’t care about my $3 million any more, and I don’t care about Worm or Gerbil – kill them both, they were crummy friends, anyway. I’m winning my three million back in the World Series of Poker, and then some. But first, I have to go to Cheetahs for the next 20 hours and spend my last $5,000 on lap dances.”
So that’s the next 15 minutes of the movie – Mike getting lap dances and drinking Rolling Rocks in the Cheetah’s champagne room, followed by the shocking revelation that Gretchen Mol is working there after getting fired from her law firm. He gets her number, but not before she gives him the obligatory, “You’re wasting your life” speech. From there, Mike McD goes right to the World Series of Poker, where he ends up at the final table facing Phil Ivey (played by Tiger Woods), Ron Artest (played by O.J. Simpson), Teddy KGB (Malkovich), Worm (Norton), Gerbil (Affleck), Johnny Chan (playing himself) and the Cinderella story of the tournament, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons (played by George Clooney in an unbilled cameo).
And Mike McD gradually knocks everyone out until it’s just him and Gerbil, setting up the Damon-Affleck scenario that everyone has been waiting for … and even though the script calls for Mike McD to win, Damon ends up ad-libbing from the script and letting Affleck win because he feels bad about everything that’s happened to Affleck since “Armageddon.” But he still made enough second place money ($3 million) to replace what he lost, so he’s happy, and the movie ends with a torrid sex scene with Mike McD and Gretchen Mol, followed by him breaking up with her and telling her that he never liked her in the first place. The end.
Koppelman & Levien: Is there a question in there, other than the obvious one about your sanity?
Simmons: Yes … why the hell can’t we have a “Rounders 2”? Why are you depriving us?
Koppelman & Levien: The thing of it is, for some reason, “Rounders” really means something to people. And it certainly does to us. We would only do a sequel under one of two very specific scenarios. The first is if we come up with the absolute perfect story line, the next logical step for Mike, Worm, Knish and the rest. You can’t force that kind of thing, it just sort of needs to occur to you. The second: to quote the Dean in “Back to School” … a really big check.