It was just after the theaters opened Friday afternoon when Howard Hughes wandered over to Mahatma Gandhi’s cloud.
“So … you think it bothers him?”
Gandhi shook his head.
“He is above such things.”
Hughes nodded. “Yeah, but you know how people on Earth believe what they see in the movies.”
“Yes,” Gandhi said. “They ask my grandchildren why they don’t look like Ben Kingsley.”
Hughes laughed. “Tell me about it. After that darn Aviator’ picture, everybody thought I was Leo DiCaprio.”
“How foolish,” Gandhi said.
“And that was mild,” Hughes said. “I mean, at least they had me kissing pretty actresses. This Da Vinci Code’ thing? Albino assassins? Opus Dei? A marriage to Mary Magdalene? They had a baby? Whew. Jesus must be bummed.”
“He forgives them,” Gandhi said.
“Always does,” Hughes said.
A breeze blew. It blew in Babe Ruth, who landed with a thud. “What’re you two mugs complaining about?” he bellowed. “They made a bunch of movies about me. Always a fat guy stuffing his face and chasing dames.”
“Isn’t that how it was?” Hughes asked.
“Well … kinda,” Ruth said. “But still …”
Elvis has left the building
A crowd began to gather. The conversation buzzed. How mad would Jesus be about “The Da Vinci Code”? Some feared divine intervention – like a flash flood at the Cineplex.
Suddenly, the sound of guitars.
“Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.”
“We know!” they moaned.
“Sorry. I can’t stop saying that. Anyhow, I got no beef with movies. They made me look pretty good in Walk the Line.’ Of course, they made my first wife look like a shrill. But, hey, someone has to suffer.”
“Lucky you,” Buddy Holly grumbled. “How’d you like to be portrayed by Gary Busey? The guy looks insane!”
“Don’t tell me about insane,” Jim Morrison said. “Did you see The Doors’? They had me dancing around with a half-naked Indian.”
“Hold on there, Jimbo,” Elvis said. “Anybody got a right to complain about movies, it’s me. They were all bad. And, heck, I was in half of ’em!”
Hollywood’s first commandment
Pretty soon, the cloud was packed. The complaining grew louder. Mozart said he never cackled like the actor in “Amadeus.” Jack Reed said the movie “Reds” made him want to throw up, although he did enjoy being portrayed by Warren Beatty.
Director Ed Wood insisted he was “perfectly normal – and I look nothing like Johnny Depp!” Politicians from Winston Churchill (“Young Winston”) to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (“Pearl Harbor”) lamented how the movies distorted their legacies.
“Boys, you haven’t been savaged until Oliver Stone gets ahold of you,” said JFK.
“Tell me about it,” groused Richard Nixon.
Eventually, even Moses wandered over. Someone asked about “The Ten Commandments.”
“Ha!” Moses said, “I only wish I had pec muscles like Charlton Heston!”
In the end, it was determined that nearly every famous person in heaven had at least one bad movie to point to, but that Jesus, in “The Da Vinci Code,” was getting the worst of it, since they were making up total lies about him, and Jim Caviezel didn’t even get a cameo.
“So whadya think?” whispered Jim (“Cinderella Man”) Braddock. “Will he be angry? Will he do something? Will there be, like, 40 days of rain?”
Heads shook. No, the group agreed. After all, it was just a movie made by people trying to make money.
“They know not what they do,” Gandhi said.
“Careful,” Hughes warned, “you know how Hollywood frowns on stealing its lines.”
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays and “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR-AM (760).