In the late 1980s and early '90s, I guested a couple of times a week on KALL-AM radio in Salt Lake City with DJ Peter Boam, who went by the on-air handle of "Peter B." He's a great guy, and we had a lot of fun talking movies and showbiz. It was during the waning days of so-called "full-service" radio, when listeners got music, news and talk all rolled into one.
Peter's brother was the late Jeffrey Boam, who unfortunately passed away in January 2000. Jeffrey was a tremendously successful screenwriter who penned scripts for movies including "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," "Lethal Weapon 2," "Lethal Weapon 3," "Innerspace," "The Dead Zone," "Funny Farm," "The Lost Boys" and "Straight Time." (He also was a writer-producer on one of my favorite, but sadly short-lived, TV series, "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.")
I first met Jeffrey in 1989 or 1990. While the family was vacationing at Disneyland, I took a few hours in the middle of the day and drove up to the Warner Bros. lot -- where Jeffrey was under contract -- and interviewed him in his offices there.
It was the first of three interviews with Jeffrey, spread over several years. And the summer of 1989 was a big one for him, since that summer he had both "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Lethal Weapon 2" in theaters. I'll post that first interview from '89 or '90 when I find it, but since I ran across the other two, I'll post them; they both were by phone, and came at interesting times in his career. Today's will be the one from 1992.
I began by asking him about his highly publicized arbitration fight with the writer's guild over “Lethal Weapon 3.” The Wikipedia entry sums it up pretty well:
Screenwriter Jeffrey Boam is credited twice in the 'screenplay by' credits. This is because he did one draft by himself (granting him the first credit) and a second draft collaborating with Robert Mark Kamen (granting him the second credit). If two writers are credited on a film and their names are separated with an ampersand (&), this means they collaborated on the screenplay. If their names are separated with the word 'and,' this means they both contributed enough significant material to receive credit but did not work together (more than likely one was hired to rewrite the previous writer). In this rare scenario, Boam was hired to rewrite his own script with a second writer.JEFFREY BOAM: “I think it’s unprecedented. And I think the credit is somewhat ludicrous, and I think when you look at that credit you say, ‘My god, if he gets his name up their three times, why didn’t they just have sole screenplay credit by him?’ Which is what everyone in the world expected, but the guild found some technicality to prevent me from doing that -- which is that the work I did could not be viewed in total, and that the work I did on my own had to be viewed separately from the work I did collaborating with this other writer.
“So the arbitration committee felt that the work that we did as a team was sufficient for the team to get credit. So what happens is I get credit as an individual -- a single writer -- I get credit part of a team that rewrote me, and then I get sole credit for having conceived the story by myself.
“So, it’s a mind-boggling credit I think that makes a mockery out of the concept of authorship, which is what I thought the guild was attempting to secure and to protect with the arbitration system.”
DON PORTER: WELL, ISN’T THAT THE WHOLE IDEA BEHIND THE ARBITRATION SYSTEM? THAT’S THE MAIN THRUST, RIGHT?
JB: “I know. And I feel basically that they have failed me and they have failed themselves in this decision.”
DP: SO TAKE ME BACK A LITTLE BIT. THE LAST TIME I TALKED TO YOU WAS ABOUT A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, AND YOU WERE IN THE PROCESS OF WRITING THE SCREENPLAY, I THINK.
JB: “Was I? I remember it seemed like a long time ago, and I have been working on this a long time. So I could have been working on it.”
DP: I THINK WE TALKED IN OCTOBER OF 1990. BUT, ANYWAY, WHEN THEY CAME TO YOU, DID THEY SAY, “THIS IS THE IDEA WE WANT?” OR DID THEY JUST LEAVE IT UP TO YOU TO COME UP WITH THE PLOT?
JB: “They basically left everything up to me. And I would then go into them with my ideas. They would accept and reject, and I would then retreat back to wherever I do my brainstorming and come up with more ideas.”
DP: SO, AT WHAT POINT DID DONNER DECIDE THAT HE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE, AND HAVE YOU START WORKING WITH THIS OTHER WRITER?
JB: “Well, after the second draft, Dick decided he wanted to go off in a completely new direction with another writer.”
DP: WHAT WAS THE THRUST OF YOUR STORY AT THAT POINT, BEFORE HE ...
JB: “Exactly what it is now. My second draft was almost identical to what’s on the screen now in its major components. But Dick, for some reason -- you know, creative people are kind of crazy -- and Dick was working on ‘Lethal Flyer,’ no, I mean ‘Radio Flyer’ ...”
DP: FREUDIAN SLIP?
JB: “... yeah, it is a Freudian slip.” [Much laughter.] “And he was very much involved with ‘Radio Flyer’ and he either didn’t have the patience or the energy or the time to really devote to the development of ‘Lethal Weapon 3.’ And by the time I handed him my second draft, his lack of attention to the script was interpreted on his own part as a lack of interest in the script. And I think he felt like he needed to be jump-started, and a way to do that would be to throw away everything and start over with a new writer.
“So I was told after my second draft that I had been fired, basically.”
DP: WOW, YOU WERE JUST OFF THE PROJECT?
“I was just off the project, and that Dick was going to go in a new direction with a new writer. And after about two or three weeks I got a call saying, ‘That is not working out and they want to come back’ to me. But I think in Dick’s mind I had been beaten down and used up and exhausted – and some of that was true and some of that he was responsible for.
“And I think as kind of a political move on the part of the studio, in an effort to get Dick to come back to what I had done, as kind of a salve for him -- a face-saving measure -- they said, ‘Well, what if we bring in another writer to work with Jeffrey, to maybe bring in that new blood that you’re looking for?’ So I think that it was kind of a political move more than a creative move.
“And I was pretty much, then, forced to collaborate with another writer, and after a certain point finally put my foot down and said, ‘This is not right, it’s not helpful, I’m rewriting everything he’s doing anyway, you don’t like what he does -- either I go on alone at this point or I don’t go on at all.’ And so then I was reinstated as the sole writer on the script, the other writer went off and all through production from early October through early January I was rewriting on the movie.”
DP: NOW, I’M GUESSING THAT, GIVEN HIS CREDITS, SOME OF THE MARTIAL ARTS STUFF CAME OUT OF HIS WORK ON THE SCRIPT. IS THAT CORRECT?
JB: “Well, it’s hard to say. Martial arts is a kind of general topic and anybody can write on a screenplay, ‘Such and such does a spinning back kick.’ It doesn’t take any expertise in martial arts to write that someone has martial arts ability. And I don’t even know that it was his idea to have – in fact, I remember the genesis of this: I had originally written this character as a man. And one of Dick’s commands to us when we started collaborating was, ‘Make this character a woman, and basically keep the same personality, just make her a woman.’ And the personality of the male character was someone who was Mel’s match, someone who was as lethal and crazy as Mel was in his own way.
“So, in making this character a woman, I think the martial arts expertise just came out of that notion: to make a kind of female Martin Riggs.”
DP: WELL, IT REALLY KIND OF CHANGES THE WHOLE -- IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT, OF COURSE YOU KNOW THIS -- BUT CHANGES THE WHOLE THING DRASTICALLY. IF THAT WAS A MAN TO BEGIN WITH IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FILM, THAT RELATIONSHIP ANYWAY.
JB: “Oh, clearly, absolutely. That relationship was created out of this gender switch we did with the character. And at that time, Mel actually did have an affair with Murtaugh’s daughter.”
DP: SO, THAT’S WHERE THE KISS CAME FROM? SORT OF A REMNANT OF THAT?
JB: “Exactly. And Danny’s suspicion of that when Mel comes on the boat and says, 'Rianne came to my trailer to talk to me about you.’ And he gets all upset about her coming to his trailer, and then he punches him at the end of the scene because he thinks Mel slept with her.”
DP: “I SLEPT WITH THE WRONG PERSON, SOMEONE I SHOULDN’T HAVE.”
JB: “Right. So he assumes it’s his daughter.”
DP: SO YOU’RE BACK ON, AND I’M ASSUMING THEY SENT THE OTHER WRITER PACKING?
DP: SO HE WASN’T WORKING ON IT ANYMORE?
DP: HOW MUCH WERE YOU INVOLVED AFTER THEY ACTUALLY STARTED SHOOTING THE FILM? PETER SAID YOU TRAVELLED BACK TO FLORIDA WHEN THEY IMPLODED THE BUILDING.
JB: “I was far more involved than I wanted to be at that point. I was involved as a writer, and I don’t really like to be employed as a writer on a movie that’s in production; it’s not a great way to write.”
JB: “Well, because the element of preparation is” … [takes another call]. “Basically it means that you’re a little in trouble. You should be able to prepare a script, write a script -- prep it, do the preproduction on it – and go out and shoot it. You should only be worrying about the mechanics of making the movie at that point. And you should not be really worried about the creative aspect of the script. And if you are, it’s just really hard on everybody, because I’m having to write scenes, or change scenes and they have to go off and figure out how to prep those scenes, or I have to write a scene within the limitations of what they’ve already prepped.
“It’s just a hassle. It’s no fun to receive a phone call at seven in the morning from the director, who’s sitting in his trailer saying, ‘I don’t like this scene, kid. Can you get down here? We gotta work on this.’ ”
DP: WELL, YEAH, THAT’S GOT TO BE INCREDIBLY DEMANDING.
JB: “Oh, it is. It’s VERY demanding.”
DP: EVERYBODY STANDING AROUND WAITING FOR YOU TO WRITE WHAT THEY’RE GOING TO DO.
JB: “And this has happened. I mean, this has happened. I remember many times where I’d be sitting in Dick’s trailer with Mel or with Joe Pesci or with Joel Silver -- or with all of them -- and there’s a crew of a hundred people sitting outside drinking coffee and reading the trades waiting for us.”
DP: SO TELL ME: AT THIS POINT, YOU’VE SEEN THE FILM, I’M ASSUMING A COUPLE OF TIMES -- THE FINISHED PRODUCT -- AND I KIND OF ENJOYED IT, I GOTTA TELL YA. I THOUGHT IT WAS A LOT FUNNIER THAN I REMEMBER THE LAST ONE BEING.
JB: “I think the accent is more on humor in this one.”
DP: ARE YOU HAPPY WITH IT? HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH IT?
JB: “Well, I guess given the kind of nightmarish experience of working on it, I am happy with it. I’m happy with it because I think an audience likes it.
“I feel a little bit like Sullivan in ‘Sullivan’s Travels’ -- you know, at the end he’s on a chain gang and the other members of the chain gang are sitting there roaring at a Fritz the Cat cartoon or something. That’s how I feel: I feel like I’ve seen the dark side and out of it has come basically this frivolous piece of entertainment that causes people to laugh and be happy. And I think, ‘I guess it was worthwhile. I guess it works, I guess it’s OK.’ It’s not a great piece of filmmaking, it’s not a great piece of literature, it’s not going to become one of the best movies of the decade, but people enjoy themselves when they’re watching it. It is an entertainment business, and I do want to entertain people. So I feel like I’ve succeeded, or we’ve succeeded.”
DP: LAWRENCE KASDAN SAID RECENTLY THAT HE HAD WANTED TO MAKE IMPORTANT FILMS THAT SAY SOMETHING, BUT ALSO THAT PEOPLE ENJOY. AND HE SORT OF MADE THE SAME COMMENT YOU DID, THAT MAYBE ENTERTAINING PEOPLE WAS ENOUGH. IS THAT WHERE YOU’VE ARRIVED AT? IS ENTERTAINING PEOPLE ENOUGH?
JB: “It’s something I arrived at four or five movies ago. I think I’ve just lost sight of it. I think working on this movie has made me feel that the pain and misery of the experience would be translated to the screen -- and it wasn’t. And the people who watch it have no knowledge of how hard it was to get what was on there, or how frustrated we were in not getting something up there. They just see it and take it at face value. That’s all I’m really saying, is that they want to be entertained, they wanna like it, and we have given them something I think is enjoyable for two hours and I think they will feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth and the time was well-spent.”
DP: PETER MENTIONED THERE WAS ALREADY TALK OF “LETHAL 4,” AND HAVING SAID WHAT YOU JUST SAID ABOUT THE AGONY OF THE PROCESS, WILL YOU BE INVOLVED IF THEY DECIDE TO DO IT?
JB: “I think they will decide to do it, and the studio has spoken to me about it. Dick and Joel have not spoken to me about it. And my feeling right now is that I don’t even want to think about it. I want to get on to my own career; I know this is my career, but I feel that these movies are really more a part of Dick’s and Joel’s careers, and I want to do my own movie -- write and direct my own movie. And I don’t want to be distracted or sidetracked by having to work on another ‘Lethal Weapon’ movie.”
DP: PETER HAD MENTIONED -- AND I THINK WE HAD TALKED ABOUT IT BEFORE -- THAT YOU WANTED TO DIRECT, AND YOU’RE PLANNING ON DOING IT IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE.
JB: “The next script I write will be with that goal in mind.”
DP: SO IT’S SOMETHING YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN YET?
JB: “No. There’s a couple of ideas I have. One is probably a higher priority than others, but it’s premature to talk about it because there’s a rights issue involved and Warners hasn’t secured the rights to it yet, so I don’t want to mention it.”
DP: WILL IT BE SOMETHING THAT’S A COMPLETE DEPARTURE FOR YOU? I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY YOU’RE ASSOCIATED WITH FILMS THAT ARE QUINTESSENTIAL ROLLICKING GOOD TIMES.
JB: “No, I think that’s what I want to do. I want to do that kind of a movie on a budget that they will allow me to work with. Of the three ideas I have in mind, they all have the same components of the movies I’ve written: humor and action and adventure and some camaraderie.”
DP: I REMEMBER THAT WHEN WE TALKED BEFORE, YOU HAD A LOT OF REALLY FOND MEMORIES OF “FUNNY FARM,” AND WOULD THAT BE THE KIND OF THING YOU WOULD BE INTERESTED IN DOING? THAT’S ONE THAT, IF I HAD TO CHOOSE FAVORITES OF THE FILMS YOU’VE WRITTEN, THAT WOULD BE RIGHT UP THERE.
DP: I MEAN, I REALLY ENJOYED THAT ONE.
JB: “Well, in that that’s a comedy, the movie I write will be a comedy -- yes, you could say that. But I think it’ll have more action.”
DP: WELL, HEY, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I OUGHTA KNOW? WHHAT ELSE HAVE YOU GOT GOING? PETER SAID SOMETHING ABOUT A TELEVISION REVIVAL OF “’77 SUNSET STRIP”?
JB: “Oh, yeah. My producing partner and I have, I guess you could say, re-created ‘ ’77 Sunset Strip’ for the ’90s, for ABC. We have a script we’ve written and they’re very high on the project. But in television, many are called, but few are chosen [takes another call].”
DP: BUT THINGS ARE LOOKING UP FOR THAT PROJECT?
JB: “Yeah, I think so. They are interested in it. Television is almost more competitive than movies.”
DP: HAVE YOU CAST IT YET?
JB: “No. If we get to the point of casting it, it means they’re gonna go -- at least with the pilot.”
DP: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO “SGT. ROCK”?
JB: “Well, Peter’s got the screenplay right now, and he’s reading it. ‘Sgt. Rock’ didn’t turn out well from the studio’s point of view. It turned out great from my point of view. I wrote exactly the kind of movie I wanted, but it wasn’t the movie they wanted.”
[Peter let me read the screenplay, and it was a lot of fun. Months earlier Peter had said Jeffrey was prepping to write the "Sgt. Rock" screenplay, and said Jeffrey wanted to know if I knew of any good war movies he should watch -- Peter may have been kidding about that part; I don't know -- but I said he should look at Robert Aldrich's films, especially "Attack."]
DP: WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE IN PHILOSOPHY THERE?
JB: “For them it was too real, too grim, too painful. It’s almost an anti-war movie, kind of a war-is-hell movie.”
DP: AND THEY WANTED A MORE CARTOONISH ...
JB: “Yeah, they wanted ‘Lethal Weapon’ or ‘Indiana Jones’ goes to war. And even though I started out with the idea of doing that, somewhere along the line I lost that. And I didn’t lose it intentionally; but I think doing research on World War II -- and I did a lot of research on just infantry soldiers, in particular, reading journals and letters -- it just ALTERED me. And the movie I wrote, I think, was probably fairly true to the lives of these people and was not the kind of rollicking entertainment the studio wanted.”
DP: THEY WANTED SOMETHING A LITTLE MORE ESCAPIST.
DP: TALKING ABOUT WORLD WAR II FILMS, I SAW A REALLY GOOD ONE YESTERDAY AFTERNOON WITH PETER CALLED “A MIDNIGHT CLEAR.”
JB: “Yeah, I hear it’s really good.”
DP: YEAH, REALLY WELL DONE. SHOT UP HERE, AS A MATTER OF FACT.
JB: “That’s right. I’d like to see it.”
DP: WELL, IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT I HAVEN’T ASKED YOU THAT YOU MIGHT WANT ME TO KNOW ABOUT “LETHAL 3” OR ANYTHING ELSE?
JB: “Well, you know, in truth you don’t really need to know anything about ‘Lethal 3,’ except what’s on the screen. But if you’re interested, I could tell you more. But I don’t know what you’re interested in.”
DP: I AM. I JUST THINK THAT ... WHEN I INTERVIEWED YOU BEFORE, I MUST CONFESS, I HADN’T – I THINK YOU’RE BASICALLY THE ONLY SCREENWRITER I’VE EVER ACTUALLY TALKED TO IN DEPTH AND WRITTEN ANYTHING THAT WE’VE PLAYED LARGE. AND I’LL TELL YA, I HAD A LOT OF RESPONSE FROM JUST THE CASUAL READERS. PEOPLE WERE REALLY INTERESTED TO KNOW ABOUT PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY WRITE FILMS. AND I JUST THOUGHT FROM THE THINGS PETER HAD BEEN TELLING ME, THIS SEEMED LIKE A SORT OF NATURAL THING TO DO. HE HAD BEEN TELLING ME BITS AND PIECES ABOUT THE TROUBLE YOU WERE HAVING DURING PRODUCTION, THINGS LIKE THAT.
ANOTHER THING HE SAID YESTERDAY WAS THAT YOUR WIFE HAD REFUSED TO GO TO THE PREMIERE [HE LAUGHS] WITH YOU BECAUSE -- WELL, YOU CAN TELL ME WHY.
JB: “It wasn’t a protest. It wasn’t like she was trying to make a point. She’s just not ready to re-experience the misery of the time that I was writing this movie. I think she was just afraid it would bring it all back. It was really an awful time, working on this movie.”
DP: PETER SAID AT ONE POINT YOU JUST DECIDED TO TAKE A CRUISE TO GET AWAY FOR A WHILE.
JB: “Yeah, we did. We did, for two weeks at the end of the year. The picture was still shooting, and I told everybody well in advance, ‘Look, I’m going to be gone. If you need me, you better tell me now, because I’m leaving.’ And, typically, people don’t hear what they don’t want to hear. So, when I left, everyone acted like, ‘What? You’re going? Don’t go.’ But I left.”
DP: DID THEY EVER TRY TO GET HOLD OF YOU ON THE BOAT?
JB: “No, they got along fine without me. The thing is, the material was there -- it was always there. And if I’m not there to change it, they’ll shoot what they have. They’re always embellishing it anyway; and it’s fine, it works.
“I think the problem with ‘Lethal 3’ was that everyone had a different idea of WHY this franchise works.”
DP: WHAT’S YOUR THEORY?
JB: “One thing we all agree on is that the chemistry between Mel and Danny is essential. But beyond that, I feel that the thing had to have a high co-efficient of humor and action -- it needed to be kind of thrilling moment to moment. My notion is to always keep it exciting, even edging toward more comic-book like. I think sequels always evolve in that direction -- they go from being serious to less serious and then even less serious. I’ve never seen a sequel, or series, go the other way. For some reason, I don’t think it can. It’s like the law of gravity: It doesn’t work that way. You can’t become more serious with a sequel, you have to become less serious. So, in becoming less serious, I think I tended toward more outrageous action, more outrageous comedy -- everything became more outrageous.
“But Dick wanted to downscale everything. Dick wanted to make it more personal, smaller, more intimate. He wanted to make it less story-oriented. He wanted to be more episodic. And it was Dick’s idea that the movie be the last eight days of Danny’s career on the force, leading up to his retirement. At one point, we even counted down the days, so you actually see the days going by; you would actually know that now we’re down to four days, now we’re down to three days, now we’re down to two days. The idea being that Danny tries to stay out of trouble his last week, and Mel keeps bringing him into trouble.
“Now, what Dick really had no interest in was what the bad guy’s story was all about. Dick’s focus was on Mel and Danny, and it was hard for him to concentrate on: What was the crime that they were pursuing? Who was the villain? What was he up to? And I felt that that had to be strong, it had to really be what the movie was about, and the personal stuff had to be the icing on the cake.
“And I think what I saw as icing, Dick saw as cake. It was a constant -- it wasn’t a battle -- it was a constant push and pull between the two of us throughout the entire development of the script to see who would actually prevail in this little battle.”
DP: WHAT COMES OUT OF AN EXPERIENCE LIKE THAT PERSONALLY? ON A PERSONAL LEVEL, DO YOU GUYS GET ALONG? OR IS THIS JUST A PURELY PROFESSIONAL, “WE TOLERATE EACH OTHER WHEN WE’RE IN EACH OTHER’S PRESENCE BECAUSE WE HAVE TO”?
JB: “No, I think we genuinely like each other. And I think we have great affection for each other. And I think I am pretty much forced to observe the pecking order of our individual occupations.”
DP: HE’S THE BOSS.
JB: “He’s the boss. He’s the director and I’m the writer, and I do see my role in this as serving him. I do not see my job as trying to get my vision on screen. I do have a vision, and I have to promote it and be the champion of it. But, ultimately, I have to get Dick’s vision on the screen. My job is to maybe get him to buy into my vision. But if he doesn’t, then I’ve got to somehow fulfill his vision. And even though I recognize that as my job, I got to the point where I was sick of doing that. But I felt that I achieved more than that, that I’ve gone beyond that -- that what I’ve done should have granted me the power to see my own ideas prevail. But they CAN’T, because that’s not how the system works; the only way for that to happen is for me to be the director.
“So I was going through my own kind of personal conflict of still being the writer -- the second guy on the totem pole -- when I really felt I had earned the right to be the top guy on the totem pole. I didn’t want to direct this movie, but I just felt people should trust me more and listen to me more and be more willing to accept what I have to say as maybe being right.”
DP: SO WHEN WE LOOK FOR THE NEXT SCREEN CREDIT, IT WON’T BE “SGT. ROCK” IF THEY SUDDENLY DECIDE TO MAKE THAT, IT WILL BE PROBABLY SOMETHING YOU WRITE AND DIRECT YOURSELF?
JB: “I hope so. That’s my goal.”
DP: THIS IS WITH WARNERS TOO, RIGHT?
JB: “At the moment it is.”
DP: BUT ALL THAT COULD CHANGE, RIGHT?
JB: “It could change. But my contract with Warners isn’t up yet, I have six months to go and I think in that time all of us are trying to make a good faith effort to maintain our relationship.”
DP: DO YOU THINK, IS THERE A POSSIBILITY THAT “SGT. ROCK” MIGHT SUDDENLY TAKE OFF?
JB: “I don’t think so. Not with my script anyway.”
DP: IT’LL HAVE TO GO THROUGH SOME SORT OF METAMORPHOSIS FIRST?
JB: “Oh, definitely.”
DP: WELL, THAT’S TOO BAD. IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN INTERESTING TO ...
JB: “Get the script from Peter, read it and you’ll see.”
DP: OH, DOES HE HAVE A COPY OF IT?
DP: GREAT, I’LL HAVE TO ASK HIM.
JB: “It’s really one of my favorite scripts. It was kind of crushing that it was met with such negative reaction.”
DP: WELL, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE SOMETHING LIKE THAT?
JB: “Yeah, about six months worth of work.”
DP: TALENT ASIDE, I DON’T THINK I COULD EVER BE IN A BUSINESS LIKE THAT. IT WOULD JUST BE SUICIDE TIME FOR ME IF I INVESTED THAT KIND OF WORK IN SOMETHING AND THEY JUST REJECTED IT OUT OF HAND.
JB: “Well, that was nothing. I’ve worked for years and years without anything happening. So six months is just a drop in the bucket.”