Cinco Paul Looks Back at First Comedy Script, Still Hopes to Make It

In Variety’s feature, The One That Got Away, Emmy nominees reflect on one of their projects that never saw the light of day, was canceled too soon or that they’d like to revisit some day.

Picture it: Southern California, 1994.

Cinco Paul is fresh out of USC School of Cinematic Arts, churning out his first post-grad comedy script — an homage to screwball comedies including “What’s Up, Doc?” and “Bringing Up Baby,” called “Band of Gold.”

“At the time, there were big splashy spec sales happening all over the place and this was mine,” he says. “It kind of launched my career, but unfortunately, it never got made.”

Nearly 30 years later, Paul, the creator and Emmy-nominated lyricist of Apple TV+’s musical love letter “Schmigadoon!,” has never lost his wistful fondness for the script, which had been bought by Sony and even attached a few directors.

Had it made it to the screen, the story would have been in good company in the heyday of the ’90s rom-com, joining a string of titles named for classic love songs such as “One Fine Day,” “It Takes Two” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

“Band of Gold” is the uptempo R&B classic made famous by Freda Payne. “My story was about this buttoned-down, uptight doctor who’s about to get married to the wrong woman,” Paul recalls. “He’s entrusted with the family heirloom wedding ring a couple of days before the wedding and he accidentally sews it up inside a patient.”

In true meet-cute-with-a-sideof-medical-malpractice fashion, the woman on the operating table happens to be the future love of the doctor’s life — they just don’t know it yet.

“She is exactly what he needs,” Paul continues. “She’s more wild and carefree, so she kind of loosens him up. She’s in that Katharine Hepburn-Barbra Streisand mode, and in the process of him trying to get it out of her, they fall in love.”

To some, this may play as a surgery nightmare, but Paul promises the woman is fully in on the schtick. As she becomes enamored of the doctor, she makes him jump through hoops to delay going back under the knife because that means fixing his mistake and going back to his fiancé.

By the end, they realize the ring was with the right person all along. But not before a climactic wedding musical moment, reminiscent of “Edelweiss” from “The Sound of Music.”

“We really have come full circle because ‘The Sound of Music’ is very well represented in ‘Schmigadoon!,’ so clearly I’ve been fascinated with that movie my whole life,” he quips. “That’s the only musical moment in ‘Band of Gold,’ but it has been in there since the very beginning.”

The script’s medical mishap was inspired by conversations with his wife, who was going through her hospital residency as he finished up film school. Stories of hospital happenings loomed large in their lives, though she never left a ring in any patient.

A few decades later, Paul says he thinks the script is free and clear to find a new home, even though it would require a few tweaks.

“I haven’t looked at it in a long time and it was written before cell phones,” he laughs. “There are certain things I would need to update. There are pagers all over the place.”

Paul, along with his writing partner Ken Daurio, has found tremendous success writing animated hits including the “Despicable Me” trilogy, and “Schmigadoon!” earned four Emmy nominations as they film a second season titled “Schmicago.”

But Paul admits he’s never forgotten his first brush with success.

“So much of what I do comes from the movies that made me want to do this in the first place and this is where it started,” he says. “I still have a deep love for that script and so does my agent, and he’s still trying to make it happen. Maybe now is the time for ‘Band of Gold.’”

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