Hollywood bound

A career move like Stuart Perelmuter’s usually only happens in the movies. He’s leaving Rep. John Yarmuth’s (D-Ky.) office to work with … John Stamos.

Yes, that John Stamos — Uncle Jesse from the 1990s TV sitcom “Full House,” a cast member from the final seasons of “ER,” ex-husband of supermodel Rebecca Romijn.

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Perelmuter, who was Yarmuth’s press secretary until last week, has a movie script in development in Stamos’s production company and is heading to Los Angeles to nudge the project along.

Perelmuter’s script is a drama (“Or at least a dramedy,” he says) based on the true stories of the birth of the comic-book industry.

“I’ve read comic books since I was a kid and heard stories about its bizarre past,” Perelmuter said in a phone interview while working his last week from Yarmuth’s Louisville district. “People ripping each other off, people getting in over their heads, various love triangles, and the backdrop of the Depression and World War II all kind of appealed to me.”

He finished a version of the script in 2005 and went to Los Angeles in 2006 to get it in front of Hollywood decisionmakers. Perelmuter met Stamos’s production partner by chance when he was out one night, and the two got to talking about his script.

“He asked if he could read what I’d written, and I said sure,” he says. “We met for Mexican food not long after.”

The script has been in development since.

“They call it development hell,” Perelmuter says, “because I think Hollywood is the only place on earth that moves slower than the Senate.”

Perelmuter has two other movie scripts that are in the beginning stages of development and several other concepts and projects he’s working on. He decided to relocate to California to get more face-time with the movie industry’s powerbrokers.

“My plan is to go out there so I can finally kind of sit down with people face to face and … build more alliances so these movies can be made and so I can move on to other projects as well as not have to depend on freak encounters to find producers,” he says. “They say it’s about who you know, [and] you can’t meet many people from 3,000 miles away.”

Perelmuter started out as a stage actor, appearing in plays in high school and earning an actors union card while taking a break from his theater studies at Syracuse University to play the paper boy in a traveling production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

“It was a thrill to be up there in front of people eliciting responses,” he says. “It’s a rush.”

He also started writing plays while in college, “and it just became something that I loved more than acting,” he says.

Perelmuter’s first notable success as a writer came with “Am,” a 10-minute play that ran off-Broadway in New York for a couple of weeks in 2004. It was about a boy deciding he was going to start thinking for himself — “an absurdist comedy,” Perelmuter says.

“It was definitely a rollercoaster, because we got this incredible cast of people with Broadway credits, and I was pinching myself,” he says.

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Over the course of rehearsals, all of his experienced actors got higher-paying gigs, leaving him to recast the play.

“I still really enjoyed it, and people enjoyed it,” he says.

In 2006 Perelmuter found himself back in his hometown of Louisville, where Yarmuth was running for his first term in Congress. Perelmuter, a self-professed political junkie, was familiar with Yarmuth and heard his campaign needed a writer. He began to volunteer.

Shortly after he was hired onto the campaign, he had to write a speech Yarmuth would give in a stadium of 6,000 people to introduce then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

“How’s that for trial by fire?” Perelmuter says.

He came to Washington after Yarmuth won the race and began the transition from scriptwriter to political writer.

“You’re writing things for people to say, so that was a very natural thing,” he says. “[But] there’s no dialogue, which is one of the more fun things to write.”

With a congressional staffer’s workload, Perelmuter’s movie writing came to a near stop until after the 2008 election cycle. But his attention is now swinging back in the direction of entertainment writing.

Perelmuter heaps praise on Yarmuth and calls his experience on Capitol Hill fantastic. He says his departure is bittersweet.

“It’s really thrilling [to work in Congress],” he says. “I’m one of those people who gets excited watching a Cabinet secretary walking down the street.”

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His time in Washington isn’t all for naught; he says he has tons of material for a political movie and recognizes that people in Hollywood might expect a Capitol Hill staffer to write about politics.

Yarmuth knew about Perelmuter’s movie writing, he says, and has been supportive of his next step.

“Stuart worked with me from the start,” the congressman said in an e-mail statement. “He was my press secretary on my first campaign for Congress and joined me on my first day on the Hill. I’ll definitely miss him, but I am proud he is pursuing his dream of writing screenplays in Hollywood. I’m sure he will use his talent and creativity to incorporate his experiences on the inside of Washington politics into his work.”

Upon being asked whether he had any fear that any of Perelmuter’s future movie characters would be based on him, Yarmuth joked, “No, I’m not worried — as long as he tells the truth.”

At this point, Perelmuter is focused less on any political movie he may write and more on seeing where the possibilities in Hollywood take him.

“I’ve heard a lot of really encouraging things out there that lead me to believe that it’s the right time, and I’m hopeful that some movies will come out of it,” he says. “This is my passion, and you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.”