A Star Turn, Almost

}Thought your dot-com dealings were a circus? You didn’t handle GovWorks, the dysfunctional subject of the hit documentary Startup.com.

Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim filmed practically every move CEO Kaleil Isaza Tuzman and his fellow GovWorkers made, including their ad strategy decisions. “The first time [the filmmakers] were in a meeting, I went into ad-guy schtick”—mugging for the camera, says Jamie Barrett, executive creative director at the New York shop. “It’s amazing how quickly you get that out of your system.”

Barrett says GovWorks was hugely appealing at first—”It had the look and feel of a $100 million-plus account”—and recalls Tuzman as savvy and confident, with a flair for the dramatic. At their first big powwow, for example, Fallon floated an idea for a grand David Fincher-directed TV spot in which a man would follow a line to pay parking tickets out his local government building, down the street and across the country. Passing the odd celebrity along the way, he gets to the end only to discover it’s the line for utility bills. With a production budget of $3 million, it was a gamble. Tuzman sat in silence for a full minute before responding, simply, “Let’s do it.”

It was downhill from there. That idea was shelved, and two ads Fallon did film never aired. Also, tragically, the Fallon scenes didn’t make the movie. But Barrett is philosophical. “It would have been a kick to be in it,” he says. “Still, it was an interesting ride.”