"I'LL DO ANYTHING"
James L. Brooks
INT. PASSAGEWAY - NIGHT
The CAMERA briskly retreats as FORTY, HIGHLY CHARGED,
ATTRACTIVE, YOUNG PEOPLE march towards it. Each side of the
frame is black as this troupe of young actors moves up the
middle, everyone talking, grinning, squealing,... everyone
having the "high" of their lives.
INT. NEW YORK CLUB - NIGHT
As the troupe, with geometric precision, spills into a large
room (containing a raised dance floor); the CAMERA begins to
move past dancing couples as a legend appears:
'This is 1975 and Matt Hobbs is singled out for the first
And now the CAMERA reveals MATT HOBBS. His open, friendly,
American face slips between some of the many cracks in his
profession. The face at 26, and forever more, not arresting
enough for a leading man; not quirky enough for a "character."
Matt must briefly walk on the dance floor to make his way
past a knot of people. He dances furiously for two seconds,
then steps down as THE DANCERS BEGIN TO SING "WOW", but just
as the song breaks out musically, we hear the SOUND OF PEOPLE
SHHHING; the singers falter and then stop as the party-goers
gather, in choreographed movement, at a ceiling mounted TV
MAN ON TV
We can barely discern the words. . ."with his review is
A FRANTIC ACTRESS yelps a command:
I can't hear over this shhing.
...a play about guess what? That's
right, young people.
He stands next to a ruggedly handsome and extremely nauseous
I can't look.
Good idea, let's not.
He begins to walk, the Handsome Contemporary falling into
step. Everyone they pass is straining, upwards, at the TV.
How can we not listen to this?
We'll know all we need to from the
At that moment, the rest of the party-goers turn from the TV
as one, looking mugged. (One girl briefly gets our attention
because she is particularly distraught; tears streaming down
her angry face. The mixture of tears and rage are, of course,
the chemical components of incredible sexiness. Her name is
BETH.) A TORTURED MALE DANCER offers an incantation.
TORTURED MALE DANCER
He should be shot, he should be dead,
he should rot in hell, then come
back as the soap cake in a urinal.
He didn't like it?
The DIRECTOR moves through the group, bucking up spirits.
Don't worry. He doesn't count. We'll
just wait for the papers.
ON MATT AND FELLOW CAST MEMBERS - LATER
As they morosely watch the Director approach.
Hey, no matter what this review says,
the play was a great experience for
Beth looks at him, puzzled.
I mean, it is about process, right?
Matt's right. Good Lord, it is what
we're alive for.
Beth turns from the conversation, finding it preposterous,
then rivets her attention on the Director, walking towards
them, holding a ridiculously thick sheaf of papers. Beth
begins to sob in anticipation.
You've just got to be tougher than
Tougher than this?!?
The Director reaches them.
I took it all down over the phone.
It's quite bad. And, unfortunately,
it's very, very long. I've got a
broken heart and writers' cramp.
He savages everyone.
I don't want to hear anymore. Let's
Except you, Matt.
They all look at him.
(fiercely to Matt)
You filthy bastard.
(drawing closer to
What did he say?
The Director hunts for the paragraph.
Don't read it.
Oh, please. You can't wait to run
out of here, buy a flashlight, and
then go into some dark alley and
drool over every word.
You're wrong. I'm maybe relieved and
curious. That's it.
What did they say about him?
...'in the midst of this delirium of
Don't. This divisive crap won't...
'...one actor, rather miraculously,
manages to provide passion and, yes,
truth. Matt Hobbs, in the supporting
role of Jesus, manages to touch the
heart long after you thought it numbed
The table of actors look at a sober Matt. A long beat and
then, against his will, he grins... then a short, involuntary
barking laugh of joy... then:
(to his colleagues
ESTABLISHING SHOT - L.A. MODERATE INCOME STREET
As we HEAR the next lines of "WOW", BEGIN MAIN TITLES as the
CAMERA BOOMS UP to the outside of a small apartment as a
legend appears on screen:
'EMMY NIGHT - 1980'
Beth, now 27, is standing in front of a TV set showing the
Emmy dancers performing a phrase of "WOW". She screams out.
Will you get in here--for God's sake?
INT. ANOTHER ROOM
Matt, 30, is on the phone.
Come on, Ma, how could I show up
tonight when my union is boycotting
the Emmys? Look, I have to hang up.
BETH (O. S.)
It's on right now... right now...
right this second! You will miss
I gotta go. Watch!
Matt hangs up and tear-asses into the living room. Beth
screams as his name is read.
...and Matt Hobbs for 'Caine Mutiny
Court Martial'... And the winner is
Powers Boothe for 'Jonestown--Story
of a Massacre.'
Shit! Fuck! Shit!
He was good.
Shit! Shit! Shit! Fuck! Shit! Look,
he even showed up.
TV INSERT - POWERS BOOTHE ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
That took courage. I wonder if they
send you something for just being
Of all the pathetic questions.
Why are you being so damn foul?
Beth glares at him, on the verge of taking him on--but he is
looking at her very directly... the lack of any other agenda
giving him a temporary edge... Beth decides to state the
We've been going back and forth on
our status for so long. I was hoping
that if you won, it might mean
something for us.
Look, Beth... the only...
She is waving her hand in a circle... he is puzzled.
Please go fast. I can't take you
dragging it out.
(a bit faster)
The only reason I haven't...
I promised myself I wouldn't be so
bossy. Take your time!! Was that
The only thing I have against getting
married is that it might not be fair
because I'm going to stay with acting
forever and you know how erratic the
money's been and there's no resolve...
Do I get to vote? I'm going to tell
you something I never told you before.
Your feeling towards your work is
one of the things I love most about
Maybe the most.
Hey, then we have no problem here.
They kiss, then break, murmuring to each other.
Stinker, I almost gave up on you.
I was just worried whether I could
make you happy.
INT. HOSPITAL WAITING AREA - FOUR A.M.
A SET FRAME showing several clusters of waiting people. A
man rushes to one of these clusters, cueing this group to
sing the next phrase of "WOW". As an extremely hyper Matt
enters, the SONG STOPS and a legend appears:
Everything's okay... Great... She's
six or eight pounds even. Oh, God...
Nothing like it. I'll tell you
something amazing. They really reach
right into her stomach and pull out
this baby. It's not just a rumor.
God. I understand the expression
'mind blowing' for the first time.
It means something so wonderful
happens that the top of your head
comes off and your brain pops out.
Part of it was terrifying, the baby
was turned and they couldn't budge
her. I kept looking at this one woman
doctor's eyes. And when Jeannie
finally came out, this doctor and I
each wiped away a tear at the exact
same time, caught ourselves doing
it, and then laughed together at the
same time. Nothing can prepare you
for it. You know why you're alive.
INT. CORRIDOR - DAY
As Matt walks with pep, accompanied by a burst of "WOW".
INT. BETH'S HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY
Beth holds BABY JEANNIE and wears a scowl.
How you doing? What's wrong?
My mother said you were flirting
with the doctor during the delivery.
On Matt's expression...
INT. MODEST ONE-BEDROOM APARTMENT - LATE NIGHT
Matt and Beth lie on an open sofa-bed. "WOW" is completed,
though with a dirge-like cadence. We hear a baby crying over
a cheap walky-talky near their bed.
Could you get her, honey? I have
that big reading tomorrow.
No, I have a lot to do tomorrow,
too. I have to borrow on our Christmas
Club, I have to...
Don't worry about money anymore.
(on her look)
I didn't want to tell you, because
it may sound a little strange when I
say it out loud. You know me, I'm
never that cocky. But I'm going to
get 'Spider Woman'. It's me or Raul
and I've never been so sure. It's
weird, but I just know it. I do.
Boy, am I reassured. What good news.
Isn't that a load off?
INT. BABY'S ROOM - NIGHT
Where we see the crying baby holding the walky-talky in front
of its mouth as it screams into the mouthpiece.
BACK TO SCENE
I am gonna get this part, Beth.
I can't stand this anymore.
END MAIN TITLES
INT. MATT'S APARTMENT - MORNING
It's an awful place... the start-up apartment he's way too
old for... but we don't yet see his humble quarters. Rather:
A BLURRED IMAGE
Then, the screen is CLEARED ON ONE HALF so we see half of a
contact lens holder in focus--the other half blurred--until
Matt gets his second contact in.
A tube of tooth bleach. CLOSE ON THE DIRECTIONS, then:
Bleaching his teeth... finishing... smiling in the mirror...
This is the bleached smile of fear--true fear--the awful
state of having lost your way. The phone rings. Matt clears
his voice before answering.
Hello... Hi, Beth. I'm glad you
finally returned my call. What are
you so mad about?
(again, into phone)
YOU KNOW, YOU'RE NOT THE ONLY ONE
WHO CAN SCREAM, I CAN SCREAM, TOO.
Matt was so suddenly, emotionally extended that the anger
leaves him that quickly... just a strange atypical lightning
bolt of rage toward life and women.
(again, into phone)
You know what? I'm being a sort of
gutless wonder here. I'm yelling
back at you because I'm embarrassed.
I won't be able to take the kid when
I said... Why don't you listen for a
He rubs his head with both hands, including the one holding
the phone. This allows us to hear his ex-wife repeat the
same sentence over and over again.
BETH (V. O.)
...You're taking her... You're taking
her... You're taking her...
Beth, I know exactly how long it's
been and I feel strange as hell not
seeing her but this isn't a choice.
I'm broke. It's the driest spell of
my life. I'm not saying it's your
problem, but it's no place for a six-
year-old. What can I do? The only
full-time job I seem to have is not
showing how scared I am. What? No,
that's not something I said before.
Beth turns angry again. Matt finds, unfortunately, that he's
got one more act of bravado left.
(again, into phone)
Beth, Hey... hey. Never mind, I'll
He hangs up.
(again, to himself)
I must get work. I will take anything.
I must get work. I must not be
embarrassed by these pep talks to
EXT. SIDE STREET - DAY
As Matt walks from the outdoor parking lot, past inexpensive
homes. In the lot, on private lawns and every public bench,
at each street corner, are various actors doing the relaxation
exercises which will form the basis of A DANCE, as they go
over their "sides".
...feathers I'm blowing. What am I,
We pass various actors going over alternate sentences for
the same speech so that we get a sense of the speech as a
whole from the sum of its parts.
VARIOUS YOUNG ACTORS
1) I'm not thinking about whether
I'm going to shoot you. I'm...
2)...trying to decide where.
3)...the little spot behind the ear
where you die before you hear the
4)...on the left side of the belly
which is a very mean place.
EXT. POPCORN PICTURES - DAY
An office building of clear architectural merit located in
an industrial area. Even the sign "Popcorn Pictures" has all
the artistic dignity the name itself lacks... MUSIC ENTERS...
Gradually, movement BECOMES CHOREOGRAPHED...i.e., the young
actor and actress running across the street do so with
uncommon grace. The area Matt passes is very crowded and we
still haven't reached the most congested area of all as we
STUDY FACES and HEAR snatches of the actors' preparation.
What am I, a duck?
Sure I'll tell you... Favor first...
Do a nice middle-aged lady a favor...
A fair trade... tell you what you
want to know in return for a...
(grimaces over dialogue
she must say)
...a pity fu...
MUSIC BECOMING MORE INSISTENT as we approach the building--
the mumbling of the actors taking on the SOUND of a Wailing
VARIOUS YOUNG HYSTERICAL ACTRESSES
...the height of ego. You think your
he-manness can make me get on that
elevator even though I'm phobic?...
I CAN'T GET ON THAT ELEVATOR. I don't
care if... they catch us. DO YOU
GET... IT. DO YOU GET IT! I CAN'T! I
CAN'T... three, please.
THREE HYSTERICAL ACTRESSES
SINGING the dialogue...
...can't get on the elevator... can't
get on the elevator... even if you
make me... even if you make me. Do
you get it?... do you get it?...
Standing near each other--exchange glares as they break each
other's concentration and move apart... THEIR MOVEMENT SERVING
as our gateway to DANCING... The SONG "MAKE BELIEVE" enters
fully now and builds in intensity, reaching a repeated phrase,
as we move to Matt and he enters the building, thereby cutting
off the song.
As the SONG continues in intensity, Matt enters the building
at the end of a repeated phrase cutting off the song as we
ANGLE ON RECEPTION AREA
Where CATHY BRESLOW, age 30, waits. Hollywood is a bit of an
uphill struggle for Cathy. She is bright where others are
brilliant, pretty where others are gorgeous, enormously hard
working where others are obsessive-compulsive. She is clearly
waiting for someone while reading an enormously thick book
galley. Matt almost scoots by her, then stops.
Hi... See, I did recognize you. You
didn't have to wait for me.
Well, I wanted to introduce you. As
if knowing me would help.
INT. POPCORN PICTURES - DAY
MOVING SHOT. Staircase packed with actors, an uphill slalom
almost impossible to navigate.
It's a ridiculously awful movie.
Well, challenge. I wasn't sure you'd
remember me... let alone help...
Stop. You're good. I'm doing them a
favor by getting you in.
Well, that's a fresh slant.
They reach the casting assistant, CLAIRE.
Claire, this is Matt Hobbs.
As Matt is handed a set of sides, we SHOOT PAST Matt as he
watches Cathy move back down the stairs before he can say
another word. She moves with wit. He is struck by her. He
looks back at Claire, who has an intricate hairdo and a ready
Hi. Sorry. We're running behind...
Please forgive us.
LONG DISSOLVE TO:
SAME SHOT - TWO HOURS LATER
Her hairdo wilted, her blouse soiled, her smile gone, the
tendons of her neck prominent.
Matt Hobbs? Matt Hobbs!
Going over his lines. Hearing his name, he rises. Claire
gestures him in.
INT. BURKE'S OFFICE - DAY
The walls are pockmarked with movie posters. THREE MEN sit
in an area some distance from the desk. The casting director,
MARTIN, makes the introduction:
This is Matt Hobbs... This is John
Earl McAlpine, the director.
Good to see you.
He speaks with an Australian accent, gets half-up and extends
...and Burke Adler, the producer.
So, what have you been doing with
...the last few years?
I'm real bad at interviews, so, if
you don't mind, I'd really prefer to
just read first.
That's the way you want to do it?
Maybe we shouldn't even read. I'll
just take your word that you're good.
No. I'm serious. There's all different
ways. Did you know Woody Allen never
reads actors? He just looks at them,
feels around a little and then decides
who he wants. That's his way. Doesn't
hear them do a line. I also have a
way. What I do is interview first--
then read--maybe do it all over again
the next day. I call up people the
actor has worked with--check him
out. If he's famous, I do an opinion
survey to test how much people like
him. If he's not famous, I put him
on tape and show it to everyone I
can grab. I believe in screen tests;
I believe in replacing if the dailies
are bad, in cutting people out if
the previews aren't there. Because
I'm not doing movies for theaters
where they serve cappucino in the
lobby. I'm doing popcorn movies. You
want to know what I like? Come to my
house, look at my lamps... you won't
find it in my movies. In my movies,
you'll find out what I know. I know
how to do detail. What I don't know,
I discover. Yesterday we finished
mixing a movie--the last scene is in
a field of windmills which blows up
and all the blades of these windmills
slice through the air, one of which
hits a four-story tank of propane
gas. A humongous explosion scene. I
kept on saying 'louder', and they
finally said to me they couldn't go
louder without distortion. We went
louder. We had to discover a thing,
a filter, but we went louder. I don't
question doing these things. I do
them. So if you want to know if it's
okay to do it differently--not to
talk--to just read first... I say...
(pointing to John
Ask him--he's the director.
Okay, let's do it. Do you have any
They only gave me these two pages.
I'd like to give this my best shot.
So if I could read the script and
This part works tomorrow.
Oh. Who will I be reading with?
Burke indicates Martin.
(from his chair)
Can I read from here?
I want you to do it wherever you're
comfortable, but I'd prefer it if
you were comfortable standing up.
Matt rises uncomfortably. A SECRETARY enters and hands a
note to the director.
Time for my buns to have visitors.
Matt looks astonished as the director leaves the room.
Go ahead? The director left.
That's okay, he trusts me, uh... And
we're just doing the first page.
(cueing him badly)
'Okay, darling Harry, here it is...
If someone were breaking up with me,
I'd like it short and sweet. What
'Incredibly drawn out...'
'I can't take care of you right now.
What am I, your mother?'
'Well, what am I? Your duck?'
As he gets into the scene he begins to experience some release
of the desperate feelings he's been harboring.
'We've been together two years and
you act like all you're doing is
blowing away some feathers. So what
You didn't do the quack.
The stage direction says for him to
I know, but why would he quack when
someone's breaking up with him?
Hopefully because it's funny.
This isn't a comedy.
Then we're in trouble, because they're
already fall down laughing at the
teaser-trailer in fifty-two hundred
and thirty theaters.
(rubbing his face)
I think I have to make an adjustment
INT. CATHY'S OFFICE - DAY
We HEAR the strains of the theme of a past hit movie coming
from Cathy's cassette player. A rack of soundtracks clearly
visible. Cathy is frowning as she reads the last of the galley
pages. She overhears some conversation in the adjoining room
which begins to disturb her concentration.
FEMALE D PERSON (O.S.)
I'm not supposed to read TV pilots.
Don't call us D-Girls. We're
Cathy closes the door, shutting her off. She now begins to
fill out a form with a felt-tipped pen. As she does so, the
pad is supered on the screen--action seen through it. As she
writes, we see the notations on the super.
It is marked COVERAGE--CONFIDENTIAL FROM: CATHY BRESLOW. TO:
BURKE ADLER. SUBJECT: (the pen writes out) "LITTLE DICK"
GENRE/CATEGORY (the pen writes out ACTION-ADVENTURE). Then
there are columns to check EXCELLENT, GOOD, FAIR, POOR for
the story. CHARACTERS, DIALOGUE... The pen checks FAIR for
story, POOR for all else, CHARACTER, DIALOGUE, etc. The form
then states--CHECK ONE OF THE FOLLOWING SENTENCES:
I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PROJECT
I RECOMMEND THIS PROJECT
I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THIS PROJECT
I'D STAKE MY ALL ON THIS PROJECT
I'D GLADLY STAKE MY ALL ON THIS PROJECT
The phone rings. As she picks it up and reaches to turn down
the volume of the motion picture soundtrack she's listening
Hi. I just finished. I'll have my
coverage right over. It's past
derivative... it's photocopying.
What a hoot! You're kidding, right?
There is truly active bidding for
this book? Really? 2.3 million? Okay,
She hangs up and begins to alter the form changing the
STORY/POOR to STORY/EXCELLENT, and all the other POORS to
GOOD... and now the Recommend section.
The pen is poised.
Her soul is poised. A beat and she allows "I DO NOT RECOMMEND"
to stand, the source music theme--"CHARIOTS OF FIRE"--
coincidentally celebrates this considerable act of heroism.
Cathy takes the sheet and walks to the door.
INT. OUTER OFFICE - DAY
As she approaches her secretary's desk, she overhears two
other members of Burke's Development Staff (a 27-year-old
well-dressed man and a woman younger than Cathy) as they
MALE D PERSON
Even the title "Little Dick"--it
means so many things.
FEMALE D PERSON
Story, story, story, story, story.
You loved it, right?
I had some problems.
FEMALE D PERSON
Well, you know, it's a little
FEMALE D PERSON
So it has to be cast right.
MALE D PERSON
If Cathy doesn't like it, we know
it's a smash.
Hey. It's not like I didn't recommend
She surreptitiously changes her "recommend" as Matt enters.
She looks up.
How'd it go?
I didn't get it. He did say something
about wanting me back.
Good. His saver is he means what he
Yeah, I just wanted to say thanks.
She nods and starts to turn back towards her office.
...and I wanted to ask you out.
The other people in the office stare at Matt.
I never know when I'm free.
It sounds like I'm just... but it's
Okay. Thanks again. I felt funny
Well, don't please.
I meant asking you to get me the
Oh... well, don't please.
He nods and starts to go. She looks at him.
Don't be sad.
Matt smiles in astonishment and exits.
MALE D PERSON
Who is he?
Oh, I was auditing this acting course
and he filled in teaching one night.
He did a scene himself and he was
awesome. For some reason, he can't
MALE D PERSON
Yeah. He does seem to have a layer
of loser dust on him.
EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY
Matt drives his faded, seven-year-old car into view.
INT./EXT. MATT'S CAR - EARLY EVENING
He looks off... sees something that arrests his interest and
pulls to the curb. It's a curious sight.
Burke Adler, standing at a street corner, palpably in pain.
He's trying to rein in his emotions, sucking in huge gulps
of air... and, then, a wave of emotion gets the better of
him as he looks at his watch. A sob escapes him--shocked
that he's so close to tears on a public street corner, he
battles for control... another sob as he looks to the heavens.
A split second to consider, then he's out of his car.
FULL SHOT - THE STREET CORNER
A flow of PEOPLE--in the foreground, the tortured figure of
Burke Adler--in the background, Matt Hobbs, pauses before
intruding. But Burke's spectacle is growing more public,
sounds of anguish escape him.
CLOSER SHOT - BURKE
Oh, God... why? Why?...
What am I going to do?
And now he begins to dissassemble, openly crying--on the
verge of a complete breakdown. Matt moves into frame, grabbing
Burke, trying to provide him with an anchor.
CLOSE ON MATT
His face--his eyes providing a beacon of strength.
Hey. Hey! HEY!!
Totally fucked-up, wild-eyed. As he witnesses his own state.
Look at me. You'd think I was a
(his story of travail
pours from him)
I hired this kid as a production
assistant. His father's a business
manager... a few good clients.
He's been driving for me two weeks...
all he has to do is pick me up on
time... he's twenty minutes late and
I have a test screening in the valley.
Everybody's gone from the office.
Burke flails at himself as Matt looks at him.
Is that it? You need a lift?
I'm right over here.
Matt starts to lead him back, then realizes he's alone, Burke
having seen his car finally arrive.
Burke, berating the YOUNG DRIVER. Matt pauses, awed by the
wild gesticulating--the few screamed words...
...Not just today... believe me,
there's no way you'll ever make it...
You are going to fail. Listen, listen--
I know about this; you are going to
be a failure.
CAMERA FOLLOWING MATT
As he joins Burke and the young man, Burke turns to Matt.
Let's get moving; you said you'd
give me a lift.
What the hell are you talking about?
Not in your car... I've got my own.
I'll give you a hundred and twenty
dollars to take me... and it will
still be a favor.
(to Young Man)
Get out. Come on.
Please. This is very important.
The driver gets out.
A guy got shot on the freeway...
Traffic's tied up.
You should leave time for that kind
INT. BURKE'S CAR
What do you need me for? Don't you
Yeah, I drive. I don't like to look
EXT. GOLDEN STATE FREEWAY - EARLY EVENING
The sun setting on a nondescript slab of California.
INT. BURKE'S CAR - EARLY EVENING
The two men... Matt feeling very peculiar in this line of
work. Burke's tension renders him arresting, handsome even.
The look of generals who go forth against long odds. He takes
an enormous cleansing breath. It startles Matt.
Yoga shit. I feel like barbed wire.
I don't know if you keep track, but
I'm the sixth independent producer
ever to have two big pictures
scheduled for Christmas, and tonight
we're testing the first one for the
first time... You get it?
Yeah. It's important to you.
(laughing at the
Yes. I don't think I would have put
it that way... but, yes...
EXT. MALL - EARLY EVENING
Burke's car moves toward the movie complex.
Our first view of NAN MULHANNEY; middle-aged and pragmatic,
yet extraordinarily naive. She's a scientist of sorts--
monitoring the tastes and feelings of Americans, first in
Washington and now here. Though she just had a very rough
hour or so, she bends down to smile at Burke.
INT. BURKE'S CAR
Keep driving. She runs the test
screenings. Very smart. Very. She
has a real case on me, but so far
I've been keeping it in the bank.
He stops talking, stops breathing, as he sees.
BURKE'S POV - THE TEST AUDIENCE
The line consists of disparate, disinterested people who are
focused on their own small, personal dramas--not at all
cognizant of the fact that they hold a life in their hands.
They are clearly growing impatient.
Go very slow.
MUSIC IN... Burke steels himself and exits the car.
EXT. MOVIE THEATRE - LATE DAY
We're 34 minutes late. The studio is
appropriately wild... people are
beginning to leave... but I knew how
upset you'd be if we started without
But he pays her no mind as MUSIC CONTINUES and he moves
towards the line. Nan approaches the car.
How is he tonight?
I don't know him, so I have nothing
to compare it to.
Well, how would you say he is, anyway?
Not quite himself.
ANGLE ON BURKE
As he approaches the line, he BEGINS TO SING his love to
them, "I'll Do Anything." As he pours out his misdirected
heart to individuals on the line who DO NOT HEAR HIM.
ANGLE ON LINE
Their impatience gives rise to a VERY SLOW TAP DANCE, each
couple or cluster doing it differently--barely exaggerating
the normal shifting of a line... As BURKE CONTINUES TO SING...
the song builds as does the dance... Burke sings even more
passionately, his D-PEOPLE perhaps joining in as BACKGROUND
SINGERS. At a key point, the disparate groups turn and form
a SOLID UNIFIED LINE. They begin the rhythmic clapping of
impatience--having become a line, they now threaten to become
a mob. Burke sings one more Joe Cocker-like passionate plea
before turning to camera to shout over the mayhem:
Let them in.
As they enter.
INT. MOVIE THEATER - EVENING
Nan is addressing the audience from down front.
The name of the picture you'll be
seeing is 'Ground Zero'... There may
be some scratches... some of the
colors may be off, there are no final
titles, and it has not been finally
mixed for sound, and the music is
temp, that means temporary...
As she says this:
ANGLE ON REAR OF HOUSE
Where Burke spies the STUDIO HEAD and leaves Matt's side.
ON STUDIO HEAD
As BURKE enters the frame behind him. He is right behind his
boss' ear. He leans in and offers an intimacy.
I'm glad you came yourself instead
of sending your staff.
The boss is startled--jumps. BURKE eyes him... there must be
some way to profit from these stolen moments with a powerful
I wouldn't be surprised if tonight's
screening is a monster.
Could happen, right?
He moves back to Matt and Nan at the rear of the audience.
Eisner just said he thinks the
screening will be a monster.
Strangely, Burke seems truly buoyed by the words of
encouragement he himself manufactured. He moves down three
rows and sits in an aisle seat just as the film opens with a
series of violent explosions.
CLOSE ON NAN
Please, God, let tonight give him
Incredibly, Burke turns and gestures to her that the sound
of her small voice is interfering with the cacophony of his
movie. Nan is clearly stricken by her lapse as she whispers
We're short two card-counters, can
you two help out?
INT. MOVIE THEATER - 1:47:20 LATER
We are seeing one of the final moments of the film.
INT. WHOLESALE BUTCHER'S (THE FILM) - DAY
As the muscular hero moves with stealth through the giant
refrigerated meat door. He passes cows and dead men hanging
from alternate hooks. Suddenly, he is attacked by the villain
brandishing an electric meat dismembering tool. The hero
ducks, the machine ripping apart hanging cow flesh. The hero
grabs the only weapon he can find: a large piece of meat on
a large bone, which he uses as a mace. He clubs the other
man--then again--and again. Part of the audience is whooping
QUICK SHOT OF NAN
Standing with Matt and Cathy. At the sound of the applause,
Nan grins and mumbles with a connoisseur's knowledge.
Males, fifteen and under.
BACK TO SCREEN
Where the hero stands over the man whose face he has
shattered, holding a club from which hang strings of meat.
He is breathing heavily, and between breaths, states:
Sorry to bust your chops.
General audience laughter.
SERIES OF SHOTS ON NAN - FRONT OF AUDIENCE
If you'll just stay in your seats a
few moments and fill out these cards
Matt and others handing out cards with pencils attached...
Folks filling them out. As an ADOLESCENT MALE fills it out;
PREVIEW CARD FILLS THE SCREEN as we view LIVE ACTION THROUGH
INT. THEATER MANAGER'S OFFICE
An office meant for two, containing twenty counters. The
counting is done with erasers rifling stacks, creating a
sound, a MUSICAL RHYTHM, as the GROUP CAPTAIN calls out with
Who has young males? Young women?
Older males?... Older males?...
Matt, his tally finished, squats on the floor, waiting. The
Group Captain approaches.
Older males... older males?
Matt looks blank.
Older males... over 25?
Matt now realizes that it is his category and hands over the
older male cards and exits.
INT. THEATER LOBBY - NIGHT
Burke, prowling the lobby as audience stragglers leave and
Studio Execs and Popcorn Development Staff wait. He looks
off to see Matt and Nan chatting in another part of the lobby.
ON MATT AND NAN
As they arrive... Nan looks off to see the Group Captain
How long since you've seen your
A little over two years.
(on her look)
My wife insisted on moving back to
the Midwest--then I was in the
Philippines on the mini-series and...
(suddenly and loudly)
Oh, please. It's one thing being a
son-of-a-bitch, but you don't have
to be a stupid son-of-a-bitch. People
move heaven and earth to see their
kids. I don't care if she moved to
Pluto, it's abandonment.
(a pause, then)
Hey, we just met.
Make a guess how we did.
It wouldn't mean anything.
Nothing good that happens can make
it worth feeling the way I do now.
An OLDER WOMAN approaches them.
Who the hell are you? This is private.
I'm Mr. Eisner's mother.
Oh. Can I get you some water?
No, thank you.
The Group Captain approaches and hands Nan a sheet.
Everyone, all the studio and Popcorn staff, is drawn to Nan.
As she glances at the figures.
ON NAN'S LEFT HAND
As she secretly reaches for and holds Burke's hand. Is it in
sympathy or congratulations?
TIGHT ON STUDIO EXECUTIVE FACES
As we see in ever-so-SLOWED ACTIONS, tense lips turning
gloriously upward to reveal gums--then a smile. More smiles
as we pan across teeth... bonded executives and bonded teeth.
The shot widens. The studio head mumbles to himself as he
carefully goes over the tally in every category. Then:
I don't need the numbers. I loved
His smiling face takes us:
Burke, ninety in the top two boxes.
A tear in his eye--a smile shyer than others. He turns to
the old lady, instinctively using this victory to settle his
most recent score as he says mockingly:
Now can I get you some water?
EXT. THEATER - NIGHT
Cathy and Matt are leaning against Burke's car. Cathy is
distraught--temporarily, but horribly, unsure of herself.
Matt is looking at her. If he had a little more confidence
going for him right now, he would make his move. But, for
now, they are two self-doubters on different trips.
I never thought it would do this
well. There were so many holes; I
told everybody it wasn't going to do
business. Why am I so public with my
You might be right.
Not with that score. You know, maybe
tonight's the night I'm losing my
entire mind, but weren't you in
Incredible. I was only there for a
minute in the rape scene, moving
past Charlie Sheen when I left the
hut... I had a great scene cut out...
But there was that one long close up--
where you seemed ashamed of yourself
but still arrogant.
That's exactly what I was going for.
It reminded me of my last boyfriend.
(indicating book bag)
Got to go.
She hefts the bag--puts it back down--crosses her eyes,
burlesquing the weight of the bag. He helps her put it on
You have to read all that?
Beast of burden.
So what are you, totally wonderful
She smiles and is gone, staggering a bit under the weight of
her scripts. Matt looks after her. Burke and Nan approach.
How come you haven't said anything?
This is great, right?
The definite recommends are way off
for a score this high and, even for
action-adventure, it's just too low
(Burke looks anguished)
He leans against the car for support.
It was such a good score.
I know... And, unfortunately,
yesterday's tracking wasn't...
I'm sorry... They just don't seem in
the mood for action-adventure right...
Sorry... May I tell you one more
(he looks up in
I think it's so wonderful that you
don't worry about even trying to act
Thanks. You want to eat something
I'm, uh... I'm blushing from head to
Good. I'll call you.
As Burke moves to his car. He SEES the Group Captain paying
Burke is looking at Matt with some surprise.
You want to do this regularly for
me? I was gonna offer, but I thought
it would humiliate you.
(straight at him)
I don't mind an occasional odd job.
But I can't work tomorrow. I have to
get my kid.
As they get in the car, Burke has the front door open, about
to get in--reconsiders, and gets in the rear door.
Okay, I got the cards to look at--I
think I'll ride back here.
Maybe I'll drop by your place
Matt gets behind the wheel, thereby ending the day as a full-
fledged chauffeur. They drive off.
EXT. CORRIDOR - DAY
Burke and Nan returning from lunch.
So, thanks for lunch. I hope this
leads to an evening date. Though I
have to stay home with my daughter,
Leslie, on Saturdays.
Yeah, okay. You were very interesting
to talk to. I swear to God. Honest.
No kidding. You really were.
I believe you.
And I was very surprised what you
were like when you weren't working.
There was absolutely no difference.
You want to see where we do the
Is it okay?
INT. TRACKING ROOM - DAY
The enter the room containing a maze of telephone cubbies
with workers manning the phones.
Nobody ever wants to see how we do
the polling, but they're like little
starved puppies when the data comes
in--running at you, scrambling to...
Burke hardly hears. He is awed as if by a cathedral.
1) How often do you go to the movies?
2) I'm going to describe a movie in
one sentence and then ask you to
rate it on a scale of...
(as the workers
I love this. This is what counts and
this is where you count it.
(soft and true)
That's the same way I feel.
You phone all over--you know what
movies they're waiting to see, whether
your TV spots are working. You know
what the country thinks.
...what feelings do you have about
Cher as a singer, an actress, or
...and it's accurate.
Within six-point-eight percent.
And you can't fix it... right?
No... no... Sometimes just for myself,
I can't resist asking America a
When do you feel more worthless--
mornings or afternoons?
I gotta get back.
They pause by a workers to say goodbye.
Assume Michelle Pfeiffer is the woman--
which of these 67 actors would you
most like to see her with... Patrick
Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Dustin Hoffman,
Johnny Dep, the guy from 'Major
There's something I meant to tell
you. You may have noticed something
unusual about me.
I gotta get back.
I could never find the right time
Is this urgent?
Well, maybe not urgent, but
immediately significant and necessary
(a deep breath)
You see, there's these pills...
'Cause I gotta go. I'm listening
with an eighth of an ear now.
He exits as the telephone pollster continues with the list
of prospective Michelle Pfeiffer male co-stars.
Matt, wearing earphones, is in the middle of a row of five,
intent on what he is watching.
A recent example of a great actor in a regular movie...
something like Brando in "The Freshman." No sound.
Watching intently. Not watching--studying... not studying--
fully appreciating. Now he sees a particularly good moment--
looks around joyously for half a beat--a reflex to share
what he saw. His neighbors, not quite knowing what he's
smiling at; he returns his attention to the screen.
EXT. MID-WESTERN HOUSE - DAY
As Matt's cab pulls up. He opens the front gate and walks up
to the porch, noting a tricycle, stirred by old guilts. He
knocks on the door. A MAN answers.
Are you Matt?
I didn't know if we could wait much
longer. Come on in.
He lights a cigarette, takes three quick drags, then flicks
it away before walking inside behind Matt.
She's a real nut on smoking anywhere
near the kid.
INT. HOUSE - DAY
They enter. A bedroom down a narrow hallway from where they
stand. Remember "The Best Years of Our Lives"... Frederic
March coming home from the wars and seeing his wife just a
beat before she sees him. Here we have a wretched mutant of
that moment. Beth, still fierce and attractive, is packing
her daughter's suitcase when she senses him and looks up.
Shaking her head with a disapproval which will never die,
she walks to him.
Hello--did you two meet?
Not really. Is she ready? I have the
I just have to say goodbye. You have
no idea how difficult that is.
It's three weeks.
It's not three weeks.
Yes, it is.
No, it's not.
Several beats--Beth and the man staring at Matt.
He doesn't know?
You are not taking her for a visit.
You are taking her for a while.
Just because you want to go off with
him doesn't mean I...
You're getting the wrong idea.
I don't think so. No matter how you
Hey, look, I'm a United States
Marshal. I'm here because she didn't
show up yesterday to start serving
I don't have a choice. You don't
have a choice.
She turns and starts for the other room.
What did she do?
I loved, helped and supported in
every possible way a business man
who committed the terrible crime of
being financially imaginative with a
She exits. He sits down, stunned in the headlights of his
INT. APARTMENT - DAY
Matt and the Marshal in the foreground as Beth talks to
Jeannie in the background. We see only glimpses of them.
Beth's face as she leans towards Jeannie from one side of
the doorway--just Jeannie's legs dangling on the other side.
Okay, listen carefully, Jeannie. Be
still. Now, what's the most important
thing in life to know?
No one will ever love me as much as
Matt and the Marshal exchange a look of mutual horror.
Good. Now, concentrate with all your
muscles and remember everything I'm
about to say to you...
The Marshal and Matt shift uncomfortably.
Don't talk to strangers. They may be
killers. Take your vitamins so the
poison in the food can't hurt you.
What else now?
Right. Thank you. Brush right after
you eat or your gums will start to
bleed in your sleep and choke you.
The Marshal and Matt can stand no more--they each call to
her... "Beth... Beth... Mrs. Hobbs... Beth." She looks out
and then walks to them.
What? I'm giving Jeannie her
Reminders?!? You can't say things
like that to a little...
No. Don't. No. Don't dare. Don't
criticize the way I mother or I think
I'll start to scream and never st...
You know, I've been involved with
this sort of thing for a long time.
You're not going to criticize me,
are you? Not in front of him--because
all he's done is send Jeannie these
long, stupid letters. He doesn't
even realize she can't read. He sends
letters to someone who can't read.
It's almost funny.
I thought you'd read them to her.
I'm not faulting you. You love your
daughter and this is a very tough
thing to go through. You feel guilty
and caring and it all gets mixed up
so that there's so much important
stuff going down that there's no
sure way of dealing with it, but the
best thing you can do is just make
sure you love her.
Typical cop talk.
(on his look)
But I understand what you're trying
to say. Thank you. Can I have another
minute with her?
She returns to the doorway which still only provides us with
glimpses as she SINGS, "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS." The CAMERA
MOVES down the hallway to INTRODUCE JEANNIE, trying to puzzle
things out as she sits amongst a ridiculous number of
INT. SITTING ROOM - DAY
As the two females who bear his name approach. Matt doesn't
want a pregnant first moment with Jeannie, so he wards off
silence with chatter. Unfortunately, he can only think of
Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi, hi.
(to U.S. Marshal)
She has her mother's sense of humor.
Beth stops him with a look, then bends down.
Okay, love, Mommy's going to help
others who need her for a few years,
and you're going with Daddy as I
(to Marshal and Matt)
We'll all have to help with the
EXT. BETH'S HOUSE - DAY - LONG SHOT
All three adults and Jeannie sharing the burden of the luggage
as they move towards the cab. Mother and child hug. Matt
struck by his child's plight, him.
(turning to Matt)
Beginning now, you must give less
value to your own happiness and well-
being, then hopefully, you will reach
the point where you give that no
value whatsoever. Give her everything.
There's no such thing as spoiling a
Even if you have to steal to do it?
You don't really want to mess with
me, do you?
Okay, sweetie. We have to go.
I want to go with you.
Can't, pretty-heart. I'm sorry.
Tears fall from Jeannie's eyes.
Not even a compromise?
The compromise will be that you don't
have to ride in back; you can ride
up front with the driver... okay?
As Beth buckles Jeannie into the front seat, Matt gets in
the back, alone, feeling preposterous. Beth nods to the
Marshal, who surreptitiously handcuffs her.
Can we please go?
SHOT - JEANNIE
The cab pulls away. Matt leans towards her as she looks back
at the receding figure of her mother and grows still.
ON MOTHER AND MARSHALL
As she sings him one last line of "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS."
EXT. SIDEWALK AREA - DAY
Matt checks Jeannie's luggage, then takes her hand. She lets
him. He is grateful.
It's going to be okay. I'm you're
dad, you know? So it will be okay.
You and I will make it okay. You
ever ridden in a plane before?
(a sudden gust of
INT. PLANE - DAY
Jeannie and Matt in the center two seats of a five seat row.
Jeannie is coloring in a book which Matt bought her; he is
holding some extra crayons.
Don't stare at me.
I want to put on my yellow dress
It's underneath the plane. We can't
And just that quick, Jeannie screams.
I want to put on my dress. I want to
put on my dress.
Other passengers turn around. This is pretty raw stuff we're
into. Temper in all its wildness, MUSIC UNDER... electric
guitar beginning to match the energy and naked emotion of
There's no way we can get the dress--
Jeannie's feet start kicking in front of her--the person in
that seat turning sharply around.
Don't kick the seat!
I want the yellow dress.
Give me a compromise.
She is crying now.
As soon as we land. That's the
Without warning, Jeannie slaps herself in the face. All five
people in the row ahead turn and say in unison:
WOMEN IN ROW
Don't hit her.
God, I didn't hit her--she hit her.
ANGLE ON LIGHTS
As everyone starts pushing the cabin attendant call button.
These dings magnify until they're part of the music--as it
drives and drives... Matt takes Jeannie's hand and tries to
Noooooo. Let go of me. Noooo. The
yellow dress... let go... let go.
She breaks away from him. He moves after her.
At breakneck speed, Jeannie dashes through the plane with
her father in pursuit... flashes of disapproving faces. The
seat belt sign goes on. A FLIGHT ATTENDANT blocks his path.
You'll have to sit down.
Jeannie takes advantage of Matt's being stopped and moves
into the toilet, locking the door behind her.
Jeannie, we have to sit down. Please.
We'll be having some turbulence for
the next twenty minutes or so. Will
the cabin attendants please take
(simply and utterly)
I have no idea what to do.
A sudden bump and Matt falls. He yells to the locked door.
Jeannie, you okay?
Go back to your seat. I'll get her.
As Matt makes his way back, the Flight Attendant uses a hidden
latch to open the door. Music building--then calming, the
worst is over. Matt makes his way back to his seat, shell-
shocked. The Attendant leans over him.
She wants to be alone. So we're
He just nods.
Down the aisle--Jeannie lets an Attendant lead her as she
peers back at her dad.
EXT. PARKING LOT - NIGHT
Matt carrying the sleeping child like a sack over his
shoulder, also managing to hold onto all her luggage.
INT. MATT'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
He has propped her on the sofa, a cotton nightgown out. He
is unbuttoning her dress. She opens her eyes, the window's
protective bars PLACING A SHADOW ACROSS HER FACE. She attempts
to cover her fear.
These are the wrong jammies.
Okay... so what do we do?
Jeannie mimics him perfectly under her breath. She goes to
an open suitcase and throws things on the floor until she
finds the right jammies.
Where do I sleep?
I have a sleeping bag and bed. Which
one do you want?
She surveys her pitiful choice; then points to the sleeping
She gets into it. He zips her up--then she says something
Amazed, Matt hugs her. A half-beat, then:
He does--then stands and looks down at her. She looks back,
mocking his stare with one of her own.
INT. BATHROOM - DAY
Nan uncertainly enters this decidedly masculine bathroom.
She is wearing an evening gown. The sun streams through the
lush foliage outside a wall-sized window. MUSIC as she opens
her purse and removes a pillbox; at one point lightly singing
a snatch of lyric concerning the conflicts of being a single
woman and a single mother--this while totally focused on the
INSERT - PILL BOX
A major movie shot of this compartmentalized box. Each
burrowed nest clearly labeled for the pill it contains:
VITAMIN B, VITAMIN A, OSCILLOCOCCINUM, PROZAC, CALCIUM, TEST
DRUG, ASPIRIN, XANAX, ETC.
MUSIC CONTINUES. She dials a phone number while arching her
neck and swallowing one pill after another with little swigs
of water. This process continuing, even as she speaks into
Monica--is Leslie up yet? Good. I
didn't want you to get worried when
you realized I wasn't there. I'm
still with that man. I'll tell you
about it later. But it's sure nice
to have wobbly legs again. Look,
today's recycling day for Leslie at
school, so give her some empty cans...
well, then dump some out for her!
Tell her I had to leave real early
for work and I'll pick her up at
school myself to make up for it and
we'll rent any cassette she wants
for tonight. Thank you... Take good
She hangs up. Another snatch of lyric as she bends to brush
her teeth with her finger; prepares herself and opens the
door to greet her new lover.
INT. BURKE'S MASTER BEDROOM - DAY
Burke sits on the edge of the bed, fearful. He sees her.
Oh, I thought you took off in the
middle of the night.
She moves quickly to him.
No. I just had to call home. Is that
why you're sad?
No. It's Everett. This kid who used
to work for me. He was always crazy
to do his own movie.
His movie not only opened to a three
million dollar Friday--it's gotten
Nan is dumbfounded; still she puts a hand on him, actually
consoling him for his hideous thought--Hollywood lovers: he,
wrapped up with ill thoughts of others; she, feeling intimate,
yet severely compromised. Cupid's work is done.
Listen. I'm tremendously worried
about 'Ground Zero' because of the
bad 'want to sees' you sent over.
But that's just me being nervous
over nothing, isn't it?
No. That's just you correctly
assessing the situation. So stop
being so hard on yourself.
He eyes her, then:
INT. MATT'S HALLWAY - NIGHT
We hear a muffled argument between Matt and Jeannie coming
from inside their apartment. Then the door opens and Matt,
holding Jeannie by the hand, moves down the hall to the next
door and knocks. (NOTE: Jeannie is dressed in layers of varied
clothing--some of the layers play clothes, some fit for a
coronation. She is a pocket contemporary Annie Hall... her
style so much her own it transcends judgement. Her hair is
unkempt. The door opens revealing Lucy, an Hispanic woman in
How're you doing? I'm from next door.
I see you with your kids in the
(seeing Jeannie, turns
...Who are you?
Jeannie is a bit shy.
Say, 'Hello, I'm your new neighbor
Jeannie says nothing.
I'm Lucy Crisala... What's your name?
Jeannie says nothing.
The form of the conversation is forged. Jeannie not answering
anything. Matt bending over to Jeannie while he forms her
answers to Lucy.
I have a little girl too.
Say, 'Isn't that nice... How old is
She's four and a half and I have a
little boy who is not yet one year.
Say, 'That's nice... I'd like to
play with them... My Daddy didn't
know your phone number, so we just
What can I do for you?
Say 'Daddy has to go to work tonight
(catching himself and
looks directly at
I need someone to help me and her on
short notice. I've seen your around
with your kids and hoped you knew
someone in the building or close by.
I've got this new job that starts
now. Do you know anyone?
Well, I'm always here. I could maybe
do it myself.
(there is a God and a
good one at that)
Oh, this is so great. Let's work out
a full-time schedule and...
Wait. Jeannie, why don't you come in
for a minute and meet Ricky and Essa.
Come on, we're making fruit bars.
Jeannie walks into the apartment past her father.
(again, to Matt)
Why don't you leave her for a while
and then we talk.
Sort of a test?
We'll just see how it works.
INT. LUCY'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Play-pen in the middle of the floor... Jeannie stands there
staring at Essa who is playing with her little brother. Matt
moves to embrace Jeannie who cranes away from him. He stays
with it, whispering in her ear.
Please behave, understand? I don't
know what we'll do if this doesn't
work, so behave, sweetheart. Behave,
As he exits towards his own apartment.
INT. MATT'S APT. - 20 MINUTES LATER
Matt is extraordinarily anxious. Then he HEARS loud crying
and screaming from next door. There is a stab of despair.
Matt deflates, then resigned, exits.
INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT
The sound of screaming now louder. He walks to Lucy's door,
takes a breath and knocks. The door opens and Lucy stands
there looking rattled.
I'm sorry I bothered you.
Could I have her a little bit longer?
My little boy just fell and Jeannie
is the only one he let hold him.
A devil's weight lifted from his shoulders. The slap-happy
smile of the just saved plastered on his face.
Your little boy fell, so he's
screaming. And you want her to stay.
Lucy, confused by his buoyant reaction, nods.
Okay. Seven dollars an hour?
Great. Thank you. See you later,
He tries to kiss her, but she shuns him. Lucy, now having an
official status, turns to admonish her.
No, that's okay. I'm fine with it. I
EXT. MOVIE THEATER - NIGHT
Burke walks tight little circles near Cathy and the rest of
his staff while a few feet away Studio Executives stand in a
cluster. There is a DISTANT, RHYTHMIC SHUFFLING SOUND. Burke
walks past Cathy.
Nothing good that happens tonight
can make it worth feeling the way I
do right now. Nothing.
(turning to Cathy)
What do you think?
(nervously taking the
To be honest, I had problems with
'Ground Zero.' But this 'People Get
Hurt' one, while it might not be my
exact, exact thing, I think will
really work for an audience. It's so
over the top, you have a great time.
So you think it'll score big?
INT. COUNTING ROOM - NIGHT
Where we discover the SOURCE OF THE SOUND. Some twenty card-
counters on the floor riffling through stacks of cards with
erasers. Matt and Nan stand in the doorway.
Don't worry. My daughter used to
throw fits in supermarkets when we
first moved here. It's all so
perfectly normal. Plus I know a great
psychiatric children's group.
That's what breaks your heart.
Jeannie's problem is that she's so
down on herself.
Well, she's lucky to have a daddy
who cares, believe me.
I don't know if lucky's the word.
I'm hoping she's asleep when I get
home so I won't have to deal with
her... I'm actually afraid of my own
Oh, my. I've had exactly that feeling
and never said it out loud. See,
there are men who talk my language
and I'm just cursed that I'm not
attracted to them because they are
so nice they remind me of myself.
Matt laughs. In the b.g., the counting is completed.
SECOND BOY CARD COUNTER
SECOND GIRL CARD COUNTER
Just a second...
The Group Captain notes the figure on a sheet, walks to the
doorway and hands it to Nan, who is still deep into
conversation with Matt. She begins walking back to the theater
without looking at the sheet in her hand.
I felt terrible about the way I blew
up at you when I first met you.
(before he can object)
FULL SHOT - THEATER AREA - NIGHT
Burke and others waiting as Matt and Nan come to a stop some
What are they doing?
I began taking anti-depressants when
we moved here from Washington. I had
some small reactions--sleeping 14
hours, no libido, I gained 17 pounds
in nine days--that sort of thing. So
they gave me pills to deal with the
side effects. And then pills to deal
with the side effects I was getting
from those pills. All this besides
the stuff the nutritionist was giving
me. The combination formed some sort
of potion so that I keep telling the
truth. I don't have a choice. That's
why I was so rude to you.
Your doctor says this?
Oh, yes. He's excited, but only
because he sees glory for himself in
it... See, ordinarily I wouldn't say
that about my doctor, but I can't
help it, it's the truth. He's
monitoring me for a while longer
before writing it up for this medical
Cathy has joined them.
Burke's going crazy waiting for the
How are you, anyway?
Matt shifts, figuring out his answer.
(a small laugh)
It's a tough one, huh? Me too.
Nan looks down at the score.
Oh, my. Matt, I'd better drive him
She starts for Burke.
ON BURKE AND OTHERS
As Nan arrives and hands the Studio Executives the score,
Burke looking over their shoulders.
I can fix this... Get some narration
written. . .
(turning to Director)
You'll cut 30 minutes. It will come
out like butter.
We're only 77 minutes now...
(mumbling to himself)
...a 47-minute movie... no, that
FEMALE STUDIO EXEC
I have to go. I have a nanny problem.
Thanks for the support.
She kisses his cheek and leaves. A beat of silence... Burke
turns to Nan.
Can you help?
Exactly the moment Nan has been waiting for... she does have
a valuable observation to offer at this dark moment.
Yes, I can.
It's only a movie.
As Burke looks at her from the depths of his pain and sees
her confidently believing that she has imparted something of
value, the movie's marquee lights go off giving us a:
INT. MATT'S HALLWAY - NIGHT
As he carries an enormously resistant Jeannie, wearing a
borrowed T-shirt nightie, back towards his apartment... Matt
has Jeannie under one arm--her clothes and shoes in another...
Jeannie's arms are extended towards Lucy, who stands in the
open doorway of her apartment. She begins thrashing. Giant
tears come--the moment is operatic.
Let go. Please, Lucy, don't make me
Everyone's tired. You can come back
Listen to me, Jeannie...
I want to live here with these people.
God, let me live here.
Maybe if she stayed tonight she...
I love it here so much that...
Now her father's last words have registered on her--she
immediately stops crying, though tears still roll down her
Daddy says I can stay.
Jeannie wriggles away towards Lucy's doorway. Lucy takes
several steps toward Matt, who obviously fears the looming
I no think you can give her what
pleases when she act like this...
Because then she think...
Matt is very much like a fighter taking a great deal of
punishment, knowing he is beaten, but being told by his corner
he must make a fight of it. He nods his head repeatedly in
I know... I know...
Now he sniffs the air in quick rhythm, hoping to draw in
some courage and resolve. He moves to Jeannie.
You'll see Lucy in the morning. We're
No. I'm not! STOP!
INT. MATT'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
As they enter and Matt pushes her into the other room and
closes the door, placing her in there alone.
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
Jeannie, behind the double glass-paneled doors of the bedroom.
Matt, upset in a way he has never imagined, as he pops a
beer--puts on some headphones for calming music and begins
to read a book on child behavior modification.
Feeling the restrictions of her punishment, pacing and now
she begins to wail "THIS LONELY LIFE". Few adult women have
sung with such appropriate passion out of need and loss,
aloneness and confusion. The song finishes. Jeannie sits
EXT. ROOFTOP - DAY
This rooftop serves as an outdoor commissary for Popcorn
Pictures. There are a few tables, snack machines and
umbrellas. The whole "D" staff is there, including Cathy,
having lunch, along with Claire, the casting assistant. In
the b.g., we see Matt, huddled, sitting on the roof's awful
green outdoor carpeting, feeling much the same as Jeannie in
the previous scene.
Off in the distance, the Popcorn execs contentedly ply their
trade. As he overhears their conversation and the words begin
to register in all their horror.
Will somebody take a minute to look
over my casting list before Burke
MALE D PERSON
This isn't so great, Millie.
Well, I wanted to put in people we
had a shot at getting.
MALE D PERSON
(reading from list)
F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Daniels, Ed
Harris, John Lithgow, Rip Torn, Willem
Dafoe, John Malkovich... For an action
Could you at least take it one person
at a time instead of...
MALE D PERSON
Okay. Let's play 'State the
Obvious'... F. Murray Abraham has a
nose as long as an Aspen ski line,
Ed Harris is losing his hair, Joe
Mantegna has never played the lead
in a big movie... Willem Dafoe's
teeth... Bob Hoskins looks fur bearing
when he takes off his shirt...
Matt can take it no more. He hears a loud voice coming from
his own throat. He wigs out.
I can't stand it anymore. I can't.
What's wrong? What happened?
What, in God's name, are you doing
in this job you have?
As they all start to answer at once.
I mean him. What, in God's name, do
you know about casting?
MALE D PERSON
Matt rises and walks towards the Male D Person.
Yes. What do you know? About anything?
You don't even know you have a habit
of touching your tongue with a finger
like you want to lick yourself.
(note: this is his
Yet, you talk like you actually know
something... So I want you to tell
...what you know.
MALE D PERSON
I'm not going to be drawn into this.
I've been an actor most of my life
and this is the first time I've ever
heard what the people calling the
shots sound like when they're casting.
So I really want to find out what,
if anything, you know because what
if nothing you know.
FEMALE D PERSON
I don't think the yelling is
Oh, you couldn't be more wrong. And
I'm not talking to you. And I don't
MALE D PERSON
How about you just mind your own
Matt is very close to him--he shakes his chair.
You're minding my business. That's
the problem... so, just tell me,
what do you know?
ON MALE D PERSON
Matt's manner is threatening. The Male D Person looks around
for some support and finds little... then Matt's tone
changes... it's reasonable, almost seductive.
Just tell me and I'll shut up.
MALE D PERSON
(taking the bait)
First of all, I've been going to
movies since I was six, for God's
What you know is the size of a
schnozz. What you don't know is that
...are for real...
She is a ricochet victim of every word Matt says, as he
continues to indict the Male D Person and unknowingly reach
her instead. His fury grows and becomes more complicated,
containing an element of mourning.
...that they can make something
happen, and even they don't know
what that is till they get in there
and play a little... they can make
something happen that you can't even
imagine... and it's not your fault,
this stupidity... 'cause you're just
this scared little prick who gets to
say he's making movies, and the only
thing they ever taught you is that
what you like doesn't matter.
MALE D PERSON
Thanks for understanding.
The anger leaves Matt. He is depleted.
But isn't it almost good manners for
you to feel a little shame?
Cathy rises and begins to exit.
I didn't mean you.
If you didn't, you sure should have.
She exits. The D Person's Colleagues have taken advantage of
the beat to egg him on.
MALE D PERSON
You talk about manners--are you
actually so bitter you don't realize
how you acted just now? You're gone,
pal. But at least know that we can't
help that we're making it.
Oh, shit. You win. You got lucky
with 'bitter.' That word just scares
me to death.
INT. STAIRWELL - DAY
A distraught Cathy is walking down as Burke bounds up.
You look down.
Thank you. I appreciate the support.
I'm not down for you. I'm down about
Oh. What if 'Ground Zero' doesn't do
well this weekend?
Please listen to me.
He nods, but she pauses, disconcerted.
I just got this feeling of seeing
myself talking to you and how this
is the most important moment of...
Okay. Good. What is it?
I've been watching this company make
movies that cost tens of millions of
dollars and all the while I've known
about this wonderful script which we
can somehow own and we could make
for about $14,000,000... $3,000,000
if you can live without stars or a
Is that it? Okay, send me...
I've sent you coverage on it nine
times. I swear to you, Burke, it
will work. You've never heard me say
How about last night?
(an unexpectedly fierce
I don't know anything about action-
(on his look, she
I have no idea where that came from.
Hey, I know everyone thinks I don't
have any commercial sense because of
what I said at the 'Gremlins' preview
and all... And you think I can't put
myself on the line. Well, if this
picture doesn't work, fire me. Have
me killed if it doesn't get good
reviews. If this doesn't get a 70
percent definite recommend from women
49 and under, I promise to be your
sex slave until they drop ticket
prices back to five bucks and start
enforcing the R rating.
You're selling very excellent. Very
You've got to do this. I think this
movie can save me.
Oh, please... What's the script?
'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.'
EXT. MATT'S APARTMENT - EVENING
As Matt exits his car with beaten down body language.
INT. APARTMENT BUILDING - EVENING
As he leads Jeannie briskly down the hall from Lucy's
apartment and into his own.
Why couldn't you even look at the
way I dressed Ricky?
Look, I don't want to talk about it.
I just had a real rough day... so
just let it sit there, okay?
But what was it? Tellll me...
Compromise... You sad?
(through gritted neck
Now, I really need to be quiet.
(eyes him, then)
You!! I know what will cheer you up.
Moving very quickly and with great purpose, she slaps a tape
into a pink child's cassette player and MUSIC BEGINS...
Jeannie sings along with the child's chorus on the tape,
"YOU COULD BE WONDERFUL", making, with little hand motions,
the last thing Matt needs, but, in due course, he starts to
actually make a bit of transitional progress out of his own
troubles and into the fact that his daughter is beguiling.
But, before the mood can fully sweeten, Jeannie forgets the
lyrics and begins to verbally assault herself as the tape
continues to play...
I can't even remember the words... I
No, you're not. You're not stupid
and I'm not bitter... and you know
why? Because there's no cure for
either one and we've got to believe
in some cure for each of us.
I am stupid. I can't even remember
the words to some baby song.
Oh, Jeannie... I just can't do this
The phone rings... As he goes to answer it...
Hello? Yes. Cathy... Hey. Just a
His mood has changed. It's a fine sign that Cathy has called
him at home. He needs only for his child to take pity and
listen to him.
Jeannie, please... be quiet for one
second... this is very important for
She decides, with some difficulty, to let him continue.
So? Wow. Good for you.
Jeannie mouths the words, "Who is it?" Matt holds up a finger
asking her to wait.
Me? This is great. I'll come right
over and pick up the script. Okay.
If you want to. Bring it over.
We might make it yet, kid.
EXT. MATT'S STREET - EVENING
As Cathy drives past some rough examples of street life, and
finally finds Matt's building with its grim iron gate security
system. Cathy, uncomfortable in these surroundings, parks
her car, brushes her hair, while, at the same time, putting
in place a phony cheap-car-radio-sticker over her own
expensive system, and gets out.
INT. MATT'S APT. ENTRANCE - EVENING
She buzzes his apartment and waits.
I'll buzz you in. You've got to be
quick and push hard.
In the b.g. WE HEAR Jeannie loudly imploring her father to
make the person wait till she's finished dressing. There is
the SOUND OF the buzzer. Cathy hurls herself at the door a
good four times before finally timing it right and gathering
the necessary strength to spill through.
INT. MATT'S HALLWAY - EVENING
Cathy stands there overhearing the voices from inside.
But why can't I stay just a little
Because this is a very special friend
of Daddy's and I need privacy... Be
fair... I let you wear that dress.
Cathy knocks. Matt opens the door.
He steps aside so Cathy may enter... The place is tidied up.
He has changed his clothes and Jeannie is wearing a lace
dress, fit for a young princess, complete with flowered tiara
and ballet slippers, with trailing blue ribbons at the heels
and a velvet cape.
This is my daughter, Queen Elizabeth.
Jeannie, this is Cathy.
Hi... What a pretty dress.
Thank you. That's nice.
Happy that Jeannie is behaving so well.
Are you going to a party?
Am I going to a party, Dad?
No. You're going next door.
Jeannie is crest-fallen; for a horrible second, it looks as
if she may start to wail... Matt moves into action with a
Remember our compromise? You're going
next door to Lucy's to play and you'll
show the kids your dress and I'll
come get you later and we'll go out
someplace and I'll buy you anything
you want for under seventeen dollars?
She starts for the door, doubles back, and kisses a surprised
Cathy full on the lips... The gesture is beautifully, even
movingly carried off. It is totally false.
(again to Cathy)
Goodbye. I love you...
Well,... thank you.
Jeannie is on the run... as she passes her father.
Jeannie nods acknowledgment as she flies past.
Favoring Cathy, Matt leans out the doorway until Jeannie is
safely next door, then re-enters.
What a little winner, huh?
This is my favorite project. And it
looks like we're going ahead with
'Mr. Deeds Goes to Town?' Oh, it's a
Well, come on, what's original? And
this is a wonderful rewrite. It's
And there's a part in it for...
Yes... Burke says I can test whoever
I want. He wasn't even surprised
when I mentioned you. So, if you
could read this rewrite now and if
you like it, we can make a test
they can make a test deal... we can
tell them that they can make a test
I think it's important for me to
steer clear of the business end.
Okay... which part?
Who goes to town, yes.
Matt takes this in... takes this miracle in.
Who are we kidding? I'm even having
trouble getting short parts--I'm
going to say I love it no matter
what you've done to it.
Stop being so creepy honest. I really
have an instinct about you for this.
I'm going home--call me when you
finish reading it.
(how quickly status
Or... come on over.
INT. BURKE'S BEDROOM - EARLY EVENING
A post-coital moment though only the man is visible; Burke,
who lies on the bed wearing a shirt and tie and nothing else.
Nan lies out of sight on the floor where she is recovering
from the deepest orgasm of her life.
Why not? If you can test movies and
premises and want-to-sees, why can't
you test screen tests?
Nan hauls herself into view, climbing back onto the bed.
I can't deal with your self-centered
dribble right now. I have just had
the biggest orgasm of my life and
I'm trying to figure out if I'm in
love with you.
Whoops. Tell me what made you rush
over and pick me up and bring me
here at six o'clock. I mean we seem
She closes her eyes in a characteristic and touching gesture,
as the scientist in her struggles to be precise.
...this unspoken agreement not to
talk about why we're together when
we're together and I don't think
it's good to let that become a pattern
She focuses again on Burke. Prepared for, at last, some verbal
Why did I rush to you? Because I
felt like I had to... be with someone
and you were closest.
(on Nan's reaction)
You're not at all aware that you've
just said something...
(her eyes close)
Look, I'm sorry if that came out...
I'm not looking for an apology.
I'm just trying to say that one of
the things I'm not great at is...
Let's not make this about your
shortcomings. I'm sure you've had
enough of those conversations to
last you a lifetime. What I'm...
No, I haven't.
No, you haven't what?
Had a conversation about
No woman has ever told you that you
have an almost barbaric insensitivity?
That you seem to have lapsed into
some final cynicism, where you
actually believe that, not only does
everyone think the way you do, but
only you have the courage to express
it? That you seem horribly certain
everyone else is sort of pretending
when they talk about love or seem to
care for anything outside their own
anus? No one's ever said that sort
of thing to you?
Oh, yeah... But I didn't get what
you meant by 'shortcomings.' Hey, if
you think things like that, what are
you doing here?
I'm here for the same reason 86
percent of older women loved 'Beauty
and the Beast.' I would like to
believe that underneath the creature,
there is a sweet, caring guy.
I sure hope you're wrong.
Nan breaks up, shaking her head ruefully.
I have to pick up Leslie.
Burke, not having intended humor, is also lighthearted, having
somehow avoided a tight spot.
EXT. CATHY'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Matt, holding the script, walks the small lane through the
tidy lawn to the perfect Silver Lake cottage. We HEAR MUSIC
from inside. (A soundtrack.) There is a note on the door,
which is slightly ajar, reading: "Come right in if you loved
it--ring if you have reservations." Matt enters.
INT. CATHY'S HOUSE - NIGHT
White walls, thick rugs, great, great, fantasy garret; sparse,
but cozy. He walks a step, then there is a girlish squeal
and a naked Cathy streaks the rest of the way to her bedroom
from the bathroom.
I mistimed it.
(sticking her head
out the door)
I wanted you to catch me fully
She smiles broadly; hurriedly putting on something quick and
loose to match her buzz. As she walks to him, the phone rings.
She ignores it.
So you loved it. A lot? A little?
Give me a second--all of a sudden,
there's a lot to deal with.
She sits on the sofa--looking at him.
Do you see why I think you're right?
Because you're nice and you know I
You know this is really happening,
so I wish you wouldn't kid around
Sorry, but I think the audition rule
is that I have to be serious unless
the person in charge is wearing a
bathrobe and her nipples are sticking
(holds fingers apart)
Cathy peeks down her bathrobe. Then broadly.
There are some mixed signals coming
out of here, aren't there?
(phone rings; she
Hi. Working... I can't write down a
number now. Call me back.
It's really good. I get a little
nervous thinking about the
I want to hear everything. You want
to go page by page?
If it's okay. I kind of work on these
things in a private... it's just...
it's a little better for me if I
Okay, let's do it. It won't kill me.
Please. I understand.
An uncertain beat and then she leans over and kisses him. A
sound escapes him. They get up and begin walking to the
I swear to God, I don't know which
thing I want more, the sex or the
What do you mean?
INT. CATHY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
As they enter and move to the bed where Matt starts
I mean I haven't been to bed with
anyone since Jeannie got here... I
haven't talked to anyone the way I
(cradling her breast)
I haven't seen anything this
beautiful. I haven't felt this good
about life. I mean, I've been lonely,
(as he enters her)
I'll tell you the truth, Matt. I've
never felt more like turning my phone
She twists her body gracefully, sexily towards the phone.
You can't shut the phone off. I left
this number with Jeannie's sitter.
I don't understand what you're worried
I'm not worried. But if the phone
was off, I would worry.
But I get a lot of calls.
I could put the machine on 'monitor,'
but it's going to be... I don't know.
It will be okay. I think the most
important thing is to stop talking
about the phone. Turn it off, monitor,
She twists toward the phone again--not quite so beautifully.
As she hits the "monitor" button, then turns back to him.
You look so serious.
I am so serious.
Matt totally there... this is major for him, then he does
something sensitive... reads her concern over the depth of
his need and interest and shrugs, indicating he can't help
She likes him.
As they make love... their union thrown off kilter by the
phone messages which roll in periodically as they thrust and
sweat towards intimacy.
YOUNGER MALE VOICE
Hi, Cathy... All my magazines came
today... Read the new Vanity Fair,
they take apart three people we
hate... Spy is bad this month...
Scorsese didn't get the Time cover,
the plane crash did... ha, ha, ha...
Why aren't you at the office? You
know, I'm getting to the point where
I prefer to reach people's machines...
The love making continues as the calls continue.
MALE D PERSON VOICE
Cathy? Are you there? Hello... Are
you there?? I'm going to count to
ten. One, two, three...
(then to someone
passing his office)
Did you go to the screening last
night? What did you think? That makes
two bombs in a row for her.
...four, five, six... Pick up if
you're there. I've got major gossip...
major screwup. It could be good for
Cathy, in the throes of sexual union, feeling a bit divided
by the offer on the phone... she shakes it off.
Is this the kind of crap you listen
to all day?
Please, we're making love here.
If the TV show bombs, there's going
to be a dance party on my grave. I
don't give a crap. Nothing seems to
have a point anymore. I'm really
questioning everything... including
action-adventure... Don't tell anyone
I'm down. Even destroy the message
tape. Don't tell anyone I said to
destroy the message tape. Don't even
give hints that there's something
you can't tell them, but you wish
you could... I'm losing it. I'm losing
it. I'm losing it. Don't tell nobody.
Don't tell nobody. Don't tell nobody.
The sound of a hang up... the couple having more difficulty
ON CATHY AND MATT
As they look to the phone and react--still joined, then:
(berating someone who
is with her)
You dialed bad... Where is he?
(with Jeannie coaching
Matt, Jeannie is very upset because
you are not here when you said. And
now the big hand is on the eight...
The sound of a hangup... As Matt springs from the bed.
It's all right.
(as he leaves)
Is there a name for what we just
INT. BURKE'S CAR - DAY
Matt driving. Burke in back as his anxieties gnaw away.
This is awkward, my driving you around
and testing for you tomorrow.
Well, I hope you understand I can't
drive you to work tomorrow and then
go in and test. It's just...
Burke reluctantly considers, then:
Okay. I was going to come in late
anyway. I'll get one of the kids to
Thanks. And, look, if I get the lead
in this movie, you'll have to go
back to sitting up front with me.
Burke laughs--surprised at being genuinely amused.
INT. MATT'S APARTMENT - MORNING
Matt, wildly dialing a phone--orange juice in hand, Jeannie
standing nearby. He shrieks one phrase.
No sitter!!! Thanks. We're leaving
INT. MAKE-UP ROOM - DAY
Matt is in the final process of being made up, going over
his lines. Cathy enters.
Jeannie's fine. There's a whole bunch
of kids in the building. She's
fascinated. And they're all ready
How many men are they testing today?
You're the only one.
Matt is surprised... But he is a pro and so immediately makes
use of this sudden blip in status.
Then tell them I need a little more
No, it's okay, we're done.
I mean for me. I want to focus a
(she hugs Matt)
Good luck, Matt.
The thing they're looking for most
And then they're gone. With that bit of advice, Matt is
totally fucked up. A beat after Cathy leaves:
You know who she was involved with
for a minute or so?
On their look...
You guys have to leave. This is
important and I need to be alone
They exit... Matt thumbs through the script... does a
relaxation exercise... takes a breath and thinks... a beat
and he is reasonably confident... he walks one half-circle
of the room making sure he's fully pumped, then exits.
EXT. POPCORN MOVIES - DAY
As crowded as it was for the previous audition scene, but
this time they are reading children of varied ages, and the
kids and their parents are all over the stairs, etc. Jeannie
is filled with wonder and is arrestingly and atypically shy,
as she makes her way through this world of the young, clinging
to Cathy's hand, as the kids sing their version of "MAKE
BELIEVE"--the stage parents taking one verse. At one point,
Cathy's begins talking to someone, blocking Jeannie's view.
Get out of my way!
Don't say it like that!!!
Which way should I?
(polite little girl)
Get out of my way.
Get out of my way.
Get out of my way.
All this noticed by a casting person with a clipboard.
INT. POPCORN PICTURES HALLWAY - SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Matt making his way past the last of the kid stragglers.
Cathy and Jeannie come running up to him.
It felt great... Everybody...
Let me tell him, let me tell him,
let me tell him...
Let him finish! God!
I want to tell him.
If you wait one minute, I'll let
Jeannie turns down her volume, but keeps repeating--incanting
actually... "I can't wait to tell him... I can't wait to
tell him... I can't wait to tell him..."
Anyway, the girl I did it with, by
the way, she's really good; the
director, the crew... they all thought
we nailed it.
Cathy nods and Jeannie begins to push Matt into Cathy's office
Wait till you hear this one.
INT. CATHY'S OFFICE
Jeannie sits her father down. This is the first time we've
seen her joyful. Pure glee.
Some lady asked me to go in a room
and, you know, make believe and say
stuff like we were playing a game...
The words coming so fast that Jeannie lets loose with a bolt
of SONG, as if taking a moment to catch her breath. Just a
few sung lines proclaiming happiness.
And everybody went 'yea' and they
said they wanted me to be on
And the SUNG PHRASE.
And give me money and have a teacher
there and a person to braid my hair
and color my face and give me
The sung phrase again.
You wait here, Jeannie.
INT. CATHY'S OUTER OFFICE - DAY
Several people milling about... Matt eyes Cathy. We still
hear Jeannie's muffled singing from the other side of the
I have to talk to you.
EXT. POPCORN PICTURES - DAY
As Matt and Cathy come into frame... Matt forcefully placing
her with her back to the wall. She is not one to be pushed
What in hell is wrong with you? You
I'm trying to hang in here but
everything in me cuts off when
somebody acts this way.
...that you can have my kid audition
for a show without asking me.
I didn't... She went for water and
by the time she got back, they had
offered her the part. Blame Burke,
he was there...
Matt takes this in. Just a millimeter underneath his fury is
What's the part, anyway?
The white kid in a multi-racial foster
home with all these kids of varying
ages. It's not a bad show. I sure
can't wait to see the test.
How were they able to test her so
No. They offered it to her off the
reading. I meant your test.
Oh... A child actor. Just what any
kid with problems needs to straighten
out--a series of her own...
Cathy has nothing to offer. Matt begins leading her back. We
HOLD ON THEIR BACKS and see the chink in Matt's confidence,
hear the tightness in his voice as he asks:
You'll let me know as soon as they
see my test?
Right away... You've got my vote.
They hold hands.
INT. MATT'S APT. - NIGHT
Jeannie, a script in her lap, caressing it, avoiding her
father's gaze. He sits nearby sizing her up, pissed.
I'm doing it.
Not if I don't let you. That's the
law, the police law.
She takes this shot hard, but tries to pretend otherwise,
continuing to stare hard at her script to avoid him.
Do I have to learn to read to be on
(with a real edge)
You're going to have to learn to
look at me and listen to me and the
longer I have to wait THE ANGRIER
I'M GOING TO BE.
(looks up suddenly)
I'm so mad.
Me too. Just listen.
I don't... why?!?
Because I know about this. I have
worked with kid actors... They don't
have that much fun. They're inside
all day... they don't get to go to
regular schools or play with their
regular friends like Ricky and Essa.
And their parents? You think I'm
going to be one of those parents,
sitting in one of those rooms, where
we all go crazy trying to jump start
our egos with our kids' sweat, all
the time smiling at each other like
our lives are working while we root
against everyone else's little girl?
(Jeannie is totally
No!! No way! I can't!
Okay. So, no, you're cuckoo anyway.
I won't do it. And I don't care
because I'm be stupid at it anyway.
She throws the script down. Tears in her eyes.
Pick it up, Jeannie.
She's so down, she complies--picking it up and walking it to
the trash can. Matt stops her and takes the script.
Let's work on it.
INT. BURKE'S OFFICE - DAY
The staff of Popcorn Pictures is gathered in the boss' office
watching Matt's screentest on projection TV. Burke sits next
to Nan on a sofa--Cathy sits in front of him--others in chairs
or on the floor. One ASSISTANT is attempting to "fine tune"
the color--the TINT BAR GRAPH is on screen sliding between +
and - as the color changes. Burke talks sotto to Nan.
So how do you think 'Ground Zero'
will do tonight?
She ignores him, continuing to watch the screen. He leans
How do you think my movie will do
I'm not going to talk to you during
Cathy turns in her chair and mouths "thank you" to Nan.
How bad can it be? We've got to have
at least a two million dollar Friday.
There's nothing else out there.
(turning to him)
A VERY ATTRACTIVE ACTRESS is crying... Matt very close to
Stop playing with that thing.
The COLOR BAR GRAPH does a quick slide and disappears from
the screen leaving the actors' faces green.
C'mon, Deeds, tell me about the
Don't worry about my crying. As a
matter of fact, crying turns me on.
Well, in that case, your dog died.
There is laughter in the room. The actress smiles through
her tears--pats Matt for being wonderful.
What happened at the meeting?
I can't remember. You're too pretty.
(on her look)
Oh, I told them I'd keep on being
I'm Chairman, you know.
Told them I'd keep on being Chairman
if they hired everybody back.
What did they say?
Oh, that I was crazy. You always
wear your hair back like that?
She kisses him. We HEAR the director say, "Cut. Terrific,
guys." The girl and Matt hug, no longer in character, as
others come in to congratulate them.
INT. SCREENING ROOM - DAY
Ad-libbed enthusiasm... mostly about the girl...
As the conversation about the girl grows more pointed...
Cathy, impassive outwardly, recoiling inwardly.
Okay, come on... let's have our
creative meeting right here.
MALE D PERSON
Well, I'd sure go to bed with her.
MALE CASTING PERSON
I'd sure fuck her.
Okay... that's her... What about
FEMALE D PERSON
I think he's a very good to excellent
But there's something...
You wouldn't want to fuck him?
FEMALE D PERSON
Well, six years ago, maybe.
I think he's talented and attractive.
So you'd want to fuck him?
He might be light in that area.
The man is talented. If you get one
of those directors who like actors,
A director can't make you hot if
you're not hot. You'll end up with
warm which is death.
Let me ask you something... Would
you fuck him?
Everything doesn't boil down to...
Let me stop you before you embarrass
Burke rises and addresses his staff... the camera has his
back in the foreground as it MOVES TOWARDS A RENDEZVOUS,
Burke moving too as he continues...
We all can do our little lectures on
what things boil down to. Everybody
else here was professional enough to
come out and say... I'd fuck her...
I wouldn't fuck him... and you're
ducking it... I want you to forget
the acting stuff and totally focus
on the issue.
And now Burke and CAMERA meet up--the effect being that he
is talking directly to us as he continues.
We do have some kind of responsibility
to the audience... You just saw his
screentest... so, if this is the
first time you saw the guy, do you
come out thinking to yourself and
your girl friends, 'I'd sure go to
bed with him; oh God, would he be
something.' Would you, Cathy?... I'm
being real here.
Okay, so let's keep looking.
They file out. Cathy gets up several beats later than the
others... and follows them out, avoiding Nan's look.
INT. CATHY'S OFFICE - EARLY EVENING
She's been sitting here for quite a while... she can postpone
no longer; she dials as one of her MOVIE SOUND TRACKS PLAYS
in the background.
Hello. Matt... Hi... Okay, sure...
She listens, waiting for him to quiet Jeannie.
Matt... Matt... Maybe it would be
easier if I just said 'hi' to her...
Hi, Jeannie... Yes, it's exciting...
No, no. He's right, honey, they get
somebody to read it to you. Now, put
your dad on--it's important. No,
first put your dad on... DAMN IT!
(she waits a beat)
...Matt. Uh-huh, a few hours ago...
They all... everyone liked your work,
but I think they'll go for a name or
She listens to him. He is hurt. Cathy, though, is also
wrestling with her own internal struggles. She has betrayed
him and is ashamed; in a strange way--terrified. She is,
therefore, just a little irritable.
It's not a matter of doing it
differently... they liked what you
did, a lot... they laughed and...
it's not you... it's them.
(suddenly her breath
No, please. Don't thank me. If you
feel like getting together later or
anytime, call me, okay? You sound
like you have your hands full right
INT. MATT'S APT. - NIGHT
As he hangs up...
I wanted to talk to her again...
She stops in mid-sentence, looking at her father. He is
overcome... his energy failing to get him past this most
awful moment in his life. She moves to his side. He starts
to cry and, urgently seeking privacy, he moves quickly towards
the bathroom, rubbing Jeannie in an instinctive gesture of
reassurance. He closes the door.
Devoid of anger. Sympathy so pure that it wrenches. She starts
to move towards the bathroom. Her voice sweet...
Matt opens the door quickly.
Everything's okay... I'm sorry I
forgot to put you back on with Cathy.
He walks across the room, Jeannie tracking him.
You didn't cried because of that...
I don't even want to talk to her.
Matt sits down, still suffering a bit of dysfunction, unable
to keep up appearances other than a few minor half-hearted
tweaks at his daughter who stands solemn and silent at his
side. She pets him some... this goes on for several beats as
the STRAINS OF "YOU COULD BE WONDERFUL" accompany the moment.
Dad. Can I say just one thing?
With some effort, Matt lifts his head and nods permission.
You've got to make me supper.
Matt nods, rises and leads her into the small kitchen.
INT. BURKE'S BEDROOM - DAY
Burke is wearing a T-shirt and shorts as he walks to his
four-stops-past-state-of-the-art Stairmaster and turns it on
while looking over his shoulder at the telephone... now
sucking in some courage, he goes to the phone and speed dials.
He begins to climb the stairs.
You have reached the Warner's Hotline.
Estimated Box Office Grosses for
Friday, December 3rd, Weekend Number
49, are as follows in millions of
He braces himself... there is a tone, then:
Due to the high volume of calls, we
must ask you to wait till a line is
MUSIC IN... At first from the speaker phone... Burke moving
in time to "THERE IS A LONELY..." And now singing... As the
lyric concludes and the instrumental comes in.
Thanks for waiting. Weekend 49 grosses
follow in millions of dollars.
'Belligerence,' 714 theaters. Two-
point-one-eight million, down 46
Burke smiles with pleasure... his steps becoming lighter,
'Best Girl,' 1,820 theaters, six-
point-four million, up 24 percent.
Opening this weekend, 'Double Dare
Two,' 1,870 theaters, fourteen-point-
...and now his film, "Ground Zero," is coming up to bat...
as succor to the gods, he tries to make his dance gleeful in
'Ground Zero,' 2,110 theaters, no
million, point four thousand dollars.
Burke falls off his Stairmaster and, from his new position,
finishes his song.
INT. BURKE'S CAR - DAY
Matt is driving. Burke is seated alongside him, talking
without looking at him.
I'm going to pieces...
The picture was budgeted at 21 million
and I spent 49 so they were a little
mad at me to begin with. Now it
doesn't open even with an Arby's
Roast Beef tie-in... I mean, we only
averaged 300 dollars a theater...
they're going to think I'm Woody
I don't think you have to worry about
Thanks. But this is private. What
about the exit survey? Did we do
good with any group at all?
Now we HEAR Nan's voice on the speakerphone which Burke has
been addressing all along.
I can't hear you, but--hi, Matt--
that was funny.
'I don't think you have to worry
She laughs delightedly. Burke leans across Matt's lap to get
closer to the microphone.
Did we do well with any group at
Eleven-year-old boys in the South.
He sits stupified.
Burke? Burke? Matt, is he...
I'll see you later. Goodbye.
He hits the "end" button. He slumps for a second, then:
I'm all alone...
At least there's that.
EXT. POPCORN PICTURES - DAY
As the car arrives outside Popcorn Pictures, we can SEE some
child actors and their parents arriving at the sound stage
Are you going to need me? The kids
are rehearsing and I'd like to take
Yeah, sure. I have to stay inside
during lunch hours now anyway--that's
when everybody returns my calls
because they're trying to miss me.
Is that true?
Yeah. Thanks for the support.
INT. TV STUDIO - DAY
A row of parents standing near their child actors, adjusting
them--not unlike handlers of racing Greyhounds.
Seen from a distance--her father behind her. In the
foreground, the mass of workers on the stage, It is, in
effect, her POV, even though she is in the extreme background
of the shot. We MOVE CLOSER to Jeannie and her father--even
a bit behind them. Jeannie is scared.
I bet I know what it looks like to
A giant "find Waldo."
Despite herself, she smiles at the reference, though her
tone is a bit sarcastic.
Five minutes, children, then we need
you for work on the set.
That pretend living room, right over
Okay. Set. Bye...
(holding her arm)
Wait a second, Jeannie. Let Daddy
give you a few tips here.
Nooo. I've got to get to work.
She breaks free, depriving Matt of the sweet and simple moment
he wanted with her. She's one of the first ones on the set,
other kids still hugging their parents. As Cathy comes up
behind Matt, we can HEAR Jeannie who, having so small a trust
for her father, needs to confirm what he just told her.
Is this the set?
Parents to Room Two, please.
(as he goes by Matt)
Parents to Room Two, please.
Jeannie is watching.
We have to clear the set.
Matt looks him off fiercely. The Passing Voice addresses the
This way, parents.
I'm glad I found you.
OTHER AREA - BEHIND GRANDSTAND SEATS
As they walk.
You holding up? What did you do last
night after I called?
(as if teasing)
What do you think I did? I cried
like a baby.
Okay. Okay. So you don't want to
tell me. Be a tough guy.
Now you got it.
I feel relieved just seeing you after
all that stuff... whew... Okay.
(preparing to go)
Burke wants to...
You ever go out with him?
Cathy is as simple and direct as she is embarrassed.
You slept with him?
Did you hate it?
(reeling a bit)
This is the thing that makes me
nervous about you... You keep on
assuming I'm nicer than I am.
He kisses her. She kisses back. Then there is an
extraordinarily loud and piercing voice.
He turns to see Jeannie beckoning to him from the stage--the
director, standing at her side, joins in. He walks to them.
ANGLE - STAGE FULL OF ACTORS
The Director is talking to Jeannie who seems, even from a
distance, distraught and lost. She sees Matt.
There's such trouble.
She's very worried about being able
to pretend cry when she has to and
she doesn't get it about memorizing.
The Director beckons Matt to lead her away. He does.
This isn't going to be good.
Not with that attitude.
She seems stung by this, unusually vulnerable. He changes
It's just that they... Well, did
they tell you what an audience is?
I know what an audience is.
Good. Now, because there's an
audience, they want you to know all
the words you have to say really
well. And since you can't read yet...
(off her fierce look)
...you're going to have to be patient
and try hard. I can help you.
She grasps at this unlikely straw.
Can you help me to cry?
(on her broad disbelief)
I can. I can help make it okay. Trust
Jeannie pauses half a beat, then:
I miss my mother bigger than you
INT. MATT'S APT. - DAY
Matt on phone, Jeannie standing next to him reaching for the
Not yet. Don't grab.
Thank you. We really appreciate this.
Hi, Beth. I...
Jeannie grabs the phone in a flash.
(softly into phone)
Mom? No... Nothing... Nothing...
Nothing. Nothing... Would you talk?
I'd just like to listen to you...
Wait. Let me sit down.
Jeannie sits herself by the window, protected by an iron
grill, and sits listening to her mother. There is about this
pose something prescient; unmistakably, Jeannie will look
this way again as a young woman cloaked in the love of some
guy... but for now it's her mother, her crazy mother, who
blots out dread. Matt is struck by how quiet and adoring
Jeannie looks even as he moves to give his daughter some
privacy. Several beats, Jeannie noticing her Dad looking at
her--switching positions, body language indicating that she
wants to put him out of her mind... then a thought.
Dad says he's going to make me to
Jeannie, your mom's not going to
understand what you mean.
Jeannie shushes him, resisting with surprising will and
strength when he tries to get the phone.
He's being terrible right now.
I love, loved, the coloring book you
sent me. Goodbye. Wait. I love you.
Let me hang up first. Love you. Send
me a letter. Bye. And a beaded T-
She hangs up. Matt pissed.
Why don't you let me be on your side
for a second?
I can't even understand what you're
Do you know what trust means?
It means that even if something is
hard to believe, you believe someone
you trust because you know he wouldn't
say it unless it were true.
I understand. So I don't trust
Yeah, I think you get the concept.
You don't make sense. I don't
I think you do.
Jeannie reacts broadly... indicating what a difficult man
she's stuck with.
Just know that...
You want to help me make a phone
She goes quickly to the phone and picks it up.
Who are we calling?
Cathy. She's very nice. One... six...
(hard to read)
"Very nice..." One...
INT. CATHY'S HOUSE - DAY
As she answers phone.
MATT'S VOICE IN BACKGROUND
Tell her, 'How are you' and then let me...
How are you?
Jeannie... I can't talk now because...
Wait, my dad wants to...
Tell him I can't talk 'cause I'm on
the phone with a director...
He wants to talk to you very much
I can't. I have to hang up.
INT. MATT'S APT. - NIGHT
Jeannie, truly stung by the hang-up. She takes this act of
Cathy's as an insult to herself and her father. Matt doesn't
feel too wonderful about it himself.
You have to understand that sometimes
people are too busy.
So she's too busy for you?
INT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
Burke and Nan eating together on an elevated balcony
overlooking the main eating area.
We look like jerks eating here this
early. Everybody's going to think we
couldn't get a reservation for the
Why do you do this to yourself? Why
do you insist on eating dinner in a
restaurant where you're bound to see
all the people you're afraid of?
I'm not afraid of them.
What do you call it when you think
that what a group of people think of
you can confirm or destroy any decent
idea you have of yourself?
How did little Jeannie do today?
Isn't it something that they have
you testing the TV show?
What I asked was, how did Jeannie
What are you talking about?
Somebody else. Jeannie. How did she
Don't talk to me like this.
I want to be treated as if I'm really
saying words to you which you engage
and respond to. I like Matt; I'd
like to know how his daughter did.
So before you take your dance of
desperation across the restaurant
and I end up feeling so sorry for
you that I could die, I would like
you to answer my question.
She did okay... and don't worry about
Matt... If the pilot sells, his kid
will be making five thousand a week.
So what do you know about 'People
I'm told that they're not going to
I knew. I knew. What the hell are
you smiling for?
Forgive me. But telling you about
this latest failure of yours--it
pleases me. I have no idea why.
I can't be with someone who's not
rooting for me.
I think I am. It's just that rooting
for you is a good deal more
complicated than you realize.
(as he rises)
Don't worry. I'm not that mad. I
gotta do this.
MUSIC IN as Burke leaves the table. This "Dance of
Desperation" is classical. Burke himself lifting one of the
women in greeting, then, as he puts her down.
Sorry. I thought you were someone
As he continues to go from table to table.
TIGHT ON NAN
As she looks down on him, dying for him, we HEAR her sing
the song "Poor Bastards". Finally, not only about Burke--but
the other damaged souls he seeks to dance with. Now, Nan can
take no more. She exits.
FULL SHOT - BURKE
As he sees her go past in the background, he goes after her,
finally grabbing her near the Maitre D' station. This, just
as TWO IMPORTANT COUPLES arrive. Burke frantically tries to
Nan, you know Victor and his wife...
(he mumbles, unable
to remember any wife's
and Jay and his wife...
Yes. I'm sorry I can't talk now. I'm
very upset about what's happening to
Burke, so I just made up my mind I
can't be witness to it anymore if I
love him and I certainly shouldn't
be here if I don't... so I was just
in the process of leaving when he
stopped me and you folks walked in...
I'm sure you've had something like
this happen to you some time... some
horrible thing in your personal life
happening in public.
They all nod and ad-lib agreements with her premise to Burke's
Thank you for understanding.
Goodbye. I wish only good things for
you even though I feel I've been
really damaged by this relationship.
She exits, enormously upset. Burke, torn between following
her and repairing the social damage. But the couples are
paying him no mind; rather they are impressed with Nan. As
they comment, i.e.
Wasn't that spectacular? I've never
seen anybody that secure...
Burke accepts the compliments as if meant for him.
Thank you. Thank you. We're very
EXT. RESTAURANT - NIGHT
The strains of "Poor Bastards" underscoring the moment as
Burke rushes into the parking area and grabs Nan's hand just
as a valet brings her car.
You don't understand that I'm
exhausted from hurting. I'm through
She begins to cry. Ordinarily this would be a scene which
would be unendurable for Burke. However, the lesson of a
moment ago is not lost on him. As people get out of cars and
witness the sobbing Nan.
(to restaurant patrons)
Excuse me, we're working our shit
out... I'm sure it happened to you...
you know, private stuff in public.
The reaction to his openness is disdain and passing contempt.
She drives off, leaving Burke hurt and alone. "Poor Bastards"
up and out.
INT. MATT'S APT. - NIGHT
The lighting soft and sweet. Jeannie's words are tentative
as she talks to her father who sits watching intently.
I don't know if I've been bad. I
know somebody's been bad.
...maybe it's you.
Matt laughs. Jeannie looks at him shyly... he looks at her
with encouragement. Suddenly she is in his arms, hugging him
hard, an emotional dam seems to have broken.
Oh, I love you so much, I love you
so much... I love you so much.
Matt holds on--clearly, deeply moved. Then he exercises the
effort to control his emotions and speaks, surprisingly, as
a Black woman.
(as Black woman)
I hope that makes you feel a whole
lot better, Chile... 'Cause it sure
goes a long way to cure what ails
I can't believe I...
(as himself, coaching)
...got in this much...
...got in this much trouble. .
Right. Over a...
Yes. 'I can't believe I got in this
much trouble over a word.' Now do
you know what she means when she
I don't want to talk about it--just
say her stuff so I know mine.
She starts to flail a bit.
It's your choice... But I'm not
helping unless you try to understand
as well as memorize. It will be fun.
Come on. I know it's hard...
Anything to shut me up, huh? Okay,
this little girl you're pretending
to be... she can't be with her Mommy
either, just like you, or her
father... she has to stay in Rainbow
House which is called that because...
...because everyone's a different
color... so when this little girl
calls the black lady who takes care
of all the children this terrible
word... it's like the worst thing
anybody can do... Come here.
I don't want to do the 'I love you'
Yeah, I might have been working you
too hard on that one.
She is unable to resist muttering one sarcastic shot.
Yeah. Why don't you do that with
Now, did the director tell you how
he wanted you to do it?
He said to smile all the time almost
and to talk... uh...
Okay. We don't always get good
directors, so it's important for
Me. You're not in the show.
I'm referring to the family of actors,
you little shithead.
Jeannie doesn't know quite how to take the name calling.
MUSIC IN... we're heading for a rendezvous with a dance as
it CONTINUES ACROSS THE CUT TO:
EXT. TV STAGE - EARLY MORNING
Matt and Jeannie walking from the catering truck. They are
eating ravenously. MUSIC CONTINUES... VERY JOYOUS.
This is so good...
It's a breakfast burrito. It's what
actors eat when they're working.
EXT. ROOF GARDEN - DAY
Now, let's work a little more. The
most important acting you do is when
you listen. You're worried about
being able to cry when you're supposed
Yes. So much.
Well, there are really only two ways
to do it. Think of something that
makes you really sad... or forget
you're you and really forget you're
How do I do that one?
Matt reads from script.
(as a furious Black
'Don't test me, child! I could eat
you for lunch when I was your age
and I'm a hell of a lot bigger now!'
Jeannie looks afraid.
That's it... You just looked at me
and acted right without even thinking.
And there are games you can play to
help you with this. Get up...
Now, be my mirror... do exactly what
I do... that's it... now, at a certain
point, I'm going to become your
mirror, but I'm not going to tell
you when... you tell me...
Okay. We're going to make up words.
The words aren't what matter now.
I'm on a roof...
You're a great dad.
(then stops; then
smiles at him)
This acting exercise of Chicago's Story Theater leads into
the song, "BE MY MIRROR." As the song finishes, Matt and
Jeannie are in the best spirits we've seen as an A.D.
They need you.
She takes the A.D.'s hand as Matt calls.
You're welcome. Don't mention it.
INT. CATHY'S OFFICE - DAY
Cathy is in mid conversation with Millie. Matt enters and
boldly says his piece.
I'm a free man. Let's go to your
house and break the answering machine.
You know, I could get away now. But
I've got a big meeting later. We'd
better take two cars.
Millie, having been at the screen test viewing, is taken
aback, looking from one to the other. Cathy knows what she's
thinking and is unnerved, feeling silently accused, as she
leads Matt out.
See you later. Thanks again.
EXT. STREETS - DAY
Cathy's car followed by Matt in Burke's car. The frame holds
both cars close as if this were one long car.
INT. CATHY'S CAR - DAY
She seems troubled. Then a decision. She dials a number on
her mobile phone and picks up the receiver.
INT. MATT/BURKE'S CAR - DAY
The phone rings. He punches the speaker button.
I hope it's you.
CATHY'S VOICE ON SPEAKER
So this is how the big ones make
FULL SHOT - THE TWO CARS
Almost bumper to bumper... snuggling.
ANGLE - CATHY
She takes a breath and then plunges.
INT. MATT/BURKE'S CAR - DAY
As he hears one of the more ominous phrases of the motion
Matt, will you take me off the
He picks up the phone. We intercut between the cars.
What's the matter?
I don't know whether I'm being a
coward for telling you this way or
brave for telling you period... Can
you hear me?
But I better talk fast because this
is where my phone always kicks out...
When we did your screentest... Can
you hear me?
Well, I sort of folded on you at the
She pauses, silence, then:
You didn't like what I did?
I did. Truly. But the discussion got
sort of dumb. It was a question of
That's what it came down to?
Well, sort of, yes.
You folded on whether or not I'm
sexy. You don't think I'm sexy...
and you expressed that to...
Well, I'll tell you. I certainly
must think so pretty much because I
feel great about where we're going
EXT. NARROW CANYON ROAD - DAY
There is a longish line of cars behind Matt and Cathy.
INT. CATHY'S CAR - DAY
Are you very mad at me?
No. You were just... Aw, damn it, I
am. Very. Yes.
Matt manages to pull to the side... the other cars gobbling
the places behind Cathy, who sees this... and now she watches
Matt's car recede from her view.
Cathy going out of sight.
As he lets her go.
INT. BURKE'S HOME - EARLY MORNING
He is in bed, wearing a bathrobe, watching projection TV.
...number seven at the box office
this week-end is...
He switches channels.
VOICE NUMBER TWO
...the two words are Tom Cruise.
He switches channels.
...becoming the first lawyer to be
awarded his own star on Hollywood
He turns off the TV and crosses to the phone, allowing us to
read the back of his bathrobe "ROCKY BALBOA."
ANGLE ON BURKE
He looks at the clock which reads "four a.m." and dials.
Hello, Nan. I hope it's not too late
INT. NAN'S KITCHEN - EARLY MORNING
She has been crying.
I'd like another chance.
You only think you feel that way
because you're on the verge of failure
and you're without a core...
See. Nobody else gets me.
(a beat then)
You wanna have a little sex, honey?
(a beat then)
You know I've never hung up on anybody
in my life... because what if the
next thing they said solved
everything... but I must end this
Nan hangs up. Burke picks up a pocket electronic notepad
from the bedstand and hits the scroll button.
INSERT ELECTRONIC NOTEBOOK
Names and phone numbers.
He scrolls past numbers, considering, finding them wanting,
so that, finally, he is scrolling the emptiness of his
relationships. Now he considers one number and dials.
INT. MATT'S APARTMENT - EARLY MORNING
The phone rings. He picks it up.
INTERCUT BETWEEN THE TWO
Hi, Matt, this is Burke. I'm sorry
to bother you at home, but you know
Nan... We were going out a little
and I could use another guy's slant
on what's just happened.
I don't think I can get into this...
Why? Did I catch you at a bad time?
Worse. You caught me at a bad time
Oh, you mean about the screentest.
The whole room thought you did good
Yeah, look, I'm not going to bother
you about my thing.
Yeah. Okay, good night.
INT. BURKE'S APARTMENT - EARLY MORNING
As he hangs up. Looks down and turns off his phone number
pocket computer. MUSIC RECALLS Prince's "There is Lonely."
EXT. TV STUDIO - LATE AFTERNOON
MUSIC SEGUES to recall "I'LL DO ANYTHING," as he drives past
the line waiting to see RAINBOW HOUSE.
(NOTE: FROM THIS POINT ON, THERE WILL BE AN UNDERCURRENT OF
CHOREOGRAPHY TO CONCLUSION...)
INT. MAKE-UP ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON
We see Jeannie's face in the mirror, but it is seen through
something resembling fleece, which we now recognize as the
strands of Jeannie's hair being combed out to the side by an
expert hair-dresser. Jeannie is shifting nervously in the
large room where each chair is filled with a child of a
different age and color. In the b.g., we can HEAR the voice
of the WARM-UP MAN.
...pilot for a new show called
'Rainbow House'. Just listen to our
band and I'll be back to tell you
more and make you love me...
The audience laughs thinly. The BAND PLAYS as someone closes
the door to the make-up room muffling the offstage sound...
There is a good deal of tension in the brightly lit room.
Jeannie sits between a FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD HISPANIC BOY and a
FOUR-YEAR-OLD ASIAN GIRL. The room is abuzz... kids running
lines and loudly talking... this builds to a musical life as
in our first audition scene... there is a briefly sung phrase
(Jeannie not taking part).
INT. GREEN ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON
The parents, in the same variety of skin colors as the child
actors, are stuffed into a small room being patronized by
the ASSISTANT DIRECTOR. Matt is grimly seated in the middle
of a long sofa containing stage mothers. Another sofa is two
feet away; the parents strain at each other. The A.D. is
talking grandly but we cannot hear his words because the
Rainbow Parents are SINGING a phrase from the same song we
heard in the make-up room. Matt does not take part in the
singing. The music goes under allowing us to now hear the
...and when you're in the audience,
make sure you laugh and applaud even
when it's somebody else's kid...
There is appreciative laughter from everyone save Matt, who
rises in disgust and crosses out of the room.
You're not allowed near the stage.
We only have a few minutes...
Matt ignores him and exits.
INT. BACKSTAGE AREA - LATE AFTERNOON
MUSIC NOW EMPHASIZING THE TENSION OF THE PRE-SHOW ATMOSPHERE.
Matt, moving about the area, looking for Jeannie, spots a
cluster of other cast members excitedly awaiting their
introduction. Jeannie not among them. An A.D. talks with
concern to a P.A.
Let me know if you see the little
Matt, growing concerned, walks on, then:
Across the stage to the distant make-up room. Jeannie, alone
in the room, which is so brightly lit it creates a bizarre
effect, as if she were under a surreal spotlight. MUSIC
reprises Jeannie's Sinead O'Connor song, "Lonely Life of
Stopping his impulse to go to her--he continues to observe.
Jeannie is nervous and uncertain... She plays with the handle
of the make-up chair... turns herself back and forth... Then
a very attractive TEN-YEAR-OLD BOY enters the scene--obviously
telling her to hustle... He offers his hand and she takes
it, instinctively masking all clues that this hand holding
is a "first" of great moment in her life. As they move toward
the main stage area, Jeannie looks around, needing
something... her dad.
She turns--sees her father and gives a small, cursory nod...
He moves quickly, drawing even with her but still giving her
a bit of space and a low-key pep talk.
Just remember. You're not even here
tonight. There's only this other
little girl that you're pretending
to be who lives at Rainbow House.
...and who just vomited.
Matt breaks up. Even Jeannie smiles briefly, then she takes
him aside for privacy.
I just found out that we bow before
we even do anything.
And everybody claps.
I made up a great bow. You going to
Wouldn't miss it.
I'm not going to be able to cry.
It's too hard for me.
Hey, then they'll just give you more
chances after everyone leaves.
This does not satisfy her. She rolls her eyes as she is pulled
away towards the front of the stage. Matt watches as the 10-
year-old veteran actor leads his little daughter towards her
INT. BACKSTAGE - LATE AFTERNOON - MOVING SHOT - BURKE
MUSIC, a tension-filled version of "Poor Bastard." Burke's
stride was never stronger, his posture never worse; head
hunched down into his neck. Suddenly, he reacts as he sees:
the staff of Popcorn Pictures grouped together backstage.
Cathy walking towards the group hurriedly from one direction
as Burke approaches from the other. Seeing his staff has
clearly moved Burke.
Look at you. You're all here because
of what's on the line for me tonight.
Having this many people in your corner
helps more than I would have ever
guessed. I'm just very grateful that
I made you come.
He starts off, but a jubilant Cathy stops him, whispers
something. He reacts with excitement.
MOVING WITH CATHY
She sees Matt deep in the wings watching the stage. She calls
to him with some urgency.
Matt. Matt. Matt.
He turns and she beckons him towards her. With some hesitance,
he joins her.
I don't want to miss her introduction.
I'll talk fast. It's amazing news.
Oliver Stone's been looking for a
I've got to see my kid.
(her voice breaking)
...he's doing my picture.
He starts off.
Part of this involves you. He
remembers you from 'Platoon' and
wants to use you in this one.
Got your attention, huh?
Matt is terminally disappointed in her last cynical sentence.
Oh, Cathy. Look, I'm going to watch
this. Let me talk to you later or
tomorrow. Thanks for your help. It's
good news. Gotta go.
From the stage, we HEAR the VOICE of the WARM-UP MAN.
WARM-UP MAN'S VOICE
First, in her first appearance ever,
There is applause. Matt's missed her intro.
Why couldn't you wait till later?
I guess it's because I'm just
incredibly insensitive to all human
needs. I'd ask you to save me, but
I'm so far gone, I wouldn't want you
to waste your time.
(after a moment)
She reacts, but he walks off, not wanting to get into it.
Cathy, however, has had a tricky nerve struck. She continues,
biting off each word.
You know, I don't have a kid or a
mate or a talent.
(holding up book bag)
I got this.
(she's quite upset)
And shoot me if I think it's
Cathy, who looks alone and adorable as we HEAR MUSIC of "THIS
LONELY LIFE OF MINE." He puts a comforting hand on her. She
speaks nakedly from deep within herself; her eyes downcast.
You think I'm a superficial jerk.
(and then a whispered
You can't be right.
I think you're the best of the bunch.
And now she raises her eyes--big, blue and vulnerable. If
this look were returned, "I love yous" could flow--they could
sink to the floor in a joint epiphany; but there is no romance
or kindling in Matt's eyes. He is in a hurry. Pridefully,
Cathy turns and walks off in the opposite direction, her
flight so instinctive, she forgets her book bag. We hold on
this--her exit, then:
INT. STUDIO FLOOR - BURKE AND MATT - 20 MINUTES LATER
Standing just behind the four television cameras, immediately
behind them, the "rail" where the Show's Staff and Crew
Members and Network Bosses stand crowded, choreographed in
the way in which they "clear" for a moving camera. Behind
these people is the studio audience. There is a loud laugh.
Burke turns around to study the audience.
Happy faces accompanied by the strains of Burke's love song
to the crowd...
What do you think?
But Matt doesn't hear him... a few feet away, Jeannie is
making ready for her big moment. Three cameras swing in front
of them, TV monitors showing a MASTER and CLOSE-UPS of the
three characters in the scene: a short comic WHITE MAN, the
Black Female Lead, and Jeannie, dressed as a poor child.
Wait. This is it.
ANGLE - STAGE
It's like everyone is pi... ticked
off at me because I'm not colored.
The White Man jumps on the phrase.
SHORT WHITE MAN
The word is black.
BLACK LEAD ACTRESS
(correcting him with
The word is African American.
A burst of laughter, whooping and applause from the audience.
Burke brags in a whisper to Matt.
I had them bring in two busloads of
people from black churches.
ANGLE - STAGE
As they play out the scene.
BLACK LEAD ACTRESS
Now you use it in a sentence.
Look at me, I...
And Jeannie begins to falter... she must somehow cry at this
moment... She looks outward for help.
She looks at the Lead Actress giving Jeannie all she can.
BACK TO JEANNIE
Jeannie still can't cry. She looks past the cameras.
Her father nervously pulling for her.
BACK TO JEANNIE
That didn't do it either. She looks into herself... she blinks--
there are tears running down her cheek.
Matt, very much as he was when he watched Brando on the
plane... and then some. Burke, craning to make sure the
network bosses are suitably transported.
BACK TO JEANNIE'S SCENE
BLACK LEAD ACTRESS
Go ahead. Use it in a sentence.
Look at me. I love an African
BLACK LEAD ACTRESS
Look at me. I love a little redneck.
The Black Lead Actress holds out her arms to Jeannie, who,
tears streaming down her face, runs towards the arms...
His lips pursed tightly in pleasure, then agape in shock.
Jeannie has run past the Lead Actress and off the set, going
into her father's arms instead. She jumps on him, her legs
and arms wrapped around him.
MATT AND JEANNIE
You little stinker!
You big stinker.
My little stinker.
My big stinker.
The background to this intimacy is enormously alive. The
Lead Actress and the Character Actor laughing out loud. In
the b.g., we see the audience filling out preview cards as
the FLOOR MANAGER leans in to say:
It's okay, Jeannie. Take a minute.
We just need to get that hug at the
(to Floor Manager)
You were great.
Thank you. That's nice.
You look happy.
I loved it, Daddy.
Matt starts to walk her back to the set.
You want me to put you down?
Her answer surprises him.
No. This is okay.
Okay... Now, you're not finished
until you hug the lady just like you
He puts her down. She turns from him to go back to work but,
on impulse, he restrains her. He is kneeling down, holding
her lightly by the arms, her back to him as he states an
I'm very proud of you. I love you
more than anybody.
Jeannie, shocked by her father's unprecedented sentiment,
turns to face him and clamp a hand over his mouth so he will
add no more lush and primal affection. Having silenced him
though, she finds that she has something of her own to say.
She'd never tell it to her father, but she can't resist
telling it to her acting coach.
When I had to cry, I thought of you
buried in the ground.
(a beat, then)
Give me a kiss.
INT. DRESSING ROOM - NIGHT
The cast of Rainbow House taking off their make-up, changing
clothes, etc. This is more than high energy and excitement--
what's the opposite of trauma? All are off the wall with
pleasure--the MUSICAL LIFE of the earlier dressing room scene
returning--peaks of glee resulting in sung phrases as before.
Jeannie enters and is immediately surrounded with love,
attention and ad-libbed compliments about her work. In this
glare of good will, Jeannie turns gloriously shy.
BLACK LEAD ACTRESS
Do you have any idea how special you
(on Jeannie's goony
That looks like a 'yes.' You've got
to get dressed for the party.
What will I wear?
BLACK LEAD ACTRESS
Go to wardrobe; they'll give you
anything you want.
She moves to her dressing table--sits, looks in the mirror
and giggles uncontrollably.
INT. BACKSTAGE AREA - NIGHT
Matt stands waiting for Jeannie. Nan approaches.
It didn't sell.
This show didn't sell?!? How do you
know so fast?
It's the first time they had me do
cards for a pilot and the demographics
are all wrong for after nine o'clock.
That's their only opening.
Jeannie exits the make-up room aglow. She is wearing an
incredibly stylish outfit and her hair is in an expertly
done intricate braid.
Hi. I'm Nan. I'm a good friend of
Hello, Nan. I'm Jeannie. Did you see
Yes, and you were wonderful.
(aside to Matt)
89 percent likeability.
And knowing that you were that good
means so much more than the show not
I couldn't help it.
What does she mean?
What do you mean?
What does she mean?
What do you mean?
That they're not going to be doing
any more of these shows right now--
Oh, my God.
And that means they're not going to
have a party?
No. They're still having the party.
Oh... really?... good... can we stay
To which Matt answers:
Honey, we're going to close the place.
EXT. ROOF GARDEN - NIGHT
The door to the roof garden opens and Jeannie enters--her
dad behind her as she sees the party... the sparkling lights,
the decorations, the other kids and MUSIC... our opening
As her father urges her into the flow. She passes Millie,
who is dancing with the boy who held Jeannie's hand.
I cast him so he has to dance with
me, but I'm sure he'd prefer dancing
Come on. You know how?
(angrily, with disdain)
They begin to dance with the others. MUSIC SLOWS IN TEMPO as
we indicate TIME PASSAGE and:
ANGLE ON BURKE AND MATT
Perched on a ledge eyeing the party.
I'm not comfortable with television
anyway... it's too small... I'm much
better at something with size... I
don't do itzy. Even this movie of
Cathy's--it's small... medium small.
But with Stone it takes on a certain
volume where I start to feel
(out of nowhere)
I hate my life...
...in a way. I had a drink in my
office. I'm confused. You're not
saying anything. Is it because you're
not listening or because I haven't
This Oliver Stone thing... does he
really want me?
Yeah. Oh, yeah. I forgot to say
Which one you want?
One of the two leads wouldn't be
No. It's the crippled factory owner.
Best part in the movie.
He gets off the ledge and starts to move away... Burke moves
quickly to cut him off.
Wait a second.
I want to see my kid.
A second--look, they're taking the
cast picture now anyway.
Jeannie, working her way to the absolute middle of the cast
picture, where she plops on someone's lap.
BACK TO SCENE
She doesn't look anything like the
women I usually go with. And you
know what they say, "beauty fades."
What they don't say is that it fades
You don't think I can tell you what
No. Only I can do that. I want you
to tell me what to feel...
(he begins to use his
fingers to run down
Look. I trust her. More important,
everyone does. You have no idea how
impressed people are with her. She's
smart. She's interesting. You never
know what she'll say next... Her
work is amazing. I like talking to
her. You have no idea what to expect
next. I respect what she does more
than any writer or director--sincerely--
much more unusual--much more
He walks away. Burke waves a grateful goodbye and looks around
the room until he sees:
BURKE'S POV - NAN ACROSS THE ROOF
Nan eating cake with her hands. She sees him. He indicates
he would like to dance. She does not move a muscle in
response... Still, he walks towards her. She begins to shake
her head, "no." He shifts uncomfortably, but keeps coming
until he reaches her side.
ON NAN AND BURKE
Dance with me.
(she shakes her head)
On a business basis.
(he turns away,
But I'll dance with you because I
think it will reassure me that I
should have nothing to do with you.
I'll take it.
As they dance.
Why are you breathing so heavy?
Nervous... Look, let's move our thing
in a more regular direction.
What do you mean?
Let me think.
What if we go out this weekend...
(before she can say
...with your kid.
Several more beats of dancing--as he awaits her answer.
...whose name is?
Whose name is...
SONG BACK--"WOW"... sung as a chorus... a slower cadence for
the romance as we... CHANGE MUSIC and they dance more closely.
The song slows for time passage and MUSIC CHANGES to "BE MY
MIRROR" as we...
EXT. DESERTED POPCORN PICTURES ROOM - ONE HOUR LATER
Matt and Jeannie--the last ones there. He holds her in his
arms, dancing. She is asleep. He dances her to a chair with
her wrap on it... shifts her around, wrestling to get it on.
She wakes up and puts it on herself.
Last ones here.
Well, I told you.
He takes her hand and starts to lead her towards the stair
I never got to see your bow.
She looks up, smiling pridefully, to see her father smiling
(as if it's a great
Oh, all right.
She bows. It is a bow all her own.
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