Get Me Rewrite!

A pitch meeting for Colorado sitcom ideas.

Scene Four

Writers walking down Sixteenth Street in a crush of humanity, eating enormous cookies.

F.W.: "How about featuring a bunch of women in Christmas sweaters who do nothing but needlepoint? We could call it The Crafters."

Patrick Merewether

M.W.: "Cheap to produce. Only one set."

F.W.: "Or the continuing story of a feisty lieutenant governor who just can't seem to get along with his 'better half.'"

M.W.: "Mr. Rogers's Neighborhood!"

Not yet finished with the cookies, writers stop to purchase large barbecued-chicken skewers. Eating intensifies.

F.W.: "People magazine says the only TV stars who make it anymore are painfully thin. Let's find some emaciated teenagers."

M.W. (chewing): "For the teenage show. Shouldn't be hard..."

Pastiche of slightly padded humanity, young and old, passes by, most of them on the nosh.

F.W: "Radiant, emaciated teens..."

Wide shot, Skyline Park: Five or six unquestionably homeless youth are perched on a cement block. Main characters: A chubby, rosy-cheeked boy holding a stuffed iguana (Poindexter). A lanky boy holding a skateboard, wearing an expensive Gore-Tex jacket (Al Gore). A chisel-cheekboned boy, eighteen, in a beret, high-tech head-phones protruding (FranÇois).

Poindexter (as if giving a press conference): "Okay. Yeah. You're doing a show about street life. It's about survival, dude. This is our day home and our night home, this street. We're kids that barely manage to stave off hunger."

F.W.: "Do you have any good stories?"

Al Gore: "This guy I know? Another homeless guy came up behind him and smashed him in the skull with a brick."

F.W.: "Whoa."

M.W. (impatiently): "Yeah, but what's funny about that? We're making a sitcom here."

Poindexter (stunned): "What's FUNNY about it? Homelessness isn't FUNNY, dude! Lemme ask you something about this -- is this just greed and capitalism, and you're profiting off our ideas, and we won't see one fucking dime? Huh?"

F.W.: "Well, I'd have to say it's medium capitalism, and there's certainly greed involved."

Poindexter: "It's NOT funny!"

FranÇois: "Yeah, it is. Sometimes it is."

Al Gore: "Right, like when the old bums get drunk and dance around and fall down?"

FranÇois: "And the mall drivers close us in the doors of the bus?"

F.W. (prompting): "And then you exact funny revenge on them?"

FranÇois (honestly): "Well, usually we just flip them off, but the thing to do, the right thing, would be to go down to the RTD board of directors and file a complaint."

M.W. (nodding): "Yes, I like that, go on..."

Poindexter: "Let me ask you something, dude. If you think this is so funny, have you ever fallen asleep outside and woke up with two feet of snow on your head?"

M.W.: "Yeah, and I called it camping."

Al Gore (laughing and poking M.W. in the ribs): "Dude!"

FranÇois: "How about if you made this show like South Park?"

Al Gore: "Or, like, if Drew Carey saw it and liked it? And we could play ourselves?"

Poindexter: "Oh, right. How about if Drew Carey were to die of hypothermia and his friends were all high on smack and shot themselves? And the audience?"

M.W.: "Go on! Go on!"

Poindexter: "And they don't even recognize sarcasm..."

Scene Five

The grounds of the former Stapleton International Airport. Crumbling runways give way to expansive views of modern office buildings, an imposing drive and a sign for Colorado Studios.

M.W. (in excited, Judy Garland, let's-put-on-a-show tones): "Could this be IT?"

F.W. (à la Mickey Rooney): "Could be!"

Interior shot. Elegant receptionist observes the writers warily.

Receptionist: "I'll let you talk to Mr. Garvin."

Enter Philip Garvin, in sleek corduroys and mock turtleneck sweater, late forties, fit, well-groomed, confident.

Mr. Garvin: "Hello, hello. Nice to meet you."

Hands shake, pleasantries and introductions.

Mr. Garvin: "Was I, uh, expecting you?"

F.W.: "No."

Mr. Garvin: "Oh, well. I have twenty minutes. Would you like something to eat?" Camera follows him into a lunchroom, pans sensually over steam table full of hearty Southern fare. "We seem to have pork chops today..."

Writers stammer, literally struck dumb by this manifestation of the Free Lunch.

Mr. Garvin (kindly): "It's not unusual for a TV studio to have a commissary on site..."

F.W.: "Whoa..."

Interior shot: Mr. Garvin faces the writers at a table, his assistant, Brenda, at his side.

F.W. (getting out a notebook and snapping the top off her pen with a brisk, professional air): "So, who are you, anyway?"

Mr. Garvin: "I'm the president of the company."

Writers exchange startled look -- can this be happening? -- that slowly changes to one of dawning greed. Perhaps Mr. Garvin can be "pitched"?

The rest of the scene is shot in jerky, hand-held, black-and-white documentary style as writers actually learn a few facts. Among other things, that there is no specific deadline for the contest; although Mr. Garvin will wait however long it takes to find the right property. He would like to start work in January 2000. That a sitcom pilot could be produced for 30 percent less in Colorado than in a more established TV town. That more than five "full-blown City Slickers-style scripts" have been received so far, and that's enough. That given the choice, Mr. Garvin would prefer thought-provoking-yet-hilarious content as opposed to simplistic yuks, but who knows what will develop?

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