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Season 2: Episode 3: Cliff Gardner

Studio/Control Room
DAN Donovan McNabb was 14-for-19 passing for a total of 163 yards and no touchdowns. He also ran for 19 yards...
DANA Could the show be any stiffer tonight?
NATALIE It's pretty stiff.
DANA Yes, it is.
JEREMY It'll loosen up.
DANA It can only loosen up, Jeremy 'cause I don't think it's possible for it to be any stiffer.
DAVE Stand by 55.
DANA I thought last night was as bad as we could get, but it turns out we had unexplored potential for stiffness.
DAVE Go 55.
CHRIS No, wait.
DAVE Go 55.
CHRIS That's wrong.
DAVE Now!
DANA Damn it, Dave, get it together.
DAVE Stand by 56.
DANA That's what we need: we need the control room to fall apart, too. That's just what the doctor ordered.
NATALIE He's gotten in everyone's head.
DANA Like a virus.
JEREMY Or like a tiny electrode that's been surgically placed in the cerebral cortex in the middle of the night by, like, I don't know, something from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." More like a virus. See? I'm totally off my game.
DANA He gets his way.
NATALIE Yes.
DANA No matter what, he seems to get his way.
NATALIE He does seem to be in control.
DANA After a week.
KIM Eight days.
DANA Who cares? It took me two years to figure out how to run this show. He comes in here, he gets in our heads like a virus or a whatever it is Jeremy said, and we're so stiff.
SAM Hey.
DANA Good evening.
SAM Show seems a little stiff tonight, don't you think?
DANA Yes, I do.
SAM Maybe even stiffer than last night.
DANA I believe it is.
SAM You know why?
NATALIE Because you're freaking everyone out?
SAM Could be.
DAVE Stand by 57 and 58.
SAM You know what I'd do if I were you?
DANA Kill myself?
SAM No, I'd whisper in their ear.
DANA I beg your pardon?
SAM The two of you, whisper something in their ear.
DANA What are you talking about?
SAM Men like the sound of a woman whispering in their ear. They get playful.
DANA Why don't we just get them a lap dance?
SAM No, we don't have that kind of time, but I like your thinking.
DANA Listen--
SAM Whisper in their ear.
DANA I'm not whispering in their ear, Natalie's not whispering in their ear.
KIM If you want, I--
DANA Kim's not whispering in their ear. You've got everything you wanted. We've been totally cooperative, but I'm afraid from 11 to 12, this is my show. And I'll deal with things the way I deal with things.
SAM Ok.
CHRIS We're in commercial.
DAVE Two minutes back.
DANA Excuse me.

DAN I believe we're about to get a pep talk.
CASEY Yeah.
DANA I've seen brighter performances by inmates. You mind telling me what the hell's going on?
DAN We're just--
DANA I don't want to hear about it. This show's supposed to be fun. You guys sound like you're giving stock quotes. Is there a reason I'm not aware of?
CASEY We think we should be--
DANA Don't give me your excuses. We've got 18 minutes of show left. What I'd like is you guys to start earning your money. Do you have anything you'd like to say?
CASEY Yeah--
DANA Good.
SAM Donna seems pretty mad.
CASEY Dana.
SAM Huh?
DAN Her name's Dana, not Donna.
SAM Is that right?
CASEY Yes.
SAM Dana's a better name.
CASEY I'm sure she appreciates that.
SAM You know what I think? I think my presence in the studio and in the control room is intimidating people. I think it's preventing you from doing your best work, so I'm gonna watch the rest of the show in the newsroom.
CASEY I'm sure Dana will appreciate that too.
DAN See? He's weakening. He doesn't always get his way.
CASEY Did he just take our script?

NATALIE We just lost the teleprompter.
DANA What?
ELLIOTT We just lost the teleprompter.
DAVE 15 seconds back.
DANA Dan, Casey, we lost the teleprompter. Work off your scripts.
DAN Sam Donovan stole the script.
DANA Well, then, no problem, Natalie and I will...feed you bullet points. We'll whisper them in your ear.
DAVE In 3, 2...
DAN Welcome back.

*c-break*

Dana's Office
DANA They're coming here.
NATALIE When?
DANA 8 o'clock.
NATALIE They want to give notes.
DANA Yeah.
NATALIE Dana.
DANA I know.
NATALIE The wheels are coming off the wagon, Dana.
DANA I know.
NATALIE They want to come give notes?
DANA Yeah.
NATALIE Just gather us up and give us some notes?
DANA They're very serious about it.
NATALIE Who's coming? J.J. and the boys?
DANA Yeah.
NATALIE Good, 'cause they're qualified to tell us how to write and produce a television show given their many years of experience neither writing nor producing television shows!
DANA What do you want from me, Natalie? We work for a network.
NATALIE How did this happen?
DANA Natalie--
NATALIE How did Sam Donovan happen? Why are we getting network notes? How did this place turn into a morgue so fast?
DANA We are in third place, Natalie. We are getting our asses kicked by ESPN and Fox.
NATALIE Those guys have been around forever. We're three years old.
DANA We're still in third place.
NATALIE Every show on this network's in third place. It's a third-place network. It doesn't mean we weren't doing the show well.
DANA Isaac had a stroke.
NATALIE I know that, so what?
DANA So I'm doing the best I can.
NATALIE No one's blaming you.
DANA Everyone's blaming me! And knowing me as you do, Natalie, I thought you might consider cutting me a little slack! (long pause) Natalie, if this keeps up, I gotta...look seriously at some offers.
NATALIE Really?
DANA I can work anywhere I want. Who'd want to stay for this?
NATALIE Well, you're not leaving me here.
DANA No.
NATALIE You're taking me with you, Dana.
DANA Of course.
NATALIE I mean, I don't care if it's a station in Altoona, you're taking me with you.
DANA I'm taking you with me. I'm taking you.
NATALIE Jeremy has to come too.
DANA Fine.
NATALIE And you're not gonna be happy unless Casey's there.
DANA Casey can come.
NATALIE Casey needs Dan.
DANA I know.
NATALIE Nobody's blaming you, Dana.
DANA We've got a rundown meeting.

Conference Room
Dana and Natalie enter to a full but completely silent room.
DANA That's what I like to see at the noon rundown: some lively chatter, the place alive with energy and ideas. Oh, the creative process.
JEREMY Dana?
DANA Stow it, let's take care of business.
ELLIOTT There's a, uh, memo from building maintenance that one of the legs on the craft-service table is wobbly, and we should be careful while getting ourselves food.
DANA What?
ELLIOTT There's a memo from building maintenance.
DANA That one of the legs on the craft-service table is wobbly?
ELLIOTT Yeah.
Dana breaks out laughing and the others join her, releasing the tension in the room.
CASEY Hey! The show's important, but first things first -- there are bagels on that table.
DANA J.J. and some people from the network want to meet with us at--
DAN I knew it.
DANA --8 o'clock. They want to give us some notes.
DAN Dammit.
DANA Danny.
DAN The network wants to give us notes?
DANA Yeah.
DAN I thought we were finished with that.
DANA Apparently not.
DAN And may I ask what--
DANA No.
DAN May I ask what you're doing about this?
DANA I'm having them arrested, Danny. I'm telling their parents. I'm telling the teacher. I'm gonna go to my room and lock the door.
DAN I'd accept any of those before I'd believe you'd just let these people in.
DANA I'm doing the best I can.
DAN And the fact that might be true absolutely terrifies me, Dana.
NATALIE Danny.
DANA You've become a malcontent, Danny.
DAN You've become a secretary, Dana. (long awkward pause)
DANA Let's do this later.
NATALIE It's ok. We--
DANA This meeting's over. (Dana walks out.)
CASEY That's nice, man. (Everybody except Natalie and Jeremy leave the conference room.)
JEREMY We're in trouble.
NATALIE I know.

Dana's Office
Someone knocks on the door.
DANA Who is it?
DAN I have gifts for you.
DANA That wasn't necessary.
DAN I think it was. You once took a trip to Napa and you visited a small vineyard there. You told me you tried some wine that you loved and you could never find it anywhere. I thought I remembered the name, but I wasn't sure. Is this it?
DANA Yes.
DAN Good. I always like wine and cheese.
DANA I know.
DAN I wanted to get you some cheese. There's a great cheese place over on Second Avenue. I went over there after I got the wine, but it's gone. There's a hardware store there now.
DANA That's ok.
DAN I got you some spackle.
DANA (laughs) Thank you.
DAN I'm sorry.
DANA I'm sorry too.
CASEY Hey.
DANA Hey.
CASEY Everything all right?
DAN I'm looking at tape.
DANA I'll see you later. (Dan leaves and Dana shuts the door behind him.)
CASEY You got some wine.
DANA And some spackle.
CASEY You needed spackle?
DANA No, but, you know, it's always good to have around.
CASEY How you feelin'?
DANA Terrible.
CASEY I've got an idea.
DANA What?
CASEY You're gonna say it's against the rules, but I think it's a really good idea.
DANA What?
CASEY Let's go on a date tonight.
DANA I think that's a great idea.
CASEY But?
DANA It's against the rules.
CASEY Yeah, yeah.
DANA Maybe today's not the best day to talk about it.
CASEY No.
DANA Thanks.
CASEY Hey, is there anything I can do for you?
DANA You could stay cool during the notes meeting. Keep Danny in his chair too.
CASEY Yeah.
DANA We gotta remember it wasn't the network that brought in Sam Donovan -- it was Isaac -- and that makes it a little more...
CASEY Yeah.
DANA Thanks.
CASEY So, I, was, uh, talking with Danny about the dating plan.
DANA And he thinks you should be psyched?
CASEY Yeah, yeah, which I thought was crazy, but, you know, maybe I'm the one who's crazy.
DANA Casey, I want you to date other women. I don't want you to enjoy it.
CASEY Ah.
DANA You see?
CASEY Not really. You know, maybe you could explain it better to me if we had a date tonight.
DANA I want us to have a real chance.
CASEY I understand.
DANA Do you?
CASEY No, but what choice do I have?
DANA (She kisses him) None.
CASEY I didn't think so.
DANA You'll stay quiet with the network?
CASEY Yeah.
DANA And Danny, too?
CASEY Yeah.
DANA Thanks.

Isaac's Office
Sam Donovan knocks and comes in Isaac's office, joining Isaac, J.J. and two other network staff members.
ISAAC J.J., you know Sam Donovan?
J.J. Oh, we haven't met. It's a pleasure.
SAM Hi.
J.J. This is Ray Mitchel, Director of Program Development.
SAM Hi.
RAY MITCHEL Hi.
J.J. And Billie Tasker, Senior VP of Current Programming.
BILLIE TASKER Hi.
SAM Hi.
J.J. Isaac, we know you're busy, so we'll cut to the chase. Sports Night's been underachieving. It's not an exaggeration to say at this point that the network's concern is extreme. Now, Ray and Billie have been writing memos and sending notes to your staff for a year, and they have fallen on deaf ears. It is simply time for us to step in.
ISAAC I'm sorry you feel that way.
J.J. Excuse me?
ISAAC I said I'm sorry you feel that way, that the notes have fallen on deaf ears. I've always felt that they were given their due consideration.
J.J. They weren't.
ISAAC You mean because we didn't take them? Just because we didn't execute all the network's suggestions doesn't mean we weren't listening, it just means we didn't agree. You didn't expect me to substitute your judgment for mine, did you, J.J.?
J.J. Not then, no.
ISAAC But now?
J.J. Yes.
ISAAC Will it keep everyone here from losing their jobs?
J.J. I don't understand.
ISAAC If I allow you three to go in there and mess with my show, will it keep my staff from losing their jobs?
J.J. I can't make promises.
ISAAC J.J.?
J.J. Yeah?
ISAAC I've never liked you.
J.J. I know.
ISAAC We're done.
J.J. Sam, can we see you a second outside?

Hallway, outside Isaac's Office
J.J. It doesn't seem like he's recovering as fast as we'd hoped.
SAM Really?
BILLIE Yeah.
SAM You guys want to exert more control over the show, right?
J.J. Yeah.
SAM Then it seems like he's recovering exactly as fast as you'd hoped.
J.J. I think our point was that he's no longer able to do the show.
BILLIE To tell you the truth, it's not clear that he ever was able to do the job. He was a bit of a sentimental choice--
J.J. What we're saying is that you seem to be able to exert some authority around here and we like the idea of a more sales-oriented executive at the top of the pyramid. So we were hoping when things settle down here that you'd consider sitting down and talking to Luther Sachs about making it permanent.
SAM {pauses) Was there anything else?
J.J. No.
SAM Okay.
J.J. Okay.
BILLIE Great.
RAY Good to meet you. (J.J., Billie and Ray head off. Sam returns to Isaac's office.)

Isaac's Office
ISAAC This is my favorite time of day and my favorite time of year in New York.
SAM Mine too.
ISAAC Did they offer you my job?
SAM No, they were talking to me about some numbers I'd put together on the Midwest. A small market team--
ISAAC Don't lie to me, Sam.
SAM They offered me your job.
ISAAC You should play ball with them, son. You shouldn't mess them around. You could have a big future at this network.
SAM I appreciate the advice.
ISAAC Don't brush me off. I know you like being a gunslinger, bopping from job to job, but you're better than that and you know it. Also, you're a grown man now. You don't have 30 cents in your pocket.
SAM Yeah.
ISAAC Think about what I said.
SAM You going to this meeting?
ISAAC No, I'm gonna go sit in the control room and watch a color test.
SAM You're the managing editor. You're gonna sit in the control room and watch a color test?
ISAAC I feel like doing something that has something to do with television.
SAM Okay.

Conference Room
BILLIE See, and that gets us back to the same thing we were talking about with note 22 on page 6.
RAY It really all boils down to the same thing.
J.J. Well, not all--
RAY No, not all. But what we're saying, and I think I speak for all of us--
J.J. Yes.
BILLIE That the problem's in the writing.
RAY Now, when we say that, bear in mind that we're huge fans of yours.
BILLIE Yes.
J.J. We appreciate the style.
BILLIE Absolutely.
RAY But you got to remember that not everyone is as smart as we are.
J.J. And we would like you guys to write the show more like, who?
BILLIE Keith and Kenny are a good example.
J.J. Yes.
RAY Or Craig.
BILLIE Yeah.
J.J. Now, we've been sending you the scripts and we've been writing notes and we've been talking to you 'til we're blue in the face, but--
DANA They've been trying.
J.J. No they haven't, Dana.
DANA Yes, they have. I'd like to continue this meeting in my office, please. This isn't fair to the staff.
BILLIE We find that when we give the notes to you, they don't make their way to the staff.
JEREMY That's not true, she always--
DANA J.J., Dan and Casey are professional writers, they're not waiters in a restaurant. You can't tell them what you'd like and how you'd like it prepared.
J.J. This show is bought and paid for by my network, Dana. That is exactly what I can do.
DANA I'll ask you again: please, let's have this meeting in my office.
J.J. And I am tell you we're past that.
DANA J.J., I was hoping this meeting would go differently. I was prepared to eat whatever I had to for Isaac's sake and I asked the senior staff to do the same which, by the way, is the only reason why Dan, Casey, Jeremy, Elliott, Chris, Will and Dave haven't beaten the crap out of you guys by now. I've changed my mind. At this point, you have two choices: fire me or shut the hell up.
J.J. Dana, sad to say that your attitude over these past three years combined with these totally unacceptable ratings make that a very easy choice.
DAN Hang on.
J.J. Look.
CASEY Yeah.
J.J. What?
DAN We can try harder.
DANA Danny.
CASEY We can.
DAN Nobody needs to lose their job over this. We can try harder.
CASEY Let's get to the rest of the notes.
J.J. Get to the rest of the notes.
BILLIE Turning to page--
DANA Let's take five.
J.J. Dana.
DANA Please.
J.J. We're getting through these notes.
DANA Do what you want, but for five minutes you'll be talking to an empty room. Let's take five. (All the Sports Night folks get up and leave, leaving the network folks behind.)
J.J. Unbelievable.
BILLIE I'm losing my patience for this, J.J.
SAM Hey.
J.J. Hey, Sam.
SAM How's it going?
J.J. It's going fine.
SAM I'm sorry, is it Jim-Bob?
J.J. J.J.
SAM Really?
J.J. Yeah.
SAM I thought it was Jim-Bob.
J.J. No.
SAM Talk a walk with me, will you?
J.J. Where?
SAM It's a surprise. (Sam takes them around the office) You guys know who Philo Farnsworth was?
J.J. Philo Farnsworth?
SAM Yeah.
J.J. What's going on?
SAM He invented television. I don't mean he invented television like Uncle Milty, I mean he invented the television in a little house in Provo, Utah, at a time when the idea of transmitting moving pictures through the air would be like me saying I figured out a way to beam us aboard the starship Enterprise.
J.J. Yeah, look, I-- I--
SAM He was a visionary. He died broke and without fanfare. The guy I really like, though, was his brother-in-law, Cliff Gardner. He said, "Philo, I know everyone thinks you're crazy, but I want to be a part of this. I don't have your head for science, so I'm not going to be able to help much with the design and the mechanics of the invention, but it sounds like you're going to need glass tubes.
BILLIE J.J., I don't think--
SAM You see, Philo was inventing the cathode receptor and even though Cliff didn't know what that meant or how it worked, he'd seen Philo's drawing and he knew we was gonna need glass tubes. And since television hadn't been invented yet, it's not like you could get them at the local TV repair shop. "I want to be a part of this," Cliff said. "I don't have your head for science. How would it be if I were to teach myself to be a glass blower? And I could set up a little shop in the backyard and I could make all the tubes you'll need for testing." There ought to be Congressional Medals for people like that. (They stop shortly in the studio, by the desk.)
RAY Maybe so--
SAM I've looked over the notes you've been giving over the last year or so, and I have to say they exhibit an almost total lack of understanding of how to get the best from talented people.
BILLIE Excuse me, but--
SAM You said before that for whatever reason, I seem to be able to exert some authority around here. I assure you, it's not 'cause they like me. It's 'cause they knew two minutes after I walked in the door, I'm someone who knows how to do something. I can help. I can make glass tubes. That's what they need. One last thing, the first and last decision-making authority on this show will rest with Isaac Jaffee until Isaac Jaffee says otherwise, and if you disrespect him in my presence again, I will rededicate the rest of my life to ruining the rest of yours. And if you think I'm just mouthing at you, you should ask around about me. I have absolutely no conscience about these things.
J.J. Sam, why did you bring us out here?
SAM Because there's the exit. That's it. The meeting's over. (Sam leaves J.J. and the network folk by the exit and heads into the control room.)
ISAAC You're a lunatic, you know that?
SAM You were watching?
ISAAC The color test.
SAM Yeah, well.
ISAAC You should have said it in front of them.
SAM It's not what I do.
ISAAC OK.

Conference Room
DANA What happened to these people? Someone want to go look for them? (Elliot gets up but is stopped by Sam entering) Where's J.J.?
SAM They're gone. I don't have to like you, you don't have to like me. I have two priorities. The first is getting from the beginning of the day to the end of the day without having a drink. The second is raising this show's ratings to the point where it's no longer in danger of what almost happened here today. Trust me. I won't make fools out of you. (Sam leaves and everyone else sits around speechless.)
DANA Well, let's go do the show.

*credits*

original transcript from the_49th_floor

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Tags: color test, network, sam, season 2
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