An eventful day in the life of our fictional Hollywood super developer, wrapped into five minute satire. Part of the 5M Projects. Written by Rogue Saint.
I’ll admit a problem I have. When I like something, I can watch or listen to it millions of times without getting bored. So, one week in March, I turned on that opening scene again.
EXT. STEEL MINE - MORNING... hundreds of men leave American Pipe & Steel after a graveyard shift. As the first guitar riffs fade in, two men separate from the crowd. One of them wears a Pittsburgh Steelers beanie.
This is the opening song and scene from one of my all-time-favorite B movies ever—All the Right Moves. I’ve watched it a dozen times. A little bit because of Lea Thompson, then because I like all Tom Cruise’s ’80s movies, and last but not least because of Craig T. Nelson.
But that gloomy morning above the steel mine and that song... I’ve seen and heard it hundreds of times. That’s how much I like it.
And there I was, watching it again, when a phone call interrupted me. A local judge was calling concerning a case of hers. The trial had spiraled into a charade where an assistant had sued his boss for wrongful termination.
I was adamant. “Your honor, I can’t do your job for you.”
“Son, these idiots don’t need a judge. They need a miracle. For the love of God, come here and help me stop this nonsense.”
An hour later, I showed up at the court. I was ushered into a tiny room. There you were, an assistant, and with you an executive, both crushed and hopeless, like Tom Cruise as Stefen Djordjevic at the end of the second act.
“This one is the assistant who called for you”—the judge pointed at you—“which you have already concluded, because he looks shy and confused, like Ross from Friends around good-looking girls.”
“Hey—” you tried a reply, but the judge cut you off.
“Shush. Now, none of you are leaving until this gets resolved. I’ll be in my office.”
The judge left us in a moment of awkward silence. I felt I needed to speak first.
“Okay, why doesn’t somebody explain to me what all this is about?”
“I fired this ass because he passes junk scripts on to me,” said the executive.
“Oh, it’s my fault NBC can’t muster any ratings? Who’s green-lighting all the junk?” you fired back.
“And how do I come into this story?”
“Well, he promised not to fire me if I help come up with an idea that will push NBC to the top of all the ratings.”
“And why would I help you save your job? I’ve never seen you before.”
“Camaraderie. Empathy. Good karma.”
“Dude,” the executive jumped in. “We’re toiling at the bottom of every rating category. Can you or can you not give us an idea for a show that will dominate the ratings?”
His words brought me back to the beginning of the movie. The opening scene. The song. I started to sing it loudly.
“I don’t ask for paradise,
Just face it on my own.
It won’t mean a thing to me,
If I go there alone.
They promised us we’d have a chance,
That’s all we’re hoping for.
A lucky break is all we’re due,
We can’t wait anymore.”
“What kind of garbage is this?” the executive said.
“That’s what you need,” I calmly answered. “You need to make all the right moves. And I just might have a first step for you.”
“You do?” Your eyes brightened.
“Our first step is an answer to a following question: What sport or activity is most popular today among teenagers?”
“I don’t know. Is that important?” asked the executive.
“It is, because that group is the most coveted for your ratings. And the answer is extreme sports. More kids are training in them now than in baseball or soccer. And the numbers are growing. So here it is...” I shaped a camera view with my hands, then stretched them apart for a…
“FADE IN. Southern California. A tough neighborhood. A run-down high school. And an electrifying band of kids from colorful backgrounds who...”
“Skate,” the executive jumped in.
“A blue-collar Beverly Hills, 90210? The original one, I mean,” you added.
“More gritty. More drama. Less soapy,” I added.
“YES!” The executive jumped up, high-fiving you.
“There are a few important things you must keep in mind. The backgrounds of these kids—they need to be different, conflicting, inciting. Their troubles difficult, sometimes almost overwhelming. They live passionately, oftentimes on edge, dangerous. Show the audience what these kids want. They’ve got to dream big. To fall in love. To get out of trouble. To fix their families’ problems. To avoid problems with the law. And there’s the Dylan and Kelly factor.”
“What Dylan and Kelly factor?”
“Let’s not lie to ourselves. You’ll need your own Jennie Garth type of girl. The one that conquers at first sight and holds you for eternity. Likewise, your own Luke Perry is a must. A troublesome guy who sometimes works against himself. But he’s handsome and the viewers desperately want him to make it. All the characters are important, but these two are indispensable. You get them right and half the job is done.”
“How should we title this series?”
“The title is important. You shouldn’t rush to choose one.”
“And you’re sure this will work on a network?” asked the executive.
“You can always play safe and stay at the bottom of the ratings. Is this good enough for you guys to start working on it?”
You nodded. My job was done. I exited, seeing the two of you cooperating like Stefen Djordjevic and Coach Nickerson at the end of the movie. As I walked along the hallway on my way out, that song played again in my head.
“Oh, look beyond these small-town streets
And see the world out there.
Oh, anyone can carve their own
If they only care.
There’s more for us than givin’ in
And only getting by,
They say we’re gonna sink or swim,
But we intend to fly.
And if we make the right moves
If we make all the right moves
We can show them all
There’s no way that we can lose.”
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