Monday, July 31, 2006

Can't get no...

This is one of those “please indulge me” posts.

Like most scriptwriters, I’ve got a drawer full of unproduced screenplays. But now I also have a blog. So if I can’t sell these scripts I can at least occasionally share some of my favorite scenes. Here’s one from a movie I originally wrote in the late 90’s, and have been rewriting ever since. It’s a bittersweet comedy called SATISFACTION and it’s set in the exotic world of Bakersfield radio. (I know what you’re thinking – with that topic and locale how could it NOT sell??? I wonder the same thing.)

Here’s the set up: Barry (picture Jason Alexander) and Jimmy Lizard (picture Steve Martin) were DJ’s together in Bakersfield 25 years ago. Barry left town and the industry and finds himself aimless and depressed. Lizard remained a jock in Bakersfield, playing the same goddamn ten oldies all these years but has a much better attitude about the world…even though he’s now in the hospital battling Leukemia. Barry comes to visit and they have a heart-to-heart.

******

LIZARD
Y'know, Barry, you lie in bed all day facing your own mortality and listening to oldies, and you start to do a lot of thinking. Stuff you never even worried about before. The existence of God, the meaning of life, that sort of crap. And hopefully you come to some conclusion, something that gives your world a little order. And I'm happy to say I have reached just such a conclusion.

BARRY
Yeah....?

LIZARD
We all spend most of our lives doing stupid shit.

BARRY
(after a long beat)
That's it?

LIZARD
That's it.

BARRY
So what's the point?

LIZARD
There's no point. It's just a conclusion. If you take the time we use to do something productive versus the time we spend chasing some girl who doesn't exist or watching "the Amazing Race" the ratio is probably 10-1 Race. Why we're programmed like that? I don't know. I was kinda hopin' being on my deathbed would make me smarter.

BARRY
C'mon, man, you're not on your deathbed.

LIZARD
Yeah, I know. Just trying to evoke a little sympathy. When I really do go I want it to be at home. On my death futon.

BARRY
So the point here is to do more with your life. Cut down on the stupid shit.

LIZARD
No, that's not it. Because the stupid shit seems to account for all the fun in life.
(beat)
But you want a point? Here's a point. Do what makes you happy. I've used my one precious existence to be a fucking disc jockey in Bakerspatch for 32 years, and you know what? I've had a blast. I'm never going to achieve great deeds, or leave a lasting legacy, or even bang those few select women I've always longed for, but Christ, how many of us do? The odds gotta be worse than Leukemia. So you might as well dig on the stupid shit.

BARRY
(with a smile and nod)
Okay. That's good. Real good.

LIZARD
Maybe the most important words ever written are on that billboard outside of town. "Sun, fun, stay, play".

BARRY
Deep.

They sit quietly for a beat. Then:

BARRY
So who are they?

LIZARD
Who?

BARRY
Those select women you want to nail.

LIZARD
Well, that's a little personal, but...

Lizard lies back and smiles, almost picturing them.

LIZARD
Cameron Diaz and Halle Berry.

BARRY
Alright! Two of the very best.

LIZARD
Catherine Zeta-Jones...

BARRY
There's more?

LIZARD
Ann Coulter, Jennifer Garner, Linda in accounting...

BARRY
Linda in accounting?

LIZARD
Bob Harlow's wife, Bonnie Bernstein from CBS sports, Cousin Ruth, both Gilmore Girls...

BARRY
Okay, I think I got it.

LIZARD
Ellen DeGeneres just to see if I can, Sister Mary from church...

And Lizard continues what is sure to be a long long list.

14 comments:

zazupitts said...

"Do what makes you happy."

Those wise words from my dad after I finished my first night on the air as a 17-year-old dj at a small FM station in the San Fernando Valley (north of L.A.)

"I have no idea."

And those wise words from my dad 45 years later, shortly before he died, when I asked him the purpose of life.

Lizard's words would have received a resounding endorsement from the wisest man I ever knew, and I'm sure they'll resonate with others.

Great scene.

The Minstrel Boy said...

i sometimes tell people that i would give up my whole career in the studio, soundtrack, and jingle aspect of music for a working bar band in l.a., san francisco, or even seattle. it's hard to feel like a musician when you're caged in a booth alone for six hour stretches. but then, i have days where i decide work isn't that important and on a whim fly somewhere to catch a ball game. . .trade offs and choices can just be a bitch.

strwrs777 said...

I like it.

Scribe LA said...

The title "Satisfaction" may have been the reason for the non-sell. In the 90's it was still too close to time when the Julia Roberts girl power band flick "Satisfaction" torched up the box office. Wait a minute, that "Satisfcation" wasn't, ahem, satisfying at the box office. Oh, well, maybe it is the whole Bakersfield DJ thing after all.
Thanks for sharing some of your goodies.
Scribe

Lloyd Thaxton said...

KEN:

Isn't there a law against plagiarism? You stole my list.

Lloyd

P.S. It's OK. I've really stopped thinking about it. The people on the list, I mean.

Hollie Nell said...

Great scene. I'd like to see a screenplay like this. But instead I'll have to see Superman 15 and Batman 12. Oh well.. It's good to hear that even writers as successful as yourself still have scripts that even if they are good aren't going anywhere. Tells me just to keep at it. Someday one will be the ticket.

Richard Jensen said...

Ken:

Very lovely scene. Now I'm curious to read the whole thing. Since that's not possible, I'll just have to wait to see it in the theaters.
One minor beef though, ANN COULTER!!!

Dana said...

I actually saw Alan Alda as Lizard. He likes working these days.

Maybe you can do it as a play...in Bakersfield to start.

guyot said...

Bonnie wasn't with CBS back in the 90's.


And Cameron Diaz???

She's two paychecks away from being white trash you wouldn't even look at in line at Sav-On.

Bob Harlow said...

Ken,

I have to say I agree with at least one of the women on that list!

gezgin said...

This scene looks naive when compared to the sex talk in "American Pie" franchise. It contains a very smart transition from the spiritual talk at the beginning to the mundane talk in the second half. Nevertheless, it is not as good as it could have been, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Alas, Sun, Fun, Stay, Play is no more. Ken Jones purchased the two signs in 1983, and somewhere down the road, they were scrapped. We now have the stupidest squiggle you have ever seen.

Mike said...

Nice to see Bob Harlow's name in print.

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