Saturday, September 29, 2007

I 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 30 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.

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.


We all spend most of our lives doing stupid shit.

(after a long beat)
That's it?

That's it.

So what's the point?

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.

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

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.

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

No, that's not it. Because the stupid shit seems to account for all the fun in life.
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.

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

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


They sit quietly for a beat. Then:

So who are they?


Those select women you want to nail.

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

Lizard lies back and smiles, almost picturing them.

Jessica Alba and Halle Berry.

Alright! Two of the very best.

Jennifer Love Hewitt..

There's more?

Ann Coulter, Jenna Fischer, Linda in accounting...

Linda in accounting?

Bob Harlow's wife, Bonnie Bernstein from ESPN, Cousin Ruth, both Gilmore Girls...

Okay, I think I got it.

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

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


R.A. Porter said...

Cute scene, Ken. My only quibble? Bonnie Bernstein's *gotta* be above Bob Harlow's wife. I mean, I like big butts and all, but have you seen the caboose on that goose?

That's why Bob had to upgrade to the California King. He kept getting knocked to the floor every time the missus rolled over on the queen.

Doug Walsh said...

You lost me at Anne Coulter.

Not even out of sympathy. Not even... not even to videotape it and sell it to Al Franken.

I care far too much for the opinion my dogs have of me to stoop that low.

Anonymous said...

Why are those people on the beach fully dressed?

blogward said...

'Anne Coulter' works if you imagine Steve Martin saying it.

Anonymous said...

I'm just so happy Rita Cosby wasn't on Lizard's List.

Paul Duca said...

James Lileks would LOVE that sign...

Sebastian said...

Admit it Ken, Jenna wasn't on that list in the first couple of years ;-)

Charles said...

The scene was cute, Ken, but it didn't pop for me until the discussion of the women came in. Or maybe it was the "words on the sign" line. Prior to that (no offense), it could have come from any number of mawkish movies-of-the-week. (I guess I'm showing my age there. Does "Lifetime movies" make a more up-to-date cultural touchpoint?)

Gary Mack said...

Happy anniversary Ken...September 30, 1982, Cheers premiered on NBC-TV. That was a quick 25 years.

Bob said...

"Anne Coulter" threw me, until I realized it was shorthand for "any alleged woman with a pulse."

Ken Levine said...

Re Ann Coulter,

How do I put this delicately? There's such a thing as a hate fuck.

Re Jenna Fischer,

Like I said, I keep updating the script. Hell, I wrote the first draft so long ago Ingrid Bergman was probably on the list.

Tim Dunleavy said...

Ah, but if you put the "hate fuck" line in after Coulter's name, it'll work.

Ken Levine said...

It's more elegant without it.

The idea was to make the list wildly varied with unexpected choices... and not explain any of them. Writer's choice.

Anonymous said...

How about Harry Chapin's W*O*L*D for the soundtrack album?

jbryant said...

Steve Martin saying the Ellen De Generes line would certainly resonate given his history with Anne Heche!

Fine scene, by the way, even if it does walk that line between "here's where the character reveals his true self" and "here's where the writer shows how us all how humorous and insightful he is." :)

Todd Mueller said...

I always cringe at the terms 'bang' and 'nail'. They remind me of my days in woodshop...a decidedly unsexy image . Other terms I avoid whilst referring to sexual acts: 'screw', 'spackle', 'clamp' and 'rough sanding'.

D. McEwan said...

Ann Coulter? No, you lost me at "picture Jason Alexander". Thank you, no. WHAT do people see in him? Mediocre blob of boredom, befouling show after show.

Okay, I forced myself to move past the Jason Alexander directive (But hint: that's why it hasn't sold. People keep picturing a movie starring Jason Alexander, and shutting down.), and instead imagine someone talented. I went with Christopher Walken instead (The man is funny.), and then I could read the scene. In future, if I may give advice to someone vastly more successful than I, if you want folks to read sentence 2, don't put "picture Jason Alexander" in sentence 1.

And I'm all for Steve Martin having sex with Ann Coulter, as long as it's oral, although if anyone is rude enough to keep talking with her mouth full, it's Mad Dog Coulter.

BTW, one way to perhaps have at least actually tried to have some of those women, rather than just prattle on about how much he wanted them, would have been to have left Bakersfield and gone where they actually are. Frankly, I wouldn't listen to Life Lessons from a man who never even learned Life Lesson #1: If you are in Bakersfield; LEAVE!

PinME said...

I liked the Ann Coulter line. It said something about the character - he went from normal guy with normal libido to 'holy crap this guy would f*ck anything' in a second.

Made me chuckle.

Clipping Service said...

From today's article in the Chicago Tribune on Tina Fey & 30 Rock:

Ken Levine, an Emmy-winning writer for "M*A*S*H," "Frasier" and "Cheers," is a "30 Rock" fan and says he agrees with that course correction.

"I think what she means is that some good jokes don't land because they go by too fast or are not really heard," Levine says. "Things can get lost. I think she's making a good adjustment."

Levine thinks Fey ought to change one more thing, though.
Tina shortchanges her character," Levine says. "It's lovely that she's so generous, allowing other cast members to shine, but she herself is very funny and at times underused. I hope Liz Lemon has more to do this season."

Anonymous said...

Barry S. and J. Lizard togther again after all these years

Eric k said...

Good, but Bonnie Bernstein has to be higher on the list, I've always had a thing for her, she needs to be witht he hot chicks before the Coulter joke