gonewiththereap: (adair: by allweeklong)
[personal profile] gonewiththereap


HOLLYWOOD EMBASSY: EPISODE 1.01 “Welcome To The Embassy”

INT. ANDREW’S ROOM - DAY

Two people enter from the hall, chatting as they do.

CHRISTIAN is very down to earth, humble. While he doesn’t slack off when it comes to his appearance, it’s immediately clear that he doesn’t care as much as everyone else in the room. His hair doesn’t have product and his clothes aren’t designer brand. He is a commoner. He moves with confidence, but not cockiness.

BELLA is dramatic with everything. Perfectly styled down to the last toenail, she smokes too much, speaks too loud, and does everything she can in excess. Diminutive, but powerful in every way. With one look at her, you know not to cross her. She’s a Southern Belle and proud of it.

CHRISTIAN
How sure about this are you?

BELLA
Do you mean…

CHRISTIAN
Confidence, Bella. Are you confident?

BELLA
As confident as Andrew is a sleaze.

CHRISTIAN
[throws $20 on the table]
Twenty on Jake getting the role.

Four other people are already in the room, forming a pseudo-circle around a table.

ANDREW is on the telephone. He looks up briefly and acknowledges their presence. Constantly rolling his eyes and terse. He’s gorgeous and well aware of it. What CHRISTIAN lacks in cockiness, ANDREW makes up for it doubly. Always idly playing with something, and makes relaxing look good and natural. Lewd, leering, and quite attracted to both sexes.

ANDREA has all the attractiveness of a flower in bloom. Unfortunately, it’s a wallflower. Balled in on herself and often a visible bundle of nerves. Has a habit of stuttering when things get overwhelming.

WILL is paranoid and slightly twitchy. He always has some manner of writing instrument on him. He is oftentimes scribbling away. Wears glasses, but can be vain (a habit picked up from JAKE, his best friend).

RICK is just as pretty as ANDREW and just as insecure as ANDREA, but hides it better. He’s smooth, graceful and always (consciously or subconsciously) physically leaning towards CHRISTIAN.

ANDREW looks up from the telephone and rolls his eyes. BELLA collapses in a chair, immediately lighting a cigarette while CHRISTIAN sits beside ANDREA, steadfastly avoiding RICK. WILL scribbles away on a notepad while they listen to ANDREW. In the middle of the room is a table with a pile of loose bills and change atop it. WILL keeps taking money and nervously tossing it back in.

ANDREW
Yes, Nicholas, I understand. [soothingly, as he grits his teeth] Of course you don’t like the actor. Yes, I realize what he said about you was uncouth, unkind, and…yes, I understand what he said about your wife. [Pause] Yes, and your daughter. [Pause; almost gleefully] No, I hadn’t heard he said that about your impotence….

RICK and WILL give him a glare and ANDREW immediately sobers.

ANDREW (cont’d)
Which of course, is a horrible joke. Of course. And I see all your points, and yes, I understand that you had to fire him. Might I ask though, who are you giving me in his place?

BELLA licks her lips and grins confidently as she stretches her legs out on top of the table. ANDREW looks at her.

ANDREW (cont’d)
Oh, really? On whose recommendation? [Pause] I see. Yes, I’ve heard she’s quite the influential casting director.

RICK and WILL groan and sit back.

ANDREW (cont’d)
I’m sure Mr. Boyd will be pleased to hear about his latest luck. I’ll drop a personal note about your preferences on set with Jake at my next convenience. [Smiles insincerely] Yes, always a pleasure with you as well Mr. Linwood. [Hangs up firmly] If that man isn’t the spotted arse of a diseased emu’s…

ANDREA
[absently and to CHRISTIAN] Think he’s cranky?

WILL
Well, if I had money to put on this…[bitterly] which I don’t, I’d say that Andrew is trying to inflict us with his special brand of cheer and sunlight for the rest of the day.

ANDREW
William, if you do not shut up very soon, I will take that precious pen, your beloved typewriter and anything resembling a script you have been working on, and I will send it out to sea on a cheerful voyage of its own.

RICK
And to think this isn’t even the worst of his bad moods.

BELLA
At least you got a good laugh out of this one.

ANDREW
Are there laws that prohibit me from maiming him in unseen ways? Surely I wouldn’t kill him.

BELLA
Honey, make his life miserable and be done with it. You’ve got two stars on the film that you like to work with. Things could be worse.

ANDREW
They could be better. Nick Linwood could be dead.

ANDREA
We all wish.

ANDREW
Andrea, love, you’ve hit it on the button. I mean, honestly. Does anyone in this town like the man? Wish him dead, indeed.

WILL
Yeah, when you get the good fortune to stumble along a genie, or a pot of gold, or a wishing star, please wish him dead. I’ll write a nice eulogy that Rick can give and win an Emmy for.

RICK
I’ll win an Emmy with something you wrote?

WILL
At least you’d have one award that means something.

RICK
Oh, you mean, as opposed to no awards at all like a certain writer, paging William Penn.

WILL
Wow, you actually remembered your lines from your briefest of brief guest stints on some hospital show that’ll be cancelled in two months! Bravo, Mr. Campbell.

BELLA
Oh, knock it off boys, no need to go about testing how manly y’all are.

WILL
Or how sturdy my consciousness is. The concussion from last week is fine enough, thanks.

CHRISTIAN
You tripped and hit your head.

WILL
Rick was being threatening.

ANDREA
Rick isn’t threatening. He’s not even remotely scary. He’s like a kitten.

RICK
Hey!

ANDREA
With mildly sharp claws. Sorry, the face makes it hard to take you seriously.

RICK
I’m being called a kitten.

ANDREW
[patronizingly]
Would it help if I called you a sex kitten instead?

CHRISTIAN
About as much as it would help you to actually try and say it out loud.

RICK indulges in a wide, childish grin for just a moment before catching the glare on CHRISTIAN’S face and sobering up. They have an uncomfortable moment shifting away from each other, but only slightly.

ANDREW
There you have it. We’ve just seen Rick’s claws in action. After all, [holds up one hand] actor? [holds up the other] His lawyer. There’s a reason there are so many jokes about lawyers being the spawn of Satan.

WILL
Is there a reason why so many of them are so terrible?

ANDREW
Write a letter to the committee, love. [He gets up] Christian, Bella, take your damn money for winning the blasted bet, which is not entirely fair. I hope you feel good about this. Thieves. You both had a ridiculously unfair upper edge.

CHRISTIAN and BELLA split the money, grinning and sitting back to count through their earnings.

RICK
Could have sworn Tim Ascot was going to get handed the part.

ANDREW
You did swear it and you were wrong. I’m off, need to tell Jake about his good luck in landing the part and the even better news about him spending the next three months on a set with me, myself, and the arse that goes by the name of Nick. [He leaves, WILL watching him go]

WILL
Okay, starting bet in is five dollars. How long before he absolutely loses any last trace of sanity?

A beat.

BELLA
You mean he hasn’t?

WILL
The bet ends when he checks into a psych ward.

A beat.

WILL (cont’d)
Uh, for the third time.

RICK raises an eyebrow.

WILL (cont’d)
Yeah, okay, when you add it up with the involuntary check-ins, it’ll be when he checks in for the…the sixth time.

CHRISTIAN
[muttering as he sorts through his cash]
Welcome to Hollywood.

CREDITS

INT. HOLLYWOOD EMBASSY LOBBY - DAY

The day is busy and people are moving in and out.

MR. CRAITH is stiff, reserved and quiet with new people. Lean and very tall, he has an imposing nature when he wants it.

MATT is boyishly charming, over-exuberant and cheerful with a dry and sharp wit (which is oftentimes cruel and mocking). Often follows MR. CRAITH around like a puppy.

CRYSTAL is wide-eyed, gorgeous in the way that only young starlets in the wings can be, but she doesn’t seem to be aware of it. She weathers everything with a smile, genuine cheer, and sincere care for everyone she meets.

MR. CRAITH and MATT lead the way through the lobby. CRYSTAL trails behind, awestruck by simply everything that moves. Occasionally, the two men have to stop to wait for her to catch up. MATT is bored. MR. CRAITH is tired. CRYSTAL is enthusiastic.

MR. CRAITH
And that’s the lobby. Since we have your check, we’re through. Matt will get you your key.

CRYSTAL
I don’t…um. [nervous and BIG grin] There’s nothing else? I mean…sir…[she stops, composes herself] Mr. Craith, did you need questions about my background? Or um…I don’t have to fill anything out?

[MATT leans in]

MATT
Done.

CRYSTAL
[worried]
All of it?

MATT
Done!

CRYSTAL
Credit check? Background? Family…uh, history?

MATT
Done, done, and done. You know, it’s interesting. You have the same last name as…

KEITH rings the bell and cuts him off before he can continue. He’s tall, built like a bouncer, and imposing. He struts over to the three of them, towering over if not in height, then in general attitude. MATT rolls his eyes.

KEITH
Looking for Rick.

MATT
Search for a phone booth Jimmy Olsen! I’ve got to transform from mild-mannered bellhop into teen heartthrob Rick Campbell! [points to CRYSTAL] And really, he’s not her because last I checked? Gender change wasn’t on his schedule today.

KEITH
Had an appointment. He was going to give me an in-depth interview.

MATT
He said that?

KEITH
His agent did.

MR. CRAITH wanders off behind the desk, handing the key off to MATT. KEITH looks CRYSTAL over a few times, narrowing his eyes.

KEITH
Who’s this?

MATT
None of your business is so cliché, isn’t it? She’s…

SARAH
[O.S.]
My story!

SARAH seemingly descends like a vulture from out of nowhere. She is short, endearingly and endlessly perky, but in no way is she naïve to Crystal’s degree. She manages perky and cynical in perfect balance. MATT seems naturally drawn to her and they are physically close.

SARAH
Keith. Good to see you! By the way? I called Rick’s agent and turns out he cancelled the interview. Something about implicit trust in someone who isn’t Satan. [Smiles sympathetically] Buck up sport, you’ll make the team next year! And this one is my story. Crystal Richter, moved from the Midwest, not much of anything yet, but I like to keep tabs just in case I strike gold.

KEITH
Have I mentioned how much I hate you lately?

SARAH
Gosh, I guess I’ll just go home and cry. I suppose it’ll be the headline of your tabloid tomorrow? “Keith Lenk Despises Fellow Reporter Sarah Slightman!” Matt, I hope you bought that ice cream tub so I can weep into it. After all, my heart is so very broken.

KEITH storms away and MATT gives SARAH a high-five and pat on the back.

MATT
Here’s the key to your place. Have fun!

CRYSTAL
Right, but I…

SARAH and MATT start to move on, chatting away about the bet.

SARAH
Did you hear? Bella got a tip!

MATT
She was the tip. Nick asked her for casting advice and she gave a name.

SARAH
New bet is on Andrew.

MATT
Yeah, and the newest is on the new arrival.

They stop outside the elevator, turning to look back and study CRYSTAL, who is nervously standing in the lobby, not having moved an inch.

SARAH
I give her three months.

MATT
Three weeks.

They get into the elevator, camera stays on the mirrored doors closing, catching CRYSTAL’S distorted reflection in them. Swing-around to catch CRYSTAL, who hasn’t moved yet clutching tightly to her bag. Behind her, WILL, BELLA, and DANIELLE enter. DANIELLE is singing as she carries a large stack of boxes. BELLA and WILL are also weighed down in bags.

DANIELLE is quirk, through and through. She dances well, acts even better, and can’t sing to save her life. She’s the Hollywood IT girl, and is down-to-earth when it comes to receiving compliment after compliment. Very expressive using her body. She and SARAH make an annoyingly perky pair, and irritate people often, as they are best friends.

DANIELLE
[to the tune of It’s Raining Men]
It’s raining food! Lots of food, yeah!

WILL
For god’s sake, please stop that.

DANIELLE
[switches to Don’t Cry For Me from Evita]
Don’t cry for me, party favors! We will have you hung and destroyed…by the end of…the night, you will be broken!

They push past CRYSTAL as if she isn’t even there.

WILL
Danielle! For my sanity!

BELLA
I’m thinking of suicide. I hear it’s trendy.

WILL
Kill me first. Please kill me first.

BELLA
[to WILL]
You realize she’s just happy because now she gets a sex scene with Jake in the movie.

[DANIELLE twirls with a grin on her face, stopping and facing BELLA]

DANIELLE
Gee, really? Have you seen him? It’s half of America’s dream, and [sing-song] I get to do it!

WILL
You’ve got to let us come down and screw up some of the takes.

DANIELLE
And embarrass Jake for years and years to come?

WILL
You got it.

DANIELLE
What kind of a person would I be if I didn’t allow for humiliation?

BELLA
I think they call them, ‘good people’.

DANIELLE
I hope to never be one. After all…I hear you have to do good deeds and apparently, you aren’t allowed to be sinful or anything…

They load up in the elevator and CRYSTAL tentatively pushes in with them.

DANIELLE (cont’d)
And really, there’s hell, and then there’s hell.

CRYSTAL
[quietly]
Three, please.

WILL, BELLA, and DANIELLE go silent and exchange a look.

WILL
Three?

CRYSTAL
[studying her key]
Yeah, I mean, unless the guy gave me the wrong key number.

DANIELLE
[sotto voce]
New bet.

BELLA
Three, it’ll be.

They ride up in silence, muzak filling the air. WILL whistles along to it and they all study CRYSTAL without her noticing.

WILL
[quietly singing to the music]
When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be?

DANIELLE
[equally quietly]
Will I be pretty, will I be rich, here’s what she said to me.

The doors open and CRYSTAL hurries out nervously, opening the door to her room and slamming it shut. DANIELLE, WILL, and BELLA hang around for a moment. DANIELLE and WILL grin, and BELLA shakes her head.

WILL & DANIELLE
Que sera, sera!

They trail off, giggling.

BELLA
Incorrigible.

WILL
You’re just pissed we picked a song you don’t know the words to.

BELLA
Damn right. Let’s get these shindig decorations to Andrew. My arms weren’t meant to carry cases of vodka. These fingers are meant to delicately sip drinks.

WILL
And take jello-shots from any available surface. Before dancing on other available surfaces.

BELLA
That was once.

DANIELLE
Rick has pictures!

BELLA
So I need to mix drinks, call Tom, get the newest sides, and kill Rick.

WILL
A full and productive day.

A beat. They nod and make for their separate ways.

RICK
[O.S.]
I’m in trouble, aren’t I?

WILL stands outside RICK’S doorway, across the hall.

WILL
Mexico’s looking pretty good, huh?

RICK
[comes out into the hall]
Or you could kill me.

They start walking towards the elevator.

WILL
No way. Murder on my record and Bella chasing me down for not letting her kill you? [frightened] There’s hell and then there’s hell.

RICK
Some friend you are.

WILL
No, hey. No! Christian is your best friend. Go bemoan to him. No guilt-tripping! Bad!

RICK
[ignoring the use of CHRISTIAN’S name]
Drinks in an hour. I’m going to pick up Andrew’s dry-cleaning.

WILL
Why?

RICK
It’s possible I owe him many favors from now until Judgment Day.

WILL
Who doesn’t?

He gets in the elevator and WILL goes into his room, immediately heading for his typewriter. There is a glass of water on the table, magnifying the invitation to the party that night. It’s brief, to the point, and thoroughly messy on WILL’S desk.

INT. LOBBY OF THE HOLLYWOOD EMBASSY - DAY

We see a neat version of the invitation lying on the counter of the hotel, SARAH and MATT look down at it, examining it as though it were evidence in a crime.

SARAH
Cops.

MATT
No cops. We had cops the last time, and all that happened was that Andrew and Danielle wound up with phone numbers at the end of the night.

SARAH
[smugly]
I stand by my point. There’ll be cops.

MATT
I thought we were talking about arrests, not booty calls.

SARAH
Mattie, don’t ever say booty calls. You’re just too white.

MATT
So, what’s the deal with this new kid? All I’ve heard was that she’s already got some family in Hollywood. Got the name too, but it can’t be the same Talia…

[SARAH nods slowly with a smug grin on her face]

MATT (cont’d)
It is? [hushed] No, no, no way. This is…Christ, Sar, this is a whole new story! Oh man, there are going to be fireworks when Jake finds out just who the new girl is related to. You know, this is the kind of blackmail you dream of. It lasts for months, I’m telling you. Months.

SARAH
[dryly]
You’re just in ecstasy over the fact that you won’t be doing laundry for a while, aren’t you?

MATT
I happen to be very bad at washing clothes. So, no, really? She’s Talia’s, what…cousin?

SARAH
Even better. Sister. You don’t see the resemblance?

MATT
Maybe a bit. [shrugs] Look, they don’t exactly lead the same kind of clean, virtuous lifestyle. Besides, I think Talia’s had surgery since she came out here.

SARAH
Who hasn’t?

MATT
I choose not to dignify that with an answer. [He hops off the counter, checking his watch] Punch-out time. You want to grab some drinks with the guys before the party?

SARAH
Will Rick be there?

MATT
Yeah, it’s Jake, Will, and Rick. They’re supposedly celebrating Jake’s new role in the film, but you know how drinking with them tends to get.

SARAH
And Rick’s all heartbroken puppy this week. Let’s see, do I want to listen to him go on and on about how miserable he is, which only sets Will on his tangent about how he’ll never be good enough? [Pauses] Oh god, never. Let’s grab dinner at the diner.

MATT
Good plan. I like that in a girl.

SARAH
You like everything in a girl.

MATT
Well played. Your conversational skills are in top form.

SARAH
I try.

They walk out, deep in chatter.

INT. ARTISAN’S - DAY

The bar two doors down from the Embassy. An underground bar with beads as a doorway, tables in the middle and booths near the back, it’s a mid-class mellow hangout. Twinkling lights are wrapped around all the pillars and there are chintzy fake leaves hanging from those as well.

JAKE and WILL are doing everything in their power to keep RICK from imbibing too much alcohol. He’s only had a grand total of two, but with the inevitable party, things could go sour extremely quickly. WILL is slightly melancholy.

JAKE is the James Bond of the B-movies. Scottish and well-built thanks to endless hours in the gym; he’s managed to pull himself many roles. He’s got natural charm, natural good looks, and a natural way of becoming the most sought-after man in the room (though he’s got competition when RICK is around). He’s very friendly, but has a snide side to him as well, as earned in a prior relationship.

WILL
[as RICK reaches for his third drink]
Stop it.

RICK
What’s the difference between me getting drunk now versus me getting drunk later?

JAKE
If you get drunk now, I’d have to carry you because Will’s arms would give out. And frankly, I just don’t know if I care enough to take you back.

WILL
What happened to your complex master plan to salvage your relationship? Didn’t you need to be sober for that?

RICK
Bella said it was stupid.

A beat.

[at the same time]

JAKE
Yeah, incredibly dumb.

WILL
Idiotic, really.

RICK
Bella’s always right.

RICK takes a moment to glare at his drinking buddies before trying to reach for the glass again, this time stopped by JAKE.

RICK
I hate you two.

WILL
Do you hear that? He just loves us so much.

JAKE
My heart may have fluttered.

WILL
You know, you’re not as fun when you’re heartbroken.

RICK
Gee. Really?

WILL
And you’re much bitchier.

RICK
Want to see how violent I can be too?

JAKE
Guys, quit it. You know to save the drunken violence for the party. [to RICK] Your relationship will progress and recover much faster if you aren’t falling over drunk and bruised from the lucky punch Will could inevitably land. [to WILL] And you will prove absolutely nothing by trying to fight Rick, only to wind up a human punching bag. Got it?

RICK & WILL
Yes, sir.

JAKE
Good. Now, you two need to help me. I know it’s only a matter of time before Danielle pulls a prank on set, and she’ll probably do it the day we film the sex scene. That’d be just like her.

WILL
Pre-planned revenge?

JAKE
Damage control before the damage, more like.

WILL
[laughs]
Wait. You want to prevent Danielle from doing something?

JAKE
[confused]
Yes.

RICK and WILL share a look and start laughing.

JAKE (cont’d)
I’ve obviously missed something.

WILL
Yeah, good luck preventing Danielle from doing anything she wants.

RICK
The word impossible comes to mind. If I were you, I’d be more worried about the inevitable fistfight between Nick and Andrew. It’s really only a matter of time, and you had better give me a call when it happens. I want front row seats. And of course, to cash in on my inevitable victory on this bet. I’ve got to win one of them soon. Law of fractions and my bank account say so.

JAKE
This Nick’s a bit of a pissant, then?

WILL
By saying ‘a bit’, you’re devaluing understatements everywhere.

RICK
He’s an enduring name on the ‘list-of-people-we-hate’.

WILL
A very long and esteemed list that seems to keep growing.

RICK
[solemnly]
The only thing that beats it is the list of ‘people-that-hate-us’.

JAKE
You know, someone could have warned me before I signed on to appear in a picture with the producer from hell.

RICK
Warning you would have been too easy.

RICK tries to grab the drink again and JAKE swats his hand away, causing RICK to pout slightly. As they squabble quietly, CHRISTIAN enters the bar, immediately orders a beer and heads to the back of the bar. It takes about a minute, but WILL notices and heads over to talk to him while JAKE finally gets control of the drink.

RICK
[snaps]
Fine. I’m leaving anyway.

He storms away. JAKE rolls his eyes before going to join WILL and CHRISTIAN at the table.

BELLA
[V.O.]
You think it’s that easy?

INT. ANDREW’S ROOM – DAY

It’s a large suite that’s about twice the size of any other room in the Embassy due to a great knocking down of the wall. He’s got a balcony, a full mini-bar and only the most elaborate and sophisticated furniture available. DANIELLE and BELLA sit on the ground, sorting through bags of alcohol and glasses. ANDREW paces around, always on his cell.

DANIELLE
Well, sure. Rick apologizes, and bam! Instant recovery.

BELLA
Somehow, I think he would tell you it isn’t that easy.

DANIELLE
Yeah, well, Christian would probably think so. I know he’s been plagued with reporters who want the inside scoop because he’s Rick’s best friend. I bet you he’d be happy if Rick just apologized.

BELLA
And Christian is the most objective viewpoint in this case? [scoffs] I highly doubt that.

ANDREW
[hangs up]
Are you insulting my best and most favourite lawyer? I’d have to kick you out if you were.

BELLA
I’m only saying that if Christian wants something, it’s more than an apology. An apology isn’t going to stop the bombardment of reporters at his door. If anything, it’ll double them, but the questions will change. They’ll start asking, “Who’s Rick Campbell dating? He’s been smiling all over town, give us the inside edge!”

ANDREW
That last part was an exclamatory statement.

BELLA
Andrew, honey, shut it. Christian, I bet, would want a complete overhaul of Rick’s behaviour, in my humble and very right opinion.

ANDREW
What? And no sympathy for me? I have to work with a certified moron with a master’s degree in idiocy!

DANIELLE
You know, every time you exaggerate, an angel loses its wings.

ANDREW
Good. They can drop all over L.A. and be subjected to terrible pick-up lines for all I care.

BELLA
God, you’re moody.

ANDREW
Piss off, darling.

BELLA
After you, [mocking] love.

DANIELLE
How about you both just put the drinks away and get this place ready? I’ve got a meeting with my agent, and you’ve got less than two hours until the party. Can you do that, children?

ANDREW
[snidely]
Yes, mother dearest.

DANIELLE
That’s my good boy!

She blows them a kiss as she leaves, closing the door behind them.

BELLA
You started taking bets on the new girl?

ANDREW
You’re behind the others. I’m disappointed.

BELLA
Give me five weeks.

ANDREW
Five? Quite the optimist.

BELLA
Her spirit looks to be one that might take some work breaking. Besides, I said five days on the last one and I got burned. I’m not taking chances this time ‘round. [She rifles through bags] Where’s the vodka?

ANDREW
Why don’t you hop on the table and give me a lap dance before I tell you?

BELLA
[with a groan]
One time I do shooters, one time…

ANDREW
Memory like an elephant, love.

BELLA
And pictures from Rick, I suppose.

ANDREW
There may be photographic proof.

BELLA
Don’t forget that I can make your life a living hell.

ANDREW
A fact I know all too well.

BELLA
Would my trusty relationship with Nick Linwood change this deal?

ANDREW pales slightly.

BELLA (cont’d)
Well?

ANDREW
You’ll have the pictures, negatives and triples by dusk.

BELLA
That’s my good boy.

She pats him on the cheek and leaves out the door.

Time LAPSES and changes to night. General noise fills the room and a great deal more people are there. People are dressed casually, but out to make an impression. It’s party-time. The lights are dimmed, there are people milling about. Everyone from Embassy, save for CRYSTAL, is in attendance.

SARAH leads a group in conversation, a group that consists of RICK & CHRISTIAN, who are not talking, ANDREW, MATT, BELLA, DANIELLE, JAKE, and ANDREA.

SARAH
[sing-song]
New girl has a past.

JAKE
Is this from another of your stellar sources, Sarah? The same one that reported I had a sex change?

SARAH
I work for a tabloid; these kinda stories are bound to happen. Anyway, sources say new girl has a corrupt family, right here in town.

ANDREA
We’re not calling her by name?

SARAH
Fine. Crystal has a sister who is a Hollywood whore.

ANDREW
Really? Perhaps I need to acquaint myself with this darling Crystal to see whether she can lead me to this sister of hers. A new actress in town…their families need support…a helping hand…[begins to stand] I mean…[several arms force him back down] Spoilsports.

RICK
I thought you were playing in the boys’ league of Hollywood sex sports this week.

ANDREW
The working women of Hollywood do not count.

DANIELLE
Come on, don’t you love it? She’s just so new. So naïve. It’s all refreshing in that, ‘so-long-as-I-don’t-have-to-talk-to-her’ way.

RICK
Before you know it, she’ll be as bitter as the rest of us.

BELLA
Speak for yourself.

SARAH
I don’t know. She’s just…different.

A beat. The following comes quickly after the last line; piled on top of the previous line.

DANIELLE
So, Jake, you going for the role in the action flick?

JAKE
They tell me I’m the shoe-in, and I don’t have to mangle my precious voice with that brutal sound you people call an American accent.

[She smirks in retaliation]

CHRISTIAN
I’ll be out on the balcony.

RICK
Be at the bar.

JAKE
And apparently, so will I.

JAKE follows RICK to the bar, the two of them chatting as they go, RICK acting snappishly and JAKE taking it all in good humour.

BELLA
[Lights a cigarette]
That girl has a lot to prove.

SARAH
Then let her prove away. [She and MATT walk off]

Time passes. BELLA and TOM are in the corner, eyeing the party. He drinks, she smokes. They occasionally trade. TOM is mellow, an older man who still blends into the scene despite his rather alternative nature. It almost seems as though nothing can rile him up. He takes everything in stride.

TOM
Another crazy party, I see. [Crashing noises are heard]

BELLA
You’re just happy you got invited.

TOM
[Pause]
Well…yeah. Andrew Pryce’s parties are legendary. I had to make it to at least one before the police shut this place down.

BELLA
They’ve tried. Our lawyers smirk down on the California police force. Or, rather, lawyer. He does a lot of smirking on our behalf.

TOM
Well, glad to be here; even if it is work-related. [Eyes passer-bys, looking for something] I ever tell you how tired I am of this job?

BELLA
[Drinks and ignores him; studying the crowd]
You do it every hour I’m with you, honey.

TOM
No, I mean it. Everyone’s just a face. Everyone’s just another speck of dust in the Milky Way. God, I need to get out of the business. Maybe I should go and retire somewhere up north. Seattle…Vancouver.

BELLA
[Dismissively; she’s heard it before]
You do that.

EXT. ANDREW’S BALCONY – NIGHT

Focus on: KEITH has WILLIAM, DANIELLE, and CHRISTIAN on the balcony; drinks in everyone’s hands, chatty atmosphere, yet the aura of being trapped is still there.

KEITH
So, Rick Campbell…what do you know?

WILLIAM
We know he’s an actor.

KEITH
I mean dirt! The public has got this strange fascination with him, and it would sell a lot of copies if I got the story. And where better to get the story than his closest friends?

CHRISTIAN
Which story would you like? How he got to Hollywood? Why we’re friends with him?

KEITH
No! Dirt! Gossip, scandal, sexual encounters…hell, sexual preference even!

DANIELLE
Look, why don’t you talk to Sarah? She works for a tabloid, she has dirt.

KEITH
But I’m talking to you.

DANIELLE
[Complacent, forced grin] Not anymore. [She walks off]

WILLIAM
[Observes KEITH’S determination] And I have to…uh…follow her…[He leaves]

KEITH
All right, kid, it’s just you and me. Rick Campbell, gimme what you got. You’re Christian Fellowes, right? I mean, you’re the famous best friend we only just found out about, and what good are you to me if you just won’t give me something?

CHRISTIAN
I can sue you.

KEITH backs away slightly.

KEITH
So, let’s start with the love life. I’ve heard an awful lot about this big break-up of his, but no one’s got a name. Which starlet did he leave in the dust? Was it Aneya? She’s been looking down and dirty lately with all the tears and the nose jobs. Did Rick break her heart?

CHRISTIAN
I actually don’t know who he’s been seeing, but if it will get you to leave me be, yeah, fine, it was Aneya.

He walks away.

KEITH
Kid? Kid! We were just getting started! [Sighs, and shrugs, writing bits in a notebook]

INT. ANDREW’S SUITE - NIGHT

ANDREW and RICK are talking quietly.

ANDREW
Am I allowed to ask the doomed question?

RICK
I won’t guarantee that you’ll escape unharmed.

ANDREW
Ask I shan’t. Instead, you could give me your bet on the new lass in town.

RICK
[digs out a bill, lays it into ANDREW’S palm]
Just because I hate this town today, I call one week. Just long enough for her heart to be ripped out, stepped on, and thrown back in.

ANDREW
I’m sure she’ll take you on as her role model.

RICK
She’s in the wrong place if she wants to follow her dreams. This place is nothing but hell.

ANDREW
Perhaps hell is empty and all the demons are here?

RICK
Not now, Andrew. Now’s not the time.

EXT. ANY STREET IN HOLLYWOOD – NIGHT

CRYSTAL wanders around – her arms wrapped around herself. She makes it a few blocks before someone begins to follow her.

TALIA
[Wanders up behind CRYSTAL] Looking for me? [She slinks into her sight, dressed to kill] Mother said you’d come to Hollywood to pursue acting. I knew you’d look me up. [Lights a cigarette] So, where are you staying?

CRYSTAL
Talia! Hi! Um…I'm at the Hollywood Embassy. It’s just…

TALIA
Down there, I know. I’ve had some clients from there. Oh, and tell Matt I said hi. [Laughs] Have they accepted you yet, or are you still the outcast?

CRYSTAL
It’s my first day here, I…

TALIA
There’s a party tonight or didn’t you hear? Why are you wasting your time with me? You could be partying, and I could be working.

CRYSTAL
Talia…

TALIA
Is it time for the moral speech already? Save it. Go back, try and ingra-tee-ate and leave me out of your life.

CRYSTAL
[quietly]
Talia…

TALIA
Don’t.

They stare each other down.

MATT
[V.O.]
Ladies, Gentlemen and Andrew!

INT. ANDREW’S ROOM - NIGHT

It’s very noisy as MATT tries to speak over the noise, he has to shout a few times to get everyone’s attention. He, SARAH, DANIELLE, and JAKE stand on a makeshift stage, all of them clearly drunk.

MATT
People! Hey! Guys!

BELLA
Maybe it’ll help if you take your clothes off!

ANDREA
Dance for us!

MATT
EVERYONE SHUT UP!

The room quiets down sufficiently.

MATT (cont’d)
And now, we give thanks to the man who brought us here tonight.

DANIELLE
[singing badly]
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…

MATT
Far from Amish country, of course.

JAKE
[singing]
There was a man. A very open, charming…

ANDREW
[interrupts]
Debonair, intelligent, handsome, stylish, talented…

MATT & SARAH
We get it!

JAKE
[singing]
He scared the girls and frightened the boys and terrified Hollywood with his smile. And on this night…

DANIELLE
[singing]
And on this night, we salute our host.

MATT & SARAH
And hope for no stories in the tabloids!

They bow to scattered applause.

WILL
You four are completely drunk.

MATT
Guilty. Christian! You’ll defend me, right?

CHRISTIAN
Sure. Got three hundred bucks an hour?

[They disband and KEITH tries to muscles closer to RICK, bumping into JAKE in the process]

JAKE
Whoa, now. Steady on.

KEITH
Just trying to get to Rick.

JAKE
[glances over at RICK] He’s done for the night.

KEITH
Boyd, I’m warning you. Let me through.

[KEITH tries to push forward, but JAKE pushes back]

JAKE
Warning?

CHRISTIAN
Hey, guys…

BELLA
Break it up.

KEITH
[sneering]
Trying to protect your precious little friend? I think I’ve got my next story. You two always were close.

JAKE
That’s it.

[JAKE follows through with a punch that makes KEITH stagger back, his lip split]

CHRISTIAN
Jake!

BELLA
Damn it.

CHRISTIAN takes JAKE aside while ANDREW and BELLA help KEITH hobble away slowly, grabbing ice on their way.

CHRISTIAN
Are you a complete idiot? He can sue you!

JAKE
Let him. We’ll counter sue.

CHRISTIAN
With what?

JAKE
Harassment. [CHRISTIAN’S eyes widen] Danielle told me.

CHRISTIAN is silent.

JAKE (cont’d)
That felt good.

ANDREA
I think you just fulfilled Rick’s fantasy.

RICK
[quietly] Thanks.

[Everyone disbands; ANDREW returns]

ANDREW
And as all good things must come to an end, the clock has struck three and the party is heretofore over. Goodnight and good luck!

SARAH
He’s just saying that because the cops are here.

DANIELLE
Ooh! Andrew, let’s roll!

EXT. HOLLYWOOD STREET - NIGHT

CRYSTAL and TALIA, still in a standstill.

ANDREW
[V.O.]
Strike up the band and send home the players. The night is about to begin.

CRYSTAL
Why do you do this?

TALIA
Do what? My job?

CRYSTAL
It’s not a job! It’s a way to get arrested and what, die of overdose? You sure did love your coke back in Wisconsin. How is it out here, Tal?

TALIA
I live well. The money’s good. I don’t struggle to succeed in a dog-eat-dog world like all the other Hollywood idiots. I have goals, I have a life, and I enjoy what I do.

CRYSTAL
Talia…why can’t you just stop? You’re my sister! You can come live with me…

TALIA
At the Embassy? Have all of Mom’s cheddar tuna casseroles gone to your brain? I mean, how insane are you! I have a close circle of friends where I am right now. Those people won’t let you into their clique unless you make a hit movie, or force your way in.

CRYSTAL
I bet that’s not true.

TALIA
And I bet a pretty penny that I’m right. Now, I’m losing money, so if you don’t excuse me…I’ll excuse you.

TALIA walks away, leaving CRYSTAL in the middle of a bustling street.

INT. ANDREW’S ROOM - NIGHT

JAKE has DANIELLE in his arms. She sings off-key and he’s slowly carrying her out.

WILL
You know, if you think this will get her to leave you alone on set, you are sorely mistaken, my friend.

DANIELLE
Sore, sore, taken, friend, bend, fend, descend…sleeeeeep.

JAKE
I’m sure someone has pictures. Rick?

RICK
Developed by Tuesday.

JAKE
Cut me in on the deal.

JAKE leaves, carrying DANIELLE, with WILL trailing behind. They talk quietly as they go.

WILL
And yet, still not one drug deal on the premises. How is that possible?

BELLA
I threatened you with death, honey.

WILL
How quickly I forget.

EXT. ANDREW’S BALCONY - NIGHT

SARAH and CHRISTIAN on the balcony. He’s cradling a drink in his hands and she’s studying him intently.

SARAH
So the interview was cancelled.

CHRISTIAN
Yeah.

SARAH
I hear Bella set Rick up with an audition.

CHRISTIAN
Yeah.

SARAH
Was it because you cancelled the interview and needed a plausible excuse?

CHRISTIAN
[suspiciously]
Will I see this in an article tomorrow?

SARAH
Christian…

CHRISTIAN
[a little louder]
Sarah, are we off the record?

SARAH
You wrote the contract. You made me read through twenty-five pages of legalese with a witness. Are you actually telling me you forgot the subject? We. Are. Off. The. Record. Twenty-five pages of contract say so. My friendship says so.

A beat.

CHRISTIAN
Yeah, I had Bella set something up.

SARAH grins, staring up adoringly at CHRISTIAN. He laughs self-consciously.

CHRISTIAN (cont’d)
What?

SARAH
You’re the best friend ever.

CHRISTIAN
It really was for his own good.

SARAH
So chivalrous. His knight in shining armor.

CHRISTIAN
Sarah…

RICK
[O.S.]
You’ve made Christian blush. What exactly have you been telling him, Sar?

SARAH glances to the both of them. She perks up and gives an innocent grin.

SARAH
How do you know we weren’t discussing the weather?

RICK
You never discuss the weather.

SARAH
Or a play!

RICK
Christian hates plays.

SARAH
[mutters as she walks off]
Know-it-all.

RICK takes her spot at the balcony.

RICK
I hear it was a rough night.

CHRISTIAN
You owe me. I mean, really. You owe me more than the time I bailed you out for indecent exposure. Much more.

RICK
[sheepishly]
Yeah, I heard what you did. Between you and Jake, I’ve got my own minions to fight my battles for me. Uh, thanks. I mean, a lot. Thank you, a lot. It means a lot to me.

CHRISTIAN
Yeah?

RICK
Yeah.

CHRISTIAN nods, hovers, and then claps RICK on the back. Leans in.

CHRISTIAN
And hey, if you need to be miserable because of your breakup with Aneya, don’t let us stop you. I mean, we completely understand.

He turns and walks away.

RICK
Thanks, I…wait! Christian! You told Keith I slept with Aneya!?

He chases after CHRISTIAN and leaves the room. BELLA stands with TOM at the doorway; she’s extremely cross and he’s very passive.

BELLA
You’re not going.

TOM
Bella, I’m giving you my notice.

BELLA
Take it back, you ain’t leaving.

TOM
I am.

BELLA
You do this every week, Tom. You are not leaving. Go home, sleep it off, and come back to work in the morning so we can have a god damned staff meeting.

He grins at her, amused. BELLA shakes her head.

BELLA (cont’d)
Go home and sleep this off. You seen where Rick went?

TOM
I think Andrea chased him into his room.

BELLA
Good. I was hoping it wasn’t my turn tonight to cheer him up. Night, hon. [she kisses his cheek and waves as he leaves]

INT. RICK’S ROOM - NIGHT

RICK in his room. ANDREA knocks lightly on the open door.

ANDREA
Housekeeping.

RICK
[smiles]
Hey, come on in. I see someone else decided not to get trashed.

ANDREA
I have an audition tomorrow and I don’t think hungover is one of the suggested reading techniques. [She hands him some pictures] Matt gave me these. He thought you might like them. It’s from that impromptu party at the bar when Jake got that other role.

RICK
[laughs]
Oh god, I remember. [imitates Jake] ‘Drinks all around on me!’ The look on his face when Bella and Andrew hit their fifth round. Actually…[he points to a picture] yeah, that look. These are great. Look at us. Look at me. God, I was so happy. [He shakes his head] Do you remember the last time you were happy?

ANDREA
[sits down beside him on the couch]
No.

RICK
I do. Five minutes before I broke up. I mean, I thought I was happy. You know? That whole fake cheer thing. I used to think that I would come to Hollywood and make it big, and that would make me happy. I came here wanting to be a legend. Shakespeare and the classics and maybe a little theatre of the absurd. Getting rich was never a part of it, I mean, I’ve got money. I don’t need some mansion, because well, to be honest…I don’t want to move. I’ve got plenty to stay for right here.

ANDREA
You’re pretty well off.

RICK
If I left, who’d pay Will’s monthly rent when he gets behind?

A beat.

ANDREA
You’re not happy.

RICK
I thought I was.

ANDREA
But you’re not.

RICK
I don’t know what happiness is anymore.

[They sit there, quietly looking at the pictures]

INT. ANDREW’S ROOM - NIGHT

ANDREW on his knees, scraping something off the floor as BELLA hands him ice cubes, using half on her forehead in a bundled handkerchief.

BELLA
For god’s sake, would you drop it?

ANDREW
No. Tell me. Was the party a success or not?

BELLA
Let’s see. Why don’t we just ignore that my partner has quit for the fourth time this week, Jake’s probably going to get sued for assault and given a bad rap in the papers, Rick’s still brooding and miserable from his breakup, the cops arrived to give us another complaint and Danielle’s charms didn’t work this time. No, Andrew, darling, tonight went [imitates him] smashingly.

ANDREW
[rolls his eyes]
Tell me what you really think. [Growls] I swear to god, I will skin the man.

CRYSTAL wanders by the room; hovers in the doorway.

BELLA
For chewing gum?

ANDREW
In my suite, he should know it’s verboten.

CRYSTAL
[listlessly]
Pour a little lamp oil on it, scrub it with a rag, and then scrape it off with scissors. It’s always worked for me.

BELLA and ANDREW exchange a look. ANDREW rolls his eyes and makes a show about grumbling. CRYSTAL starts to walk off.

BELLA
Hey, you! Hon, wait up. [CRYSTAL stops and comes back to the doorway] You look like you had a rough night. Most people wait until their second day to get completely down on their luck. Was today that bad?

CRYSTAL
Rough night is a good way to describe the first two minutes of tonight, but kinda glosses over the rest.

ANDREW
You need a drink. Hell, I need a drink. Drinks all around, drinks for all!

BELLA
Come on.

BELLA wraps an arm around CRYSTAL and tugs her into ANDREW’S room. The camera follows their backs.

BELLA [cont’d]
Welcome to Hollywood, honey.

END EPISODE
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