Do Ask. Do Tell: Make the A-List

 

Link to script (pdf)    Link to miniseries proposal

 

These are notes and “work in progress”; they will be polished in early 2005.

 

Logline: A young actor and potential A-list “heartthrob,” working in a law firm as a “second choice,” launches his career by nurturing an unusual (platonic) relationship with an older gay man who has involved himself with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” problem for gays in the military.

 

It is significant that the older man lost the right to self-esteem and capability to be wanted because of an incident early in his college years, described below. The young actor realizes he is in the best years of his life and appreciates what the older man lost and what the older man is curious about in the actor’s life. So the story will be framed.

 

I’ll add a suggestion right here. There have been some films about making it in showbiz (or music, or ballet or some such performing art)  (“A Star Is Born,” “Boogie Nights,” “Garden State”, “The Player”, “Walk the Line”, “Ray”, “Hustle & Flow”, “Center Stage”, “The Dying Gaul”, and so forth – but nobody seems to have tackled what it takes for a teen or young adult to jump the hoops and make it. All of the films above deal with some particular sidebar (some are biographical, a lot of them are seedy and get into the drug world). I think something that shows the career of any number of stars I can think of (Josh Hartnett, Gregory Smith, Carter Jenkins, Chris Pratt, Daniel Radcliffe, Jesse McCartney, Tyler Hoechlin, David Gallagher, Ashton Kutcher, Zach Braff, Jon Heder, or lesser known actors such as those I met in the Twin Cities, like Jeff Gilson or Mark Parrish – the list goes on and on) – would make a fascinating concept in any number of treatment possibilities. Maybe a broad composite of some of these characters, which I have attempted here. (Amateur turned pro baseball – even with the help of Fenway Park’s Green Monster -- is just one possibility.)

 

Upcoming Treatment Changes (see Treatment below). These changes will be worked much more clearly into the treatment and the screenplay text in early 2005.

 

(1)   Tobey remembers Syd’s name from his past (as shown in 5-year flashback) dinner meeting with Bill. Then Tobey, while looking for acting opportunities, remembers the name and “Google hacks” or locates Syd. (As an alternative, while interning at the law firm he could have done a skip trace to find Syd, or even Sheila could have run it.) He decides that he wants to audition with Syd.  He knows that Syd will become curious about the 35-year-old history of Bill’s college explusion (since Syd was Bill’s roommate). Tobey thereby manipulates Syd into being even more interested in him.

 

(2)   Make sure that Tobey figures out that W-M set up Bill with an intentional witchhunt (after Tobey sees Syd’s black-and-white film of the hazing Tribunal). Tobey should try to get this into Bill’s civil trial but not succeed. (He could carry it on when Patrick acts in his film – point 4).  A cardinal point is that the Dean sat around for two hours on the day after Thanksgiving in 1961 and waited for Bill to come to his office; he was not going to let Bill out of the office without “asking” first.

 

(3)   Bill gets his film of the dinner with Tobey made only after Tobey’s interaction with Syd and the exposition of what happened at the Tribunals; Tobey gets to be a movie star by earning his wings in sports movies (like baseball), but will eventually do William and Mary (and the dinner) only if Bill “changes” and “earns it.”

 

(4)   Tobey has “hired” a local actor to play “old” Bill in his film of the “dinner.”  The actor is Patrick, who had to struggle a bit with the disguises. But Tobey still does not see Bill again (for the first time in several years) until Part 4.  Tobey’s motivation for making a film about a “priestly” character like Bill could be just to impress his geeky girlfriend Sheila, or it could have a taste of sinister nature. But Syd also has 8mm films of the WM tribunals and even some of the enactment of Bill’s expulsion. He would like Tobey to edit them.

 

(5)   Here is an inventory of the “movies within the movie”

 

(a)    Tobey has filmed the matriculation dinner using Patrick, disguised to play older Bill

(b)   Syd had gotten a copy of an 8 mm film of the WM tribunals in 1961

(c)    Syd has hired Frankie to make a super 8 mm film of Bill at WM (Frankie plays Bill, Erich plays young Syd)

(d)   At the end there is a modern film of the 1961 WM incident (shown at the final Academy vetting)

 

(See discussion of a film with similar structure: Bad Education   Why do we have to go to Spain [or maybe FinlandThe River] to find films built in so many layers of story? Even the French don’t carry layering this far!!. Of course, there are American films like “Pulp Fiction”(!) or even “Adaptation.”)

 

Technical note:

 

This film treatment uses historical flashbacks. They will be shown in Black and White (especially the secret films made by the characters). There are also embedded films that are shown in DV format. The overall story requires wide-screen 2.3:1 aspect ratio and high quality film processing (with respect to color saturation) for the driving present day story. Split screen can be used in some instances to transition to flashbacks.

 

Snapshot Analysis

 

Setup (Phase 1): Tobey, model and law student, trying to become a movie star,  conducts an audition from his old fraternity house and then travels to LA to deliver his head shot. He knows that the director, Syd, was a roommate of his elderly friend Bill (this probably should be explained better) when Bill was expelled from college and he starts to recount his dinner with Bill to get a conversation going. Syd takes an unusual interest in Tobey’s comments, but challenges Tobey to try out for a film about a cyclist.

 

New situation (Phase 2):  Tobey travels to Europe for the cycle race tryouts and meets his financier did. When he comes back to interviews for his summer law intern job and is challenged to participate in ambulance chasing Bill (now a controversial writer and computer person), partly through his girl friend (Sheila)’s connections.

 

Progress (Phase 3): Bill has his website shut down because of terrorist hackers, gets laid off from his job, and challenged to accept a boot camp training opportunity from Frankie, who also knows people at Tobey’s law firm. Then he is served papers regarding his book and business name.

 

Higher stakes (Phase 4): Tobey helps the law firm with the first legal action against Bill, a gay soldier compromised by Bill’s book. Tobey is compromised by not being clearly enough on the plaintiff’s side. In the mean time, his girl friend is getting him prepped for bigger movie roles. Tobey saves the life of a friend in a bar fire, and Syd shares some deeper secrets that lead him into getting the film role.

 

Final Push (Phase 5) after setback. Tobey has a “setback” in dealing with the appearance changes required by acting, while Bill faces a major lawsuit. Tobey is subpoenaed to testify at the trial before he starts filming. Tobey supports Bill (saying that Bill was “set up” with his original college explusion) but Bill loses his place in the writing world but the judge will help him with a “new job.”

 

Resolution (Phase 6)  After a volcanic disaster, Bill puts on his town hall but proves he can pay his dues.  As an epilogue, he tries out for the boot camp, while Tobey and Sheila help film the audition.

 

 

 

Treatment:

 

Part 1: Bill’s Dinner with Tobey

 

(April 2004)

 

As the film opens 27-year-old law student TOBEY STRICKLAND is playing a videotape of a dinner that he once had (five years before, when he was graduating from college) with older mentor BILL LDZEK, as part of an audition with a movie director  SYDNEY DAVIS who once knew Bill when he got kicked out of college, and an African-American producer MORGAN McBRIDE, who has funding for a sports movie about an Olympic athlete LAPP FERGUS who has recovered from lymphoma (cancer) . Tobey’s girlfriend, Sheila (below), is apparently helping him Google-hack to get info on Sydney before the audition—which is what gave Tobey the idea to audition with Syd.  Sydney and Morgan have concerns about Tobey’s commitment to an acting career that he says he wants. Tobey is actually showing the film by broadband link from the fraternity house, “the 1569 Club” that he had lived in 5 years before (in which he has hired a roommate PATRICK (below) to disguise himself as older Bill). It is early spring in Minnesota. Outside, a heavy rain melts a late season snow. 

 

The film interleaves the videotape with the audition. Very quickly both Sydney and Morgan recognize Bill, and have to wonder why Tobey has taken an interest in him. Sydney was Bill’s roommate once as a college freshman 35 years before, and Morgan was his commanding officer in the Army and had once encountered Bill later in a chess tournament. But Syd, it seems, has his own secret home movies made about the goings on at W&M over the years, and has always secretly believed that they could advance his career, too, some day.

 

As the videotape starts (refers to May 1998), Tobey wakes up from a light nap in his frat house in St. Paul, MN.  While he is lightly bearded for the audition, he is clean-shaven and visibly younger on the well-shot tape, and his appearance as he moves through his own biological “summer” could be an issue for agents. He is babysitting for a bisexual roommate, PATRICK KISSEL, who has already fathered a kid with an (African-American) girlfriend LORRAINE JONES but they have not gotten married. The (mixed ancestry) kid’s name is COREY and he is three years old. He is playing with the cat on the floor. Early on, we learn that Patrick, with a clever disguise, has played Bill in Tobey’s video, so Tobey has not seen Bill recently. (On the other hand, Bill may have found out about the video from surfing the Internet or even from file-sharing). Tobey makes sure that his roommate is coming. Then Tobey goes out and drives to his dinner date.

 

Bill is also preparing for this dinner date in his high rise apartment. He leaves, and stops for a moment to watch a train, to time his meeting. He arrives at a “family restaurant” (about to be razed) about  7. (There is a flashback to a confirmatory email with no capitalizations). (Hook: What will Tobey look like in shorts; play whether he has changed from early to late 20s.)

 

Tobey is on the pay phone when Bill arrives, as his cell phone ran down. Tobey is talking to his girl friend SHEILA DANIELS, who scolds him lightly for leaving Corey alone in the frat house. But she congratulates him again for his Vanity Fair upscale fashion ads and the upcoming “Straight Boys.” “People will know what you look like,” she says.

 

Bill stops for a second, seeing Tobey in shorts for the first time on a warm spring day.

 

Bill and Tobey have a “My dinner with Andre” meal. Tobey orders a BLT. The food is rather lousy.  Bill presents his “literature” – the Rosenfels/Ninth Street Center material on polarity, and an upgraded copy of his own book called “Do Ask, Do Tell.”

 

Here there is a flashback to how the met at the Nikomos Café when Tobey waltzed into the room and talked up “public speaking is easy” and Bill autographed a book (“instance”). Then another flashback to election night, the commiseration wake for Libertarian Party candidates, when Tobey talks about majoring in “philosophy.”

 

Bill asks Tobey about his interest in movie and whether the book could be filmed. There is, he says an “arch story” where the 1993 debate on gays in the military is his point of recognition.

 

Bill then recounts his 1961 expulsion from William and Mary for telling the Dean of Men that he was a “latent homosexual” after a semester of tension with his roommate (Sydney).  The film shows this event as a second-level flashback of the expulsion incident, along with a few other incidents of the consequences, such as hospitalization at NIH. The incident is very traumatic, with notices placed in the dorm and his parents being called back from vacation to make a special trip to Willamsburg to take him home.  The incident is also tied in to “Cold War” (Berlin Wall, Cuban Missile Crisis) mentality and older ideas about family values. Then he gets into the polarities of his Ninth Street Center activities during his “second coming” in the 1970s, and educates Tobey that he (Tobey) is an objective masculine.

(Hook: Bill’s explusion) Particularly important are the idea that Bill did not know what homosexuals “do” until he heard that from his roommate, that he is viewed as a kind of alien enemy with “super strength,” that the Dean waited for him all Friday after Thanksgiving, and the tie ins to the Cold War political climate of the time.

 

The tension here is, of course, that Bill would like his Lex-Luthor-like “friendship” with Tobey to have a future. He makes a comment that he cannot covet a younger man’s looks. Tobey eases the tension by “inviting” Bill to participate in Libertarian Party ballot-access petitioning, whereas Bill wants to focus on a town hall to discuss his “Bill of Rights 2.”

 

At the end of the dinner, Bill picks up the tab and tries to high-five Tobey, who backs away just a little.

 

After showing the introductory film and audio narrative by remote Internet, Tobey flies quickly to LA (from MN) to meet Sydney and Morgan in person. He presents his head-shot and other formal audition materials. Morgan informs Tobey more details of the budgeted film, where he could play backup for both the cycling scenes and baseball scenes. He will need to demonstrate some athletic abilities to get the part. Tobey explains his motives to Sydney and Morgan. He has made spending money as an upscale model, and fears that will get harder as he moves into his mid twenties. He has had only one on-screen role but has worked as a double for other actors several times. He is in law school and taking a paid intern summer job because he needs income.  Morgan wants him to go to France to try as a backup for one more film about a cyclist recovering from cancer. He would actually get filmed at a distance in some uphill races. Some of the film will be shot around the cliffs and beaches of D-day, near the town of Bayeux.  With Sydney out of the room, Morgan also pulls a fast one, showing Tobey an 8 mm film clip of  another scene where Syd lectures Bill (played by Frankie) on the horrors of “adultery by thought.” 

 

Syd plays games with Tobey, telling him about the home movie of the WM tribunals but hiding the movie about Bill, “the man who wasn’t there.”  Opportunity: Add some material about “professionalism” among actors. Tobey seems to want to play an “all-American” kind of character only. Despite his manipulations of others, he doesn’t want to make audience dislike him or feel that he has sacrificed anything.

 

Tobey returns to MN to visit his old buddies and plays back-yard baseball with a now 9-year old Corey at the 1569 Club house.  The snow is just about gone.

 

Part 2: Tobey

 

(May 2004)

 

Tobey visits his girl friend Sheila, on the surface a computer geek, at her apartment and updates her on the audition. Sheila also teases him about getting serious about the movies later than did most of the pop stars and other heartthrobs. (Hook: What will Sheila do to him in the love nest?  ) Tobey now relates to his girlfriend Bill’s sexual or platonic interest in him, as she teases him about his body, looking for nascent chest hair. Bill had called him about showing the “Dinner with Andre” spot publicly, and Tobey had to charge him under SAG. All of $200. Not enough money. But it was business.  But now they realize that Bill bears watching. They draw an analogy with the embedded stage play in Hamlet. Sheila encourages him to do the interview at the law firm.  But Tobey wonders why she is still working on a file-sharing program that makes copyright infringement so easy,

 

Tobey interviews for a paid internship summer job at a law firm in Minneapolis, since he needs income and sees law as a good backdoor for the entertainment business. MARGIE in Human Resources shoots some unusual conflict of interest questions and quizzes him about his modeling appearances. One of the partners HOWIE SCRUGGS then interviews him and quizzes him about his priorities but agrees that Tobey can go to France for his film tryout first before finishing the interviews for the law firm job.  (Hook: What will the law firm put him thru? Is Scruggs a sleeze-bag?)

 

Tobey goes to a party at his old 1569 Club, where Patrick and his girl friend live upstairs. Patrick relates that he found a job as a process server and shares more information about his science fiction novel about a society in which people and money are interchangeable and where slavery and freedom are scaled with meritocracy. Tobey doesn’t confess that he had already shared this fictional plot with Bill, although it is a deep secret. There is a suspicion that “merit” is equated to physical attractiveness, as in the gay world. Corey wants to go outside to play backyard whiffle ball again and get away from grown-up talk.  But Patrick hauls out his video gear that he had used recently before to tape a recreation of Tobey’s dinner with Bill as well as Corey’s growth from Toddler to rambunctious little boy.

 

Tobey gets a bizarre email, telling him not to go to Europe for the tryouts, where Bill’s name is spoofed in the header.

 

(June 2004)

 

But Tobey visits his father CHRIS STRICKLAND in a British enclave and reviews a time-lapse of his rapid growing up. He goes to the William the Conqueror museum in Bayeux where he has a surprise encounter college student MATT EDWARDS he and Bill had met in the Libertarian Party. Matt will compete with him in the tryouts. (hook – time-lapse of Tobey)

 

With Lapp looking on, Tobey wins the mock bicycle race on the banks of Omaha Beach—without shaving his legs—and then they all travel back across the English Channel to party in a Brighton pub, where Tobey has worked part time on previous visits to his father.  (Hook: Does Tobey win and how does he look?)  Here Lapp also talks about his early trials in minor league baseball, and suggests that Tobey would fit better for the baseball role, although he would have to play a cancer patient in some scenes.

 

Tobey returns to Minneapolis and finishes his interview, somewhat arrogantly expecting an offer.  Scruggs does express a concern that a client or adversary will recognize Tobey because of pervious media appearances, but gives in to his private temptations and hires Tobey anyway.

 

Sheila works as a self-employed, bonded contractor at the same law firm as a network administrator. She joins the interview and reveals a plan to Tobey of  searching the Internet for small business owners who may be violating trademark laws or abetting other intellectual property violations (like spam or piracy). The second law partner ART MANDIBLE joins the discussion. Another big problem (and billable business opportunity) is that some clients of the law firm are worried that they could be secondarily liable for crimes caused by hackers. Bill, because he was somewhat naïve and cheap in the way he conducted his own self-publishing business, might himself be the target of one of the planned lawsuits.  Sheila has already shared this with the law firm.  Tobey is a bit surprised at what sounds like ambulance chasing or ethical violations, but is already familiar with problems like this from the entertainment business. (Hook: Why does Tobey agree to ambulance chasing?)

 

Tobey starts low-key practice of his baseball skills by playing in a company softball tournament, where he meets FRANK WEBER from another consulting company called Career Auditors, a subsidiary of a little name conglomerate named Handyman Systems. Tobey hits a disputed home run to win the practice game.

 

Bill has found Tobey’s dinner film from a file-sharing service and wants to see the dinner film shown publicly, and finds, to his surprise, that Tobey is rejecting (bouncing) his email.  So he calls Sheila. She had once proofread one of Bill’s books. She has noticed Bill’s distinctive name in a (potential defendant’s) file dealing with one of the law firm’s clients, an ISP that is worried about potential liability under the Patriot Act. Sheila warns Bill about this discussion in the phone call.  They get into a discussion about why Shelia didn’t stay loyal to the humanities, now that IT has tanked. 

 

(Hook: Has Tobey rejected him? They haven’t yet met in present time of the film)       

 

Part 3: Bill

 

Bill is called in at work for an audit of his work, and this becomes a career audit conducted by Frankie. Bill remembers that he had once put the make on Frankie in a gay bar, and now wonders why Frankie seems to be standing in judgment of him.

 

Morgan, Sheila and Tobey attend a Minnesota Orchestra concert together and Morgan quizzes Tobey on how good he is getting at hitting baseballs.  Sheila and Tobey walk away together towards Hennepin Ave. After probing, Sheila reassures Tobey that her file-sharing program is used only for technically legal purposes.

 

(July 2004)

 

(Hook: layoff)

 

Bill gets laid off from his job at Postulate-A Financial, presumably because of the career audit. He is glad to get severance and realizes that severance can’t be taken for granted anymore.

 

Tobey visits Lapp in the hospital after a relapse of his lymphoma, requiring more radiation therapy. (Hook: generous Lance-like hospital visit) Lapp informs Tobey that Tobey should be prepared to play the entire movie.  Tobey beefs up his physical training, now regularly hitting mechanical pitches for major league homers.  Having learned of Bill’s firing, Tobey quizzes Sheila about Frankie’s connections to the ambulance chasing.

 

Bill finds his website shut down, apparently because hackers tried to use it to plant steganographic messages for terrorists, and his ISP cannot answer questions.

 

Scruggs takes Tobey to Kieran’s Pub for lunch and quizzes him about Bill’s references to military subjects in his book (about the ban), since Frankie has been helping them look for clients. (Hook: draw Tobey into ambulance chasing)

 

Bill goes to the free IFP emerging filmmaker series at Bryant Lake Bowl and watches a documentary short by ERIC BLUM about teenage computer hacking and why it is a “boy thing.” Bill meets Eric afterwards, who appears around 18 himself and is very attractive to Bill.

 

Tobey, Lorraine, Patrick and Sheila pop in on the Saloon on youth night, just to have a “good time” in a mixed gay disco. They encounter Bill. Lorraine takes it upon herself to tease Bill about his interest in much younger men, including Patrick. Bill does not know yet that Lorraine is Patrick’s wife and that he could have asked why they are indulging in voyuerizing the break dancers themselves. The security guard actually asks Bill to leave. Bill questions him, noting that this bar is not a leather bar (which would have a leather-only dress code for Saturday nights to keep out gawkers).

 

Bill consults feminist attorney ALLISON KATZ, who is not optimistic that she can help Bill get his website back, but sho shares that she has a lesbian spouse SUSAN in the military.

 

Shelia and Tobey become more intimate, and Shelia goes through a mock ceremony with shaving cream where she pretends that she will shave Tobey’s body for the cycling epidodes of the upcoming film, although the actual filming is some months off. Tobey conveniently resists by bringing up the subject of ambulance chasing.  But her teasing eventually leads to sex.

 

Bill gets a cease and desist letter forwarded to him by his cooperative publisher because of a complaint from a former military person discussed in his book. (hook: cease and desist from apt manager)

 

Eric pays Bill a surprise visit at Bill’s high rise apartment, ringing in on the intercom. Eric looks at the corrupted files from when Bill’s site was hacked and runs some encryption programs to decode some Unicode jibberish having to do with suitcase nukes. (hooksexual tease with a minor?) Then Eric, using Bill’s machine, shows how to hack into a couple of FEMA addresses dealing with changes in the earth’s orbit and future volcanic eruptions. They become slightly intimate, and Eric suggests that they go upstairs to the apartment swimming pool. In the dressing room, Bill gets served by Patrick (picture taken as proof) with a lawsuit claiming trademark infringement from his former domain name.(hook – service of process)

 

Tobey meets with Morgan and Syd and they plan for him to shoot the baseball portions first.

 

Allison and Bill meet in his boyhood home in Virginia. Bill tells Allison the rest of his story of involvement with the ban (including 1993 March on Washington, the job transfer to Minnesota, etc.)  He then recounts through flashbacks the story of his speech at a local university from crutches, how Tobey had arranged it, and how Tobey had even advised him to “dress for success.” There is a flashback of the speech where Bill talks about “the relationship paradox.”

 

Allison picks up on Bill’s “ray of hope” for a new love life with Tobey, and for a moment hugs him. Bill is momentarily embarrassed by his nearness to her “ripened” breasts (“luscious bosoms”) and then backs away. (hook: compulsive fragments of heterosexuality) Bill then recounts some times when he has been rebuffed by his desire for mere “friendship” with younger men, and when he was teased about his birthday at a Minneapolis bar.

 

Allison tells him about Susan’s burn injury in the 9-11 attacks and her participation in the new WTC debates. They get into a discussion about other scenarios (like trademark) where his writing could get him into trouble.

 

Tobey, rather enjoying his double life, meets with the other law-partner-boss EUGENE MYERS who quizzes him about Scruggs (possible involvement in porn) and defends the lawsuit, claiming that Bill was impersonating a real business and disrupting a Christian publishing company with the same name. (hook: ambulance chasing and fund out his employer could be criminal)

 

Tobey and Patrick find Bill selling hot dogs (volunteer work for MCC) at a concession stand in the Metrodome at a Twin’s game, when the Twins lose to a home run. This is the first time that Tobey and Bill meet in “real time” since the beginning of the script.

 

Part 4: Out of Court

 

(September 2004)

           

Bill and Allison meet with DICK CRONALIN to settle the first complaint against Bill’s former website, along with his (Dick’s) attorney SHARRY WATSON.

 

The complaint is from a former servicemember who has been pursued by the Air Force for recoupment after his discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  The civil procedure comprises depositions from Bill and Cronalin. 

 

(hook: take home for sex)

 

Here there is a flashback (told to Tobey by the plaintiff Cronalin) to the early 80s, just about when GRID (as it was called before it was called AIDS) had become known, and Bill gets taken home by a Lt. Paul Cronalin, who is a first year med student with school paid for by the Air Force. He finds quite an ultimate sexual experience, and then leaves Cronalin sleeping the next morning and never sees him again.  Then, according to the complaint, Bill wrote about the case in a newsletter fifteen years later when Cronalin had to resign from the service when his lover “told” while applying for a civilian TS security clearance with the CIA.  Bill had learned about the case on his own, by meeting Cronalin in a bar (and seeing a time-lapse of aging), and had waited outside the military courtroom.  When Bill transferred the article contents to his own web site, Air Force officials found it and tried to make a recoupment claim (for graduate school degrees), then backed down. But then Cronalin’s employer claimed that the attention Bill had drawn to Cronalin caused him to lose clients and therefore his job.

 

The grounds for the lawsuit are invasion of privacy, that Bill is not a member of the legitimate “press” and therefore does not have the same claim to a right to keep a controversial case in the public eye (that is, blogging to advance Bill’s own publicity) when it would have long been forgotten if it were only available in print. Bill is questioned about various aspects of how he conducted his business (assumed name in only one state, media perils). (hook: military ban admin proced; hook – controversial limit on i.p. freedom)

 

Allison insists that the judge would have to rule on the point of law, but Tobey explains that the judge seems to feel that a jury can decide this case as a matter of equity. The plaintiff’s lead attorney warns that Bill could be accused of promoting himself in front of children. They offer a deal to stop action if he removes references to Cronalin from his book. Bill finally agrees to take everything down in his control (he doesn’t have his website but he does have AOL personal publisher) but doesn’t. He does agree not to work in a conventional professional job and attract attention to himself as an underground public figure at the same time. They quiz him about his severance and jawbone him into surrendering the remainder to a gay-related charity. (hookCOI)

 

Part 5: In Court

 

 

Tobey hits homers over the Green Monster in Fenway Park in batting practice in front of a big league crowd before a late-season Red Sox game. Then Lapp is honored at a community celebration in a Minneapolis suburb, with fireworks, and it is announced officially that Tobey will play him an upcoming film. (hook: Tobey hitting homers)

 

Tobey signs the final contract at Morgan’s home in Hollywood Hills. They watch Syd’s home movie, in 8mm format, of the original hazing “tribunals” at William and Mary in 1961.  Tobey, given that the hazing rituals subject has occurred already in the American Pie movies, wants to see just how far people really went. (hook: the tribunal tapes and why Syd had made them)

 

Tobey, Lorraine, Sheila, and Bill visit the gay disco  again (straight couples often visit certain gay discos in many cities), and Tobey actually talks Bill past the security guard , when there is an explosion near the dance stage and Patrick is burned. (hook: gay disco explosion, Tobey plays “save me”) Tobey saves two lives with CPR. Bill is not injured. Next day, Tobey is interviewed on CNN for his heroics, since there has already been a public announcement of his film role. Bill and Allison watch on a Times Square Jumbotron before going to a WTC site dedication. There is concern that the gay bar incident is terrorist related, but possibly domestic and right-wing.

 

 

In winter, Tobey and Matt rehearse the motel scenes in the movie about Lapp, the scenes where Lapp first becomes ill.  Syd takes him through several different acting approaches. But then Scruggs summons Tobey to tesify at Bill’s trial regarding the second complaint. Lapp assists as a consultant but is ill again from relapse and chemotherapy, and having trouble with the cold weather.

 

This second complaint, leading to a formal courtroom trial, concerns trademark regarding his own book publishing name. RANDY HARTNETT is the new-age young judge.  The controversy over Bill’s ethics in handling his site is discussed in front of the jury.  Bill is questioned as to his cutting corners in registering his business names (“assumed names”) in different states and as to incidents where he learned about the confusion he was causing. The plaintiff claims many Christian bookstores and book buyers were confused by the similarity of their business names, as several of them felt embarrassed when they tried to contact Bill by mistake. Bill had used the Internet to cheaply promote his business name, whereas the older religious business had not. Bill is also questioned about his “professionalism” in the I.T. area.

 

Tobey is asked by the defense to testify for Bill. Hook: (His legs look shaved, or maybe singed by the fire, and Bill reacts nervously by puking.)  He explains that Bill saw writing as a way to make himself socially credible with younger men. Tobey mentions that Bill was set up originally for his college expulsion, and this statement may have some effect on the judge.

 

Tobey flies with Morgan and Frankie to his filming of the bike races in Utah. Tobey vindicates Bill’s amorous intentions, whereas Frankie still resents them, having gone “ex-gay” since then and married.

 

 Bill winds up shutting everything down and agreeing to community service.

 

Tobey and Allison, out at the Colorado bike race, hear about the verdict in a sports bar, and CNN explains that this case was about when “free speech crosses too far into self-promotion” although most of the commentators sound reasonably sympathetic to Bill.

 

Part 6: Tobey and Bill

 

Tobey, having bike-raced, filmed his scenes, and passed his own “tribunals” proposes to Sheila, who has just tested pregnant. Sheila remarks that their son will be the best of everything (they will do sex determination). 

 

Bill tries for a job as a security screener and fails the treadmill stress test in the physical.

 

Bill is then working at a collection agency when someone he calls looks him up on the Internet before talking to him. Bill has a heart attack and is taken to the hospital and gets a keyhole bypass before he knows what has happened. (Maybe he is part of the zipper club, just a little.) While he is recovering in a private hospital room, there is a volcanic eruption.  Frankie’s company and Myers’ law firm are on television as helping with the cleanup. Tobey calls him at the hospital but never visits.

 

Bill finally takes a low wage job at the bottom, flipping burgers, when Tobey, Patrick, and Hartnett come into the McDonalds and offer Bill the opportunity to do his town hall on free speech.  He also learns that Scruggs is being investigated for child pornography found on his home computer.

 

Tobey comes to Bill’s apartment and gives him a swimming lesson. His appearance has changed again, well, for the Olympics.  Well, Tobey will play the part of an Olympic swimmer, that is. (Hook: shaved)  The sexual picadillo dwindles. Bill becomes “better” by learning to swim.

 

Bill, with no website, and Tobey do get to conduct a townhall on free speech at Raleigh’s Tavern in Williamsburg on CNN or Nightline with several high-profile lawyers.  Hook: Bill crashes and burns on his upward affiliation.

 

Tobey  gets a second real up close Movie role, for $50000, playing Bucky Dent hitting the Fenway Park home run in the same sports movie as the cyclist.

 

(July 2005)

 

Finally, there is an Independence Day Celebration in Washington and Tobey shows up ready for a competitive swim in the Reflecting Pool. Bill has seen his doctor and may join the manly zipper club. (Hook: Dave Letterman)

 

Tobey gets married to Sheila in an outdoor ceremony, and a rehearsed Bill hands over the ring.

 

Epilogue

 

(August 2005)

 

Frankie, with a poster for Tobey’s new movie in his office on display, interviews Bill to become a reservist at his Handyman company, an asset person to help out with the next disaster. Tobey takes the medical test in the same room to show what asset persons are getting themselves into. Hook: (Judge Hartnett “gets it.”) Bill is ready for a new life.  But it may not be his own.

 

 

 

 

I would like to comment on the viability of basing a screenplay on an Internet legal problem that so far has not yet been much seen.  We have all heard recently about abuses such as music piracy (copyright infringement) through peer-peer file sharing and about spam, and, somewhat less so, about the indirect liability computer users may have if their servers or sites are used by hackers to harm others, participate in illegal activities, support terrorism, transmit child pornography. The Internet does give an ordinary person an opportunity to promote himself barely imagined even ten years ago. The self-promotion can occur even just with the passive advertising offered by search engines, with no aggressive salesmanship outreach to others, so it is perfect for introverts. Yet, partly because the Internet is a young, basically unregulated and poorly secured medium, one could assume that one who uses it does so at the risk of criticism, at least, or disapproval, or even legal exposure because he may be leveraging himself on the names of others who have already “paid their dues,” promoting his ideas in front of children, or inadvertently interfering with established businesses. The personal controversy comes partly from the fact that self-promotion can be a convenient escape for people who don’t like to perform in intimate relationships with others in a manner normally “expected.” Of course, this problem does not immediately translate to visual media like film, but then neither does courtroom drama without imagination. It gets back to having real characters with real charisma becoming involved with the problems. Tobey and Sheila fulfill that need in this screenplay.  Any topic or issue can be filmed.

 

 

Additional changes

 

Patrick did the original video of Bill’s dinner

Morgan would want to know where the video came from

Tobey is concerned about Sheila’s possible piracy and ethics but rationalizes it as good for Bill,  and will bring some order back into the system

Have Syd use the phrase, “Keep your mind out of the gutter” in a flashback scene in his own 8mm movie.

Tobey has sex with Sheila when teased and then proposes later.

 

Sheila calls Tobey the perfect metrosexual and he agrees

Tobey rehearses ad-libbing with “hip” words

Possible addition to Act 1:

 

Bill tells minor friend John about Syd’s old wives’ tale (or “urban legend”) about gay male “super strength”; Tobey chuckles at it and compares Bill to Smallville’s  Clark Kent in a conversation with (old) Std..

 

Tobey verifies that he does not use steroids or drugs before his athletic performances

 

Show Williamsburg Capitol 3-branch of govt lecture (15 sec), say that free speech stronger in America than Europe; Tobey lives in both US and European cultures

 

 

Bill says that writing gives him acceptability to people he likes when he doesn’t want to bond with people his own age. This explains why drawing attention to himself, publicity and celebrity, are so valuable to him.

 

 

Why so many young men majoring in philosophy? The humanities?

 

Note on the title:

 

Imbd.com and bn.com show a few movies and books with titles like “The A-list.”  It is acceptable for titles to be duplicated among movies and books (a title itself cannot be copyrighted or trademarked unless it is of a series). Nevertheless, I have make the subtitle unique by adding the phrase “Make the…” which occurs in the text of the script.

 

©Copyright 2003, 2005 by Bill Boushka. Copyright includes the linked script in Final Draft/PDF format.  This is a work of fiction.

 

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