"1971": A Writer's Strike Screenplay

EXT. SILVERCUP STUDIOS – AFTERNOON

We pan down the sidewalk to see a bunch of PICKET SIGNS leaning up against the wall. The signs all read UNION SLOGANS signifying that they are part of the WRITER’S STRIKE.

We pan further to see people standing on line. Further still, we see them standing on line for an UPSCALE CATERING TRUCK.

Outside the truck, there is a marvelously catered spread on a craft service table. An ATTRACTIVE CATERING WAITRESS smiles at two men as she swaps out an empty plate with a plate of shrimp wrapped in bacon. The two men mouths begin to water as they look at the food.

ANDY (28), heavyset and nerdish, a typical writer, gazes up at the waitress.

ANDY
Is this…?

CATERING WAITRESS
Try it, you’ll like it.

DANNY (33), dark in an Emo sort of way, picks up a piece of shrimp and pops it into his mouth. His face shows the pleasure he’s having from eating this hors d’œuvre.

DANNY
Oh my god.

ANDY
Yes?

DANNY
In the middle, there’s this little piece of jalapeno pepper…

Andy picks up two and shoves them into his mouth.

ANDY
Oh my god.

DANNY
I know, right?

ANDY
We really need to get on 30 Rock.

DANNY
No shit. If this is the spread they’re doing for the strike, just imagine…

ANDY
It’s like I’m having an orgasm in my mouth.

DANNY
Well you’d know what that’s like… So, oh… Vince Young!

ANDY
His passing stats are horrible.

DANNY
They’re adequate. Just pump up his awareness a little and you’ve got the best QB in the game. Set your receivers for deep, and roll out. DB’s go out, you’ve got a 20-yard cushion to run the ball.

ANDY
He is fast.

DANNY
He’s unstoppable once he passes the d-linemen.

ANDY
Man I can’t wait to get home and play more Madden. This strike is awesome.

DANNY
Tell me about it dude.

DAVE (O.S.)
You squares don’t know shit from shit.

They turn around to see DAVE KLIEN (70), an elderly but spry beatnik. He has buttons all over his black trench coat, signifying that he’s a pro at picketing. He holds a sign that says “FUCK THE MAN!!!” in bright red letters, almost resembling blood.

ANDY
Excuse me.

DAVE
You writers, with your scallops and bacon. You wouldn’t know a strike if you were bowling.

DANNY
Uh, hello, who are you?

DAVE
You mean they haven’t told..? Those pansy-ass, pool-pissing no good… I’m David Scott Klien.

DANNY
Hey, I’m Danny and this is Andy.

Dave barely acknowledges them. His glare is making them uncomfortable.

ANDY
So… what show are you working on?

DAVE
Oh, a little thing I used to like calling The Mary-Fucking Tyler Moore Show.

DANNY
Is that the one with Marlo Thomas?

Andy cracks up. Dave becomes livid.

DAVE
You guys, you don’t know. You have no idea. The blood, the sweat, the tears that men, men like me, have given up so you can chow down on lobster-fried rice and talk about your Atari games.

Andy looks on the table.

ANDY
There’s lobster fried rice?

DANNY
Well Mr. Klien, we fully appreciate what you guys gave up in 1988, so that me and my colleague here could succeed.

DAVE
1988!? I’m not..! I’m not talking about no rinky-dink 1988. I’m talking about the writers strike of 1971.

Andy and Danny look at each other in confusion.

DANNY
There wasn’t a writer’s strike in 1971.

Dave smacks him in the face. Danny reels away.

DANNY (CONT’D)
Ow!! What the fuck man!

DAVE
They should revoke your Guild rights for saying that out loud. Let me tell you a story…

FLASHBACK:

EXT. HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS – DAY
DAVE (V.O.)
…of the great halcyon days of 1971. Archie and Edith get a pair of new neighbors called The Jeffersons. Sonny Bono and his wife ruled the evenings with their
comedy hour. Ahh, it was a great year. A GREAT YEAR. It was also the year of the writer/studio war.

It is 1971, and we’re in front of the closed gates of a ritzy Hollywood studio. There are writers on strike with picket signs as well as torches.

A guard comes to the gate with a gun. Another four guards come and open the large gate. The writers begin to rush in front, the guards rush the gate from behind so nobody gets in.

DAVE (V.O.) (CONT’D)
All we wanted was a fair piece of the advertising pie…

A ROLLS ROYCE pulls down the lane. The guards try to clear a path, but the writers fight back with torches. The passenger in the backseat rolls down his window.

He looks at the situation, then looks at the lead guard with the machine gun. He gives the guard a sign, the guard nods. He begins to shoot the gun into the air to scare the horde.The crowd disperses with the loud noise. It’s a scene out of Hoffa, as the Rolls comes out of the driveway and drive off.

A bunch of writers try and run the car down, throwing the signs at the car.

Suddenly, a team of SCAB WRITERS comes running in through the back, they are all surrounded by a bunch of guards. The crowd begins to descend on the scabs.
Dave is there, a lot younger, holding a picket sign.

DAVE (CONT’D)
Scabs!!! Scabs!!! You think you could come up with Columbo?!

SCAB
I could come up with something better!!!

DAVE
Like what!?

SCAB
It’s a show about a beat up cop who lives in a hotel with a cockatoo.

DAVE
I pitched that show!! It’s called Toma you union busting scab!!!

Dave swings the sign down and hits the scab across the face like an axe.

DAVE (CONT’D)
That’s what you get meathead!!

Punches are thrown and anarchy breaks out. Dave begins pummelling scab writers in the street, the guards begin to come down en masse with machine guns. Dave gets up and defiantly stands in front of the guards. They begin to shoot.

FADE TO BLACK.

END FLASHBACK:

EXT. SILVERCUP STUDIOS – CONTINUOUS
Dave has a tear in his eyes as he finishes the story.

DAVE
The event of that day have long been buried. The studios hired some writers to rewrite history so it looked like the writer’s strike of 1971 never occurred. But ya know
what? (beat) They hired union writers… We beat those bastards…

Dave begins to cry. Andy begins to console him.

ANDY
Hey, it’s a good thing you guys did.

Danny cracks up.

DANNY
Are you kidding me? 1971? Union busters? Come on, that’s horseshit!

ANDY
Dude, come on…

DANNY
That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of…

Just then, Woody Allen walks by the catering table.

WOODY ALLEN
All this wonderful food, yet I can’t find bananas.

He sees Dave standing on the sidewalk.

WOODY ALLEN (CONT’D)
David Scott Klien?!

DAVE
Hello Woodrow.

WOODY ALLEN
Oh my God. It is? It is you!? I was just telling some writers from The Sarah Silverman Show about you and… well, the events from 1971. I swear, kids today have no respect… Come on, let’s go over to the West Side, they’re hardcore over there…

DAVE
Any chance for blood?

WOODY ALLEN
Hey. It’s a strike, there’s always a chance for that…

He pulls up his pant leg to show that he’s got a large scar on his leg. It looks like a bullet scar. Dave also lifts up his pant leg, revealing a similar healed wound.

DAVE
Hoo-rah.

WOODY ALLEN
Hoo-rah. You know, I always wondered what that meant, like if they have an entire language made out of grunting sounds.

DAVE
That’s why they call them grunts.

WOODY ALLEN
Ha! It’s good to see you again.

They walk away.

DANNY
You ever think we’ll be those guys in 35 years?

ANDY
Hopefully. I need to find some lighter fluid and some towels. Are you down?

DANNY
Okay, I’ll go find some empties, we’ll make some Molotov cocktails. To 1971!

ANDY
To 1971!!

They grab some Sternos from the catered buffet and begin tearing the table cloth into strips of material.

THE END?

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