The Writer's Strike: A Screenplay, Part II

RUPERT GOLD AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR WGA STRIKE
an original scene by Rufus Chaffee

FADE IN:

INTERIOR GOLD PRODUCTIONS EXECUTIVE OFFICE — DAY

The office is expensive and ornate. Incense dishes sit over small flames, pictures of various stars through the years decorate the walls, all with the same man posing next to the star. That man is RUPERT GOLD. Rupert Gold is in his sixties, a crass straightshooter who favors thousand dollar suits and gold jewelry. He sits at his large oak desk on the phone chomping an unlit cigar.

RUPERT GOLD
Uh huh, well you tell him to go to hell if it’s anything less than twenty million. I got a family to feed for Christ’s sake.

He slams down the phone, spins his chair to the side and reflects on the conversation for a moment before turning his attention to a folder on his desk. After studying the folder for a moment he closes it and reaches for a stamp. CLUNK! The folder is stamped “Canceled”.

RUPERT GOLD (CONT’D)
Rupert Gold has spoken.

He takes a $100 bill from a dispenser, holds it over one of the incense flames until it lights, uses it to light his cigar.

WOMAN’S VOICE
(over intercom)
Mr. Gold.

RUPERT GOLD
Yeah toots.

WOMAN’S VOICE
Ms. Jennings is here.

RUPERT GOLD
Who?

WOMAN’S VOICE
She’s one of your writers.

RUPERT GOLD
So.

WOMAN’S VOICE
She has a one o’clock.

RUPERT GOLD
Why are you wasting my time with a writer? Don’t you realize I had lunch with George Clooney?

WOMAN’S VOICE
I’m sending her in.

RUPERT GOLD
Bah!
He reaches under his desk and pushes a button. GRRRRRR. A motor raises his desk and chair an additional foot off the ground.

MELISSA JENNINGS (black, young, confident) strides into the room and takes a seat on the opposite side of the desk. Rupert Gold now towers over her, he says nothing only stares at her chomping his smoldering cigar. She isn’t intimidated, silence as neither speaks.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Mr. Gold —

RUPERT GOLD
Is this a black thing? Affirmative action, not enough color in the workplace. I got Jesse Jackson on speed dial missy so don’t get coy with me. I invented black programming—Jeffersons, Good times, Roots—all me baby.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Alex Haley did Roots.

RUPERT GOLD
Based on whose idea? (She shakes her head) Here, take a hundred dollars and call it even.

Rupert Gold takes a $100 bill from the dispenser holds it down to her – it’s a considerable difference in height. She makes no motion to take it.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Funny you should bring up money Mr. Gold.

Rupert Gold slowly pulls the $100 bill back, squints at her, uses the bill to wipe his nose and tosses it in the trash amongst other crumpled $100 bills.

MELISSA JENNINGS (CONT’D)
I’m here representing the other writers on your shows.

RUPERT GOLD
We have other writers?

MELISSA JENNINGS
Yes.

RUPERT GOLD
Really…

Rupert Gold soaks in this information as if it were fresh news.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Mr. Gold, your company produces over 15 prime time shows, obviously they don’t write themselves.

Rupert Gold snaps his fingers.

RUPERT GOLD
I’ve got it, sexual harassment, sexism, the female orgasm—that’s what this is about. Look, it’s just science Ms. Jennings.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Mr. Gold…

RUPERT GOLD
…don’t blame me if men are just better at their jobs. I pay based on a very specific formula based on performance and penis size. I can’t be held responsible if women always seem to fall at the bottom of that scale.

Rupert Gold pulls out a checkbook.

RUPERT GOLD (CONT’D)
How much? A grand? Alright, you got nice legs so I’ll make it two.

MELISSA JENNINGS
I represent the male writers as well Mr. Gold.

RUPERT GOLD
There really are other writers?

MELISSA JENNINGS
Yes. A lot of them in fact.

Rupert Gold slides the checkbook to the side.

RUPERT GOLD
You’re Jewish aren’t you, damn Jews always knew how to negotiate.

MELISSA JENNINGS
I’m not Jewish.

RUPERT GOLD
Don’t lie, I know one when I see one.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Internet rights, Mr. Gold. This is about the simple fact that your company is making millions off the internet and we don’t see a dime.

RUPERT GOLD
Internet? What’s an internet.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Mr. Gold, don’t play dumb. Last week alone we wrote three webisodes that Gold Productions posted online while selling advertising space based on those episodes. We feel that much like DVDs and television we are entitled to a small portion of that profit.

Rupert Gold takes this all in.

RUPERT GOLD
Ahhh, now I see your game Ms. Jennings.

MELISSA JENNINGS
These internet rights are the future, Mr. Gold, and we’re not going to wait for it to be too late. We’re prepared to strike.

RUPERT GOLD
Then you strike. Rupert Gold does not negotiate with terrorists.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Terroris — ?

RUPERT GOLD
Terrorists, Ms. Jennings! You’re playing on fear and that makes you a terrorist.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Playing on—look we just want what’s right. Gold Productions is a multimillion dollar company. You can afford this small concession.

RUPERT GOLD
Sm..small concession? You know how much money I made last year?

MELISSA JENNINGS
Sixty-two million.

RUPERT GOLD
Sixty two..what? Hearsay, Ms. Jennings.

MELISSA JENNINGS
It was posted in Variety, you were the number three money maker.

Rupert Gold takes a dramatic pause.

RUPERT GOLD
I have a family to feed Ms. Jennings.

He turns a picture around of two smiling kids, an older woman and a man. It came with the frame. Melissa Jennings leans in for a closer look, she’s not buying his argument.

RUPERT GOLD (CONT’D)
How do you expect me to feed my family if I just give away valuable rights.

He quickly turns the photo back around.

MELISSA JENNINGS
We’re not asking you to give them away, we just want a small percentage.

RUPERT GOLD
No.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Then we’re on strike.

RUPERT GOLD
Then you’re on strike. Rupert Gold has spoken.

Melissa Jennings take a moment to soak in the response, she nods and stands.

MELISSA JENNINGS
Good day Mr. Gold, our lawyers will be in touch.

Melissa Jennings turns and exits. Rupert Gold shows little reaction to her exit. GRRRR. His desk lowers. He stands – we see for the first time that he isn’t wearing any pants. He presses the intercom button.

WOMAN’S VOICE
Yes, Mr. Gold?

RUPERT GOLD
Call Long Beach, get me a three o’clock.

Rupert Gold begins practicing his golf swing.

WOMAN’S VOICE
Sure thing Mr. Gold.

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