Posts in: August 2006

The Imposter

Author: Carlos Perez

Genre: Crime/War

Storyline: 6

Dialogue: 5

Characterization: 3

Writer’s Potential: 4

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]




In the 1970s, Boise detectives search for a murderer who may have been a Nazi spy in World War II.


In 1978, a Boise man stops at the side of the road to relieve himself when he finds a bag half-buried in melting snow. Inside the bag are dismembered body parts—arms and feet. Boise detectives REESE FUENTES (late 20s) and GREGORY MARSHALL (50s) are on the case. They notice a concentration camp tattoo on the arm that leads them to believe this was the work of a neo-Nazi cult. Trying to avoid dealing with that, Gregory decides instead to investigate leads from other noted racists with violent backgrounds. This leads them to LEE LEWIS, who four months ago had a domestic abuse call. Eyewitnesses claimed a man with two big suitcases came to the Lewis house, they heard fighting, and the man was never seen leaving. The stuff about the man was dismissed when Lee owned up to beating his wife, LIZ.

Meanwhile, an aging Russian-American, KROTOV, actually committed the crime. He’s shacked up with a young woman named ANNA. They make plans to sneak off to Argentina together. It becomes clear in a hurry that Krotov murdered and dismembered the man Gregory and Reese are investigating. Krotov also has a sexual relationship with a suburban woman, SHEILA PETERSON.

Gregory and Reese are forced to team up with a federal agent, WILLIAMS, who has come from Washington because of two similar cases of dismembered parts in burlap bags tied in World War II-style knots. He tells Gregory and Reese that he’s dug up obscure information that similar killings occurred in France during WWII. Through flashbacks, it’s revealed Krotov—a Russian officer—was handpicked from a concentration camp and assigned by the Germans to impersonate an American officer, commit murders on civilians in the most brutal possible way to lose sympathy for American soldiers. He also led a wide group into a trap—and Gregory, a WWII vet, was there.

In the present, Gregory and Reese don’t buy Williams’ theory that the WWII killings and the current murders are connected. From Lee and Liz Lewis, they learn that a man with suitcases did show up that night—a man named DERRY, recently released from prison. They pick him up and Derry tells them that four months ago, he had a chance meeting with a courier named MINYA MINCHAK at a bar at the airport. He found out Minya was transporting diamonds and also that he was a Jewish concentration camp survivor—their victim. However, Derry passed out in the airport bathroom and never saw Minya again. The detectives find that Minya was supposed to deliver diamonds to a local jeweler—Sheila Peterson. However, the diamonds never got there; when they ask, Sheila seems nervous about the diamonds. Later, Sheila reveals to Krotov that she isn’t nervous about Minya’s stolen diamonds (she doesn’t appear to know that he was murdered)—she’s been stealing diamonds herself, unchecked because they only inventory the jewels twice a year.

In flashbacks, it is revealed that Krotov killed a German SS officer he was working with. An American soldier, CARL MILLER, finds Krotov, who tells Miller that the SS officer was a German spy. Krotov and Miller bond, until Krotov stabs him in the neck with a knife baring his initials (NIK). Injured, Krotov steals Miller’s identity (uniform, dog tags, etc.) and is sent back to the United States. In the present, the detectives stumble across photos of the NIK knife and documents signed by Krotov, showing that his name matches the initials. The documents also imply that he murdered his landlord in self-defense when she accused him of attempting to rob her jewelry shop. The detectives suspect Krotov’s behind the current murders. Gregory recognizes him from a WWII photo.

Gregory, Reese, and Williams believe Sheila is key to the investigation, so they place a cop to watch her. He turns up dead, as does Sheila. They find Minya’s head in Sheila’s freezer. In flashbacks, it’s revealed that Krotov was also at the airport, overhearing everything Minya told to Derry. When Derry leaves, Krotov tells Minya he’s a cab driver and the Krotov is too drunk to drive. He offers to drive him home, but a SKY CAP outside the airport forces Krotov to also take a MOTHER and her CHILDREN home. Frustrated, Krotov does so and also drops Minya off at his girlfriend DIANA’s house. Krotov tells Diana that Minya told him he wanted Krotov to be there to take him back to the airport promptly at seven the next morning. The next morning, he kills and dismembers Minya, then finds out that he doesn’t even have the diamonds. In the present, Krotov kills Anna because she’s pregnant. He leaves with his tickets to Venezuela.

At the airport—which the detectives happen to be at, following up the lead from Derry—Krotov sneaks a pistol past the carry-on X-ray machines by giving a child a lollipop that induces vomiting. He hijacks a plane. The detectives discover Krotov was at the airport when Minya was there, and was the one who gave the child the lollipop. They receive word that the pilot gave the tower a code word to let them know they’ve been hijacked. The detectives take a private FBI jet to Florida and trick Krotov into believing they’re landing in Venezuela. They arrest him on sight. Gregory shows up at Diana’s apartment. He’s realized she’s the only one who could possibly have the diamonds. He arrests her.


The premise of this script—mostly Krotov’s story, both in the past and present—and the overall criminal storyline is fairly interesting. However, all the flashbacks to World War II are totally unnecessary—they’re redundant and spend long periods of time establishing information that’s revealed through a few lines of dialogue. In fact, the entire use of flashbacks (with the possible exception of the flashbacks showing the events of four months ago) weakens the structure and the overall storyline. This maybe wouldn’t be a big problem if not for the fact that Krotov practically becomes the main character by default—we learn more about him and possibly spend more time with him than we do any other character in the screenplay. Even this would be fine if he were portrayed as even remotely sympathetic—he’s not. He’s a coldblooded killer, in most cases showing no remorse and little motivation beyond greed. Greed works well as a motivator, but give us a reason (other than the obvious desire for wealth) for a greed that drives him to awful murders.

We don’t want to root for Krotov. He’s an awful, despicable person, but really, there isn’t enough on the other characters to make them involving. Gregory has marital problems and a flirtation with a local reporter, both of which are so meaningless they didn’t even make it into the synopsis. Spend more time with these three cops—show us their flaws, their vulnerabilities, and make them mean something. Make them more interesting than Krotov, and perhaps then the audience will care about watching them solve this crime and catch the criminal. Right now they’re pretty generic, swapping plot-oriented cop dialogue with little in the way of characterization or development.

The overall crime story, while interesting and involving, is way too convenient to be believable. Krotov, portrayed as a spy who can pass so well for an American that he steals somebody else’s identity, isn’t smart enough to bury the dismembered body parts in the ground (or, if the ground is too frozen, far enough away from the road that people won’t stumble on it as soon as the snow melts)? He’s not smart enough to figure out that when Minya had the diamonds the previous night but didn’t have them in the morning, maybe Diana had them? He doesn’t realize that killing people in the exact same way he did during WWII, and that once again he’s attempting to steal jewels, might lead cops back to him? He has plane tickets to Venezuela but for no particular reason decides to hijack the plane that’s already going there? Also, the way the detectives are led from a seemingly unrelated domestic disturbance to a man who just happens to have spoken with the murder victim the night before he died, which in turn leads them to other key players that eventually leads them to Krotov—all of this is just way too convenient.

In short, make it harder for the detectives and focus more on the cops trying to solve the case. Where are their setbacks in solving the crime? In what ways do they struggle with the case? By better developing the characters, perhaps outside factors—such as Gregory’s collapsing marriage, if that were brought into sharper focus—will distract them, or make them sloppy. Maybe even playing on the time period would help: we’ve come a long way with forensics and crimefighting techniques in 30 years; it was much more difficult to solve crimes like this 30 years ago, and in fact many of them went unsolved until modern techniques were applied to the old cases. Portraying Krotov as smart and devious, as his character would already be, would also make solving the case more difficult.

By making the audience root more for the detectives but also making Krotov at least a tiny bit sympathetic, this screenplay could live up to the quality of its interesting premise.

Read More


Author: Unknown

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Storyline: 3

Dialogue: 1

Characterization: 1

Writer’s Potential: 2

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]




At their 10-year reunion, four friends make a pact to hook up with girls they crushed on in high school.


Spring, 1996: four friends—ZACH, MIKE, JOHN, and DAVE—graduate and make last-ditch efforts to get the girls they’ve loved for years to notice them. They fail. Ten years later, all four are the only losers who haven’t left town or moved on with their lives. When Zach receives his invitation to the 10-year reunion, he realizes maybe he can’t move forward because he never admitted his feelings for longtime friend, SARA. Mike jumps on this and thinks all four of them have the same problem in common, so he makes them sign a pact (Zach won’t, so Mike forges his signature) saying they’ll sleep with the girls they used to want. Lucy calls Zach and asks to stay with him for the reunion; Zach’s humiliated because he works as a chicken mascot at his dad’s used-car dealership and still lives with his parents. Mike helps him come up with an assortment of lies and excuses. Mike also starts dating an 18-year-old, KATIE.

Lucy shows up, and just before Zach confesses his feelings, Lucy’s boyfriend STEVE arrives. Now Zach has to pretend to be gay so Steve won’t be so uptight about Lucy talking about him all the time. They go to the reunion, and Zach confesses his feelings. Katie finds their signed pact and in a fit of anger takes it to the reunion and reads it at the microphone. Lucy is horrified; she leaves. Steve tries to follow her, but she dumps him on the spot. The objects of John and Dave’s affection are actually flattered by the pact, so they score. Zach explains the truth about everything, but Lucy still turns him down because her life is too busy to have a serious relationship. Zach decides to move forward: he’s going to grad school. The friends force Mike to apologize to Katie. Zach gets a flat tire just at the city limits, and Lucy shows up, saying she quit her busy, stressful job to have one that’s less busy and stressful—and closer to Zach’s school.


This is a totally by-the-numbers romantic comedy, which would be fine if it were redeemed by being funny; unfortunately, it’s not. There are occasional funny one-liners, but too many of the jokes rely on caricatures, stereotypes, and establishing running gags that aren’t funny the first time. It’s obvious from the very first scene with Zach and Lucy that they’re going to be together by the end of the screenplay, and the author doesn’t do enough to create compelling reasons to keep them apart, aside from giving her a boyfriend who’s obviously not right for her (or anyone else on the planet). Clichés in formula stories are unavoidable, so why not take the conventions and do something new and interesting with them? The author doesn’t, which makes the script a dud.

Read More

Wreck da Floor

Author: Michael Sean Conley and Seth Lockhart

Genre: Supernatural/Drama/Dance

Storyline: 5

Dialogue: 6

Characterization: 6

Writer’s Potential: 6

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]




A homeless dancer performs in a supernatural competition that will either get him a $100,000 reward…or death.


Harlem, 1949. A young man named WENDELL goes to a swing club with his lady, EVELYN. Another dancer, HYPE, literally sets the place on fire—through his dancing. While pandemonium rages, Wendell is separated from Evelyn. In the present-day, Wendell—now known as OL SKOOL—spends most of his time at Rufus’ 24-Hour Café, across the street from the former site of the nightclub. He seems to have a crush on SAVANNAH, a beautiful English girl. He always leaves her huge tips. Savannah’s coworker, POPCORN, has to deal with her homeless dancer brother, UNEEQ, and boyfriend, LOCKIT; she feeds them scraps, but her boss (RUFUS) doesn’t want them around unless they can pay. Uneeq is interested in Savannah, but she pays little attention. BEANIE, their albino bike-messenger friend, runs in to tell Uneeq and Lockit about Uneeq’s arch-nemesis (a white Manhattanite, REBEL) getting a mysterious black envelope—an invitation to Wreck da Floor. Uneeq and Lockit dismiss it as an urban legend, but Beanie swear it’s true, and that Wreck da Floor has a $100,000 prize. Uneeq, Lockit, Beanie, and Popcorn rush to Rebel’s apartment. Uneeq humiliates Rebel with his dance skills, and Rebel reluctantly turns over his invitation to Wreck da Floor, which Uneeq and his crew take back to their home—an abandoned boxcar.

Meanwhile, the mysterious gentleman who gave Rebel the invitation in the first place returns to Rebel’s apartment and makes him another offer. Uneeq invites Savannah to Wreck da Floor; she’s reluctant. Ol Skool gives Uneeq some advice on women. Popcorn takes Savannah to their boxcar, explaining hers and Uneeq’s situation. Uneeq is initially embarrassed but is soon happy she came. He walks her home, and Savannah agrees to go with him to Wreck da Floor. The next day, Savannah treats Popcorn to a trip to the beauty shop. Beanie tells Uneeq and Lockit he heard a rumor that Rebel is dancing better than ever. That evening, cops chase Uneeq and his crew as they make their way to Wreck da Floor. They go down into an old subway station, where old trains have placards reading “Wreck da Floor.” The train takes them to a nightclub that looks exactly like the one Hype burned down. Ol Skool quietly follows them here and is shocked. He runs away before he can see Hype is hosting Wreck da Floor—and he hasn’t aged a day. They hold a semifinal round in which a girl dies—so she’s eliminated. Uneeq and his crew freak out and leave (but not before Uneeq has made it to the final round).

Savannah tries to talk Uneeq out of going to the finals. He won’t do it, so she tells him to leave. Just after he does, Ol Skool shows up, asking to talk to her. He tells her he’s her grandfather and explains his part in Wreck da Floor’s history and why he abandoned her. In short, he survived—but barely—and what he saw drove him so insane he was locked up in an asylum. Uneeq’s conversation with Savannah has made Uneeq decide he needs to do something with his life—get a job, be responsible, stop dancing on the street for quarters. Inspired, Lockit tells Popcorn he wants to join the Coast Guard. Uneeq goes to talk to Ol Skool about the strange happenings with Wreck da Floor. Ol Skool won’t tell him much but implies that he’s “dancing with the devil.” Uneeq decides he’s in too deep not to dance the final round. Savannah decides she’s going to go back to London and offers to take Ol Skool with her. Ol Skool first goes to see Hype, offering to trade his soul for Uneeq’s. Hype doesn’t want it—he wants Savannah’s.

An old Rottweiler, which has been mysteriously around since the start, chases Ol Skool out of the subway and kills him. It then attempts to chase Beanie on his bike. He manages to get into a truck, and the truck driver manages—just barely—to get it into a warehouse. They hold a funeral for Ol Skool, after which the dog chases Savannah into Hype’s car. It drives away, and nobody will help Uneeq or his crew. They go down to the finals of Wreck da Floor, where Savannah has been brainwashed into being a between-round bikini girl. Uneeq tries to dance his best but can’t quite keep up with Rebel—until he sees the spirit of Ol Skool, who helps him to win, to break Savannah’s spell, and to actually get the prize money (which Hype tears up when Rebel doesn’t win).

In the end, Hype and Rebel make a new plan—go to London and launch another Wreck da Floor competition. Uneeq tells Savannah he and his crew are going to London, offers for her to come with. She’s thrilled.


The biggest strengths here are the interesting characters and the dialogue (which, while at times a bit too expository, is well-written and sounds very authentic to the characters), which are essential. However, these characters populate a story that’s a bit unfocused. On the level of an exuberant musical, the quality and focus of the story doesn’t matter much, so I’d almost let it slide, but in that case I think there needs to be more dance numbers. Since there aren’t, the easiest way to solve the problems are to focus quite a bit less on the mythology of Wreck da Floor and more on how the characters react as they realize what’s going on.

When Girl Dynamite dies, everybody freaks out and runs away. A perfectly natural reaction, but their terror should gradually mount as time goes on. Despite dog attacks and kidnappings, the tension doesn’t feel like it increases. It should be pushing Uneeq into a corner where the only conceivable way out is to participate in the final round; in a way, this is how it happens, but it seems pretty clear that Uneeq (while he has reservations) planned to participate all along. So make him not want to participate—he should think it’s horrible, and there’s no way the possibility of dying or handing over your soul to the devil is worth $100,000. There’s romantic tension with Savannah, but perhaps the second act should be more about Uneeq and his crew trying to forget what they’ve seen and making a conscious effort to turn over a new leaf. Uneeq spends that week trying to find a real job, maybe even becoming a dreaded music video dancer, and the others have similar “I never want to hear about Wreck da Floor again”-type reactions. That way, there’d be a greater payoff when the Rottweiler/Hype forces their hand and makes Uneeq fight for himself, Savannah, and his crew.

Most of the stuff with Ol Skool and Savannah is good; while it’s important to get his backstory out, it could be trimmed just a little bit to make room for more bonding. Their relationship is nice and nuanced, and Ol Skool’s story is the most well-structured and well-told of all the characters, but it really would be nice to see one or two scenes that are strictly character-driven, showing Ol Skool and Savannah’s bond increasing. It’ll make it all the more devastating when he’s killed.

Read More

Eternal Thirst

Author: Tamas Harangi

Genre: Horror

Storyline: 8

Dialogue: 8

Characterization: 9

Writer’s Potential: 8

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]




A 600-year-old vampire awakens in modern Hungary and hunts down a group of tourists, one of whom is descended from a vampire and a human.


In the fifteenth century, the vampire DOMISCU is betrayed by his colleague GOTHAR. Gothar wants to return to mortal human form (he’s fallen in love with a villager), so he makes a deal with the local priest to turn over Domiscu in exchange for a drink of the true blood of Christ, which will return Gothar to human form. Together, Gothar and the priest trap Domiscu to an eternity in a coffin.

Six hundred years later, Domiscu’s castle is a tourist trap of Avar, Hungary. It becomes the unintentional meeting place of a diverse group of English speakers in their early 20s: some Australian rugby players (PARKER, HARRY, LAKE, BECK, and their leader, NEWTON) on a soul-searching trip through Europe, a pair of American girls (HELENA and her Mormon cousin, SUSAN) out to discover the world around them, and an Englishman (DAVID) who is interested in the vampire lore and the upcoming Renaissance Faire. They all meet each other on their way to the youth hostel in town. Helena is surprised by her immediate attraction to Newton; Susan, meanwhile, finds herself attracted to Beck, while David falls instantly for Susan. The girls decide to accompany David on the historical tour of Castle Avar, and the Aussies instantly decide to go with. They’re led by the native tour guide, MAGDA, who explains the various local legends. They’re taken through a wax museum of historical figures (including Domiscu), a room dedicated to Nazi paraphernalia that represents its time as a German outpost in WWII, and Domiscu’s supposed tomb. Legend has it, the blood of Gothar’s supposed descendent will bring Domiscu back. David’s disappointed because he believes he is the descendent, but Domiscu doesn’t move.

That night, while the whole gang checks out the Renaissance Faire, Domiscu does come back, sucking the blood from a few security guards, which slowly allows him to regain strength. He heads away from the castle and stumbles into the Renaissance Faire, at first thinking very little time has passed but soon realizing—after seeing cell phones ring and people with video cameras—that things are very different indeed. He tracks down a few modern vampires—COLLIN, an American “bad boy” vampire; ANDREA, a redheaded girl; and FREDRICK, a former Nazi—and they worship him and agree to help rebuild Domiscu’s strength. Andrea returns to the Faire and leads the gang to a supposed party thrown in the Castle at night. David doesn’t trust her, thinking vampires still roam about, but everyone ignores him. She immediately leads them to Domiscu, so they start believing David pretty fast.

Shocked that vampires really exist, the gang has a vague plan: run away. They run into Magda, who shows them a lot of underground catacombs that didn’t exist until long after Domiscu was entombed—he wouldn’t know of them. They hide in them and decide to keep moving so the vampires don’t find them. They also try to get some weapons. David tells them the only sure ways to get rid of vampires are to set them on fire or stake them. Magda also informs them that Gothar’s descendent is among them—who it is may be a mystery, but one thing’s guaranteed: he or she will be a virgin, according to the legend. None of the gang want to admit their sexual prowess, but it’s quite clear that the majority of them are virgins—it doesn’t narrow things down at all.

They spend much of their time running from the vampires but inevitably encountering them at some points or another. They end up getting separated: Parker’s by himself, Newton and Helena are together, and the rest of the gang are running. Parker’s nearly killed by Fredrick, while Newton and Helena encounter Collin. Helena manages to decapitate him. His scream causes Fredrick to leave Parker before killing him. Parker lay in the courtyard, bleeding. Domiscu and Andrea also hear the shriek: they know somebody has been decapitated. Andrea realizes this can mean only one thing—the descendent really is among them. An ordinary human wouldn’t have the strength. The killing affects Helena strangely; she vomits constantly, and it eventually turns to dark vampire blood. This is when she and Newton realize she’s the descendent.

Meanwhile, Magda leads the rest of the gang (minus Harry, who’s killed, and Parker, who’s bleeding elsewhere) to an old jail. They find wood that they can use for stakes and torches. Newton and Helena catch up with them. Lake is being adversely affected by the vampires—more legends imply that those with impure blood can be controlled and eventually transformed into vampires. Lake is gay, so he fears this makes him “impure.” He hears the defeaning sound of a heartbeat at all times. The gang finds Parker, and they all decide to confront the vampires in the catacombs under the castle.

They find Domiscu, Andrea, and Fredrick, only to learn they aren’t interested in killing all of them—at least, not yet. They want the descendent. They think it’s Susan, so Domiscu grabs her and runs away. Newton and Helena rush off to follow them, leaving David with the task of taking the sick and injured to the hospital. They find a huge underground vampire lair, with victims hanging from the ceiling, being slowly bled to death; Susan is among them. Helena and Domiscu have their showdown, while Newton tries to fight off the other two vampires. David shows up to provide a little help, along with the others. Lake is uncooperative, being controlled by Fredrick. When Fredrick is killed, so is Lake. Domiscu himself decapitates Andrea and offers Helena the chance to rule the world with him. All of them, in tandem, help Helena to destroy Domiscu once and for all by forcing him to watch the sun rise.


Vampire stories have been done to death, so it was nice to read one that has a few fresh spins on the traditional lore. The author has a lot of fun with the vampire clichés and a strong wit is present throughout, often adding a much-needed layer of reality to fantastical situations. Even with all that said, the story succeeds on the merits of its characters—they’re clearly defined from the start and never waver, and this (to my surprise) includes the vampires. All the characters grow increasingly complex as more is revealed about their characters. The only downside to this is a lack of character arcs. The ending is fairly abrupt, so it lacks a lot of resolution, leaving me wondering how this wild night affected the characters. They’re introduced as wanting to find something—did they find it? Was it merely love they were looking for? If so, again, did they find it? There are a few kisses toward the end, but the potential for love could be made a little clearer (and to that end, how finding love amid this horror impacts their lives could be addressed).

Aside from that minor quibble, this is a fun script that, with some minor changes, could definitely make an entertaining low-budget horror movie.

Read More

I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

It’s been a pleasant month, interning for The Manager, reading some of the worst screenplays in the history of mankind for no money. For me, it’s actually kind of nice. You learn similar things from bad screenplays that you do from bad movies. It’s nice to read a script and say, “Jeez, this was bad—but why, and do I have the same problems in one of my screenplays?” Even better, it makes me say, “Good God, this is a piece of shit—I can do better.”

This happened to me recently; reading an awful adventure script, I said, “Fuck, I can do this better,” so I dusted off an extremely old and awful script I wrote, gutted it, and rewrote it from top to bottom. I sent it to my friend Mark—the guy who told me about The Manager in the first place—who loved it. He said it “could be an Adult Swim series,” which insulted me but it was meant as a high compliment, so I took it in the spirit he intended. It’s nice when something inspires me to do better, even if it’s “Adult Swim series” better. What would happen if the flow of bad-to-slightly-above-mediocre scripts dissipated?

This week, I almost found out.

Read More

The World Is Way Too Small

One of my reasons for not liking The Manager’s script: it read like propaganda for an actual, real-world dance contest he sponsors. It creates a bizarre, goofy mythology for the competition and beyond that has no real reason for existing. That was one of my main sources of disappointment, but I felt like I couldn’t use that as a criticism because The Manager didn’t know that I’ve spent enough time Googling him to find loads of information about him, his hopes and dreams, and this particular dance contest.

Yesterday, my sister called me up. I haven’t talked to her in a long time, mostly because every time she calls my mom puts it on speaker phone so the whole family can enjoy scintillating conversation about University of Illinois sports and other things I don’t give a shit about. Also, she’s a total motor-mouth, and the speaker phone makes us hard to hear, so it’s impossible to get a word in edgewise. It’s amazing to me that an asthmatic can talk for so long without breathing.

It’s easier to hold a conversation on an even keel when we aren’t on speaker phone. The only way to take part in the conversation is to flat-out interrupt her (which she does to me as much as I do to her), although when it’s been a long time since I’ve spoken she does usually ask questions about what I’ve been up to. So I explained to her the entire saga of what’s happened over the past week, everything about Mark, The Manager, the script, et cetera. I finally told her a few reasons why I didn’t like the script—chief among them, that it’s propaganda for a real dance contest he’s sponsored in a major city near Seattle.

“Wait a minute,” she said, recalling the title and making note of the city, “I think I’ve heard of that.”

“No shit?” It probably won’t surprise you that I was flabbergasted.

“Yeah,” she said, “I think they play that on public access, on the same channel where they show all those weird Japanese game shows.”

I couldn’t believe it. A lot of the advertisements and shit I had seen while Googling had mentioned the competition was also a “hit TV show,” but I figured that was bullshit.

“I didn’t realize it wasn’t based in Seattle,” she continued, “but I’m sure I’ve seen it before.”

“You’re kidding,” I said. “So it’s like, people dancing in what looks like a big boxing ring—”

“Yeah, and the winner is picked based on the scream-o-meter!” Both of us were getting excited at this bizarre, amazing coincidence. She was thrilled and amused I’d heard of this stupid public-access show; I was shocked and amused that she knew what I was talking about.

I agreed with her on the scream-o-meter; while there’s no reference to that in the script, it’s definitely made clear that the winner is chosen based on audience reaction.

“I’m not kidding, Stan, everybody around here has heard of this stupid thing,” she said. “We’ve all seen it, to the point where I’ve actually had a long conversation with the girls at work about just what the fuck it’s supposed to be. It’s even weirder than the Japanese game shows.”

I couldn’t believe it. Not only did it strike another blow to my waning fear that The Manager is a some kind of small-time con artist, I was once again amazed that The Manager really does have this amazing passion for what he does. I’m not a dance fan, so I’m not exactly leaping on board the lovefest with him, but his intensity and passion for it—so much so that he wants to make a movie about it to make the contest even more popular—goes a long way toward making me more comfortable with him as a Manager.

Mark e-mailed me the other day saying sometimes he doesn’t bother writing coverage on a script that’s truly awful, but if The Manager is hyping it up, he’ll do the coverage no matter what. We both see that passion, and even if something has a bunch of problems it not only makes us want to do the coverage instead of just saying “This is a waste of time”—it actually inspires us to try harder to solve the problems and make it good enough that we’re passionate about it. The Manager is just starting out, maybe he’s not totally sure what he’s doing, but if he could be as passionate about mine (or Mark’s) scripts as he is about these other projects, that’s a desirable element to have: our advocate, always rooting for us and wanting us to get better. That’s what makes a good manager.

Well, that and business sense. He’ll get there someday.

Read More

The Warren Experiment

Author: Tanya Hallgren & Christopher Aslan

Genre: Sci-Fi/Thriller

Storyline: 6

Dialogue: 5

Characterization: 5

Writer’s Potential: 5

Jump to: [Synopsis] [Comments]




A biotechnology firm seeks a woman implanted with nanorobots that almost instantly heal her injuries.


TRUE WARREN, a woman in her early 20s, has a secret: when she came down with a fatal disease, her parents—now dead—implanted her with a sophisticated, experimental nanotechnology that cured her. Not only that—the tiny robots inside her continue to work, healing even severe injuries instantly. She’s sought for a job by Seattle-based TechnoShare, a huge biotech company. While working long hours to complete a project before a company trip to Las Vegas, True’s employers harass her for a complete medical background. She refuses to give it to them, fearing they’ll learn her secret. Just after receiving an anonymous e-mail (signed “A FRIEND”) that tells her to check out a basement server room to find a secret database, True drinks some water she keeps at her desk. It causes her to pass out for a few minutes, at which point some very suspicious company medics arrive and force her to give a blood sample. They hand the sample over to a DR. MAREK, and the medics are concerned and confused because they spiked her water with a lethal dose of poison, yet it only knocked her out briefly.

Using her friend DUNCAN’s security card (she’s left her own at home), True sneaks into the basement server room and finds this secret database, which contains secret medical information about all employees. She prints out Duncan’s information and shows it to him off-campus. Duncan freaks out, and together they sneak back into the server room and copy all the data onto True’s MP3 player. They also burn backup copies onto CDs. While waiting at the airport to go to Vegas, Duncan sneaks off and mails one of his CDs to a friend who lives in Mexico under the false name of Brown. In Vegas, Duncan realizes they’re suspicious of him—they did all of the database accessing with Duncan’s card—and shortly thereafter, he’s hit by a fast-moving car while crossing the street. True runs—literally runs along the Vegas strip at 30mph, keeping pace with cars. She goes to the bus station, realizes she’s being chased, flags down an old Mexican lady and her cousin, who are already on their way to Mexico. They drop her off in a small town, where she seeks out “Brown.” His real name is KAIN, and he’s a former British spy living underground. He’s received the CD from Duncan, and he trusts True’s story. Soon after, they’re attacked. True’s hand is nearly cut off, but it heals instantly. Knowing they aren’t safe, Kain agrees to show True how to live a life on the run. They pack and leave, Kain blowing up his house as they go. They stay in a hotel in a nearby resort town while they figure out a plan to get more proof of what TechnoShare is doing. As soon as True goes to a cyber café to try to hack information, she’s picked up by TechnoShare security. They hit Kain with a car—he sustains minor injuries and still chases them—and take True to the airport, on a flight back to Seattle.

Once they get back to Seattle, LINDSEY (an obnoxious co-worker of True’s) and his small group of gaming pals intercept the plane and grab her themselves. They intend to sell her to North Koreans for a huge profit. They take her back to TechnoShare so the deal can go down, but they’re nearly stopped—by True’s father, GEORGE. He was alive all along, and he’s the one who’s been sending her anonymous messages. Unfortunately, he doesn’t help much, and Lindsey and his pals grab him, too, assuming he’d be as valuable as True, if not more. They meet up with the Koreans, who instantly shoot True in the head, wanting to test their “merchandise.” She’s not exactly healing. Feeling the merchandise is “no good,” the Koreans shoot Lindsey and his friends, kidnap George, and leave in a helicopter, just as Kain arrives. True’s still not healing. Later, the coroner pronounces her dead and detectives take statements. Later, on a private beach, True is alive and well with Kain—she has healed, after all, and now the world thinks she’s dead.


This script has quite a few problems, but conceptually it’s all there. The overall storyline could work well with some modifications, and the premise is very interesting, timely, and commercial. Perhaps the biggest problem in the writing are various dropped story threads—we see Lindsey and his gaming-nerd friends early on and assume they’ll be important, but then 60 or so pages go by before they come back to the story. Same with George and his mysterious messages—he sends her a few in the beginning, then that’s ignored until he shows up at the end. And on that subject, that whole aspect of the story isn’t resolved at all—her father’s alive, hooray! He’s kidnapped by terrorists—oh no. And yet that’s glossed over and ignored in favor of True and Kain having a happy ending. She isn’t interested in trying to get her father back?

True is also a fairly passive character. She would be more interesting, and the story would tighten up automatically, if she were made more active. She goes to check the server room because an anonymous message tells her to; while she’s in Vegas with Duncan—who’s terrified—all she can think about is wanting to ignore the fact that her company is up to no good because she wants to have fun. It’s only when Duncan’s killed that she starts to take the vast corporate conspiracy seriously. Then she goes to seek out Kain, and they do have an interesting relationship and share a pretty nifty bond (a strong desire to lead “normal” lives but forced to run), but again Kain is mostly the man of action. When True does try to act on her own, she ends up kidnapped by two groups in a row and gets shot in the head. If she were more resourceful and active on her own, she would become a stronger character. Kain and Duncan should be there to support her journey—both literal and metaphoric—but True has to take action herself.

This sounds negative, but all that stuff does need a lot of work. However, the overall structure of the story is there, the complex and interesting relationship between True and Kain works (and would be even better once she’s a more active character), and the premise is really intriguing. With a bit of rewriting, this could be a great thriller.

Read More

Fuckin’ Mayor

I’ve hated our mayor’s insane vendetta against O’Hare expansion, Mayor Daley, and the city of Chicago ever since he was elected. That’s okay, though. He lost, he’s an asshole, and with any luck he’ll finally be ousted once his anti-O’Hare fans realized he’s totally let them down. But not before he distracts everyone with yet another baffling attempt to show how much better our town is than any other suburb in the Chicagoland area. His mastermind: the Tour d’Elk Grove, which I’ve bitched about before but have mostly ignored and forgotten about…until last weekend when, with very little in the way of warning (sure, we’d all heard about it, but did anyone actually remember it was last weekend?), all the major thoroughfares in town were blocked off for our exciting international bike race. The big draw was supposed to be recent Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, but what with his recent problems, he’s been disqualified from the race.

In honor of a stupid, transparent, and ultimately failed attempt to obscure the failure of his political platform with pointless razzle-dazzle, I’ll now quote an article from August 6th’s Daily Herald (no longer available on the website):

>Elk Grove tour will pedal on in spite of Landis’ absence


Daily Herald Staff Writer

Posted Sunday, August 06, 2006

The inaugural Tour of Elk Grove will cycle on, without Floyd Landis and his yellow jersey.

The Tour de France winner was fired by his team and stripped of his champion title Saturday after a backup doping sample corroborated what an earlier test revealed – suspiciously high levels of testosterone.

The 30-year-old cyclist who battled a degenerating hip to launch a historic comeback and clinch the title pledged to fight the charges and clear his name.

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson, for one, stood by Landis Saturday, undaunted that he now is ineligible to race this weekend’s international cycling event.

“He would have been a perfect fit for this community and the race,” Johnson said, citing Landis’ professionalism and humble roots. “We move on. Our hope is he comes back next year as the two-time Tour de France champion.”

The two-day Alexian Brothers International Cycling Classic Tour of Elk Grove would have been his first American race since winning cycling’s premier title.

Landis’ absence clears the way for a competitive slate of riders to battle for the $25,000 prize in the 100-kilometer criterium race. The combined purse for all 16 races tops $150,000, one of the largest offered in any U.S. cycling event.

“There may be some riders who come out now because it wouldn’t be easy beating a Tour de France champion,” Johnson said.

Leading the pack is 30-year-old Lemont native Christian Vandevelde, who finished 35th in last month’s Tour de France. Another veteran of the 2,272-mile road race, David Zabriskie, 26, of Salt Lake City also plans to compete in Elk Grove.

Members of the Danish, Swiss and New Zealand national teams will compete as well.

In fact, Johnson – who shed 15 pounds since buying his first bike in April – will play host to two members of the Danish national team. Nearly 20 other Elk Grove families plan to take in international cyclists.

“I’ve got to get ready for the mayor’s challenge,” Johnson joked.

Johnson said village residents routinely pepper him with questions about this weekend’s event, asking for updates on racers and ideal viewing spots.

Elk Grove’s event follows another suburban race today with the 2nd annual Elgin Cycling Classic.

The Elk Grove race initially was conceived as a one-time event to mark the village’s 50th anniversary. Excitement coupled with strong support from sponsors – which include the Daily Herald – quickly persuaded village officials to make the Tour of Elk Grove an annual contest.

Next year’s race already is listed on the 2007 international cycling calendar.

“When they’re riding Tour de France and talking, they will be talking about the Tour of Elk Grove,” Johnson said. “Our race is definitely on the map. We are a legitimate, top notch event.”

My favorite part? The mayor bought his first bike in April (which explains why his “challenge” is a paltry seven miles, which I—an out-of-shape lump of crap—could do standing on my head). My second-favorite part? “We are a legitimate, top notch event.”

I almost hope the mayor is reelected for the sake of comedy.

Unfortunately, I missed this and forgot to post about it. REO Speedwagon recently lit up our 50th anniversary bash with their power-ballad-driven sonic creations. I’m sure it was awesome, but I was too busy wondering why Johnson spent $150,000 in taxpayer money to lure REO Speedwagon when Roselle spent $1200 to get three local bands. Johnson’s explanation, “Who doesn’t love REO?” leaves a lot to be desired. I guess it evens out since the winner of the recent home giveaway, has to pay between $150K and $180K on property taxes for their “free” house.

Read More