Bewitched, bothered and out on strike

By Published on .

FADE IN

INT. EXECUTIVE TOILET OF McMANN & TATE AD AGENCY -- DAY

LARRY TATE is standing at the urinal, back to camera, talking on his cellular.

TATE (into phone): Damn them, Darren, damn them all! Actors!

Why, in the old days they were regarded as vagabonds! Scrounging from village to village, spouting that Shakespearean drivel in the hopes of being thrown a few tuppence . . . Tuppence! That's what they should be earning!

"Tuppence-per-Play."

Yes! That should be their slogan! Then we'll talk!

* * *

INT. AIRPORT PHONE BOOTH

DARREN STEVENS rolls his eyes as he hears a FLUSH over the phone.

* * *

INT. PENTHOUSE OFFICE

Tate is pacing the Persian rug, still on the cellular.

TATE (cont'd): Do they honestly think they're that indispensable? (mocking) "We only earn $11 a day for use of a spot on cable!" Do you know what they get for those 11 bucks? They get to show their faces 24/7 on hundreds of channels all over the world? It's called exposure! Helloooo!

POUNDING his fist.

TATE (cont'd): Where's the fiduciary -- (quietly) Fiduciary . . . That's not one of our feminine hygiene products, is it? No? Good.

(in full voice) Where's the fiduciary responsibility? Pay those glorified ne'er-do-wells every time they utter a few syllables in front of a camera? Puhleease.

As it is, actor payments make up almost 1% of the total production and media costs! Heavens, we need those pennies to pay for our $2.2 million :30 buy on the next Super Bowl!

* * *

AIRPORT PHONE BOOTH

STEVENS (shouting into phone): But most union actors are unemployed, sir! Sure, there are a couple of well-to-dos out there. But 80% of them make less than $5,000 a year! Actually, isn't that what I made when I started to work for you, Larry?

(Darren covers other ear to hear better.)

(pause)

Larry! Are you there?

* * *

PENTHOUSE OFFICE

Larry is flossing his teeth.

TATE: Well then, they should consider themselves lucky they can make anything at all with their so-called "acting." Pay-per-play. Gimmee a break. So they invest in maybe a few hundred free auditions to land a commercial. That's free enterprise, baby.

* * *

AIRPORT PHONE BOOTH

Darren is stunned.

* * *

PENTHOUSE OFFICE

Larry is rambling on.

TATE (cont'd): Don't you copywriters write hundreds of spots for free and only get paid when one is produced? Don't producers produce on spec? Don't carpenters build decks for free in the hopes their customers will like their work?

* * *

AIRPORT PHONE BOOTH

Darren is CHOKING the receiver.

STEVENS: (trying to regain composure) N-n-not really, sir. And while we're on the subject of writing, Larry, I don't exactly appreciate having my brilliant copy performed by the custodial staff.

* * *

PENTHOUSE OFFICE

Larry is meandering over to the floor-to-ceiling window.

TATE (guffawing): Ohhh, as if anyone knows a good performance when they see it! I'm sure Mrs. Mafoofchick down at the dry cleaners gives a hoot . . . much less the advertisers, themselves.

Larry looks down at streets below. He notices something odd: Bodies. Row after row after row. Some still MOANING. Some . . . still. The landscape is taking on the appearance of a Civil War battlefield.

TATE: What the -- Larry puts the cellular down while Darren's still TALKING and grabs his binoculars. Ignoring Darren's voice, Larry recognizes one of the bodies to be that of an actor.

TATE (to himself): Hey, I remember him! He made me laugh once!

SLOW PAN of "battlefield" through binoculars. Next to the actor are strewn other actors. Next to them, talent agents. Lying alongside directors. Who are piled next to casting agents, producers, writers, editors, camera operators, recording engineers, lighting directors. There are wardrobe masters next to caterers, next to location scouts, grips, gaffers, next to best boys, next to . . .

TATE (to himself): Well, I'll be! Isn't that the creative director of Shmendrick & Shmendrick???

Larry shakes his head and chuckles. He lowers the binoculars and, staring down at the sea of carnage, he heaves a sigh.

TATE : Actors. Pff. Who needs 'em?

Larry SNAPS the cellular shut, cutting Darren off midsentence.

Ms. Stigler is a Chicago-based actress, voice-over artist and freelance writer.

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