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Screaming at the Screen | Scandal S7 E18: Over a Cliff

Okay.  Anybody who knows me knows that I am a die-hard, ride or die gladiator.  I’ve been watching Scandal since day one.  The minute the characters stepped onto the screen I was hooked.  Despite all the law breaking and scandal making, I fell in love with the characters.  Shonda Rhimes, my writing idol, created a show that solidified itself as my favorite television show of all time.  So, the series finale was hard for me.  I’m so sad to see the show end.  What will I do with my self, my Thursday nights?  How will I live?  Next Thursday, you’re liable to find me in my apartment in the dark sitting in the middle of the floor drinking wine and rocking.

Tears . . .

Alright.  Let’s get on with it.

Olivia arrives at some dark abandoned warehouse where she meets with prosecutor Lonnie Mencken only to find out if he’s not going investigate Cyrus’ airplane hijacking and B613, but promises to get her a Senate hearing instead, if in exchange, she can guarantee that Mellie will make gun control a priority. She tells him she can do it if Cyrus and Jake go to jail and B613 is dismantled. He pulls out a gun. LONNIE YOU AIN’T CRAZY! YOU BETTER WATCH YOURSELF. Olivia thinks he’s about to shoot her, but he tells her this is how she’s going to get her Senate hearing. In an earlier episode, we found out that Lonnie’s son was killed due to gun violence. Killing himself is the only way he can get the president to do anything about gun control. Lonnie bites the bullet right in front of Olivia.

Sally Langston informs her Lovers of Liberty that the Senate hearing is up and running. Cyrus storms into Jake’s office and orders him to kill all of the members of the committee. Jake says they don’t have anything to worry about now that Lonnie is dead. Cyrus reminds Jake that David is the head of the Justice Department and that means they’re screwed. Back at QPA, David explains to the gladiators that Cyrus and Jake will be investigated and jailed for their crimes committed under B613. Huck realizes that they will go down too because of their own B613 crimes. YEP. Y’ALL DID THE CRIME, SO YOU GON’ HAVE TO DO THE TIME.

Olivia meets with Daddy Pope in the park. She confesses that she was the one who exposed B613. She wants his help to save the country, but Daddy Pope is like, hell no, I’m retiring. He gives her an envelope with the deed to his house and account numbers for off shore bank accounts and trust funds he set up for Olivia and her future child. SEE, DADDY HAS ALWAYS LOVED HIS BABY GIRL. HE MADE SURE SHE WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF. Olivia can’t understand why Daddy Pope isn’t supportive of her wanting to save the country. After all, didn’t he raise her to be a good person? Daddy Pope let’s her know there’s a difference between him raising her to be a good person and her doing massa’s dirty work with a smile on her face. Olivia can’t see the difference between what she’s doing and what Daddy Pope has done for the same white people to protect their republic. He tells her it was HIS republic he was protecting because he was in charge and he made the rules. Olivia thinks coming out of the shadows and standing in the light by protecting the people is going to make the country better. Daddy Pope is like, girl, you don’t know these white people like I do.

Marcus shows up at the White House to talk to Mellie. He finds her drinking her hooch and staring at her presidential painting, which was supposed to be unveiled at the National Portrait Gallery, but was postponed on account of the B613 hearings. She grapples with the fact that nobody will recognize her as a great president, but as an impeached president. Marcus tries to tell her different, but she silences him by getting down to the reason she invited him there. She’s going down, so there’s no time to waste anymore. She grabs Marcus and kisses him.

Back at QPA, the gladiators sit around the conference table fidgeting and worrying about their testimonies. Quinn is freaking out about baby Robin growing up without her parents. Olivia tries to console her, but Quinn tells her to shut up. GIRL, WHO YOU THINK YOU TALKIN TOO? Olivia gives her a pass because she knows Quinn’s worries are valid. Abby is worried that David will move on eventually after growing tired of having a prison bae. Huck isn’t worried about prison. After all, he’s been in the hole. He eats prison for breakfast. He’s worried about speaking in front of the fifteen members of the Senate committee. Poor Huck, always so painfully shy.

The B613 hearing begins. All the gangs there, the gladiators, Fitz, Mellie, even crazy ass Hollis Doyle and creepy ass Tom. You know, Tom is all too happy to drop a dime on Cyrus. Ain’t nuthin like a lover scorned. They confess their deeds and implicate Cyrus and Jake for the the airplane hijacking, the assassination of President Rashad, and the crimes of B613. Later, David tells them to expect jail time for some of them and suggests that they get their affairs in order. Olivia makes a request to him to let Quinn to visit Charlie in prison. The gladiators tell him everything. Quinn asks Charlie to marry her. She came prepared wearing a white dress under her coat. Abby hands her a bouquet of flowers and Huck officiates on account of his last minute on-line certification. We find out Chalie’s government name: Bernard Gusky. THAT IS ONE HOMELY NAME. They all get a chuckle out of it. Quinn vows to never hack him without cause, to help him hide the bodies without question, and to always have his 6. Spoken like a true assassin!

On the way to his car, David runs into Jake. He threatens David to drop the case by walking him down memory lane to the time when he shot and killed Cyrus’ husband James in front of David for threatening to expose Sally Langston’s murder of her husband and Cyrus’ help in covering it up. David remembers it well, but this time his fear is replaced with anger. He’s tired of being Jake’s bitch. He tells Jake he’s the one who’s the bitch because he’s just a hired gun for everybody including Cyrus right now. David is like, if you’re going to shoot me, then do it because I’m not scared of you anymore. He hits Jake with a dose of reality: either do Cyrus’ dirty work or put on the white hat. Jake knows he’s right. He lets David go. NOW, THAT’S HOW YOU GET DOWN DAVID! CHARLIE BROWN FINALLY TOLD LUCY OFF FOR MOVING THE FOOTBALL.

Cyrus is bad mad because David is still alive. He has the gall to accuse Jake of not having the guts to kill David. UM, CYRUS? HAVE YOU MET JAKE? Jake kindly reminds him that he’s a killing machine and he can kill anybody anytime he gets good and ready. He adds that Cyrus doesn’t have the right to talk to him about killing until he grows the balls to carry out the dirty deed himself. And with that, Jake goes home.

Later in bed, David is quite proud of himself as he tells Abby about his run in with Jake, but she’s more concerned about going to prison in the morning. David gets a call from Cyrus. He wants to cut a deal. NOW, DAVID, YOU JUST GREW A PAIR. HERE YOU GO BEING GULLIBLE AGAIN. EVERYBODY AND THEIR MAMA KNOWS CYRUS BEENE AIN’T TAKIN THE FALL FOR NUTHIN. Cyrus hands David a letter confessing to hijacking his own airplane and framing Mellie. He wants to have a farewell drink with David. David says no, but we all know Cyrus doesn’t take no for an answer. Right then and there, I knew David was a goner. Cyrus goes about telling David how much of a monster he has been. David starts coughing and choking. He falls on the floor gasping for air. Apparently, it’s taking too long for him to die, so Cyrus speeds it up by smothering him with a pillow. CYRUS. I HATE YOUR GUTS. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM. WE WERE ROOTING FOR YOU. Awww David. Tears.

The gladiators gather around David’s cold body at the morgue. Olivia says he died of a heart attack, but they all know Cyrus did it. Quinn points out that now that David is dead, they are all going to prison. Abby doesn’t want to hear that kind of talk. She tells them they have to fight for their lives. Huck wants to handle it, but Olivia says no because they are the only good guys left.

Quinn goes to Daddy Pope for help. She wants him to use his resources to send her and her family to some remote place in the world. He’s not willing to risk his freedom for theirs.

Olivia and Fitz share a drink. Olivia doubts herself for trying to do the right thing. Fitz tries to defend her, but she admits to being the problem for everything that has happened. In comes the Olitz theme song. OH LORD, NOT THE OLITZ THEME SONG. Tears. Olivia gives Fitz two options: they can keep arguing about doing the right thing or they can do “something else.” Fitz takes “something else” for $400, Alex. He utters those same four words that sparked the point of no return for Olitz seven seasons ago, “Take off your clothes.” YAAASSS! AND I GUARANTEE YOU THEY TOOK MORE THAN “ONE MINUTE.”

The gladiators are prepared to walk the plank, but the committee has postponed their recommendations because they have a new witness. Ol’ Daddy Pope takes a seat in front of the Senate committee. They have a little chuckle when he tells them he’s not there speaking as Eli Pope the citizen, but as Rowan, killer and the commander of B613. They’re like, yeah, okay black man. Daddy Pope proceeds to snatch their edges by telling them he wasn’t just responsible for running B613, he created it out of necessity due to the complacency of white men who’s white privilege placed the country in a state of neglect. He hips them to the fact that while they, privileged white men, were busy destroying the country, he was the one making the real decisions for the good of the country, like when to go to war, what president sits in the oval office, the soldiers brought home in caskets, the freedom of citizens to sleep peacefully in their comfy beds knowing no enemy was attacking America, and keeping the stock market afloat. God dammit, Eli Pope aka Damascus Bainbridge aka Command aka Rowan, a black man, is the one who’s really making America great. Senator Reston asks Daddy Pope if wants a parade for his efforts. He rattles off many things he wants, but the icing on the cake would be to see the faces of complacent, privileged white men when they learn that a black man is the one who has really been running the country for the last thirty years and that their power only existed because of his black power. HE GOT THAT COMMITTEE SHOOKETH! Oh, the pearl clutching of it all! Daddy Pope knows somebody has to take the fall, but in order to spare privileged white men the embarrassment of having been ruled by a black man, he will kindly let Jake and his whiteness have all the credit and all the prison time. DADDY POPE WAS, IS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE NUTHIN TO FUCK WITH … lolololol.

Back at QPA, Quinn and Huck celebrate, but Abby can’t be happy because the real good guy, David, is dead. Olivia pays Jake a visit in jail. She apologizes to him for making him step out of the sun with her. She’s sorry for him being the one going to prison when all of them did dirt. He says prison is nothing. Again, what’s prison to a B613 agent? Jake thanks her for showing up for him. Welp, no more #TeamJake.

Olivia summons Cyrus to the Oval Office and demands that he sign a letter of resignation. He offers her a drink. CYRUS, NOW YOU KNOW LIVY AIN’T STUPID. He goes on about never being able to enjoy a drink again. OH WELL, YOU SHOULDA THOUGHT ABOUT THAT, CYRUS BEFORE YOU GOT GREEDY. He signs the letter, gives Olivia a pat on the hand, and makes a weary glance at the presidential seal on his way out the door.

Mellie wants Olivia to join her as Vice President to help her restore faith in the American people. Olivia politely turns her down noting that she’s finished with cleaning up other people’s messes. She tells her that Mellie doesn’t need her because she’s capable of running the country on her own and she knows she’ll do a great job. Mellie asks her what will she do instead. She says anything she wants. Olivia takes off down the streets of D.C. strutting and looking fly as always sporting her signature fabulous white coat. She takes one last look at the White House, like yeah I did that. A black woman ran the White House and a black man ran the free world. How ‘bout that! A black SUV pulls up beside her. It’s Fitz.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

Quinn and baby Robin greet Charlie outside the prison.

Fitz reveals his presidential portrait. HEY FITZ! LOOKIN ALL HANDSOME IN YOUR BLUE SUIT AND ALL THE GIRLS CUTTIN THEY EYES AT YOU. Oops, The Color Purple slipped in there.

Mellie signs The American Assault Weapons Control Act of 2021. She snuggles up next to Marcus for a picture with her cabinet members. 2021 huh? Ol’ Mellie got a second term AND Marcus.

Meanwhile, Jake’s crazy ass is lying in prison grinning at memories of standing in the sun with Olivia. I guess if he can’t have her in real life, wet dreams will do. That Olivia lovin is something powerful… After all, she has the face that launched a thousand ships.

Alas, daddy and baby girl sit down for a real family dinner and share their favorite thing: fine wine.

Abby and Huck say their goodbyes at David’s grave. Tears.

Two little black girls stroll the halls of the National Portrait Gallery. They come to a halt in front of a portrait they can’t take their eyes off of. It’s Olivia Carolyn Pope. She’s gorgeous and regal in a white collared blouse, a thick brown leather belt cinched at the waist, a Cinderella-like, flowing blue skirt, and beautiful big natural hair. HEY MADAM PRESIDENT!

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Writing Process | Story Development

Why do I always pick writing projects that are so challenging? I must like torturing myself. I’m a masochist. Yeah. That’s it. Don’t get me wrong. I love the story development process. It’s just a big beast to tackle. For me, it’s the hardest part of screenwriting and the most time consuming. I’d rather get down to crafting the script and rewriting. Those are the areas where I get to play!

My current screenplay is a one-hour pilot which I’m having a tough time getting it off the ground because the characters, world, and subject matter are complicated. My main character is an attorney who deals with racial discrimination cases. I have no clue as to how the legal system works, so I have to do a lot of research, which includes Googling law websites like FindLaw, watching mock trials on YouTube, and studying TV shows like The Good Wife. I’m trying to get my research done as fast as possible because I don’t want to get lost in research when I could be spending that precious time writing. However, I need to know the basics of the legal system to ensure that the story makes sense.

Initially, I designed my storyline to center around a different case each week, but then I decided to stretch the pilot storyline throughout the entire series, which required everything to be re-worked in a major way. Sigh… . This isn’t going to be easy. I have to figure out how to do it and keep it interesting. So, I’ve been studying two TV shows that do this successfully: House of Cards and American Crime. I’ve already watched each episode of House of Cards a million times, but now I’m re-watching and taking notes on the steps Frank Underwood takes to reach his goal of being the president of the United States, the obstacles he faces, and how he gets around them.

It’s been challenging to craft my story, but I’m up for the challenge.

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Cut To The F*cking Chase | Mommy, What’s a Logline?

Dammit!  You’re a screenwriter.  A newbie screenwriter, but a screenwriter nonetheless.  You have an amazing idea that you think will make a funny movie.  Who wouldn’t want to plunk down $12.75+ to see a film about the time you and your friends woke up stranded in Mexico with no money, no ID, no cell phones, and an 80 year old stripper handcuffed to your wrist?

As soon as you make it back to the states, you rush to your computer to pound out your wild Mexican escapades.  One week later, you type “The End,” then email the script to a production company.  You rock!  They’ll love it, right?  Not so fast grasshopper.

A production company doesn’t want your script right off the bat.  Why the hell not, you say?  Well, it’s the dreaded “we don’t accept unsolicited scripts” thing, meaning you need to be represented by an agent, reputable manager (not your cousin Pookie), or entertainment attorney (definitely not your cousin Vinny) who will submit the script on your behalf.  This protects the production company from getting sued by you if your story is similar to a project they already have on their development slate that gets produced at a later time.  Trust me, this happens all the time.  You aren’t the only one who wrote about being stranded in Mexico shackled to stripper granny.

So, what’s an unrepresented neophyte screenwriter to do?  Glad you asked.  You send in a logline and synopsis.  More on synopses another time.

I receive countless calls everyday from screenwriters who want to submit their scripts.  If I had a dollar for each time I’m asked, “What’s a logline” I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this blog post.  I’d be basking in the sun in the French Riviera, snacking on caviar and sipping Dom Perignon.

As a newbie, it’s okay to be unacquainted with a logline.  But, it’s NOT okay to not know what a logline is AND submit your script to a production company.  And by all means, never tell a production company you don’t know the definition of a logline.  Fake like you know, then hit Google as soon as you hang up the phone.  Not knowing means you are not at the proper writing level where you need to be to play in the big leagues.

So, What Is This Thing Called a Logline?  

A logline is a one-sentence summary of what your story is about.

Some people say it can be written in two sentences.  I say get ‘er done in one.  It’s cleaner.  Sharper.  And it’s the standard.  A logline involves your story’s:

  • Protagonist – The lead character who the story is about.
  • Goal – The thing the lead character wants?
  • Obstacle – The person or thing that’s keeping the main character from achieving her goal.

Here’s some examples of loglines I came up with quickly.  See if you can guess the movie or TV show.

  1. An African prince heads to America to find true love before his parents force him into a miserable arranged marriage.
  1. A renowned surgeon who was framed for his wife’s murder is on a bus headed for prison, but when it crashes he escapes to search for the real killer while the marshal is hot on his trail.
  1. Five aspiring rappers caught up in a world of violence, drugs, and police brutality must use their talents to escape before they succumb to the inevitable:  jail or death.
  1. A crisis management expert rescues high-powered movers and shakers from ruin as she bends the law to keep her own sinful activities a secret.
  1. A music industry mogul with a fatal disease must keep his illness a secret until his company goes public on the stock market and he figures out which one of his sons will take over after he dies.

Answers:

  1. Coming to America, 2.  The Fugitive, 3.  Straight Outta Compton, 4.  Scandal, 5.  Empire.

Um, That Ain’t No Logline

A lot of new screenwriters often mistake taglines for loglines.  They are not the same thing.  Taglines are marketing tools used to lure moviegoers into the theatres.  They’re those short catchy sentences you see on movie posters.  Loglines are not seen outside of the screenwriting world.  They are used to entice a producer, agent, or studio to request and read your script.

Here’s some examples of taglines that I grabbed from IMDB.com:

Coming to America:  This summer, Prince Akeem discovers America.

The Fugitive:  A murdered wife.  A one-armed man.  An obsessed detective.  The chase begins.

Straight Outta Compton:  The world’s most dangerous times created the world’s most dangerous group.

Scandal:  The secret is out.

Empire:  Welcome to the Lyons den.

See the difference?  A tagline is an advertisement.  A logline is a story summary.

So, before you click send on that email to Hollywood, go back to the drawing board and write a logline that will make them beg for your script.

If you’d like to know more about loglines and need help writing one, stay tuned for my upcoming logline consultation service.

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Cut To The F*cking Chase | How to Get Hollywood to Take Your Call

Someone called my office to submit a project.  I explained our script submission process to the caller and gave her my email address.  She sent a logline and synopsis five minutes later.  Cool beans, right?  That should have been the end of it, right?  Of course not.  That would be too much like right.  The caller called back to tell me that she already submitted a logline back in September of 2014.  Okay, my bad.  I didn’t get to it.  I let her know I wasn’t aware of her previous submission, but I’d be sure to take a look at what she just sent to me.  She reiterated the fact that she sent it back in September.  Um, was she looking for an apology?  Obviously, we didn’t get to it.

Maybe fifteen minutes later, another person called asking to submit a project.  I gave her the same instructions as the previous caller.  She informed me that she was at lunch at the moment and asked if I would mind texting her my email address.  Uh . . . YEAH I mind.

First of all, it is not the company’s job to put in work in order to read your stuff.  Secondly, as if I want some stranger having my cell phone number!  Her request was very unprofessional.  Why couldn’t she wait until she was in a proper setting where she could break out pen and paper to take dictation of my email address?  Was she under some kind of duress to call that very minute?  Like, did somebody have a gun to her head?  She easily could have waited to make the call at a time when she was better prepared.  It would have saved her from looking unprofessional and amateurish.

Most people in Hollywood wouldn’t have put up with that kind of foolishness.  They would have told her to call back when she had her shit together.  I tend to be on the nicer side of the fence.  I was kind enough to ask for her email address so that I could shoot her an email, then she would be able to get my email address that way.  I wrote down her email address with the intention to email her.  Eventually.  The manner in which she approached the company didn’t incite me to email her quick, fast, and in a hurry.  I would have gotten around to it.  Eventually.  Lucky for her, she called back later that day to get my email address.

I warn you, don’t conduct yourself like these callers.  You will annoy the hell out of us and land yourself on the “Do Not Read” list.

Here’s how to get Hollywood to take your phone call:

  1. BE CONFIDENT

Don’t call there stuttering and “um-ing” all over the place.  Speak in a calm, self-assured manner.  Know what the hell you’re talking about or earn an Oscar pretending like you do.  If you’re told to submit a logline and you don’t know what a logline is, don’t be all, “What’s a logline?” That’s a red flag.  The person on the other end of the phone line is thinking, if you don’t know what a logline is, chances are you don’t have a grasp on screenwriting yet.  That won’t make them eager to read your script.  Google is your friend.  Use it.

  1. BE PROFESSIONAL

Scene for Blog Post

So, that happened.  Like, in real life.  Minus the atom splitting request.  But, yeah.  Really, dude?  A ‘lil sumthin’ sumthin’?  And what would that be?  Have a purpose when calling.  Are you calling to find out about the submission process?  Are you calling to get an email address?  If so, have a pen and paper ready to write down information.  Make sure you’re in a quiet environment.  Nobody wants to hear your loud television or barking dogs in the background.

  1. BE PATIENT

Don’t call with an attitude because the company hasn’t gotten back to you about the script you sent months ago.  In this business, it’s normal not to get a response from a production company, agency or studio.  The correct thing to do is to follow up with the company after a reasonable amount of time.  The turnaround time is usually around six to eight weeks, but it varies with each company.   If the company has more submissions than they can handle, the wait time can be even longer.  At the end of the eight weeks (or whatever they tell you), feel free to follow up. If they still haven’t read your submission, don’t get an attitude.  That will only get you put on the dreaded “Do Not Read” list.

Wait about a month to follow up again.  That’s a good amount of time that keeps you from being annoying.  If they still haven’t read your script, don’t take it personally.  They aren’t ignoring you.  They have piles upon piles of scripts waiting to be read.  Chances are they don’t have a large enough staff to read the scripts in a timely manner.  If they tell you they’re going to read your stuff, they will.  Eventually.  Be patient.  Don’t be an angry stalker.  It’s not a good look.

So, that’s the trick.  Act like you have good sense when calling Hollywood and they’ll take your call and read your stuff.  Eventually.  LOL 😉