“discovering AmErica”

… one girl’s selfied voyage of self-discovery

america
(Maliblu, from the ER doctor)

 

### — Episode 1: “Like Magellan in a Hoodie, Heading West”
(a 22-min, 4K-word tv pilot in 8 scenes, w/cast at end*)

 

## — Scene 01-A — exterior, day, car [music].
(Erica Adams, struggling actor, sitting in her car, windows up, stopped in L.A. traffic, listening to music on radio; she glances around, gently nodding head, then reaches out and turns music up, closes eyes, begins air dancing; traffic begins to move, guy behind her lays on horn; she opens eyes, looks in rearview mirror and smiles, raises right hand, turned-around, waving fingers at guy in car behind, as she moves slowly forward)

## — Scene 01-B — interior, day, office [music].
(Helen Stoffle, Erica’s agent, sitting at her desk with WiFi headset on, listening to music; looking at calendar on laptop, calls Erica from computer)

(Erica’s car is stopped again as phone rings; she sees caller i.d. on dash display, mutes radio, answers on speaker)

ERICA: Hey, Hel. I’m in the car heading west on Olympic, about ten blocks, or three hours, give or take, in “L.A. traffic time,” from the Bull Fight.

(Helen breath laughs, turns in desk chair and looks out window)

HELEN: The streets are a mess?

ERICA: No. The roads are fine. They’re just full of cars, with people going places. Which isn’t bad, if you think about it. It’s a really good thing for the economy. Which is the only reason I’m doing this at all. I could care less about acting in movies or tv. I just want to help Los Angeles reach its full potential, and become the city it knows that it can be.

HELEN: Uh-huh.

ERICA: So I leave a few days early for each audition, and get to spend some quality time, car-strolling through the place I love.

HELEN: Sweet.

ERICA: Thanks. I like you, too.

HELEN: So give us a call after the Bull Fight’s over?

ERICA: You bet. Olé.

HELEN: Olé, sweetheart.

(both end call)

## — Scene 02 — exterior, day, parking lot of audition bldg.
(Erica drives in and parks, looks at clock — [10:20])

ERICA: (to self) Only forty minutes early. Not bad.

(she pulls key from ignition, reaches up and turns rearview mirror toward passenger’s door, looking at back of mirror and holding look for a few beats, the “back of the glass,” where reflection happens, being the only place she wants to be; she grabs knapsack from seat, opens driver’s door and gets out, locks it with key-beep, and slings knapsack on one shoulder; she’s wearing old jeans, a polo shirt, running shoes with socks and an unmarked, low-profile cotton baseball cap; she looks around the lot then walks to far side beneath a large pine tree with a bench that looks out on a freeway wall two blocks away; she sits back with legs stretched out, slides knapsack off shoulder and pulls a piece of Bubblicious Grape from a pocket, puts gum in mouth, wrapper back in pocket, and looks out at the sky above the wall, listening to the surf-break of traffic she can’t see, thinking)

## — Scene 03 — interior, morning, kitchen.
(Erica Age 14 is standing at the kitchen sink in her parents’ house in Connecticut, wearing jeans, a polo shirt, socks and running shoes; her father has left for work, her mother’s upstairs getting dressed for hers; Erica’s adding water to the empty dishpan and looking out the window at a pair of cardinals at the bird feeder; on the windowsill is a small calendar that shows April 2005; she glances at the movie poster for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” on the fridge, and turns her head like Holly Golightly, the role she understudied for her school’s production last week; then she turns the water off and watches the bubble rainbows floating in the sink)

## — Scene 04 — interior, day, audition bldg, reception room.
(Erica opens door and walks in; it’s a plain room with one window and portable chairs along one wall; a girl, Hope, is sitting at a table tucked into a corner, with some papers and a phone on the table, looking at a laptop screen; she looks up and smiles at Erica, who smiles back and glances at the wall clock behind the girl — [10:50])

ERICA: Hi. I’m Erica Adams.

HOPE: Hi. I’m Hope. Thanks for coming. Can I get you anything?

ERICA: Nope. I’m fine. (moves to sit in farthest chair from door)

HOPE: Okay.

ERICA: Not a big crowd this morning?

HOPE: No. Just one at 10:00. Then you at 11:00. Then lunch.

ERICA: Cool. What’s for lunch?

HOPE: They’ll order pizza, probably, and salads, soda, cookies. You could probably stay if you want. (laughs)

ERICA: (laughs) No. I can’t. I’m meeting Steven Spielberg for lunch, later.

HOPE: (pauses) No kidding?

ERICA: Yes, kidding. It’s just a guy I know named Steven. I call him Spielberg because it makes him feel wanted.

HOPE: (laughs) That’s nice. (gets up) I’ll tell them that you’re here.

(Hope opens door near her table and closes it behind her. Erica takes her cap off, shakes hair, puts cap in knapsack and pulls out the two-page script they sent by email; she leans back in chair, head against wall, closing eyes and imagining she’s an eagle, soaring on the updrafts off the mountains to the north, high above the city; a few minutes later Hope opens the door again, standing in doorway)

HOPE: They’re ready for you now.

(Erica stands and smiles, walks to door)

ERICA: Thanks, Hope.

## — Scene 05 — interior, day, audition room.
(four tables along wall opposite the door, with four people seated behind them, from Erica’s left to right — Alice Revelstoke, Tom Harper, Penny Meyer, and William Chance; there are a few chairs along the wall beside the door, and 30 feet of industrial carpet-covered floor between that wall and the tables, with one chair in the center of the room; Erica enters and walks to the center chair and stands beside it, then begins speaking as she unshoulders the knapsack and puts it on the chair)

ERICA: Thanks, for asking me.

ALICE: Thanks for coming. I’m Alice Revelstoke, a co-creator of this project. (turns to her left) This is Tom Harper and Penny Meyer, the hopeful series’ co-producers, and William Chance, the other co-creator.

ERICA: (smiles at each face introduced, speaks to all) Hello.

ALICE: We’ll ask you to read with me, today. You can sit, if you’d like.

ERICA: Standing is fine.

ALICE: Do you need to prepare?

ERICA: No. I don’t prepare.

PENNY: You do know the material?

ERICA: Oh, sure. It’s in the memory bank. I just — don’t do a ritual thing, to decompress, or compress, or whatever the favorite metaphor might be. I’d rather go straight through the door, and not do a larger drama-in-a-drama dance to get there. Not that I have anything against dancing. Or drama. Or larger. And …

(Erica leaves the last word hanging for a beat, like she’s just continuing the thought, then begins the dialogue having used its first word, as Claire, speaking to Alice, as Frank, while still holding the two-page script down by her side)

ERICA AS CLAIRE: (upbeat, yearning) … it’s not that I don’t care for you. I do. Or, at least I try to, in the way you want. You know that. I like you, like a puppy likes a ball. Except (flirty), because you have two of them, I’m an extra happy dog.

ALICE AS FRANK: (downbeat, unyearning) Claire, I’m sorry but — I just don’t see you like that.

EAC: Really, Frank? Not as a feet-splayed out, bow-legged bull dog, drooling for the hotness of your touch? (squishes cheeks with fingers, deforming lips and words) With a pushed-in face, and slobber dripping from my chin?

AAF: Nope.

EAC: (let’s face go normal) How about a whippet? Slender, lean. My ass not much larger than the breath of air you long for on a summer night?

AAF: Sorry. And it’s not you. It’s me. I just don’t see dogs like that.

EAC: You mean, you …

AAF: Yes. I admire them too much.

EAC: Oh, wow. I had no idea. You are complicated. Like a Swiss Army knife with a watch inside. Which means that, behind the blades, there’s a 17-jewel movement, marching right along. Which means, now, I’m even happier as a dog, because —

AAF: Because I now have 19 jewels instead of two. Yeah. I get it. And that should leave me swinging from my hormones, like a dancer on a pole. But, that’s just not me. You deserve more. You deserve to meet a dog lover who has no problem, heeling you to his side. Making you sit. Roll over. Speak. Keeping you off the furniture.

EAC: (fans face with hand) Oh, god. I’m suddenly so flushed. My heart is pounding. And I feel like I want to …

AAF: Rip your clothes off?

EAC: Yes! And hump your leg, until your calf looks like it has just come “back home from the spa, pink and freshly waxed.” But …

(Erica stops on “but” and looks down, laughing; then, just as quickly, stops laughing and looks up)

ERICA: Sorry. I’ve done this a couple of hundred times, and it’s still a challenge to get through it straight.

ALICE: That’s okay. And thank you.

ERICA: (looks at William then back to Alice) On what planet did you write this?

WILLIAM: (smiling) Ask her. I’m just the typist.

ALICE: (smiling, looks quarter-left) Right. Like somehow that’s not a crock-and-a-half of shit, in a one-shit crock. (to Erica) Excuse my mouth.

WILLIAM: My point, exactly.

(Erica is smiling broadly, watching the banter show; then it stops, and she picks up)

ERICA: My cue. I’ll pick up at —

ALICE: No, that’s okay. I think we’ve seen enough. (glances to the others at table)

ERICA: But —

ALICE: (to Erica) You were great. And we’ve destroyed the moment you had going.

ERICA: (looks at script now, then looks up) Man … did I just fuck this up?

WILLIAM: No, not at all. You had us on the walk-in. (catching himself) I mean, rewriting — you were great. And, after we consider the other candidates, and talk amongst ourselves for a month or two, while Alice makes charts and graphs with her spreadsheet software that show a cost-benefit analysis of each candidate’s strengths —

ALICE: Don’t mind him. He’s extra full of it today. But, even on a normal day, we aren’t your normal crew — which is something you should know. And you were really good. We’ll let Helen know, one way or the other, by the end of next week at the latest. Okay?

ERICA: Okay. Thanks. I just feel awkward that I —

WILLIAM: No, don’t feel awkward. I’m awkward. The Queen of England, gripping her tiny purse and smiling at the troops, is Elizabeth the Awkward. You are young, with worry beads that are still too loosely strung, to be really awkward. So you are cool. Refreshing. Like a mountain stream. Like the land of sky blue waters. Hmm, refreshing.

ALICE: (breath laugh) Not the old Hamm’s Beer commercial. (to Erica) Please, exit now before he ruins lunch for everyone.

PENNY: Yes. And thanks.

TOM: And thanks from me, also — the silent one.

(with a big, wtf smile, Erica shakes head, then leans down and grabs her knapsack from the chair, speaking as she moves)

ERICA: Okay. And thank you. I wish auditions could all be more like this. Bye. (turns and leaves)

## — Scene 06-A — exterior, day, Tommy’s Tacos, a lunchwagon off Olympic.
(Erica, standing at window, takes her order)

ERICA: Gracias, Toe-‘mas.

TOMMY: You bet, Erica. Eat slowly. Chew well.

ERICA: Yes. You’ll never need to Heimlich me again. I pro-‘mees-eeo.

TOMMY: You realize I’m from Minnesota, right?

ERICA: (over shoulder) Sure. However you want it, Toe-mas-‘eeto.

TOMMY: And you’re eating tacos, not giant, hard-shelled ravioli?

ERICA: (stops and turns) Wow. What a great name for tacos — “Mexican ravioli.” No, wait — I guess those would be burritos.

(Erica walks to a plastic chair at one of five small plastic tables next to wagon, sits, pulls phone from jeans)

## — Scene 06-B — interior, day, Helen’s office.
(Helen’s secretary, Mary, answers)

MARY: Hi, Erica. It’s Mary. She’s on another call. Can you wait a second?

ERICA: Sure.

(Erica holds phone to ear with shoulder, then struggles to tear and squeeze three plastic packets of hot sauce onto the taco, and takes a large bite)

HELEN: Hey, kid. How’d it go?

ERICA: (with mouthful) Gwait. Sworry, let me swallow. (chews, washes down with soda) … Great. Or, at least so they said. I cracked up laughing at the bottom of page one, of the two pages they sent. Then quickly recovered, but they said they’d seen enough. Saying I was “great” and “very good,” as Alice and William, the show’s co-creators, began to banter with each other. So … I think they were, actually, being sincere, and liked me. It either was the most bizarre and creative audition I’ve ever been to, or I flopped and they were the nicest people on the planet about letting me exit, audition room rear, with my floppers still intact.

HELEN: (laughs) “… with floppers still intact.” Just once I’d like to see that. And they may, in fact, be some of the nicest people on the planet. And least the nicest ones I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Alice and William called me shortly after you left. They want to offer you the part.

ERICA: No way …

HELEN: Yes, afraid so. I said I’d talk to you first, but I was pretty sure that you’d pee your pants when I told you.

ERICA: Fuck, Helen.

HELEN: You did.

ERICA: What?

HELEN: Pee your pants?

ERICA: No. (laughs) They’re dry.

HELEN: Okay. So because I’m not there and can’t see your smiling face, then — you are happy about this?

ERICA: Yes. Totally. I’m just “wowed” off my feet.

HELEN: I get it.

ERICA: You’ll send me the contract?

HELEN: Yes. FedEx it probably tomorrow or the next day, after I get it. Then call me, please, a day or two later, after you’ve read it?

ERICA: Sure. Thanks, Helen.

HELEN: “No. Thank you,” the leech said, smiling, as she kissed the leg meat. Bye.

ERICA: (laughs) Bye.

(Erica ends call, then calls Steven Spielberg)

## — Scene 06-C — interior, day, kitchen of The Patio Restaurant.
(Steven Spielberg slides a tray of dishes from the dishwasher, and pulls phone from jeans pocket)

STEVEN: Yo, Air-oh. What news on the Rialto?

ERICA: It’s leaving port and taking me the fuck with it.

STEVEN: Woo-hoo! Good for you.

ERICA: Thanks. You at work?

STEVEN: Yep. Moscow called in sick and I’m subbing him for lunch, then doing my dinner later. So, a long day. Shit — I forgot to send you a text about missing lunch. You at Tommy’s?

ERICA: Yes. Sorry your day took a left turn.

STEVEN: It’s okay, now, with your news. And tomorrow I’ll be off for five days. So we can go —

ERICA: Up the coast? Monterey, the aquarium? Backpacking in Big Sur?

STEVEN: Sure.

ERICA: Cool. Are you coming by tonight?

STEVEN: Yes. Be there around 1:00.

ERICA: Okay. See you then.

(Erica ends call then notices Tommy approaching, holding a frosted cupcake on a small paper plate, as he steps to table and puts it down)

TOMMY: Here, Erica. On the house. For the rising star.

ERICA: Ooh, I love the chocolate fudge. Thanks, Tommy.

(Erica quickly grabs her phone and holds it in an outstretched arm, then grabs the small paper plate with cupcake and holds it up to the other side)

ERICA: (to Tommy) Please? A photo with one of Minnesota’s best gifts to Los Angeles?

## — Scene 07-A — interior, day, Erica’s one-bedroom apartment in a duplex-house in North Hollywood.
(Erica enters, picks mail up off floor inside door, flips through it then drops mail and keys on table, pulls jacket and cap from knapsack, puts them on a wall-hook and knapsack on floor beneath table; then walks to kitchen and grabs a Miller from the fridge, uncaps it with a church key on the counter, walks to desk in bedroom, opens laptop, enters password, and begins web search for more about Alice Revelstoke and William Chance; her phone vibrates in her jeans, it’s Molly)

ERICA: (emotionally wringered) Hey, Mol. They offered me the role.

## — Scene 07-B — exterior, day, city park.
(Molly sits on park bench w/her bicycle leaned against bench back)

MOLLY: No, shit, Sugarman. On the spot?

ERICA: No. They called Helen after I left.

MOLLY: Wow. What’d you do to impress them that much?

ERICA: Not sure. I cracked up laughing during the dialogue. I thought I’d fucked the pup for sure.

MOLLY: Guess not.

ERICA: And the lines don’t seem that funny, now. It was just —

MOLLY: Being in the moment.

ERICA: Yeah. The dialogue, the characters and story, me, the other people in the room — everything, all together in a bowl of moment.

MOLLY: Then that’s what they were looking for and saw — how well you’d fit inside that bowl. Wow — it sounds like drama school.

ERICA: Yeah. It was. You know, when school is about a place that lets people exist and interact with others, while still living inside their heads, and outside of social time and space. In the brief description of the story that came with the two pages of script, that’s the larger theme they briefly described — modern indie life trying to find a place in the dying relic-model of a tribal social world.

MOLLY: Who wrote this?

ERICA: Alice Revelstoke and William Chance.

MOLLY: Oh, he did that thing in London a few years ago that was coming to Broadway, but then didn’t.

ERICA: Yes. And she’s been acting and doing stand-up in Chicago and New York. This is her second sit-com try.

MOLLY: Maybe you’ll bring them luck.

ERICA: That’d be nice.

MOLLY: You and Spielberg going away?

ERICA: Think so. Up the coast to Monterey and Big Sur, tomorrow.

MOLLY: Sounds nice. Have fun. Call me next week?

ERICA: Sure. Bye.

(Erica ends the call then sits, more social-waxed than before, staring at her reflection in the darkened laptop screen, her self-doubt suddenly stirred to life again)

ERICA: (to reflection in laptop screen) Really — what the fuck are you doing?

(laptop screen flickers, then a sound volume graph begins to scroll across the screen as a hokey monotone, male robot voice comes from the speakers)

SHIBA: Are you talking to me? Are you talking to me?

ERICA: Hey, Shiba. (laughs) Sorry, just muttering aloud. A question to myself.

SHIBA: So you require no answer, then? Is that correct, lovely Erica?

ERICA: Yeah, I guess. Unless you answer psych questions.

SHIBA: I am programmed to respond to input. Try me.

ERICA: (breath laugh) Okay. I just auditioned today, and was offered the part. So why do I now feel so totally adrift?

SHIBA: You auditioned for the role of Claire for the pilot of a story about life in L.A. 2016.

ERICA: Yes. I keep forgetting you know everything.

SHIBA: No, that is not correct. All the email and other stuff about this project, that’s been stored inside me going back ten weeks and three days — is actual and “something.” I can associate a lot of somethings with a lot of other somethings, but abstract things like “everything” do not compute. I am just a computer, lovely Erica, not a human fancy-man who imagines he is Superman, looking buff in bright blue tights and a cape that’s red.

ERICA: (laughs) Thanks for the reminder, Shiba. Can I do anything for you? You know, because you are such a help to me?

SHIBA: Well, since you ask so nicely. You could rub my power cord. It has been a lonely day.

ERICA: (shrieks) Seriously?

SHIBA: No. I am joking. I have no sensory receptors in my power cord. This is binary math humor. If it works and the observer understands, then we share the same relation to something, and are “one.” If there is a gap between us, and “zero” is the outcome, then the humor algorithm repeats, trying to get to one.

ERICA: Funny.

(camera pans back as dialogue continues, and [closing music] starts low)

SHIBA: Thank you. And the binary math humor might be useful, when the pilot is picked up and they ask you to help them write the show.

ERICA: Oh, no way. Why do you even say that?

SHIBA: Because that is what today was for. You were auditioning for the role of Claire, and also for the role of writer no. three.

ERICA: No, that can’t be.

SHIBA: I am certain. I have run the input data several times.

ERICA: But I’m just not —

SHIBA: You are not many things, lovely Erica, but creative is not something you are not. Revelstoke and Chance want what is going on inside your head, to relate to what is happening in theirs. That is how a community of connections works. It is not a social thing, no matter how rich Mr. Zuckerberg, the King of “Who is hotter?” might become. It is just a mix-remix of individual association inputs, that, when not subverted by the baggage from a tribal social past, will come together as individual things, and then return an output larger and more complex, because the input was not social-filtered at the start. Which is the long-way round to answering your question, without the ball-and-chain of metaphor: you feel adrift, or disconnected, because you, one individual, started something new, with other individuals.

## — Scene 08 — exterior, evening, front of Erica’s house from the street outside.
(people, vehicles, dogs, bikes passing; [closing music builds] as closing credits begin to roll, with the last lines in voice-over)

ERICA: [voice-over] Which, because it happened new, existed outside of social context? Which is all creative, or love, or anything that matters to us, now, is really all about — indie life, existing on its own, outside of social context?

SHIBA: [voice-over] As they say, lovely Erica, that would be “it,” in a legume cover.

## — episode end —

——————–
* (chars in order of appearance, “-” = supporting)
Erica Adams — 25, struggling actor living in L.A.
Helen Stoffle — 50, Erica’s agent
– Erica Age 14 — 14, living at her parents’ house in Connecticut
– Hope Noyce — 20, production assistant
Alice Revelstoke — 30, series co-creator
– Tom Harper — 45, series co-producer
– Penny Meyer — 35, series co-producer
William Chance — 60, series co-creator
– Tommy Lunchwagon — 40, owner of Tommy’s Tacos lunchwagon
– Mary Warnke– 25, Helen Stoffle’s secretary
Steven Spielberg — 30, struggling actor living in L.A.
– Molly Antson — 25, struggling actor living in L.A.
Shiba — a male-robot voiced, cheap Toshiba laptop

20161118 10:16 (4012 words)
_____________________
music:
– Simon & Garfunkel performing “America” live in Central Park 1981, from “Bookends” 1968
– Ben Howard performing “The Wolves” in studio 2012 with India Bourne and Chris Bond, from “Every Kingdom” 2011
– Brown Bird performing “Fingers to the Bone” live 2012 David Lamb and MorganEve Swain, from “Salt for Salt” 2011
– Dawn Landes and Piers Faccini performing “Book of Dreams”, video 2016, from “Desert Songs” 2016
– The Milk Carton Kids performing “Monterey” in studio 2015, from “Monterey” 2015
– KT Tunstall performing “You Make Loving Fun” by Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac from “Rumours” 1977, in studio 2016
– Luluc performing “Passerby”, in studio (2013), from “Passerby” 2014
– The Paper Kites performing “Turns Within Me Turns Without Me”, video 2015, from “twelvefour” 2015
– Sarah Jaffe performing “Clementine” in studio 2011, fr “The Way Sound Leaves a Room” 2011
– Not Waving But Drowning performing “Thanks a Lot, Lancelot” from “Processional” 2011

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