Thursday, November 21, 2013

(Unproduced) Screenplay Review: The Final Broadcast

"This has got to be the strangest day in KXRT history."

Premise: A cult kidnaps a local celebrity's daughter and begins calling the city's radio station, claiming that the impending lunar eclipse will be apocalyptic.

Written by: Chris Hutton & Eddie O'Keefe

Technical: Undated. 127 pages.

The script opens with clips and voice over from Henry Carnegie's television show, The Stars and You. Carnegie is a cosmologist and television personality. Is he a freak? A genius? It depends on who you ask. But he is a local celebrity.

Gary Glossup is our protag, currently working at a radio station (KXRT) in some desert city. There are some other characters we meet, too: Gary's burnout co-worker, Mark; Kirby Langer, director of programming (and their boss). The tone of the script is definitely atmospheric; eerily silent, uneasy. Reading, I was reminded of a popular podcast called Welcome to Night Vale (Night Vale is presented as a radio show). Night Vale and "Broadcast" both have an eerie, strange, implacable feel to them.

Gary, who's only been in town for a month, is bored and miserable at work. There's scant story material, and he has little creative control over his broadcasts. Also, he is still haunted by a tragedy from his past.

At a drive-in theatre, Teresa Carnegie (Henry Carnegie's daughter) and a friend of hers are attacked. The friend is murdered, and Teresa is kidnapped. KXRT immediately latches onto the story. Because in this is a small, safe community, exciting stories rarely come along. Gary hosts open lines at the station, and an odd man calls in, saying that he (and others) are responsible for Teresa's disappearance. And then he puts Teresa onto the phone for seconds, on live radio. Her screams are quickly cut out, and then the guy talks about how the world is going to end, and how he is doing this to please the cosmic monarchs. Soon, he hangs up. Of course Gary wants to investigate further, and Kirby reluctantly gives his permission...

The script is way too overwritten. Some examples of the needless verbosity:
CALLER #3’s voice is male, monotone and clear as day. He enunciates his words perfectly although there is a sinister coldness to his cadence. Like the voice of a fallen angel. 
Gary KNOCKS. MRS. TURMAN (50) answers shortlythereafter. She is a handsome woman. Other than crows feetand the faint smell of nicotine, she has fought the effects of grief well.
Another major issue is that "Final Broadcast" is thoroughly forced and artificial. Everything is too convenient, too coincidental. A perfect example: minutes after Gary and Mark leave the evidence impound (out of leads, and out of ideas) Mark suddenly remembers the significance of the name Billy Turnman. (Billy's name was found in Teresa Carnegie's car after her kidnapping, thus the interest.) Mark explains who Billy Turnman was: king of his high school, loved by everyone, and a smart kid. But six weeks before Gary arrived in town... Billy disappeared, and was later found to have hung himself.

So, in a community where not a lot happens, Mark just forgot about the shocking disappearance/suicide of the high school prince... but suddenly remembered just as he and Gary needed a new lead? I don't think so. No, this was totally forced... as was everything else in the script. (Henry is going to die in exactly six weeks? Are you kidding me? And they have four days to find Teresa, before she's killed, because the eclipse is in four days? Contrived contrived contrived.)

Every single character in the script is flat, bland, and unoriginal. None of the characters have a single iota of personality. The voice on the radio is lame. And another male protagonist who has lost a daughter? Give me a fucking break. Needless to say, there is no one to love, or hate, or have any feelings about.

"The Final Broadcast" was a complete abomination. Too long, when so much could have easily been cut. Predictable (Clare being involved in The Association? Jesus Christ, my cat could have written it better.) Melodramatic ("Why should I trust you, Claire?" "Because falling for you wasn’t a part of the job description. That just happened. That was real.") Nonsensical (when they know that The Association is going to call back... all I kept thinking was, 'Why isn't the FBI there?') Inaccurate, in that the beliefs that the voice/Satchell talks about seems completely made up by the writers. It doesn't seem authentic in any way, and is extremely poorly written.

The bottom line is this is a stupid script. The writers did not do one thing right. It's a zero out of four stars. Three thumbs down. Any way you slice it, this is nothing. And, in all seriousness, I demand an apology from the writers. And I demand that they admit that this is crap. Because the thing that bothered me the most was the laziness displayed by the writers. They obviously did not take this work seriously at all. I do not know if "The Final Broadcast" was written as a joke... but it sure as hell reads like one.

About: This script is from the same writing duo that wrote "When The Streetlights Go On" and "Shangri-La Suite". "Final Broadcast" took the fourteenth spot on the 2012 Black List.

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