Monday, February 9, 2009

FSW: Pimp my TV (Ken's Entry)

Looks like I got the honor of being the first warrior on the field of battle this week...

So this week we had a little change up, and got our sketch inspiration from the Pimp My TV contest going on at Filmaker Frenzy (http://www.filmmakingfrenzy.com/sites/filmfrenzy_beta/ViewFrenzy.aspx?FrenzyId=18) . In the tradition of John Woo doing Mission: Impossible and JJ Abrams directing Star Trek, I decided to go with classic show reinterpreted by iconic director.

Take it away Mr. Director:
_________________________________________________

SLOW FADE IN:


EXT. - PREP SCHOOL - DAY


Snow flakes fall on the tops of an evergreen forest. As the camera descends in slow motion, we can see the red ceramic tiles of an estate-like building under a light blanket of snow, then we see big glass windows, beige stone, big wooden doors, concrete benches in the courtyard, and a brick walkway leading to the door.


ANNOUNCER (V.O.)

This Christmas, one of America’s most celebrated directors brings one of America’s grittiest television shows to the big screen.


Music starts, and the first words of “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” by Urge Overkill are sung


SINGER (V.O.)

Girl....you’ll be a woman, soon...


The music continues as the camera settles close to the ground in the middle of the brick sidewalk. Four girls - one blond, one brunette, one African American, and one heavier girl - all in prep-school uniforms (red plaid skirts, knee socks, navy-blue sweaters, carrying books) walk past the camera still in slow motion.
The camera shifts around so we can see the school girls in profile. It goes down the line showing each girl’s face, pausing long enough for their name to be captioned with a name:

Blonde girl’s caption: BLAIR
Brunette girl’s caption: JO
Heavy-set girl’s caption: NATALIE
African-American girl’s caption: TOOTIE

They stop in equal stances framing the big front door, which opens to reveal matronly woman in her late 50’s with bright orange hair (MRS. GARRETT).

Caption comes up on screen: EDNA GARRETT


MRS. GARRETT

You lazy bitches better get in this motherfuckin’ cafeteria or I will get medieval on your asses, I shit you not!


Titles come up on screen:


QUENTIN TARANTINO’S
FACTS OF LIFE


CUT TO:


INT. CAFETERIA - DAY


MRS. GARRETT locks the doors behind the girls.


MRS. GARRETT

Listen up. Drummond’s fast tracked this job - it’s big. Gear up.


JO, BLAIR, TOOTIE and NATALIE go pull folding cafeteria tables out from the walls. Behind them are racks of guns, knives, swords, etc. The girls start pulling them out and strapping them on.


MRS. GARRETT

We pull this off, and Drummond keeps Edna’s Edibles in flour, sugar, coke for a long time. Code names...Blair you’re Ms. Blond. Jo, you’re Ms. Brunette. Tootie you’re Ms. Black. Natalie, you’re Ms. Michelin.


NATALIE is visibly pissed. The girls, armed and wearing black suits, black ties, white shirts and Ray Bans come to the middle of the room.


MRS. GARRETT

Drummond wants this clean, capice?


BLAIR

We need to make this quick. I got a date tonight.


JO

Me too.

TOOTIE

Me too.


Everyone looks at NATALIE who keeps quiet.


MRS. GARRETT

Natalie, you’ve got clean up.


They all exit, with NATALIE hesitating before following


CUT TO:


INT. EDNA’S EDIBLES - NIGHT


MRS. GARRETT snorts lines of coke off the glass pastry case she stands behind in small bakery cafe cash. JO, TOOTIE and BLAIR tidy up around the shop


MRS. GARRETT

I can’t believe Natalie missed her shift. She never misses a chance to be around food. Something’s fucked up.


The big storefront glass window with the words “Edna’s Edibles” explodes inward. NATALIE bursts through and unloads a pump-action shotgun blast into the pastry case. Three girls in prep-school uniforms and zipper-mouthed leather bondage masks stand behind her brandishing identical shotguns.


NATALIE

The motherfuckin’ cookbook...NOW!!!


MRS. GARRETT tosses her a big book with a glare.


NATALIE

Edna’s Edibles is permanently closed...people in this neighborhood will eat at “Natalie’s Noshes”.


NATALIE and the masked girls back out of the cafe with the book, and toss in several molotov cocktails. MRS. GARRETT speaks as the flames get higher around her.


MRS. GARRETT

(yelling)

You can’t run bitch! My righteous fury shall be tempered in your flames, and my vengeance shall rain down upon thee like all the plagues of Egypt. Behold, for I shall come upon thee like a thief in the night, and that is a fact!!!


CUT TO:


INT. BASEMENT - NIGHT


MARK, a teenage prep-school boy, sits tied to a metal chair under a single hanging bulb. His face is bruised and bloody. BLAIR, TOOTIE and JO stand around him.


TOOTIE

He ain’t gonna squeal where Natalie’s at.


JO

Bring in the gimp.


BLAIR snaps her fingers. A door opens showing a sliver of light and a tall shambling figure walks in. Sweat pours down MARK’s terrified face as he hears the scarping footsteps in the dark. He’s almost ready to scream when the mystery figure, GERI, steps into the light and starts speaking


GERI

Hi I’m Geri. I’m Blair’s cousin, and I have cerebral palsy, but that won’t stop me from entertaining you with 30 minutes of people-positive comedy!


MARK

(screaming)

AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!


CUT TO:


INT. PENTHOUSE APARTMENT - DAY


NATALIE and her masked girls kick in the white double doors and enter. NATALIE wears a samurai sword strapped to her back


NATALIE

Fan out...Drummond’s here some place.


A short African American boy, ARNOLD, flies in and takes out the three masked girls with some fast acrobatic kung fu. He lands in front of the stair case. He also has a samurai sword strapped to his back.


ARNOLD

Mr. Drummond’s out.


NATALIE pulls a .45 from her waistband and aims it at ARNOLD.


NATALIE

Says who?


ARNOLD whips out a throwing star that rips the .45 Out of NATALIE’s grasp.


ARNOLD

Says me.


NATALIE draws her samurai sword and goes into a dueling stance.


NATALIE

I’ll go upstairs and wait.


ARNOLD pulls his sword and goes into his dueling stance.


ARNOLD

What you talkin’ ‘bout, bitch?


CUT TO:


INT. MUSCLE CAR - NIGHT


JO drives, BLAIR rides shotgun, TOOTIE sits in the middle of the back seat. All wear Ray Bans that reflect street lights as they drive the black 1967 Dodge Charger. They stare straight ahead intensely as the engine roars, and don’t speak for a long time.


JO

You know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in France?


BLAIR

Natalie would know.


TOOTIE

Natalie knows food.


CUT TO:


INT. CRUMBLING WAREHOUSE - NIGHT


NATALIE has her sword drawn as do JO, TOOTIE and BLAIR. The three circle her. NATALIE is dirty, sweaty, and her school uniform torn. A spotlight pops on illuminating MRS. GARRET on the catwalk above the factory floor. Half of her face is scarred from horrific burns, making her twisted smile more horrifying.


MRS. GARRETT

Poor Natalie....the world never seems to be living up to your dreams. Girls, teach her a little life lesson for me.


ANNOUNCER (V.O.)

You take the good...


Close up on NATALIE


ANNOUNCER (V.O.)

You take the bad...


Close up on MRS. GARRETT


ANNOUNCER (V.O.)

You take ‘em both and there you have...


High shot of the girls circling NATALIE
JO, BLAIR and TOOTIE lunge at NATALIE with swords above their heads poised to slash. The screen goes completely black and titles slowly fade up:


QUENTIN TARANTINO’S
FACTS OF LIFE

Coming Soon

This film is not yet rated


FADE TO BLACK.


8 comments:

Michael Brownlee said...

Hi-Lar-ious!

"Bring out the gimp" darn near made me snarf my tea.

Nice job, Ken.

R.A. Porter said...

That is some fine "people-positive comedy" right there, Ken.

I hope I can make it over the high bar you've already set.

Fancy Schmancy said...

Brilliant!

Ken Robertson said...

The second I started working this concept the gimp idea jumped out at me and I couldn't resist it.

I think I debated being politcally correct and leaving it out for about, oh, 2 seconds.

Glad you like it!

Maritzia said...

How offensive can we be, let us count the ways?

You've offended the disabled (of which I'm one)
You've offended fat people (of which I'm one)

Yes...I think it's time to unsubscribe from this blog. I came here from Chuck Westwood's project, but I don't think I'll make it through two weeks.

R.A. Porter said...

I'm reminded of when Isaac Hayes quit South Park. It was all fun and games when they mocked gays and Jews and Catholics and the disabled and Republicans and Democrats. But once they mocked Scientologists, that was it, beyatch!

I'm not exactly sure how mentioning comedian Geri Jewell, who guested on Facts of Life many times, is offensive. Sure, he called her "the gimp", but you see, the sketch was *Tarantino* directing Facts of Life. If you saw Pulp Fiction, you'll recognize the reference to "the Gimp".

As for insulting fat people...honey, I'm 80 pounds overweight. I'm obese by any clinical measure. You know what? I wasn't offended.

Methinks your skin is too thin.

FreeMyMuse said...

Hilarious! I totally get the Pulp Fiction reference going on. Love it.

Ken Robertson said...

Maritzia,

as the author of this sketch, I take full responsibility for it, and I apologize if you took it as an attack on people with disabilities or weight issues. That was not my intent.

That being said, I wouldn't retract a word of it.

As are most of my pieces, this sketch was satirical, taking aim at both Quentin Tarantino's style and some of the more ridiculous aspects of the Facts of Life series, of which there are plenty.

As many people have mentioned already "the gimp" reference is a line, a famous one, taken directly from "Pulp Fiction". Personally I find the jokes they have the REAL Geri telling on the show more offensive:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jU_ke6eyGM

I don't think I can come close to such inane prime-time-approved laugh-track assisted lines like "I work at Shakey's". I wanted to take on the tripe this network forced a talented performer to go through BECAUSE she was disbled (hence the "people positive comedy" that gets used as a torture device).

As for Natalie, if you look closer I never make fun of her weight in this piece - the others talk about how she likes food (not how fat she is), which gives motivation for her character to assume the famous Tarantino Uma Thurman role - the badass avenger seen in the "Kill Bill" movies. Tarantino's characters are never politically correct...racial epithets and stereotypes are slung with wild abandon.

During the run of this show, the network threatened to fire Natalie (Mindy Cohn) if she lost weight. She had to wear bulky sweaters to look bigger. At the same time the network threated to fire Blair (Lisa Whelchel) if she gained any. Welcome to the world of network prime-time.

I hope it's clear now that I crafted this piece with a lot of thought and consideration to convey several satirical messages. Not one of those messages was "let's make fun of the fat and disabled."

For me, comedy that leaves any sort of lasting impression must be willing to risk offending people. George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Eddie Izzard, "All in the Family", "The Jeffersons", even "MASH" - all walked the edge of being offensive. I'm actually happy this piece has encouraged you to leave your comment, and has sparked some dialogue. I risked offense, I knew I was risking it, and I would risk it again. I am truly sorry that you read it and saw someone taking cheap shots. My targets were much higher and picked with much greater precision, and the comments of others seem to indicate that the overwhelming majority get that.

I'm sorry you're not amongst them.