A Night With Good News
A NIGHT WITH GOOD NEWS
CAST (IN NO PARTICULAR ODER)
James: An apathetic cameraman working on the Channel Seven News Team who whishes to be a reporter. Protagonist.
Greg Clayfield: The arrogant lead anchor on the Channel Seven News Team who constantly makes fun of James.
Shelby Gray: An organized, hard-working co-anchor who views all men as being immature and lazy.
Jay Finkle: The new inexperienced cameraman on the Channel Seven News Team who idolizes James.
George Xanthos (Zan-thos): The weatherman on the team who has a horrible sense of humor, everyone calls him George X for short.
Paul Sims: The sport analyst on the team who loves Greg as the lead anchor
Brandon Tempers: The producer of the Channel Seven News Team who is generally kind to the team.
Kelly Finkle: Jay’s sister who monitors the sound and text animation on the team.
Ryans Gulvinchi: The Italian janitor of the station who works with James to fix his cameras now and again.
[Opens with the Newsroom of Channel 7, the cameras are rolling with James behind one, Jay behind the other, Kelly is in the audio/teleprompter room, Greg and Shelby sit behind the main desk finishing up their final 5:00 p.m. news story, George X and Paul Sims sit away from the others of camera looking over their papers and reports.]
Greg Clayfield: (Reporter voice) Fortunately, the restaurant has been shut down do to these violations, but is due to reopen next week. (pause) For Channel Seven News, I’m Greg Clayfield.
[James puts up his fingers in the air and beings to count Shelby and Greg down from 5]
Shelby Gray: (Reporter Voice) And I’m Shelby Gray, thank you once again for choosing Channel Seven News.
[James finishes counting down and the ON AIR sign flicks off, Jay and Jams turn off their cameras]
Greg: (from behind the desk stacking papers) Well, everyone did a good job today. (looks at Shelby) Especially you, Miss Gray (gets up and organizes papers on desk) George, Paul you guys too (Paul, George, and Shelby all smile as they organize their papers, James stands next to his camera seeing if it works by turning it on and off) (Walking towards Jay) Even Jay, our little friend here, managed not to screw anything up too badly today.
[Enter Brandon Tempers Stage Right]
Jay Finkle: (face lights up) Thanks Greg! For a second I thought I was-
Brandon Tempers: (Interrupts James) No Jay, you all did awesome, as always, James, Kelly you guys too. The Channel Seven news team always kicks ass, you should know that by now Jay.
[James continues flicking the camera on and off checking its lights and switches. Greg notices James doing so and walks over towards him]
Greg: (smiling) On the contrary, Brandon, I thought James sucked (pause) like he always does, ain’t that right, James? (puts his hand on James’ shoulder with a sarcastic smile)
James: Well, Greg, judging from the way you stated the question, I’d guess that no matter what I say, you’d probably find some way to make it right, ain’t that right, Greg? (James says this with complete disrespect and boredom)
Greg: (angry) You know you are just so full of—
James: (Turns away from Greg) Hi, I’m James; I’m the lead camera man here on the (sarcastic) great chart topping Channel Seven News Team. (walks over to Greg) This here are Greg Clayfield, lead anchor on the team, I say are cuz Greg is two in one: his ego and his ego’s ego. (walks to Jay) This is Finkle…well Jay Finkle, he’s a new cameraman here and he’s the clumsiest bastard alive, but he’s pretty cool. That over there, (points to Kelly) is Finkle’s sister she manages the audio and stuff, I don’t know. Anyways those are (points to each individual person) Shelby Gray, Paul Sims and George Xanthos. Shelby is the co-anchor with Greg and the biggest workaholic on this side of North America, Paul Sims is the sports analyst on the channel and Greg’s biggest fan, lastly and (beat) leastly is George X, the station’s weatherman. (Glances and notices Brandon Tempers) Oh, this is Brandon Tempers, my boss, he’s pretty cool, I guess. Uhm yeah (scratches his head) back to this, I guess.
[James turns and faces Greg in his original position]
Brandon: (Walks over to Greg who is almost on top of James, breathing heavily) Calm down, Greg, you all did awesome. Now go take your damn break before you pop a vein or something. (Greg begins to say something, but instead grabs his papers and walks out angry) Good job today, James. Something wrong with the camera?
James: Yeah, it’s been acting up for awhile now and I (grunting when he tries fixing the lens) don’t know what’s wrong.
Brandon: Well, keep it up and remember (walking away) don’t worry about Greg.
James: I never worry about anything sir.
[Brandon smiles, all this time Kelly is messing with and checking the audio, Jay is looking at the green screen from different angles, Shelby, George are talking around stacks of papers on a desk while Paul listens. Brandon exits off stage right. James stands in front of the camera to see if it will film again, Paul notices James and walks over and stands right next to James who doesn’t look up]
James: What’s up Sims?
Paul: It’s Paul. Anyways I was just wondering (James turns to look at Paul) are you still like, you know, (chuckles a little) doing that whole ‘I wanna be a reporter!’ thing? (James stares at Paul for a couple of seconds then goes back to working on the camera)
Paul: Uh, James?
James: (Turns to face Paul) You ask me the same question everyday. Wh-Why do care- do you even care?
Paul: (scratching his head) Well, you know, I’m just asking- like you being a camera man and all, and so you’re not really, uh, like qualified? I guess, you know, I’m just curious.
James: Yes, I still want to be a reporter. (goes back to fixing the lens on the camera)
Paul: (Quick loud laugh) Why?
James: Cuz…just cuz…
[Paul bursts out laughing taking his papers off the desks and calls out to George X as he leaves]
Paul: You here that George? JUST CUZ… (starts laughing and exits stage right)
Shelby: (Ends conversation with George, looks at James across the room) I swear, you…you MEN are just so immature, everyday it’s the same thing. (mocking) ‘James you suck’, ‘Well if that were true…blah blah blah blah blah blah blah’, why can’t you all just grow up, be men, and shut up. It’s like a zoo, or not even- no you know what its like? It’s like you men are a zoo that the ANIMALS come to observe, THAT’S what you idiots are like, so uncivilized that even the uncivilized view you all as uncivilized.
George X: (looks at Shelby) That! Does not include me and Jay though right Shelby? I mean like we don’t do that stuff right? (said in a childish way) (Jay who is messing with the green screen, falls down with a shriek as the green screen collapses on him) (pause)
Shelby: George? (smiles)
George X: Yes?! (smiles back)
Shelby: Shut the HELL up. (storms off stage right)
[Jay watches the entire scene mouth open after he picks up the screen and places it against the wall]
Jay: Does that…always happen?
George X: (rushed) Not in the same way, I mean som-
Kelly Finkle: (comes out when Shelby leaves and comes up to Jay) Yes, yes it does Jay.
George X: (acting outraged) Now that is just the most heinous statement. (trying his hardest to be funny, James who has stopped working on the camera looks at George and a silence creeps in) What James? I mean seriously like everyone on this station has some sorta problem, like no one laughs and its always quiet and-
James: George? Did you ever stop to think, once, that maybe your attempts to be funny fail miserably?
George X: (Walking off stage, a little angry) Well, you’re just a (thinks) jerk, HA! (Walks off stage proud)
[James exhales and sits on one of the desks sipping from a coffee mug he left on the desk, Jay and Kelly come over to him, James sips looks up and sees them both]
James: Yes? (smiling)
Kelly: (looking at Jay then at James) James, how do you do it?
James: Do what? (continues sipping from coffee)
Jay: Like everyone is all like, I dunno know like hating on you and stuff and you just like…you’re like…you like-
Kelly: You don’t care.
James: Uh (puts down coffee mug) it’s kinda like this…uh…nothing that they say really has any meaning right? (they nod hesitantly) So, I just don’t worry about it and let people know the truth. No matter what I had said Greg would have still said I sucked, and no matter how hard he tries George isn’t funny. (continues sipping the coffee)
Jay: But you’re like so chill about it, you take ‘em down but you’re all cool about it and smooth you know? Its kinda like-
Kelly: I’ll be right back. (leaves off stage)
Jay: Yeah, its like you’re some sorta bad ass version of Pauly Shore or something, like, I don’t even know how to explain it. I mean, I’m over here breaking stuff and you-
[Kelly comes in with a plate of cookies]
Kelly: (Shy) I bought them last night, you want one James?
[James reaches for one and Jay quickly snatches the one he was reaching for and begins eating with his mouth open]
Jay: (mouth open and chewing) Anyways yeah, your like really suave you know? And everyone tries to bring you down but your just like standing up to them like (beat) I’m James and I don’t give a DAMN what you think!
James: (gets a cookie) Thanks Kelly, you too Finkle. I don’t know though I think you’re saying some crazy stuff their man, I do give a damn, I just don’t give a damn a lot, you know?
Kelly: (puts down the plate) Yeah, you don’t care most of the time, but you do sometimes, is that kinda right?
James: (Lays down on the desk eating the cookie) That’s exactly right Kelly! (beat) I just don’t find a need to care about things 24/7. (Kelly smiles, Jay grabs another cookie)
Jay: (chews with mouth open again) Dude, you should like, honestly, wait I’m telling you like honestly, so don’t laugh or anything, but you should totally consider acting or something. Like for real.
James: (Sitting up on the desk) I think I would hate it even more than being a cameraman.
Kelly: You don’t like being a cameraman?
James: Its no so much being a cameraman, I like that, but I used to want to be a cameraman for a huge news station, then I got here and I just don’t like the news anymore, it’s the news itself I can’t stand.
Kelly: Why? You mean the news, like the information that Greg and Shelby report? Or like the media and stuff in general?
James: Well, I think the information is depressing for some people, that doesn’t really bother me or anything (grabs another cookie) but I HATE that second part (exhales) the media (beat, shakes head)
Jay: So if you hate the media so much why does Paul say you wanna be a reporter and stuff?
James: Cuz (pause) I just think I would be a good one (beat, voice trails off) or at least a different one…
Kelly: (taking the plate away from Jay into the audio room) Well, if you reported the news, James, I think that would be waaay better than Greg. (blushing)
James: Thanks Kelly.
Jay: (Stretching) Yeah, well I still think you would be a better actor than a freaking cameraman (beat) or a reporter.
Kelly: (getting her keys out) Shutup Jay. (looks up at James and smiles) We’re going out for dinner till the 9 o’clock show, wanna come James?
James: No thanks guys (jumps off desk) I need to call Ryans up I need help with this stupid camera its been acting up.
Kelly: All right well be careful I guess.
[Jay and Kelly exit off stage right, Jay is still talking to Kelly about James, James walks over to a phone in the audio room, dials a number and wait for tone]
James: Yeah Ryans, yeah man, I need help with this stupid (looks out the room to the camera) camera its been giving me trouble and I don’t know if it’s the lens or one of the switches that keeps making it shut off (waits) yeah its pretty much random I mean I don’t know…(waits) yeah I’ll be here (waits) okay later.
[James goes out to the camera and starts messing with it, the green screen topples over again in the corner were Jay left it. James looks over]
James: Damnit Jay. (Goes over and puts it upright again, as he does he glances at the anchors’ desk, and exhales, pauses and thinks, glancing over his shoulders)
[James sits down at Greg’s desk, calmly and exhales and waits, then gets up and turns off all the lights except the anchor’s desk light, then sits back down in the desk]
James: (looking around and finally composing himself quietly very officially) Uh (pause) Good evening (mockingly in a deep voice) New York, It’s me (beat) Greg Clayfield (corny smile), first off tonight studies have been released that confer that I am in fact one of the biggest egocentric, pompous, narcissistic, and conceited idiots on this planet. (pauses and smiles, still keeping the composure of a real reporter) In other news, my colleagues Paul Sims and George Xantos have both recently declared that the final date for their marriage or (quote fingers) ‘partnership’ is set for December 28th. In other news, it’s become apparent that our lead cameraman, James, is a “total badass” and cannot be trusted with anything that could be used as a potential weapon for fear that he might go- quote “crazy on yo azz.” (smiles and laughs a little, smiles and continues on) This is similar to the statement released early today by James which stated that no evening news reporter can be trusted with a microphone or camera (smiles, but thinks and looks down growing uneasy feeling a little bad, tries to keep reporter voice, starts losing it). When asked why this was true James simply responded with the words (pauses, and loses the reporter voice) “Cuz its true (long pause, stutters) everyone who has ever worked with the media take up their words likes guns into a war (voice trails off).
[A man, Ryans, walks in Stage Left and sees James sitting at the desk, James doesn’t notice him and Ryans stops in his tracks waiting for James to continue when he finally does he goes into the audio room and turns on the ON AIR sign, then slowly goes over to Jay’s camera and turns it on, filming James]
James: They lie, every- every single time, they lie to everyone, everyone who watches it, and the thing is…everyone does watch it, everyone. They can’t get enough, they never do (pause, shuffles in chair) they always come back for more everyday (pause) they watch all the lies unfold and take it in as truth. Its not their fault (pause) they don’t know (beat) It’s our fault, me, Greg, Shelby, channel seven news, its OUR FAULT (raising his voice a little). We are the ones to blame, us, we provide the lies, then I get my camera and I start spoon feeding it to all of you, and you take it in! You take the lies in! (voice rising, shaking) You feed of them, you thrive off it. Why, though, why do you love the lies so much? You wanna know why? Cuz you don’t know the truth and you like it that way, you couldn’t take the truth it’s too brutally pure and honest for you all. Well, let me tell you something then, you wanna hear a truth? Here’s one, whenever a story of a murder or a disease or something bad comes in (pause) you wanna know what Brandon and Greg do? Do you know what they do, huh? (pause) They get happy (beat) they celebrate, laugh, they could care less whether it was some kid who drowned a lake or if it was their own nephew or something (pause) as long as they can get a good story, that’s all they want, that’s all they NEED. Who cares if the entire world is engulfed in a wave of salt water, who cares if half the world’s civilization is burned to the ground, WHO CARES? As long as we get our story (beat) that’s all we need. (Shaking now) And, and you know what I said early about those lies, those lies from the media? That’s a truth too, you know. Sometimes the stories that come along just aren’t good enough, not controversial enough, not GORY enough, so we spice it up. If a congressman says he wants to pass a bill for education we put out a statement that says he thinks America is brainless, if a celebrity says they are moving away from their spouse’s hometown we release the statement “Breakup Impending”. And why do we do this? Because we have to keep you entertained, cuz that’s our job, that’s us, it’s not our job to tell you what’s going on in this world (pause, whispers) It’s our job to entertain you, that’s what we do, we entertain. (almost crying) That’s what happened with Dad! (long shivering pause) All they cared about was how the owner of New York’s largest law firm died in a crash. They didn’t even care (pause) they didn’t think that he could have been the father of someone. And the worst part is (beat) that at some other station the producers were probably laughing about it too (pause) laughing. (beat)They ask me why I wanted to be a reporter, why I want to report, of all things, the news, why, James, why? And for me, there’s only one reason I would ever want to become the very thing I despise (pause) I want people to know the truth, I want people to know which is a lie and which is the truth (whispers) that’s all I wanted to do, just tell you the truth. I don’t want you to be entertained (beat) you can get that anywhere, but here, here its supposed to be the truths, the stories, information all laid out for you, not entertainment. (beat) That’s not us (shakes head, voice trails off)
[James stops and wipes his eyes quietly in the chair as he slowly gets up and exits stage right wiping his eyes, Ryans goes into the audio room and turns off the ON AIR sign and the camera, then turns on the lights, just as he does Brandon storms in]
Brandon: (outraged) Ryans? What in the hell was that?
Ryans: (Said with Italian accent) Well sir, I believe it was uh a speech given by James, the uh cameraman sir.
Brandon: I know what it was, I’m asking why the hell you filmed it, and aired it as a breaking news story!
Ryans: Well, James called uh me here to help fix uh the camera, and when I come here, I saw him uh sitting down reporting the news, just like he told me he wanted to one day. Sir, I uh thought he should uh be able to get what he wants one uh time at least.
Brandon: That was probably one of the most uncharacteristic things I would ever expect from James. It scared the hell out of me!
Ryans: With all due uh respect sir: I believed it uh kicked the ass.
Brandon: It did Ryans. As it was airing our producer called me and told me to turn on the TV. When I started watching I was about to come in here in stop it but…
Brandon: He told me he wanted to keep on watching it. Now I can’t stop getting phone calls on our story hotline, all people who wanna talk about how awesome James was.
[Ryans smiles but Brandon stays stone-faced]
Ryans: Are you not uh happy for him sir?
Brandon: Thing is Ryans, our producer, he wants him fired, and even though I wanna keep him, I can’t after some of the things he said about the media and Channel Seven itself.
Ryans: But sir, he did not uh say things that were to uh bad.
Brandon: (grabs Ryans by the shoulders) I can’t change these types of decisions, I’m powerless here, plus he called us liars, how would it look if I kept an employee like that on our team? (pause, lets go of Ryans) I have to go Ryans, I have to make a phone call, tell me if he comes through here. (Brandon begins to leave)
Ryans: Sir! (Brandon stops in his tracks) Even though it may not uh mean uh much coming from a janitor like uh me. But if you fire uh James, I think I would have to uh quit too, sir. (pause) It was just the uh truth anyways, sir.
Brandon: Arggh, I don’t have time for this Ryans, hurry up and finish fixing that god forsaken camera and get the hell out of here then. (Exit stage right, bumps into Paul Sims on his way out)
Paul: Sorry Brandon (stumbles) Hey, Hey Ryans, did you see that!? I was just eating my dinner at my desk and all of a sudden I see James on one of our monitors, Ryans, Ryans where is he? Where is that little bastard? Making fun of Greg like that.
Ryans: Well, he uh ran off after he uh finished.
Paul: Oh my god, when I find him…
Ryans: What ARE you going do to him if you do uh find him?
Paul: I beat him to the ground, that sorry son-
Ryans: Brandon is going to fire him, Paul.
Paul: Its about time is all I know, but before he does I have to find him.
Ryans: Did you not know he uh wanted to be a reporter, Paul?
[Shelby walks in with George X]
Paul: Well he always said he wanted to be one, but I thought he was KIDDING!
Shelby: Please Paul, save yourself the breath, why do you think he hated talking to you about it, because you never in thought it was true. If you ask me-
Paul: Well it sure is a good damn thing that we didn’t. (crossing arms leaning against desk)
Shelby: (glaring at Paul) I said: If you ask me I think that was one of the most mature and purest things I have ever seen any of you men do on this show and if James doesn’t get a spot as a reporter on this team I don’t know what I’d do.
George: Not even 2 hours ago, you called all of us on the set immature INCLUDING James. (laughs) Now you’re saying he deserves a spot on the team?
Shelby: No, I’ve always liked James.
George: Oh that is just a bunch of bull. You know you hate every human male on this earth.
Shelby: Now THAT is the one of the dumbest things I have eve-
[loud crash off stage]
Greg: (off stage) What do you mean, that wasn’t even a report, that was a, a, a rant, you can’t even begin to call that news, you wanna see news (footsteps away, voice trails off)
Paul: You can tell HE doesn’t like it.
Ryans: It does not uh matter anymore whether Greg, or you (nods to Shelby) or even you (looks at George) liked it. The station and Brandon have to fire James, he uh said to many bad things.
George: Cameraman becomes reporter only to be fired for reporting; now that’s irony.
Shelby: That’s (pause) horrible.
George: Okay, raise your hand if that’s the first time you’ve ever seen her show any emotion besides anger. (quickly raises hand with Paul)
Shelby: Shutup George, don’t you even care at all?
George: Kind of.
Shelby: And this is what I mean about immaturity.
[Ryans glances to the side and starts to notice the audience as if they’re in the play]
Ryans: Hello, my name is uh Ryans, Almosayo-Ryans Mariano Gulvinchi the second. I am from the country of Italy and am living here twelve years now. I am the janitor and uh (snaps fingers thinking about word) fix- it-man for Channel Seven News Team. James is best friends, and first friends here in United States, if James leaves…I, I do not know what to do. (looks down in sadness and shakes head) He does not need to be fired. (turns back to face the crew).
Shelby: There’s always something wrong and no one’s ever happy, why can’t you all see James deserves this?
[Kelly walks in stage left with Jay]
Ryans: Did you see uh James, Kelly?
Kelly: No, what happened?
Ryans: I film him and he talk about everything on show, and now Brandon has to fire him.
Jay: Ohhhhh, damn! See Kelly I told you he is the most badass guy you will ever ever meet.
Kelly: He can’t get fired! You can’t be serious.
Paul: Better believe it, James is off the team. Unless a miracle happens I don’t see him ever working here or on any other station on this earth.
[When Paul says miracle, James enters stage left, and shuffles past Kelly and Jay]
James: Hi. (quickly walks over to Ryans) Did you get it figure out what’s wrong with it?
Ryans: Uh, uh no.
James: All right lets get it to it then.
Ryans: Uhm, James are you uh okay?
James: Yeah man I’m fine, why?
Shelby: James, Ryans filmed you while you gave that speech about the media and now Brandon is going to fire you.
[James doesn’t move but keeps his eyes on Shelby, after a minute Shelby hugs James, James doesn’t hug back]
Shelby: James, I thought that was a very mature thing to do and I feel bad that Brandon is making you leave now. (stands backs and they all look at James)
Paul: Well, kid what do you think?
James: Uh, I don’t really know…
Jay: (whispers) Total badass.
Ryans: If you have to leave James, I will leave too.
Kelly: Me too!
George: (whispering to Paul) We CAN get three replacements in tech right?
[Enter Brandon stage right]
Brandon: James, excuse me everyone. (Splits the small crowd) James, I’m sure they’ve already told you but you can’t be here anymore, the producer says I have to fire you, but if Kelly, Jay and Ryans all quit we wouldn’t be reporting till we had those replacements. So we are keeping you into we hire replacements, but we are all still upset with you, Greg especially. I’m sorry James, I have to do this.
James: It’s okay Brandon, (beat) but if its fine with you, I think I’m gonna go ahead and just quit today.
James: You guys shouldn’t quit because of this either okay? I just now decided that maybe its better that I don’t work here anymore, it would contradict everything I said, and besides I think that it’s best for you all to see how far your horizons go without me. (smiles)
Ryans: (checks his watch) Sir, 9 o’clock is on in 10.
James: I think I’ll go now. Thanks Brandon, Jay, Ryans, Kelly, everyone. (quietly walks away)
Brandon: But James-
[James is already off stage by the time Brandon says this, everyone remains silent Brandon stares off into space]
George: Brandon? Ryans is right we are on in (looks at watch) 8 now.
Brandon: (Still staring straight ahead) Tell Greg we aren’t ready.
[Everyone looks puzzled as Greg comes in stage left fixing his tie]
Greg: Thank God, I just saw that lil’ bastard pick up his stuff and leave. (stops sees everyone confused) What’s going on?
Brandon: We aren’t doing a nine o’clock tonight. (everyone looks at him confused)
Shelby: Brandon, we can put Kel-
Brandon: WE AREN’T DOING A NINE O’CLOCK TONIGHT! (Walks over to a desk and sits down on it, takes off tie)
Greg: Sir, stop playin’ around, we can’t just get up like this and (stuttering) a-and quit!
Shelby: Even this is going a little too far Brandon!
Brandon: I think you guys need to open your eyes (sighs) and see (slightly chuckling) JAMES IS RIGHT.
[Everyone becomes quiet and looks at Brandon waiting for each word]
Brandon: It’s best if we give the public a lie-free night, at least for one night.
Greg: Brandon I-
Brandon: (whispers) Get out. (shouts) EVERYONE GET OUT!
[Everyone shuffles out, whispering to each other, except for Brandon and Greg]
Greg: Brandon, we’re gonna be late…
[Brandon turns to face Greg slowly folding his tie and placing it on his leg]
Brandon: Greg, tonight I heard the truth for the first time ever while working in this business. Growing up, I thought that working with the media was one of the most important jobs out there. Bringing the news to people, showing the people what was happening around them when they (beat) were too blind to see it, even helping those in need with their own problems, the greatest job in the world. (pause) When I finally got here though, I learned that sometimes you had to step on a couple people here and there, had to manipulate things to get exactly what you wanted. At first, it never felt right, never, but (repeat) but… as time went on and our station grew I…I gave in Greg (sad chuckle). And (stutter) and for the first time (beat) in a long time James made me feel like I did when I first started (beat) I felt guilty, sorry, I felt dirty…and now you want me to go on with it?
[Slaps Greg lightly on the cheek and laughs quietly as he turns his face away from the audience possibly wiping some tears away, then looks back at Greg]
Brandon: If you still believe we’re going on, you’re a fool. No, Greg, tonight, no news is good news. (looks up at Greg with a smile)
[Curtain Closes, End Play]