STUDIO 60 ON ROOSEVELT AVENUE
WRITTEN COMPLETELY BY AARON SORKIN TOTALLY ALONE AND UNDER GREAT DURESS
RELIVE THE EXCITING INAUGURAL SEASON!
PILOT | EPISODE 2 | EPISODE 3 |
EPISODE 4 | EPISODE 5 | EPISODE 6
LOGLINE: Once the nation’s best and most respected baseball GM, Sandy Alderson has been reduced to trying to revive a moribund franchise is the depths of deepest, darkest Queens. Along with his sharp-witted and adoring protégés, he fights off the seemingly endless series of controversies and crises that beset him while trying to run a sports team in the country’s most bustling metropolis, and still look fantastic while doing it. Can the pressures of such an important job crush this singularly talented and gifted individual genius?
The interior of a bus. In the back, players act rowdy, tossing paper airplanes and switching seats like little kids. Toward the front sit SANDY ALDERSON and DAVID EINHORN.
EINHORN: Gotta spend money to make money, Sandy. Sure, it’s three losses on our ledger, but you can’t put a price on an invaluable team building experience like this.
ALDERSON: But we already are a team. That I built.
EINHORN: I, I, I–too much of that word, Sandy. There’s no “I” in team. You have to be more of an organization guy, like me. Everything I do I do for this team. I am the consummate team player. Ask anyone about me and they’ll tell you that! C’mon, get into it! Look, even Old Man Wilpon’s jazzed for this trip.
Quick shot of FRED WILPON completely passed out in a bus seat, snoring.
Cut to: Hotel conference room. Entire team sits cross-legged on the floor in pairs, trying to build pyramids made out of clothespins and hardboiled eggs on top of a skateboard while one partner is blindfolded. The ACTIVITY DIRECTOR, a loud, blond, tanned type, shouts encouragement through a bullhorn.
ACTIVITY DIRECTOR: That’s it people, you can do it! Remember, the blindfolded person must trust his partner to give correct direction, and the non-blindfolded partner must trust his partner to listen! And to not crack any of those hardboiled eggs if you can, because they’ve been sitting around a while!
Pan over to ALDERSON, who is blindfolded, and EINHORN, attempting the activity. ALDERSON gingerly tries to place a clothespin onto his construction.
EINHORN: Easy, easy…[whispering] Listen, this whole thing is just a front.
ALDERSON: The clothespin?
EINHORN: The whole trip. I organized it as cover so we could initiate some secret talks with Grant Linwood for a contract extension.
ALDERSON: I thought Linwood said he wouldn’t negotiate in season.
EINHORN: Publicly, yes. Privately, his people have reached out to me. They’re willing to talk, but only if we can keep a lid on this thing. Problem is, there’s no way we can keep quiet about talks like this back home. Our offices are crawling with reporters and spies. I found Bill Madden in my washroom last week. That’s why we had to skip town.
ALDERSON: Don’t you still need Wilpon’s signoff on any big contracts like that?
EINHORN: We’re not going to actually sign a contract with him. We’re just going to hammer out the finer details, like how much money he wants and for how long.
ALDERSON: Oh, so just the little things.
EINHORN: Exactly! Then, we’ll leak word to the press that the negotiations are going on and whip the fanbase into a frenzy. By that point, Wilpon will have to approve the whole thing.
ALDERSON: Why not just conference with Wilpon to see if he’s on board with this?
EINHORN: You might have a lot of book-smarts, Sandy, but you don’t know jack about business. You don’t talk to your partners directly. You have meetings behind their back, strategize how to work around them, close all channels of communication. Then, right at the end, you loop them in and make it seem like what you decided is not only a good idea, but their idea.
ALDERSON: Sounds like the epitome of teamwork.
EINHORN: Of course it is! You know how many people you need to help you execute a proper back channel screwing? [pulls out a map, points to a spot] This is the golf course at this resort. There’s a bench right here, next to the 15th hole. You’re gonna meet Linwood there at 4pm today. You ask him, “Has the weather cleared up yet?” If he says, “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs,” negotiations are off. If he says, “Why yes, the forklifting is superior today,” that means he’s ready to talk.
ALDERSON: I don’t think all of this John LeCarre stuff is necessary. Can’t I just knock on his room door, or have dinner with him…
EINHORN: Not unless you want the press all over this and the word leaking out before we want it to. This has to be done in complete secrecy. Not a word of this to anyone. Not your assistants, not Wilpon, not your wife, not even me.
ALDERSON: But you came up with the plan.
EINHORN: [covering ears] I know nothing, la la la, not listening…
The ACTIVITY DIRECTOR suddenly stands over the two of them.
ACTIVITY DIRECTOR: [through bullhorn] Chop chop, gentlemen. Less talking, more communication!
ALDERSON walks down a hotel hallway, looking a bit nervous, glancing over his shoulder to see if he’s being followed. WILPON emerges suddenly from around a corner, carrying an overflowing ice bucket, and runs right into ALDERSON’s stomach with an “oof”.
ALDERSON: What do you need all that ice for?
WILPON: No reason, I suppose. But if they’re giving it away for free, I’ll be damned if I’m turning it down! I’m glad I ran into you, Sandy.
ALDERSON: I wish my stomach could say the same.
WILPON: [lowering his voice] I think we need to open up some negotiations with Linwood. [ALDERSON begins to talk, WILPON cuts him off] I know he said he doesn’t want to talk in season, but I have a feeling he’ll play ball if we give him an offer. If I can get this done, I’m sure Einhorn will okay it, and maybe I can get back in the loop on decision making with this team again. [cuts off ALDERSON again] Please, Sandy, this would mean a lot to me. See if you can intercept him somewhere. Maybe, oh, I don’t know, the golf course. But make sure you do it on the down low. We can’t let this get out to anyone, especially Einhorn. [cuts off ALDERSON again] Thanks, Sandy, you’re the best. Now it’s time to enjoy some free HBO with a big, hearty snack bowl of ice!
WILPON pops an icecube in his mouth with a loud crunch and totters off.
Cut to: Golf course. GRANT LINWOOD sits on a bench, sipping from a tall, narrow glass topped by an umbrella. ALDERSON sits down on the far end, as if not wanting to acknowledge his existence.
ALDERSON: Has the weather cleared up yet?
LINWOOD: [looking up] I dunno, you tell me. Same sky above me as you.
ALDERSON: *ahem* Has the weather cleared up yet?
LINWOOD: [ignoring him, staring at drink] Damn, these things are tasty. Think it’s got pineapple juice, tequila, and Bacardi Arctic Grape, but the shot of rubbing alcohol really makes it. Just adds a bit of class, you know?
ALDERSON: [whispering] Did you remember the countersign?
LINWOOD: The what?
ALDERSON: The countersign. Einhorn told me to meet you here and ask “Has the weather cleared up yet?”, and you’re supposed to respond with one of two phrases.
LINWOOD: Why would I do that?
ALDERSON: Jesus…to tell me whether or not you want to talk about a contract extension!
LINWOOD: Oh yeah! Now I remember Einhorn saying something about the…things. So many people say so much stuff me all day, sometimes it’s hard to keep track words that are…whoah, look at that bug on the green. What is that, a beetle?
ALDERSON: Do you want to talk about a contract or not?!
LINWOOD: Yeah, sure, let’s do this!
ALDERSON: Alright, why don’t we get together over dinner tonight and just talk?
LINWOOD: No dinner for me tonight. I’m gonna have a few more of these and hit the gym. It’s part of this new regimen I’m trying called the Bukowski. You get hammered and then work out. It makes the exercise more intense and gives you an awesome buzz.
ALDERSON: Fine, I’ll meet you in the gym at 7:30.
LINWOOD: It’s a date!
ALDERSON and LINWOOD go their separate ways. Pan over to nearby woods, where WILPON and EINHORN are each hiding behind a bush, unbeknownst to each other. They both slowly creep out of their respective hidey-holes and accidentally back into each other. Startled, they bow and defer to one another with exaggerated courtesy before bolting off in opposite directions.
Hotel buffet line. ALDERSON moves down slowly, gathering food. He stops at the carving table.
ALDERSON: Some roast beef, please, and…agh!
ALDERSON sees the carver is EINHORN, dressed in full chef regalia.
EINHORN: Good disguise, huh? Can’t be too careful; this place could be crawling with reporters. I like this toque, though. Why don’t people wear these all the time? It gives you the illusion of height and it breathes. Kinda like a two-tiered Kangol.
ALDERSON: What is it now? I’ve already set up a meeting with Lin–
EINHORN: Don’t say his name out loud! You are to refer to him as his codename, The Wombat.
ALDERSON: I’m meeting with The Wombat at 7:30 in the gym.
EINHORN: Excellent! Be firm, but accommodating. Show him who’s boss–but in a complimentary way. Or maybe use reverse psychology; tell him he doesn’t have to not sign the contract we’d never offer him right away!
ALDERSON: I’ve been through a few negotiations, David. I can handle this.
EINHORN: You might think so, but weasels can be tricky.
ALDERSON: Wombats. And I really think you should know that Wilpon…
EINHORN: Bup bup bup! I don’t want to know one more thing I don’t know already. Plausible deniability and all that. This’ll help in case I get tortured. Now move along, complete stranger, I have some more carving to do, for I am completely a professional carver guy!
ALDERSON moves along with his plate of food until stopped short by a “psst!”
WILPON: [offscreen] Psst! Sandy! Over here!
WILPON: Here! I’m hiding in this chair!
Cut to shot of dinner table chair that is clearly empty.
ALDERSON: I don’t see you at all. How on earth are you doing that?
WILPON: You don’t get anywhere in the real estate business without knowing a few tricks! Listen, I hear you guys are meeting up at the gym.
ALDERSON: Yes, Linwood and I–
WILPON: Don’t mention yourself out loud! Better refer to yourself by a code name, like The Weasel or something. Listen, I just want you to know that I appreciate what you’re doing for me, and I also want you to realize that my financial and spiritual future depend on your assistance [cuts ALDERSON off] and I don’t wanna hear another word from you that may dissuade me from my hair-brained scheme. Are we clear? [ALDERSON sighs] I’ll take that as a yes. Alright, move along, Mr. Wombat, wink-wink!
ALDERSON leaves. Another man attempts to sit on the chair.
WILPON: Hey, watch it, pal! Can’t you see I’m hiding here?!
Cut to: The hotel gym. WILPON and EINHORN, each dressed in ridiculous costumes, enter from separate entrances and begin halfheartedly using the equipment: EINHORN grabs the straps of a biceps/triceps machine, while WILPON barely flips a jump rope ALDERSON and LINWOOD follow shortly thereafter; ALDERSON dressed in his usual business casual dress, LINWOOD in workout gear, complete with sweatbands. LINWOOD makes a beeline for a treadmill and begins to jog.
ALDERSON: So this drunk-running thing is working out for you?
LINWOOD: I think so. Problem is, if you drink too much, you don’t feel the burn, or anything else.
ALDERSON: About this contract, let’s get an idea of what you’re looking for.
LINWOOD: A good starting point would be 13 years, $450 million.
ALDERSON: Yes, that would be a good starting point for a crazy person. You know there’s no way we can offer you that.
LINWOOD: 13 years, $451 million?
ALDERSON: Grant, what I said was a cue to go down, not up. Let’s skip the salary for now and discuss other considerations. What are you looking for in the way of incentives, bonuses, private suites at the stadium…
LINWOOD: I would like a street named after me. But not the whole thing. Just intermittent parts of it, so everyone gets confused, and people are all like, “Take the Linwood four blocks,” “But I thought that was 24th Street?” “It is but it isn’t…”
ALDERSON: That’s really a matter for the City Council, I think.
LINWOOD: So can I get that in my next contract?
ALDERSON: What, the City Council?!
LINWOOD: Why not? I heard Albert Pujols wants the Cardinals to give him a comptroller.
WILPON and EINHORN try to get closer to the conversation. WILPON abandons his jump rope and steps on an adjacent treadmill, and EINHORN pulls the straps of his machine to lean closer.
ALDERSON: I really don’t have that kind of power, Grant. Maybe we could lobby the Council to get a Grant Linwood Day or something…
LINWOOD: I want Grant Linwood Day to be every other Tuesday!
WILPON tries to get closer to the conversation, but accidentally leans his elbow on the treadmill control panel and speeds it up. At the same moment, EINHORN gets a bit too close to WILPON’s treadmill. WILPON can keep up the treadmill’s pace no more and is propelled backward into EINHORN. The two of them fly violently into the biceps machine with a horrible crash and collapse into a bruised heap.
LINWOOD: God, you guys are harshing my buzz!
ALDERSON: [running over to check up on them] Are you two okay?
WILPON: [dazed] Tell Grant he can have Wednesdays, not Tuesdays…
ALDERSON: Fred? David? What are you two doing here?
EINHORN: I was just checking up on our nudge-nudge, wink-wink.
WILPON: And I was just checking up on our wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
EINHORN: Don’t tell me you were trying to sign Linwood behind my back!
WILPON: Not until you tell me you were trying to do the same thing!
EINHORN: I’d slug you if you weren’t old enough to be my grampa! [cringes] And if I wasn’t also suffering some serious internal injuries.
EINHORN and WILPON both pass out.
Outside hotel. Team members help hoist gurneys with WILPON and EINHORN onto them into a waiting ambulance. The ACTIVITY DIRECTOR cheers them on through a bullhorn.
ACTIVITY DIRECTOR: Lift with the legs! Yes, that’s teamwork!
Inside the ambulance. ALDERSON hunches down on the floor next to an EMT.
ALDERSON: Will they make it?
EMT: Physcially, they’ll be fine. Professionally, I think this rift between them will remain unhealed for quite some time.
ALDERSON: Maybe if you two had gotten together on the Linwood issue to begin with, you could have avoided all of these comical misunderstandings, cases of mistaken identity, weird costume changes, and internal organ bruising.
EINHORN: Never! I’ll gladly risk looking like an episode of that terrible show Frasier than change my way of doing business!
WILPON: Same here!
ALDERSON: While you guys were playing dress up, I finally got to talk to Linwood about his contract.
ALDERSON: He still wants to wait for free agency at the end of the year. But he did drop his demand to be given two new Porsches to crash into each other on the field before every home game.
WILPON: I can give him Volkswagens, but that’s it!
ALDERSON: This job is hard enough, what with the relentless reporters and endless controversies and souls of the unavenged roaming our outfield. But it makes it even harder when my co-owners refuse to work together. Can we agree that we need better cooperation in order to get anything done?
WILPON: No way!
ALDERSON: See, you agreed on something! Now shake on it.
EINHORN: I’m not shaking his hand! Can’t I just flip him the bird?
WILPON: Or shoot that weird British two-fingers thing that’s basically the same thing as flipping the bird?
ALDERSON: Whatever works for you guys.
From their gurneys, WILPON and EINHORN shoot obscene gestures at one another as the scene fades out.