I’ve written seven screenplays, one of which has been produced. That film, “Hollowgate”, was not distributed to the theaters, however. It was what’s called a “straight-to-tape” feature distributed only in video rental stores. I’ve also produced a one hour documentary highlighting a Windjamming schooner tip through the beautiful islands in Penobscot Bay, off the coast of Maine, several dramatic shorts and many commercials.
Story and character are critical elements in well produced dramatic television programs and films. I’ve always felt that if a script is excellent, and the actors present it with honesty and sincerity, the project will be a winner regardless of any technical shortcomings it may have.
Special effects and excessive budgets can, of course, produce a beautiful visual experience, but if the script isn’t right and the actors are not extremely talented, even the most sensational productions will fall short.
The titles, loglines and synopses below offer a sense of my screenplay work.
The Truth About Telescopes and Light
A contemporary, slightly sexy romance, with plenty of quirks and lots of light spots, THE TRUTH ABOUT TELESCOPES AND LIGHT is every woman’s dream story.
After a particularly grueling stint in court, and getting dumped by her boyfriend, high powered Madison Avenue attorney (and well known middle-aged bitch) Samantha “Sami” Wilson departs on a long, therapeutic drive to L.A. Three days later on a barren stretch of Texas desert, her Jag blows a water pump and she’s towed by a jovial bumpkin of a mechanic to a truck stop called the Dust Devil Grill.
Abe Cecil, a reserved, handsome loner, owns and runs the Dust Devil. He also waits tables, slings hash, washes dishes, you name it. And in addition to whooping it up in an occasional game of horseshoes, Abe’s other love is stargazing at night through a huge telescope he keeps out behind the grill.
Sami is stranded at the Dust Devil for three days awaiting a new water pump, and a spark kindles between her and Abe right off the bat. At first she’s not willing to acknowledge it, but during her stay at the Dust Devil things change.
She becomes a secret observer at a desert mechanics’ Elvis impersonation, a ringer in an intense round of trucker Trivial Pursuit, a late night stargazer and the honorary guest at a country western blow out called The Long Haul Christmas Ball. Capping all this off is a late night interlude with Sam out behind the Dust Devil in which Sami learns the truth about telescopes and light.
At this point, the spark for Abe ignites into a flame and Sami’s dilemma emerges as a life altering personal decision: Should she go back to life as usual on the Big Apple fast track, or a take a shot (maybe her last) at true love in the middle of a 24 hour sandstorm?
At first Sami decides she has no choice but to return to New York. She leaves a broken hearted Abe standing in the dust, rejected and depressed. But common sense and love prevail. Two days later, when Abe is about to give up all hope, she shows up and the pair settle in for a life of desert bliss.
When Tony Gomez escapes from a brutal Texas prison and approaches a quaint country house in the night, he has no idea his chances for survival may have been better behind bars.
Tony Gomez, a “framed” prison inmate has been marked for murder by bigoted head guard, Billy Parrish.
Tony escapes and makes his way during the night into the surrounding countryside. In an attempt to steal money and car keys, he breaks into what appears to be a typical, quaint, country home. But he soon finds out that the home belongs to a deranged couple, the Marshalls, who are devil worshippers and child slave traders.
Taken prisoner once again, but this time with a group of frightened, abused children, Tony becomes determined to escape and free the kids. Meanwhile, his pregnant wife, who’s life is also in danger from the vindictive head guard, Billy Parrish, flees her home and escapes to her parents’ home in Mexico.
The Marshalls confine Tony, a hysterical teenage girl and her spunky ten year old bother, in a small “closet.” Tony makes his way out, crawls into a dank network of tunnels and finds even more children. He begins to scour the dark tunnel area for an escape route.
At the same time, a murderous and determined Billy Parrish begins scouring the countryside, going door to door in search of Tony.
Tony finally finds cellar door. He breaks out with the kids and hurries them to a barn where a camper truck is parked. As Tony is searching the truck for keys, he is hit over the head with a board. It’s the Marshalls, of course, and they decide this guy is just too much of a risk. A ceremony is called for — a sacrificial ceremony in which Tony and one of the kids, the teenage girl, will be put to death.
Just as Tony and the girl are about to be sacrificed, Tony manages to escape. He disappears into the labyrinth of tunnels under the house. The Marshall’s come after him. In a combined effort by Tony and the kids, Tony takes the Marshalls prisoner, and everything finally seems to be under control. But…
At that moment, Billy Parrish pulls up in his police sedan.
Eventually, Parrish captures Tony. He figures he’s finally won, but he gets a deadly surprise. The Marshalls realize that, just like Tony, they will be busted for their illicit activities. Their solution? Eliminate both threats. First unload a double barrel shotgun into Parrish, then Tony.
Parrish they get, but Tony makes a break for it. He eventually overcomes the Marshalls and saves all the kids. He then goes back to court and gets his name cleared. And with his wife and new baby as his side, begins a brand new life.
An unlikely college student becomes a lethal killing machine determined to pay back the murderous drug lord in Belize who tortured and killed his parents.
Tom Steele, a frail, intelligent, handsome college boy, vacations with his wealthy parents in Belize. While en route to a Mayan ruins tour, the threesome is kidnapped and taken deep into the jungle by a local drug lord. The boy is forced to watch as his mother is raped and murdered. His father is also brutally killed and Tom, himself, is shot, thrown off a cliff, and left for dead.
Days later Tom is discovered in the bush by a peasant and his daughter. Barely clinging to life, he is rushed to a local hospital. Once stabilized, he is flown home and receives emergency surgery, months of recuperation and a long period of intense physical therapy.
After his hospital stay, he is initially gripped by suicidal waves of depression. But this soon gives way to intense anger and determination. He trains in the martial arts, explosives, weapons and jungle warfare. He becomes an obsessed, lethal killing machine armed to the teeth for a pay-back visit to the Central American jungles.
He makes the trip back and is stunned to find his father’s “best friend”, an American congressman, sharing wine and hors d’oeuvres with the drug lord who did the killing. As it turns out, this “friend” had set up his family for assassination because Tom’s father was spearheading an effort in the war on drugs.
When Tom again leaves the country for home, the drug lord has been impaled, the congressman and his wife have been incinerated, and the killer’s small military-like camp, once full of brutal “soldiers,” is a smoldering pile of rubble and dead bodies left to rot in the jungle.
The Culver City Jumper
After a 36 hour drinking binge, a former big league pitcher has no recollection of the ten year old boy he has left paralyzed and near death.
A young, hard drinking sportswriter interviews John Frantz, a former big league pitcher who once had an incredible pitch called The Culver City Jumper, but is now a hopeless alcoholic.
In flashback, John tells the writer…
Two years after being thrown out of the league, in spite of a loving, supportive wife, and nearly adopting a son, he ended up in a bar one night – blitzed. That same night, a 10 year old mulatto boy, Tommy Watson, was abandoned with $200 and a pocket full of baseball cards. Though mildly retarded, Tommy’s passion was for big league pitchers. One of the cards features John when he was at the height of his career.
John and Tommy are thrown into a relationship of mutual need. Initially John needs Tommy’s $200 to buy more booze, but the boy also begins to represent redemption and the son he has always wanted. Tommy sees John as a hero, and a savior. The two set out hitchhiking to Tommy’s home in Portland, Oregon. John stays drunk during through the entire journey and the pair experience a series of frightening, exciting, dangerous and heart wrenching adventures.
John is raped at gun point by a huge woman off an isolated stretch of the I-5 freeway. He and Tommy are chased by the Highway Patrol. They crawl into the luggage compartment of a charter bus headed for a mountain resort. Later, the huge woman claims rape and an All-Points-Bulletin is issued. John’s distraught wife, her adoption counselor, and her infuriated in-laws, catch it all on “News at 11:00”
Throughout their volatile relationship, John’s wife has remained dedicated, loving and supportive. Since John’s disappearance, she has been distraught. Because the adoption they have nearly finalized is falling through, and her father increases pressure on her to divorce John, her distress grows even worse.
John’s craving for booze leads him to slap Tommy, in a small mountain min-mart, when the boy refuses to give him money. This leads to an attack by John on the store owner who tries to intervene to protect Tommy. John steals the store owner’s truck and races away into the night with Tommy. Meanwhile, a detective is closing in on the pair
John runs the truck off an embankment and smashes it into a tree. He is ejected. He rushes to the vehicle to discover that Tommy is paralyzed. After a freezing trek through the woods, John leaves Tommy in a barn and goes for help. He breaks into a vacant cabin, cutting his leg badly, then passes out from loss of blood. He wakes up in a hospital 36 hours later. His wife and the detective are present. John has no recollection of the past few days — or the boy. After a frantic search, the boy is found near death.
Returning to the present…John and the writer are finishing the interview. The writer can’t believe what he’s heard.. John says that after serving 22 years of a 30 year sentence, he returned to drinking and “found” himself. He discovered that he is simply a no-good bastard, and it is this knowledge that now allows him to sleep at night and continue living…and drinking.
The writer vows never to take another drink. He confides in John that he was adopted. As the two part ways, we realize he was the boy John and his wife almost adopted years earlier. So, ironically, John has led by example – turning the young man, who could have been his son, away from booze. And before the two part ways, he tells the young writer the never disclosed secret of his famous pitch – the Culver City Jumper.
(Based on the novel, Moonmare)
A small team of astronauts is sent to the back side of the moon to destroy the world’s first man-made organism – a horse-like creature named Moonmare. They are unaware that the power-mad Vice President who murdered her creator has also arranged a nuclear blast to destroy them and all traces of the project.
After years of highly classified research the first man-made organism, a horse- like creature named Moonmare, is “born” on the dark side of the moon. Her purpose is to give the United States entry into a new era of space exploration. Shortly after her birth, however, something goes terribly wrong. Her digital “language” is garbled into an unintelligible stream of radio signals and she is left going mad and wandering in the lunar night.
Against the wishes of the scientist who created her, a small, top secret team of astronauts is sent to the moon to find and destroy Moonmare. One of those astronauts is Jack Moore, a disgruntled Lieutenant Colonel who was secretly planning retirement.
Jack’s fiancé, Muriel Olsen, is an extremely fragile, unstable woman with a childhood history of sexual abuse. Finding Jack has been the single pillar of strength in her life and when he suddenly disappears with virtually no explanation she is thrown onto a psychological roller coaster of fear and anxiety.
As Jack trains in isolation for his mission, he begins to suspect that a government cover up surrounds the Moonmare project and the Vice President who spearheaded her
creation is somehow involved. He also worries terribly about Muriel who he fears is struggling through a series of intense psychiatric sessions.
Jack reaches the Moon and Muriel winds up in a mental hospital. And as Jack confronts Moonmare, he realizes all his suspicions were correct – she is a mutant genetic organism, containing animal as well as human genes, and she has been driven mad by a network of computer programmed “Callers” designed to control her.
Jack can’t bring himself to destroy Moonmare, but his compassion is in vain. The Vice President has secretly planned the last detail of this mission – including a failsafe nuclear blast that is designed to wipe out all traces of Moonmare and the astronaut team.
As the back of the moon is engulfed in a fireball, it seems the Vice President has won. He doesn’t realize that Jack has secretly left behind a record of the entire mission, including his suspicions, and Muriel has now gained new strength and determination as she prepares to reveal Jack’s story to the world.
The Simian Bridge
(Based on the novel, The Simian Bridge)
A wealthy but unhappy couple rushes to Africa to rescue their estranged son. They are drugged, abandoned in a jungle wilderness, and left no choice but to cross a mysterious ancient bridge.
Sam Waltrick, a wealthy, burned out CEO and his wife Alice, travel to Africa to rescue their son, Christopher, from what they believe is a dangerous cult initiation. After following an ominous set of instructions, they are drugged and abandoned in a jungle clearing. They cross a mysterious, ancient bridge, and in a stunningly beautiful tropical forest, experience an astonishing transformation. But was it real? Part of a cult initiation? Or was it brought on by the spores of a rare hallucinogenic flower called the Spider Eye?
On their return home, Sam and Alice feel sure that what they’ve experienced was real, but their daughter, Jennifer, a tough-as-nails business woman, is convinced they have been duped and are being swept into a dangerous cult scam. Her fears are heightened when she learns that the Spider Eye flowers grow in the area her parents visited. With the help of her fiancé, a San Francisco police officer, she secretly informs the FBI.
Against the wishes of their daughter, Sam and Alice return to Africa, while being secretly followed by the FBI. Their goal is to unlock the spiritual secrets in the wilderness beyond the ancient bridge. Sam and Christopher cross the bridge and vanish in the jungle. Their disappearance, while never fully explained, is assumed to be the work of a criminal cult.
Years later, Alice dies a broken woman and Jennifer marries and has a child. And as the world teeters on the brink of a cataclysmic, religious war, one day Jennifer learns that a professor of archeology has uncovered mysterious bones in the jungle near where her brother and father disappeared. He has also discovered ancient writings that seem to connect her father’s and brother’s disappearance to the final links of an incredible story. Jennifer travels to meet the professor and finds proof that there was never a cult connection, the hallucinogenic flowers were not involved, and what her father and brother had claimed was true.
Having gained the secret knowledge hidden beyond the SimianBridge, Christopher returns from the jungles. And as every human being on earth suddenly and simultaneously experiences a miracle of overwhelming spiritual clarity, the chosen son prepares to face the world and avert an impending religious Armageddon.
The Orren Question
Has the President been abducted? Drugged? Or has he had a nervous breakdown and disappeared on his own? When CIA agent Karen Paulson tries to unravel this mystery, she has no idea that her alcoholic husband will provide the answer.
CIA agent Karen Paulson is in the middle of a violent argument with her drunk husband when she gets an urgent call. Karen’s boss, the Director of the CIA, tells her the President of the United States has vanished.
Thirty minutes later Karen is seated in a small White House conference room. The Vice President is at the podium. Also in the room is a group of key people, including FBI and Secret Service agents.
According to the Vice President, earlier that evening the President and his wife had attended the opera. The President went to the bathroom and a Secret Service agent posted beside the door became suspicious when he did not come out after ten minutes. The agent entered but found only an open window and one of the President’s cuff links.
The Vice President admits there is one other highly sensitive fact that he must make the group aware of. The President had been under extreme pressure for several months. Though he had been treated by his personal physician, he had begun acting erratically. Though this could well be a terrorist abduction, he continues, the President may have had a nervous breakdown and run away on his own.
That night a bombshell is dropped on Karen. She is contacted by the President. He tells her that he has gone into hiding because his wife and the Vice President have
been having an affair and they are planning his assassination.
Between bouts of dealing with her fragmented personal life (an unstable daughter and alcoholic husband) Karen finds that the Vice President and the First Lady do in deed seem to be more than just friends. But she also meets with the President in secret and finds that he is acting strangely out of character. Is he paranoid? Is his fear real? Should Karen expose his whereabouts for his own good? Or would this play into the coup attempt he is convinced has been launched against him?
She struggles frantically to find the missing link in this puzzle, but the answer eludes her time and again. The more she explores, however, the more she begins to feel that the Vice-President and perhaps even the President’s doctor are somehow involved in his disappearance.
Finally, as she checks her husband into a rehab. center and he receives an injection during his medical exam, the light bulb goes off – the President is on drugs – time-release drugs injected by his personal physician and designed to slowly drive him mad.
When she reaches the President the effects of the drugs have brought him to a crazed state. He is in the process of commandeering a helicopter. As the chopper lifts off, Karen manages to climb aboard and inject the President with a powerful sedative.
Later, with the President restored to the White House, the Vice President imprisoned in shame, and the President’s physician dead from suicide, Karen rushes back to her husband’s and daughter’s sides. There she promises she will start a new life and the three begin their own process of healing and recovery.