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Castaways

by Elinor


INT. DRESSING ROOM - DAY

VALERIE (30), tall, beautiful, sits in a makeup chair, attended to by a MAKEUP ARTIST. Her hair is perfectly coiffed, and she’s dressed in a sparkled evening gown.

A RADIO plays a classic Hawaiian tune, something like “Sweet Leilani”. It’s 1964, a forgotten time.

The Makeup Artist sets her brushes down, and hands Valerie a mirror.

VALERIE

It’s perfect.

Valerie stands up, and leaves her dressing room.

INT. STUDIO SOUNDSTAGE - DAY

Valerie leaves her dressing room and emerges on a set that’s been made to look like a tropical island. One would barely guess it’s in the middle in Los Angeles.

A clock tells us it’s seven in the morning, and the set is still sparse of CREW MEMBERS.

She sits on her chair, where a script is waiting for her. Beside her, DINAH (25), wide-eyed, sweet, already sits, reading a newspaper.

VALERIE

What are they saying about us today?

DINAH

That we’re awful as ever.

Valerie laughs ruefully.

DINAH (CONT’D)

Read this one. “Valerie Ross and Dinah Strong do their best to elevate the material, but unfortunately, there’s only so much even Laurence Oliver would be able to do with such poorly conceived characters.”

Valerie bites her lip. Then, she picks up her script.

VALERIE

Did you’d ever think you’d end up here?

DINAH

What do you mean?

VALERIE

I left Broadway to do this show, you know.

Their attention is drawn to TED (29), lanky but with a kind face. He’s a ways on set, juggling prop coconuts. Dinah and Valerie both laugh.

VALERIE (CONT’D)

He’s funny.

Dinah yawns.

DINAH

Can’t they push makeup a half hour later?

VALERIE

We’re women, aren’t we?

Valerie gives her a half smile.

INT. STUDIO SOUNDSTAGE - LATER

Ted, Valerie and Dinah film a scene. Unlike most comedies, there’s no studio audience. But the three are so natural, so genuinely funny, it’s hard for the crew to keep a straight face.

EXT. STUDIO SOUNDSTAGE - NIGHT

Valerie leaves for the night, wearing regular clothes. It’s late, and most everyone is already gone for the night.

She catches eyes with Dinah and Ted, chatting off to the side. They wave to her, and she waves back.

EXT. FAST FOOD STAND - NIGHT

Valerie gets a milkshake and fries from a fast food stand. Just then, a FAN approaches her.

FAN

Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but aren’t you-

Valerie’s eyes widen, knowing where this is going.

VALERIE

No, I’m sorry.

She walks off into the night.

INT. VALERIE’S APARTMENT - DAY

New York. It’s now 1969. Valerie, now 35, sits on her couch, on the phone.

VALERIE

No, I understand. You have to pick the right person for the part. Thank you.

She hangs up the phone, dejected, and slumps back into the couch. Valerie looks at a black and white picture on her wall of her with Dinah.

Just then, ANDY (36) enters. Square jawed, handsome. He joins her on the couch.

ANDY

What’s going on?

VALERIE

I didn’t get it.

Andy puts his arms around her.

ANDY

That’s all right. Something will be right around the corner. I know it.

VALERIE

We’ve been saying that for two years now. No one’s going to want to cast me in anything else because that’s all they see. That show. It’s going to haunt me my whole life.

ANDY

Don’t be so hard on yourself. It couldn’t have been that horrible.

There’s a long pause before Valerie responds.

VALERIE

No.

Valerie looks back at the picture of her and Dinah. She smiles wryly.

VALERIE (CONT’D)

(barely audibly)

It wasn’t.

INT. STUDIO SOUNDSTAGE - DAY

1964. Lunch. While the crew eats, Valerie, Ted and Dinah, each in costume, sit in a circle, reading their fan mail.

DINAH

(reading out loud)

I was in love with you from the moment I saw you, and I knew we were meant to be.

She can’t get through the rest of it without laughing.

TED

No, you’ve got to do a dramatic reading.

Dinah is still laughing.

DINAH

I can’t.

Ted takes the letter.

TED

(imitating Humphrey Bogart)

I was in love with you from the moment I saw you.

Then they see Valerie, silently reading a letter of her own, trying hard not to laugh.

TED (CONT’D)

What’s yours say?

Valerie, still biting her lip, gives the letter for Ted to read. As he does, he laughs too.

VALERIE

Why do we get all the crazies?

TED

That’s Hollywood.

VALERIE

Peter was saying that some people thought we were real castaways?

DINAH

What?

TED

Okay, that’s funny.

The three share a laugh.

INT. STUDIO SOUNDSTAGE - DAY

1964. Another morning, waiting on set. As crew members mill about, Valerie, Dinah and Ted sit in their chairs, reading through a scene.

Just then, a NETWORK EXECUTIVE approaches them. They stop.

EXECUTIVE

Excuse me, I didn’t mean to interrupt your work.

VALERIE

That’s okay.

EXECUTIVE

Listen, the network wants the three of you to visit the children’s hospital. As your characters. Ratings are good as ever, but... everyone just thinks it’s a good idea.

They listen.

EXECUTIVE (CONT’D)

These kids, life dealt them a bad hand, and seeing all of you, it’ll make their day.

VALERIE

Yes, of course.

INT. HOSPITAL LOBBY - DAY

Ted, Valerie and Dinah sit in an isolated corner of the lobby, bags beside them. They’re dressed in plain clothes, but still people stop. Do double takes.

VALERIE

Do that many people really watch our show?

TED

Guess so.

A DOCTOR approaches them.

DOCTOR

Hi everyone. So glad you could make it.

They all stand up. Shake hands.

DOCTOR (CONT’D)

My daughters love the show, by the way.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

JANE (4), a visibly sick girl, sees the two of them. Her mouth opens when sees Valerie in costume.

JANE

Anna!

Valerie walks up to her. Kneels down, and takes her hand.

VALERIE

Hi, sweetheart.

JANE

You made it off the island!

VALERIE

Yeah, we did.

JANE

And Johnny and Lauren are okay too?

VALERIE

Yeah. We all made it back. A big boat came in and rescued us.

JANE

Yay!

Just then, Jane shuffles through the cards on her end table, and takes out a piece of paper. It’s a drawing she made of the entire cast.

JANE (CONT’D)

That’s all of you.

VALERIE

I love it. Thank you.

JANE

It’s for you.

VALERIE

Thank you.

JANE

Are you going to star in more movies now?

VALERIE

I hope so.

JANE

Will you miss the island?

VALERIE

I don’t know.

The nurse smiles. Jane and Valerie continue to talk.

INT. VALERIE’S APARTMENT - DAY

1969. Valerie is alone in her apartment. She turns on the television, flipping through channels. Just then, she sees her face. Black and white, reciting ridiculous dialogue. The laugh track. She blushes and turns the TV off.

She looks back at the picture of her and Dinah. She sighs deeply.

INT. STUDIO - DAY

1952. A seventeen year old VALERIE performs a Shakespearean monologue for a DIRECTOR, old and stuffy.

VALERIE

My courage try by combat, if thou darest, and thou shalt find that I exceed my sex. Resolve on this, thou shalt be fortunate, if thou receive me for thy warlike mate.

DIRECTOR

Very good. Have a seat, Valerie.

Valerie, nervous, does.

DIRECTOR (CONT’D)

Tell me about yourself.

VALERIE

I was born in New York. Lived there all my life. Been acting since I was 2.

DIRECTOR

So you want to come to Ohio to study theater?

VALERIE

Well, would be nice to get out of the city.

DIRECTOR

Why do you want to be an actress?

VALERIE

Well...

Valerie’s eyes go distant.

VALERIE (CONT’D)

I grew up watching Bette Davis and Vivien Leigh... I guess there was a part of me that wanted to be like them. But the other part, well, getting to step into someone else’s life, have a moment, make someone feel, I think that’s really special.

DIRECTOR

Why’d you pick Joan of Arc? For your monologue?

VALERIE

Oh. Because she’s brilliant.

DIRECTOR

Most girls come in with Romeo and Juliet.

Valerie smiles nervously.

DIRECTOR (CONT’D)

What’s your dream?

VALERIE

Oh, I’d love to star in pictures.

DIRECTOR

Well, Valerie, I think we can make this work.

She beams. 

DIRECTOR (CONT’D)

You’ve got something. You do.

FADE OUT.


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107 Reviews


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Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:56 pm
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Gnomish wrote a review...



Hello!

I'd like to start by saying that the script itself is very detailed, almost half like a novel. I'm not sure if that's what most scripts are like, but it's just an observation.

The only thing I noticed is that each scene doesn't seem to have much content in it. I've tried my hand at writing scripts and I understand how hard it is to fill one up, but it seems like it's just a few lines of dialogue, which would be almost inconsequential if you have to switch the scenes every few seconds.

Before I close off this review I'd like to mention that I like how you jump around with the time period, going from during the making of the show, to after, to being back to a teen.




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Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:28 am
BluesClues wrote a review...



Before I begin to attempt a review (knowing barely anything about script-writing), a couple things I noticed:

ANDY

What’s going on?

VALERIE

I didn’t get it.


Todd puts his arms around her.


I think maybe you changed the name Todd to Andy at some point in the life of this scene but forgot this instance of the original.

Black in white, reciting ridiculous dialogue.


I could be wrong, but I've always heard "black and white" if you mean the show wasn't in color. But also you know a lot more than film than me.

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) for you, I have little to give you in terms of constructive criticism, because I know so little about script-writing.

(Although fun fact today I wrote my first script for a new weekly school newscast we're doing. So that was,,,something.)

Anyway, because of that, I'm going to focus on what I like and hope some of it is helpful. One thing that struck me as I read was the way you described characters very minimally - rather than focusing on specific physical features that would really limit casting, you describe people in more general terms, like "wide-eyed, sweet" and "square-jawed, handsome," that nonetheless get the basic imagery across. The first image of Valerie in particular puts me in mind of some Golden Age starlet:

VALERIE (30), tall, beautiful, sits in a makeup chair, attended to by a MAKEUP ARTIST. Her hair is perfectly coiffed, and she’s dressed in a sparkled evening gown.


Similarly, I like how sparse you are with your backstory - yet I still get a lot out of it. (And because you start in 1964 and go forward to '69 and then back I don't even feel like I can properly call the '64 scenes "flashbacks"?) Like, Valerie was a young hopeful who wanted to be a great actress and star in a movie...but then she threw her hopes into a trashy sitcom that, although popular, was never considered great by any standards. And so, despite being a truly talented actress, Valerie has never been able to barter her experience from that show into a movie role. And worse luck, she's perfectly well aware that she gave up a dazzling Broadway career for a badly-written show, and so ashamed of having done it that she tries not to even let fans recognize her.

Although at the same time it seems like she really had a lot - a good career, if not a glamorous one (seems like a show that popular would've at least paid the bills, and she had lots of legitimate fans if not for the reasons she precisely wanted), and great friends who had a wonderful time together. I don't think she's particularly grateful for that, but I see it there.

Honestly the main criticism I have is that it's absolutely wild to me that a native New Yorker would move to Ohio to study theater. But.....this was 1952, I guess. So maybe that was actually a thing? Wild.

Also I do not appreciate the implication that Dinah's either dead or not her friend anymore??? #rude

But then again if they split over the show or if the show was finally canceled because Dinah died or something, I guess I could see more how she'd really resent the show more than appreciate the good times she had on it (except for like half a second when Andy reminds her). Actually, on that note, I guess another potential criticism is that it's unclear whether the destroyed career is more the focus or if the point is that Valerie is so focused on that aspect that she's forgotten all the good things or....uh...I had another point but it's late and I lost it. My main point is that a potential criticism could be that the script could seem almost split in purpose? I'm not at all sure I'm articulating this well, but this is what you get for getting a review from someone who is tired, home after a four-hour night class, and clueless about script writing. Hopefully it at least gives you something to think about, and with any luck other reviewers will read my review, see what I'm saying, and can explain it better than I apparently can.




Elinor says...


I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I fixed the little errors, and your review is helpful because it tells me the point of the script is coming across, which is exactly this:

the point is that Valerie is so focused on that aspect that she's forgotten all the good things


That's the idea ;) Even if it's not a prestige show, a lot of people find value in it and it's reaching a wide audience, so she is a successful actress, it just didn't come way she expected it to.

Dinah isn't dead... I think they just lost touch after the show ended and haven't really spoken in a while sense.

Get some rest! Thanks for reading my script! <3




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