THE FIRST LADY LOGLINE
Premise: The first First Lady to divorce a sitting US President flees to her native Los Angeles to plot a return to political life. However, she meets an ageing professor and a problematic political romance develops.
Setting: Los Angeles coffee shop and sidewalks. Then the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC.
Time: Early 2035.
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THE FIRST LADY – CAST
First Lady (58): The first First Lady to divorce a sitting US President. She has escaped to her hometown of Los Angeles to plot a return to political life. I would like to say, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” but I can’t she’s gentile and ladylike, as the political tradition calls for. However, she can be a bit rough, and the audience might suspect she’s out for revenge, but she plays it very cool. Maybe she’s looking for love. Perhap political revenge. Perhaps BOTH. In the end, she could play the victim, but instead choses to be the hero. Might be an actress that walks and talks like Laura Dern, 50 something and alive!
Professor (78): Retired professor of political science with a shadey past. Wise and witty, but he’s dying of almost every disease. He may simply be trying to seduce the former First Lady. Or he may be looking to gather up some political power with his final months/years. He has some interesting political theories but at the same time he may be just flatering the First Lady. Spent a night in jail for raising greyhounds. He has a right-wing or libratarian ideology, but chiefly he sees his job as winning political revenge for the First Lady. Might be an actor similar to Bruce Dern, seventy-eighty something, cowboy and wily.
Barista: Alfred coffee shop employee and cheerleader for love.
Principal: Elementary school principal. PR savy.
Teacher: Has an idea about school safety.
Birthday Girl: Celbrating her 100th birthday.
Daughter: Possible trickster.
Juvenile: He’s lost his lizard.
TV Journo: She’s just reporting the facts.
Racer: He wants to race AND have a girlfriend.
Street Hustler: Grifter with a trivia game hustle.
Two Hair Stylists: One long and one short.
Four Cops: Three are involved in a conspiracy.
President: Apparently had affairs with a dozen reporters.
New First Lady: Former White House reporter. Too pretty for the job… she leveled up by marrying the newly divorced president.
Speaker of the House: Politican who only wants to move things along smoothly.
Chief Justice: Patiantly waits for noon.
Congressional Leaders: Typical morons.
Communications Aide: Lost kid.
News Anchor: Mild mannered.
Commentator: Sexist ass.
HOLLYWIRE INTERVIEW EXCERPTS – 01/29/22
Romantic Comedy – The First Lady
HOLLYWIRE: It’s a bit long for a rom-com. Maybe it’s a rom-drama? But the end hints at an action or political drama sequel or series?
NAFZGER: Weekend At Bernie’s was what? Over 250 pages? So I don’t wanna hear about it. Look, I have cancer. I’m not spending the last weeks of my life editing something that’s going to be edited, altered and misunderstood. I wouldn’t touch it if I were totally healthy. There’ll be a director and guess what? An editor. And really, what’s the matter with letting the actors just do their own thing at the table reading. Fucking Hollywood morons. I’m sick of their shit. Fucking uneducated dorks. Why do they have the phrase, “cutting room floor” you know? “My scene made the cutting room floor.” Fucking film it and sort it out later. If the scene works then it works. If it doesn’t big fucking deal. Oh, it costs money; those fuckers are rolling in it. And its all digital now so what are they actually spending money on?
HOLLYWIRE: Is it a Rom-Com?
NAFZGER: It depends if you like the puns and wordplay. Is that comedy. I think it is for Woody Allen. But that was a long time ago. I think the bantering is funny. But what’s actually funny changes. And I’m old.
HOLLYWIRE: Your character in the script doesn’t cuss, but apparently…
NAFZGER: I do, ergo, that’s not my character. This is fiction and it’s about the least personal script I’ve ever written. There isn’t a First Lady that’s independent of her husband and if there was one out there… she’s still out of my league.
HOLLYWIRE: But she uses colored language.
NAFZGER: And the language… well, they are from different generations. He was raised in the 50s. And she was raised in the 70s, more or less. You don’t actually know anyone raised in the 50s, do you?
HOLLYWIRE: Now about the First Lady character?
NAFZGER: Some jackass said this was Hillary Clinton. Actually, Hillary might have something to do with it. My character is her antitheis. She didn’t divorce her cheating husband, that would have taken real guts. Clinton never wore a yellow bikini and she sure as hell never surfed.
The First Lady, just like everyone… just like the professor is happy talking to someone new. I know there are chemicals in the brain that govern all this… and just because there isn’t a live person and just because you’re at a desk and computer (not a woman in 30 miles.
HOLLYWIRE: Where did you write the script.
NAFZGER: It took a week and I was in Marfa, Texas. So, yes there were women around. Actually, it’s a nice sort of “musey” town. Is that even a word, musey. Honestly, buy anyone of twenty ladies there an enchilada dinner and a dozen will be your muse for a week or more.
HOLLYWIRE: Did you have an actual female muse?
NAFZGER: No, I was dying. I AM dying… hard to believe actually. My is and was is broken. I’m rotting inside and probably already smelling. What was I supposed to do in Martha? Drop this on some poor woman. I’ve had times in my life when I had little class, but there is something about the end of… there comes a time when you just wanna stop fucking up. I just wrote it and left town.
HOLLYWIRE: Now listen I have it from a separate source that the muse was Laura Dern and that you took much of it from conversations you has with her in the Beverly Hills Alfred’s.
NAFZGER: How is Alfred’s? They tell me it’s nice. I learned a few things from Larry McMurtry, who was of course a genius at this. One, make the characters simply likeable but their flaws should be complex. And two, never talk about anything with a woman. If you print that or say it on air, she’ll probably want to sue you. It sounds like a publicity stunt to me.
HOLLYWIRE: Did you ever consider casting her father as the professor?
HOLLYWIRE: At the end, are you saying that the White House was behind the attack on the First Lady.
NAFZGER: You actually read it?
HOLLYWIRE: You’re surprised?
NAFZGER: Yes, what is up with that? And well, you read it like an actress would? God, thank you. You may go somewhere with that level of attention. This industry could use a few people not afraid to work.
What doesn’t the First Lady have a name?
HOLLYWIRE: Well, about their names? They don’t have names.
NAFZGER: No, they have positions/rank. There positions in life are their identity. That’s the story. If you wanna call them something, Dick and Jane. Tristan and Isolde. Okay, fine but I’m not sure that helps the story, so I didn’t call them by any name. I’ll tell you what; let’s make a deal. You pay me, or my heirs, and you can call then anything you like. Knock yourself out, after the check clears.
A Surfing First Lady?
HOLLYWIRE: You have a thing for surfing?
NAFZGER: Doesn’t everyone? I wrote a hell of a surfing story and the fuckers in this town wouldn’t read it. They don’t know me. They would easily check and see I’m not a fraudster. I mean that’s easy and basically the reason we have the copyright office. Fucking lawyers have persuaded this entire town not to read anything. Fuck, I’d like an office and a job that basically is only having to read eight scripts a year. Dick The Butcher, now he knows how to make movies.
Long Scenes Cancel First Lady
HOLLYWIRE: There is a strict rule in filmmaking no scenes long than a few pages. The executives will object.
NAFZGER: We’ll I object to them as well.
HOLLYWIRE: But you will have to tell a story people will watch.
NAFZGER: I don’t really know what to say to that. It’s the story of a “first date”… a long and extended first date together. And if you think a former First Lady or woman with her dignity intact would leave even a benign LA coffee shop without a few hours of wordplay and cross-examination, then you are a moron.
HOLLYWIRE: What’s with the, “Meatloaf died,” line?
NAFZGER: The professor is fucked up. He probably knows its. For me when I was writing it, he was always struggling to keep things afloat. You know how it is with a new spark. With the prospect of this new romance, the First Lady doesn’t really notice his condition until the end or he’s hidden it successfully.
Advice Giver Characters
HOLLYWIRE: There is the race car driver, the kid that lost the lizard and there is…
NAFZGER: The birthday party and the teacher. Yes.
HOLLYWIRE: What’s up with them?
NAFZGER: It’s a silly literary trick… it’s the called the “advice giver” character. In other words, you judge or know a character based on the advise they give.
HOLLYWIRE: So you are talking to the audience.
NAFZGER: Well, couples I think test each other out. The avice and time spend pondering other people… that’s the First Lady and the professor, speaking to each other.
First Lady Locations
HOLLYWIRE: How did set the locations.
NAFZGER: It’s just random things I saw on Google street maps. I tried to find a neighbourhood sort of between new and old, rich and poor.
The First Lady I wanted her to have a home base in a neighbourhood where she would be comfortable… but as a political creature she would need to venture out and see the world, but if it got too much she could always run back to the safety of Avenue of the Stars.
The Professor is there. Probably going from business to business, coffee shop to coffee shop, at this time of day… maybe hoping someone would overhear or like his Chupacabra spin.
HOLLYWIRE: You really used Google Maps?
NAFZGER: All the time. I’m a geography freak.
HOLLYWIRE: Not a bad thing to be.
NAFZGER: Thanks. Every place has a story. Every address, every building. I’ve never written a story about a place I haven’t been personally. But I have written stories based on street’s I’ve never been to personally. Street View is a great writer’s tool.
HOLLYWIRE: What’s the part about reincarnation about?
NAFZGER: Well, it might be a trade secret. But that’s to plant in the female audience’s mind that maybe he’s just a player… trying to seduce her. The women, who are watching, might already by this time think he could be a player… a casanova, but just in case I added this. The idea of a real Ph.D. believing just hog-wash… well it’s pretty far out there.
HOLLYWIRE: Can you expound on that?
NAFZGER: Well, basically everything between a man and a woman are arguments, pros and cons if you want. The farther a man goes with his logic or flattery, the more he exposes himself to frivolity.
HOLLYWIRE: What about international markets? The American politics is obscure to people outside of the USA and you know 70% of this towns profit come from international sales. Have you had a lot of opposition to this because foreign audiences might not get it?
NAFZGER: Listen to the premise of the question. Hollywood would balk at making a film because it’s set in Hollywood, USA? The Chinese haven’t bought us all out yet.
And besides, human nature hasn’t changed all that much as I travel about, anyway. They still have men and women and only a few countries don’t allow divorce. And by the way, they still have divorce; they just call it something else – separation or annulment. But they have Presidents (leaders) and Frist Ladies (the spouses). They know about men and women in and out of power.
I’ll admit there is some political jargon in it. But it’s two educated people speaking to each other. And there isn’t any jargon or concepts in the script that aren’t directly from a freshman American Government textbook. The two characters are tied together by the fact they taught poli sci on a campus.
If there is a reason for Hollywood to reject it, it’s that the script is a conversation with two educated adults. Most adults in this industry aren’t actually educated, so of course, they will feel slighted and made fun of.
Listen, don’t sell American politics short. The entire world knew about Bill and Hillary Clinton. So, I don’t know why anyone would balk at a White House divorce. The character in my script isn’t Hillary, actually, she’s the opposite.
HOLLYWIRE: Explain to me about the ideology.
NAFZGER: It’s centrist. Totally centrist. Actually, I made a list of arguments, lampooning or leaning… and drew arrows left, right or up. I did this before I began. Readers with a socialist bent, the least tolerant people, might pick something up here or there they don’t like. But the balancing items…well, I don’t know how they would even know what the right is arguing. The rank and file left don’t listen to anyone but their leadership and probably can’t read.