"STINKBUTT PART TWO"
by Robert Nowall
ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: A Daria/NewsRadio crossover parody...or is it a NewsRadio/Daria crossover parody?
SENSIBLE ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: A new intern comes to WNYX; meanwhile, Matthew is posting fan fiction on the ĎNet.
DAVE NELSON, news director of WNYX, ringmaster of the circus, the soul of patience.
LISA MILLER, ambitious reporter and Daveís sometimes love-interest.
MATTHEW BROCK, less-ambitious reporter, staff "klutz."
JOE GARELLI: staff repairman, conspiracy-theory buff.
BETH: street-savvy sarcastic secretary.
MAX LEWIS: on-air personality, professional lunatic.
JIMMY JAMES: always-present interfering billionaire owner of WNYX
(1) The Lobby, the area where the gang come in and out, and where the elevators are.
(2) The Bullpen, where all the desk are, where the gang pretends to work, with The Booth right in the back.
(3) The Booth, where WNYX goes out over the air from, where the on-air talent spout nonsense and nobody pays attention.
(4) The Break Room, where lunches are sometimes eaten and the gang visit if they need a private moment that doesnít require a toilet.
(5) The Conference Table, where they meet in the mornings and pretend to lay out the day.
(6) Daveís Office, where Dave calls people on the carpet and tries to get some work done.
Also seen in this episode: the ground floor lobby.
(CONFERENCE TABLE. MORNING)
(The usual gang is there. Dave Nelson, Lisa Miller, Matthew Brock, Joe Garelli, Beth, and Max Lewis. Dave is standing and speaking.)
DAVE: ...I have a couple of things. (Looks at clipboard) I remind everybody that we will have a new intern joining us this morning, a Ms. Daria Morgendorffer.
(An outburst of chuckles from the staff)
JOE: Dude, where did you dig this one up?
BETH: Yeah, Dave, I mean, Morgendorffer?
DAVE: Now, guys...
MATTHEW: Dave, is this going to be another one of those times where we have to spend all day showing some yahoo how to do our jobs?
DAVE: Matthew, I wouldnít ask you to show anybody how you do your job.
(Matthew looks pleased with himself at this comment)
DAVE: Now, seriously. (Looks at clipboard) She comes from Lawndale.
MATTHEW: (laughs while speaking) Lawndale, whereís Lawndale?
LISA: Somewhere in Connecticut, I think.
DAVE: Really? I thought it was California.
JOE: I thought it was in Texas, man.
DAVE: Well, when she gets here we can ask her. All I know is sheís a high school student, sheíll be here at ten, and sheíll be interning here for a couple of weeks.
LISA: Dave... a high school student?
DAVE: She comes highly recommended.
BETH: So some just-out-of-diapers girl from the suburbs is going to come in and do our jobs? Oh, please, Dave, give us a break.
DAVE: Look, I wouldnít be so hard on this girl if I were you. Mr. Jamesís office set this up.
JOE: Oh, if Mr. James set it up, then itís all right.
(Everybody mutters agreement.)
DAVE: (looks at Max) Max, youíve been quiet. When someone makes fun of somebody, you usually you join right in.
MAX: I know what youíre up to. I know what youíre all up to. (Pause, as the others stare at him.) This is all a plot against me, isnít it?
MAX: (practically crying) Youíre bringing this girl in to replace me? Well, it wonít work, I tell you! It---wonít---work! (Puts face in hands and starts softly sobbing.)
DAVE: Bad morning?
LISA: Technical trouble. (Looks at Joe)
JOE: I *said* I would get to it.
DAVE: Ah well. (Pauses) Now, on a lighter note. Joe, Beth, since both of you have procrastinated on the WNYX ground floor lobby mural---
DAVE: Took too long.
JOE: I know what it means, dude.
DAVE: And you should be very proud of yourself. Either way, itís been too long. I am taking the matter out of your hands.
BETH: Oh, but Dave---
JOE: Dude, whoah!
DAVE: I canít let you leave that wall blank forever, and I remind both of you that your last serious attempt involved not only a graffiti-spray of a cat and the word "Stinkbutt," but also great humiliation to myself and the station..
BETH: But if you could just give us a few more days!
DAVE: ---youíll get another spray can? (Smiles) My mind is made up. (Pause) Anybody have anything else? (Looks around the table. Max is still sobbing into his hands.) Well, then, thatís it! (Pause as Dave walks away, then walks back. Nobody has moved.) Well, at least pretend to work, if only to humor me. (The others mutter agreement and get up. Max is still sobbing.)
(opening credits for "NewsRadio")
(Focus in on Matthewís desk. Matthew is hard at work on his computer terminal, typing something, concentrating intently. Dave walks by and glances at Matthew, then walks out of shot. A moment later, he walks back in and stares at Matthew.)
MATTHEW: Huh? What?
DAVE: What are you doing?
MATTHEW: (stops, tries to turn the computer off, then tries to cover the computer with his upper body) Oh, nothing important.
DAVE: Does it have anything to do with your job?
MATTHEW: (grins with goofy guilt) I see youíve found out my little secret.
DAVE: (grinning without humor) Can I see what youíre doing?
MATTHEW: Uh, no, itís not finished yet.
DAVE: I really want to see what youíre doing.
MATTHEW: No, Iíd rather not.
MATTHEW: Itís private, Dave!
(Dave reaches over and rolls Matthew and his chair away from his desk)
(Joe lowers himself from the ceiling by rope. He reaches down and touches a couple of keys. The computer comes back on. Joe raises himself back up.)
DAVE: (looking up) Thanks, Joe!
JOE (O. S.): Donít mention it.
DAVE: (reading from screen) "...As Jason strode boldly across the campus, people turned their heads and stared. Jason Edmunds was a man to be stared at, a fine and full-blooded example of the Typical American Male, a Nordic Greek god, a soon-to-be-great-man, and a genius to boot."
(Dave looks at Matthew. Matthew blushes and grins.)
DAVE: Who is Jason Edmunds and why are you writing about him?
(Joe lowers himself from the ceiling again, and reads the screen.)
JOE: Dude. Jason Edmunds is one character in the Hallanburg High comic book series.
DAVE: Hallanburg High? (grins) Gee, I must have missed that one.
JOE: Too bad, itís pretty good. The artwork is good, the characters are well drawn, and it grips the reader from start to finish. (Pause) You canít go by the TV movie, though. That was a piece of garbage.
DAVE: Iíll keep that in mind. Matthew, are you writing about this for us?
MATTHEW: Um...not really, Dave, no.
DAVE: Then what is it?
JOE: (still reading) Itís Internet fan fiction, Dave.
DAVE: Oh! (Pause) Matthew, why are you writing Internet fan fiction?
MATTHEW: Because itís fun to do! I really, um, like Hallanburg High. I identify with Jason Edmunds.
DAVE: You identify with a, um, what did you call him?
MATTHEW: (starting to warm up to the topic) A genius, a soon-to-be-great man. He reminds me a lot of me.
MATTHEW: I can see my life in his. Itís as if, in some strange way, I *am* Jason Edmunds.
JOE: (still looking at the screen) Then why is there a character named Matthew in here?
(Dave looks again.)
DAVE: (reading) "Matthew had become Jasonís best friend. They hadnít known each other long, only a few days, but it was as if they had known each other all their lives. You never saw one without the other. There were those who thought they had become gay lovers, but they didnít dignify that with a response."
(Dave and Joe look at each other. Joe shrugs and raises himself up again.)
DAVE: Just how long have you been doing this, Matthew?
MATTHEW: Oh, a couple of months, now. The stories just flowed out of me.
DAVE: Well, flow them out at home from now. Here, youíre supposed to work.
(Dave walks off towards his office. Matthew shrugs, and goes back to work on his story.)
(DAVEíS OFFICE. LATER.)
(Dave comes into his office and sits down at his desk. Joe lowers himself from the ceiling again.)
JOE: Dude, donít you want to know why Iím doing this.
DAVE: (sighs) No, Iíd rather not, not right now.
JOE: Okay. (Raises himself up again)
(Dave has only a few seconds to fiddle with his papers before Lisa comes in.)
LISA: Dave, about this new intern.
LISA: I mean, you arenít bringing her in as a scheme to replace Max, are you?
DAVE: Well, the thought had crossed my mind... (Pause) Lisa, I canít believe you took Maxís ravings seriously. This girl will be here as an intern, and only for a couple of weeks. (Grins) I havenít even decided what sheíll be doing yet.
LISA: Youíre not going to put her on the air, are you?
DAVE: Well, I just might.
(Just then a teenaged girl comes in. Sheís wearing a green jacket with a black skirt, and what looks like combat boots as footwear. Sheís got brownish hair and is wearing thick glasses. Sheís not smiling.)
GIRL: Excuse me? (The voice is a rigid, vaguely unpleasant monotone.)
DAVE: Yes, can we help you?
GIRL: Iím Daria Morgendorffer.
DAVE: (gets to his feet) Yes, weíve been expecting you. (Comes over to her, holds out his hand.) Welcome to WNYX. Glad to have you aboard. Iím Dave Nelson, the news director, and this is one of our reporters, Lisa Miller.
(Daria takes his hand and shakes it. She also shakes Lisaís hand.)
DARIA: Weíll see if you feel that way after Iíve been here for a few hours.
(Dave looks out the door, where Beth would have been sitting, but where she isnít right now. He then turns back to Daria.)
DAVE: Here, let me show you around. If youíll... (indicates with his arms that he wants her to step out. She does, and he follows. He glares back at Lisa, whoís smiling.)
(Dave and Daria are just exiting the break room.)
DAVE: ...and thatís where we keep our food and lunches and stuff.
DARIA: The refrigerator was a big hint.
(Dave points to the booth. We can see Max Lewis reading from a piece of paper, but canít hear him. He looks normal enough now.)
DAVE: And thatís the booth, where the news goes out from here over the air. (Walks over to a speaker, and turns it up.) Letís listen in.
MAX: ...and the officers were unable to explain how the squad car came to be on the precinct roof. And now, a personal note. (Puts the paper down.) We at WNYX are proud to welcome our new intern, Ms. Daria Morgendorffer, aboard the team. Welcome and Bienvenue, Ms. Morgendorffer! (Looks at Daria and Dave, and gives a thumbs up.) Youíll be hearing more from Ms. Morgendorffer over the coming days as she is gradually eased into my job and takes my place at WNYX and in your hearts. (Looks at Daria and Dave again. Dave makes a throat-slashing gesture.) But I digress. Iím sure it will all work out for the best, except maybe for me. In other news... (picks up the paper and begins to read again. Dave turns the speaker volume down.)
DAVE: Sorry about that. Max is just, he, uh...
DARIA: Heís paranoid?
DAVE: I was going to say he has a strange sense of humor, but that about sums it up. (Pause) Itís usually just for the day. Tomorrow heíll be, uh...
DAVE: (sighs) No, not that.
(Dave leads Daria to a momentarily empty desk in the front, near Matthewís.)
DAVE: Here, youíll use this when nobody else is using it. Um, what can you do?
DARIA: Oh, so many things that it would be hard put to pick just one.
DAVE: Your resumť says you can write.
DARIA: As well as I can speak.
DAVE: Lisa! (Lisa comes over.) Lisa. Letís get Daria some wire copy. You can show her how to rewrite it.
LISA: (smiling) Right away, Dave! (goes off)
DAVE: And donít gloat! (To Daria, who has sat down at the desk) Lisa will be back in a couple of minutes. Just wait here and sheíll be back. Iíve got some work to do that just canít wait. Right?
DARIA: Iíll be sitting right here until somebody gets back to me. Right.
DAVE: Oh, good, then you understand.
(Daria sits there. Behind her, Max, out of the booth, saunters up, smiling.)
MAX: Daria Morgendorffer, right?
DARIA: (turns around to look at him) Yes. Youíre...Max Lewis, right?
MAX: Thatís correct, Ms. Morgendorffer. And let me say that just because you have your foot in the door, doesnít mean youíll get any further in!
(Max turns and leaves just as Lisa comes back with a sheaf of papers.)
LISA: Oh, donít mind him, heís, um...
(Lisa shrugs and puts the papers in front of Daria. She picks up a pencil and begins to show Daria what to do.)
LISA: Ordinarily youíd look at this on the computer, but itís easier for me if I do it this way.
DARIA: Really? Youíre not computer literate?
LISA: Of course I am. Itís just easier this way.
DARIA: But if you canít handle a computer---
MATTHEW: (at his desk, appearing to work hard on something) Sheís always had that problem. Itís sad when older people donít know how to work something.
BETH: (wandering up) Yeah, Lisa. You, like, need my help to use the phones again?
JOE: (lowers himself from the ceiling) Then thereís the problem she has with the booth controls---
LISA: Look, all of you, I *know* how to use the computer.
BETH: Yeah, right. (She leaves. Matthew returns to his computer, and Joe raises himself up out of the shot.)
LISA: (to Daria) I *know* how to use the computer. Donít pay any attention to her.
DARIA: Whatever you say. Whatever makes you happy.
LISA: Are you trying to irritate me?
DARIA: I refuse to answer on the grounds I might incriminate myself.
LISA: Okay, if youíre through jerking my chain, Iíll show you how to do this. (Pause, bends over again) Now you take this wire copy, and rewrite it.
DARIA: Um, how much of it are you actually supposed to use?
LISA: (scribbling) You take it, you make any big words into small words, and youíre done.
DARIA: Dumbing down? (Daria shakes her head.) Iím too smart to dumb it down.
LISA: You mean youíre too rigid. (Daria looks at her. Lisa hands her the pencil.) Now you give it a try.
(Daria does so. After a couple of seconds, she hands it to Lisa.)
DARIA: I did the best I could.
LISA: (speaking one syllable at a time, unemotionally) This. Is. Good. (Pause) Really. Good. (more normal) But youíre not using smaller words.
DARIA: I could call a "car" a "moving thing," but thatís too many syllables in the wrong direction, isnít it?
LISA: Donít make fun. Take some more copy and try again.
(DAVEíS OFFICE. LATER.)
(Dave is working at his computer terminal when Jimmy James comes in. Dave stops what heís doing and gets to his feet.)
JIMMY: Siddown, siddown, go back to what you were doing.
DAVE: Oh, Mr. James, I didnít know you were here today.
JIMMY: Iím a man of mystery, Dave, Iím surprised you didnít know that by now. (Pause) I see Daria got in okay.
DAVE: Yes, I havenít had time to get to know her yet. (Pause) Where did you find her?
JIMMY: (looking over Daveís shoulder at his computer screen.) What? Oh, her father consults for me. I said Iíd give her a chance.
DAVE: Well, connections make the world go around.
JIMMY: She might be a little sarcastic, but sheís all right, really. (Pause) Son, what are you working on? (Reads off the screen) "The Respectfully Jason Worshipping Hallanburg High Fan Club Home Page."
DAVE: Sorry, sir, but I discovered this morning that Matthew has been writing and posting Internet fan fiction from the office.
JIMMY: Internet fan fiction? Really? (Grins, looks towards the office door.) I didnít think he was that clever.
DAVE: Yes, well...and heís been doing it for some time. (Punches a few buttons.) Hereís what heís done.
JIMMY: (leans over and reads the titles) " ĎThe World of Jason.í ĎJason Saves a Life.í ĎJason Gets a Date.í ĎHallanburg High Versus the Cast of "Friends,"í ĎJason and Trisha.í ĎJason Meets Matthew.í ĎBeing Friends With Matthew,í ĎJason Sleeps Over at Matthewís.í ĎMatthew at Hallanburg High.í ĎMatthew and Trisha.í ĎMatthew is Not Jason.í ĎJason and Matthew Double Date.í " (Pause) Umm.
DAVE: More or less my reaction, sir. (Pause) Itís weirdly fascinating, sir. The whole Hallanburg High story, I mean. Not Matthewís stories. (Jimmy looks at him like heís gone crazy, but Dave doesnít catch it yet.) Itís mesmerizing, even--- (finally looks at Jimmy and sees Jimmyís look) I mean, in a strange, twisted, completely extra-legal way.
JIMMY: He really likes this Jason person, doesnít he?
DAVE: Apparently he thinks he is Jason, sir.
JIMMY: (taps screen) Is that, uh, good-looking guy blond guy Jason?
DAVE: Um, no, I think itís supposed to be a picture of Matthew. But it does look like Jason.
JIMMY: Umm. So heís shoveling with both hands, is he?
DAVE: Yes, sir, that would be the case.
JIMMY: Well, as long as Matthew isnít actually, ah, dating this Jason, Iíll try to keep an open mind about it. Keep me informed. (Pause, looks up) By the way, why is Joe monkeying around with the ceiling?
DAVE: (looking up, too) Uh, I really havenít asked him.
JOE (O. S.): Technical trouble, Mr. James!
DAVE: I think it has something to do with Maxís raging paranoia, too.
JIMMY: I see. (shrugs) I suppose he can wear his paranoid hat for today. Just donít let him, um, have any more personal moments on the air. Well, Iíll drop back in later. See ya! (walks out)
DAVE: (keeps his eyes on the screen) Always glad to see you, sir!
(No sooner does Jimmy leave than Lisa walks in. Sheís carrying some paper in her hand.)
LISA: Dave, can you tear yourself away from the Web long enough to look at this?
DAVE: Um...yes. (Takes the offered paper and begins to read aloud.) "Though the FDA approved this drug for human use, its use is still not recommended. Scattered reports of side effects such as heavy hair growth, howling at the moon, and an urgent need to obey local leash laws." (looks up) Um, whoís the source on this?
LISA: Dave, itís this Daria. I give her copy to rewrite and this is the result. Everything comes back, uh...
LISA: Thatís the word.
DAVE: Okay, so maybe rewriting news copy isnít for her. Maybe I should have her write Maxís next commentary.
DAVE: Donít worry. Iíll find something for her to do.
(Matthew is talking, leaning back in his chair as if lecturing a class. Daria has a phone almost to her ear, but gives the appearance of listening to Matthew.)
MATTHEW: ...so I see the core of Hallanburg High as the relationship between Jason and Trisha. Theyíre friends and lovers. They break up. They date other people. They come back together and theyíre friends and lovers again.
DARIA: I see. (Pause) How did you get involved again?
MATTHEW: Well, I read the comics, of course, and I stumbled across a site where some of these were posted. I thought to myself, I can do this. It would be fun.
DARIA: But why have you put yourself in your stories?
MATTHEW: Well, itís hard to put into words. I just like doing it, it feels so, so...natural. I--- (Leans back too far and falls out of his chair.)
DARIA: (turns away, talks into phone) You heard it, Jane. Itís worse than Lawndale. (Pause, listens.) Well, so far, Iíve met a couple of raving lunatics, a jealous reporter, a fairly high-strung boss, and a guy who hangs from the ceiling by a rope. Several of them think Iím here to get them. (Pause, listens.) No, I donít know what heís doing up there, and I really donít want to ask. I---oops, gotta go. (Hangs up)
DAVE: Ms. Morgendorffer, Iíve decided to put you on something else.
DARIA: My lack of enthusiasm for rewriting poor news stories is showing?
DAVE: Well, that, and thereís something else that needs to be done.
(GROUND FLOOR LOBBY. LATER.)
(A few people pass through this area. There are several large mural paintings visible on the walls, each in some way relating to a business in the building.)
(Dave, Joe, Beth, and Daria are standing and looking at another wall. Because of the camera angle we canít see the wall, just them.)
DAVE: Here is where our WNYX mural is supposed to go up. We had one up earlier, but... (glares at Joe and Beth)
JOE: "Butt" only partially describes it, man.
DAVE: Well, for complex reasons I would just as soon not detail here, the original artwork was disapproved by the building board. In any case, I have a list of people who might be able to do the job. We need some artwork that---
DARIA: Excuse me. Did you say you need an artist for this?
DAVE: No, but...do you have someone in mind?
DARIA: I have a friend, Jane Lane. Sheís staying with me for a few days while Iím here in New York. She could do it.
DAVE: Your friend is an artist?
DARIA: Sheís really talented. (Pause) And sheíd work cheap. (Pause again) I could call her and have her bring in some samples.
DAVE: Well, go ahead. Iíd be happy to look at her work.
(Daria nods and leaves. Beth and Joe start to giggle.)
BETH: Aw, isnít that cute? High school girl knows an artist!
DAVE: Beth, Joe, I remind you that I gave you a chance to do this...and you remember the result.
JOE: "Stinkbutt," man. I remember.
(They look at the blank wall again.)
(Daria is at her desk, on the phone again. Matthew has resumed his seat.)
DARIA: Look, Jane, I know you need the money. You wouldnít be with me here this week if you werenít broke. (Pause, listens) Because who cares? Look, pry yourself out of whatever gallery youíre in, go and grab your portfolio, and get down here! (Pause, listens) Iím glad you see it my way. If it doesnít work, weíll forget it and have lunch. (Pause, listens) Yes, I still want out of this.
(DAVEíS OFFICE. AFTERNOON.)
(Dave is at his desk looking through a portfolio of artwork. Daria stands in front of his desk, and Jane stands next to her. Jane is a dark-haired, vaguely goth-looking girl dressed mostly in red and black and with three earrings in the one ear not covered by her hair. Sheís drawing something in a small sketchbook as the scene opens.)
DAVE: Yes, Ms. Lane, you certainly are a talented artist.
JANE: Iíve been told I can push the paint around.
DAVE: And youíre willing to do this for a thousand dollar commission and expenses to be borne by us?
JANE: Hey, New York living is expensive, and I can only stretch Dariaís money just so far.
DARIA: Sheís only along for the ride. Of course, she helps with the driving.
DAVE: Okay. (Leans back) Now what Iíd like is a group portrait of the WNYX staff. I leave the actual execution of it up to you.
JANE: Iíll have it done by the end of the day.
DAVE: No need to go that fast.
JANE: No, I can do it. Fast is better. (Stops scribbling and shows what sheís done. Itís a detailed and realistic portrait of Dave. Dave reacts with pleasure.) Now, Iíll need to see the staff if Iím to draw them, too.
DAVE: We can give you a seat in the bullpen. Everybodyís in today. Ms. Morgendorffer!
DAVE: Find Ms. Lane a place where she can observe the staff without getting in their way.
DARIA: Iíll get right on it. (Nudges Jane. They leave. Max enters, and stares at them as they do.)
MAX: Lisa tells me you hired this Morgendorffer girlís friends to paint my portrait.
DAVE: Well, sheíll be doing all of us.
MAX: Aha! I knew it! (Holds his index finger up in a pathetic attempt at a dramatic gesture.)
DAVE: Max, donít make this more difficult than it has to be, all right?
MAX: But donít you see? Every time my pictureís take, it takes a little bit of my soul with it. (Pause, as Dave looks blankly at him) Sheís stealing my soul!
DAVE: Max, youíre being, um...
DAVE: (pause) All right.
MAX: Stupid...like a fox! (Turns to leave, just as Jimmy comes in.) Mr. James! Where did you find that Morgendorffer girl?
JIMMY: Aw, Iíve got her motherís law firm on retainer. (Grins) Sheís a firecracker, isnít she?
MAX: (looks at both of them.) Scoff if you will, but Iíll foil your evil plan, mark my words! (Turns and leaves.)
JIMMY: His flamboyant paranoia hasnít gotten the better of him today, has it?
DAVE: It only came up once in his broadcast so far.
JIMMY: Good, good. (Pause) Iíve been looking into this Matthew matter. I really want it stopped now. I donít want him writing any more Hallanburg High fan fiction.
DAVE: Well, I wouldnít mind if he did it at home, and not work---
JIMMY: No, no, itís gotta be stopped. Altogether. Have you read it?
DAVE: I glanced through a couple of them---
JIMMY: Well, itís just gotta be stopped. But donít worry. Iíll take care of it myself.
DAVE: You will?
JIMMY: Why the surprise, son? (Stands straight, looks into the distance, and puts his hands on his belt.) I run a big, big, *big* corporation. I can handle one little, little, *little* (holds up one hand and makes the expected gesture with thumb and forefinger) problem with an employee.
DAVE: Even if that employee breaks down and cries, sir?
JIMMY: (looks uneasy) Um. Yeah. (Gets his confidence back) Now, Dave, youíve got enough on your lunch tray right now. Youíve got to break Max down today, and get Daria on board. Iíll handle Matthew.
DAVE: Well, thank you, sir.
JIMMY: Donít thank me. Thank Ellenglow. ĎCause of them, I have to handle it.
JIMMY: Ellenglow, the owners of the Hallanburg High copyright. Ellenglow, part of the comic books division of FineArts Publishing, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SickSadWorldCorp, which is under the MultiMedia corporate banner, which is in turn a subsidiary of Jimmy James Incorporated.
DAVE: Mmm. I see. So you own Hallanburg High?
JIMMY: (shrugs) Near as I can tell. What did I just say?
(Lisa is sitting at her desk. Jane is sitting close to her, looking at her, and sketching something in a small sketchbook. Daria is standing behind Jane. Lisa is aware of her presence and is nervous.)
LISA: Can I help you?
JANE: Just go about your business as if I werenít here. (scribbles something)
LISA: But youíre making me nervous looking at me like that!
JANE: Really? Because youíre not making me nervous at all.
(Lisa hastily gets up and leaves. Jane continues sketching, and smiles. Max emerges from the booth and comes over.)
MAX: Ms. Morgendorffer!
(Daria nudges Jane, who stops sketching and listens.)
MAX: We may have hit it off on the wrong foot this morning. (Holds out hand) Let me introduce myself. Max Lewis, professional radio voice.
DARIA: (while shaking Maxís hand) Daria Morgendorffer, amateur miracle worker. You sounded very professional this morning.
MAX: Just a touch of nerves, I assure you. Iím really all right. (Pause. Max smiles.) So...youíre here as an intern.
DARIA: There was no way out of it.
MAX: Then youíre *not* here to replace a certain WNYX on-air personality?
DARIA: No, Iím only here for a couple of weeks.
MAX: Well, we canít all be blessed with talent. (Looks Jane over, top to bottom. Jane stops drawing and glares back at him.) You! You have a sister named Summer, donít you?
JANE: Yes. Yes I do.
MAX: (grinning evilly) If you see her...tell her Max Lewis says...Hi! (Pause, while Daria and Jane look at him.) Sheíll know. Oh, yes, sheíll know. (Turns his attention to Daria, looks her over, grins with blazing paranoia.) Weíll talk later, Daria Morgendorffer. Yes. Most certainly, we will talk. (He leaves.)
JANE: (giggle in her voice) What was that about?
DARIA: Who knows? And who cares? With any luck weíll be out of here by the end of the day. (Daria walks off. Jane continues to sketch.)
(Pan over to Matthewís desk, where Matthew is hard at work on his computer---at God knows what. Jimmy comes up.)
(Matthew jerks as if heíd been struck by something.)
MATTHEW: Oh! Mr. James! Iíve been meaning to ask you. It was you who brought Daria to WNYX?
JIMMY: Hey, her history teacher is a buddy of mine from ĎNam.
MATTHEW: Well, sheís easy enough to talk to, and smart as a whip, but just between you and me... (leans forward and whispers) sheís just a...little high-strung.
JIMMY: Coming from you, I donít know what to make of that. (Pause) Matthew, Iím not talking to you to hear your voice. I have some important business to conduct with you. (He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a folded piece of paper. He hands this to Matthew, who looks at it, confusion plain on his face.)
MATTHEW: Um, whatís this?
JIMMY: That is a court order. As of this moment, you are to cease and desist the unlawful dissemination of works of fiction based on the characters of Jason Edmunds, Trisha Prudhomme de Lodder, and the setting of Hallanburg High itself. (Pause) Youíre shut down, boy! You infringed on the copyrights!
MATTHEW: (looks stunned) But, Mr. James! Why? (Pause) Is it because Hallanburg High was being hurt by what I was doing, Ďcause if it is, Iíd never---
JIMMY: (holds up hands, palm out, in front of him) No, no, no! Internet fan fiction, though it might be in violation of the copyright laws, is really good promotion for the shows or books or, in this case, comic books, that are involved. The writers are all big-time fans, who have a keen appreciation for it. (Pause) Besides, itís usually too much trouble to shut it all down.
MATTHEW: Thatís what Iíve said all along. But, then, why?
JIMMY: Iím shutting you down because your stuff is just awful! Stuff that you wouldnít want anybody to wipe their noses on! Badly written, badly plotted stuff that youíve just shoved yourself right into the middle of. Itís terrible, Matthew, just plain terrible. (Pause) As of right now, consider your Internet privileges, here and at home, revoked.
(Just then a bang and a small puff of smoke comes from Matthewís screen. Music--- "Taps" ---plays from it. Matthew looks in horror at the still-smoking screen, then starts to cry, and jumps and runs off into the Break Room. Jimmy looks up at the ceiling.)
JIMMY: Thanks, Joe.
(Joe lowers himself by his rope again)
JOE: Happy to help, Mr. James. That stuff was awful.
JIMMY: Yeah, the guys at Hallanburg High just *hated* it when I had them look it over.
JOE: I suppose Jason and Trisha wouldnít like it that much, sir.
JIMMY: (looks at Joe like heís crazy) Uh, yeah. Making the computer play "Taps" was a nice touch.
JOE: Thought it was appropriate. (Pause) But donít you think that was, maybe, a bit hard on Matthew? I mean, the Internet doesnít do stuff like that.
JIMMY: Not that you know, they donít.
JOE: Oh, I see. (Looks at Jimmy, then speaks in a softer tone of voice.) Part of Area Fifty-Oneís latest project, isnít it?
JIMMY: Maybe, but Iím, ah, (looks away) not free to talk about it. (Pause, looks back to Joe.) You can go back to work now.
(Joe raises himself up, then lowers himself again)
JOE: Sir, donít you want to know what Iím doing?
JIMMY: Joe, itís hard enough for me to sleep at night knowing what I do already. Donít tell me anything I donít actually need to know.
JOE: Right. I get it. (Grins, and raises himself out of sight.)
(Jane, still where she was, is still scribbling. Daria comes up.)
DARIA: So what do you think of life in my world?
JANE: Well, I thought you were exaggerating at first. But I see that this crowd is nuttier than you said. (shakes her head) Yíknow, Daria, all in all this looks like a pretty neat job. This bunch has a high tolerance for deviant behavior. File off your rough edges and youíd be a great fit.
DARIA: Yeah, yeah, tell me what I donít know. The thing is, how do I get out of it?
JANE: Youíre that sure you want to? I mean, thereís no Bing and the Spatula Man here.
(Daria gives Jane an "oh, really?" glare, then goes to the speaker on the wall and turns the sound on. Max is in the booth.)
MAX: ...and the defendantís attorneys offered no explanation for where their clientís pants had gone. (Pauses, puts down papers.) Now, on a more personal note, I wish to extend my apologies to Ms. Daria Morgendorffer. She is *not* here as a replacement for me. I was...misinformed. (Sees Daria and Jane watching, and waves.) She is a fine young woman who will go far in whatever field she chooses---unless itís something where you can hear her voice! (Forces laughter) A-ha-ha-hah!
(Daria turns the speaker down)
JANE: You canít judge by just one guy.
(Beth wanders in, looks over at Daria and Jane, and smiles.)
BETH: Aw, isnít that cute?
BETH: High school girls hanging out painting a mural! Itís so precious! Let "Big Sister Beth" know if you need any help now, I mean, getting paint and stuff. New York is a big and wild city and it isnít often easy to get things done in it without someone who knows where things are. (Picks up something from her desk and leaves.)
JANE: All right, more than one person. (Mutters) Like I couldnít score paint without her help...
(Daria shrugs and turns the speaker sound up again.)
MAX: ...more on this story later. And now, another personal note. (Leans forward intently, speaks softly.) If Summer Lane is listening right now, please return my jacket and my copy of "Monty Python: All the Words, Volume One." (Pauses, grins at Daria and Jane, then picks up his paper.) And now, the weather! (Shoves a cartridge in; edited together rain and thunder noise is heard. Max speaks over it.) Itís sunny today, with temperatures expected to rise into the low nineties...
(Daria turns the speaker off)
DARIA: I have to get out of here.
JANE: No kidding.
DARIA: Itís interfering with my plans for the summer.
JANE: Sleep, get up and eat, sleep?
DARIA: The usual. Besides, in three days in town, Iíve seen enough of New York---and New Yorkers---to last me a lifetime. (Pause) Now what?
JANE: (still scribbling furiously) Just leave that to me Iíll do my part.
(BREAK ROOM. LATER.)
(Matthew sits at the table, leaning on it with his arms, staring straight ahead. Dave comes in, pours himself a cup of coffee, then sees Matthew and stops.)
DAVE: Matthew! Why so down?
MATTHEW: Aw, I have to give up Hallanburg High.
DAVE: (smiling) Well, it was bound to happen. Cheer up! Itís been hours since you lost your Internet connection.
MATTHEW: I know. I know. I just have to let it go. (becomes more animated) But whatíll I do now? Iíve got all this...raging energy for fan fiction rolling around in me.
DAVE: Maybe you could pour it into, yíknow, your *real* job?
MATTHEW: No, címon, seriously, Dave, what?
(Beth sticks her head in the door.)
BETH: Dave, um, the kindergarten girl and her art chick friend say they finished the mural.
DAVE: Youíve seen it?
BETH: No, Dave. The art chick hung a sheet over it. Only her and Green Jacket Girl went in and out under it.
DAVE: Well, weíll all see it now. And her name is Daria Morgendorffer.
BETH: (giggles) Yeah, yeah. Really, Dave, Iím looking forward to seeing it. Canít wait to see how they screwed it up. (Leaves)
DAVE: Well, Matthew, pull yourself together, and come take a look at it with us.
(Matthew takes a long deep breath, lets it out, shakes himself, then takes another breath.)
MATTHEW: Okay, Iím ready.
(GROUND FLOOR LOBBY. LATER.)
(The staff and Jimmy have gathered in front of the new mural. We see them, but not the mural. They gaze at it with evident unease.)
(We also see other people in the background, as before. This time, some of them glance towards the mural. Reactions vary from unease to shock.)
JOE: Is that what you wanted, Dave?
DAVE: Not... quite.
MATTHEW: Itís a little, um, a little raw, isnít it.
JIMMY: Well, intense is more like it. (Pause) Is it just me, or are all of them trying to kill each other?
BETH: (points at the mural) Well, that part with Dave and Lisa *is* pretty funny, I mean, with both of them stabbing each other in the back while kissing their--- (laughs) How did she know?
LISA: Itís no more awful than the one with you and Max. I mean, that use of a cheese grater is original, if nothing else...whatís that in your other hand?
BETH: I, ah, think itís the Empire State Building.
LISA: And it looks like youíre about to---
MATTHEW: (interrupting) I didnít think you could do that with a roll of duct tape.
JOE: Dude. You can do anything with a roll of duct tape.
BETH: Whatís that Mr. James has in his hands, some kind of gun?
JIMMY: Theyíre, ah, blunderbusses.
JOE: Hey, oneís pointed at Dave and oneís pointed at Matthew.
(Theyíre silent for a few moments.)
DAVE: Well, that arch over it is, um, nice.
LISA: Yeah, itís sort of post-modern neoclassical. She did a nice job making it look like marble.
DAVE: And the WNYX logo has seldom been, um, drawn so well.
(Pause, as they consider the mural further, in silence. Itís only a few seconds before Max becomes the first one to crack under the strain.)
MAX: You see, Mr. James, my original instinct was right. This Daria Morgendorffer is nothing but trouble with a capital "T."
JOE: Yeah, we take her into our lives and she turns around and dumps on us. (Pause, as the others look at him.) I read it in an issue of Hallandale High comics. (The others nod and agree.)
BETH: Yeah, Mr. James, where did you get her from?
JIMMY: Ah, I used to date her high school principal. (sighs) All right, all right, Iíll take care of this.
DAVE: Now look. I know this may come as a surprise, but Iíve got to say that Daria has done everything Iíve asked her to do. Thatís more than I can usually say about the rest of you, now, isnít it?
BETH: Oooh, looks like Daveís got himself a new sweetheart.
(The others laugh at this and look at Dave. Dave looks uneasy.)
DAVE: Look, Iím not saying I like this mural.
JOE: Why not? You come off better than us in this.
JIMMY: Yup, itís true.
DAVE: (holds up hands) All right, all right. Believe what you want, but let me handle this myself.
(The others nod and move off, except Jimmy.)
JIMMY: You sure you want to do this? I mean, I brought her here.
DAVE: Yes. Yes, I do.
JIMMY: Okay, then. (Points to mural) What about this wall?
DAVE: Iíll take care of that, too.
(Daria sits at her desk, on the phone. Some of the WNYX staff mill about behind her, looking at her.)
DARIA: No, they just finished looking at it. Bright of you to clear out before. (Pause, listens...chuckles) No, they havenít fired me yet.
(Max approaches her.)
MAX: Witch! Evil, cursed one!
DARIA: Gotta go. (Pause, listens) Yes, itís Max Lewis. (Hangs up the phone, speaks slowly, as if to someone who didnít understand.) No, that would be my sister. Iím Daria.
MAX: Donít try to bluff your way out of this! I know how it works. You pretend to me meek and monotone, and all the while, youíre plotting to take my place on the air!
(Dave comes up behind him.)
DAVE: Max, if you donít stop this right now---
MAX: Youíll what? Fire me? Hah! (Grins and puts his fists on his hips) Iíve been fired by the best in the business, buddy! Your threats hold no terror in me. (Suddenly drops to his knees and grabs Daveís legs.) *Please* donít fire me! Iíll be good! Iíll do whatever you want!
DAVE: Max, get up. Right now. (Max does so) Now, go into the break room, and sit down, and stay there, until I tell you to come out. (Max opens his mouth to speak) No! Not another word until I say so! Now go! (Max meekly heads for the break room.)
DAVE: Ms. Morgendorffer, will you wait in my office for me?
(Daria nods, gets to her feet and leaves. Dave starts to follow her, but sees Matthew, sitting at his desk, staring at his ruined computer.)
MATTHEW: Itís over. (lets out a long, drawn-out sigh.) I mean, I found something I really enjoyed doing, and... (shrugs, throws his hands up in the air) Itís all gone now.
DAVE: But it had to end. (Pause) Look, Iíll talk to Mr. James about getting your computer back.
MATTHEW: And I can go on writing Hallanburg High fan fiction?
MATTHEW: Sorry, Dave, sorry! (Turns back to his computer as Dave leaves.)
(DAVEíS OFFICE. LATER.)
(Daria waits in front of Daveís desk as Dave comes in.)
DAVE: Sorry to keep you waiting. (Goes and sits behind his desk.) Now, Ms. Morgendorffer, I sense that youíre unhappy here.
DARIA: Thatís too mild a word.
DAVE: Is something wrong here?
DARIA: (sighs) Today, Iíve seen behavior more appropriate to kindergarten recess than a professional radio station. An on-air personality with a severe case of paranoia.
DAVE: Well, Max has his days---
DARIA: A reporter who seems so threatened by my writing ability that she set out to sabotage my attempts to rewrite wire copy.
DAVE: Well, Lisa is very focused on her job---
DARIA: Another person whose function in this office I cannot figure out, but whose duties involve communing with the world by way of Internet fan fiction.
DAVE: Matthew can be, um, uh---
DARIA: A staff technician who spends most of his day dangling from the ceiling for mysterious and unexplained purposes.
DAVE: Joe does get the job done---
DARIA: A supposed secretary who treats me along the lines of "Iím from New York and youíre not, so youíre scum of the earth."
DAVE: Now, Beth can take her New York attitude to unhealthy extremes, but sheís a really decent person---
DARIA: This court is presided over by a billionaire who thinks itís the height of humor to tell everyone he meets why he helped me get this job, but who never tells the same story twice.
DAVE: Well, once you get to know Mr. James, heís quite charming---
DARIA: And all this is ostensibly run by a man who seems unable to make his staff behave, much less do their jobs.
(Dave leans back in his chair.)
DAVE: Well, things *are* a bit strange here from time to time. Often, more often than normal, I admit, I think of chucking it all and going back to my parents in--- (Pause, as something occurs to him.) Wait a minute. Iím thinking that you didnít want this job, that you *never* did.
DARIA: (looks down at her boots) That was my big secret.
DAVE: That you thought if you got your friend to paint an obnoxious mural that youíd get fired because of it. That you and your friend would be back on the bus for Lawndale before your heads stopped spinning.
DARIA: (looks up) Sheís already been paid, so if youíre thinking of canceling the check, I think you should know that my motherís a lawyer---
DAVE: No, no, nothing like that. She can have the money. Thereís more in the budget and I know just how to take care of it. (Pause, smiles) After all, the arch part of the mural is very, very nice.
DAVE: (stops smiling) Now, as for you. I think itís best for all that you stay right here. Youíll learn what it is we actually do, and learn the radio business in the process. I might even be persuaded to put you on the air.
DARIA: I see you think youíve found an appropriate punishment.
DAVE: Well, perhaps two weeks isnít enough time to learn the business. Perhaps I can make a few calls, and see if you can work here all summer!
DARIA: (sighs) No, two weeks is enough. (Pause) Revenge is sweet.
DAVE: (Leans back in his chair, puts his hands behind his head, smiles.) Ahh, it doesnít get any better than this.
(Most of the staff has left. Lisa is talking to Dave as she gets ready to leave.)
LISA: So you think sheíll work out.
DAVE: Work out, not work out, itís only for a few weeks. (Pause) And donít let me find out that youíre not helping her.
LISA: Dave, I did not change her copy.
DAVE: Whatever. (sighs) Maybe this place needs a breath of fresh cynicism. Maybe sheíll work out all right after all.
LISA: Quit dreaming, Dave. (Throws her purse over her shoulder and leaves. Dave is about to leave when Daria comes up to him.)
DAVE: Ah! Ms. Morgendorffer! Leaving already?
DARIA: Yes, it seemed appropriate after a ten hour day with no lunch. I skipped lunch to see to the mural.
DAVE: And we appreciate the job you did. (Pause) Ms. Morgendorffer?
DAVE: I know I may have been a bit harsh, but I know these people. They may seem odd and nasty, but they grow on you, in time.
DARIA: Iím only here for a couple of weeks.
DAVE: (shrugs) Thatís all it takes.
(They walk out of the now deserted bullpen. Camera pans across towards the door to the break room.)
MAX (O. S.): (softly) Hello? Dave? Anybody? (Pause) Iím still here, Dave, like you said. Dave? Iíll be good! Dave!
(Dave and Daria stand at the elevator doors. Dave reaches for and presses the elevator button, and they wait.)
DAVE: Did Lisa really sabotage your writing?
DARIA: Yes and no. I exaggerated for comic effect. (Pause) She made me do it three or four times, and the last time I turned in the one you saw.
DAVE: Yes, that explains it.
DARIA: It was probably her subconscious doing it. She told me to dumb it down, to use small words. (Pause) But Iíd heard her on the radio. She wasnít doing it. I didnít see why I should.
DAVE: You listened to WNYX?
DARIA: Well, I was coming to work here.
DAVE: Ah, yes. Iíll put you on some more copy rewriting tomorrow, and weíll see what you can do. But, um, tone down the sarcasm, will you?
DARIA: I donít think I can. Itís inborn.
DAVE: Do the best you can. (Pause) Then thereís the little matter of your friendís, um, evil mural.
DARIA: Should I get Jane to come in tomorrow and fix it?
DAVE: No, sheís done enough for us. Besides, Iíve already taken care of it. (The elevator doors open and they step in.) Welcome to the jungle, Ms. Morgendorffer.
(The doors close on them.)
(GROUND FLOOR LOBBY. A FEW MINUTES LATER.)
(Itís darker now and the place is deserted. We see Dave and Daria walk through and out of camera shot.)
(The camera pans over to the mural, and we can see it now. The group portrait itself has been partially covered by a WNYX poster, one with a group photo of all the staff, in phony poses. The poster is a little crooked. The edges of the caricatures can be seen, but not the faces. The painted arch with the WNYX logo, which was nicely done and showed no malice, is still there.)
MAX (O. S.): (loudly) Can anybody hear me? I wanna go home!
DISCLAIMER: "Daria" and the characters and settings from it are the property of MTV Networks / Viacom International. "NewsRadio" and the characters and settings from it are property of Brilstein-Grey Communications / Columbia TriStar Television Distribution (a Sony Pictures Entertainment company).
This parody of "Daria" and "NewsRadio" is copyright © 2000, 2001 by Robert Nowall. It is not intended to profit the author in any way, and may not be distributed without permission of the author. (That means please donít post or circulate this without getting in touch with me first.) For the time being, Robert Nowall can be reached at: RobtNowall@aol.com
Thanks to Medea42, Ben Breeck, Professor Moriarity, and everyone who showed an interest in the (one-dayís work I put into the) beta version. Is that the right term? I still think of it as a rough draft...
VERSION 2.0: This consists of a patch job, done because of an error I made in the actual location of the WNYX mural. This happened because I wrote from memory without reviewing the particular episode of "NewsRadio" this derives from. Remember: always check things out.
Written 11/28/00 to 12/5/00. Version 2.0 written 2/7/01.
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