Screenplays

A Question of Honor

Logline

A West Texas rancher must come to terms with his son’s homosexuality or lose him forever.

Synopsis

From the time he was a young boy, Mike O’Leary knew he was different from his father in ways the older man would never understand. He tried to pretend, mask it, and even ran away from it, but now he has to face the reality.

Mike returns to the West Texas ranch after a four-year stint in the Marines, which culminated in the Gulf War, looking forward to working with the cowboys and maybe finding the courage to tell his father the truth. Tom, a rugged, self-made man, hopes the homecoming, and the medal Mike won for valor, will finally put to rest all the little doubts and whispers about his son.

It won’t be that simple for either man. Once home, Mike looses his assurance that he’s ready to confront his father, and he realizes he still has to determine what course his life is going to take. His friend, Bobby Bannerman, is now married and tries to persuade Mike that their brief adolescent affair was just kid stuff.

Mike fights with his father, and then leaves the ranch. He goes to Dallas where he sees the worst of what gay life is like and he starts on a road to self-destruction which is mirrored in his father’s decent into his own hell. Tom neglects the ranch, drinks too much, and almost destroys a long-time relationship he’s had with Rosie.

This screenplay was a finalist at the Sundance Film Festival and also won a Golden Pen Award at the University of Houston Writer’s Conference.

I spent three years as an Executive Producer in an attempt to bring this film to the screen. It was an interesting adventure, but not one I’d recommend to every aspiring screenwriter.

 

Open Season

Logline

Embroiled in a serial murder case, Dallas homicide detectives Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson must come to terms with public and personal racial unrest as they track a serial killer who has his own race card to play.

Synopsis

Amid racial tensions and the deadly force controversy sweeping the city of Dallas, Homicide detectives, Sarah Kingsly and Angel Johnson, are unlikely and unwilling partners.

Forces that work against them include the Dallas Review Board that wants Sarah’s badge because she shot a young black boy; an ambitious television reporter, Bianca, who doesn’t care who she hurts to get a story. The detectives also wrestle with personal attitudes and feelings about racism and their partnership. They both see the pairing as better PR than policy and Angel’s position is further complicated by her family’s reaction to her working with a white woman.

Their first case, dubbed the Mall Murders, begins with the death of a maintenance worker at one of the metroplex shopping malls. A security guard is then killed at another mall. The final murder victim is a young window dresser whose body is left like a mannequin behind the glass of an exclusive boutique at the Galleria Mall.

Messages left at each murder scene point to some vendetta related to drugs, but the detectives can’t find a connection between the victims and any known drug activity. After receiving a profile from the FBI that indicates the killer might be out for revenge, they look at open cases of homicide with even a hint of drug connection and come up with a prime suspect.

Chasing the man through the crowds at the Galleria, Angel inadvertently causes him to topple over the second floor railing and he falls to his death on the ice-rink below. Now she knows the guilt that Sarah has carried since shooting that young boy, but she can’t cross the distance between them to talk about it. It’s only when she realizes that the killer is the father of one of her close friends, that she swallows her pride and asks Sarah to help her bring him in.

In a standoff at the killer’s house, Angel and Sarah become a team as they attempt to ‘talk’ Alfred out. The SWAT team has their best snipers in position. The media is there with cameras rolling, hoping for a spectacular ending. But Angel and Sarah have decided that nobody should die in this one.

What they don’t know until it’s too late is that Alfred’s already decided he has nothing to live for. Someone is going to die.

Based on my novel, this script was one of the semi-finalists in the Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project. The book is the first in a proposed series.

 

Making It Home

Logline

Lynne Gregory’s idyllic life is shattered when her company asks her to sacrifice her family for the job and she discovers that loyalty is a one-way street.

Synopsis

Convinced it is the best thing for the financial security of her family, Lynne Gregory accepts a promotion that entails moving from New Jersey to Dallas. The first doubts as to the wisdom of the move surface when her husband, Rob, can’t find a job, and his frustration nicks away at their relationship. Then sixteen-year-old, Michael, suffers the disappointment of losing his girlfriend to the rigors of a long-distance relationship. He also fails to make the final cut on an elite soccer team. Soccer is his life, and the cut devastates him.

As the problems at home mount, Lynne keeps one step ahead of her fear that the move was a mistake by focusing on sales presentations. Even when the company loses the bid for a major customer and downsizes, Lynne clings to her belief that her loyalty will be rewarded. That hope is shaken when a former employee commits suicide, an event that opens the door to fears for her own mental health and secrets that she thought were safely locked away.

Even though things on the home front are so tenuous, Lynne takes a trip to China with her boss, Sylvia. Talks with Chinese investors are crucial to the survival of the company and Sylvia decides nothing will interfere, not even a crisis in Lynne’s family. When Lynne discovers that her boss withheld a message that Michael is seriously ill, she makes the choice she realizes she should have made initially. She returns to Dallas determined to salvage her marriage and her family.

 

It Doesn’t Take a Hero

Logline

An illiterate baseball star discovers you are what people say you are. All Bunker Bam-Bam Kelly ever wanted to do was whack baseballs out of the park, but celebrity is “image” and he is manipulated by everyone around him.

Synopsis

Bunker Bam-Bam Kelly’s life couldn’t be better. He is one of the highest paid shortstops in baseball history. He’s just signed a lucrative endorsement contract with Nike. He is never at a loss for a good time, and the fans adore him, especially the women.

Not bad for a country boy from Oklahoma who can’t even read or write.

That idyllic life is shattered when Bunker is arrested on drug charges. He is suspended from baseball for a year and sentenced to community service in a dying town near Pittsburgh. There he gets embroiled in a battle with the city manager, Davis, who wants to make a deal to develop the land that houses the high school athletic field.

The kids in Rockville aren’t thrilled with another over-paid, coke-head athlete telling them what to do, and they make that clear on Bunker’s first day. It is also clear that Davis is going to use Bunker at every opportunity to try to stimulate the lagging economy in Rockville. And the last words the commissioner said to him ring in Bunker’s ears, “You be nice to my friend, Jim Davis, and maybe I’ll let you come back and play ball.”

The only bright spot in this dark hole is a gorgeous woman named Claudia. She is definitely interested in Bunker, so perhaps he can survive this year of hell after all. After a confrontation with Elisha, the high school baseball pitcher, Bunker wins the grudging respect of the guys and they start working together to win games. The ROCKETS haven’t had a winning season in ten years, and the town rallies to support the team; all except Davis, who serves Bunker an ultimatum. Either he starts loosing games, or Davis will call the commissioner.

Bunker’s manager convinces him to cooperate with Davis. After all, Bunker’s career is on the line. Maybe Bunker can get away with a few coaching mistakes and no one will know. But the Rockets know, and Bunker is torn between loyalty to himself and loyalty to the kids.

Needing a sympathetic ear, Bunker goes to Claudia’s and discovers that she has secretly been writing a celebrity book about him. Is this all their relationship has meant to her?

Bunker takes off on a drinking spree from which he returns a different man. He realizes he has been using the kids on the team the same way people have been using him all these years. It’s time for that to end. Bunker makes a vow to do the right thing no matter the personal cost.

This script was written with Stephen Marro, of Stephen Marro Productions in New York, based on his original story.

 

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