The Gift, Part I

Original Release Date:
December 19, 2000

Teleplay by:
Jim Hamilton

Excerpts from:
"We Are Family" by Lanie
"Moving On" by Maureen
"Desperate Times Call For Defenestration" by Kasey
"´Tis the Season" by Kasey

"Place Your Vote!" Result:
Right before Christmas, Casey has to choose between spending
time with Charlie or a distraught Dana.

Estimated Runtime:



Dana is sitting at her desk. She pushes her glasses up as she reviews the notes she penned in the earlier rundown. Natalie is sitting across from her.

Natalie: Earth to Dana!

Dana: Oh, sorry Natalie. What do you need?

Natalie: Why are you so distracted today?

Dana: No reason.

Natalie: You saw Kevin again last night didn't you?

A smile curls across Dana's lips.

Natalie: I'll take that as a 'yes.' Where did you guys go?

Dana: Out. It was just dinner.

Natalie: That's it?

Dana: Yes Nat.

Natalie: Nothing special afterwards?

Dana: Kevin had an eight o'clock meeting this morning.

Natalie: Bummer.

Dana: Yeah, well it's hard with the hours I work. He's really understanding about it though.

Natalie: So when are you seeing him again?

Dana: Probably not until tomorrow night. We're exchanging gifts. He's leaving for California after his game on Saturday.

Natalie: Bummer times two.

Dana: Yeah, but he promised to make it up to me when he comes home.

Natalie: Oooh. I expect to hear all the details.

Dana: You'll hear whatever I feel like telling you. Is there anything else you need?

Natalie: Yes.

Dana: What is it?

Natalie: We've been stuck on the same segment for the last half hour.

Dana looks surprised.

Dana: Really?

Natalie: Really.

The phone rings and Dana picks it up.

Dana: (on phone) Dana Whitaker. (listens) Hello, mother.


Casey hangs up the phone on his desk.

Dan: Still on for tonight?

Casey: Yeah. Charlie's excited about it.

Dan: Good.

Casey: Do we need to bring anything?

Dan: Just yourselves.

Casey: Nothing like food or drinks or anything else? Matches?

Dan: It's all been taken care of.

Casey: Good.

Dan: Good.

Casey: You know Lisa is going to pick him up after the party?

Dan: I am aware of that.

Casey just sits there for a moment.

Casey: Do you think she should come?

Dan: The invitation is out there.

Casey: Well, she's getting everything ready at home... with her parents coming and everything.

Dan: It's all right. We'll have the celebration with or without Lisa.

Casey: Okay.


Back to Dana's office. Natalie sits quietly looking over her notes. Dana is pacing while she is on the telephone.

Dana: Yes, Mother. (listens) No, I...I understand that, it's just- (listens) No... No, Mother- (listens) Yes, Mother. 4:00 Saturday. I'll meet you at gate 217. (listens) Goodbye, mother.

Dana turns off her cordless phone, turns, and double-pumps like a quarterback waiting for an open receiver. She resists the temptation to hurl the phone across the room and sets it back in the cradle.

As Natalie sits quietly in a chair and surveys Dana as the frustrated executive producer collapses onto her couch.

Natalie: Looking forward to a week and two days of fun, Dana?

Dana, not willing to play along with Natalie, looks over and stares at her.

Dana: Don't you realize the gravity of the situation at hand? My mother hates everything about me! My job, being single, and I don't think she every forgave me for having my ears pierced. And after I screwed up the turkey at Thanksgiving last time she was here, I'm surprised, and disappointed, that she's still speaking to me.

Natalie: The way I see it, you have three options.

Dana: What are they?

Natalie: Leave town.

Dana: Next?

Natalie: Tell her you quit the show and got married.

Dana: Uhhh... no. Next idea?

Natalie: Desperate times call for defenestration.

Dana: Defen-what?

Natalie: Defenestration.

Dana: I don't know what that is, but I don't want to know.

Dana gets up and walks over to her window and looks out at the city.

Natalie: Actually, it's throwing someone out a window.

Dana spins around and faces Natalie.

Dana: Now we have a plan!


Shift back over to Dan and Casey's office. They are both hard at work, when Dan decides to take a break. He's going to be sure Casey takes a break, also.

Dan: I went out last night.

Casey continues to work.

Casey: That's nice, Danny.

Dan: You know where I went last night?

Casey: No.

Dan: You want to know where I went last night?

Casey: No.

Dan: The Plaza Hotel. The Oak Bar. I had a dry martini.

Casey looks up at Dan.

Casey: A man without a date, drinking alone at a bar, around the holidays.

Dan is unfazed.

Dan: Do you know who I saw last night?

Casey: A bartender?

Dan: No, well yes, but that's not who I meant.

Casey: Then who?

Dan: Dana.

Casey: Danny, we see Dana every day.

Dan: But we don't see her on a date every day.

Casey: A date?

Dan: Yes.

Casey: With a guy?

Dan: Yes.

Casey goes back to typing on his computer, while Dan smiles, knowing Casey will eventually crack and want more details.


Jeremy is seated in front of the editing machine. Natalie is behind him, standing over his shoulder.

Natalie: So, are you coming to the party tomorrow night?

Jeremy: I don't know.

Natalie: Because it's officially the Holiday Party, not the Christmas Party, so it would be perfectly okay that you don't celebrate Christmas and whatever.

Jeremy: Natalie, it's fine. I'll go, I'll eat, I'll have a good time.

Natalie: Are you sure? I mean, this may be the season to be jolly, but it's also the season of Eggnog!

Jeremy: There will also be punch. I can handle it.

Natalie: And remember what I told you. You are not to get me anything big for Christmas.

Jeremy: I realize that. Trust me, I already know what I'm getting you.

Natalie: Okay.

The door opens and Dan enters the room.

Dan: Nat, do you have the Clemson package cut yet?

Natalie: Ask me again in about fifteen minutes.

Dan: Okay.

Jeremy pops his tape out from the machine.

Jeremy: Dan, take a walk with me, would you?

Dan: Sure.

Natalie: You really have no idea what to get me for Christmas, do you? And you're having a sort of 'Guy Conference.'

Jeremy: Don't be ridiculous, Natalie.

Dan and Jeremy leave the room and close the door behind them.

Jeremy: I really have no idea what to get Natalie for Christmas.

Dan: I had a hunch.

Jeremy: I mean, I got her a cashmere sweater last year...but this year I know she's expecting something big, otherwise she wouldn't keep telling me I don't have to get her something big.

Dan: You were once again wise to come to me with this problem.

Jeremy: What should I get her?

Dan: All I can say are two things: First, Natalie's middle name is definitely not subtle.

Jeremy: Actually it's Shaw, but-

Dan: Secondly... oh my God, did I just number the sections of my sentence? I'm becoming conversationally anal-retentive like Casey! I have to call Abby about this-

Jeremy: Dan.

Dan: Anyway, the other thing is... wait... did you say 'Shaw'?

Jeremy: That better not be the other thing, and 'yes' I did say 'Shaw.'

Dan: Okay. Anyway, the other thing is you should get her something which involves what she loves most in the world.

Jeremy: But she says that's me.

Dan: That's all the more I know. (places his hand on Jeremy's shoulder) Go with it.

Dan walks off and down the hall. Jeremy looks perplexed. He turns toward Dan.

Jeremy: I won't fit into a box!


It is a few minutes before this evening's taping, and everyone is making their way toward the studio. Dan and Casey are already sitting behind the anchor desk. Both of them are wearing hard hats, but everyone around them either doesn't notice them or they don't care. Alyson is applying last-minute touches to Casey, as Dan puts in his ear piece and looks over his script.

Casey: Beginner's luck?

Dan: Luck has everything to do with it.

Casey: But he is really good. The talent must be in the wrist.

Dan: I'm sure you are going to try to turn Charlie into a professional-

Casey: Did you see the way Charlie spun that dreidel? It's a talent.

Dan: Like I said earlier, beginner's luck.

Casey: Well, there's seven more days.

Dan looks over at Casey from the corners of his eyes. He then starts to straighten out the papers on his desk.

Dan: Hanukkah is not a competition. It's a celebration.

Casey: Okay... you're right. But did you see the way he spun the dreidel?

Dan rolls his eyes at Casey.


Dana and Natalie are walking down the hall toward the control room.

Dana: I have a positive attitude.

Natalie: That's the difference?

Dana: Yes, Natalie. I'm going into Christmas with a positive attitude because everything is going to go perfectly.

Natalie: Did you tell your mother?

Dana: I have not told her. And I do not plan on telling her.

Natalie: What if something goes wrong?

Dana: It's not.

Natalie: Why?

Dana: Because I have a positive attitude.

The two walk into the control room. Everyone else is seated and working. Dana walks over to her chair and sees Charlie sitting in it.

Dave: Sixty seconds VTR, two minutes live.

Dana: Charlie! Good to see you... wait... why are you here?

Charlie: Hi, Dana. Dad brought me here right after Dan's party. He's letting me stay here until mother picks me up.

Dana: Great. That's great, Charlie. Did you have fun at the party?

Charlie: Yes. I played this game where I spun a dreidel around and I ended up winning.

Dana: What did you win?

Charlie: Sixty cents. All in pennies.

Dana stares at Charlie for a moment- trying to understand what Charlie was saying.

Dana: Okay. That's great. Good job, Charlie.

Jeremy: It was beginner's luck.

Dana: What was that Jeremy?

Jeremy: Dreidel is a game of chance.

Dana: I take it chances are you lost.

Jeremy: Very badly.

Charlie smiles as Dana gives him a congratulatory hug.

Dana: Good job, Charlie. Could I have my seat now, sweetie?

Charlie: Oh, I'm sorry.

Charlie gets up from Dana's chair.

Dana: It's all right, Charlie.

Natalie: Charlie, you can sit in my seat. 'Mean Dana' can't take that away from you.

Dana: Hey! (puts on headset)

Charlie: Thank you.

Dana: I said it was all right. I didn't mean any harm. (speaks into headset) Let me hear L.A.

Dave: VTR in 5, 4, 3, 2...

Chris: Graphics up.

Will: Music rolling.

The opening teaser can be heard playing in the background: "On Sports Night, top teams Duke and Stanford battle it out in men's college basketball..."

Dana looks up into the monitors and notices Dan and Casey wearing hardhats.

Dana: Why are they wearing hardhats? Natalie, why are they wearing hardhats?

Natalie shrugs her shoulders.

Dana: (into mic) Guys, why are you wearing hardhats?


Casey: Precautionary measures, Dana.

Dan: We heard your parents are coming to your place for the holidays.


Dana: (into mic) What the-


Dan: Noggin' protection from dropping poultry.


Dana smiles recalling the time she tried thawing out a turkey in the light fixture above the anchor desk.

Dana: (into mic) We're having a Christmas ham this year.


Casey: So is there going to be a flying swine advisory?


Dana: (into mic) I'm prepared. Everything is mapped out and is going to go perfectly. I am staying positive and focused this year.

Groans and rolling of eyes can be heard in the control room as Dan and Casey look at each other with skepticism.

Dana: (into mic) Uh, guys. The hats?

Dan and Casey take off the hats and their hair is matted down from them and you can see a red line running across Casey's forehead- the mark left from the tight-fitting hat.

Everyone looks in horror at the physical condition of the anchors.

Dana: Oh my god. (speaks into mic) Guys, on second thought, you'd better put the hats back on.

Realizing the state of their appearance, Dan and Casey put the hardhats back on.

Dave: In 5, 4, 3, 2...


Dan: (on-air) Good evening from New York and Happy Hanukkah. I'm Dan Rydell sitting alongside Casey McCall. We've got plenty of stories and more from our hard-working network.

Casey: (on-air) USC rebuilds, Three Rivers Stadium is being torn down, and Joe Shlabotnik didn't show. You're watching Sports Night on CSC, so stick around.


Dave: We're out. Back in sixty.

Dan and Casey can be seen whipping their hats off through the monitors as Alyson goes rushing over to cover Casey's mark with makeup and other assistants come over to work on their hair.

Elliott: The feed from Buffalo keeps coming in and out.

Dana: Weather?

Elliott: Snow and wind.

Dana: Keep us posted, Elliott.

Elliott: Will do.

Will: Do what?

Elliott: Nothing.

Charlie: Good evening, mother.

Everyone turns and sees Lisa standing behind her son, Charlie.

Lisa: Hey, sweetie. Did you have fun tonight?

Charlie: Uh-huh.

Charlie pulls out a bunch of pennies from his pocket and shows them to his mother.

Charlie: I won these tonight.

Lisa: We're you gambling?

Charlie: No. It was this game I played with Dad, Dan, and Jeremy. We spun this dreidel and I won the game.

Lisa looks a little concerned, but tries to look pleased for her son.

Lisa: That's nice, dear.

Dana: Good evening, Lisa.

Lisa: Evening, Dana.

Lisa walks over to Dana.

Lisa: Got a second, Dana?

Dana: Dave?

Dave: Thirty seconds.

Dana: You got twenty-five. Shoot.

Lisa: Why are you having Casey work over Christmas?

Dana: What do you mean?

Lisa: What I'm saying is... I made plans for our family. My parents are coming in and you have my husband working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Can't you give him the time off?

Dana looks confused.

Dana: Uh... what? You said 'husband'?

Lisa: That's not the point. The point is you have him working when obviously his family is very important to him.

Dana: I didn't realize that. I must have overlooked it by accident. I'll see what I can do.

Lisa looks pleased, while Dana still looks a little confused.

Lisa: By the way, we got you a gift.

Lisa pulls a small wrapped packet from inside her coat pocket and hands it to Dana.

Dana: Why, thank you, Lisa. (looks at the tag) It's from you, Charlie, and Casey. Thank you. I was going to give my gift to you to Casey. I mean Casey was going to give it to you from me. I mean-

Lisa: I understand. Thank you in advance.

Dana: You're welcome.

Lisa and Dana look pleased, when Lisa turns and gives her attention back to Charlie. She notices Charlie sitting in Natalie's chair, and her pleasant demeanor quickly turns serious.

Lisa: Sit straight, young man! No slouching!

Charlie and everyone else in the room becomes bright-eyed, sits right up in their chairs, and stiffens like a board.

Charlie: Yes, mother.

Dave: In 5, 4, 3, 2...


Casey: (on-air) Welcome back. Topping things off tonight, college basketball had an exciting match-up with the number one Duke Blue Devils squaring off with the number three Cardinal of Stanford. Kelly Kirkpatrick has the recap of tonight's exciting game...


Chris: Switching over to Palo Alto.

Will: Kelly's up.

Dave: Go.


Casey looks perturbed as he glares toward the control room.

Casey: What the hell was that?


Dana: (into mic) It was nothing Casey.


Casey: Lisa, that better not be you.


While everyone in the control room can feel Casey's eyes burning through them and at Lisa, Dana leans over and whispers to Natalie.

Dana: What the hell is going on?

Natalie: They're fighting.

Lisa rolls her eyes and grabs Charlie by the arm.

Lisa: C'mon, we're going. I see your father is in one of his moods again.

Lisa leaves, pulling Charlie along behind her.

Charlie: B-Bye everybody.

Charlie can only do a half of a wave as he is whisked out the door.


Dan reaches over and places his hand on Casey.

Dan: Casey, take it easy.

Casey just continues to stare toward the control room.

Casey looks over at Dan.

Casey: What?

Dan shakes his head at Casey.

Dan: It's show time Casey. Focus. Keep your focus.

Casey clenches his jaw, closes his eyes, and exhales deeply.

He takes a deep breath and exhales again.

Casey: All right. I'm sorry. I'm fine.

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