The Maelstrom, Part I



Isaac is walking into his office, and he is followed by a few CSC executives, including Donna Kendrick.

Isaac: Please, everybody, have a seat.

Donna: Thank you, Isaac.

One of the executives closes the door to the office. As Isaac takes his seat behind his desk, Donna and the other executive sit in chairs in front of his desk.

Isaac: Before we begin, I am very surprised that Sam Donovan wasn't invited to this meeting.

Donna: We feel Sam isn't a critical part of this meeting.

Isaac: From what I was told, our agenda was going to be about the future of "Sports Night." I would think that Sam would need to listen in and offer some insight.

Donna: Yes, the agenda is about the show, but we don't need Sam.

Isaac: Or Dana or Kim or Sally.

Donna: The meeting is just fine without their involvement right now.

Isaac: Well, I hope you don't mind if I take some notes to talk over with the four of them a bit later in the day.

Seated Executive: We don't mind at all.

Isaac: Good.

Isaac flips open a hard-cover notebook and is prepared with pen in hand to take notes.

Donna: We just wanted to say that we are very happy with the product you are putting on the air.

Isaac: Thank you very much.

Donna: Considering that you are managing editor of "Sports Night," "West Coast Update," and our 6:30 show, we have been pleasantly surprised by their performances.

Isaac: Did you expect anything less?

Seated Executive: We initially had some concerns about your ability-

Donna: Excuse me. What James is trying to say is that there were some concerns about you running three shows, considering your age and your state of health.

Isaac: Am I dead?

Donna: No.

Isaac: Then my state of health is fine. It's just fine.

Standing Executive: We just want to know what's in your future.

Isaac: You want to know today?

Standing Executive: Yes.

Isaac: Well, I plan on having a turkey sandwich for lunch, if that's what you are talking about.

Donna: That's not what we're talking about.

Isaac: I know.

Donna: Isaac, have you thought about a timetable when you would step aside from the show, and maybe take up gardening, or go on cross-country trips, or just spend time at home with your family?

Isaac: I already have a garden, I receive four weeks of vacation a year, and I get to spend every night with my lovely wife. But that isn't what you are talking about.

James: We're wondering when you are thinking of retiring.

Isaac: I didn't realize that this meeting was going to be a review of my performance as managing editor, instead of focusing on the shows.

Donna: I'm sorry, Isaac, if we sound like we are coming down on you. Programming and marketing are formulating their plans and budgets for a year, two years, five years from now; and we just want to be informed of your future plans.

Isaac: And it took three of you to come down here and ask me about my future plans?

There is a knock on Isaac's door.

Isaac: Excuse me. (toward the door) What is it?!

The door opens and Dana stands in the doorway.

Dana: Hi. Hi Isaac, Donna, James, Richard.

Isaac: What is it, Dana?

Dana: I'm just making sure everyone has received a copy of the memo. (holds out a memo)

Donna: Which memo?

Dana: The one about hurricane precautions.

Isaac: I thought the storm has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

Dana: It has been, but that was before... actually, it was downgraded after I had created the memo.

Donna: Is there anything special going on?

Dana: Precautions during the hurricane... the tropical storm.

Donna: I don't recall seeing it this morning.

Dana walks in and hands copies of the memo to Donna, James, and Richard.

Isaac: Dana-

Dana: Hey... I don't want to feel guilty if anything should happen. I want to be of assistance in case anything goes wrong. In case anything goes wrong, Isaac.

Isaac: I heard you.

Dana: And?

Isaac: Everything is going to be fine, Dana. We're just talking about the show. So far, they've been very complimentary.

Dana: Oh... well, thank you.

Donna: You have a good show, Dana.

Dana: Thank you.

Isaac: Is that all?

Dana: You have a copy of the precautions, Isaac? If you don't, I'm here for ya'-

Isaac: I got it and I'm fine.

Dana: Okay, great. Then I'll see you later. It was good seeing you.

Dana leaves the office. She pulls the door behind her and closes it. She takes a few steps down the corridor when Natalie appears.

Natalie: Well?

Dana: I don't know.

The two start walking down the corridor.

Natalie: Did you hear anything? How did Isaac look?

Dana: He looked annoyed.

Natalie: Annoyed at the meeting?

Dana: Annoyed at me.

Natalie: It was a good plan.

Dana: It was a great plan. Go in with the memo.

Natalie: See what's going on with the meeting.

Dana: And make a judgment of what the meeting is really about.

Natalie: And?

Dana: It didn't happen that way.

Natalie: So we're back to square one.

Dana: Back to square one.

The two round the corner and head toward the shelves of video tapes.

Natalie: You want me to go in there?

Dana: No.

Natalie: I'm better at this than you.

Dana: I'm very good at this.

Natalie: Did you come back with any information?

Dana: No.

Natalie: Then I think I should go in there.

Natalie grabs a tape from a shelf as Kim walks by. Kim hands Dana a note.

Dana: What's this?

Kim: They've started pestering me to pester you about talking with them.

Dana: I'm not calling them back.

Kim: Something needs to be done.

Dana: I'll take care of it.

Kim: Thanks.

Kim walks away as Dana looks at the note. She crumples the note in her hand.

Natalie: They still want to talk with you?

Dana: They want me to comment on Casey and his missing college credits.

Natalie: Credit.

Dana: Whatever.

Natalie: Still not taking 'no' for an answer?

Dana: It's like they are circling like vultures. They're relentless.

Natalie: They don't have a better story to do?

Dana: Apparently not.

Natalie: By the way, only high schools have canceled classes and games for today.

Dana: Nothing professional or in the college ranks?

Natalie: So far, there is a full slate of games.

Dana: They do realize a powerful storm is lurking off the coast?

Natalie: It's already started raining here.

The two turn around and head toward the newsroom.

Dana: Where's your raincoat?

Natalie: At my desk.

As Dana and Natalie enter the newsroom, they see a number of people gathered around her desk.

Dana: Are they admiring your raincoat?

Natalie: I don't know.

Chris, Will, Dave, and Elliott are standing around Natalie's desk. A gigantic bouquet of flowers sit on her desk.

Elliott: What does the note say?

Chris: I don't know.

Will: It's sealed shut.

All the lights in the newsroom go out. After a couple of seconds, power is restored in the newsroom. Chris, Will, Elliott, and Dave look around the room.

Chris: We lost power.

Will: And it came back on.

Dave: The generators kicked in.

Chris: Maybe this is a sign.

Elliott: What kind of sign?

Will: That this is a bad storm.

Dave: It's a tropical storm. What did you expect? A trot through the sprinklers?

Natalie gently pushes her way through and is pleased at the bouquet on her desk.

Natalie: When did this come?

Dave: They just delivered it.

Dana: They deliver in this kind of weather?

Dave: Apparently so.

Dana: Who's it from?

Natalie takes the envelope, opens it, pulls out a couple of cards, and reads one. She can barely contain her smile.

Natalie: It's from Michael.

Dana: That's sweet.

Natalie: And he's given me a time frame to call him.

Elliott: Like an appointment?

Natalie: And he sent me a calling card to use.

Dan walks by the group.

Dan: Any cancellations?

Dana: Not yet.

Dan: It's started raining pretty good.

Dana: Yeah, I did notice the power fluctuation.

Dan: Who sent you the flowers, Natalie?

Natalie: Michael, and he is being so sweet.

Elliott: He gave her a calling card and a block of time to call him.

Dan: Like an appointment?

Natalie: I get to call him tonight.

Dan: I usually get to spend a couple hundred dollars and sit on a couch during an appointment.

Natalie: He's making time for me. He's been so busy out in California shooting his movie. He has set aside some time for me to call him. Nothing is going to take priority over me. For those two hours, I belong to Michael.

Dan: What if the generators fail and the power goes out?

Natalie: Hey.

Dana slaps Dan on the arm.

Dan: What's that for?!

Dana: Don't jinx it.

Dan: I'm not going to jinx it.

Natalie: The power is not going to go out.

Dan: I'm just saying that there is the possibility that we may lose power again.

Chris: Yeah. Flooding in the basement.

Will: We might lose power.

Chris: Do they have sandbags in the basement?

Will: I hope the generators are elevated off the ground. We might lose power.

Dana: We're not going to lose power.

Natalie: Michael loves me, and if I have to drive westward to Pennsylvania, I will make sure I am talking with him on the phone tonight between 9 and 11 P.M.

Dan: Our time or their time?

Dana raises her hand once again.

Dan: It's a legitimate question!

Natalie: West coast time, after our show tonight.

Outside, there is a bolt of lightning and a big crack of thunder. Inside, everybody looks toward the windows.


Rain is cascading down a window in the lobby of a building. Flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder can be seen and heard.

"It's coming, Jeremy."

Jeremy: I think it's already here.

Jeremy and Casey stand inside the lobby of the building. The rain jacket Casey is wearing is soaked, and he holds a dripping umbrella in his hand.

Jeremy: Why are you here today?

Casey: I figure this is as good of a place as any.

Jeremy: You took a cab all the way down here just to hang out? There's a tropical storm out there, you know.

Casey: I am very well aware of that. Plus, I thought the roads and sidewalks would be abandoned.

Jeremy: Apparently everyone else thought the same thing.

Casey: Apparently.

Jeremy: It's pretty much business as usual out there.

Casey: Only with lots of rain.

Thunder rumbles through the building.

Casey: And thunder and lightning.

Jeremy: Speaking of business as usual-

Casey: Yes.

Jeremy: And I'm not trying to sound like the voice of reason using paternal instincts-

Casey: What's on your mind?

Jeremy: But don't you have another job to attend to?

Casey: Yes, I do.

Jeremy: And?

Casey: I don't like my job very much over there.

Jeremy: What's the matter?

Casey: It isn't the job I don't like. It's all the recent phone calls.

Jeremy: Ah.

Casey: Those reporters are relentless.

Jeremy: Tell me about it.

Casey: I am telling you about it.

Jeremy: It's just a figure of speech.

Casey: I see.

Jeremy: You want to go up and see Dan, Dana, and the rest of the gang?

Casey: That's why I am here. I am here to be with friends... and a very big storm.

The two start walking toward the security checkpoint.

Jeremy: Did I tell you that I received a call?

Casey: What kind of call?

Jeremy: A call regarding you.

Casey stops walking.

Casey: You mean to tell me that they've actually contacted you regarding me?

Jeremy: Yeah.

Casey and Jeremy wait in line.

Casey: This is just insane.

Jeremy: They wanted to know what it was like working with you.

Casey: And what did you say?

Jeremy: I declined to comment.

Casey: What? Are you saying that I wasn't a joy to work with in the workplace?

Jeremy: I'm not saying that.

Casey: Then why the 'no comment'?

Jeremy: If I answer one question, it sets me up for another question. It's best that I not say anything because a lot of words could be said. A lot of words with different meanings. Of course, they may have the same meaning to me and you, but to other people, they may have a different meaning.

Casey: All this because I'm missing one college credit.

Jeremy: It was a pretty big credit.

Casey: It was physical education!

Jeremy: A phys ed credit which qualified you for graduation.

Casey: Let's stop this discussion right here.

Jeremy: Let's.

Casey: Once we pass through the checkpoint, nothing more will be said about this.

Jeremy: Nothing more.

Jeremy and Casey reach the front of the line. Jeremy shows his CSC badge, and he has a wand passed over him by a security guard. Casey receives a guest pass from another security guard.


Isaac is in the midst of his meeting with Donna, James, and Richard.

Isaac: So there's nothing wrong with the show?

Donna: There are some improvements which need to be made-

Isaac: But nothing somebody could lose their job over.

Donna: Right now, it's nothing.

Isaac: But your major concern is if I'm going to die.

Donna: It's not a major concern, Isaac.

Isaac: But you come in here and ask me about my future, my health, and my retirement plans.

Donna: Yeah, but-

Isaac: Who's to say that I don't die of food poisoning because of undercooked chicken? Who's to say that you don't get hit by a car tonight? Or what if you are struck by lightning from the storm?

Donna: This is just a hypothetical situation.

Isaac: And a waste of my time. If you're going to bury me, make sure I'm dead before you do so. Otherwise, I have a show to do.

There is a knock on the door.

Isaac: What is it?!

The door opens and Natalie is standing there.

Natalie: It's raining really hard out there.

Isaac: I already see that. I have something called a window.

Natalie: You've got some good notes for the show?

Isaac: Excuse me?

Natalie: I'm just asking if there are any recommendations to improve the show. Normally, we would be - actually, Dana would be - in on this type of meeting, and I was just checking to see if there were any suggestions which needed immediate attention.

Isaac: No.

Natalie: The show is doing great?

Isaac: The show is doing fine.

Donna: You guys are doing a great job.

Natalie: Thank you.

Natalie takes a few steps inside the office.

Isaac: I'm still in the middle of this meeting, Natalie.

Natalie: I was just wondering if there were any notes you wished for me to pass along to Dana.

Isaac: There are no notes.

Natalie: Great. We'll talk later.

Isaac: Later.

Natalie: Oh my gosh. Excuse me for a moment... is that Donna Karan you are wearing?

Donna: Excuse me?

Natalie: That blouse is the latest Donna Karan?

Donna: Yes, it is.

Natalie: It is exquisite. Do you mind if I take a quick look at it and feel it.

Donna: I... I guess I don't mind.

Isaac looks at Natalie as if she has lost her mind. Natalie walks over to Donna and admires her blouse.

Natalie: Wow. I saw it on television and in a catalog, but I had not seen it in person. It's gorgeous. It looks fabulous on you.

Donna: Thank you.

Natalie: I've taken too much time. I'm sorry for the interruption.

Isaac: Have a good day.

Natalie leaves the office.


Jeremy and Casey enter the newsroom. Jeremy notices the the huge bouquet of flowers on Natalie's desk.

Jeremy: Where did the flowers come from?

Casey: Not from me.

The two walk over to Natalie's desk. Dan munches on an apple as he walks over to join the two.

Dan: Hey, Casey.

Casey: Danny.

Dan: It's fit for neither man nor beast out there.

Casey: Yet, I come here to feel the warmth and charm of my former home.

Jeremy: Did Michael send Natalie these flowers?

Dan: Yeah.

Casey: It's huge.

Dan: You could slap wheels on it, call it a float, and enter it in the New Year's Day Parade.

Jeremy: Is this to make up for not calling her for weeks at a time?

Dan: Could be.

Casey: Let me ask you this. Have you been getting harassing phone calls from reporters trying to dig into my past?

Dan: First of all, I would be hesitant to call them actual reporters.

Casey: Because this is a non-issue.

Dan: There are more pressing matters out there.

Casey: Like a hurricane hitting the city right now.

Jeremy: Tropical storm.

Dan: There are more pressing matters like a hurricane hitting the city, or somebody rushing for a career-high, or somebody hitting for the cycle.

Casey: That's what I'm saying.

Dan: Yes.

Casey: I cover the stories; I am not supposed to be the story.

Dan: That's not sports.

Casey: Exactly.

Dan: And that's not news.

Casey: Exactly.

Dan: Everybody lies on their resumé.

Jeremy: That's not necessarily true.

Casey: And I wouldn't call it a lie. The mistake wasn't discovered until after I landed my first job in L.A.

Dan: Yes, but it shouldn't be the focus of a story.

Casey: Right.

Dan: But I still keep getting phone calls about it.

Casey throws his arms out in disbelief, catches part of Natalie's bouquet, and starts to knock it off the desk. The quick reaction of Dan allows him to catch the flowers before they hit the floor.

Jeremy: Nice grab.

Casey: Thanks, man.

The three of them work on putting the flowers back in their original arrangement.

"What are you doing?"

The three look up and see Natalie watching them.

Natalie: What are you doing with the flowers Michael sent me?

Dan: We're fixing it.

Jeremy: Casey bumped it.

Casey: And Dan caught it.

Dan: So we're just putting it back.

The three finish setting the arrangement and step back as Natalie closely inspects it.

Natalie: Where's Dana?

Dan: I don't know.

Natalie: I've got to find her. You three don't mess with my flowers.

Dan: It was an accident.

Natalie: There's a half-eaten apple in here.

Dan: Oh... that would be mine.

Dan embarrassingly steps forward and plucks his apple out of the bouquet. He takes the apple, wipes it off on his sweatshirt, and bites into it.

Casey: Who knows what chemicals with which they treated those flowers. They're probably all over your apple.

Dan spits out a big chunk of apple onto the floor. He wipes his mouth with his sleeve.

Natalie reaches over and grabs her trash can.

Natalie: You're a pig with that.

Dan: What's with you?

Dan picks up the chunk of apple off the floor and tosses it, along with the rest of his apple, into the trash can. Natalie sets the can back on the floor.

Natalie: I need to speak with Dana.

"Speak with me about what?"

Natalie quickly turns around and sees Dana standing there.

Dana: What is it?

Natalie: We've got to talk.

Dana flips some pages on her clipboard.

Dana: First off, we've got a number of cancellations happening tonight because of the storm. Pretty much all games from here to Portland are canceled.

Natalie: Oregon?

Dana: Portland, Maine.

Natalie: We've got to talk right now.

Natalie quickly takes Dana's arm and swings her around. As Dana spins around, she knocks over the bouquet. It hits the floor- behind Dana and Natalie, but in front of Dan, Casey, and Jeremy. The vase shatters.

Natalie and Dana quickly spin back around, and the three guys hold out their hands and collectively say, "It wasn't us!"

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