Agonists and Underdogs



On the day of the awards ceremony, Jeremy is following Chris and Will through the newsroom.

Jeremy: I am just trying to gauge the general consensus.

Will: I'm pulling for you.

Chris: I'm pulling for you, too. And Dave is pulling for you also.

Jeremy: (unconvinced) Great.

Chris and Will are slightly annoyed by Jeremy's lack of enthusiasm for their support. Jeremy realizes his gaffe.

Jeremy: I mean... I appreciate all the people backing me on this nomination... it's just that I wish the awards selection committee would have the same respect for my work.

Will: Isn't Isaac on the selection committee?

Chris: Yeah.

Jeremy: Isaac?

Chris: I'm sure he could provide some insight.

Will: Even though the votes have been secured and tallied.

Chris: But he might be able to see how the committee was swaying.

Will: Do you think they sit around a table and discuss the nominations?

Chris: I don't know. I've never been on a selection committee.

Jeremy: Isaac had a vote in choosing the winner? He may have even cast the decisive vote!

Chris: We're going to be late for rundown.

Jeremy: What do you think are my odds of winning the award?

Will: Let's say better than average.

Jeremy: How much better?

Will: Since there are five nominees, let's say a little better than a one in five chance.

Jeremy: Even a little-better-than-average chance of winning still means a greater-than-average chance of losing.

Chris: At least we're very confident you won't finish in last place.

Jeremy: Yeah, thanks.

The three walk toward the conference room.


Inside the conference room, Isaac is seated at one end of the table. He tries to do some work, but is distracted by the conversations taking place among the crew. Natalie, Dave, and Elliott stand and conduct idle conversation. Dan has Kim "trapped" in a corner behind Isaac.

Dan: One ticket - that's all I ask.

Kim: Danny.

Dan: I'm willing to go as far as begging.

Kim: Would you go as far as getting down on your hands and knees?

As Dan begins to kneel, Isaac interrupts.

Isaac: Danny, since most of us will be at the awards presentation, you are aware Kim is producing tonight's show.

Dan stands upright.

Dan: (to Kim) You don't have a ticket to spare because you don't even have a ticket.

Kim: I thought about making you cluck like a chicken.

Kim steps around Dan and takes her seat.

Jeremy, Chris, and Will enter. Jeremy decides to sit next to Isaac.

Dana bursts through the door as the crew take their seats.

Dana: Okay, people. UConn-Texas. We've got to make it more interesting than the blowout prognosticators are saying.

Dana takes her seat as Dan reads off his notes.

Dan: There are several points we can make. UConn has a size advantage with a deep bench, while Texas has a better shooting percentage and defense.

Dana: Any updates on the injury situation?

Kim: Gordon's wrist is sore, but he's going to give it a go.

Jeremy subtlety looks at Isaac. Even though the odds are low, Jeremy has high hopes of receiving a small sign from Isaac signaling he is going to win the award. Isaac concentrates on the notes and agenda in front of him.

Natalie: Fatigue is going to play a factor with Texas, unless they run into some early foul trouble - which will also spell trouble for the entire team.

Dana notices Jeremy staring at Isaac.

Dana: Excuse me, Natalie. Jeremy? Is there something you would like to share?

Jeremy turns toward Dana.

Jeremy: Nothing at all.

Dana: I noticed you staring at Isaac. Are you admiring his choice in neckwear, or are you finding he spilled something on his tie?

Everyone, including Isaac, looks at Isaac's tie.

Jeremy: It's nothing.

Dan: That's a great tie.

Isaac: Thank you, Daniel.

Elliott: It goes really well with that suit.

Kim: It also perfectly matches his watch and belt.

Dan: Ralph Lauren always looks good on you, Isaac.

Dana: (frustrated) Excuse me, everybody. Even though I appreciate having good fashion sense, we need to focus our energies here. Losing focus can lead to facts being twisted or overlooked. That will lead us to doing half-assed stories.

Dan: (joking) Come on, Dana. I'm certain we can come up with a few more ways to do a half-assed story.

Dan realizes the seriousness of the situation when Dana slams her papers on the table.

Dana: Tonight could be a huge night for this network. This could be a huge night for us. We're not some rinky-dink cable network run on tin foil and wire.

People are paying really close attention to us. CSC has never received this many nominations. This show has been nominated for the most coveted award.

People are paying close attention to us. Mistakes are magnified. I want us to succeed in the long run, and in order for that to happen, I need everybody to focus.

The phone rings, and Kim goes over to the corner to pick it up.

Isaac: Dana.

Dana: Yes, Isaac?

Isaac: We're all under pressure to succeed. And some individuals put themselves under more pressure than they do others.

Dana: I don't want to fall back into third place because we couldn't keep our act together.

Kim places her hand over the telephone receiver.

Kim: Dana?

Dana quietly looks over to Kim and anticipates bad news.

Kim: It's the school's athletic director.

Dana: Raymond Miles?

Kim nods her head.

Natalie: Would you like for me to take the call?

Dana shakes her head.

Dana: I've got it. I'll take it in my office.

Dana gathers her papers as Kim places Athletic Director Miles on hold.

Dana: As I am getting chewed out, Natalie will be running the meeting.

Dana gets up and quickly exits the room. Everybody remaining looks around the room at each other.

Dan: Don't worry about Dana. We've got the 'facts' correct... right?

Isaac: Let's not dwell on it. Natalie?

Natalie: (trying to refocus) Right. Right.

Natalie looks over her notes.

Natalie: There's speculation news will be coming from Kansas City...


Dana is standing inside her office and looking out her window. Her face is tired and her body stands limp.

There is a knock on her closed door.

Dana: Unless there is a fire in the building, could you please come back in a few minutes.

"I'm making sure you're not going to jump out the window."

Recognizing Isaac's voice outside the door, Dana walks over and opens it. Isaac has a small grin on his face as he enters.

Dana: You can't open the windows in my office.

Isaac: (pointing behind her desk) Is that your chair?

Dana: Yes.

Isaac: You can use it in an unconventional way to open your window.

Isaac seats himself on the couch as Dana closes her door. She immediately feels guilty when Isaac looks at her. Dana begins to confess.

Dana: The school is pulling our credentials until further notice. I'm sorry, Isaac.

Isaac: It was to be expected.

Dana: Us losing our credentials or me screwing up?

Isaac: You didn't screw up. If I were in your position, I would have taken your exact steps.

Dana: How... when did I begin to lose control over my show?

Isaac: The day when I hired the whole bunch of you.

Dana: (surprised) Excuse me?

Isaac: Oh, that was the day when I lost control of my show.

Dana: Isaac? I have a Top 25 college basketball program revoking our credentials because they didn't like a story we aired, I have no idea when we're going to hire a new partner for Danny, and god knows what Natalie is doing to Jeremy in their little competition.

Isaac: Sounds like a typical day to me.

Dana turns around and picks up her hard-bound planner, which can barely contain all of its contents.

Dana: Look at my planner. It's overflowing with notes and memos and stuff. I got this planner a month ago because my previous planner was too small to contain all the information I needed to know. Now look at it. I think I've killed an entire forest will all the papers inside it.

Dana drops her planner and it strikes her desk with a "thud."

Isaac: Maybe we need to look into hiring you a personal assistant.

Dana: I don't want a personal assistant, Isaac. I just... I just didn't realize this would be so much work.

Isaac: Success?

Dana: If you wish to call it that.

Dana slumps into her chair.

Isaac: In regards to the story, you felt you were obligated to state the facts. You didn't think the school was going to stand quietly and not offer a response?

Dana: They could have issued a denial. They could have stood on a podium and said they had no knowledge of what took place. They could have said the boosters and athletes acted alone. Instead, they acted on their threats against us. They acted against us, Isaac.

Isaac: Good.

Dana: Good?

Isaac: Five years ago, nobody would have listened to us airing a story accusing a school of handing out improper benefits. We wouldn't have even made the radar screen. Today, they know people watch our network, and they listen. And they know the type of journalism we produce. And they know you have the reliability and integrity to back your stories.

Dana: It's hard to look at this as a positive situation.

Isaac stands up and balances himself with his cane.

Isaac: Just remember one thing: once you became successful, that's when the work really began.

Isaac walks over and gently rubs Dana's arm. She gets up, puts her arm around Isaac, and gently escorts him out of the office.

As Isaac exits into the corridor, a slightly nervous Jeremy is standing and patiently waiting for him.

Isaac: You have the look of a man who wants something from me.

Jeremy: I don't have a look.

Isaac: But you want something from me.

Jeremy: I'm not going to ask for a raise.

Isaac: Good.

The two start walking down the corridor.

Jeremy: But if I were to win an award tonight, I would think it would reflect very highly of me on my next yearly assessment. Thus, a raise in salary could be justified.

Isaac: And if I won the lottery, I could retire and go on a trip.

Jeremy: Where?

Isaac: Some place not on a map.

Jeremy: Some place where we couldn't find you.

Isaac: Exactly.

The two enter the newsroom.

Jeremy: It's funny you should mention the lottery.

Isaac: It wasn't meant to be a joke.

Jeremy: I'm just trying to say... the odds of winning the lottery are minute, and if you were to compare that with the odds of me winning tonight's award-

Isaac: You'd have a better chance of winning the award.

Jeremy: How much better?

Isaac: Jeremy.

Jeremy: I mean...

Isaac: What has Dana told you?

Jeremy: To remember these times and have fun.

Isaac: Right. And have you prepared an acceptance speech?

Jeremy: I've decided not to write one. I found in the past if I prepared an acceptance speech, I would lose. If I do the opposite, it might have the opposite effects.

Isaac: So you're trying to change your luck.

Jeremy: Unless, of course...

Isaac: I've got work to do, Jeremy.

Jeremy: I'll cut to the chase. Should I wear makeup tonight? Not something too gaudy, just a little something to wear while giving my speech.

The two stop in their tracks, directly in front of Jeremy's desk.

Isaac: You're asking me about makeup?

Jeremy: Yeah.

Isaac: Are you going as a mime?

Jeremy: A mime?

Isaac: Because if you were, then you wouldn't have to worry about reciting an acceptance speech.

Jeremy: Uh, no.

Isaac: Enjoy the time, Jeremy.

Isaac continues his walk toward his office as Jeremy sits at his desk.

Jeremy: (to Isaac) That still doesn't help me!

Jeremy turns to his computer and presses a button on his keyboard. He discovers someone has changed his screen saver to read, "LOSER!"


Dan is sitting along Isaac's window ledge and casually looking over a newspaper.

Isaac enters his office and notices Dan waiting for him.

Isaac: I suppose your number is next in line.

Dan stands up and turns to a specific article in the newspaper. Isaac walks over to his desk and slaps the top of it.

Isaac: Now serving number 48!

Dan: Have you been following the recent wire or seen today's newspaper?

Isaac: Nope, and I don't have any extra tickets, Daniel.

Dan: That's not the reason why I'm here, but if you do happen to come across any available-

Isaac: I'll be sure to let you know, Danny.

Dan: Great. Thanks.

Dan pulls Elliot's memo from inside the newspaper and hands it to Isaac. Isaac quickly glances at it.

Dan: That's the listing of estimated values of sports franchises.

Isaac: Are you trying to make me feel like I'm living near the poverty level?

Dan: No, sir-

Isaac: Because Esther and I are doing just fine, thank you.

Dan: Please take a look at the current rankings, and then look at the column listing their ranking last year.

Isaac: Why am I looking to compare-

Dan: Just look at the New England Patriots.

Isaac scans down the memo and reads the information Dan requested.

Isaac: Daniel, if this about the time you said you had the chance-

Dan: No, it isn't about me having a chance to own a small percentage of the Patriots. And it could have happened, by the way.

Isaac: What is this about?

Dan: It's concerning Casey.

Confused, Isaac tosses the memo on his desk.

Isaac: Are you trying to give me another stroke?

Dan: No, sir.

Isaac: Then spit it out.

Dan folds the newspaper and places it on Isaac's desk.

Dan: There's an article talking about the favorites to win the sports awards. In particular, there is a paragraph referring to "the heavily-favored Casey McCall." And I am quoting it as "heavily-favored."

Isaac examines Dan's squirming body language.

Isaac: I surely hope this conversation isn't stemming from jealousy on your behalf.

Dan: It's stemming from the fact that Casey wants to come back, and if Casey tries to come back as a multi-award-winning journalist, the network may not be willing to offer him a worthy contract.

Isaac: Because Casey's value will increase if he wins big tomorrow night.

Dan: Exactly. Just like the value of the Patriots skyrocketed when they won a few Super Bowls, Casey's value will skyrocket if he wins all these awards. We need the network to make a formal proposal right now.

Isaac: Donna and the boys are making the final decision. My hands are tied right now... but I'll see what I can do.

Dan: Thanks, Isaac.

Dan gives Isaac a "thumbs up" as Isaac picks up his phone and begins dialing. Dan quietly exits the room.

Isaac: (into phone) Yeah. Could I please speak with Donna Kendrick?

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