I see you don't fancy my suggestions. MAX Hell, you're not being serious, are you? The fact is, I could make your Beale show the highest-rated news show in television, if you'd let me have a crack at it. MAX What do you mean, have a crack at it? I wouldn't interfere with the actual news. But teevee is show biz, Max, and even the News has to have a little showmanship.
MAX My God, you are serious. You had a minute and a half on that lady riding a bike naked in Central Park. On the other hand, you had less than a minute of hard national and international news. It was all sex, scandal, brutal crimes, sports, children with incurable diseases and lost puppies.
So I don't think I'll listen to any protestations of high standards of journalism.
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You're right down in the street soliciting audiences like the rest of us. All I'm saying is, if you're going to hustle, at least do it right. I'm going to bring this up at tomorrow's network meeting, but I don't like network hassles, and I was hoping you and I could work this out between us. That's why I'm here right now. MAX sighs And I was hoping you were looking for an emotional involvement with a craggy middle-aged man.
They appraise each other for a moment; clearly, there are the possibilities of something more than a professional relationship here. MAX Well, Diana, you bring all your ideas up at the meeting tomorrow. Because, if you don't, I will. I think Howard is making a goddam fool of himself, and so does everybody Howard and I know in this industry. It was a fluke. It didn't work.
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Tomorrow, Howard goes back to the old format and this gutter depravity comes to an end. She leans forward to flick her ash into MAX's desk ash tray. Half-shaded as she is by the cone of light issuing from the desk lamp, it is nipple-clear she is bra-less, and MAX cannot help but note the assertive swells of her body. You hung around till half-past seven and came all the way down here just to pitch a couple of loony show biz ideas when you knew goddam well I'd laugh you out of this office.
I don't get it. What's your scam in this anyway?
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DIANA moves back to the desk and crushes her cigarette out in the desk tray. My little visit here tonight was just a courtesy made out of respect for your stature in the industry and because I've personally admired you ever since I was a kid majoring in speech at the University of Missouri. But sooner or later, now or in January, with or without you, I'm going to take over your network news show, and I figured I might as well start tonight.
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I had a terrible schoolgirl crush on you for a couple of months. She smiles, glides to the doorway again. MAX Listen, if we can get back for a moment to that gypsy who predicted all that about emotional involvements and middle-aged men -- what're you doing for dinner tonight? DIANA pauses in the doorway, and then moves back briskly to the desk, picks up the telephone receiver, taps out a telephone number, waits for a moment -- DIANA on phone I can't make it tonight, luv, call me tomorrow.
She returns the receiver to its cradle, looks at MAX; their eyes lock. MAX Do you have any favorite restaurant? MAX I better warn you I don't do anything on the first date. She moves for the door. MAX stares down at his desk. MAX mutters Schmuck, what're you getting into? He sighs, stands, flicks off his desk lamp.
MAX Twenty-six years.
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I have a married daughter in Seattle who's six months pregnant, and a younger girl who starts at Northwestern in January. DIANA -- Well, Max, here we are -- middle-aged man reaffirming his middle-aged manhood and a terrified young woman with a father complex. What sort of script do you think we can make out of this?
MAX Terrified, are you? I'm the hip generation, man, right on, cool, groovy, the greening of America, man, remember all that? God, what humbugs we were. In my first year at college, I lived in a commune, dropped acid daily, joined four radical groups and fucked myself silly on a bare wooden floor while somebody chanted Sufi sutras.
I lost six weeks of my sophomore year because they put me away for trying to jump off the top floor of the Administration Building. I've been on the top floor ever since. Don't open any windows around me because I just might jump out. Am I scaring you off? MAX No. DIANA I was married for four years and pretended to be happy and had six years of analysis and pretended to be sane.
My husband ran off with his boyfriend, and I had an affair with my analyst. He told me I was the worst lay he had ever had. I can't tell you how many men have told me what a lousy lay I am. I apparently have a masculine temperament. I arouse quickly, consummate prematurely, and can't wait to get my clothes back on and get out of that bedroom.
I seem to be inept at everything except my work. I'm goddam good at my work and so I confine myself to that. All I want out of life is a 30 share and a 20 rating. Frank's a corporation man, body and soul. He surrendered his spirit to C. He's a marketing-merchandising management machine, precision- tooled for corporate success.
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He's married to one C. He has no loves, lusts or allegiances that are not consummately directed towards becoming a C. So why should he bother with me?
I'm not even a stockholder. MAX How about your loves, lusts and allegiances? They smile at each other. MAX Yes. Blinds drawn. MAX Hell, you were the girl who kept telling me what a lousy lay she was. She bounces out of bed and stands naked in the shadowed darkness, arms akimbo, looking happily down at MAX on the bed. Are you going to let me take over your network news show or not? MAX laughs Forget it. Tomorrow, Howard Beale goes back to being a straight anchorman. I'll tell him first thing tomorrow morning. You'll have to speak a little louder.
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