Home > Happy Holidays Fun, The Monday Musings Column > The return of International Rescue? Maybe not…

The return of International Rescue? Maybe not…

Despite the chill of the early Spring day John could feel a bead or two of sweat on his brow as he approached the hotel. He was already beginning to regret having walked to Park Lane from Paddington, but a stroll through to the park had seemed like a good way to fix his mind on what he had to do.

Opposite the Dorchester he checked the time on his ‘phone; ten minutes to go. He turned into the breeze and opened his jacket to let the chill cool him a little. He checked the time again and turned towards the traffic.Across Park Lane he walked up to the hotel nodding to the doorman as he entered. At the desk he asked for Mr Niedermeyer and gave the suite number that he had been told to ask for. The receptionist made the call and told him to go on up.

He was met at the lift by an intense young woman who introduced herself as Sandra. She checked his name against something in the leather folder that she carried then, clutching the folder to her chest as though it were some form of protective shield, she led him to the suite. She tapped on the door and waited, turning to smile nervously at him. The door opened and a tall, gangling man appeared. “John, I’m Brad. Do come in” and he stepped back to allow admission, but not to Sandra who was shut out without comment on either part.

Brad was in his early thirties and about six foot six, but carried that stoop that tall men often adopt as if to apologise for their height. His long brown hair was tied into a plaited ponytail that ended between his shoulder blades and he wore a plaid shirt, newish looking denims and trainers. He led John through to the living area of the suite where a striking black woman and a little bald white man sat at either end of the sofa with papers scattered all around them.

“Hal Neidermeyer” said the man, getting to his feet and extending a hand. As Brad was tall so Hal was short, and getting up did not seem to make much difference to his height. He wore a formal shirt, open necked, over black trousers and his hand shake was like a vice. He nodded to the lady; “Gloria” he said, but Gloria remained seated and just waved a hand languidly in John’s direction saying nothing and barely seeming to notice him as she concentrated on the papers that she held.

John took the seat that was indicated and Brad sat on the floor with his legs crossed, hands palm up on his knees as though he was about to meditate. “OK let’s get down to it.” Hal started, “So you got this idea for a mini series. There’s this secretive organisation that gets people out of trouble. No-one knows who they are; they just send out a call and these people turn up and fix things.”

John nodded. “What do you think?” He asked, trying to keep his voice neutral. “Well it’s crap at the moment.” Hal replied, “For a start it’s all men and that ain’t going to fly, not these days. We need a mix, not just gender, but ethnic too. For a start the boss needs to be a woman…” Gloria interrupted without looking up from her papers; “Oprah’s people haven’t come back yet.”

“Let’s not jump into casting yet.” Said Brad without opening his eyes, “Let’s stay with plot lines, structure and format.” So who was the boss here thought John as Hal took up the discussion again. “OK, sure, whatever, now your pitching six half hour shows, but they need to be longer; forty five minutes max so that with commercial breaks we got an hour right. Now at this stage we might go with straight drama like you propose, but we might do better with making it a fake reality show right? So we got these six episode treatments you sent in, now we pick the strongest of those, pad it out and we got us a pilot, but if we want a season out of this we gonna need seven more stories at least.”

John said that he could probably come up with more ideas for stories, but Gloria cut him off; “We don’t need plots. Plots we got; we just recycle them from cop shows or whatever. Ordinary folks going about their business, something goes wrong, so we have jeopardy. Call goes out to the heroes, but can they get there in time; double jeopardy. Heroes arrive, but time is running short. They get to work, but things go wrong; triple jeopardy. Then just as the clock runs out; salvation, resolution, run end titles.”

“And that brings us to another problem with your treatments; not enough jeopardy, it’s all too British. We need shouting, panic, running around and action. Your base ideas are OK, but they won’t work on screen.” He looked at John. “Say don’t worry; you’re going to get a credit here. Your name will be at the head of the writer’s team in the credits each episode, but we’ll get our own team in to do the story details and scripts.”

“This idea of a secret base that these people work from won’t fly.” Said Gloria, “and nor will these machines that they operate. No-one is going to go with some scam like that. In any case it makes the sets expensive, and we want to put the budget into big names not big sets.”

“Right!” Said Hal, “We get big names in and we put the thing into one big building. We still have the idea of this magic team of people who can solve any problem. Folks in the building just have to say that something is wrong and your guys pick up the message and spring into action to fix things see? It’s still your idea, but we’ve just made it workable, scaleable.”

Brad was still as still as a sculpture, but he spoke again, eyes still firmly shut; “You see John, this idea of a family of problem solvers based on a secret mountain or island or whatever just isn’t going to fire an audience now; they need something new, something that is imaginative. So we put your basic concept into somewhere that everyone knows; their workplace, and we take your idea of a team of people for whom no problem is too great and have their base somewhere in the building. No-one us sure where they come from or who they are, but they always arrive, solve the problem no matter how bug it is or how dreadful the consequences of failure, and when they have saved the place they ask for no thanks, no recognition, they just disappear until the next time that there’s trouble.”

“With big names we can make that fly.” Gloria chipped back in, still apparently reading the papers in her hand. “We get a hard core bunch to play your team of heroes and then big ticket guest stars each week to play the victims. People will queue to get a guest spot on a show like this. I got Hanks wanting to play a villain, Cruise wants in, JLo, Alda, Shatner; they’re all sniffing. Keitel might have worked, but he’s doing those commercials so he’s off the list.”

John thought it all sounded a real bore for where was Gloria going to get her jeopardy out of an office setting; drama over a jammed photocopier perhaps, or a loose ceiling tile? But with a seven figure sum for the rights and a writing credit with the royalties that would bring what did he care. “OK. I can live with that; where do I sign?”

Brad opened his eyes and unfolded himself. “I’ll have our people get a contract to you today. He offered his hand to shake as he took John to the door. As he opened it Sandra appeared to escort John back to the lift.

“One last thing” called Brad, “We can’t use International Rescue as a title ‘cos someone else has rights to that, so we need a new name. We were going to call it FM!, but people will think that’s to do with radio, so we’ve got a working title of Facilities!”

Alone in the lift John gently banged his head against the wall. had he heard Brad right? Surely April first was last week.

 

 

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