Preview: Hidden Palms

Hidden Palms

INT. OFFICE – DAY

We are in the office of a PRODUCER. He’s in his late twenties and full of coke and gym-induced energy. It’s sunny outside – it’s LA after all – but there’s the faint sound of a breeze. As the producer happily plays with his A-Team action figures, we slowly realise that the breeze is actually a whistling noise coming from between his ears.

There is a knock at the door.

PRODUCER

Come!

He giggles. He said come. That one always cracks him up. He returns to playing with Mr T.

Enter JUNIOR WRITER excitedly. Junior Writer is even younger than the Producer, Harvard-educated and has wanted to work in television his whole life. He hasn’t been paid in two years, even though his internship only lasted six months. But that’s all right: his trust fund is extensive.

The notepaper he carries in his hand contains The Idea.

JUNIOR WRITER

I have it! I have an idea for a new show.

Producer looks up. There’s only a slight glassiness to his eye from the coke. Slowly, he realises what this means.

PRODUCER

You mean…

JUNIOR WRITER

Yes!

PRODUCER

The Idea?

JUNIOR WRITER

Yes!

Producer throws away Mr T and leans back in his chair.

PRODUCER

Well, let’s hear it!

JUNIOR WRITER

It’s called ‘Hidden Palms’. Imagine The OC crossed with Desperate Housewives crossed with Blue Velvet.

There’s a pause of a minute before the Producer realises he can’t.

PRODUCER

Go on…

JUNIOR WRITER

Young teen, studious. Working away. His Pa comes in drunk. Tells him he shouldn’t be doing Math. He should be doing love poetry.

PRODUCER

(puzzled)

Okay…

JUNIOR WRITER

Kid humours him. Dad tells him to expect surprises in life, then walks out and shoots himself in the head with the kid watching!

PRODUCER

(more excited now)

Peachy!

JUNIOR WRITER

Cool, huh! And the thing is, we’re never going to explain why he did that. And it’s going to be the most exciting thing that ever happens in the show.

He nods enthusiastically. The Producer is less excited now. He motions, dubiously, for the Junior Writer to elaborate still further.

JUNIOR WRITER

So now it’s a year later and Ma has remarried and relocated the family to Palm Springs.

PRODUCER

(getting the Idea)

California! Like The OC!

JUNIOR WRITER

Exactly! As the family arrives we get to see the neighbours’ reactions. One of them should look exactly like Eva Longoria from ‘Desperate Housewives’ and do the same sort of things her character does, too. Another one should look like Kristin Davis from ‘Sex and the City’…

PRODUCER

(looking more and more like the exec from the Orange cinema adverts)

Or even be Kristin Davis from ‘Sex and the City’…

JUNIOR WRITER

(agreeing to this change, but resenting it all the same)

Could be. Could be. But she’s got to be prissy. Then there’s got to be some hot teenagers.

PRODUCER

Like The OC! But wait. Isn’t Palm Springs just full of retirees? Where do the teenagers come from?

JUNIOR WRITER

Doesn’t matter. And we’re never going to see anyone over the age of 50.

PRODUCER

Because teenagers hate the idea of old people, right?

JUNIOR WRITER

Exactly. Now young guy goes off and meets all these hot teenagers and has really deep conversations that actual teenagers never have. We know he’s deep and scarred by his father’s suicide because now…

(pauses for dramatic effect)

Now, he wears black T-shirts.

PRODUCER

That is deep. Black is like the colour of death. Death is deep. Anyone who wears black must be deep.

JUNIOR WRITER

(nodding)

But we – the audience – slowly find out that not everything’s as it seems. That there are things ‘hidden’ in Palm Springs.

PRODUCER

(in awe)

Hidden Palms…

Junior Writer is pleased his incredibly smart title choice is understood.

PRODUCER

But you said this was going to be like ‘Blue Velvet’. Does that mean oxygen masks, severed ears – all that David Lynch hidden depths of small towns stuff that freaks on the East Coast like?

JUNIOR WRITER

(hurriedly)

No, no, no! We’re talking kinky sex stuff that we’re never going to show, but only hint at.

PRODUCER

(intrigued)

Really? What kind of sex stuff? How kinky?

JUNIOR WRITER

(looking from side to side to make sure no one hears the depths of his depravity)

We’re talking threesomes. And get this, it’s two guys and a girl!

PRODUCER

(approvingly)

I never realised how depraved you were. We’ll be going where no one on television has gone before with this one. Tell me about the cast then.

JUNIOR WRITER

We’re going to have a real mix here. We’re going to have at least four teenagers, two girls, two boys. One of the girls will be a nerd, but not too nerdy and pretty cute all the same. The other girl will be smoking, spend a lot of her time getting wet or by the pool. But because’s she smart, yet beautfiul, she’s screwed up.

PRODUCER

(shakes his head sympathetically)

Of course. No woman can have brains and beauty and be well adjusted. It’s not natural. I’m glad I’m not a woman. And the other guy? What’s he like?

JUNIOR WRITER

Oh, he doesn’t need to have a personality. He’s just there to be obnoxious and fill up space.

PRODUCER

How about the parents? It’s a teen drama, so there have to be parents.

JUNIOR WRITER

I was thinking bland. We’ll have a few ‘colour’ characters, like a transvestite or something…

PRODUCER

(pleased)

Oh you’re taking this to the eXtreme here! This is almost… art!

JUNIOR WRITER

…but we don’t want anyone to detract from the teenagers. They’ve got to be the smartest, the most attractive and the dampest from all that swimming and water.

PRODUCER

(admiringly)

You’ve got this all worked out. Let’s talk plots.

JUNIOR WRITER

I thought typical ‘Hero’s Journey’. A mixture of exploration of the town’s secrets – The Quest – that turns into a voyage of self-discovery. The B-plots can be trivial stuff to do with real estate disputes. Quirky humour’s really big now.

PRODUCER

(standing happily)

I’m sold. Tyler, you know what.

JUNIOR WRITER

What?

PRODUCER

I’m going to give you a salary.

Pride and giddy excitement fills the Junior Writer’s face

JUNIOR WRITER

Thank you, Sir!

He leaves, running out to celebrate his first paying job. The Producer sits down and presses the intercom button on his desk.

PRODUCER

Marcie! Get me Kristin Davis’ agent on the phone. Tell her we’re going to need her for a new series. Only for about a season though….