Love or Sanity



Sam and Isaac are seated in Isaac's office.

Sam: So there he was following me around the office proposing to shadow me. He said he wanted to figure out how I do what I do. He suggested learning my methods to establish some crazy maintenance plan for after I'm gone.

Isaac: Doesn't sound too crazy to me.

Sam: It didn't sound that crazy to me, either.

Isaac: Well, then why didn't you agree to it?

Sam: How could I? Admit that this kid had a good idea? Not to mention the implications of the whole maintenance plan - never having to call me back. Am I supposed to go around teaching everyone my tricks so that I teach myself out of a job? Sure, I can see why he suggested it. But I can't voluntarily agree to it. It's not my way.

Isaac: So, you can't voluntarily agree to it? But you couldn't get out of it if, say, the Managing Editor assigned Jeremy to, what was it, shadow you?

Sam: Since the Managing Editor hired me, I think I must bow to his requests as long as they are reasonable.

Isaac: Funny, I seem to remember a certain big-eyed youth following me around eons ago. I didn't want to play professor either, as I recall - too many questions. I think I was forced into by the guy who'd hired me. And look how that turned out.

Isaac nods toward Sam as Sam forms a semi-smile.

Isaac: There's something else isn't there?

Sam: No.

Isaac: You're bothered by the fact Jeremy just assumed you were here temporarily. You figured you were here for the long haul?

Sam: Isaac- I'm known to go around from job-to-job and resolve whatever crisis is before me. When people start to assume one is leaving in the near future, they start to pay attention less and less to that one.

Isaac: You think the staff will revert back to their previous ways because they think you will be leaving once this crisis is over.

Sam: It makes sense why things are different this time around.

Isaac: Sam? I've known you for a long time, and during that time, I've never known for you to stay in one spot. When I called you a few months back, I asked if you would like a permanent position- figuring I was just wasting my time, but being courteous nonetheless. You said, "Isaac, that is a wonderful idea." All of a sudden, I'm in a position where I had to think long and hard about your addition to the staff, and how they would function with your presence here- permanently. I figured it was a wonderful idea- so you are here. That is why it is different this time around.

Sam stares at Isaac.

Isaac: Well, are we late enough for the run down meeting for you to make your perfunctory entrance?

Sam: Close enough.

Sam and Isaac get up and leave the office.


The staff is wrapping up their first run down meeting of the day.

Dana: People it looks like we have a full day ahead. Dan and Casey, there will not be much leeway with the show tonight, so keep the writing concise.

Casey: Got it.

Dana: Isaac will be out for a little while, and I will be having my review today, so please pardon me if I'm completely up-to-date with what will be happening today-

Natalie: I've been keeping you posted, Dana.

Dana: Yes, you have, Natalie. But everybody is going to be on their own.

Dan: I just want to say that there may be periods- some of them long- when I am not visible. Be assured that I am working. I will be out of the office, but I will have my cell phone and laptop with me. So if any of you need to reach me, I am available.

Dana: Well, thank you Dan for that informative, yet expendable information.

Dan: Not a problem.

Casey: (singing) Take me out to the ball game...

Dana: And Casey has broken out into song. Anything useful to add before we conclude?

Isaac: I have a suggestion. I think Sam has done a great job so far; I believe you'll all agree with me on that.

Everyone around the room nods.

Isaac: However what he has done and how he has done it remains a mystery to us all. I would like to propose that one of you, preferably Jeremy or Natalie, figure out what he does and how he does it. I'm not talking about stealing any trade secrets. I just want us to get a feel for the kinds of decisions he makes. Sam is here to stay, but we need to be able to stand on our own two feet whenever he is absent from the show.

Jeremy: A maintenance plan. That's exactly what I was trying to explain to him this morning. Isaac, if it's all right with Natalie, I am really interested in this. I think I can do it and my regular responsibilities.

Isaac: Good. Sam, will you agree to it?

Sam: I won't like it.

Isaac: I asked if you'd do it.

Sam: If he can keep up. and no trade secrets.

Everyone, outside of Isaac, Sam, and Jeremy, cannot believe what they just heard.

Isaac: Jeremy, start tomorrow. Go make good TV, people. I've got a meeting to attend.

Isaac leaves the conference room, followed by Sam and Jeremy.

Sam: (outside the door) Isaac said tomorrow.

Jeremy takes a step back into the conference room.

Jeremy: I know. I'll just go out the other side.

Jeremy makes his way across the conference room, but he is stopped by Kim.

Kim: Have you thought about it, Jeremy?

Jeremy: Kim? I've thought about it, and I've concluded that now may not be the best time.

Kim: It's not a problem. I've asked Amy and she said she's interested. I think you two would be nice for each other.

Jeremy: Nice?

Kim: I could set you two up.

Jeremy looks at Kim then at Chris.

Chris: I'd do it, Jeremy. I've met Amy.

Kim: What are you thinking, Jeremy?

Jeremy clutches the pen in his hand.

Jeremy: Maybe another time.

Kim: Okay.

Jeremy leaves the conference room.


Dan and Casey are in their office.

Casey: You're not going to go to Boston.

Dan: I am going.

Casey: You'll miss the last two run downs.

Dan: I'll be working.

Casey: No, you won't.

Dan: Yes, I will.

Casey: You're not going to go to Boston.

Dan: Casey.

Casey: It's raining there.

Dan: No, it's not.

Casey smiles and nods his head. Panicked, Dan changes the channel on the television. The screen shows the northeastern United States covered in green- signifying it is indeed raining.

Dan: No! This can't be happening!


Dana is walking into an office. Three executives stand up in front of the table where they were sitting and they greet Dana.

J.J.: Dana, welcome. I'm sure you know Ray Mitchell, the director of program development.

Ray and Dana shake hands.

Dana: Yes, Ray. Good to see you again.

Ray: Likewise.

J.J.: And of course, Billy Tasker, the senior vice president of current programming.

Billy: Thanks for coming today, Dana.

Dana and Billy shake hands.

Dana: You're welcome.

J.J.: Let's all have a seat.

The four take a seat around a square table. Dana sits quietly while J.J., Ray, and Billy shuffle some notes.

Billy: I understand today is a busy day for Sports Night.

Dana: Yes, it is. Events are concluding, some are beginning... and some are ongoing. Natalie has been great in helping organize and make assignments.

Ray: Natalie?

Dana: Yes, Natalie Hurley, my senior associate producer. She was recently nominated-

Ray: Oh yes. I remember Natalie.

Billy: You're ratings have been holding steady as of late.

Dana: Yes, I am aware of that.

J.J.: Dana, if I may speak for the network, we are all proud of your accomplishments over the past year, and your individual contributions to Sports Night have not gone unnoticed.

Ray: You've done a remarkable job.

Billy: Especially with the resources you have at hand.

J.J.: I'm going to cut to the chase, and let you know what we are offering.

J.J. slides a contract over to Dana. Dana grasps it and starts looking it over.

J.J.: We want you back, and we are prepared to offer you a long-term deal with the network. It is financially rewarding and it should help bring some sanity to the world of sports television programming.

Dana flips through a few of the pages.

Dana: There are many clauses in this contract.

J.J.: Yes there is. We've grown- meaning the Continental Sports Channel, Continental Corp, and of course, Quo Vadimus. We can go over each clause one-by-one if you desire.

Billy: It's good you have questions.

J.J.: You don't mind if we skip around and talk about your review and go over your contract, do you Dana?

Dana looks at another page.

Dana: No. No, I do not mind at all.


Jeremy is typing away at his computer, when Natalie walks up from behind.

Natalie: What are you working on?

Jeremy: I'm double-checking my figures about free agency in professional football.

Natalie: You've been working really hard on that. In fact, you've been working really hard over the past few weeks.

Jeremy: Well, it's good to stay busy. It's called job security.

Natalie: Yeah. So Kim tells me you turned down an opportunity to go on a date.

Jeremy stops typing.

Jeremy: Listen, Natalie-

Natalie: It's all right for you to see other people. It was going to happen eventually.

Jeremy: I don't care to see anybody right now. I'm perfectly content being a bachelor and focusing on my career.

Natalie: I hear Amy's a really nice lady.

Jeremy: Yes, I keep hearing nice.

Natalie: I'm just saying, I'm all right with you seeing other women.

Jeremy: But Natalie, the point is that I don't care to see anybody right now. I am comfortable sitting in front of the television and eating a frozen meal-

Natalie: You're putting it in the microwave and cooking it, right?

Jeremy: -and watching... yes, Natalie, I am cooking my meals in the microwave. It's just, when I'm ready to start dating again, I will start dating again.

Natalie: Okay.

Jeremy: You're upset.

Natalie: No, I'm not upset. I'm no longer your girlfriend, so I have no reason to be upset.

Jeremy: Okay, you're not upset.

Natalie: Did you notice I did not use the word fiancé? I used girlfriend in its place?

Jeremy: I noticed.

Natalie: Okay.

Natalie starts to walk away, stops, and turns toward Jeremy.

Natalie: Jeremy, please don't be doing this for the sake of me.

Jeremy starts typing again as Natalie walks off.


Dana, J.J., Ray, and Billy are continuing the discussion over Dana's contract. Dana has the original copy while the others have duplicate copies.

Dana: I noticed this new policy listed here. It has to do with interoffice relationships.

J.J.: Yes, it was something that was brought to our attention. After a few meetings, we decided to incorporate the new policy into all new contracts.

Ray: It's really something to protect the network in the future.

Billy: It's like a prenuptial agreement. It's just insurance in case things don't work out as originally planned.

Dana: To me, it feels like you're cutting into our personal lives.

J.J.: You're right, Dana. It does interfere with whom we may have relationships outside of work. For instance, if a producer were to be dating a staffer, some other staffers may feel that the producer may show favoritism toward that staffer. In the eyes of the staff, that producer loses their credibility. In the same example, if the two were to break up, the staffer may resent the producer and start to be delinquent on assignments. The staffer, of course, would be reprimanded. The staffer, in turn, may file a harassment lawsuit against the corporation. This clause helps prevent those scenarios from happening.

Dana: What about good friends?

Billy: That's different.

Dana: How is it different?

Billy: There are fewer complications in friendships.

Dana: Why stop at intimate relationships? Why not move on to personal relationships- friendships? Friends have the same feelings and emotions for each other. They do things together, and that may portray an image of partisanship to other members of the team. At the same time, that friendship or relationship may elevate the performances of the entire staff. People work better and harder because they come to a place where they are with their friends and they can accomplish many great things.

Billy: But we are not forbidding friendships.

Dana: How many marriages do you see where the spouses are each other's best friend? There's a special bond with friendships. The intimacy is just a step further. It's all right for two people to have feelings for each other as long as they do not become intimate. Why tempt them with the prospect of wanting to explore something deeper? Why not ban friendships, which will help eliminate the temptation of an intimate relationship?

J.J.: Dana, this is just a precautionary measure. Like Billy stated, this is insurance in case things don't go as planned.

Dana: I feel strongly against this. We are professionals and as long as we are educated about the possible consequences of having relationships with fellow employees, we shouldn't have people watching over us. If we cannot perform our responsibilities because of personal feelings, then we should not have those responsibilities in the first place.

J.J.: This is just a trivial clause, but it helps absolve the corporation from any liabilities. It would be a shame if anybody were to come back and try to harm us because of the breakdown of a relationship.

Dana takes a deep breath.


Dan and Casey are in their office and typing away at their computers.

Casey: How are you doing?

Dan: I think the Dodgers and Diamondbacks need to come before the Mariners and Athletics.

Casey: Okay.

Dan: But after the White Sox and Indians.

Casey? Got it. What about the Red Sox and Orioles.

Dan: Barring a rainout- probably after those three.

Casey: Again, depending on the highlights.

Dan: Yeah, that's the preliminary set-up.

Casey: You still going to go through with it?

Dan: Casey... you don't understand-

Casey: Oh, I understand.

Dan: Do you?

Casey: Wanting to sneak off and do something while the rest of us remain ignorant? Yeah, I do understand.

Dan: You said that like you know from experience.

Casey: I did?

Dan: Yeah. What did you do?

Casey: Nothing.

Dan: No, you did something. I want to know what you did and how you got away with it.

Casey: Promise not to tell anybody.

Dan gets up and closes the door to their office.

Dan: You have my word.

Casey: Okay, here's the deal. I had to keep somebody in the building one night. I had to keep them from leaving without them knowing I was trying to keep them from leaving.

Dan: How did you do that?

Casey: I made sure there was plenty to do. I ended up using my connections with another network-

Dan: This is elaborate.

Casey: -and told them to change one of their stories.

Dan: You can't do that.

Casey: Well, they did.

Dan: What story did you have them change?

Casey: I had them report it was raining in Boston.

Dan: Yeah, but.... hey!

Casey starts laughing.


Isaac meets J.J. outside of an executive suite as J.J. is leaving.

Isaac: How did it go?

J.J.: Dana's review went really well. We've re-signed her to a contract. I hope you don't mind us using her for future specials.

Isaac: No, I don't mind at all.

J.J.: Sports Night looks to be set for a while.

Isaac: What about Casey?

J.J.: What about him?

Isaac: Aren't you guys going to make him an offer?

J.J.: Isaac, please don't ask me that right now.

Isaac: J.J., I have a right to know what is happening with Sports Night.

J.J. looks at Isaac.

J.J.: Come with me.

Isaac follows J.J. into a suite. J.J. closes the door after Isaac enters.

J.J.: You want to know about Casey?

Isaac: Yes.

J.J.: Isaac, we're not pleased with his performance over the past year. Actually, the past couple of years.

Isaac: You're not going to re-sign him.

J.J.: Isaac, it's not completely up to me. Frankly, we felt we didn't get the type of contribution for the money we paid.

Isaac: So, it's a money situation.

J.J.: It's not all about money.

Isaac: But you are going to let Casey walk.

J.J.: We've spent a lot on the talent we have developing right now. If we were to make Casey an offer, it would have to be below his fair-market value.

Isaac: So you want to spend less and get the same amount of production?

J.J.: We feel there is enough talent here to off-set the loss of Casey. We probably could bring in somebody else, and we might get similar production to Casey's.

Isaac: So, it would be in his best interests to look for employment elsewhere?

J.J.: I don't know. His contract expires in a couple of months.

Isaac: Three.

J.J.: Three months. We just don't have it in our budget. Also with the stagnant ratings, we can't project further improvement in the next few years. If the ratings were climbing, then we could take a chance.

Isaac: J.J., our ratings have remained steady?

J.J.: Yes.

Isaac: Even though we are spending less for live programming.

J.J.: Well, we could not help those situations.

Isaac: We lost the baseball contract, we lost the CBA when they folded, we don't have NASCAR, we don't have the NFL, we don't have the NBA, and the hockey season has concluded. We even lost out on the bidding for the XFL which, in retrospect, looks like a blessing.

J.J.: Isaac, we are working on different remedies.

Isaac: All we have for the summer is a few track and field events, the MLS, tennis, and golf. And if Tiger Woods isn't playing, our audience is cut in half.

J.J.: Yes, we don't have many live broadcasts.

Isaac: How am I supposed to retain viewers when we cannot even attract sports.

J.J.: Isaac-

Isaac: Twelve percent. The overall network ratings have dropped twelve percent, yet our ratings have remained steady. You cannot tell me we have disappointed you.

J.J.: Isaac, it doesn't justify negotiating with Casey McCall.

Isaac: J.J., I've always been a firm believer in investing.

J.J.: With the downturn in the markets-

Isaac: I'm not talking about the stock value. I'm talking about people. If you invest in good people, you get quality work. If you invest in quality people, you get exceptional work. Casey McCall is a high quality person and he does exceptional work for CSC. If I were a network looking to hire somebody with a solid background- somebody to build a foundation- I would hire Casey McCall. I stood by him when all of us- you and me- started CSC, and I'm standing by him right now.

J.J.: Isaac, the network has been questioning what you are backing. We needed budget cuts, and you hired Sam Donovan.

Isaac: You said we needed higher ratings.

J.J.: And they haven't risen since Donovan has been brought aboard, have they?

Isaac: If it's money that's keeping you from hiring Casey, then make him a fair offer. Whatever difference you need, you can take from my salary.

J.J.: Isaac, there's no need to-

Isaac: I'm serious J.J. Sports Night needs Casey, and I'm willing to do what it takes to keep him.

J.J. thinks about it for a moment.

J.J.: We are going to need more budget cuts and possibly more staffing cuts from Sports Night.

Isaac: I guess this isn't something we can resolve, is it?

J.J.: We'll keep this conversation confidential and I'll make sure your proposal to keep McCall is put under consideration.

J.J. opens the door to the office. Isaac walks out and J.J. follows behind him.

Isaac heads in one direction, while J.J. heads in the opposite direction.

Ray stands at the end of the hall as J.J. approaches him.

Ray: J.J., come on. We have that meeting to attend.

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