Studio 60 Draft Scripts by Aaron Sorkin, The Days After
A parody post by matt, posted on February 7, 2007 at 10:08 pm
Aaron Sorkin is perhaps the only famous television writer. After dabbling in the movies with the screenplays to films like A Few Good Men and The American President, Sorkin found his true calling, and great success, on the smaller screen. Over the course of his career, he created the critically-acclaimed and often-mourned Sports Night, the critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning and long-running West Wing and, most recently, the much-anticipated and fabulously-disappointing Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
He has a very distinctive style of writing, with an emphasis on overarching messages, rapid-fire dialogue and similar character archetypes. He is often the subject of parody.
A Studio 60 Script, the day after Aaron Sorkin gets stuck in traffic.
INT. Studio Office
Matt Alby and Danny Tripp, executive producers, are talking in Matt’s studio office above the stage. Matt slouches on the couch. Danny stands behind the desk, eyes watching the stage below.
Danny Tripp: I just don’t get it. I don’t get it!
Matt Alby: You don’t get it.
Danny: I don’t get it!
Matt: What don’t you get?
Danny: I’ve got this car. Four doors, four wheels, 29 miles to the gallon, power steering, power doors, a hybrid engine that’s so damn efficient it reminds me of my mother, a six CD changer, something called fuel injection, an anti-lock braking system and — best of all — cup holders you could drown in and still — still! — I’m stuck in traffic. We’re all stuck in traffic.
Matt: That’s why you were late. Traffic.
Danny:Got stuck in traffic!
Matt: Your mother was really that efficient?
Danny: And that’s the thing. That’s the thing that gets me each and every time I am stuck out there on that highway. The Interstate. Built wide enough to land planes on in war-time. Eisenhower, Patton, Nixon, Hoover all those guys in dark suits and dark ties who thought of nothing but Russians, Communism and their scary love of something they thought was freedom — they thought highways you could land planes on could help them win a war. My father taught me that. But the problem is you’d never be able to land planes on them because there’s too many cars. There are too many cars. So many cars you couldn’t land the planes to win the war. Murder in the streets, anarchy at home, we’re all goose-stepping our way to the Kodak Theatre to see the 2006 remake of Birth of a Nation win a freaking Academy Award. And for what? For what? For traffic. For traffic! Meanwhile, down the road, Harvey Fierstein is being given a Razzie Award and, oh yeah, strung up to die all because of this.
Matt: Because he’s Jewish?
Danny:No. [exasperated] Because he’s gay.
Danny: Yeah. Traffic.
A Studio 60 script, the day after Aaron Sorkin plays Mortal Kombat for the first time
INT. An Awards Show
Matt Alby and Danny Tripp, executive producers, are sitting at a dinner table at an awards show. Matt’s got his head in his hands, watching his dinner intently. Danny sits beside him, mouth slightly agape, watching his friend and partner.
Danny: Something’s not right with you today. Something’s off.
Matt: I can’t get my head together.
Danny: A girl, isn’t it? It’s always a girl.
Matt: Yes. No. It’s not, really. It’s more…
Matt:It’s Mortal Kombat.
Danny: Mortal Kombat?
Danny:The game Mortal Kombat.?
Danny:You’re sure this isn’t about a girl?
Danny:This is about Mortal Kombat. The game.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah.
Matt: I should explain.
Danny: You think?
Matt: I’m playing this game the other day. It’s new. Really new. Like fiber-optic tubes delivered by F-19s to provide broadband internet access to New York so all the new immigrants can watch new episodes of Newhart — that kind of new. And I’m playing it and it’s everything they say it is. It’s violent and gross and requires the kind of twitchy fingers only spead freaks in Tulsa and call girls in Iowa have. It’s all those things. But it’s more than that, too. It’s a lot more.
Danny: See, I thought it was a game where Ninjas fight each other.
Matt: Yes, at it’s most basic level. But at it’s most basic level a car is just a box with wheels. A computer is just an intelligent fish tank. A woman is just a man with breasts. But both you and I know that they’re a whole lot more than that.
Danny: This is about a girl.
Matt: No. No. It’s not. It’s about Mortal Kombat. The game. Five buttons, one joystick, nine characters, ten stages, over a thousand combos and a relentless amount of blood. It’s the kind of game that could only be designed by the very best kind feckless, godless, soulless sons of bitches. The kind of people who think of eight ways to kill you before they finish shaking your hand, who could draw your girlfriend’s breasts from memory, who don’t so much wish for happiness when they blow out their birthday candles as they do for a nuclear bomb to go off just so they can say they were alive when a million people died in an instant. But it’s in my head, Danny, and that’s the problem. That’s my problem. I got Mortal Kombat in my head. You ever hear of Goro?
Danny: No. But let’s go back to that breasts thing.
Matt: Goro is one of the bosses. One of the last guys you fight before you save the world. He’s got two arms, two legs, and a head, neck — nothing you wouldn’t expect, except, when you get right down to it, he’s got two more arms. Two more arms than you or I. Four arms. He’s prince of the Shokan race, hailing from the Kuatan realm of Outworld. And if you don’t know what that means then I envy you because I sure as hell do. I know better than most people. Because that’s the thing with Goro. He picks me up, he doesn’t put me down. He just hits me and hits me and hits me and it won’t stop. It doesn’t stop, Danny. It won’t stop. I can’t beat him, this guy who’s got two more arms than the best humanity has ever seen. Two more arms than Socrates, Caesar, Lincoln and Babe Ruth. Two more arms. He’s strong as nothing to begin with. And then he’s got two more arms. I beat everything before him, even beat the Test Your Might stages. They were hard but I beat them. I beat Kano. I beat Sonya. I even Raiden, God of Thunder. So you tell me, Danny, why can’t I beat this last guy? Why can’t I beat Goro?
Danny: This is about a girl.
Matt: [pauses] Maybe.
A Studio 60 script, the day after Aaron Sorkin reads his own scripts
INT. A Long Hallway
Matt Alby and Danny Tripp, executive producers, are walking down a long hallway. It is apparently very very long.
Matt: So we do this to start.
Matt: We go back and forth.
Danny: Back and forth?
Danny: And Forth?
Danny: Just like this. About nothing at all?
Matt: Yeah. Back and forth about nothing at all.
Danny: And then what happens?
Matt: And then I start into a monologue. About some trivial thing. And, you know, I list things. I list words and phrases and opinions but most of all I list trivia. Bizarre trivia. Esoteric trivia. The kind of trivia most people don’t carry around in their heads. But for some reason we do. We know things like that Agatha Christie wrote the longest-running play in history. Or that the human brain is 85% water. Or that if you add up the numbers from 1 to 100 consecutively the total is 5050. Hell, we make references to people like Count de Grisle who was the first magician to ever saw a woman right in half. That’s what he did. He took a woman and sawed her in half. It seems pretty typical now but at the time that was revolutionary.
Danny: Did he really saw her in half?
Matt: Yes. No. I don’t know. But that’s the point. That’s why we do these monologues filled with short sentences, trivia, lists and asides. It’s because we have some point we want to make but we wont’ say it. We can’t say it. So we dance around it. Not literally, of course. We dance around it like Tennesee Williams danced around sex, like Capra danced around indecency, like James Frey danced around telling the damn truth.
Danny: I see how you did that. You listed things.
Matt: And topical things! But not really. It’s like a million words that don’t mean anything adding up to something that does mean something, but just barely. But we are goddamn passionate about that meaning. Because you have to be. You need to be. There’s a lot to be said for the people in this world that talked and talked and talked and, just when you were about to give up and smack them in the face with a frying pan or, you know, a giant cartoon anvil, they say something real. They say something that hits home and reminds you of all those times when you were a kid, when your dad was cheating on your mom for twenty years but you didn’t find out until you were an adult, or you had a brother who is more noble but less artistically talented than you obviously are. Or it reminds you of your addiction to drugs or alcohol which is crippling but also tragic and imbues you with the same kind of tenacity that imbued Mothra when he descended again and again on Tokyo. And you know one thing, really, despite everything — despite the the highways and the interviews and the stark, urban, pop-culture imagery I want to use in this list — and that is that common, everyday things that people do across this country are actually grossly soulless and perverse and, also, everybody is stupid except me.
Danny: And then there’s a pause.
Matt: [emphatically] Yeah.
Danny: And generally it all turns out to be all about a girl, right?