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The Sitcom Pitch - Emerald Wells Café


Walter sat in the waiting room, his briefcase at his feet. It took three years to compile the seven hundred pages of the story. It took another three years to get a chance to pitch his story. On the other side of that door, sat a producer, his lawyer, and the money man.

Walter’s foot taped; one then both, then one again. It was nervous energy and fear – mostly fear. He felt a little jolt when the door opened. He stood and lifted his briefcase. He remembered to smile.

The introductions were made. Jim Atwood, Producer. Mark Tomlin, Lawyer. Mr. Sato, representing a Venture Capital group. And Walter, introvert writer.

Walter opened his briefcase and set the seven hundred pages on the table.

Atwood said, “We only have about thirty minutes. Then we have another appointment scheduled,” when he saw the pile.

Walter cleared his throat, “Imagine this,” he held up his two hands in the shape of a frame, “a Texas road, a shiny newer Chevy pickup. Behind the wheel a cowboy. He is wearing a black short sleeve shirt, sleeves tucked up, looking like cuffs. Smooth, clean cowboy hat, square jaw. Clearly confidant, Clearly looking for something.”

“What,” Sato interrupted. “This is a western? I thought it had something to do with emeralds. Maybe smuggling.”

“Well, no, it’s not a western. Not exactly. Let me tell you about Earl. He is the cook at this little café, off the highway in this town that got bypassed by the new interstate system. Earl loves cooking breakfast for people. When he is not cooking, he sits on a stool in the kitchen and reads the newspaper. If the café is real quiet, he plays the radio. He is heavy set, but not fat. Think Russell Crow, in L.A. Confidential., but wearing jeans, cowboy boots a white shirt and apron.” Walter hesitated, “Robert Pastorelli, would have been perfect.”

“So, another cowboy?” Sato inserted.

“It is not exactly a western, but it takes place in Texas, so naturally – when in Rome.” He stood up. “See there were three young men from this town. They were too young to fight in World War II, but when Korea came along they joined up with the Marines together. They wanted to prove themselves. There was Jimmy, Carl and Earl. They grew up together. They had a terrible day in Korea. It looked like they were going to be overrun by the Chinese. Earl got on the radio and called for help. At the moment the Chinese were on them, this American Army tank came over a nearby ridge at a sprint, 50 caliber machine gun weakening the resolve of the advancing men. One enemy soldier threw a hand grenade as he turned to run. Jimmy was killed.”

Walter took a few quick paces. “That Captain that drove that tank, is the cowboy in the Chevy pickup. Earl and Carl liked Harold the minute he arrived in their lives. They were sure that Jimmy would have liked him also. That…”

“This is about Army buddies. We can’t do a show about Army buddies.” Atwood frowned.

Walter wiped at the corners of his mouth, “The young men were Maries. Harold was an Army Captain. They are all out of the service at this point. They met in Korea. Now they are in Texas. The shiny pickup is leading Harold to a new life. It is not a war story; I am talking about background.”

Atwood still frowning asked, “What do these people do that would be of interest to other people? Say my audience? Is this like Ocean’s Eleven? These guys are going to pull a heist? Maybe a stash of emeralds.”

“We are getting off the track here. Earl and Carl came home after their service and went back to their lives. Carl is a mechanic. He can make any gasoline or diesel engine run like the day it came from the factory. He keeps every car in Emerald Wells running and many people from the neighboring town bring their cars to him as well. That reminds me, one day a young fellow with a pink Cadillac passed through and he needed Carl’s help. The young man sat over at the Café all morning while Carl worked on his caddie. It’s said, that fellow got the idea for two of his songs right at the counter where Carl sits and has breakfast every morning. Earl cooks his breakfast just the way he likes it. Em serves him coffee. I imagine a Mary Tyler Moore type, but cuter. She’s blonde, every man in town would like to… well you know, go out with her. She is a real curious type.She likes everybody and everybody likes her.”

Walter noticed he was pacing and sat back down. “There are other characters. The Townsends boys live out at their place by the highway. They tend to their orchards and supply a good deal of produce to the town.Then there is Sheriff Dale. Not much of what we call crime here, but there are some hot rod teenagers that he chases from time to time.”

The lawyer yawned, “Not a crime show? No illicit drugs or a serial forensic mass murderer? What in your story is going to make people tune in?”

Walter straightened a couple of pieces of paper. “This is a story about people. Real people, who face their daily experience with courage. They fight off boredom. These people face challenges of boredom and loneliness together. Like one day they decided to paint the outside wall of the café white. Then they played movies against that wall. The towns people came, backed their pickup trucks up, lowered the tailgates and sit and enjoy the Summer evening. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

“Yeah,” Sato said. “Fun.” He cleared the space in front of him.

Walter knew he didn’t mean it.

Sato continued, “This sounds like Andy of Mayberry. Please tell me the Sheriff is not named Andy.”

“The Sheriff is named Dale. He has known Carl, Earl, Gabby and Em since they were kids. I don’t think I mentioned Gabby, up until now. She is a seamstress for the locals. She has her own shop. She is important to the story as she and Jimmy, the fellow who died in Korea were meant to be together. Now, she is a woman alone, confused and seems to bring out the worst in the truckers that arrive at the café.”

“But who cares?” Sato interrupted again. He was ready to hear the next presentation.

“Oh,” Walter’s voice faltered. “These people are friends. They pass the time with each other. This is a place where people like to come to … to just be together. Em is the waitress at her Café. Earl is the cook. They go about their business. People pass through. Let me tell you about the time Earl’s cousin Vincent Price stopped by for a visit. Sato, before you say it, you can certainly believe that Vincent Price has a cousin. Well, Gabby was feeling kind of lonely and bold. She showed up for the Halloween gathering wearing only a Kimono. She got to flirting with Vincent and after most everyone went home, well, she teased ol’ Vincent into chasing her towards the lake. For a late night swim. I imagine that was pretty cold for both of them.”

Walter took a drink of water. “Not long after Harold arrived a woman driving her own bakery truck came to town. She is a pleasant woman. She is warm and friendly. She stops by the Café one morning carrying a tray of pastry, offering to sell them to Em. Well, those pastries just melted in people’s mouths and before you know it there was a glass domed pastry display right there on the counter.”

“Like an Aunt Bee?” Atwood asked.

“A female, full of love. Full of spirit. If that is what you are asking, then yes.She had a lot to offer. She fits right in with this little group.”

“Tell us more.” The lawyer spoke up. His thoughts turned to pastry. “What is her name?”

Unthinking, Walter says, “Rose.” Then looks up at the producer.

“What’s left?” Walter said aloud. “It’s a love story. Carl loves Em, always has. Earl is never far from Em. He works at the Café to be near her. He would be happy to have a little ranch by a bend in a small river where he could plant a few pecan trees. In the summer he could just ‘be’ him and her beneath the branches in the shade. He would never ask for more. Harold is older, he has been around. He has ambition. Carl and Earl are his best friends, but he is a may the best man win kind of guy.”

Walter started piling the pages back up. “There is no emerald smuggling, no high crimes. It’s more like people’s lives, except the darkness is mostly kept at bay. It’s a celebration. If I had more time I’d tell you about Em’s mother’s China set. She brings it out at their monthly gathering that they call Speakeasy Night. The Café closes. Em, Earl, Carl, Gabby, Harold, Rose, Dale and others gather. Rose bakes up treats. Em cleans the tea cups. Harold brings the wine. They each write something, most likely a poem to let each other know how they are doing. They communicate their concerns or achievements, their happiness, or disappointments. They are together, they drink a little wine and recite their poetry. They eat Rose’s pastry. Then Earl drops some nickels in the jukebox and they dance.”

Walter picked up the pages and put them back into the wide mouthed briefcase. “I call it Emerald Wells Café. Thank you gentlemen. I hope to hear from you.”

Curtain closes.


mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 07, 2018:

Hello Sha - Thanks for bringing me back to this today. The people of this country are all tied into knots by the political class. I don't recall this level of anxiety since the late 60's. So, I agree, a simpler existence would be nice. Some combination of 'Cheers' and 'Mayberry' where people were allowed and encouraged to be friends.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on November 07, 2018:

It's good to see Emerald Wells Cafe make a comeback, Mike. It would be refreshing to see something like this on TV. A reality show that highlights morals and a way of life that too many folks no longer experience. I know there has to be towns dotted all over our country where life is still simple and the townsfolk build a community of respect and friendship.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 02, 2017:

Hello Peg, Grab a chair over there with Verlie, Maria, Ruby, and Genna. Coffee will be right over. Breakfast is on the grill. Earl just dropped some nickels in the jukebox.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on November 02, 2017:

What a great sales pitch. Seems like the Hollywood types are looking for murder and mayhem rather than happy tales of friends enjoying life. But that's Hollywood. Here, we love the tawdry escapism from life's struggles, crime, evil and hatred. I hope they buy the rights to produce the film or better yet, a TV series like My Three Sons or Leave it to Beaver like in the old days. People living a good life.

Sorry I'm late to the party. Could I get a couple of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and orange juice, please Earl?

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on November 02, 2017:

Hello Shy - Thank you. The whole country could use a bit of common sense, caring and companionship. I appreciate your following my writing. I seem to be bumped off track here lately. And as always, thanks for the blessings.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 01, 2017:

Mike, I love your Emerald Wells Café and all that goes with it. I agree with Martie it would make a good TV series. I know that you could write a weekly episode and I would be a faithful follower.

Blessings dear friend.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 29, 2017:

Hello Verlie - I took it down, then put it back up after a pep talk from Peg. HP snipped it one day, taking down the link to the book. And I let it go. Then next day the snipped the photo. I have put the photo back. I appreciate you stopping by.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 29, 2017:

Morning Mike, Nice to see this back, I was worried it got lost in the shuffle.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 29, 2017:

Hello Martie - The other day, I had the remote control, scrolling through the 100's of channels, I saw at least 1/2 dozen war channels and another 1/2 dozen of vampire gore. So, we are training the minds of all humanity to accept violence and horror as an everyday occurrence. Colossal stupidity. Thanks for the visit down memory lane. Next The Sitcom pitch will have to be a light mystery/drama pitch.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on October 29, 2017:

Emerald Wells Café would be a nice TV-series, allowing people to escape to a time when crime and corruption were not the order of the day, when people still had time on their hands for gatherings and caring about each other.

Sadly, for some reason or another publishers and producers believe people need nerve-wrecking action, evil antagonists and bloody, horrible scenes. And that is what they are feeding the public, turning the public into beings addicted to emotional orgasms.

I prefer to be cuddled by stories like Emerald Wells Café.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 18, 2017:

Hello Gypsy - Thanks for the visit and nice comment. I had help with those videos. It would have taken me forever to decide what to pick.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 18, 2017:

Hello Genna - When writing the series, many people told me it would make a great TV series. I thought at the time and still think, that the public is not ready for a show, where the characters read their poetry to each other. That is not the public's image of America. We have to be shooting Indians, or chasing down drug dealers. We are a warrior economy and that is not likely to change. Just look at the Defense Budget and the budgets that have been slashed in the arts and sciences. Even Big Bird is under attack.

I don't know any Hollywood producers, so we are safe from 'feel good; TV.

Thanks for taking the stroll down memory lane with me.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 18, 2017:

Hello Bill - Thanks. I am sure you have thought that 'wouldn't it be great' if one of your

story lines got picked up as a series. You in the background writing, making a good living,

seeing your work turned into a visual weekly event. Hey, sounds like another 'Pitch' is needed.

I appreciate your comment. I do like the thought of a radio show. That would be something.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 18, 2017:

Hello Ann - Here there seems to be nothing but crime shows. They all show how smart the police are. Yet

crime grows and grows. It appears at to have permeated from the lowest levels, right to the top. So, yes,

a show about how common people over come adversity should work. The real heroes are those that

fight off the adversity. No bands playing, flags flying, no uniforms. Oh, how I go on.

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on October 18, 2017:

An enjoyable read. Like the choice of videos.

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on October 18, 2017:

How nice to read about Emerald Wells Cafe. Bill is right -- it's like sitting down for a few minutes with warm and trusted friends. I'm only sorry the pages detailing their lives had to be reshuffled into Walter's briefcase. Hollywood producers can be real Twinkies. We need stories like these...now, perhaps more than ever. What a wonderful visit down memory lane. Thank you!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 18, 2017:

It's good to see another episode arrive in my mailbox. It's like a visit with an old friend, and reminds me of sitting around the radio when I was very young, listening to serials play....just a great read!

Ann Carr from SW England on October 18, 2017:

Sounds wonderful to me, Mike! It's time we had more series or films that reflect real everyday life (and I don't mean reality shows!). 'Ordinary' life is usually anything but, especially the immense camaraderie and loving support that people can share.

I've had enough of violence and drugs on TV and there is little which makes us feel good.

There, I've got that off my chest!

Great piece, Mike!


mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 17, 2017:

Darn, I wish, I would have thought of a gas station. lol

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2017:

Verlie, what fun!

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 17, 2017:

Good eye Patty, yes the Corner Gas sitcom was (is? I watch TV so rarely) big. People loved it. Interesting (for me) that it is set in the town my Dad was born in in Saskatchewan. I visited there once on a family vacation.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2017:

Canada has a TV series (or it may be defunct by now) called "Corner Gas." The descriptions I've read sound something like the premise for Emerald Wells Cafe, only at a gas station/coffee shop and in Canada. LOL.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 17, 2017:

Hello Verlie - My writing has offered me an escape. Emerald Wells Cafe was very near the beginning of the writing experience. I spent a lot of time hiding out in books. The mystery was fun. The Carriage Driver stories, I am told are my best work. Though it never brought me the joy that Emerald Wells Cafe brought. Thank you for following my writing career.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 17, 2017:

Hello Patty - I don't know places like this do not exist. Maybe it is the rent. Someone has to pay the rent. I don't watch sitcom's, I think it is that I don't find them funny.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 17, 2017:

Hey Mike, you have the talent/vision to write on anything and everything in the spectrum. You write, I follow...

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 17, 2017:

It would be a good addition to all the non-funny sitcoms we have today, wouldn't it? I'd watch it.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 17, 2017:

Hello Verlie - You mentioned I should write something with a positive note to it. This is it. Thank's for the visit.

mckbirdbks (author) from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on October 17, 2017:

Hello Becky - Thank you. I appreciate that.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on October 17, 2017:

Kind of like a Happy Days type show, set in Texas. Just regular people having fun and living with zest. Sounds like a HIT to me.

Verlie Burroughs from Canada on October 17, 2017:

Aww, no Emerald smuggling, no heist, no crime...Sounds refreshing. Nothing like a dip in the lake with Vincent Price on Halloween! Great cast of characters, great pitch. Hope it flies.

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