An extended treatment for a comedy of errors between a punk girl photographer and a gentleman author.

AMERICA PAPARAZZI

by

Peter Shillingford

                                ufindshill@btinternet.com 

SYNOPSIS AND CHARACTERS

LYNSEY A young colourful street photographer almost punk in hair and fashion.  One of the very best in her chosen career of paparazzi style photography.  A tough but vulnerable beauty of a girl.

RODDY An urbane, witty man, fast approaching 40, established writer and "in" friend of the so-called "Beautiful People".  At present, compiling a coffee table book of those very same people, photos and text exemplifying their style of life.  A very elegant dresser in tweeds and bow ties.

DAVID LEHMAN Magazine and book publisher, a fatherly figure responsible for commissioning Roddy’s "Beautiful People" assignment.  Again, a well connected member of society, and delighted at having put Roddy together with Lynsey.  A mischievous man.

Other major characters are a long shot Presidential candidate.

A Religious leader of an established but radical television church.

A Union leader with criminal connections.

A Las Vegas singer with political aspirations

The opening sequence is a montage of the paparazzi on the hunt.  Their quarry: the rich, the talented, the merely famous.  The settings: outside restaurants, nightclubs and premiers.

Movie stars, society figures and politicians are engulfed by swarms of photographers.  Some are willing "victims" they pose and smile.  Others are the victims of their own alcoholic excess; some make the break for the security of their limousines, matching the pursuing paparazzi blow for blow.  Fists, feet, and elbows fly.  Elbows are buried into faces, boots into cameras.

During this sequence we see Lynsey -- young, energetic, sassy working like an expert in her chosen profession.  Roddy smooth and elegant -- is also captured by a battery of flashguns, escorting a particularly well-known and particularly difficult movie queen at a film premier.  Lynsey steps forward - and gets slammed into the gutter by a well-aimed Louis Vuiton handbag.

From the frozen frames of these aggressive scenes we see two pairs of hands sorting through the photographs taken during the credit sequence.  The hands continue their selections while the voices of two men, Roddy and his publisher, David Lehman, argue the merits of the various photographers.

They are discussing a coffee table book a book about the beautiful people photographed at their most glamorous -- but with the added edge of a counter-point picture showing them at their not so chic, i.e. fist-fighting, falling down in drunk, etc.  Included in this collection are the pictures of union leader Tony Hoffman and underworld boss Abe Correlli.

The glamour pictures have been taken.  The men are now choosing the paparazzi shots for the book.  Out of the pile comes a photograph of Roddy with the movie queen -- Lynsey's last shot before being felled with the handbag.  This picture joins the growing collection under Lynsey's name.

Lehman is amused by this picture -- Roddy is discomforted.

Lehman and Roddy continue to discuss the merits of the various photographers. 

They have made appointments to see several.  First in is Lynsey.  She arrives at the reception - a young, feisty girl.  But this is important and obviously she is nervous.

She is greeted by Lehman's receptionist -- a middle-aged May Co. dressed martyr who looks Lynsey up and down coldly and with obvious disdain.  Lynsey's clothes -- a sort of hippie-punk -- hardly endear her to the receptionist.

Lynsey says who she is and tries to be friendly.  Tile receptionist coldly tells her to take a seat and leaves Lynsey to fidget nervously for several moments before announcing her on the intercom with a trace of disgust in her voice.

"Great.  Send her in." Lehman's voice commands.  As Lynsey disappears through the door, she gives the receptionist an obscene gesture.

The two men are impressed by her work.  Roddy is impressed with her looks.  Lehman isn't -- but then women do not interest him much.

Inspired by unprofessional thoughts, Roddy suggests that they continue the interview at a nearby celebrity strewn restaurant.

Roddy orders sole, plain broiled, and a green salad with a dressing made with olive oil, vinegar, English mustard, and a dash of soy sauce which he tells the waiter, "Gives it body."  To drink -- a Puligny Montrachet, no Pouilly Fuisse. 

Lynsey offhandedly orders a hamburger and a coke.  Roddy raises a quizzical eyebrow -- but Lynsey is distracted by the arrival of a well-known actor who walks across the restaurant to lunch alone.

To Roddy's consternation and Lehman's amusement, Lynsey climbs out of the booth table, camera in hand, and walks across to the actor.  She whispers to a willing blonde at the next table, then puts a flower down her cleavage. 

The actor turns around -and Lynsey takes a quick snap, then returns to her table where Roddy is hiding his head in his hands.  Lehman is looking quizzically.  Lynsey explains that the actor is an old acquaintance of hers.

Lehman starts sorting through her portfolio; A loose photograph drops out onto the table.  It shows the same actor taking his shirt off.  It was taken, Lynsey says, during an "exclusive and an intimate photo session" that became a little too intimate.  And THAT picture, she insists, is not for publication.  Roddy approves of her integrity, if not her technique.

Roddy and Lehman agree that Lynsey should work on the book.

It is the end of the lunch and the actor is leaving -- with the statuesque blonde on his arm.  He stops at the Lehman table, gives Lynsey a wink and asks for a print.  And then turns to Roddy -- who is looking embarrassed -- and says, "You're a lucky man." Roddy has to agree.  Lynsey smiles.

Later that evening, in another celebrity restaurant, Roddy is dining with the actress who took such a physical dislike to Lynsey in the opening montage.  She is criticising the paparazzi - particularly the girl at the premier.  Roddy is smoothly, albeit with his tongue in his cheek, agreeing with her.  He is unaware that they are talking about the girl he has just hired.

Roddy oozes charm.  They leave with Roddy whispering roguishly into her receptive ear.  The paparazzi, inevitably, have been forewarned and when the couple merge onto the street they are greeted by a baying pack of photographers, Lynsey amongst them.

Suddenly one of the photographers pulls a black water pistol from his camera bag.  Everybody freezes -- and the photographer empties the water pistol into the movie queen's face and down her cleavage.

The actress screams.  Lynsey shoots off frame after frame (frozen on film) of the enraged and bedraggled star.  Drenched the actress bolts for her waiting limo, scattering photographers and the fans.  Roddy hurries after her -- only to get covered in the exhaust of her departing limo.

Roddy hails a cab and gets in.  Lynsey jumps in after him and orders the driver to take them to a funky -- and rough club, up on the edge of Harlem.  Roddy countermands the order and tells the driver to take him home.  Lynsey agrees and says that since she was responsible for spoiling his evening she will take the actress' place.  "You organised the water pistol?" Roddy asks.  Lynsey smiles enigmatically.  Roddy moans.  His mature sophistication is wearing thin.

He countermands his own instruction and tells the driver to take them to the club.

Outside the club the street is full of a milling crowd of dudes.  Roddy makes a dash for the door, trying to leave Lynsey behind.  Lynsey shouts out his name and calls him "daddy".  Roddy gets strange looks -- some threatening, some quite the opposite.  He dashes back and pulls her in with him.  Lynsey shouts to the mob outside that it isn't true, that he's really a very good...(door closes).

Inside a singer and a band are going through their excellent routine.  The clientele look like extras from, "Superfly".  Lynsey screams into Roddy's ear that she wants his body.  Your place or mine?  Roddy screams back "No" -- just as the music ebbs.  Once again people turn around and give him strange looks.

Lynsey spots Frank Tuffano, famous singer with alleged mob connections, partying with friends and the inevitable bevy of girls.  A glass is in his hand, as always. Lynsey sidles towards Tuffano. 

He sees her, warns her not to take a photograph and suggests she f...'s off.  Roddy comes to Lynsey's defence and says that is no way to speak to a lady.

Tuffano says that it is OK then to say that to a gentleman and tells Roddy to f... off.  Roddy squares up to Tuffano, Queensberry-style.  Tuffano throws his drink into Roddy's face, punches him and sends him sprawling across a table.  Lynsey captures the whole unsavoury episode on film.

The next day Roddy and Lynsey are aboard a plane flying to Los Angeles.  She is chattering about the photographs she took the previous evening; he is nursing a black eye.  She wants champagne; he moodily reminds her that since they are travelling coach she will have to buy it herself.  He lights a cigar; she calls a stewardess who tells him to put it out -- they are travelling in the non-smoking flight.

She starts chattering about her background.  She is a kid from the, Bronx who wanted to work for "Life" but to earn a living ended up becoming a paparazzi.  Her mother approves -- she always looks at the tabloids at the checkout at the market and always tells Lynsey that at least she's got a job that keeps her "off the streets".

Roddy admits that he too once wanted to be a "serious" journalist -- and in fact once was.  Then he succumbed to the glamour and the money and became a syndicated show-biz columnist.  "You spend your life creating your own image -- and then you discover that you have to live up to it," he says.  "As long as you don't end up worshipping it," she says.

At LAX airport Roddy is greeted by another actress he knows.  She comments on his black eye -- and his picture (Lynsey's picture) in the morning paper.  She refuses Roddy's offer of a ride into town.

Relations between Roddy and Lynsey, which were drawing close on the plane, are straining again.  Lynsey does not miss the opportunity of making a few caustic comments about his "friends" loyalty.  Roddy looks hurt.

On the drive in they pass billboards extolling the virtues of George Masters, presidential candidate.

Lynsey keeps up a non-stop battery of questions -- about his women, his ambitions.  Roddy suavely says that she is too young to understand.

There has been a mix up with the bookings at the hotel (the Beverly Hills) and instead of two single rooms they are forced to spend the night together in a suite in chaotic innocence.  Roddy ends up on the sofa under a sheet.  Lynsey steals out of bed when he is asleep and wraps a blanket around him.  She kisses him goodnight.

The next day whilst out walking, Roddy and Lynsey are buttonholed by a television news crew shooting live interviews with tourists.  Lynsey explains that Roddy is her new husband and makes up a story about how sensuous a lover he is and that she just loves the Nun's habit he makes her wear.  The interviewer can't get the mike away until Roddy, embarrassed, intervenes and pulls Lynsey away.

In this short and outrageous confrontation, we see more of Lynsey's affection for Roddy and even though embarrassed, him for her, his new friend in pricking the pomposity of the world.

Back at the hotel, Roddy installs himself poolside to do some writing.  Lynsey flutters around while Roddy contemplatively and pointedly smokes a very large cigar.  Bored, Lynsey says she will go and buy some suitable clothes and hire a car -- the couple are going to Las Vegas next -- while he polishes his tan. 

She reappears at the pool -- dressed like a starlet at Cannes.  Lynsey has gone Hollywood.  Roddy is embarrassed - and even more so when he emerges onto the front steps of the hotel and discovers that Lynsey has hired a Rent-a-Wreck convertible.

The valets studiously ignore the car -- until Lynsey mumbles something into the ear of one.  Suddenly the service is immaculate.

The pair drive through plastic palm-fringed Beverly Hills, two Easterners full of the customary put-downs ("Spray on suntans", etc.).  Roddy is obviously uncomfortable in the Rent-a-Wreck and hides himself under her floppy hat and behind her heart-shaped sunglasses.

An inexperienced motorist, his flamboyant lane changing soon attracts the attention of a huge motorcycle cop.

The Rent-a-Wreck is flagged down and the policeman starts the heavy monologue, ending with "anything you say will be repeated in court."

Lynsey suddenly leans across and says to the policeman: "I bet you have a big cock."  The policeman stands perfectly still for a moment, then closes his notebook, turns on his heels, and, without a word, gets back onto his motorcycle and roars away.

Roddy drives on -- cautiously.  He asks Lynsey what she said to the valets.  She just smiles.

During the drive Roddy takes one of Lynsey’s cigarettes.  His driving is soon impaired and Roddy surrenders the wheel and goes to sleep on the backseat.

His image is not improved when they arrive at their Las Vegas hotel.  Still a little high, he forgets he is wearing the floppy hat and sunglasses.

Once again they have been booked into a double room.  This time Roddy suspects that this is Lynsey's doing.  Roddy, floppy hatted, demands two single rooms and finally the bemused desk clerk changes the booking to an inter-communicating suite.  They move to the elevator followed by luggage, camera cases and bellboys.

Roddy loses the battle of the inter-communicating doors - to the snide sniggers of the soon to be under tipped bellhops.  The TV is on and broadcasting a Master's commercial.  Lynsey proceeds to reveal the extent of her "Hollywood" wardrobe and starts performing a strip tease. 

Roddy, who has collapsed on the bed, keeps one eye open -- and then falls asleep.  Lynsey removes his shoes and her sunglasses and kisses him goodnight.

Lynsey, looking dynamite in a red jump suit, wanders down to the cocktail lounge.  A hooker takes the next seat and warns Lynsey to get off her patch.  Lynsey explains that she is a photographer and gets into a friendly, girly conversation about prices, pimps, employment benefits, tax shelters, credit cards, etc.

The hooker starts talking about her clients and reveals that tonight she has a date with Frank Tuffano -- her final assignment before she marries a pig farmer in Arkansas.  It is another Tuffano "retirement" concert and the hooker is meeting him in his suite after the show. 

Lynsey says that a photograph of Tuffano would be her big break.  She persuades the hooker to open the drapes so that she can photograph them together, promising to send her a print.

Waking up Roddy, she explains her plan.  Fired by the thought of revenge for the Harlem Club incident, Roddy agrees to her scheme.

They go to the top floor of the hotel.  Roddy knocks on the door of a honeymoon suite.  A little old man opens the door.  Roddy says they are police officers and flashes an old press card.

 Lynsey and Roddy march through the bedroom -- past a matching pair of little old ladies wrapped up on a waterbed -- and out onto the balcony which is directly across the street from Tuffano's penthouse suite.

As Lynsey starts setting up her equipment -- a battery of camera fitted with electric motors and long lenses -- the two start talking about their backgrounds and their ambitions.

Despite himself -- despite his pretensions, his conventionality and their obviously different lifestyles -- Roddy is drawn to the urchin photographer.  Lynsey reveals a hard childhood, peppered with a deal of tragedy. 

Lynsey and Roddy are on opposite sides of the journalistic fence.  But they are drawing closer to each other; more and more they are coming to understand each other and their different modes of work.  They are both changing.

Their conversation, however, is curtailed by the noises of renewed sexual grapplings coming from the bedroom.  Roddy keeps peering through the drapes and gives Lynsey a blow by blow account of the proceedings.

After a while the drapes of Tuffano's suite are opened to reveal a room full of people.  The hooker is blindfolded -- and near naked.  Lynsey shoots a couple of rolls of film before the drapes are drawn again.  Their task completed and the cameras packed, Roddy opens the balcony door -- and the draft blows two lines of white powder all over the old threesome.

As Roddy makes his excuses and leaves, Lynsey accidentally rips open the waterbed with the pointed end of her camera tripod.  More chaos. 

Back in New York, Lynsey processes and prints the film, all the time trying to get her hands on Roddy.   The print reveals Ttiffano and the hooker -- but they are too far apart with a crowd of other faces smudging the background.  Lynsey explains to Roddy that the print needs a retouch.  "But what about all those other faces?" Roddy asks. 

Lynsey says this will be taken care of at a professional photo lab.  We see the picture being cropped, the background faces being painted out, and Tuffano, with outstretched arms, being moved closer to the blindfolded hooker.

It is now a good -- a very good -- paparazzi picture.  Lynsey dispatches a print to one of the more scurrilous scandal rags.  The photograph appears over the front page, without a by-line.  Roddy has got his revenge.

At the office of Abe Correlli, the Mafia Chief is instructing a team of thugs to find the photographer and the negatives.  He slaps the Midnight Enquirer down on his desk to reveal the front-page photograph.  The heavies leave the room.

The picture editor of the scandal paper, the Midnight Enquirer, receives a telephone call.  No, he says, the picture is not their copyright; it was taken by Lynsey and he gives out her address.

Later that day.  Roddy and Lynsey arrive at her apartment after an out-of-town assignment.  Something is wrong.  A light is on, her dark room door is closed and she is certain that she left it open.  A search reveals that her files have been gone through -- and the Tuffano negatives are missing.

But why?  Roddy suggests that the background faces may be more significant than they realised. Lynsey remembers that the printer still has the various work prints he used during the retouching.

A mad dash across the city deposits our intrepid duo waist deep in a mound of garbage outside the photo lab, searching for the print.  Lynsey ends up travelling across town on the back of the garbage truck, still searching for the print, and leaving a trail of rubbish in her wake. 

Roddy follows more sedately in a taxi, driven by a bemused cabdriver.  At the dump, the garbage is incinerated.  Lynsey phones the lab, and the spaced-out, stoned printer says that the search was unnecessary -- he had the prints all the time.

The work print is cleaned and studied.  Roddy and Lynsey closely scrutinise the background faces -- and recognise the diffused profile of George Masters, presidential candidate.  And standing beside him is Abe Correlli.  But is it really them?

The printer is instructed to enlarge and adjust the exposure on every face in the photograph.  Promising the blow-ups for later that evening, the printer sets to work.

Roddy arranges an interview with the presidential candidate at his elegant New York apartment.  Masters is pleasant and courteous.  Lynsey goes on a tour of the apartment with his wife (who is drunk as usual).  Lynsey prowls the room, picking up objects -- and finally pocketing a photograph off the grand piano that shows the all-American candidate as a little boy dressed in a sailor's suit.

Roddy, meanwhile, suddenly hits Masters with the question: "How is the vote coming out in Vegas?" Masters goes cold and denies that he has any connection with Las Vegas -- that he has not even been there.

As Roddy and Lynsey leave Masters is seen picking up the telephone.  While Mrs. Masters, large glass of amber fluid in hand, keeps saying what a nice couple they were -- so well suited.

Roddy and Lynsey decide to stake out the apartment.  After a while a crowd of journalists gather outside and Lynsey leaves her car and goes to join them.  Hoffman, the union leader, arrives.  Lynsey takes some pictures and then rushes over to Roddy to say that he could be another of the people in the Vegas picture. Roddy has already ticked him off on second work print of the photograph.

Roddy is becoming concerned.  He points out to Lynsey that this could mean big trouble.  Her apartment has already been burglarised -- and reminds her that as a serious journalist ("a former serious journalist," she quips), he knows how best to proceed.

He suggests they spend the night together in the security of a hotel.  Just then the union man re-emerges from Master's apartment.  Lynsey rushes over to take more pictures; Roddy starts a curbside interview with his tape recorder.

The union man gets into his black limousine.  Roddy puts the microphone through the window and asks why he, Hoffman, had held a meeting with Masters in Las Vegas?  The electric window goes up, trapping his hand, which is then burnt with a cigarette lighter.  The car starts off down the road, dragging Roddy with it. 

Finally Roddy is released and falls into the waiting arms of Lynsey who overwhelms him with cooing sympathy (which Roddy gratefully, accepts).

Roddy and Lynsey return to his apartment to pick up clothing for their move to a hotel.  While Roddy packs, Lynsey plays with the buttons on his cable TV set.  A hell and damnation religious leader, Carter Jones, is sounding forth.  New York, the Sodom of the East, is threatened with instant destruction unless $25,000 is donated within the next hour to his church.

Lynsey screams, "That's him, that's him!" Roddy pulls out the work print -- which reveals Carter Jones as another of the misty background faces in the Las Vegas.  Final confirmation will have to wait, however, until the blowups are collected from the printer.

The suitcases are now packed and set by the front door. Lynsey goes back to turn off the TV -- and suddenly the door comes flying off its hinges.  There in the doorframe stand two huge thugs.

Roddy attempts to protect Lynsey and he karate chops one of the thugs in the neck -- and lets out a scream.  He has used the hand which was burnt and is now bandaged.  The thug just shakes his head and laughs.  The gorillas advance. 

Roddy retreats and his elegant apartment, full of objects d'art, gets wrecked.  While one thug chases Roddy, the other starts to batter down the bathroom door, behind which Lynsey has retreated.  Lynsey is seen loading the water pistol with after shave. 

As the door flies open, she turns and points the pistol at the thugs.  "Up against the wall," she orders.  They retreat until one of the thugs realises that it is just a water pistol.

Lynsey squirts them in the eyes, blinding them.  Then, grabbing Roddy’s damaged hand, which provokes another scream; she rushes for the door, sending a tropical fish tank crashing to the ground, tripping both thugs.

As Roddy and Lynsey dash through the door, a last flying kick smashes the TV, terminating Carter Jones' sermon about New York, the city of violence.

They run down the stairs, pressing the elevator buttons on each floor.  Outside they run into another heavy, the thugs' driver.  They side step him and steal the waiting get-away car.  The thugs commandeer a nearby hearse, tossing out the mourners and driver.

Lynsey and Roddy head for the printer's, situated near the Hudson River.  Lynsey turns the wrong way, drives onto a pier, skids and plunges into the river.  The thugs screech to a halt on the pier's edge, sending the coffin through the front windshield and into the river.

Lynsey and Roddy are sinking slowly.  They tell each other not to panic, all the time arguing about the best way to get out of a sinking car.  Through the windows they see the thugs on the pier -- and the coffin floating beside them.  They let the water fill up the inside of the car and then swim underwater to a nearby launch,

Roddy and Lynsey climb aboard and: start it up, to be pursued by the thugs in a similar vessel.  The boats are revealed to be police craft.

In the boathouse, the river police are seen watching the presidential candidate, Masters, who is just starting a live election address on television.  They hear the sound of their boats, rush out and commandeer the only remaining vessel -an elegant motor launch with a sophisticated cocktail party in progress, berthed at a nearby pier.

Roddy and Lynsey call up the printer on the ship-to-shore telephone.  The printer has the blow-ups ready and agrees to meet them at a nearby pier.  Other paparazzi are in the photo lab -- and they run off to join the chase.

After a series of mishaps along the river -- involving police boats, ocean liners, floating restaurants, etc. -- they reach the pier and collect the printer and the huge blow-up photographs.

The river is now a chaotic mess of police boats, cocktail parties and a dozen paparazzi on water scooters stolen/borrowed from an irate salesman.

Flat out, Roddy leads the procession of thugs, police and paparazzi to the riverside studio where the presidential candidate is broadcasting.  Roddy, out of control, drives straight up a ramp, and through the huge studio doors.

The horde follows.  Chaos.  Roddy holds up the photographs and points out the unholy alliance -- residential candidate, big time union power, fringe religion - and the Mafia.  The live cameras, naturally, keep rolling.

Later, back at Roddy's smashed apartment, Roddy and Lynsey are pushing out the last of their drunken paparazzi friends.  The television is working -- just -- and their antics are being broadcast to the nation on the late night news.

Lynsey appears in one of Roddy's nightshirts and they kiss.  They retire to the bedroom.  Their clinch gets hotter and hotter, lights are dimmed, clothes are removed until -- the door bursts open and the dozen paparazzi pour in, flashguns firing, all looking for the perfect picture.

Contact Peter Shillingford

2 Creefleet House

280 Kew Road

TW9 3EE

0208 940 4507

0778 66 42171

ufindshill@btinternet.com