The I Love Lucy assembly-line humor is sharply contrasted by the profoundly unapologetic fly-on-the-wall glimpse into the harsh realities of start-up business growth pains as Mom watches with mixed pain and pride as her co-ed daughter matures into a CEO before her eyes – outsourcing and obsolescing her own mother every step of the way.
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SABINA had to do everything herself. Literally, everything. She even came into this world alone, in the midst of a ferocious storm. When a tree to crashed through their tin roof shack deep in the jungle of Puerto Rico, it awoke her father, SALVADOR, who had passed out drunk the night before on his own moonshine rum. Under that tree, he found his drunk, unconscious wife, CARMELA, with newborn baby Sabina sprawled between her legs.
Parental neglect was a blissful hiatus from the vicious daily abuse which was intensely focused on Sabina as the one blonde, blue eyed child in a fleet of more traditionally Latino-colored children. Years of incessant and grueling child labor in the hot sun to darken and toughen her up were only briefly reprieved by the genuine love of her GodFather, GREGORIO, who taught her to read and write. [Read more…]
Absolute Killers is a low budget feature thriller that I directed, produced and co-wrote that starred Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, The Green Hornet, CSI: NY), Ed Asner (Up, Lou Grant) and Meat Loaf Aday (Fight Club, Rocky Horror Picture Show). It premiered on October 1, 2011 as a spotlighted film at the 2011 Modern Film Fest and attracted two different domestic distributors who marketed it internationally at the 2011 – 2015 American Film Market and the 2012-2014 Le Marché du Film (the Cannes Film Market).
Key milestones that might be of interest:
- Meat Loaf is the finest cut of beef! (Video Highlight of the Shoot)
- Storyboard Screenplay Development Session
- The First Day of Auditions
- Day Two of Auditions
- One Week Countdown to Shoot
- Edward Furlong as Johnny
- Meat Loaf as Dan Sloan (as Meat Loaf Ada)
- Edward Asner as Max
- Grace Johnston as Elizabeth
- Rick Ravanello as Anthony
- Brian Krause as Vince
- Elaine Hendrix as Susan
- Rena Owen as Judge Irwin
- P.J. Byrne as Perry
- Daz Crawford as Phil
- Billy Burns as Chuck Thomas
- John Bobek as Matt
- Camellia Rahbary as Angela
- Charles Austin Moore II as Julian
- Patrick G. Keenan as Frank
- Brian Gregorie as Wayne
- Donald James Moore as Mike
- Ryan Sawtelle as Detective Regan
- Davis Osborne as Brian
- Karen Wheeling Reynolds as Co-Worker
How can we stop the world’s financial crisis from spiraling out of control? The twelve wealthiest and most influential families in the world handpick a group of highly trained specialists to devise a “global blueprint for success.” Once set in motion, the plan’s authors must be exterminated to hide the puppeteers’ identities and true purpose.
All the President’s Men meets The Firm”
Political Thriller based on (former Secret Service) Father’s novel
SAMUEL LORD (50s), a best-selling author and world-renowned expert on self-esteem, is shocked to receive an invitation to a top secret international conference in Maui, hosted personally by the U. S. President. He joins an impressive and equally-surprised invite list of some of the most prominent experts from around the world with specialties ranging from arbitrage to oil to computer technologies.
Punctuated by an emotionally compelling multimedia presentation, President HOUSTON SINCLAIR (60s), illustrates how war has historically redistributed natural resources and wealth and explains that this eclectic international team has been brought together to bring an end to war and to unify the world into a harmonious global economy.
The group is unanimously inspired by Sinclair’s inspirational speech, aided, no doubt, by the two million in cash and unlimited credit card expense account sitting in front of each of them. They unanimously commit to the month-long top secret quarantine in a five star hotel.
The President leaves the meeting in the capable hands of State Department facilitator, SHAKIRI BORDELEAU (30s), a stunning African American with a presence that eclipses everyone else in the room. She commandeers the meeting with graceful but eerily-stern efficiency and introduces the invitation deliveryman, CHARLIE SPECTOR (30s), as a Treasury Agent.
As the President leaves, the teams’ spouses are joyfully dismissed to enjoy their newfound limitless wealth on their island playground while their significant others get down to business in earnest – and in isolation.
In a very compressed montage sequence, interspersed with Sam and STEPHEN BROOKS, the inventor of bubble memory digital storage, bonding through early morning sea kayaking, we get snippets of the team debating the salient points of how to establish a global currency, unify international computer platforms, voting systems and governmental practices as well as overhauling the various tax systems by eliminating debt worldwide.
In a significant presentation, TRION PISTEL, a highly tailored Swiss arbitrage expert and financial advisor to the world’s wealthiest, outlines the most pressing problems facing all modern currencies. Later that night, Shakiri slinks into his hotel room, slips a fine wire from her watch and, with fierce stealth, garrotes him. She leaves his hotel room and runs into Sam, callously unaffected and greets him with her impenetrable grace.
Shakiri intimidates the group using Trion’s tardiness to enforce her authority until it is revealed that he apparently had a heart attack in the night. Over the next few days, the group grieves but manages to move on and achieve consensus on a plan they are all quite proud of. Shakiri thanks them all for their contributions and tells them she will hand deliver their plan to the President. She advises them to watch for “trial balloons” in their respective countries and encourages them to stay in contact with her about their impressions of its roll-out.
Everyone says their goodbyes and disperses. Shakiri asks Stephen if he’d be willing to join her on her private state department plane to make the presentation to the President. Flattered, he agrees.
On the flight, Shakiri asks Stephen: “Can it be that you are really all alone in this world?” Stephen sets down the San Francisco Chronicle he is reading and verifies, sadly, that there is no one in his life but his all-consuming bubble memory theory. Shakiri opens up about her own history: her rise from a poor Jamaican immigrant through her Villanova Masters thesis and PhD from Berkley, both tracking the historical impact of strong women behind the scenes of history. As their flight is delayed and Shakiri has a convenient Georgetown brownstone, it makes the most sense for Stephen to stay the night before their morning presentation at the White House.
Her apartment is a neat freak’s upscale wet dream. Enjoying a glass of world-class Pinot Noir and a view of the lit boats on the river, Stephen is stricken immediately by poison. Shakiri nonchalantly catches his glass before it stains her white carpet and doesn’t break stride as she steps over him, writhing in convulsions at her feet, irritated by the wine splash on her loveseat.
Sam travels to San Francisco to make a presentation to the California PTA on the importance of self-esteem for young school children. One of the other team members, KELLY DENNIS (late 20s), author of The Broken Promise, a critically acclaimed book on the disenfranchisement of the American youth, happens to have a book signing that coincides with Sam’s visit, so they use this as an excuse to reconnect for lunch.
They excitedly share news from their respective home towns that reveal their plan has been set in motion. They are thrilled to witness such a momentous worldwide change as their insider information is slowly fed to the masses. They are shocked, however, a televised new flash breaks the story of their friend and Hawaiian alumni, JOSÉ HERNANDEZ, a prominent multi-cultural school district educator, who was slain by a gunman in Bogotá, Columbia.
Upon his return to his hotel, Sam is confronted by a heart-broken and enraged AARON LINGEL, who accuses him of having an affair with Stephen. Sam barely manages to calm the scorned lover down by explaining that he is happily married and unquestionably straight – and had no idea Stephen was even gay.
Aaron confides that he and Stephen have been lovers for over fifteen years, albeit Stephen has been closeted that entire time and is very private about his personal life: “Stephen’s never gone a day without calling me – much less two months.” As a Pulitzer-prize-winning investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Aaron resorted to tracking the only clues Stephen had left: “Stephen claimed to be in Maui working on some top secret project but all he talked about was rowing with you.” Liberated from the fear that Stephen was having an affair, Aaron is now out of his mind with worry. He’s sure Stephen is in trouble – if not, dead. Sam is concerned, too, but has no answers for Aaron.
The news breaks that Shafter Brothers, one of the world’s largest bond brokerage firms, has filed for bankruptcy – and all of their debt has been forgiven. Sam realizes that this is the tipping point – their plan has irreversibly been set in motion – and Sinclair’s subsequent State of the Union Address has their writing all over it. Skeptical of incumbent politics, Kelly shares her apprehension with Sam. And she reveals the leads she’s dug up on the twelve extremely wealthy families President Sinclair alluded to.
Sam calls Shakiri, their trusted liaison (and the only authority figure shy of the President of the United States he can even talk to). She appeases his worries about Stephen and convinces him they are not in any danger. Shakiri immediately thereafter sics Charlie on Sam and Kelly as loose cannons.
Aaron is knee deep in research himself, tracking Stephen’s last known whereabouts. Since Stephen made a lifetime of keeping him secret, Aaron is able to fly under the radar to track his missing lover. Since Stephen was last seen boarding a plane with Shakiri, Aaron calls in a favor from Philadelphia’s oldest and most entrenched crime family to gain access to her impeccable apartment. “One of the advantages of being in the news business is that everyone owes you a favor – either for something you printed – or for something you didn’t. Sooner or later, everyone owes you.”
Aaron calls on his myriad crime connections to break into her apartment and notices the missing loveseat. He tracks it down to the shop where she sent it to be reupholstered and recovers the discarded, soiled fabric. Tests reveal arsenic in the red wine stain. Clandestine searches of her state department records reveal that she is what is called an “Alpha Employee,” trained better than Navy Seals and licensed to kill in all the ways she can possibly conjure up – with no questions asked. Ever. Complete diplomatic immunity. Aaron is convinced that Shakiri is involved in Stephen’s disappearance. He is certain that she is the only one who knows where he is – if not, indeed, his murderer.
Sam joins another think tank alumni, ROBERT REYNOLDS, the Mayor of Atlanta and a high-profile black activist, at a big city mayor rally in Washington D.C. where the civic and localized elements of the unfolding plan are unveiled.
On the other side of the globe, in the midst of a riotous OPEC conference in Rome, Shakiri stealthily shoots the oil minister from Kuwait in the eye – killing him instantly. The people next to her in the balcony don’t even notice as the next two shots from the silencer underneath her traditional Muslim hijab kills the senior oil analyst from Merrill Lynch securities and another of their Hawaiian alums, SYLVIA DILMANN, an oil heiress and a three-decade veteran of worldwide oil trading.
Shakiri and Charlie are instrumental in negotiating final and complete agreement for a worldwide computer language and single platform standard, most effectively by killing the last independent innovators.
Shakiri doesn’t conceal her contempt for Charlie. She keeps him in his place as but an orphaned farm boy from South Dakota turned Marine. Diagnosed as paranoid and delusional, he has been trained and manipulated into an Alpha Employee assassin just like her – only heavy on brawn, light on brains.
The American voting public is led to the polls like lambs to slaughter to approve the bills with varying degrees of success. Volatility throughout the county is marked by polarization on each and every issue. The future of Democracy truly seems to hang in the balance.
Kelly uncovers more incriminating information on the twelve families – tracing a modern Sicilian Mafioso family back through their slave trading ancestors all the way to their dominance in the Roman Empire. She stumbles into Charlie interrupting his surveillance of her and recognizes him eyeball to eyeball as the “Treasury Agent” from Hawaii. She runs for her life, barely making the red-eye out of there to Washington, D.C. where she hooks up with Sam and Aaron to team up to get to the bottom of the twelve family’s involvement – and to try to improve their odds of survival by sticking together.
Sam, Aaron and Kelly bring Robert into their confidence but Robert double-crosses them and reveals their whereabouts and intentions to Shakiri and Charlie. Sam is shot in the resulting car chase and is brought in to the hospital by the CHP and is placed under FBI-protective custody.
Aaron recruits JOSH PORTER (late 20s), an idealistic video reporter he’s worked with in the past, to help them develop a video chronicling their story in case they don’t make it – and as protection until then. Discovering Sam’s a wounded sitting duck, he enlists Josh’s help to break Sam out of the hospital.
Sam, Aaron, Josh and Kelly retreat to set up shop in a cheap, obscure motel in Arizona. They are on a cash-only basis now as they learned the hard way that the credit cards “gifted” to them were essentially tracking devices for the government and were the ticking bombs that led to the deaths of all their cohorts so far. They tape their individual depositions and testimonies of their involvement and share what they’ve uncovered about their employers’ real identities and motivations.
The video is completed – but Josh, Sam, Aaron and Kelly agree it’s insufficient. It’ll be ridiculed as a cockamamie conspiracy theory against the President of the United States and numerous world leaders. They decide they must get more proof – on tape. Romantic sparks fly between Josh and Kelly – but there is little time for that on the run.
The tension increases as Shakiri and Charlie get closer and closer to eliminating every last participant leaving only Kelly and Sam left standing.
They set a trap for Shakiri and Charlie because they are the only ones they know to be undeniably in on it and if they are going to bring their video credibly to the attention of the American people, they must secure verifiable proof so horrendous that the twelve families cannot possibly censor all the leaks.
Josh, Sam, Kelly and Aaron successfully trap Shakiri in San Francisco when they lure her into their hotel room and take her prisoner. After making the neat-freak sit bound in her own shit for three days, she tosses them a bone: on camera. She details how Chernobyl was completely intentional and purely economic. “They killed 30,000 people and put the bill on the world’s governments because there was no other way to bail out of the unprofitable nuclear energy venture.”
Shakiri convinces Aaron that Stephen is still alive and barters her freedom for his safe return, which the grief-stricken lover suspiciously accepts. Aaron, perhaps the one man on earth not tempted by Shakiri’s naked body, allows her to shower still handcuffed to him and to dress in Stephen’s clothes – cutting the shirt sleeve rather than uncuffing her for a nanosecond.
On the way to Shakiri’s private jet to reunite Aaron with Stephen, Shakiri gloats to him and Sam that their odds are insurmountable. “It doesn’t matter what you do. The public accepts whatever pabulum the media spits out. The people you’re fighting fight with an entirely different set of rules and tools – all behind the scenes. They’ll win in the end – no matter what. Your fight is futile.”
Just to be safe, before they leave, Josh saves the video to a flash drive that Kelly wears around her neck. They also Fed Ex hundreds of videos to all the major networks, cable and satellite stations, even local affiliates that Aaron has personal relationships with – to make sure the word gets out – even if they all get killed. They gladly and ironically charge the insane overnight shipping fees to their credit cards. Confident that their video will be broadcast all over the world, they go to save Stephen.
On the flight to Washington, D.C., they realize that somewhere along the way, Shakiri has managed to kill Aaron, who “sleeps” lifeless in the adjacent seat, still handcuffed to her.
She reiterates that there’s no way they can win. She makes five times her State Department salary working on the side for the twelve families. She has a private jet at her disposal – anything and everything she could possibly want or need at any time day or night. The U.S. President is in her back pocket – but a pawn in their larger game – as is virtually every world leader. They get them elected or assassinated as it suits their purposes.
Upon landing, they decide to split up to enhance their chances of survival. Kelly and Josh take off in different directions. Terrified to be one of the last Indians alone with this relentless killing machine, Sam handcuffs himself to Shakiri and quickly takes her to the most public place he can get to: the Washington Monument, where he tries to figure out yet another Plan B on the run. Unbeknownst to either of them, they are followed by Charlie.
Charlie surprises them both when he doesn’t kill Sam – but reveals he’s decided to eliminate Shakiri as his only competition for supremacy in their Alpha group. Shakiri prevails by blinding Charlie then pushing him off the top of Washington Monument to his death. Sam has a split second where he could kill Shakiri – but it’s just not in his nature. He’s certain the story has broken by now and chooses escape – happy to be free of her.
A Code Orange is triggered and every last Fed Ex’ed tape is tracked down and destroyed by the FBI before ever reaching a single destination. Our heroes have no idea that all that remains of their hard-won research is the master Josh backed up “just in case” – and put in a flash drive in Kelly’s shirt pocket.
Sam hooks back up with Josh and Kelly. Almost shattered at their apparent failure – that not a single one of their tapes have hit the airwaves yet. One of Aaron’s friends comes through and is willing to release their video to the mainstream media. Arriving with the last remnant of their efforts, Kelly, typical woman, has to pee – and this fact alone saves her from being caught in the ambush: it was a set up. Shakiri heartlessly shoots Sam and Josh point blank – then chases after Kelly.
Still reeling from Josh and Sam’s murders and her own seemingly futile and destined for fatality efforts, Kelly is the last one on the run. She tries to stay one step ahead of Shakiri in order to post the video on YouTube. Chased by Shakiri, Kelly crashes into a fireplace log manufacturing plant. Shakiri gets out of the car and the mortal shot to Kelly sets off a chain explosion that kills Shakiri, too. ALL the players are now dead.
The video replicates and loops on the Internet. People download it, play it, blog about it. The question remains: Will the public believe it? Will it get stifled by the Powers that Be? Will it matter?