Oh, and note the Trump reference. 1980s. Even then he was a go-to laugh line.
The idea of "Cold Drafts" or "First Draft Theater" clung to me like a mold, and I came up with another episode or two. I would submit it and submit it. Prairie Home Companion was certainly among the places that received it. And a Christmas show (mentioned down-blog) "A Hard Candy Christmas" got it as well (that's the draft I pulled off the hard drive and pasted here). But it never got done again. Oh, well.
COLD DRAFTS: It's a Wonderful Life
(HOST enters with binder.)
HOST: The stories we read, the movies we watch, the TV shows we love; They don't come to us easy. Writers sweat and slave and sputter over many, many drafts before the final product comes to us. Welcome to another edition of Cold Drafts, where we present the earlier, rougher versions of the entertainments we love. It is said that writers don't write, they re-write. This will become quite clear as we view the earliest known draft of Frank Capra's holiday classic, "It's a Wonderful Life:" We open on a bridge at night. A snowy Christmas Eve. A lone figure stands there, frayed and worn. It is GEORGE BAILEY, contemplating the swirling waters beneath. Suddenly, an angel, CLARENCE, appears.
(Host steps away, as scene comes up on:)
GEORGE: I can't believe that!
CLARENCE: What's so hard to believe, George?
GEORGE: Wait a second, Clarence, let me get this straight; My life is a shambles. I'm about to throw myself off the bridge and you show up.
GEORGE: Now you're going to show what everything would be like if I had never been born?
CLARENCE: Yup. Pretty neat, eh?
GEORGE: And then?
CLARENCE: And then you'll see how wonderful everything is.
GEORGE: Sounds pretty screwy to me, but I'll bite.
CLARENCE: Remember this, George?
(They look out into the distance.)
GEORGE: Sure, this is the day my brother almost drown! Oh, I get it, so he drowns, and can't become a war hero.
CLARENCE: Well, no. Harry Bailey went to war.
GEORGE: How? Harry Bailey drown because I wasn't there to save him!
CLARENCE: Gee, George, it's not like you were the only kid in town who knew how to swim, after all. Wonderful boys, each and everyone. So Harry went on to become a decorated war hero. He came home, was famous and ended up as a spokesman for a beer company.
GEORGE: Okay, what about over there? Mr. Gower, the pharmacist? If I wasn't there to stop him, he would've poisoned that kid.
CLARENCE: But you weren't there and he did poison that child.
GEORGE: He did---? But he looks fine!
CLARENCE: He got himself this wonderful lawyer and was acquitted of the involuntary manslaughter charges. It was an accident, for Pete's sake. You didn't know that the boy would grow up to be a 60's radical terrorist bomber wanted by the FBI, did you?
GEORGE: Aah, no. No, I didn't. How about the Building & Loan? It's not here!
CLARENCE: Your mother was a pretty sharp cookie, you know.
GEORGE: Yeah? So?
CLARENCE: Well, after your father died, she stepped in and ran the business with Uncle Billy, until---
GEORGE: Until what?
CLARENCE: Until Donald Trump bought it up in a hostile takeover bid. He moved the operations to the West side of Manhattan.
GEORGE: You're kidding.
CLARENCE: Wonderful stroke of luck, wasn't it? And they did okay thanks to that big federal bailout they got.
GEORGE: Wonderful. But, Mary---?
CLARENCE: She married millionaire Sam Wainwright. Had a couple of kids, divorced, and she got a wonderful settlement. Does lots of charity work and dates younger men.
GEORGE: Where's Potter? Does anyone ever try to stop old man Potter?
CLARENCE: Really, George, how long did you think the old coot was going to live? He's been old forever! Never had a family, so when he died, the state got everything. Boy, was he a crotchety old fart.
GEORGE: So they changed the town's name from Bedford Falls to---
CLARENCE: Levittown. Wonderful concept, suburban planning.
GEORGE: So, Clarence, remind me again the point of this whole thing? Seeing Martini and Nick franchise their restaurant? Watching Violet become a major porn star? Seeing Bert and Ernie get into educational television? This was supposed to make me feel better?
CLARENCE: It seemed like a good idea at the time. I guess you hadda be there. But what did you expect? You're only one person, George. How much can you do?
GEORGE: So, if I'm not around, it doesn't matter.
CLARENCE: Of course it does, it's just that nature abhors a vacuum. If you weren't around someone would have stepped in to do those things because it was the right thing to do. If the Wright Bros. weren't born, we'd still fly---
CLARENCE: If Edison hadn't been born, we'd still get electric bills---
CLARENCE: If Alexander Graham Bell wasn't born, there would still be graham crackers---
GEORGE: Shut up, Clarence.
CLARENCE: What I guess we're trying to say is, "Lighten up." It's only money. Oh, by the by, Potter has your money.
CLARENCE: Yeah, your goofy Uncle Billy gave it to him by mistake. I think you can nail Potter for false arrest or harassment or something. Think about it.
GEORGE: Wait a second! I ask for help. I pray for it. You come down here and make me review my whole stupid life when all you had to do was tell me Potter swiped my money all the while? Why is it some people get the Ghost of Christmas Past and I get you?
CLARENCE: Sorry, George, but that's how it works, we move in mysterious ways and such. Well, I gotta go. Got a date with an angel.
GEORGE: Well, thanks heaps, Clarence.
CLARENCE: Just doing my job. Oh, and here.
GEORGE: What's this?
CLARENCE: Your bill.
CLARENCE: Do you realize how much it cost to re-align the whole universe like that?
GEORGE: How am I supposed to pay this? I'm flat broke!
CLARENCE: Don't sweat it, George. When you get back, your friends will be giving you money left and right. Well, ta-ta for now. And remember, every time you hear a bell ring, it means another angel got his wings. So don't use door knockers and buy lots of ice cream from truck vendors.
GEORGE: Why, I'll wring your neck, you ding-a-ling!
CLARENCE: Oh, Joseph, beam me up!
(General confusion ensues.)
(Fade to black. Light up on Host.)
HOST: As you can see, the script needed a lot of work before Jimmy Stewart would even let it in his house. Well, thank you for joining us tonight. Next time on Cold Drafts we present the
recently uncovered early draft of O'Henry's charming Christmas tale, "Gift of the Magi," with it's original "twist" ending:
(Light up on annoyed looking MAN.)
MAN: Hey, wait a second! Your hair will grow back, but I'm out a gold watch. What gives here?
(Lights down on Man, back to Host.)
HOST: We hope you enjoyed this peek into the creative process. We'll see you next time on Cold Drafts.