Archive for June, 2010

Glenn Beck’s Libertarian Thriller — The Overton Window

The Overton Window
by Glenn Beck with contributions from Kevin Balfe, Emily Bestler, and Jack Henderson
Simon & Schuster Threshold Editions / Mercury Radio Arts
June 15, 2010
Hardcover:
336 Pages
ISBN-10: 1439184305
Kindle Books Edition:
288 Pages
ASIN: B003LL2Z4Y

The Overton Window book cover

As an author who as early as 1987 handed out my booklet titled Here Come the Paperless Books! at the yearly convention of the American Booksellers Association — let me say that I read The Overton Window on my Windows computer using Amazon.com’s free Kindle-reading application, having ordered the Kindle Book edition of The Overton Window with One-Click shopping from the Amazon.com Kindle Store.

I was reading the novel seconds after ordering it. — JNS

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s read my books, but I’m a long-time fan of what might best be called the Paranoid Thriller.

“Paranoid Thriller” isn’t a book publishing category. You won’t find such a classification in the Library of Congress, or in the shelving system of Borders or Barnes and Noble. Amazon.com has the most cross-referenced indexing system of any bookseller I can think of and even it doesn’t seem to have that as a sub-category of fiction.

Technically — because these stories are often set in the “near future” or “the day after tomorrow” or sometimes in an alternate history — the Paranoid Thriller is a sub-genre of science fiction. But usually, beyond the element of political speculation, there are none of the usual tropes of science fiction — extraterrestrials, space, time, or dimensional travel, artificial intelligence, biological engineering, new inventions, scientists as action heroes, virtual realities, and so forth.

I’m sure even this list shows what an old fogey I am when it comes to what’s being published as science-fiction these days, which within the publishing genre has abandoned all those cardinal literary virtues of clarity, kindness to the reader, and just good storytelling in favor of all those fractal fetishes that previously made much of “mainstream” fiction garbage unworthy of reading: dysfunctional characters, an overwhelming sense of helplessness and despair, and of course hatred of anything ever accomplished to better the entire human race by old dead European-extraction white men.

The Paranoid Thriller is an atavistic throwback to earlier forms of literature. There are suspense plots, adventure, a focus on characters driven to make decisions by intellect rather than addiction, and — God bless them! — often enough a happy ending after you’ve ploughed through the wreckage caused by the miserable wretches who actually make life decisions based on the gulf oil sludge that passes for literature in those committees who for the last few decades have been passing out once-worthy awards to writers who if they tried to tell a story around a campfire would soon find themselves alone, talking to the coyotes.

And with some poetic justice eaten by them.

The Paranoid Thriller is not actually based on any emotion, much less fear. The Paranoid Thriller is specifically a type of intellectual libertarian literature, the purpose of which is to sound a clarion call to wake up the sleepwalkers among us who have been hypnotized by government-run schools, socialist-dominated universities, misanthropic organs of popular culture, and cynical destroyers of all sense of public honor or decorum for fun, profit, and sick love of power.

The Paranoid Thriller is the literature of liberation — and often enough, the cinema of liberation as well.

The Paranoid Thriller is step-brother to the Dystopian novel, such as Yvgeny Zamyatin’s We, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, and George Orwell’s Nineteen-eighty-four, and brother to the espionage novel — everything from Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels to John Le Carre and Tom Clancy’s spy novels; and at least kissing cousin to alternate history thrillers like Brad Linaweaver’s 1988 Prometheus Award-winning novel, Moon of Ice, about a Cold War not between the United States and the Soviet Union but between a non-interventionist libertarian United States and a victorious Nazi Germany.

Some good examples of the Paranoid Thriller?

In books, let’s start with Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here, the story of an American president who rises to power by enforcing a Mussolini-type fascism in America, published three years after the movie Gabriel Over the White House enthusiastically endorsed such a presidency, well into the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who did it for real, and a year after Adolf Hitler became the Führer of Germany.

Three years before Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers was serialized in Colliers, Robert A. Heinlein’s 1951 Doubleday hardcover novel, The Puppet Masters crossed genre between futuristic science-fiction and the Paranoid Thriller — in effect creating an entire new genre of Paranoid Science-Fiction Horror — in which unlike H.G. Wells’ invaders from Mars in The War of the Worlds who had the decency to exterminate you, the alien invaders instead jumped onto your back and controlled your brain making you their zombie.

But then again, Heinlein had already created the Ultimate Paranoid Thrillers in his 1941 short story “They” and 1942 novella “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” — over a-half-century before The Wachowski Brothers’ 1999 movie The Matrix — in which the entire world is a vast conspiracy to convince one man of its reality.

Jumping two decades forward I’ll use as my next example Ayn Rand’s 1957 epic Atlas Shrugged, in which the Soviet-refugee author warned how the United States — by following the path of a kindler, gentler socialism — could end up as the fetid garbage dump that had devolved from her once European-bound Mother Russia.

The Cold War gave us several classic Paranoid Thrillers about either attempts at — or successful — Soviet communist takeovers of the United States.

We had Richard Condon’s 1959 brilliantly ironic novel — adapted into a wonderful movie in 1962 — The Manchurian Candidate, about a Soviet agent who controls both her son — a brainwashed assassin — and her husband, an anti-Communist United States Senator loosely based on Joseph McCarthy who comes close to securing his party’s nomination for president.

Less well known were the pseudonymous Oliver Lange’s 1971 novel Vandenberg, about a Soviet takeover of the United States, or In the Heat of the Night author John Ball’s 1973 Soviet takeover novel, The First Team, in which a single undetected American nuclear submarine holds the hope for forcing the Soviets out of their occupation of America.

Likewise, fears of appeasement of the Soviet Union led to Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II’s 1962 novel, Seven Days in May, about a Pentagon General’s attempt to overthrow the President — which two years later Rod Serling adapted into a Burt Lancaster/ Kirk Douglas movie directed by John Frankenheimer, who two years earlier had directed Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.

Television gave us the classic Patrick McGoohan 1967-1968 paranoid thriller TV series, The Prisoner, granddaddy to all the knock-offs of people kidnapped by mysterious forces and transported to gilded cages and danger-filled islands.

Movies gave us:

The Parallax View (1974)
Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977)
Rollover (1981)
Red Dawn (1984)
JFK (1991)
Wag the Dog (1997)
Murder at 1600 (1997)
The Siege (1998)
Arlington Road (1999)
Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Yes, Josie and the Pussycats — though played as a comedy — eminently qualifies for the genre.

I could go on and on — Wired-magazine-founder Louis Rosetto, Jr.’s pre-Watergate-written Paranoid Thriller novel of President Nixon’s coup d’etats, Takeover — published in January 1974 just six months before Nixon was forced from office; John Ross’s 1996 post-Waco/post Oklahoma City bombing novel Unintended Consequences.

In that sub-genre of the Economic Paranoid Thriller we have financial writer Paul E. Erdman’s 1976 Paranoid Thriller The Crash of ’79 (Erdman had good reason to be paranoid — he’d served time in a Swiss prison for financial fraud); and Nixon-administration economic mavens Herbert Stein and his son Benjamin Stein’s 1977 novel of America suffering from hyperinflation, On the Brink.

My own 1979 novel, Alongside Night, just misses being in the Paranoid Thriller category only because hyperinflation and government conspiracy is only the launching point for a novel which is mostly an exploration of how the principles of the Declaration of Independence might be implemented by a “new guard” other than re-upping the Constitution of the United States after its failure to maintain a limited government — as is the endgame of Atlas Shrugged and the novel I come here today to review, The Overton Window.

Let me start by saying that everything the mainstream critics will say about this novel is true. It’s talky. I expect the words “preachy” and “didactic” to be used a lot. There are long speeches — even by the main villain, who like many destructive people are disappointed idealists. Events of the novel seem to have been picked not because they advance the plot but because they’re popular topics in the news. It quotes the Founding Fathers as if they’d written the Bible.

Screw these critics all to hell. These are what make a novel worth reading.

Why in the name of God would anyone waste a moment of their precious reading time on a novel that doesn’t have ideas, doesn’t have characters who are capable of making coherent speeches, doesn’t have an author who thinks he knows something worthwhile and has a passion to gift you with them?

What the mainstream literary critics use to condemn novels like The Overton Window are the very virtues that makes them literature.

Think I’m sounding defensive here?

No, I’m on the offense, and have been ever since these same bogus standards were used by uncreative drones to make lame attacks on my novels, three decades ago.

Here’s how I answered them in my article “There Are Two Sides to Every Review” published August 10, 1980 in the Los Angeles Times Book Review:

1. “The writing is heavy-handed.”

The author says things explicitly.

2. “The story is melodramatic.”

The book is strongly plotted.

3. “The plot is contrived.”

The plot is original and intricately logical.

4. “The novel is polemical.”

The novel has a discernible theme.

5. “The novel is preachy.”

The theme phrases a moral proposition.

6. “The book’s intent is didactic.”

The plot demonstrates practical consequences of the theme.

7. “The author manipulates characters.”

The characters do things that fit into the plot.

8. “The characters are two-dimensional.”

The characters are only shown doing things that fit into the plot.

9. “The book is Pollyannish.”

The author finds things in life that make it worth living.

10. “The story depends upon coincidence.”

Events in the story logically coincide.

11. “The book is a roman à clef.”

The characters are so realistically drawn, they can be confused with real people.

12. “The characters are unrealistic.”

The characters are shown being heroic, moral and intelligent, while the critic views his own character as cowardly, amoral and stupid.

13. “The author has no feeling for his subject.”

The author portrays things differently from what the critic thinks they are.

14. “The characters give speeches.”

The characters are capable of expressing a coherent viewpoint.

15. “This character is the author’s mouthpiece.”

This character makes more sense than the others.

16. “The book is utopian.”

The author thinks things can get better.

17. “The book is an exercise in paranoia.”

The author thinks things can get worse.

I find myself here — as both a novelist myself and a critic — having to be didactic, myself. I have to teach you the very standards that need to be used when criticizing a work of literature. I have to arm you with the very tools necessary to understand what it is that critics are trying to steer you away from — and why.

Critics who are not themselves practitioners of the art they are writing about are — with rare exceptions, caused by a dedication to reason and honesty above all else — the enemies of art. Without the ability to create it themselves, they are wannabes sitting on the sidelines envious, spiteful, and on a mission to destroy that which they, themselves, do not have the power to create.

The failed artists — the one who gave up — tend to be the most dangerous of all.

Adolf Hitler was a failed painter. His hatred of Jews likely started because a Jewish art teacher had the strength of character to point out his failings.

Saddam Hussein was a failed novelist. As dictator of Iraq he self-published his novels and his minions forced people to buy them.

The Roman Emperor Nero played the lyre while Rome burned.

And Bill Clinton was either a failed saxophonist or someone who didn’t have the perseverance to find out if he could spend his life supporting himself doing it.

The critics who were never artists and the critics who are failed artists don’t like art that clearly communicates. They thrive on murk and obscurity. They shrink from any sort of standards. They hide behind a doctrine they’ve invented called deconstructionism, which when you strip away the academic veneer of respectability means that a work of art has no objective meaning at all, but means only what an audience member imagines it means.

Sonny boy, I did not go through eight drafts of my first novel — and more recently fourteen cuts of my first movie — because I don’t think I am capable of refining what I’m trying to communicate to my audience down to the subatomic level. Screw Heisenberg and his uncertainty principle when it comes to the business I have chosen to be in.

If my art does not communicate precisely and absolutely what I intend it to mean, either I have failed as an artist or I have failed to find an audience worthy of me.

My father did not practice the violin for hours every day for over half a century because he was satisfied with being sloppy in front of an audience without an ear to tell the difference. He heard the difference — and on that day when his strength and agility and hearing had failed him and he could no longer perform to the lofty standards he had set for himself, on that day he began to die.

The Overton Window is told third person from several viewpoints, the most important being Noah Gardner, whom we meet on his 28th birthday — and what an eventful birthday it is, having him stopped in a New York City cab by Halliburton-type security contractees protecting political candidates in town, and arrested at a Tea party type meeting taking place in a beer hall — and I’m sure the authors picked that meeting location pointedly.

Noah is the scion to a New York public relations firm into everything from making pet rocks a fad to saving politicians from sex scandals. Noah’s father is a cynical bastard who is smart enough to see the writing on the wall from previous misuse of power, but not smart enough to understand that when the game of musical chairs which is the world economy stops he won’t be conducting the music any more. Noah’s possible salvation lies in a chance meeting with a beautiful young libertarian woman who begins to seduce him away from the dark side.

An “Overton Window” is what’s called “the realm of the possible” in politics — it’s that which is on the table for current discussion. So if you’re in the business of politics, job one is moving the Overton Window in your direction — getting what the public can accept as possible to include your agenda. If your agenda is total control, you create incidents that scare the public into incremental losses of their privacy and liberty. If your agenda is expanding freedom, you create loopholes for people to escape through.

If you’ve come to this page expecting me to tell you anything more about the story or characters of The Overton Window, think again. Anything more I tell you would be a spoiler.

Trust me, I’d love to be able to tell you why the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas, Nevada plays a part in this plot. That was the exterior we used for the office of Jack Goldwater’s supervisor, IRS Deputy Commissioner Lewis Heinlein, in my movie Lady Magdalene’s.

Oh my God — there’s even a sequence in Pahrump, Nevada — where I filmed most of Lady Magdalene’s — and where I live!

Some Star Wars references, even. Sam Konkin, Victor Koman and I did produce the very first Star Wars fanzine, The Force.

Spooky. More than one place in the novel gives me an eerie feeling of déjà vu.

Ayn Rand told her readers that an author’s job is to present facts instead of predigested conclusions, and let the reader make up their own minds.

But my telling you about the plot and characters of a novel by someone else isn’t my job. It’s the authors’ job. Let them communicate their images and events to you. Let their words — not mine — be your first introduction. I do not intend to broker the experience of reading The Overton Window for you.

I gave you my standards for judging a work of literature. By these standards I find The Overton Window to be an important work of literature, expertly crafted, relevant to our times, presenting solid values, and on the same mission that I am to liberate this country from the critics who are incapable of creative work yet feel themselves capable of standing in judgment over it.

The critics of The Overton Window will not need to read the novel to condemn it, and many won’t even trouble themselves. They already know all they need to know because they’ve listened to its producer, Glenn Beck, speak to them on his television and radio shows.

The Overton Window is a trenchant and uncompromising critique of power brokers who can not create life but feel themselves competent to rule over it. It is a novel that wants the free will that God gave each of us to be once again free. If that’s not literature then to hell with literature. If that’s not a good enough reason for you to read a novel, nothing further I say to you will make any difference, anyway.

As it happens, I have many disagreements with Glenn Beck — both with the content of his presentations and sometimes with his method of presentation. He’s been on a journey. This novel is a strong indication to me that he’s going in the right direction.

None of anything negative I might perceive in the author is reflected in The Overton Window. Glenn Beck is his best self as a fiction writer — and the collaboration of producer Kevin Balfe, editor Emily Bestler, and novelist Jack Henderson — known for his own previous novel Circumference of Darkness — only enhance Glenn Beck’s first outing as a thriller writer.

On June 2, 2010 Glenn Beck praised my novel Alongside Night to the three million listeners of his nationally syndicated and satellite radio show.

I guess this review is the beginning of a mutual admiration society.

As a Prometheus-Awards laureate in 1984 and 1989, I recommend to the next Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Awards Nominating Committee that The Overton Window be placed into consideration for the “Best Novel” category.

Mr. Beck, welcome to the libertarian fight. This time I know our side will win.


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available free on the web linked from the official movie website. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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The Twilight Zone: “Profile in Silver”

This is excerpted from my book Profile In Silver
And Other Screenwritings
(Pulpless.Com, 1999).
– JNS

Profile in Silver Title Card
Profile in Silver Written By Card

I got the idea for “Profile in Silver” while driving to a lunch meeting with Robert Jaffe of Vista Films, the production company that was attempting to find a studio to finance All the King’s Horses. Over lunch at Hamburger Hamlet in late 1983, I pitched Rob the idea as a feature and he loved it, but aside from sharing my notes with him, nothing concrete ever came of the pitch.

I also told the idea to my friend Alan Brennert and, two years later when Alan was on staff as executive story consulant for the revived Twilight Zone, and I was living in New Jersey, Alan phoned me and asked me if I could write my script for it at under an hour’s length for the show. I said yes and Alan assigned me to write a story outline.

For the first time, I was officially employed as a Hollywood screenwriter. But I was still living 3,000 miles away, and that was a significant element in everything that followed.

“Profile in Silver” was controversial, inasmuch as nobody at that time had ever used the JFK assassination as a plot element in a TV show, or portrayed President Kennedy and his family in a fictional context. All previous portrayals of John F. Kennedy had stayed extremely close to real life, from PT-109 to The Missiles of October.

How things have changed now! Oliver Stone’s JFK portrayed the assassination from the point of view of New Orleans District Attorney, Jim Garrison, who believed in a conspiracy. Quantum Leap put us inside the body of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the series lead character, Sam Beckett, changes history by preventing Jackie Kennedy from being assassinated, also. The X-Files has the Cigarette Smoking Man assassinating JFK from an underground sewer and setting up Oswald as a patsy. And NBC’s new series Dark Skies has JFK assassinated because he’s been told the truth behind the UFO landing at Roswell. I sometimes wonder whether any of these projects could have made it past industry executives if “Profile in Silver” hadn’t been on CBS prime-time first.

Alan was concerned enough with the JFK element that I wrote two versions of the story, one with real names and history, and another version with what Alan and I called a “Greek Tycoon” approach, where the events and names were fictitious but close enough to reality that everyone would know what we were doing anyway. The Greek Tycoon had been a recent movie which had fictionalized Jackie’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis using just that approach.

I wrote the outlines and Alan submitted them to Carla Singer, who was the executive at CBS Entertainment in charge of developing The Twilight Zone before it actually aired. Carla turned it down, on the grounds that using the JFK assassination as a plot element was in bad taste. Alan told me we would try again after the show was on the air and a different CBS executive was in charge of the show, and told me to develop a second story for the show in the meantime. I did, and it became “Colorblind.”

Carla Singer turned that down, also. I was the only writer who had had any stories rejected, which caused Alan and Harlan Ellison, who was on the show as a creative consultant, to write several long memos to CBS complaining about being made to force the show into a straitjacket.

When Twilight Zone made it onto the CBS schedule, Carla Singer was replaced as overseer of the show by Tony Barr, who approved me to go to script on “Profile.” But there were several story restrictions, the most emphatic was: the second assassin had to be removed from the story. Tony Barr’s memo, which Alan read to me over the phone, said, “The CBS television network is not going to rewrite history.”

Harlan wanted me to fight to keep the second assassin in, but there were other story elements I was more concerned about keeping in, most specifically, JFK’s discussion of political power with Professor Fitzgerald on Air Force One. Alan fought for, and kept in, the story elements I most cared about.

I wrote two drafts of the script. I wrote the second draft after a telephone story conference with Alan, Harlan Ellison, story editor Rockne O’Bannon (who later wrote the movie Alien Nation), executive producer Phil DeGuere, and producer James Crocker.

Then, because of a production deadline, and my being 3,000 miles away where I couldn’t meet their production needs, Alan did the final polish himself.

The main change that Alan introduced in his polish was taking the futuristic scenes from the beginning of my second draft and placing them in 1963. This was done because of the budget limitations on attempting to portray the Harvard campus 200 years in the future. I missed the parallel frame of having the story begin and end in the same future classroom, but Alan preserved a lot of that by beginning the story in a similar Harvard classroom in 1963, with Fitzgerald lecturing on inflation during the American revolution. Alan and I are both American Revolution history buffs, and Alan had pleasantly surprised me by taking a conversation the two of us had several weeks earlier and using my half of the conversation, almost verbatim, as Fitzgerald’s lecture to his 1963 students.

Alan also felt that having Fitzgerald be too specific about the future in the Oval Office conversation with JFK was too distracting from the emotional content of the scene, so he cut that dialogue. It made the script less explicit about the author’s political intent in writing the story, but dramatically stronger.

A word to budding writers: you have to be a top-level producer to have the control over your own screenwriting that a novelist takes for granted.

I flew to Los Angeles for the two-weeks filming of “Profile in Silver,” and the experience was wonderful thanks initially both to the Twilight Zone production staff and director, John Hancock. John’s major work has been as a stage and feature film director–Bang the Drum Slowly, Weeds, and Prancer among them.

John and I hit it off right away because my father is a violinist who had played ten years in the Boston Symphony, and John Hancock, a Harvard graduate himself, had been a violinist while at Harvard and had been concertmaster of the student orchestra at the Boston Symphony’s summer residence, Tanglewood. I developed a warm relationship with him on the set, where he gave me a personal education in directing, with such wisdom as, “When the Director sits down, production comes to a halt.”

John didn’t sit down more than a couple of minutes for the entire shoot.

John invited me to stand as close to him as I wanted to during the entire shoot, and frequently consulted me about my opinion, in essence giving me authorial input into the final form of the production. John also invited me to discuss my interpretations on the scenes and characters with the actors.

I ran lines with Barbara Baxley, who had been cast as Dr. Kate Wang just 24-hours before her first scene, and hadn’t yet had time to understand the time-travel elements of the story. Additionally, the character had been written for an Asian actress, but due to an error in the CBS casting memo describing the part, the talent agency representing most Asian actors had never sent over any Asian actresses in the right age-range to read for it. I improvised dialogue implying that “Wang” was a married name and Barbara added the words “a phrase my husband taught me” to cover the change in her ethnicity.

I also got a chance to discuss character elements both with Lane Smith, who played Professor Fitzgerald, and Andrew Robinson, who played JFK.

One of the first scenes filmed was the scene in Fitzgerald’s office when Kate Wang materializes, and they discuss Fitzgerald’s upcoming trip to Dallas. Lane was having trouble with his extensive speeches in that scene because Lane has a natural Southern accent which he was having to change to a Boston accent for the role. I suggested to him that he let his natural accent come out in the office scene, because it would be exactly like an actor coming out of a role for Fitzgerald to talk with someone from his own time.

Lane took my suggestion, with John Hancock’s approval.

I also got a chance to discuss my story intents with Andy Robinson before the scene between JFK and Professor Fitzgerald on Air Force One that set-up the entire emotional context of the story.

Through interpretation, Andy was able to restore much of the meaning of my earlier drafts, even with JFK dialogue that was no longer explicitly in the Oval Office scene.

Many people have wondered why Andy Robinson, who had been best known as the bad guy Scorpio in the Clint Eastwood movie Dirty Harry, had been cast as JFK. Andy told me that he had played JFK, previously, replacing William Devane in the Broadway production of the satirical anti-war play, MacBird.

(Devane, who starred in The Missiles of October about the Cuban missile crisis, later went on to play a time-travelling historian in a TV movie who was trying to prevent the JFK assassination — but could never prevent it. That movie was based on a book written after my original 1983 outline for “Profile,” and was produced after “Profile” had already been shown on CBS.)

There are several milestones in the production of “Profile in Silver” that are worth mentioning.

The first is that I wrote into both drafts of my script JFK delivering the speech he was scheduled to give on November 22nd, 1963 at the Dallas Trade Mart. As filmed, we hear the speech in the background on the car radio, as the secret service agent is accompanying Fitzgerald to Love Field to meet Kennedy. Andrew Robinson recorded the entire speech so that CBS sound editors could lay it in the background of that scene. To the best of my knowledge, it is the only time that the speech JFK never got to make has ever been delivered by anyone in a motion picture or theatrical production.

Also noteworthy about that speech is that CBS’s broadcast standards department sent a note to the Twilight Zone production staff questioning the authenticity of the Dallas Trade Mart Speech. The note said the speech didn’t sound like authentic JFK. How time changes our perceptions! I had gotten the Trade Mart speech from a book of JFK speeches, and it’s what you would expect: a speech meant to kick off JFK’s bid for re-election in 1964.

CBS broadcast standards didn’t have a single question about the authenticity of the speech I have JFK give at the end of “Profile,” in a Harvard classroom 200 years in the future. I made that speech up completely, but it was inspirational in tone — the way we remember JFK’s speeches through the lenses of time.

I was also able to make use of a wonderful coincidence. November 22nd, 1963 was a Friday — and on the CBS schedule for that night, as usual in its 7:30 PM time slot, was the original Rod Serling Twilight Zone. All regularly scheduled programming for that night was pre empted by the JFK assassination in the universe we lived through — but in the universe in which my futuristic history professor prevents the assassination, CBS decides to end its news coverage of the day’s events just in time for that evening’s airing of The Twilight Zone.

In the scene in the Treasury inspector’s office where the secret service agent who found the Kennedy Half Dollar is having a fellow Treasury agent inspect the coin, we hear a special news bulletin cut back to regularly scheduled programming, and we hear the opening notes of the famous Twilight Zone theme just as the scene cuts to the Oval Office and JFK says he finds Fitzgerald being a Soviet spy “hard to believe.”

Later, in the Dallas hospital scene after the assassination, in the filmed version, you can see a white-coated doctor looking directly into the camera for a moment. That doctor is Yours Truly, who submitted to a 1963-style short haircut just before the scene was filmed, so I could pull an Alfred Hitchcock. I was not overacting. John Hancock told me to look directly into the camera, and I was just doing what the Director told me.

As edited by John Hancock for broadcast, “Profile in Silver” came in at 26 minutes and 52 seconds. Scenes are short and cut quickly, so it plays more like a theatrical motion picture than an episode of a TV series. It took ten days to film and cost about $900,000 to produce — very expensive for a TV series in 1986. When commercials were inserted, it broke the half hour and came in at 35 minutes — which left the balance of the hour for “Button, Button,” starring Mare Winningham.

USA Today ran a feature on “Profile in Silver” in its March 3, 1986 television
column, and I was interviewed about the show by Gene Burns on a Boston radio talk show.

Lane Smith, who plays Professor Fitzgerald, went on to play Nixon in a TV biography, the prosecutor in My Cousin Vinny, and a corrupt senator in the Eddie Murphy comedy The Distinguished Gentleman. Lane now plays Perry White on Lois & Clark.

Andrew Robinson, who plays JFK, can now be seen (through a thick layer of theatrical appliances and makeup) as Garak, on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In a recent interview in Psychotronic Video, Andy Robinson spoke extensively about how much playing JFK in that episode meant to him, and how much he liked the script.

Alan Brennert, who bought the script and polished it, later shared an Emmy as Supervising Producer for LA Law, and is now writing feature film scripts.

And Carla Singer, who as the first CBS Executive in charge of the revived Twilight Zone turned down the story for “Profile in Silver”?

When she finally saw it, she changed her mind, and decided it was one of the best episodes.

CBS must have agreed: the hour containing “Profile in Silver” was the only one which they ran three times in prime time, before the show went into syndication, where it has run another dozen or so times in a half-hour edition.

That third airing of “Profile in Silver” was seen by the veteran TV producer who gave Rod Serling his first job in television. He thought my script was one of the few that carried the spirit of the original Twlight Zone series, and that’s how I got the assignment for The Mars Story.

I have written two novels, short stories, and articles published in major magazines and newspapers. But the power of television is such that even a single episode of a series show that never got more than mediocre ratings after the first week or so has been seen by so many millions of people that it’s probably the only thing of mine that most people have ever seen. The episode has been syndicated worldwide and sold on videotape overseas. I was in Paris just a few weeks before it was broadcast there.

It may only be 26 minutes and 52 seconds long, but if a writer has to be remembered for a single script, I’m delighted that the one I’m remembered for is “Profile in Silver.” — JNS, 1999


THE TWILIGHT ZONE
“Profile In Silver”

(First Draft)
by J. Neil Schulman

FADE IN

EXT. CAMPUS – HARVARD UNIVERSITY – 2163 A.D. – DAY

SERIES OF SHOTS and SUPERIMPOSED TITLES–
“HARVARD UNIVERSITY2163 A.D.”
to establish. Even almost two centuries in the future, Harvard
still has ivy-covered buildings and students running late to class–or
taking advantage of warm, sunny weather to study outside. The only
obvious indication of a future century–aside from odd clothing and
hairstyles–is that after a group of students climb into a beat-up car
and rev the engine, the car shoots off vertically.

INT. “DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY” LECTURE HALL

and this, too, has changed little. Students are seated at tablet
armchairs listening to a lecture. That is, those students who aren’t
catching up on sleep or secretly finishing work for their next class.
Delivering the lecture is their professor, DR. JOSEPH K. FITZGERALD, a
handsome man in his mid-forties, whose suit and hairstyle is obviously
professorial, but still, somehow, futuristic. While he lectures, as a
nervous habit, Fitzgerald is flipping a silver coin in his hand.

FITZGERALD
Living today in worldwide freedom, peace, and
prosperity, it’s almost impossible for us to
comprehend political violence two centuries
ago. The Twentieth Century was a time of
world wars, brushfire wars–the everpresent
threat of nuclear war. Genocide, riots,
hijackings, tyranny–political terrorism. But
there was one event which encapsulates the mad
violence of that period: the assassination in
November, Nineteen-sixty-three of the American
President, John F. Kennedy.

A STUDENT wearing a LETTER SWEATER raises his hand with perhaps a
touch of arrogance. Fitzgerald recognises him.

LETTERMAN
Your ancestor, Professor Fitzgerald?

FITZGERALD
Yes, I am proud to say. While I can hardly
expect you to approve the politics of that
insane era, John Fitzgerald Kennedy rose above
the insanities of his time by being a man of
vision and a man of courage. Most important
to you, John F. Kennedy was a Harvard man.

STUDENTS laugh appreciatively.

When they stop, Fitzgerald waves his hand in an odd way; suddenly the
lights dim and WE SEE FILM PROJECTED behind him: STOCK NEWS
FOOTAGE of that fateful day in Dallas–the motorcade, the shots, screams,
the limousine tearing out into traffic.

FITZGERALD
(continuing over film)
There have always been unanswered questions.
Was Lee Harvey Oswald the assassin? Was there
a conspiracy? Did this relate to other
political killings of that era–Diem of
Vietnam, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King?
Until now, we could only speculate.

Fitzgerald pauses, then resumes flipping his coin nervously.

FITZGERALD
(continuing)
After trying for six years, my historical-
research grant from the Rand Institute has
come through. I leave for the past tonight.
In the next lecture, I hope to bring you some
firsthand answers.

As Fitzgerald continues lecturing, his VOICE FADES AND
WE HEAR:

NARRATOR
Dr. Joseph Kennedy Fitzgerald, a Professor of
History at Harvard … descendant of a man who
graduated Harvard and went on to make some of
the history the Professor teaches. In a few
hours, Dr. Fitzgerald will make a journey back
in time to a fateful day in history …
November twenty-second, Nineteen-sixty three.
Dr. Fitzgerald is searching for an ending to a
history lesson. But the ending he finds will
go beyond history … it will go beyond
politics … it will stretch the limits of
human courage. Perhaps it will stretch even
the boundless dimensions of …

CLOSE ON THE COIN

as it drops into Dr. Fitzgerald’s hand. WE SEE that it is a 1964
KENNEDY HALF DOLLAR.

NARRATOR
(continuing)
… The Twilight Zone.
CUT TO:

ESTABLISHING SHOT “RAND INSTITUTE FOR TEMPORAL
STUDIES”
– NIGHT

a formidable-looking hi-tech glass-and-steel office complex, still
active at night, its sign also glowing in the darkness.

EXT. “TEMPORAL DISPLACEMENT PLATFORM” – NIGHT

which looks like a sports arena during a night game, with a floodlit
riser at its center–the PLATFORM. But except for two TECHNICIANS
sitting at a control console near the Platform, it is vastly empty.

We follow Dr. Fitzgerald–now styled and dressed in a suit-and-tie
appropriate for 1963–as he walks toward the Platform with DR. KATE
WANG, a distinguished, Chinese woman in 2163 garb.

On a table near the Platform are a MAN’S LEATHER BELT with a
rectangular buckle, a SIGNET RING, A WALLET, AN ANALOG
WRISTWATCH, and what looks to be a 1963 MODEL 8-MILLIMETER
MOVIE CAMERA. Wang shows Fitzgerald the Belt first–it matches his
1963 suit.

WANG
We’ve imbedded the temporal displacement
circuit inside the belt, and hidden the
control panel in its buckle. Proper I.D. in
the wallet. The wristwatch is your computer.

Dr. Fitzgerald puts the Wallet into his jacket, then starts putting on
the Wristwatch and the Belt.

FITZGERALD
Will it tell time?

WANG
That’s a very old joke.

FITZGERALD
Sorry. Where have you hidden the emergency
homing circuit?

WANG
In a Harvard signet ring. If the displacement
circuit in the belt fails or is separated from
the ring it will home back here directly.
We’ve set it on five minutes failsafe.

Dr. Fitzgerald nods, placing the Ring on his right hand. Wang hands
Fitzgerald the “Movie” Camera. He straps it over his shoulder.

WANG
An F-minus-infinity retina, auto-zoom with
three-sixty peripheral. Only a fifty gigabyte
disk, but you won’t need more. Ready?

FITZGERALD
I’ve been ready for the last six years.

WANG
Feel lucky you’re going at all. After the
Sodom and Gomorrah meltdown, our insurance
premiums tripled.

Fitzgerald’s only reaction is to frown and step onto the Platform.

Dr. Wang joins the Technicians at the control console. The console
starts to VIBRATE with the force of great amounts of energy being
gathered; the Platform starts to PULSE in changing colors.

CHIEF TECHNICIAN
Dr. Wang, I read a few grams unexpected mass.

WANG
What is it, Joe?

FITZGERALD
A family keepsake–a good luck charm.

Fitzgerald reaches into a jacket pocket and pulls out his KENNEDY
HALF DOLLAR. Dr. Wang walks up to the platform and examines it.

WANG
It’s dated one year after your destination.
Against policy.

FITZGERALD
But not strictly forbidden. No anachronisms
found in any historical document. I ran a
full search.

He puts the COIN back into his jacket.

WANG
(wary)
Don’t get involved back there, Joe. You’re an
historian. Stick to your job.

FITZGERALD
(smiles)
What are you worried about, Kate? Afraid I’m
a revisionist?

WANG
(seriously)
Frankly, yes. You have a very Chinese view of
ancestor worship.

She steps back to console and nods to the Chief Technician.

CHIEF TECHNICIAN
(to Wang)
All circuits test positive … Tachyon
modulation positive … Phasing five point
five nominal … Plasma bottle charged …
Displacement on command–Ready.

WANG
Go.

The Chief Technician nods to the Second Technician who pulls a lever.

CHIEF TECHNICIAN
Energized.

On the Platform, Dr. Fitzgerald flashes bright red.

CHIEF TECHNICIAN
(continuing)
… We have temporal coherence.

Suddenly, Dr. Fitzgerald shrinks to infinity and a super-powerful
laser beam shoots up from the platform to the starlit night sky,
punching a hole in Time.

FLASH CUT TO:

EXT. DEALY PLAZA – DALLAS – NOVEMBER 22, 1963 –
JUST BEFORE 12:30 PM

as Dr. Fitzgerald materializes on the sidewalk near the Grassy Knoll,
just as the Presidential motorcade is approaching.

A TEXAN does a double-take as Fitzgerald pops in next to him.

TEXAN
(to Fitzgerald)
Where in Sam Hill did you come from?

FITZGERALD
(off-handed)
Boston.

Before the Texan can get any further into it, Fitzgerald lifts his
“movie” camera up to his eye and starts recording. The Texan goes
back to watching the approaching motorcade.

FITZGERALD’S POV THROUGH RANGEFINDER

VARIOUS SHOTS as he ZOOMS IN ON the open Presidential limousine and
sees (our actor) PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY.
[NOTE: for reasons that will become apparent later, the two Actors
playing KENNEDY and FITZGERALD should bear strong physical resemblance.]
To the President’s left–our actors–JACKIE KENNEDY (in her famous pink
suit), on the jumpseat in front of JFK, TEXAS GOVERNOR
CONNALLY. SECRET SERVICE AGENT GREER is driving the limo,
SECRET SERVICE AGENT KELLERMAN is on Kennedy’s right.

SECRET SERVICE AGENT RAY KINGMAN is walking alongside the Presidential
limo, on Fitzgerald’s side of the street.

Additional limousines follow in the motorcade with more Secret
Service, VICE PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON (our actor),
press and dignitaries.

Crowds line the street, waving flags, shouting greetings to the
President.

A “DALLAS POLICEMAN” (our actor) steps into Fitzgerald’s POV and

pauses.

Fitzgerald ZOOMS CLOSE IN on the crucial window of the TEXAS
SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY COMPANY, and WE SEE (our actor)
LEE HARVEY OSWALD taking aim with a rifle on the Presidential
limousine
.

FITZGERALD’S POV – IN RAPID SEQUENCE

THE “DALLAS POLICEMAN” is surreptitiouslywith his pistol still
holstered
raising his pistol.

Oswald FIRES his rifle, hitting Texas Governor Connally–the SOUND of
the SHOT is delayed.

The “Policeman” now has his still-holstered pistol aimed directly at
JFK’s head
.

SMASH CUT TO:

RAPID SEQUENCE – FITZGERALD AND THE “POLICEMAN”

as Fitzgerald drops his camera onto its shoulder strap and instantly
realizes–emotionally–that the man in front of him is not a Dallas
policeman but a Second Assassin–and this assassin is about to murder
John F. Kennedy.

To Fitzgerald, for the first time, this is no longer the dispassionate
study of the long-dead past: this is happening now. He hesitates,
realizing that he’s just an observer, then the emotional pain becomes
too great.

FITZGERALD
NO!

And with that bellow, Fitzgerald leaps forward onto the disguised
gunman just as he FIRES.

RAPID SEQUENCE – SECRET SERVICE AGENT KINGMAN

as he HEARS Fitzgerald’s shout and spins around just as the
“Policeman” FIRES, to SEE Fitzgerald jump him.

RAPID SEQUENCE – FITZGERALD AND “POLICEMAN”

As Fitzgerald tackles him, the “Policeman’s” GUNSHOT is redirected
away from Kennedy’s head and impacts harmlessly on the limo.

RAPID SEQUENCE – SCREAMING BYSTANDERS

At the SOUND of the two GUNSHOTS.

RAPID SEQUENCE – IN LIMO – AGENT KELLERMAN

as he throws himself onto JFK and Jackie.

Agent Kingman and ANOTHER AGENT arrive at the spot where Fitzgerald
has tackled the “Policeman”. KINGMAN grabs Fitzgerald and pulls
him toward the President’s limo; the other Agent holds the assassin.

RAPID SEQUENCE – KINGMAN AND FITZGERALD

AGENT KINGMAN
(shouting to
Fitzgerald)
Come on!

RAPID SEQUENCE – THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMO

as Kingman pulls Fitzgerald onto the Presidential limousine just as
everyone realizes that Governor Connally has been shot.

KENNEDY
(to agent driving)
The Governor has been hit! Get him to a
hospital!

AGENT GREER
(driving; to radio)
I’m pulling out!
LONG ON THE LIMO

as it pulls out of the motorcade and accelerates.

BACK IN SPEEDING LIMO

as Kingman and Fitzgerald are settled in the front seat, quietly
TALKING to each other in the b.g. WE SEE Fitzgerald reach into his
jacket, take out the Wallet, and hand a 1963 Harvard “Faculty I.D.
Card” to Agent Kingman.

AGENT GREER
(continuing; to radio)
Alert Parkland Memorial Hospital that the
Governor will be there in four minutes.

President Kennedy nods, satisfied, then notices Agent Kingman and
Fitzgerald.

KENNEDY
(to Kingman)
Mr. Kingman, who is this man?

AGENT KINGMAN
Mr. President, this is Dr. Joseph Fitzgerald,
one of your constituents from Harvard. He
just saved your life.

KENNEDY AND FITZGERALD

as they look at each other for the first time.

KENNEDY
(warmly)
Dr. Fitzgerald, Harvard, and I, are in your
debt.

CLOSE ON FITZGERALD

as he realizes the full impact of what he has done.

CUT TO:

EXT. EMERGENCY ENTRANCE – PARKLAND MEMORIAL
HOSPITAL – DAY

as the limousine pulls up. A stretcher crew immediately takes the
wounded Governor out.

JFK gestures to Agent Kellerman that he wishes to get out of the
limousine, but Jackie stops him.

JACKIE
You can’t do any good in there, Jack.

The others wait expectantly for a moment while JFK decides, then
Kennedy nods determinedly.

KENNEDY
(to Greer)
Mr. Greer, radio ahead to the Dallas Trade
Mart. I’ll speak as scheduled.

AGENT GREER
Yes, sir.

CUT TO:

INT. THE DALLAS TRADE MART

where President John F. Kennedy is delivering the luncheon address
that history had never intended him to give.

Dr. Fitzgerald stands on the sidelines, an historian still, recording
it all in his “camera.”

KENNEDY
We in this country, in this generation are–by
destiny rather than choice–the watchmen of
the walls of world freedom. We ask,
therefore, that we may be worthy of our power
and responsibility–that we may exercise our
strength with wisdom and restraint–and that
we may achieve it in our time, and for all
time, the ancient vision of peace on Earth,
goodwill toward men.

MASSIVE LUNCHEON AUDIENCE (FROM STOCK FOOTAGE)

There is APPLAUSE.

CLOSE ON FITZGERALD’S FACE

as he realizes that Kennedy’s vision was destined to be fulfilled–but
will it be, now that history has been changed?

PRESIDENT KENNEDY AGAIN

KENNEDY
(continuing)
That must always be our goal–and the
righteousness of our cause must always
underlie our strength. For as was written
long ago: “Except the Lord keep the city, the
watchman waketh but in vain.”

As APPLAUSE greets the end of Kennedy’s speech, we

CUT TO:

SIDE WINGS OF TRADE MART

As JFK, Jackie, Vice President Johnson, Fitzgerald, and the rest of
the Presidential entourage are walking out.

AN AIDE rushes up to the Vice President and addresses Johnson
frantically.

JOHNSON AIDE
(breathless)
Mr. Vice President, we’ve got more problems!
Tornadoes have sprung up all around the state!
One is heading here, another just ripped its
way through downtown Austin, and another just
hit your ranch!

JOHNSON
(grimly, to Aide)
Better get the choppers ready, son.

The Aide runs off.

JOHNSON
(continuing; to
Kennedy)
Mr. President, if I were you, I’d hightail it
back to Washington and mind the store. It
looks like fate is set on spoiling our
barbecue tonight.

FITZGERALD

He knows it’s not fate that’s doing this.

ALL AGAIN
KENNEDY
(tersely)
Take care of your people, Lyndon. Let me know
how I can help.

JOHNSON
Yes, Mr. President.

Johnson rushes out. Kennedy turns to Fitzgerald.

KENNEDY
Dr. Fitzgerald, I can use an extra Harvard
professor in my Brain Trust right now. Are
you free to be my guest at the White House?

FITZGERALD
(shocked)
Uh, yes, sir.

KENNEDY
Then let’s get going. This is turning out to
be “one of those days.”

As they rush out of the Trade Mart, we

CUT TO

EXT. (LOVE) AIR FIELD – STORM – AFTERNOON

as strong rain and winds surround AIR FORCE ONE while it takes off.

STOCK FOOTAGE – TORNADOES

As they wind their way through Texan cities.

EXT. AIR FORCE ONE – BREAKING ABOVE CLOUDS – AFTERNOON

to ESTABLISH.

INT. AIR FORCE ONE – IN FLIGHT

this time, not carrying a flag-draped casket and a just-sworn-in new
president, but with JFK still alive and well.

Jackie is sitting forward, being interviewed by a reporter.

Kennedy is sitting catercorner to Fitzgerald in a living room area.
Both men have drinks. Agent Kingman is seated nearby, reading.

AN AIDE comes up to the President.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
Mr. President, news out of Texas is bad.
Parts of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin–gone.
Hundreds dead, more missing. The Lieutenant
Governor is requesting federal disaster
relief. The only good news is that Parkland
Memorial was untouched. Governor Connally is
out of surgery in stable condition.

KENNEDY
Thank God for that, at least. Okay, get the
paperwork going. I want disaster relief on my
desk before I go to bed tonight.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
Yes, sir. One more thing. In addition to the
fake policeman Dr. Fitzgerald apprehended,
Dallas police arrested a man named Lee Oswald.
They’ve charged Oswald not only with shooting
the Governor, but with murdering a Dallas
police patrolman.

Kennedy nods seriously.

KENNEDY
Thank you.

The Aide leaves. The historian from the future can’t resist asking.

FITZGERALD
Mr. President, do you have any idea–

KENNEDY
(interrupting)
Jack. Men who’ve saved my life call me
“Jack.”

FITZGERALD
(delighted)
“Jack.” … I’m “Joe” to everyone but my
students.

KENNEDY
Good name. My Dad’s name. Also my late
brother’s.

FITZGERALD
(emotionally)
I … know.

KENNEDY
You were asking something?

FITZGERALD
(nods)
If you have any idea who would have reason to
shoot at you?

Kennedy takes a sip of his drink before answering.

KENNEDY
Considering the awesome power wielded by the
President, who wouldn’t? Two centuries ago,
the Founding Fathers tried to set things up so
we wouldn’t have a king anymore. Now, because
we’re always a pushbutton away from war, the
President has been stuck with more power than
any king in history. It’s no wonder my
administration has been called “Camelot.”

FITZGERALD
Like King Arthur, you had to win your office.
It must gratify you, no?

KENNEDY
What gratified me was getting the world
through the Cuban Missile Crisis in one piece.
Providence was with us that time. But
Scripture tells us to “put not your trust in
princes.” Maybe someday people will take that
good advice.

FITZGERALD
(drily)
That would leave you unemployed.

KENNEDY
This job gives me few moments of great joy.
I’ll tell you, Joe, after I’m out of office
what I’d best like to do is help you Harvard
professors find a way to beat nuclear bombs
into plowshares.

FITZGERALD
(with certainty)
A century from now, nuclear bombs will power
rocket ships.

KENNEDY
(nods)
We’ve studied that idea. But how do you
prevent enemy nations from regarding nuclear
rockets as weapons?

FITZGERALD
(offhanded)
Insurance companies. Next century, people
will replace nation-states with insurance
companies.

KENNEDY
(laughs)
You have a wicked sense of humor, Joe. I’ll
have to tell that one to Senator Goldwater
when I see him.

Fitzgerald is puzzling out that remark when the Aide returns.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
Mr. President, there’s a radiophone call for
you from Defense Secretary McNamara.

KENNEDY
(rising)
Excuse me. (still chuckling) Insurance
companies.

The President gets up and walks aft, leaving Dr. Fitzgerald alone with
his thoughts. Without thinking, Fitzgerald sticks his hand into his
jacket pocket, pulling out his Kennedy Half Dollar, and automatically
starts to flip it in his hands.

Suddenly, the plane is hit by turbulence, and Fitzgerald misses

catching the coin. The coin rolls to where Agent Kingman is sitting.

Agent Kingman sees the coin, and looks up to meet Fitzgerald’s frantic
gaze; Fitzgerald looks away quickly. Kingman picks the coin up.

CLOSE ON KINGMAN

as he sees what the coin is.

KINGMAN AND FITZGERALD

As Kingman–seeing Fitzgerald trying to look innocent–realizes that
this must be Fitzgerald’s property.

AFT AGAIN

as President Kennedy returns to the seat next to Fitzgerald, JFK
passes his Aide and waves him over.

KENNEDY
(quiet but urgently)
Listen carefully. I’ve just placed our
Strategic Forces on Yellow Alert. Set up an
Emergency Cabinet meeting for tonight at ten.
Rusk is on a plane to Japan–see if you can
get him back. Tell Bundy, Taylor, Sorensen.
And Bobby! But act normally and do it
quietly–I don’t want the press onboard to
know anything’s wrong.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
Yes, sir.

As the Aide leaves, Kennedy straps himself in again and turns to
Fitzgerald, likewise speaking quietly but with urgency.

KENNEDY
How familiar are you with the history of our
Berlin situation?

FITZGERALD
Completely. My specialty is this era.

Fitzgerald sees Kennedy’s confusion and corrects himself quickly.

FITZGERALD
I mean this area. Why do you ask?

KENNEDY
Soviet troops just captured West Berlin. The
Russian premier is demanding we pull our
forces out of the rest of Germany or they’ll
kill every American in Berlin.

FITZGERALD
(shocked)
But Khrushchev never would have done that!

KENNEDY
(nods with finality)
Premier Khrushchev was assassinated today.

On Fitzgerald’s startled look, we

CUT TO

EXT. AIR FORCE ONE – ON THE GROUND – AFTERNOON

as the door opens. The Secret Service, JFK and Jackie, Fitzgerald,
the Warrant Officer with the “Black Bag,” and the rest of the
entourage begin deplaning.

AGENT KINGMAN

as he watches Fitzgerald getting into the Presidential limousine with
the Kennedys, then LOOKS DOWN again at the mysterious Kennedy Half
Dollar. Kingman slips the coin into his pocket then walks up to
another SECRET SERVICE AGENT.

AGENT KINGMAN
I need to do some research at Treasury before
it closes. Can you spare me?

The Agent nods.

THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE

as it departs.

CUT TO

EXT. THE WHITE HOUSE – THE LIMOUSINE ARRIVING – AFTERNOON

as JFK and Jackie get out of the limousine first and two children run
to meet them: six-year-old CAROLINE and three-year-old JOHN, JR.

CUT TO

CLOSE ON THE COIN

as we see it being held in a man’s hand.

WIDER – INT. OFFICE – AFTERNOON

as Agent Kingman is sitting across a desk from another TREASURY MAN.
The T-MAN is looking at the coin through a watchmaker’s loupe screwed
into his eye, then removes the loupe and leans back in his chair.

TREASURY MAN
Remarkable. Utterly remarkable. I’ve never
seen counterfeit work this faithful to Mint
standards. Whoever did this is a real artist.

AGENT KINGMAN
Then it is a counterfeit? It’s not something
our Mint has in the works for next year?

TREASURY MAN
Of course not. How could it be? Other
countries stamp reigning sovereigns on their
coins, but it’s against U.S. law to mint the
image of any living person.

AGENT KINGMAN
Could it be a practical joke of some sort? Or
a prototype of a campaign handout? Maybe one
of the President’s brothers … or the
Republicans …

TREASURY MAN
I doubt it very much. They’d have to know

it’s a felony … and possibly treason, since
it implies President Kennedy is going to die
by Sixty-four. This man who lost it … you
saw him save the President’s life?

AGENT KINGMAN
Absolutely. Or I wouldn’t have allowed him
anywhere near the President until his
credentials had been confirmed.

TREASURY MAN
And were they?

AGENT KINGMAN
(nods)
I checked during the President’s speech.
Matched Fitzgerald’s prints with FBI. Clean.
Checked Harvard, Internal Revenue, the Army.
All in order. But that’s the really odd
thing. The documents are all there, but I
can’t find anyone who’s ever heard of
Fitzgerald. It’s like somebody got into the
records and just dropped him in. And yeah, I
checked with CIA. They’ve never heard of him.

TREASURY MAN
It wouldn’t be the first time the Company
didn’t tell us about one of their Spooks.

AGENT KINGMAN
Maybe. Still, this Harvard professor is
Johnny-on-the-Spot to save the President’s
life … he loses a coin that shouldn’t exist
… he’s got three of the President’s family
names … he even looks like the President.
Now, with a crisis more dangerous that Cuba
coming on, the President is confiding in this
stranger like a long-lost brother. If you ask
me …

Suddenly, the office starts shaking violently with a rolling motion
Californians are too familiar with … but that shouldn’t be happening
in Washington D.C.

An earthquake. Lamps fall over, fixtures swing …

Kingman and the T-Man both jump up, startled out of their wits.

AGENT KINGMAN
My God … an earthquake in Washington?

CUT TO

INT. OVAL OFFICE – THE WHITE HOUSE – SAME TIME

as JFK sits behind his desk talking on the telephone … and the
earthquake hits here, too.

Kennedy drops the phone and jumps to his feet … and by doing so
saves his life again as a massive BOOKSHELF topples onto his chair
where he was sitting
.

The Presidential Aide runs into the Oval Office in a flash, as the
RUMBLING DIES AWAY.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
Sir, are you all right?

KENNEDY
I’m fine! Find out if my kids are okay!

The Aide runs out. Kennedy pulls the phone out from under some books
and picks up the receiver again.

KENNEDY
You still there, Bobby? (beat) You’re damn
right we felt it here! (beat) Yeah, I’ll
talk to you later.

The President hangs up just as the Aide returns.

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
Nobody hurt, sir … the children weren’t even
really frightened. I’m afraid the First Lady
isn’t doing quite as well … we just lost
half her favorite bone china.

KENNEDY
(almost smiling)
Tell her to break out the paper plates!
(more serious)
What the Devil is going on today?

PRESIDENTIAL AIDE
I don’t know, sir. But my father’s a minister
and I can bet you his sermon this Sunday is
going to be on the Apocalypse … if we make
it to Sunday.

PRESIDENT KENNEDY

as he wearily drops his face into his hands. HOLD on him, then

CUT TO

INT. WHITE HOUSE GUEST BEDROOM – FITZGERALD

as he turns a lamp upright again then starts talking to his Wristwatch
Computer, rubbing his back as if it’s been injured.

FITZGERALD
Resume program … Last parameter, three-
times-ten-to-the-ninth non-parallel vectors.
Compute time-line status.

WRISTWATCH
(Voice like HAL 9000)
After pressure release by tornadoes at
intervention site, Stable Two was achieved by
Khrushchev assassination.

FITZGERALD
Stable, my aching back! What about the
earthquake just now?

WRISTWATCH
Shockwave backwash from first intervention in
time line. No major effects.

FITZGERALD
All right, then. With Khrushchev
assassination as Stable Two, give me worst-
and-best-case outcomes on this time-line, with
assigned probabilities.

WRISTWATCH
Worst-case scenario: Three-hundred megaton
nuclear exchange between the Superpowers
within nine days, resulting in total
annihilation of biosphere. Probability:
seventy-seven percent. Best-case scenario:
surrender of Western Europe to the Soviet
Union within six years, resulting in collapse
of Soviet economy. In desperation, Soviets
blackmail West for food, West is provoked into
agro-bacterial war between the Superpowers,
resulting in total annihilation of biosphere
within century. Probability: twelve percent.

FITZGERALD
There’s only an eleven percent possibility of
avoiding total war on this time-line?

WRISTWATCH
Three percent. Eight percent
includes all other scenarios leading to–

FITZGERALD &
WRISTWATCH
–Total annihilation of biosphere.

GIRL’S VOICE (O.S.)
Why are you talking to your watch?

Fitzgerald looks up, startled.

IN DOORWAY – CAROLINE

as she walks into

GUEST ROOM – FITZGERALD AND CAROLINE

FITZGERALD
Because it gives me smarter answers than I get
from most people.

CAROLINE
You should talk to my Daddy instead. He gives
me smart answers on everything.

FITZGERALD
(smiling wistfully)
Yes, I’m sure he does.

JACKIE’S VOICE (O.S.)
Caroline, dear! It’s time for your dinner!

CAROLINE
(answering)
I’ll be right there, Mommy!
(to Fitzgerald)
I talk to my pony Macaroni, sometimes. But I
never get any answers. See ya!

Caroline ducks out.

Fitzgerald checks the corridor, then resumes talking to his
Wristwatch, more quietly.

FITZGERALD
Since this time-line is non-viable, give me
all options for repairing original time-line.

WRISTWATCH
There exists only one viable option for
repairing original time-line. The
assassination of President John F. Kennedy
must occur as history originally recorded.

ON FITZGERALD’S HORROR

as the thoughts of the little girl he just met–and the answers she
gets only from her “Daddy”–hit him hard. He drops his face into his
hands exactly like JFK did.

CUT TO

INT. THE OVAL OFFICE – NIGHT

JFK is alone, in his famous ROCKING CHAIR, puffing on a cigar and
thinking. A TELEVISION next to his desk is on in the b.g., a CBS
TELEVISION SPECIAL NEWS REPORT.

ANCHORMAN (ON TV)
–certainly an indication of a conspiracy by
Soviet hard-liners. However, the tornadoes in
Texas and the earthquake in the Capital would
certainly have to be put down to one of those
unbelievable coincidences that you meet so
often in the news business.

There is a knock at the office door. (TV SOUND continues UNDER.)

KENNEDY
Come in!

Agent Kingman enters.

KENNEDY
Hi, Ray. (Indicates chair) Take a load off.
Want a drink?

AGENT KINGMAN
Thank you, sir, but I’m still on duty.

KENNEDY
I won’t tell on you.

Kingman remains standing and smiles … letting us know that this is a
game the two of them have played before.

AGENT KINGMAN
Mr. President, I have some concerns about Dr.
Fitzgerald. I’ve checked with Harvard, and
even though they have him in their records as
a full professor on sabbatical, nobody there
has ever heard of him. It’s possible that Dr.
Fitzgerald is a spy.

KENNEDY
For who?
(with terror)
Yale?

AGENT KINGMAN
(used to being
straight-man)
I don’t know for who, sir, but I wouldn’t
eliminate the Soviets. I can’t think of a
better way to get an agent close to the
President than to set up an assassination and
have your man save the President’s life.

KENNEDY
(shakes head)
I know people, and Joe Fitzgerald is no Soviet
spy. Also, the Soviets are subtler than that
… if they wanted to pull something this big
they’d use sleeper agents who’d been in place
for twenty years.

AGENT KINGMAN
There’s more, sir.

Kingman reaches into his pocket, pulls out the KENNEDY HALF DOLLAR,
and hands it to Kennedy.

AGENT KINGMAN
(continuing)
Dr. Fitzgerald lost this on Air Force One.

CLOSE ON KENNEDY – IN PROFILE

as he LOOKS at HIS OWN FACE IN PROFILE on the half dollar.

KENNEDY
I think someone is taking this Camelot stuff a
bit too far.
(beat; more
seriously)
All right. You’d better get Fitzgerald in
here.

STANDING IN DOORWAY – FITZGERALD

Fitzgerald has his “camera” strapped over his shoulder.

FITZGERALD
I was already on my way here, Mr. President.

OVAL OFFICE – ALL

In the b.g., WE HEAR

CBS ANNOUNCER
–This concludes this CBS News Special Report.
We now return to our regularly scheduled
programming.

Kennedy gestures Fitzgerald into the office.

KENNEDY
Dr. Fitzgerald, were you part of an
assassination conspiracy in Dallas today?

FITZGERALD
No, sir, I was not. But I knew about the
assassination before I came to Dallas.

AGENT KINGMAN
(to Kennedy)
Excuse me, sir.
(to Fitzgerald)
Where did you get that coin?

FITZGERALD
It’s been in my family for almost two hundred
years.

KENNEDY
You’ll pardon me if I say that’s a little
unbelievable.

IN THE B.G.., we HEAR the original “Twilight Zone” THEME MUSIC and:

ROD SERLING’S VOICE
There is a fifth dimension beyond that which
is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as
space and as timeless as infinity. It is the
middle ground between light and shadow–
between science and superstition–

FITZGERALD
(gesturing toward TV)
People of your generation should have paid
more attention to the classics.

KENNEDY
My generation? You’re the same generation as
me!

Fitzgerald walks over to the TV set.

ROD SERLING’S VOICE
–And it lies between the pit of man’s fears
and the summit of his imagination. It is an
area which we call–

Fitzgerald switches off the set just before we hear the words “The
Twilight Zone.” Then he faces his ancestor directly.

FITZGERALD
No, Mr. President, I am not. I am of a
generation that won’t be your age for another
two-hundred years. I am a time-traveler from
the future … and your direct descendant by
two converging lines.

KENNEDY
(concern)
Dr. Fitzgerald, the matters we are discussing
are much too serious for you to joke about
them.

FITZGERALD
I’m not joking, sir.

Fitzgerald picks up his camera.

In a split-second, Agent Kingman has his gun out, pointed at
Fitzgerald.

FITZGERALD
(calmly)
This isn’t a weapon.

Fitzgerald points his “camera” toward the wall–away from both
Kennedy and Kingman–and turns it on.

IN FRONT OF WALL – KENNEDY GIVING SPEECH
AT TRADE MART

in a Full-size, 3-D, Full-color and Sound Playback.

KENNEDY HOLOGRAM
We in this country, in this generation are–by
destiny rather than choice–the watchmen of
the walls of world freedom. We ask,
therefore, that we may be worthy of our power
and responsibility–

KENNEDY AND AGENT KINGMAN

as they watch this phenomenon, open-mouthed.

KENNEDY HOLOGRAM
–that we may exercise our strength with
wisdom and restraint–and that we may achieve
it in our time, and for all time, the ancient
vision of peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.

ALL AGAIN

Fitzgerald turns the “camera” off and the Kennedy Hologram

disappears.

Kingman holsters his pistol again. After a pause, he speaks first.

AGENT KINGMAN
Mr. President, request permission to go off
duty, sir.

KENNEDY
Granted. For both of us, also.

Kingman immediately goes over to the liquor and pours three stiff
drinks. He hands one each to Kennedy and Fitzgerald.

FITZGERALD
(to Kennedy;
automatically)
Your health.

He has time to ponder his remark as the three men drink.

Fitzgerald and Kingman draw up chairs. Kennedy breaks the tension
in the room.

KENNEDY
(to Fitzgerald)
Insurance companies, huh?

FITZGERALD
(smiles)
That’s only a transitional phase. By my time
we’ve put together a social system I’m sure
you’d consider much-more bizarre than that.
But we have achieved your dreams. We’ve
eliminated war, poverty, and tyranny. Your
dream of humankind moving into space has
become a reality … I took my graduate degree
out near the orbit of Jupiter.

KENNEDY
I never thought humanity would achieve that
sort of Utopia.

FITZGERALD
It’s not even close to being Utopia, sir.
We’ve taken the Biblical advice about not
putting our trust in princes, but we haven’t
beaten our swords into plowshares. We just
finally got it through our skulls that it’s
safer to avoid princes with big swords.

Kennedy gets up (Kingman and Fitzgerald rise immediately) and JFK
starts pacing near his desk. He is still holding the Kennedy Half
Dollar and he looks at it thoughtfully.

KENNEDY
You come from the future. Did you come back
to tell me what I’m supposed to do about the
Berlin crisis today?

FITZGERALD
No, sir.
(suddenly choked up)
I … didn’t know about that.

KENNEDY
(surprised)
Didn’t know? How could you not know?

Kennedy looks at the Coin one more time.

ZOOM IN ON THE COIN’S DATE – 1964

WIDER AGAIN

as Kennedy sees it and suddenly realizes what it means.

KENNEDY
You came to Dallas to observe an
assassination. My assassination.
(almost swooning)
Dear God in heaven.

Kennedy looks down and sees–on his desk where the earthquake left
it–a copy of his book, Profiles in Courage.

KENNEDY
This Berlin crisis would be the end of the
world, wouldn’t it?

Fitzgerald nods.

Kennedy picks up Profiles in Courage, then puts in down again,
firmly. When he speaks again, it’s with the firm resolve of a P.T. boat
commander.

KENNEDY
You’re here, which proves that it wasn’t.
You’ll have to take me back. Can you take me
back? Can you make it like it was intended to
be?

Fitzgerald drops his head forward. Then he looks up again and removes
his Harvard Signet Ring, extending it toward Kennedy.

FITZGERALD
You’ll have to put this ring on.

KINGMAN
(alarmed)
Mr. President!

KENNEDY
Agent Kingman, stay out of this!

FITZGERALD
(beat)
If there’s anyone you need to say goodbye to–

KENNEDY
(gently)
I couldn’t make myself leave them if I did.
And they wouldn’t remember, would they?

President Kennedy takes the ring, closes his eyes, and slips the ring
onto his right hand.

KENNEDY

as he flashes, on-and-off, bright red, and
freezes in place.

WIDER AGAIN

KINGMAN
What’s happening to him?

FITZGERALD
You’ve taken an oath to protect the life of
“Lancer.”

KINGMAN
Only Secret Service know that code name for
President Kennedy!

FITZGERALD
Yes.

Kingman understands.

KINGMAN
What do we have to do?

FITZGERALD
(after pause)
We’ve got to go back.

After several long beats,

CUT TO

EXT. DEALY PLAZA – DALLAS – NOVEMBER 22, 1963 –
JUST BEFORE 12:30 PM

just as the Presidential motorcade is approaching.

THE TEXAN

watching the approaching motorcade. This time Fitzgerald is nowhere
around.

VARIOUS SHOTS

on the open Presidential limousine, AS BEFORE.

AGENT KINGMAN

as before, walking alongside the Presidential limo, but suddenly–
momentarily–he FLASHES BRIGHT RED.

VARIOUS SHOTS

Additional limousines follow in the motorcade.

Crowds line the street, waving flags, shouting greetings to the
President.

The “Dallas Policeman” steps forward and pauses.

ZOOM CLOSE IN

on the crucial window of the TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY
COMPANY, and WE SEE (our actor) LEE HARVEY OSWALD

taking aim with a rifle on the Presidential limousine.

RAPID SEQUENCE – THE “DALLAS POLICEMAN”

surreptitiously–with his pistol still holsteredraising his pistol.

RAPID SEQUENCE – OSWALD

as he FIRES his rifle, hitting Texas Governor Connally–the SOUND of
the SHOT is delayed.

RAPID SEQUENCE – THE “POLICEMAN”

as he now has his still-holstered pistol aimed directly at JFK’s head.

RAPID SEQUENCE – LONG ON THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMOUSINE

as WE SEE a FLASH OF RED LIGHT surrounding the limousine.

RAPID SEQUENCE – THE DISGUISED GUNMAN

just as he FIRES.

RAPID SEQUENCE – SCREAMING BYSTANDERS

At the SOUND of the two GUNSHOTS.

RAPID SEQUENCE – AGENT KINGMAN

as he jumps onto the Presidential limousine.

RAPID SEQUENCE – FRONT SEAT OF
THE PRESIDENTIAL LIMO

AGENT GREER
(driving; to radio)
The President’s been hit! I’m pulling out!

RAPID SEQUENCE – LONG ON THE LIMO

as it pulls out of the motorcade and accelerates toward the hospital.

CUT TO
INT. SIDE ROOM – PARKLAND MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

as a gurney holds A SLAIN BODY COVERED BY A SHEET.

Agent Kingman is next to the gurney in conference with an
EMERGENCY ROOM DOCTOR.

DOCTOR
Of course there were serious head wounds, but
still, that doesn’t account for–

AGENT KINGMAN
Use logic, Doctor. It couldn’t be anyone else
… and the country will be traumatized enough
without raising silly questions about the face
on that body. This man is President John F.
Kennedy–got it?

The Doctor pulls back the sheet on the body … and we

ZOOM IN ON

THE SERENE FACE OF DR. JOSEPH K. FITZGERALD.

CUT TO

INT. LECTURE HALL – HARVARD – 2163 A.D. – DAY

as WE SEE THE BACK of a man dressed in 2163 garb, delivering a
lecture–in a wholly distinctive voice–to the HISTORY CLASS.

LECTURER
History records many facts … some of them
right, some of them wrong. But let the record
show that, in any age, good or bad, there are
men of high ideals … men of courage … men
who do more than that for which they are
called upon.

CLOSE ON THE LECTURER’S HAND

as WE SEE that on it is A HARVARD SIGNET RING.

LECTURER
(continuing)
You will not always know their names. But let
their deeds stand as a monument, so that when
the human race is called to judgment, we may
say–this, too, was humanity.

REVERSE POV

and WE SEE that the MAN delivering the lecture is JOHN F. KENNEDY.

THE STUDENTS

as they RISE TO THEIR FEET IN APPLAUSE, WE HEAR:

NARRATOR
A fitting tribute of the sort only to be found
in … The Twilight Zone.

FADE OUT


The Twilight Zoze Season 1 (1985 - 1986)
The Twilight Zone: “Profile in Silver” is available on the DVD collection, The Twilight Zone – Season 1 (1985 – 1986).

A fan has posted it onto YouTube.


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Some of the Funnest Emails I Get


Anybody who knows me well knows that my dad, Julius Schulman, was one of the great violinists of the twentieth century.

Julius Schulman, violinist

You can’t grow up in a house where you’re hearing a master musician practicing for hours every day for years and years of your life without that having a primal impact on your very being. I’m told that when I was three years old I could sing the entire Mendelsson Violin Concerto. I remember at five listening over and over to 78 RPM glass transcriptions my father had brought home from his job as concertmaster and featured soloist of the WOR Mutual Network Symphony Orchestra — movements of the Tchaikovsky and Mendelssohn violin concertoes, Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Pablo de Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen — and no son of a major-league baseball player could have been more in awe of his dad.

A lot of my life was a trial-and-error search to find what talents nature had given me that I could hone through dedication, stamina, and focus into something as fine.

So it’s no accident that when I made my first feature film I put as much of my dad’s violin playing on the soundtrack as I could, and dedicated the movie to him. Nor is it accidental that two songs I wrote music and lyrics for are also on the movie’s soundtrack — as well as three more songs I wrote lyrics for — and that I probably spent as much time buying and commissioning new and original songs for the soundtrack as anything else I did in the production, and in the editing bay cutting the movie to the music as much as the other way around.

Let me tell you a secret. Once your name and email address is listed on IMDb as a producer and director, you regularly get emails from industry professionals who want you to think of them when you’re hiring for your next project. In my email box almost every day — even without having a project listed with a start date — are one or two emails offering me their services.

The ones I like best are from film composers, because they all come with links to their website where I get to listen to their music.

So I’ve decided to share some of these movie composer website links with you.

In reverse order I received them (most recent first):

Ryan Leach

Kenneth H. Lampl

Jeremy Doss

Dave Klotz

Charles David Denler

Louis Gentile

Emil Hadji Panzov

Kristian Sensini

Alan Williams

Alexander Tovar

Paolo Bolio

Dan Philipson

Ray Egan

Brett Perry

Michael Teoli

Sean Hennessy

If you’re as much in awe of composers as I am, check them out!


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Glenn Beck v. Tim Robbins


Glenn Beck and Tim Robbins

I’m making my first exception to my “at least one new article a day” history of this blog by holding this over through the weekend. The discussion below the main article is sufficiently interesting to me to keep it at the top of the queue. I’ll refresh and republish Saturday and Sunday on Facebook’s Networked Blogs — JNS

Ever since I answered Glenn Beck’s June 2nd praise for my novel Alongside Night — to his three million radio listeners — with an offer for Glenn Beck to play the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland in the Alongside Night movie I’m now making, I have received a whole lot of feedback from fans of the novel who want to see the character of Dr. Martin Vreeland hit the big screen at their local multiplex.

There are fans of Alongside Night who are also fans of Glenn Beck. Lots of them. And that’s not surprising. Alongside Night is, in fact, right up the alley of many of the topics Glenn Beck regularly talks about on his syndicated/satellite radio and Fox News Network TV shows. Alongside Night portrays the United States in economic meltdown due to bankers, politicians, and “security” officials uniting in a coalition to put the once-free American people (OK, I know, not all of them) under their thumbs.

There are also fans of Alongside Night who hate Glenn Beck. Lots of them. And that’s not surprising. Glen Beck rants against anarchists on his show — as recently as yesterday’s Glenn Beck show on the Fox News Network. Alongside Night is a novel where the good guys are divided into two camps. There are libertarian minarchists like Dr. Martin Vreeland who want to again limit the United States to its original 1787 Constitution and 1791 Bill of Rights. Then there are libertarian anarchists like Merce Rampart of the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre who have concluded the Constitution was a noble experiment which tried and failed to restrain omnipresent government and instead invoke Thomas Jefferson’s “new guards” language in the Declaration of Independence to try marginalizing government by bringing anarchist-style law-and-order to the black market.

Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, was promoting the Martin Vreeland approach.

J. Neil Schulman, in his novel Alongside Night is sympathetic to the Martin Vreeland/Ayn Rand approach — but even more sympathetic to the Merce Rampart approach.

Many of the critics of my approaching Glenn Beck to portray Dr. Martin Vreeland on screen argue to me that I shouldn’t cast Glenn Beck because in real life he’s not as consistently libertarian as Dr. Martin Vreeland.

To which I — as author of the novel, as writer of the screenplay, as the guy who’s going to direct the movie, and as the guy who’ll be authoring the movie in an editing bay — say, “And your point is …?”

I approached Glenn Beck to take the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland not because I believe that Glenn Beck is identical to the character I made up but because (a) Glenn Beck has an enormous fan base who would buy tickets to see the movie if he were in it and self-promoted his appearance in it on radio and TV; but also (b) because as the director and editor of one independent feature film already I have confidence that with some work to guide his talents as a broadcaster, stand-up comic, and public speaker to the specific needs of screen acting, I can get a screen performance out of Glenn Beck that will do credit to both my movie and his career, and help Alongside Night reach a huge movie-watching audience.

But a lot of Alongside Night‘s fans in the anti-Beck camp are more concerned with the guilt-by-association Alongside Night would have if I cast Glenn Beck and encourage him to promote it. They argue to me that Beck’s polarizing politics, self-described “rodeo clown” antics, and sometimes mawkish persona would make Alongside Night about nothing but Glenn Beck.

Now, it has to have crossed your mind by this point that the title of this article is “Glenn Beck v. Tim Robbins” and at the top of this page are side-by-side photos of these two men showing how much they look like each other.

Oscar-winner Tim Robbins portrayed a character Glenn Beck’s critics would argue is eerily similar to Glenn Beck in Bob Roberts — and more paranoid Beck critics would argue to the characters Tim Robbins portrayed in Arlington Road and War of the Worlds (based on a novel by a lifelong socialist).

Tim Robbins physically resembles Glenn Beck so much that if I were casting The Glenn Beck Story my first call would be to Tim Robbins’ representatives at the United Talent Agency.

Like 95% of Hollywood A-listers Tim Robbins is politically on the left. He advocates big government, uses the word “collectivism” as a praiseworthy term, believes the United States projection of military force into countries like Iraq and Afghanistan to be evil, and referred to President George W. Bush as a stupid drunk.

Tim Robbins’ advocacy of big-government solutions and identifying with socialists less-than-scrupulous in their dedication to individual human rights makes him as suspicious a target to libertarians as Glenn Beck.

But I’ll bet you anything that if I offered Tim Robbins the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland in Alongside Night every single libertarian and anarchist who has thrown caltrops under the chariot of my trying to get this movie financed and into production by slamming my offer to Glenn Beck would not care a whit about the socialist-friendly politics of Mr. Tim Robbins.

The hypocrisy, double standard, prejudice, and moral cowardice of that annoys the hell out of me.

One of the reasons I’m working to produce Alongside Night as an independent film on what by studio standards is considered a low budget is so I can make sure the vision of the original novel is faithfully brought to the screen. So long as I am in good enough health to helm this movie I would not give up the director’s chair for any studio or production company offer — not even if overnight it took me from being a debt-ridden Type-II diabetic who can’t even afford health insurance to being a debt-free millionaire who has all the money I need to buy Stairmasters, NutraSystem foods, and the regular care of top-ranked endocrinologists.

I would not replace myself as director even if one of my favorite living A-list directors — Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, Andrew Davis, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, Phil Alden Robinson, Paul Greengrass, or Robert Zemeckis — was offered to me.

I started out my career as a writer whose first novel, Alongside Night, received unbelievable praise from “A-Listers” — the literary endorsements from Anthony Burgess and Milton Friedman on the dust jacket of Alongside Night‘s first hardcover edition making that point emphatically. The praise from other “A-listers” — Charlton Heston, Robert A. Heinlein, Piers Anthony, David Brin, Colin Wilson, Walter Williams, Dennis Prager — have continued unabated through other novels and books.

My debut as a film director was the first-time Nichelle Nichols had ever agreed to star in an independent feature film. Look up her filmography before Lady Magdalene’s and you’ll see Star Trek films from Paramount and movies like Snow Dogs and Are We There Yet?

The IMDb rating for the Twilight Zone episode I wrote, “Profile in Silver,” is 8.4.

Yet — and I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m way too well-known as a libertarian from my published books and articles — I have never sold a screenplay to a Hollywood studio, been asked to join the writing staff of a TV show, nor ever been offered a job to direct a movie.

If you think it’s because I don’t have enough talent, Va te faire enculer.

I don’t give a damn what the politics are of Mr. Glenn Beck or Mr. Tim Robbins when it comes to whether I’ll make an offer to act in my movie.

I would just as readily make an offer to Sean Penn — whose politics I simply despise — if I thought I could get past his agents at CAA who won’t look at a script for him unless the film is fully-financed, has a start date, and there’s a pay-or-play offer in six-figures.

I’ve been blacklisted. I would never do that to another performer.

So the only question for me is not what I think of the politics of a Glenn Beck or a Tim Robbins, but whether my politics makes my vision unacceptable to them.

All I can promise is that any movie you see with the legend “A J. Neil Schulman Film” will — whoever is cast in it — in fact be a J. Neil Schulman film.

And Steve Reed — my good friend and favorite critic — you are more than welcome to respond to this article.

Alongside




My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Talk at Temple Beth Shir Shalom


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns


Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman



What It Takes to Get Me to Put on a Yarmulke

If you haven’t already seen Schindler’s List, see it. Then ask yourself whether it was better for a thousand Jews to be saved by a righteous gentile, or whether it would have been better for millions of Jews not to need saving because they had fought like the ancient Israelites against the Nazis.

I do not understand how any Jew can walk out of the theater, after seeing a graphic and historically accurate portrayal of Jews being exterminated like rodents, and not wish every Jew to own a fully-automatic assault rifle and plenty of ammunition.

To die as a warrior fighting for one’s people has, at least, nobility to recommend it.

The modern Israelis understand this. They manufacture and possess excellent assault rifles.

For the most part, American Jews don’t understand this. I hope they get wise before it’s too late and history repeats itself.

It is my belief that if the Jews of Europe had believed in and prepared for armed resistance against the Nazis, then the night known as Kristallnacht would have been the beginning of the end for the Nazi expansion over Europe. The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto held out against the Nazis for weeks longer than all of Poland did. If even thousands more Jews had made the taking of their lives expensive, it might have cost Hitler’s war machine enough that Germany might have suffered an early defeat.

When I have expressed that opinion before, I have been charged with engaging in idle speculation.

I have gotten awards for engaging in idle speculation. I’m very good at it.

A science-fiction writer is just a prophet with a pocket calculator. Ignore us at your peril. -JNS


Talk at Temple Beth Shir Shalom
Friday, April 30, 1993

Just to introduce myself. I’m a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. I’m also a graduate of the PC-832 reserve police training program at Rio Hondo Police Academy. I was asked to speak here tonight because I’ve written about firearms for the Los Angeles Times opinion page. I should also mention that one of my articles convinced Dennis Prager1 to change his views about guns. And just for the record, I’m a member of the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc., and the American Civil Liberties Union. So I have all bases covered.

I’d like to start by asking you a question. How many of you can correctly quote me the Sixth Commandment?

It’s not “You shall not kill” but “You shall not murder.”

There’s a big difference between killing and murdering. Killing means purposely ending a life. Murdering means purposely ending an innocent life. If you kill someone who’s trying to murder you or some other innocent person, that’s not murder. As a matter of fact, it’s a moral requirement to defend the innocent by killing if that’s the only way you can do it.

I’m going to spend about two minutes correcting the lies you hear about guns on TV and in the newspapers.

You’re told the lie that gun control will stop criminals from getting guns. The truth is that according to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms study titled “Protecting America, Yes,” criminals get 37% of their guns on the black market and another 34% from burglaries and robberies. That means that 71% — almost three out of every four guns a criminal uses — won’t be stopped by gun control. If you pass gun restrictions, criminals will still gets their guns for murder, robbery, burglary, and rape — but you won’t be able to get a gun to stop them.

You’re told that a gun kept in the home for protection is more likely to kill someone you know than a burglar. That’s a distortion of the truth, which is that a gun kept in the home is far more likely to capture or chase away a burglar without having to kill anyone at all.

You’re told the lie that gun accidents are killing children at unprecedented rates. The truth is that gun accidents account for less than 300 deaths of children under age 14 each year — less than 3% of children’s accidental deaths. Car accidents kill around 3700 children each year, 1200 drown, and 1000 die in fires. In general, firearms accidents are down about 40% from ten years ago and down 80% from fifty years ago. You can thank NRA’s gun safety training programs for that. If NRA’s gun safety courses were taught in all schools, we could probably get it down to a quarter of that.

Yes, there are teenagers — usually gang members — murdering other teenagers with guns. But those young murderers are already forbidden by law to have guns; laws don’t stop them for an instant. Matter of fact, the Bloods and the Crips are required to commit a murder to advance rank in their gangs. That’s why there are so many drive-by shootings.

You hear that assault rifles are major crime guns. The California Department of Justice has admitted that was a politically motivated lie — the truth is that fewer than 2% of the guns used in crime fall into the prohibited categories.

I could go on refuting these lies for hours. I’m not going to bother. It’s beside the real point.

Let me tell you some things you don’t hear about on TV or in the newspapers. According to figures compiled from around eight different studies, private citizens in this country use a firearm about a million times each year to stop or prevent a crime.2

My father is a concert violinist who was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. He carried a gun to protect himself in Boston and New York for fifteen years — and on around five separate occasions, carrying that gun saved him from gangs of robbers.

My father couldn’t count on the police to save him, and neither can you. Under California law, which is like the laws of the rest of the country, no one in the government is legally responsible for protecting you — no one.

California Government Code, Section 845, states, “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection service.”

But the California Constitution says the following in Article I, Section 1: “All people are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”

California law merely reflects reality: when you’re attacked, the only person you can count on to protect you is you.

During the Los Angeles riots, police were completely unable to stop arson, shootings, and looting for three days, until another fifteen thousand army and National Guard troops showed up. A few months later, Hurricane Andrew left parts of Florida without electricity or phone for almost three months — and no one could call the police for help. A major earthquake here could do the same.

I know that some of you are thinking that the more guns you have, the more violence you have. That’s another one of those lies. Switzerland has one of the lowest murder rates of anywhere on Earth. Yet the Swiss keep machine guns and anti-tank weapons in their homes, and Swiss citizens regularly carry their machine guns on bicycles and trains to the ranges where they practice. Why is it that the Swiss have hardly any murderers? The answer is simple. The Swiss take their responsibility to defend themselves very seriously. Every able-bodied male in the country is in the Swiss army or reserve and the Swiss have been eliminating their violent criminals regularly until their criminals are an endangered species.

It comes down to competition. If you’re running a business today, you know that you’ll go under if you don’t have competitive technology. You wouldn’t run an office today with typewriters when other businesses are using computers. The same is true regarding your life and property, which the criminals are in competition for. The criminals are arming themselves with 9 millimeter semi-auto pistols which can easily be smuggled in across the Mexican border. If you are going to survive, you’d better not be armed with anything less effective.

As Dennis Prager says, there are only two races of people: the decent and the indecent.3 Laws should stop indecent people who use guns to commit violent crimes. That means the decent people need to be better armed than the criminals, or the criminals will win.

And that’s the real issue. As Jews, we know that from the destruction of the Second Temple of Solomon two millennia ago, until 1948 when the State of Israel was created, Jews have been persecuted. Jews stopped being victimized when they took up arms and started fighting back. The first major battle was fifty years ago this month, when the Jewish militia of the Warsaw Ghetto fought a battle with the Nazi SS. Almost all the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto died in that battle, but the lesson lived on, and Jews learned they needed to fight for survival.

Jews in America have been blessed. We have been less oppressed in this country than anywhere else in modern history. But that’s made a lot of us complacent and lazy.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. You can’t count on things always being good. Jews in Germany thought they were safe because Germany was a modern, enlightened, industrialized country where they had been safe for hundreds of years. In a short twenty years that turned around. Jews in Germany submitted to Nazi gun control laws and allowed themselves to be disarmed. And because they’d lost the will to fight, a third of the Jews on this planet were murdered.

I am here to tell you that peaceful submission to evil is not only not a higher morality, it is not morality at all. It is a moral atrocity. Those among us who tell us to be unarmed are setting us up to be victims of the next Adolf Hitler to come to power — and if you ask me, they want us disarmed because they intend for themselves to be the ones in absolute power over our lives and property.

Maybe one of you is going to quote Gandhi to me about non-violent resistance. Gandhi chose that strategy in his fight to chase the British out of India because the British had already disarmed the Indians, and non-violent resistance was the only strategy Gandhi had left. Here’s what Gandhi had to say about it: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms, as the blackest.”4

Adolf Hitler agreed with Gandhi’s assessment — but from the other side. “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make,” Hitler said, “would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall.”5

If the Jews of Germany had listened to Hitler, they might have saved Earth a Second World War.

Jews in Israel understand this. They are armed to the teeth — and have as low a murder rate as Switzerland. A few weeks ago, the Israeli Chief of Police called for all Israeli citizens to carry their guns with them at all times. Can you imagine what would have happened here if Chief Gates had done that a year ago during the LA riots?

But Israel is dependent upon the continued freedom of the United States for its own survival. If Jews in America do not actively support the right of the American people to keep and bear arms for their individual and common defense, then the American civilization is open to political dictatorship, and the next Holocaust of the Jews is just a short step behind.

We are already well down the road to Nazi Germany. Did you know that we have had the Nazi gun-control laws in America since 1968? There is strong evidence that the 1938 Nazi Weapons law was the basis for the 1968 Gun Control Act. The two laws are structurally very similar. The 1938 Nazi Weapon’s Law disarmed Germany’s Jewish citizens and made it possible for the democratically-elected German government to murder millions of innocent people. Don’t tell me it can’t happen here.

Never again. Take up arms. Learn to use them properly and teach your children to use them properly. You can’t have a peaceful or civilized society if good people won’t fight to preserve it and practice with the weapons needed to do it.

Defend the constitutional provisions that legally protect those who keep and bear arms to preserve peace and civilization. Demand the impeachment of all government officials — police, judges, and legislators — who lie about the right to bear arms and try to disarm us. It’s not the government’s job to defend society from gangsters and potential dictators: it’s yours. It’s the moral responsibility of every one of us who is able to do so.

Thank you.

Footnotes

1 See my parenthetical comments which lead off the first section of this book containing my LA Times Op-Eds. Prager, whom I’ve mentioned several times, is a popular Los Angeles radio talk-show host on top-rated KABC AM. He is also a former teacher, newspaper columnist, and an author of several books on Judaism. He is an internationally known lecturer, and is considered one of the most prominent spokespersons for modern Judaism, and writes a newsletter titled Ultimate Issues devoted to the promotion of ethical monotheism.

2 Now 2.45 million defenses yearly. See Q & A On Gun Defenses.

3 On his radio program, Dennis attributes this paradigm to Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. I read that book years ago but didn’t remember the quote until I heard it again from Dennis on a program before I gave this talk, and didn’t remember the quote was from Frankl until Dennis attributed it on a subsequent program.

4 “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms, as the blackest.” M. Gandhi, -An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments With Truth Volume 2, Published 1927, M. Desai, Translator, Page 666

5 “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” Hitler’s Secret Conversations — 1941-1944, Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953 Page 345

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is [Forthcoming]

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


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Draft Glenn Beck to Play Dr. Martin Vreeland in Alongside Night!


From FR33 — The Freedom Activist Network
and the Facebook Group

On June 2nd Glenn Beck spent several minutes telling the three million listeners of his radio show about how great he thought Alongside Night is.

Now I’ve done the math and what I’ve come up with is that Glenn Beck’s popularity — mixed with his fondness both for being in front of cameras and actually liking Alongside Night — just might add up to production funding for the movie — if I play the right card.

The card I’m playing is asking him to take the role of Dr. Martin Vreeland in Alongside Night.

Beck is a stand-up comic. His IMDb listing shows that he was on an episode of Cheers. He’s the right age and physical type to play the role.

To begin with, I’d ask someone like my lead actor in Lady Magdalene’s, Ethan Keogh — an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Groundlings, as well as being an acting coach — to fly to New York and work with Glenn Beck for a week or two before we even started rehearsals.

Then I’d work with make-up and wardrobe experts to craft a new look for Glenn Beck so he’d fit the role of the Nobel laureate like a glove. I’m thinking longer hair, a distinguished looking beard, Armani suits and Gucci loafers.

With prep like this I’m sure I can direct Glenn Beck to a great performance.

The fact is, Dr. Martin Vreeland is the viewpoint character in Alongside Night for all the arguments in favor of retaining limited constitutional government. The words I’ve written for the character fit Glenn Beck’s minarchist views — if not perfectly, close enough for him to feel comfortable with the dialogue.

I’m aware that the novel of Alongside Night is probably outside Glenn Beck’s comfort zone when it comes to its treatment of sex between its teenage characters. In my screenplay adaptation, the action moves so quickly there’s no time for teenage sex. Problem solved. The film will likely get a PG-13 that will play well in Salt Lake City.

And if Glenn Beck does accept the role the publicity will drive Alongside Night — and its core pro-free-market/pro-Declaration of Independence ideas — into the mass media.

To launch this viral campaign I’ve produced a new YouTube Video. It’s a winner. Watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I51sxpY8CAo.

I also blogged about it at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2010/06/a-very-personal-message-to-mr-glenn-beck/.

Glenn Beck’s email is me@glennbeck.com.

The call-in number for his show (on the air between 9:00 AM and noon EDT) is 888-727-BECK.

Please reblog this, send it out to anyone who’s a fan of Alongside Night and wants to see the movie made — and made right by the guy who originally wrote it.

And if you’re not a fan of Glenn Beck’s politics, please don’t spend a second worrying about it. He didn’t write the script, isn’t directing the script, and as an actor he’d be saying the lines that I wrote for his character in the script.

Agorist Cadre … charge! :-)

Neil

Alongside


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A Very Personal Message to Mr. Glenn Beck



Dear Mr. Beck,

Five days ago — on June 2nd, twelve-and-a-half minutes into the second hour of your radio show — you spent about five minutes telling your listening audience about my novel, Alongside Night.

Here’s a transcript of what you said:

The [novel] was written in 1979. Alongside … Morning? Something like that. It reads exactly like my show. It does! You know what the story is? A guy who is an economic expert has been saying “The economy is collapsing! The economy is collapsing and the government is going to seize control!” Everything is out of control. He lives in New York City. His son is called from school. He’s told that your father has died; you’ve got to go home right away. He takes out these blue notes because hyperinflation has come — his father was right — hyperinflation has come. He’s bartering with the cab driver to be able to get home. He’s bargaining with him — “How many blue notes do you have?” — because money is over. He gets to the apartment and Dad is standing there: “Listen. Go get the gold. We gotta get out.” “But, Dad, they told me you were dead.” “We’ve got to get out; it was a ruse to give us time to get out.” The son goes and gets the gold that he had hidden in New York, puts it in a belt, starts to come back … and Dad and the family now are gone. Been picked up by the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice has built concentration camps! It’s an interesting read! I don’t remember who wrote it. It doesn’t take you long to read it. I read it in a day. I don’t think it’s a big book. I read it on Kindle. But it’s good. I don’t agree with everything in it. But it’s a good read and written in 1979! Phenomenal! Phenomenal!

This blog post is to offer you the acting role of Nobel-Prizewinning economist Dr. Martin Vreeland in the movie production of Alongside Night. I have a screenplay ready to email to you as a PDF file.

Alongside Night launched my career when it was published hardcover in 1979 by Crown Publishing, with endorsements on the dust jacket from A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess and Milton Friedman, who’d endorsed it even before he won the Nobel Prize in economics three years earlier. The novel won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Hall of Fame Award in 1989 — the first year of its eligibility — and in 2009 Ron Paul endorsed it.

Alongside Night was my first novel; I spent the subsequent three decades learning additional skills, so today I am not only a novelist whose work has often been complimented by other impressive people — fans of my writing have included Charlton Heston, Dennis Prager, Professor Walter Williams of George Mason University, Michael Medved, and the dean of science-fiction authors, Robert A. Heinlein — but I’m one of the few novelists who has crossed over to become not only a screenwriter but also a director whose first feature film, Lady Magdalene’s — starring the original Star Trek‘s Lt. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols — has already won two film-festival awards.

Following up on Lady Magdalene’s I decided to make a film production of Alongside Night my next project. My line producer is Emmy-Award-winning producer, Sascha Schneider.

First, here are those three endorsements on the novel:

“I received Alongside Night at noon today. It is now eight in the evening and I just finished it. I think I am entitled to some dinner now as I had no lunch. The unputdownability of the book ensured that. It is a remarkable and original story, and the picture it presents of an inflation- crippled America on the verge of revolution is all too acceptable. I wish, and so will many novelists, that I, or they, had thought of the idea first. A thrilling novel, crisply written, that fires the imagination as effectively as it stimulates the feelings.”
–Anthony Burgess

“An absorbing novel–science fiction, yet also a cautionary tale with a disturbing resemblance to past history and future possibilities.”
— Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel laureate in Economics

“J. Neil Schulman’s Alongside Night may be even more relevant today than it was in 1979. Hopefully, the special thirtieth anniversary edition of this landmark work of libertarian science fiction will inspire a new generation of readers to learn more about the ideas of liberty and become active in the freedom movement.” –Congressman Ron Paul

In May 2009 Alongside Night was voted Freedom Book of the Month by the Freedom Book Club. When originally published it received rave reviews in Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, the Detroit News, and Reason magazine. It’s frequently compared — sometimes even over — Atlas Shrugged, because my novel is short, far less didactic, and has teenage lead characters.

Like the novel which you’ve read, the script of Alongside Night is set in the immediate future when the dollar has collapsed on international markets, current economic trends are bottoming out, and the country is in both political and economic turmoil.

The viewpoint character is 18-year-old Elliot Vreeland, whose father, Nobel-winning economist, Dr. Martin Vreeland, is the key to getting the United States foreign loans to issue a new gold-backed currency — but Dr. Vreeland and Elliot’s mother and sister have gone missing.

After a night out in New York on his own — and almost getting arrested by the feds at an anti-federal-spending demonstration his father was scheduled to speak at — Elliot seeks out the help of his friend Phillip Gross, and Phillip’s uncle — a former Mossad officer — to find his missing family, and they put Elliot in touch with the underground pro-free-market Revolutionary Agorist Cadre.

In the underground headquarters Elliot meets Lorimer — a young woman his own age — whose father, it turns out, is the FEMA official who may have kidnapped Elliot’s family and put them in a Guantanamo-type secret lock-up.

More action, adventure, and tight suspense follows.

Both the novel and my screenplay adaptation are chock full of entertaining ways I’ve found to embed pro-free-market and libertarian ideas, by making them plot-dependent. In his classroom Elliot presents a YouTube video titled “Economics in One Minute” based on his father’s book on free-market economics, to which his teacher says, “You boiled down his complex theories into a lucid series of pop-culture clichés.”

On May 21, 2010 I blogged a short humor piece — Alongside Night Author to Sue United States for Copyright Infringement — which is now reprinted all over the Internet, in which I announced my intention to sue the United States government for infringing the copyright on Alongside Night by copying its plot about the U.S. economy melting down. The article has gotten me great notices and a lot of people actually want me to file the lawsuit! :-)

Because of my humor piece, over 100,000 copies of the PDF edition of Alongside Night were downloaded from my website in the five days following publication of my humor piece. This brings the total current count of downloads since release in June 2009 to 197,876 as of this morning. This makes my three-decade-old novel a brand-new viral success story.

Of the 11 customer reviews of Alongside Night on Amazon.com, nine of them are five-star.

Full info on the novel on its official website and its Facebook Group. The movie poster is lower down in this post.

In addition to having a successful career as a novelist and journalist over the years (the Wall Street Journal also called me a pioneer of electronic book publishing as early as 1989), I also wrote one of the best-remembered Twilight Zone episodes when CBS brought it back in the mid-80′s, titled “Profile in Silver.”

My resume is on IMDb. My bio with all my links is here.

Alongside Night‘s line producer, Sascha Schneider’s, IMDb page with his credits is here.

Alongside Night is listed on IMDb here.

I believe your participation in the movie of Alongside Night can be wonderfully useful in spreading the ideas and ideals of the American Revolution — by putting them in a modern context for the American people — especially the teenagers who go to see action/adventure movies with characters their own age.

Sincerely,

Neil

J. Neil Schulman
Executive Producer/Writer/Director
Alongside Night


Alongside Night Poster #1 Copyright (c) 2010 Jesulu Productions. All rights reserved.


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Glenn Beck on Alongside Night: “Phenomenal! Phenomenal!”


On June 2, 2010, Glenn Beck opened the second hour of his syndicated radio show by saying:

From high above Times Square in Midtown Manhattan this is the third-most listened-to show in America. My name is Glenn Beck.”

Glenn Beck

In the second hour of his June 2, 2010 show, about twelve-and-a-half-minutes into the hour, Glenn Beck told his third-largest listening audience about my 1979 novel, Alongside Night.

Mr. Beck didn’t remember the name of the book’s author.

He didn’t remember the title exactly.

But he sure as shootin’ remembered what the book was about.

Alongside Night 30th Anniversary edition

The other one was written in 1979. Alongside … Morning? Something like that.

It reads exactly like my show. It does!

You know what the story is?

A guy who is an economic expert has been saying the economy is collapsing, the economy is collapsing, and the government is going to seize control.

Everything is out of control.

He lives in New York City.

His son is called from school. He’s told that your father has died; you’ve got to go home right away.

He takes out these blue notes because hyperinflation has come — his father was right — hyperinflation has come.

He’s bartering with the cab driver to be able to get home. He’s bargaining with him — “How many blue notes do you have?” — because money is over.

He gets to the apartment and Dad is standing there: “Listen. Go get the gold. We gotta get out.”

“But, Dad, they told me you were dead.”

“We’ve got to get out; it was a ruse to give us time to get out.”

The son goes and gets the gold that he had hidden in New York, puts it in a belt, starts to come back, and Dad and the family now are gone. Been picked up by the Department of Justice.

The Department of Justice has built concentration camps!

It’s an interesting read! I don’t remember who wrote it.

It doesn’t take you long to read it. I read it in a day. I don’t think it’s a big book. I read it on Kindle.

But it’s good. I don’t agree with everything in it. But it’s a good read and written in 1979!

Phenomenal! Phenomenal!

But that’s kind of where America is headed. As a journalist it kills me. Is America worried about something? [*snorts*] No, not at all.

To listen to an MP3 audio of the above, click here.

The podcast of the Glenn Beck Show is available to “Insider” subscribers at http://www.glennbeck.com.

The free 30th Anniversary PDF edition of Alongside Night is still available for download here.

To read about other people who have been excited about Alongside Night, go here.

Mr. Beck, thank you very much.

Oh … Mr. Beck. One more thing?

Go take a look at this IMDb page. Alongside Night is now being produced as a movie.

Here’s the poster:


Alongside Night Poster #1 Copyright (c) 2010 Jesulu Productions. All rights reserved.
Go to the Alongside Night Official Movie Website



Psst! Alongside Night! Pass it ON!


Winner of the Special Jury Prize for Libertarian Ideals from the 2011 Anthem Film Festival! My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available as a DVD on Amazon.com and for sale or rental on Amazon.com Instant Video. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice

Note for this edition: The following chapter was excerpted in the May 2, 1994 issue of National Review, and that excerpt was reprinted opposite “Guns in the Household” by Jerome P. Kassirir, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, in Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Health and Society, Second Edition, edited by Eileen Daniel (Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1996).

Medical Malpractice

Taking Sides

Abraham Lincoln once told a visitor to the White House, “It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.”

We in the United States are about to test Lincoln’s wisdom, and our own. While lying for political purpose is nothing new, it’s hard to think of another time in our national history when the most trusted of all professionals, medical doctors, were willing to deliberately lie about the conclusions of supposedly unbiased scientific research for political purpose.

Anybody who’s studied the stock market knows it’s common knowledge that when women’s skirts have gone up, the prices of stocks have gone up also, but no one is foolish enough to claim that by shortening women’s skirts we can cause a stock market boom.

That sort of common sense, however, doesn’t seem to hold when the subject is the so-called epidemiology of “gun violence,” and medical researchers are sniffing for statistics to prove their predetermined conclusion that gun control is desirable public policy.

The point to this research is the contention that doctors can study firearms-related violence as an epidemiologic health issue apart from the motives of the people who pull the trigger … which is the proper study of that branch of sociology known as criminology. By this premise alone, epidemiologists discard the humanistic premise of personal volition in favor of a mechanistic view of human behavior which denies a fundamental difference between the contagion of microbic cultures and human cultures: microbes don’t act on their value-judgments and people do.

The latest outbreak of statisticitis emerges from the study led by Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., published in the October 7, 1993 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, and financed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A previous Kellermann-led study published in the June 12, 1986 NEJM, also financed by the CDC, gave us the factoid that you are 43 times likelier to die from a handgun kept in the home from homicide, suicide, or accident than you are to kill a burglar with it.1 By the time this factoid turned into the mega-soundbyte used by gun-control advocates in the media and Congress, you were supposedly 43 times as likely to die from a handgun kept in the home than to protect yourself from a burglar with it.2

Kellermann, himself, cautioned against that conclusion saying,

Mortality studies such as ours do not include cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm. Cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed are also not identified. We did not report the total number of nonlethal firearm injuries involving guns kept in the home. A complete determination of firearm risks versus benefits would require that these figures be known.

Kellermann’s latest “population-based case-control study” of homicides throws such caution to the wind. He attempts to quantify “firearm risks versus benefits” by comparing households where a homicide occurred with households where no homicide occurred in three counties, chosen for their convenient location to the researchers. After correcting for several other risk factors such as alcohol or illicit-drug-use, previous domestic violence, and persons with criminal records in the 316 matched households ultimately compared, Kellermann determined that households where “homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance” occurred were almost three times likelier to have kept a loaded handgun in the home than control households where such a homicide did not occur. From this determination, Kellermann concludes,

Although firearms are often kept in the home for personal protection, this study shows that the practice is counterproductive. Our data indicate that keeping a gun in the home is independently associated with an increase in the risk of homicide in the home.

An immediate technical problem with Kellermann’s methods is raised by David N. Cowan, Ph.D., in an unpublished letter to the NEJM. Cowan charges that Kellermann’s research grouped together socially dysfunctional people — for example, the chronically unemployable — with normal people, and thus any other risk factors would be inseparable.

Another problem is that by relying on a case study of households with homicide victims, Kellermann is looking at almost twice as many black households as white, and only a handful of Asian households — far too few to be statistically useful. African-Americans are homicide victims way out of proportion to other racial or ethnic groupings, and any case study of homicides has to live with this demographic distortion. The problem is that studying homicide within the African-American culture may not produce conclusions which are generalizable to other racial or ethnic groups. According to Don Kates, a criminologist with the Pacific Research Institute, “African-Americans have greater death rates than other population groups for drowning, other accidents, and diseases.” Other sociological studies note crude differences between African-Americans and Asian-Americans in divorce rates, school drop-out rates, father-absent households, and so forth.

A more basic problem with Kellermann’s conclusion is that it attempts to draw a reverse implication from a set of facts. Certainly it will be true that people who own parachutes will die more frequently in falls from airplanes than people who don’t — but does that mean that parachute-ownership constitutes an increased risk factor for death by falling from an airplane? Wouldn’t logic tell us that the risk of dying as a result of falling from an airplane would be far greater by those people who fall from airplanes who don’t have a parachute handy?

Kellermann tells us:

“We found no evidence of a protective benefit from gun ownership in any subgroup, including one restricted to cases of homicide that followed forced entry into the home and another restricted to cases in which resistance was attempted.”

This is where Kellermann’s study is completely disingenuous, and indicates — as does his financing and publication by gun-control zealots James Mercy at the Centers for Disease Control and Jerome P. Kassirer, editor of the New England Journal of Medicine — that the intent of these studies is to produce pro-gun-control soundbytes for Sarah Brady rather than scientific knowledge.

Kellermann is studying only those persons living in a household with a loaded handgun where a handgun failed to save the victim’s life. We’re being shown only the murder victims, not gun-owners whose firearms saved their lives. Kellermann’s study didn’t document whether a firearm used in a particular homicide was the same one kept in the home, or whether it might have been carried in by the murderer. Kellermann doesn’t even tell us whether the murder weapon belonged to the victim or the murderer. And Kellermann still doesn’t ask the questions he, himself, said would be necessary for “a complete determination of firearms risks versus benefits”: “cases in which burglars or intruders are wounded or frightened away by the use or display of a firearm … Cases in which would-be intruders may have purposely avoided a house known to be armed [and] the total number of nonlethal firearm injuries involving guns kept in the home.”

Dr. Kellermann can’t study such questions because these are the proper focus not of medical doctors, but of criminologists. And when we shift from the medical paradigm of “gun violence” as a health issue, to the criminological paradigm of “offenders and victims,” we get a completely different vision.

Immediately we discover that the cases in which Kellermann perceives an increased risk factor — “homicide at the hands of a family member or intimate acquaintance” — are, according to both the FBI’s Crime in the United States, 1992, and Murder Analysis, 1992 by the Detective Division of the Chicago Police — only around 10% of the yearly homicides in this country. In the Chicago study, 36.8% of the homicides occurred in or around the home — including public housing. In the three counties in which his study was conducted, Kellermann tells us that 23.9% took place in the home of the victim. Kellermann also tells us, “Guns were not significantly linked to an increased risk of homicide by acquaintances, unidentified intruders, or strangers.”

What this adds up to is that while home is where you are far less likely to be murdered by a stranger — not surprising since homes usually have locks to keep such people out — the great majority of murders that do take place at home are at the hands of those who have a key. The caution here might well be that if you live with someone whom you think might possibly murder you, you might want to move out if they also keep a loaded handgun. Or, if the loaded handgun is yours, you might want to keep it somewhere where you can get to it faster than he or she can.

The thrust of Kellermann’s contention, that the mere availability of a loaded handgun is an increased risk factor to the general population, is also countered by comparing the 69% increase in the number of handguns in private hands from 1974 to 1988 to the 27% decrease in handgun murders during that same period.3 Therefore even though the increase in handguns and handgun murders were found the previous 15-year time period, no conclusion regarding cause and effect can be drawn.

The answer which Kellermann says we need to discover — the overall usefulness of firearms in self-defense — is to be found in the definitive analysis of a dozen studies in the book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991), by Gary Kleck, Ph.D., professor of criminology at Florida State University. Unlike Kellermann, Professor Kleck has carefully avoided taking funding from advocates in the gun-control debate, and Kleck’s impeccable liberal Democratic credentials — membership in Common Cause and Amnesty International, for example — preclude a presumption of conservative or pro-NRA bias. Kleck’s analysis of these studies had produced an estimate of around 650,000 handgun defenses per year, and over a million gun defenses if one included all firearms.

Kleck’s latest research, his Spring, 1993 National Self-Defense Survey of 4978 households, reveals that previous studies had underestimated the number of times previous survey respondents had used their firearms in defense. The new survey projected 2.4 million gun defenses in 1992, 1.9 million of them with handguns, and about 72% of these gun defenses occurred in or near the home. This indicates a successful gun defense with no dead body for Dr. Kellermann to find about 1,728,000 times a year. Even if we were to accept Dr. Kellermann’s reverse implication that a home-dweller who lives with a loaded handgun suffers a three-fold increased risk of homicide from a family member or intimate acquaintance, the handgun’s usefulness in warding off potentially lethal confrontations against burglars is enormous.

Murder Analysis, 1992 by the Detective Division of the Chicago Police tells us that 72.39% of the murderers they studied in 1992 had a prior criminal history and, interestingly, 65.53% of the murder victims did as well.

Further, a recent National Institute of Justice analysis finds, “It is clear that only a very small fraction of privately owned firearms are ever involved in crime or [unlawful] violence, the vast bulk of them being owned and used more or less exclusively for sport and recreational purposes, or for self- protection.”4

Criminologist Don Kates concurs in his book Guns, Murder, and the Constitution: “Concurrently, it has been estimated that 98.32% of owners do not use a gun in an unlawful homicide (over a 50-year, adult life span).”

Here is the essential truth about the risk of homicide which all the talk about violence as a health problem, rather than a criminal problem, is attempting to ignore: overwhelmingly, violence isn’t a matter of ordinary people killing because a firearm is handy, but of criminals committing violence because violence is a way of life for them. The National Rifle Association has been saying this for years, but anti-gun crusaders just don’t want to listen.

When the federal Centers for Disease Control start defining bullets as “pathogens” and declare that honest gun owners are the Typhoid Marys of a “gun-violence epidemic,” the medical profession has lent its scientific credibility to a radical political agenda which threatens to increase the overall violence in our society by shifting the balance of power toward the well-armed psychopath, and destabilize our system of government by restricting the people’s arms, which are a fundamental check on ambitious tyrants.

That this propaganda is being engineered by a committed gun-control advocate at the Federal Centers for Disease Control, James Mercy, who is diverting taxpayers’ money away from the study of real diseases such as AIDS, makes this politicized science even more shocking.

Those who decide that a handgun is a useful tool for protection against the criminals among us can rest assured that the risks of being victimized with that firearm by their husbands, wives, and other loved ones are still massively outweighed by their firearm’s ability to keep evil strangers at bay.5

Advocates of the right to keep and bear arms need to be especially aware that gun owners are the intended targets of the Centers for Disease Control’s disinformation campaign against privately held firearms. James Mercy and his tax-financed minions are well aware that with half the households in the United States keeping firearms, the American people can’t be disarmed without their cooperation. The only way they can gain that cooperation is by tricking gun owners into thinking that their firearms, and their neighbors’ firearms, are more of a danger than they are an effective defensive tool.

In this particular gunfight, the best ammunition is the truth.

Footnotes:

1 Thirty-seven of those 43 deaths were suicide; eliminating suicide immediately drops the claimed figure to “six times likelier.”

2 On the syndicated TV Mo Show, in January, 1994, a spokeswoman for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence even asserted that a gun kept in the home was “43 times as likely to kill a child than to offer protection against a burglar.”

3 Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Aldine de Gruyter, 1991), by Gary Kleck, Ph.D.

4 J. Wright & P. Rossi, NIJ Felon Survey 4.

5 Oddly enough, even Dr. Kellermann agrees. In the March/April 1994 issue of Health magazine, Kellermann is quoted as saying, “If you’ve got to resist, your chances of being hurt are less the more lethal your weapon. If that were my wife, would I want her to have a thirty-eight special in her hand? Yeah.”

#

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J. Neil Schulman’s Stopping Power — Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores


Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter The Mark of Kane Is on Firearms Reporting


Cover: Stopping Power -- Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns



Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Excerpts from a Letter to David Glass, CEO, Wal*Mart Stores


December 23, 1993

Dear Mr. Glass:

I have heard that as of February 1, 1994, Wal*Mart will no longer be selling handguns in its stores. I can understand, in the light of the recent shooting at a Wal*Mart in Oklahoma, why Wal*Mart might wish to climb onto the political bandwagon favoring reducing the number of firearms for sale to the civilian population. However, I think you need to be made aware of why this decision by Wal*Mart will impact negatively both on public policy and Wal*Mart’s stature as a leading retailer.

Over the course of my research for the last few years, I have learned that most of what passes for news and information in the mass media is distorted to give the impression that the availability of privately held firearms makes the United States a more violent and dangerous society than it would be if firearms were more restricted. This is a popular belief among many persons in the media, and they promote it to politicians and other opinion leaders, even though the best available research proves quite the contrary.

Since the number of times that a firearm is used criminally in the United States in a year is, at most, 800,000 times, the use of firearms by American gun-owners to prevent or stop a crime is three times as high as the number of times criminals use firearms to commit a crime.

As I said, this isn’t widely reported on by the news media, whose personnel have their own prejudices on the subject for obvious reasons. A TV news slogan is, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Crimes committed with firearms fit that election criterion. Civilian firearms defenses, the great majority of which are accomplished without anyone at all being shot, do not, and are therefore not reported on.

The Kleck survey, and other data collected by other prominent criminologists, clearly document the important role of privately-owned firearms in protecting lives and property from criminals and the criminally insane.

American firearms owners find themselves currently in a political and media battle to protect their right to own and carry firearms for defense against criminals. Anti-firearms politicians are daily introducing new legislation to restrict entire classes of firearms which are useful for defensive purposes; to tax ammunition; to transfer the choice of whether or not one can own or carry a firearm from the civilian population to political authorities. All of this is counter to the American tradition of relying on the people themselves as a force against crime, and adopting the European and Asian tradition of relegating the legal use of arms only to government officials. It is this sort of thinking that disarmed Europe’s Jews and made them vulnerable to the Nazis sending them to death camps. American gun owners do not wish to see the same vulnerability to tyranny happen here.

It is vitally important that retailers of the prominence of Wal*Mart not abandon America’s 70 million responsible firearms owners at a time when their rights are under attack by headline-seeking demagogues. If Wal*Mart discontinues the sale of handguns in its stores, it is implying that the American people cannot be trusted to buy guns and use them responsibly. This is a political message that is already being capitalized on by the opponents of civilian firearms ownership.

I strongly recommend that it is in Wal*Mart’s interest to reexamine its decision, and decide whether it wishes to offend 70 million firearms-owning Americans by implying that they are not responsible individuals who are a bulwark in the defense against crime and tyranny, but are instead irresponsible children who need to be disarmed for their own good by a wise and paternalistic government.

Sincerely,
J. Neil Schulman

Following:

Interview with Gary Kleck
A Massacre We Didn’t Hear About
Gunfight at the 4n20 Pie Shop
The Mark of Kane is On Firearms Reporting

And, here is David Glass’s reply:

David Glass Letter

#

Next in Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is When Doctors Call For Gun Seizures, It’s Grand Malpractice

Stopping Power — Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.


My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Amazon.com Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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