DeNile U Screenplay: Excerpt

"DE NILE U."

FADE IN:

EXT. De nile, Illinois — DAY

DeNile, Illinois is a mid-size Midwestern city struggling with progress. The once prosperous downtown area is full of vacant storefronts and the adjacent neighborhoods smell of urban decay.

On the perimeter of town, a thriving Industrial Park and a bustling shopping center district give every indication that DeNile is not yet down for the count.

On the opposite side of town, a more affluent residential neighborhood shows there is, indeed, money, old money at that, in DeNile.

Adjacent to a secluded wooded glen, separated by a small lake, a large university commands the landscape. Beside the roadway curving into campus, a stone monument is engraved: DE NILE STATE UNIVERSITY, ESTABLISHED 1903 A.D.

Beyond the monument lies an expansive terrain with ribbons of sidewalks cutting between an architectural hodgepodge of university buildings. An equally diverse mix of students, faculty and staff crowd the sidewalks, all going about the business of the day.

EXT. Lowry building — Thursday morning — Establishing

One of the more modern structures comes into view and the sign, LOWRY BUSINESS CENTER, dominates its entrance.

MARISOL STEWART, an attractive 40ish African American woman emerges from the crowd of pedestrians walking toward the building. She is smartly dressed with a leather tote bag slung over her right shoulder. Clutched tightly in her left hand is a copy of THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION. A look of fierce determination is set on her face as she picks up her pace.

EXT. SUTTON HALL — DAY — establishing

ANGLE ON another modern structure. SUTTON HALL is engraved in stone over the entrance.

INT. Sutton hall — DAY

The interior of Sutton Hall is as imposing as the exterior.  A security guard sits at his post in the center of the lobby overseeing the bustling traffic of students, faculty and staff.

The first office to the right of the elevator bears the sign over the door: OFFICE OF EQUITY AND COMPLIANCE; LELAND JACKSON, DIRECTOR.

INT. Leland jackson’s office — MOMENTS LATER

LELAND JACKSON (African American, mid 50’s) leans back in his chair looking thoughtful and solemn. The nameplate on his desk is barely visible beneath a disarray of papers, journals and file folders. On the wall is a large framed photograph of Martin Luther King seated in a leather arm chair, poised in quiet reflection.

His assistant, BONITA CASTLE (Caucasian, mid 30’s), also looking solemn, sits casually in one of the chairs in front of his desk.

Leland

Did the report go out?

BONITA

Yes…it should be delivered in the morning mail.

LELAND

I hope this is the end of it.

BONITA

There’s not much more she can do.

LELAND

Marisol is a fighter…

Leland drums his fingers on his desk and looks like he’s about to be ill. Bonita watches him quizzically as if she’s never seen his feathers ruffled before. When she speaks, her voice is stronger than she feels.

BONITA

We did the right thing, Leland.

Leland averts her gaze and stares out his office window, the crowds of pedestrian traffic reflecting in his eyes.

LELAND

Yes, but the right thing isn’t always the honorable thing.

EXT. LOWRY BUILDING — DAY

Swarms of students converge on the Lowry Building.

INT. LOWRY BUILDING (Lobby) — MOMENTS LATER

Marisol waits impatiently for the elevator with several others. She nods and smiles as she recognizes a few faces but for the most part remains distant and distracted.

As the doors slide open, her scowl is reflected in the shiny steel and the closing door eclipses her image.

Inside, A YOUNG WOMAN starts pushing the buttons for the other passengers and Marisol reaches forward and pushes the 3RD FLOOR without saying anything. Not noticing the glances this engenders, she looks upward as if that alone will take her to her destination.

INT. LOWRY BUILDING (3rd floor) — MOMENTS LATER

The elevator doors slide open and Marisol emerges, hurriedly making her way down the hall to an office suite.

Above the door a sign reads: DEAN’S OFFICE, COLLEGE OF BUSINESS, DE NILE STATE UNIVERSITY.

On the glass door, the lettering indicates: JOHN MC CARTHY, DEAN; DAVID MARX, ASSOCIATE DEAN; MARISOL STEWART, BUDGET COORDINATOR; RACHEL WORTHINGTON, RECEPTIONIST."

Reluctantly, she pushes the door open almost and enters the reception area. RACHEL WORTHINGTON (40ish, chubby, pretty, crisp, efficient-looking) looks up.

RACHEL

Hi, Marisol.

MARISOL

Good morning, Rachel. How’s everything?

Rachel nods her head toward a closed door. The sign on the wall next to the door reads: "DAVID MARX, ASSOCIATE DEAN."

RACHEL

You know…a little tense…

MARISOL

What did he do this time?

RACHEL

Just wanted to know…again…when McCarthy’s name’s coming off the window. He said, "it’s been over three months. What’s taking them so long?"

MARISOL

What did you say?

RACHEL

What could I say? I told him the Provost had to make the request so I suggested he check with Yeardley.

MARISOL

I’ll bet that made him happy.

RACHEL

Like a pissed-off hornet.

MARISOL

(laughing)

Did the mail come yet?

RACHEL

Oh yes, it’s here…and Marisol…I think it finally came.

Marisol rushes to her office on the other side of the reception area. The space has become her refuge–neat, orderly and filled with ethnic art.

Once inside, she throws the CHRONICLE and leather tote into a chair and stops short when she sees a large 9×12 manila envelope resting on top of her stack of mail.

Slowly, as if afraid to touch it, she picks it up, turns it over and opens the flap. With trembling fingers, she slips out several pieces of paper. Then she sinks into her chair. It is clear she is not pleased…

INT. David Marx’s office — Day

On the other side of the reception area, DAVID MARX (mid 50’s, with graying temples and a fit physique) sits at his desk in a plush leather Herman Miller Eames chair. He has the demeanor of a man who has arrived and is very pleased with himself about his success. His office decor indicates he is also a man who likes nice surroundings and state of the art technology.

He studies a 9×12 manila envelope on his desk and taps it a few times while he checks his voice mail. THE DIGITAL VOICE reports 10 messages but he hangs up the phone. His computer Inbox shows 50 new e-mail messages but he doesn’t open any of them. His electronic calendar shows he has 3 meetings scheduled, the first one at 9:00. He looks at his watch and it is 8:45.

He picks up the envelope, sighs, then throws it on the table behind his desk.

ExT. Lexington hall — DAY — Establishing

LEXINGTON HALL is one of the older buildings on campus with distinct 19th Century architecture. An ascending terrace of stone steps lead to the arched entrance over which a sign reads: DE NILE STATE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES.

INT. LEXINGTON HALL (Lobby) — DAY

Across the wide lobby is the entrance to an impressive office suite. The sign on the glass window over the door reads: OFFICE OF THE PROVOST.

At that moment, the Provost, PETER YEARDLEY, a man in his late 50’s, short, stock and white-haired, hurries down the hall carrying an armful of folders and papers. He enters a side door marked PRIVATE.  

Inside his private domain, he catches sight of the morning mail his secretary placed on his desk. On top is a 9×12 manila envelope. His face goes cold and he blurts out a profanity without realizing it.

Peter

Shit!

Quickly he regains his composure and picks up the envelope, opens it and removes the contents. As he scans the documents, a cloud of smug satisfaction crosses his face.

INT. Marshall Norbert’s office — DAY

A few doors down the hall, MARSHALL NORBERT, President of DeNile State University, stands at the window of his office and looks out at the campus. His expression is somber. Behind him on his desk lies a 9×12 manila envelope… unopened.

INT. SUTTON HALL — DAY

In the Student Services wing of Sutton Hall, CHAD CHARLES, Registrar at DSU, is busy at his computer when his secretary plops the morning mail on his desk. On top is a 9×12 manila envelope. He opens it and scans the contents. A look of disbelief mixed with anger crosses his face.

CHAD

Bullshit!

INT. LELAND JACKSON’S OFFICE — DAY

Leland sits at his desk looking gloomy. He lets out a quiet burp and pats his stomach as if to quell a rising nausea. He continues writing notes on a legal pad but keeps looking at the telephone as if expecting it to ring.

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