At a hoity-toity New York establishment, various well-connected elites gather at a fund-raiser for new composers. Piano music plays in the background as the glamazons guzzle champagne. "The worst thing that could happen for this city would be if the Carlyle fell into the wrong hands," frets one attendee, dabbling in the kind of hyperbole that bespeaks an ignorance of both the stock market's mood swings and the movie Independence Day. Everyone agrees that no landmarks are safe from the philistines running society today. A fortyish woman, downing her drink, slurs and screeches, "Manhattan is turning into a third-world country! No, a fourth-world country," she corrects herself. "I hear air conditioning has reached the third world." The woman bellows for someone called Zander to play something for her on the piano but, mid-stagger, she shatters her glass and bolts the room in a tizzy. "Hot hot hot, so hot!" she blares lamely. Zander -- actor Paul Rudd -- stares after her, emotionless. "So that's menopause," he thinks. "Can I lick that champagne off the floor now?"
Outside, the Emoting Diva is waving her arms and shrieking about how hot it is. A homeless woman pushing a shopping cart stares confusedly after the E.D., who collapses against the hood of a black Ford Expedition. "Aaaaaaaaah," E.D. wails eloquently. "Bwaaaaah." Wait, I don't think this is scripted -- I seriously think the actress just read the script and went fatally, irreversibly insane. Sure enough, she swoons in front of an oncoming bus. As the vehicle mows E.D. down, Homeless Hilda mutters "Look out!" and flinches. H.H. walks toward the bus and gets increasingly horrified, because that's the number six bus and it's not supposed to show for another ten minutes. Fade to black.
Just to clarify, since I didn't mention it last time: The Ledger is a mock New York Post, and Si Beekman is Rupert Murdoch. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Nikki is running the day's news meeting, this time grilling the Business editor about the lead story. Apparently, the most topical matter of interest for New York denizens is the demise of a website called Pollywog that sold and designed $200 swimsuits for toddlers. Si wants to print it and suggests "Pollywog Drowns" for the headline. "Come on, people love to read the stories about twenty-five year-old millionaires forced to sell the town house and the Mercedes," Si argues. ["That's true. I do, anyway, because I'm petty." -- Wing Chun] Hildy sasses that Si also has a town house and a Merc, but Si contends that his liver spots and "saggy ass" make him exempt from salacious scrutiny. Wow. I'll champion that cause, thanks to the intervention of my pal Mental Imagery. An African-American woman breezes in and declares that her offering is about a classical-music soirée that ended abruptly. "Did they run out of post-Apartheid Cabernet?" cracks Nikki. The woman retorts that a bus plowed over the hostess -- that's our Emoting Diva -- and Si giggles that the tragedy certainly explains why his car was stuck in traffic for an hour. Brooke and Si freak when they learn Catherine Hines is the dead woman's name -- Si because he knew her socially, and Brooke because Catherine managed pianist Zander Price and had angled to get the Ledger an interview. Brooke complains at the inconvenience of having the woman up and die on her like that, mid-negotiation. "The traffic jam, your exclusive, the loss of human life," intones Hildy in fake Scottish lilt. "A woman is dead, for God's sake." Si stares at her in disbelief, annoyed at her mimicry and questioning it. "It just felt right," Hildy grins. "Like bursting into song in a musical." The entire room starts laughing, except for Si and me. We just stare at each other and shake our heads, acknowledging that we could write a better quip by playing connect-the-liver-spots on his saggy ass and reading the result aloud.