Howard Cosell struts out and plops down next to Bobby, the TV monitor with Billie's image sitting between them. Fred Willard, a total HITG who's done work on Leno lately, is playing Howard Cosell. He's pretty boring, actually. I far prefer those Asian dudes from Better Off Dead who learned English from watching Howard Cosell and chased John Cusack's character with a bullhorn. Bobby goes off on one of his male-supremacy diatribes that admonishes women for emerging from the kitchen and stealing jobs from perfectly good men. At home, a watching woman throws her dirty sponge at the television. "I am the champion of women's tennis. I should wear a gown," he proclaims. Billie chips in, "I don't care if you show up in a jockstrap." Howard looks totally uncomfortable and tries to get back on track by declaring this the most important match of all time. "Men don't have to be afraid of ladies," Bobby says. "The man is king, the man is supreme. We're not going to take it anymore." Billie Jean lets him go, then says, "We'll just see, won't we…who can take the pressure and who can't." In Denver, she pops out the ear-piece and groans, "Couldn't someone have turned his volume down?" Wait, could that be figurative speech?
The US Open tournament announces that it will be the first to offer equitable prize money to its female and male winners. To celebrate the historic moment, the US Open committee unveils its poster child -- Margaret Court, who did so much to advance the cause when she flubbed the Riggs match and grimaced as she signed Billie's petition. "Billie Jean is not my lover," the poster could read, but doesn't.
Bobby's captive audience of three guys and a bimbo listen to him talk about women. "I used to plunge into love with every girl I met." Now he just plunges into them. "Then I got it into a controlled franchise system," he explains, describing that "franchise holders" exist in every city -- a lot like that "girl in every port" cliché. The bimbo with Bobby calls him a "beautiful, sensitive, sexy man" with plenty of life left in him. He attributes it to the vitamins he takes, which will keep him agile and defeating female athletes until age 95. Someone asks what his bimbo would do if he lost to Billie Jean. "I guess I'd still go to bed with him," she says. Everyone falls silent and stares. He's a pasty, slobbering blowhard, and she's a buxom Farrah Fawcett clone, so obviously, everyone's floored to learn that it isn't true love. She tries to correct herself, saying, "I'd still love him," but somehow his moment of glory has been ruined and he decides to beat his treat -- I mean, "beat a hasty retreat."
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Billie Jean calls her mother, giddy and happy and barely able to talk. Mom is mildly interested that her daughter won Wimbledon. "Honey, someone told me you're playing Bobby Riggs," she tsks. "Why don't you girls just leave him alone!" Billie Jean is stunned, sputtering that Bobby came chasing after the women, not the other way around. "See, with that lib stuff, you made yourselves targets for people like him," her mother gripes gently. "He's a hustler!" explains Billie Jean. Her mom doesn't believe it, and Billie Jean is sickened, hanging up the phone. Someone calls out to her, asking if she's ready for Bobby. "I'll kill him," she growls.
A news bulletin informs us that ABC sports paid $750,000 for the rights to air the match, which is slated for September 20 at the Houston Astrodome.
New York City. Giggling, the Kings trot over to a press conference with Bobby. He hops the net energetically and mugs for the crowd while Billie Jean smiles patiently. Bobby steers her to the press table, mouthing off about how life begins at 55. "All the women want me. They either want me dead or in bed," he grins. Well, he got the "dead" part correct. "Ladies first," he says, offering Billie Jean a seat. "After you, muscles," she jokes. "I'm just trying to be a gentleman," he says, to which she fires back through clenched teeth, "That'd be a first." More tense banter ensues, and Bobby leans over to tell Billie Jean that she's "doing great," as though she's had to finely craft a façade of confidence that hides her quaking innards. Billie insists she's having fun with it, and poses for the camera; while he's flexing, she grips his bicep. A mighty step forward for women's lib, that.
Bounding up the escalator in another airport, Billie Jean kisses Larry goodbye and boards the plane. Someone stops her and says, "You're an inspiration. If you beat Bobby Riggs, I'm asking my boss for a raise." Billie smiles serenely. "Ask for it anyway," she whispers.
Bobby, meanwhile, alights from Perenchio's personal plane and steps toward a van. Perenchio throws open the doors to reveal a fully loaded Shaggin' Wagon, complete with blonde bimbos that are too slutty to care that they're about to get beaten with the ugly stick -- a very private, unpleasant, trouser-dwelling ugly stick. "You girls…play a lot of tennis?" Bobby says, swooning. They smile vapidly. "Tennis is when I play with balls!" one of them thinks.
In a hotel room -- huh? -- Billie Jean is talking to Gladys Heldman, the head of the Virginia Slims Tour, which is the ladies' tennis circuit. They're arguing because Billie Jean wants to miss matches in order to practice for and promote the Battle of the Sexes. Gladys thinks it's the wrong time to make a political statement. America isn't ready. "This is much bigger than you think," Billie Jean argues. Meanwhile, Bobby is escorted to the Astrodome, where he's shown the 53,000 seats available to seat the gawking spectators. Bobby wonders if they can fill it. Back to Gladys. "Are you going to beat this bastard?" she asks with a smile. Billie pauses, and they look at each other. Right before they kiss, we cut away.
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