The Power of the Press
Written by Ben Gerghman and Bill Freedman
Peter becomes a reporter for the school paper and writes a column under the pen name Scoop Brady. He does a good jib but his grades suffer in the process. Hope you enjoy the script.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
HARVEY, Peter’s friend
IRIS, another friend
DIANE, another friend
MR. PRICE, science teacher
(The episode begins with Peter running home in an excited mood. He drops his books then goes to pick them up. He then runs in the house shouting for attention.)
Peter: Mom, Alice! Greg, Marcia!
(He runs through the kitchen and is unable to see that Carol and Alice are there.)
Carol: Hey, Peter, Peter, what’s the matter? Is something wrong?
Peter: No, I got great news.
Carol: Ah, that’s a relief.
Alice: Come on, tell us the news.
Peter: You know the school paper.
Peter: They needed a new reporter. A lot of guys tried out for it, but who do you think they picked?
Carol: Well, I’ll take a wild guess, you.
Peter: Yeah, how did you know?
Alice: Women’s intuition.
Peter: I’m not just any going to be old reporter, I’m gonna have my own column.
Carol: your own column? That’s terrific.
Alice: Congratulations, Peter.
Peter: Thanks, and I know just what I’m gonna call it. The whole truth by Scoop Brady.
Carol: Scoop. Ahh, that’s great.
Peter (excited): I’m gonna write a column that will stand Fillmore Junior High on its ear. Then I’ll write one for high school, then for college. I might become a famous reporter. Maybe I’ll win a Pulitzer prize. But first i better do something.
Carol: What’s that?
Peter: Learn how to type.
(He laughs and then Carol throws a towel at him, then pats him on the head. the scene fades.)
(The next scene takes us to the girls’ room.)
Marcia: Jan, did you take my pencils?
Marcia: I had three pencils in this drawer, they’re gone.
Jan: Check with Scoop brady.
Marcia: Oh, no. First he takes my carbon paper, then my eraser, now my pencils.
Jan: Mine too.
Greg: Did either one of you take the pencils from my desk.
Greg: Well somebody did.
Marcia: Check with Scoop brady.
Greg: For crying out loud, first he takes my carbon paper, then my erasers, and now my pencils.
(The girls laugh. Mike is in his den looking for something and Carol comes in.)
Carol: You call me honey?
Mike: Sweetheart, have you seen my typewriter? it was in here this morning.
Carol: Oh, I forgot to tell you. power of the press. Scoop Brady borrowed it.
Mike: You’re kidding. First he takes my carbon paper, then my erasers, and my pencils, now my typewriter.
Carol: Well, he said he was short on the tools of his trade.
Mike: Oh, well, I guess it’s all pretty exciting for him. Put my notes on the tape recorder.
Carol: Listen, by the way, honey, don’t go looking for your old brown hat.
Mike: My old brown hat?
(Peter is in the family room typing away. he is wearing Mike’s old hat with press written on it. He throws away a paper and we see the garbage can is filled with other papers he threw away. Bobby and Cindy come in and Bobby turns the television on.)
Cindy: Peter, why are you wearing Dad’s old hat?
Peter: Because that’s how us reporters look in the newspaper game. And the name isn’t Peter, it’s Scoop.
Bobby: Scoop, you mean Stoop.
Peter: Very funny.
(Bobby and Cindy watch the television while Peter types.)
Cindy: I think we saw this one already.
Bobby (disagreeing): Nah. They all look the same.
(Peter gets distracted by the tv.)
Peter: Will you guys turn that thing off, I’m trying to think.
(They ignore Peter’s request and then he turns the television off.)
Bobby (turning the tv back on): Hey, what are you doing?
Cindy: We were watching!
Peter: I told you, I can’t think!
Bobby: Well, that’s nothing new!
(Peter turns it off again but Bobby turns it back on.)
Peter: Will you guys knock it off, I’m trying to work!
Cindy: You better knock it off, there’s two of us and only one of you.
(Peter turns the tv off again and they all get in another argument. Mike comes in.)
Mike: Wait a minute, wait a minute! (The kids pipe down) What’s the matter?
Peter: Hi, Dad.
Bobby: Big Shot Stoop won’t let us watch TV.
Peter: They can watch TV upstairs, I’m trying to work.
Mike: Why can’t you work upstairs?
Peter: Dad, a newspaper man has to be by the phone. You never know when a big story might break.
Mike: Well, that’s a point. Why can’t you kids watch television upstairs?
Bobby: That’s just a dinky little set up there, Dad.
Cindy: And what if we get hungry? This is right next to the kitchen.
Mike: Look, kids, when somebody’s doing something that’s important to him, sometimes the others have to accept a little inconvenience.
Bobby (to Cindy): He means we got to watch upstairs.
Cindy: I know what he means.
Peter: Thanks, Dad.
Mike: You’re welcome. How’s the column coming. Scoop?
Peter: Writing is sure a lot tougher than I thought.
Mike (reading): The whole truth. That’s all you got?
Peter: That’s all I can think of. (The phone rings and Peter gets excited) I bet that’s one of the guys with a high flash for the column. (He answers) Scoop Brady talking. Oh, it’s for you, Dad.
Mike: Mmm hmm, thank you.
Peter: Would you mind keeping it a little short? You never know when a big story might break.
Mike: Sure thing, Scoop.
(Next, Marcia and Jan are using puppets of their teachers to perform on the upcoming jamboree night.)
Marcia (as their gym teacher): All right, children, time for exercises.
Jan (voicing other students): Not again! We hate ‘Em!
Marcia: Oh, come on, now. 1,2. 1, come on, come on.
Carol (coming by): Hey, what’s going on here? (Marcia and Jan show her the puppets) Those are really cute.
Marcia (showing her one of them): This is Ms. Crocker, our gym teacher.
Carol: oh, how do you do, Ms. Crocker?
Marcia: How do you do? 1,2,1,2.
Carol: What are they for?
Marcia: We’re doing a skit on our teachers for jamboree night. You know, rib a little.
Carol: That’s the best time to rib them, after your final grades. And speaking of grades, you two have finals this week.
Marcia: I finished all my studying, Mom.
Jan: So did I, that’s why I’m helping Marcia with these puppets. (She takes another puppet and mimics the voice) I’m Mrs. Sundance, Marcia’s English teacher.
Carol: Well, hello.
(Marcia takes out another one.)
Marcia: And this is Mr. Price, the science teacher. (She mimics his voice) And now students, we take up the study of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a Greek word. Chloral means green and I guess Phil is the guy who discovered it.
(Peter comes out.)
Peter: You got Mr. Price down perfect.
Marcia: He’s the toughest teacher I ever had.
Carol: You have him this term, don’t you, Peter.
Peter: I sure do.
Carol: Well, just remember, Scoop Brady, you have finals too. So don’t neglect your studies because of that column.
Peter: Don’t worry, Mom. Everything is real cool.
Carol: Yeah, well, make sure everything doesn’t warm up (she takes the puppet of the gym teacher) 1,2,1,2.
(Marcia notices the column in his hand.)
Marcia: Is that your column?
Jan: Can we read it?
Peter: Well, uh.
Marcia: Come on. (She takes it and reads it) All it says is The Whole Truth by Scoop brady.
Peter: Well, I haven’t finished it yet.
Jan: It isn’t even started.
Peter: I had lots of trouble getting it started. Before I became a writer I could think of a million things to write about. Now I can’t think of one.
Marcia: Come on, there’s lots of things to write about.
Peter: Oh yeah, name one.
Marcia: Well, how about jamboree night.
Jan: And the girls’ basketball team, undefeated.
Marcia: And so is the debating team.
Peter: Hey, that’s real good stuff.
Jan: And the drama club is doing one 3-act play.
Marcia: And there’s a charity..
Peter: Okay, okay, you’re getting me confused. I’ll get on it right away.
Marcia (mimicking Mr. Price): I say, that Scoop is some reporter, I say, yes he is some reporter indeed.
(Next, Peter shows the column to Greg and Alice for their opinions.)
Peter: Well what do you think?
Greg: Well, it’s, it’s, it’s not a bad column, Pete.
Alice: Well, the typing is real neat, Peter.
Peter: You think it’s rotten.
Greg: Not at all. The items are fine. The way you wrote it, it’s a little (Pause) dull. Right, Alice.
Alice: Well, you could jazz it up a ittle.
Alice: Well take the pie sale, you said, 14 apple pies were baked. Hah, couldn’t you say something like, what sweet young thing in the 8th grade bakes the wildest apple pies in town.
Peter: Hey, I get it. Make it more personal.
Greg: Right. The girls basketball item, you didn’t mention a single name. Kids like to see their names in the paper and read about themselves.
Alice: Particularly if you appeal to their vanity.
Peter: Vanity? What’s vanity?
Alice: Vanity is what makes women with size 12 feet wear size 8 shoes.
Greg: She means flatter them.
Peter: Names and flatter them. Boy will I ever. Thanks.
(We next see Peter typing away and then we see him at school. His friend Iris comes up to him.)
Iris: Peter, Peter.
Peter: Hi, Iris.
Iris: I just wanted to thank you, they picked me to be yell leader, and I owe it all to you.
Peter: Why me?
Iris: Because of all the things you wrote about me in your column.
Peter: I’m glad it helped.
Iris: Maybe we can have malts after school.
Iris: And I’m paying, you’re my guest, Peter.
(Peter gloats to himself and his friend Harvey approaches him next.)
Harvey: Peter, you’re the greatest.
Peter: You mean the item in the column.
Harvey: I’ve never been so popular with girls. They really believe that stuff you wrote about me, being a great dancer.
Peter: Well you are, compared to me. I can’t dance at all.
(Harvey hands him something.)
Harvey: Here, it’s only some candy bars. But I just wanted to show my appreciation.
Harvey: Hey, and if you can think of anything else to say about me, I’ve got an uncle who owns a pizza place. See you.
(Peter smiles and next, his friend Diane comes to him.)
Diane: Peter, I’ve been looking all over for you.
Peter: Well, it looks like you found me.
Diane (very excited): Thanks for the great item in your column about my singing. Mrs. Merritt asked me to do a solo on jamboree night!
Peter: That’s great.
Diane: And Peter, I’m gonna have a super party soon, and you’re the first name on my guess list.
(She gives him a playful punch and Peter smiles at her. Next, Peter is at home talking on the phone with his friend, Eddie.)
Peter: I know you’re studying, Eddie. But I need an item for my column. Yeah, something real snappy. A little gossip for… (Mike comes by so Peter changes the subject to science) Have you got the whole thing on osmosis, Eddie? Yeah, I know, that science class isn’t too easy. Okay, let me know if you’re stuck again, bye.
(He hangs up and Mike goes to get an apple.)
Mike: Getting squared away on osmosis?
Mike: Well, that makes me feel a little bit better.
Peter: How do you mean?
Mike: All the time you’ve been spending on your column and all the parties you’ve been invited to, your mother and I have been a little bit afraid that you’ve been neglecting your schoolwork.
Peter: I’m gonna do more studying right now.
Mike: You are?
Mike: Hey, that’s good. Turn off the lights when you’re through.
(He leaves and Peter looks up.)
Peter: Osmosis. I got to find out what the heck an osmosis is or does.
(Next, Peter is talking to Greg and Marcia about science and his upcoming science final.)
Greg: We both had Mr. Price for science, and we know what kind of final exams he gives.
Marcia: I’m sure we can help.
Peter: Thanks. I just hope it’s not too late.
Marcia: The easiest way to remember things is by making up little rhymes about them, like, a vertebrate has a back that’s straight.
Peter: A vertebrate has a back that’s straight. Hey, that’s a great idea.
Greg: Do you know what a primate is?
Peter: Primate, primate, primate. I don’t think I do. On second thought, I’m sure I don’t.
Greg: You can remember it like this. A primate has the size and shape of a monkey, a man or any old ape.
Peter: A primate has the size and shape of a monkey, a man or any old ape. Hey, that’s a great system.
Greg: Hey, it worked for me.
Marcia: Me too.
Peter: Hey, I just thought of another good rhyme.
Peter: Next year’s gonna be so nice, I won’t have to worry about Mr. Price.
Greg: Pete, you better hit the book, and read it.
(Peter starts reading and Marcia picks up the puppet of Mr. Price.)
Marcia: Mr. Price, have pity on my brother.
(Next, we see Mr. Price at Peter’s school. Peter comes to speak to him.)
Peter: Mr. Price.
Price (looking up): Yes, Peter.
Peter: I was wondering, the exam we took on Friday. Have you finished grading all the papers yet?
Price: Not all of them.
Peter (in relief): Oh.
Price: It is my customary procedure, I grade papers alphabetically, according to students’ names. I am presently up to L.
Peter (upset): L, then you’re past B.
Price: The key analytical deductions, Peter, the note of your deductions of the examination, I’m afraid, Peter.
Peter: That sounds like I didn’t do so good.
Price: You didn’t do so well, either. (He searches for Peter’s test) I’m quite disappointed in you, Peter. For the first half of the semester, you have received a B. I thought you’d be one of my better students.
(He gives him the test paper.)
Peter: Is this test gonna have a big effect on my report card?
Price: Final examinations usually do. Peter.
Peter: Thank you, sir. (He leaves the room and looks at his test in the hallway) D, a big, fat D.
(The scene fades away.)
(The next scene has Alice in the bedroom playing with some of the puppets. Marcia and Jan come in.)
Alice: Do I know you from somewhere? (She says something in French, pretending it’s coming from the puppet) I’ll bet you say that to all the girls. (mimicking the puppet) You bad, impetuous girl, kiss me.
(She kisses the puppet and Marcia and Jan laugh. An embarrassed Alice turns around.)
Alice: Uh, uh, (she laughs) Hi, kids. Uh, uh, uh, uh (to the dummy) Don’t just stand there like a dummy, get me out of this.
(Peter comes home through the front door. He takes another look at the test, hides it in his jacket, then runs up the stairs. Carol comes out of the den.)
Carol: Hi, Peter. (Peter is still running) Hey, what’s your hurry? Come here a minute.
Peter: I got a lot of things to do.
Carol: How did you do on your finals?
Peter: Most of them went okay.
Carol: How was your science final? Was Mr. Price as tough as they say?
Peter: Mr. Price said he hasn’t finished grading all the test papers yet.
Carol: But how do you think you did?
Peter: I’m sure I didn’t get an A.
Carol: Well, I’ll settle for an A-.
9She walks away.)
Peter (to himself): Boy, so would I.
(Peter is up in his room and Bobby and Cindy come in.)
Bobby: Hi, Pete.
(He turns on the television.)
Peter: What do you think you’re doing?
Bobby: We want to watch TV.
Peter: Well, why don’t you watch TV in the family room.
Cindy: We can’t.
Bobby: You got us kicked out of the family room, dumbhead.
Peter: Well, I’m kicking you back in.
Bobby: The way you’re kicking us around you must kick we’re footballs.
Peter: I got to do a lot of heavy thinking up here.
Cindy: If you don’t think too loud, you won’t bother us.
Peter: Look, if you both watch TV downstairs, I’ll give you a candy bar, okay.
Bobby: Me too?
Peter: You too.
(He goes over to his drawer and takes out the box that Harvey gave him.)
Cindy: Wow, you’ve got a whole box.
Bobby: Where did you get all that candy?
Peter: From a guy at school, I wrote some nice things about him in my column.
Bobby: You mean people give you things for that?
Peter; Sure, they like to read nice things about themselves. They give you candy bars, pizza, soda, and passes to the movies. (Bobby and Cindy look at each other happily) And maybe, maybe even a good grade. Yeah.
Cindy: Yeah, what.
Peter: Never mind. (He hands them each a candy bar) You’ll miss your movie, hurry up. (They leave) I got a special column to write.
(Peter sits down and starts to type. Then he remembers the old brown hat and puts it on. Greg comes in the room and inquires about his work.)
Greg: Say, any hot flashes to shake the world with, Scoop?
Peter (with a pencil in his mouth): I’m almost finished.
Peter (removing the pencil): I said I’m almost finished. (Greg puts his jacket in the closet) Greg, what’s a way of saying somebody’s the best at his job?
Peter: I already used that one.
Greg: Super, terrific.
Peter: I used them too.
Greg: Head and shoulders above the crowd.
Peter: Hey, that’s great.
(He continues to type and Greg reads a copy of his item.)
Greg: There have been many great men in our country. Washington, Lincoln, but there is a man in our school who is just as great, Mr. Price. (He goes into disbelieving) Mr. Price, the science teacher?
Peter: Yeah, here’s the carbon copy if you want to read it.
Greg (laughing): Are you kidding? When I had him we called him Mr. Sour-puss.
Peter: That’s just the way you see him. I got to get this column to my editor right away.
(He leaves the room with his copy.)
Greg (reading): Washington, Lincoln and (he starts laughing) Mr. price?
(Cut over to the girls’ room, where Marcia and Jan are practicing using the puppets.)
Marcia (mimicking a teacher): Good morning, Mr. Price. (mimicking Mr. Price) What’s so good about it, may I ask?
Jan: No Marcia, I can still see your lips move.
Marcia: it’s not easy to talk with your mouth closed.
Greg (coming in): Marcia, Jan, you got to read this. You won’t believe it.
(They read the article.)
Marcia (laughing out loud): Mr. Price!
Jan: Peter’s flipped!
(Marcia mimics Mr. Price and uses the puppet.)
Marcia: I’m Mr. Price and even I don’t believe it.
(They make a few more comments and Mike come sin the room.)
Greg: Hi, Dad.
Mike: I thought you were gonna take care of that back lawn this afternoon.
Greg: Oh, yeah, I will Dad, right away.
(Mike notices their laughter.)
Mike: What’s so funny?
Jan: This is.
(She shows him the paper.)
Marcia: Scoop Brady’s latest column.
Mike: You mean we got an Art Buchwald in the family?
(He shows him what Peter has written.)
Mike: I don’t think I’ve gotten to the funny part yet.
Jan: It’s all funny if you know Mr. Price.
Marcia: He’s the dullest.
Jan: I’m not gonna have him till next year and everyone in the whole school knows how dull Mr. price is.
Greg: He’s the kind of guy, Dad, who tells the class jokes in Latin, and all semester only one kid laughed and he was Italian.
(They all laugh including Mike.)
Mike: Come on, I think you’re being a little hard on Mr. Price.
Greg: It’s not that he’s a bad teacher, he just has a little trouble getting through to the kids.
Mike: Well, according to this, he seems to have gotten through to Peter. Listen, don’t forget the lawn, okay.
Greg: I won’t.
(Mike leaves and the kids continue laughing.)
Jan: Do you think Peter actually thinks he’s great?
Greg: Are you kidding? He’s got to have some reason for writing that column.
(Next, Carol finds the test in Peter’s jacket and takes it out.)
Carol (astonished): A D?
Alice: What’s that, Mrs. Brady?
Carol: look what I found in Peter’s jacket, it’s his science test. I thought it hadn’t even been graded yet.
Alice: Oh my, and D sure doesn’t stand for dandy.
(Next, Carol shows the test to Mike.)
Carol: No wonder he was being so evasive about it.
Mike: Well, I’m not excusing Peter, honey, but it, uh, it isn’t easy telling your parents about bad grades.
Carol: And he’s a good student. I’ll bet he didn’t study at all.
Mike: You know, it’s really ironic.
Carol: How do you mean?
Mike: Only because Peter wrote a whole column about Mr. Price. Made him sound like a cross between Albert Einstein and Albert Schweitzer.
Carol: I’ll bet that’s before he got the D.
Mike: No, matter of fact (Pause) He wrote it after.
(Next, Mike gives Peter a talking to.)
Peter: How did you find my test?
Mike: You left it in the pocket of your jacket.
Peter: Oh. (Pause) Well, it was a tough test. Ask any of the kids.
Mike: I’m sure it was. Look, Peter, your mother and I wouldn’t mind the D so much if you thought you’ve done your very best. But you didn’t, did you?
Mike: No, you didn’t. You were spending too much time being Scoop Brady reporter and not enough time being Peter Brady student. Right?
Peter: I’m sorry.
Mike: Mmm, listen, about this article you wrote this afternoon. The one you wrote about Mr. Price.
Peter: You know about that too?
Mike: Yes I do. Was thta like your article said, the whole truth? Or was that just a snow job? In hopes of getting Mr. Price to give you a better grade on your report card?
Peter: Snow job, I guess.
Mike: Son, there is a thing called the power of the press, and with the use of that power comes responsibility.
Peter: Guess I wasn’t very responsible, was I?
Mike: No, you weren’t. Writing nice things about your friends or about Mr. price, just to get personal rewards isn’t exactly honest reporting.
Peter: What can I do now? I already turned in the column.
Mike: I’m sure you will think of something.
(Mike leaves the room and we cut to Mr. price’s classroom at Peter’s school. Peter comes in to speak to him.)
Price (surprised): yes, peter.
Peter: Good morning, Mr. Price. I guess I’m a little early.
Price (looking at his watch): You are indeed. Class doesn’t occur for another three hours.
Peter: Sir, I have to talk to you about something.
Peter: I wrote a column about you, it’s coming out in the paper. And some of the things I said, I didn’t really mean.
Peter: Like I said you were the greatest teacher in the world. I didn’t really mean the greatest, I meant, fantastic. Not really fantastic, more like terrific. 9He shakes his head no) Terrific, I meant…
Price: I know what you meant, Peter. (He pulls a paper out of his folder) I believe this is the article which you are referring to.
Peter: Yeah, where did you get it?
Price: Newspaper procedure. Better to have the better part of the actual data before it’s printed.
Price (getting up from his chair): Peter, I have been a teacher too long not to recognized a soft soak job.
Peter: Snow job, sir.
Price: Snow job, soft soak job, whatever. Now flattery was a tempt of the membranous renege of a lepidoptera.
Price: A wing of a butterfly. Lepidoptera is a scientific name for butterfly. You should’ve known that, Peter.
Peter: Oh, I thought I was being subtle.
Price: Oh, I could read between the lines. I take it from this letter that my students find me somewhat remote and lacking in wits.
Peter: Boy, you really can read between the lines.
Price: Also, I take it I may have some problems with communication.
Peter: Well, just with all those Greek and Latin words you use, the kids almost have to be professors to understand.
Price: Well, perhaps we both learned something from this experience.
Peter: yes, sir.
(Price gives Peter the paper and he tears it up and Peter starts to leave.)
Peter: Oh, Mr. Price, could you give me a hint on what my final grade of the semester will be?
Price: You get exactly what you deserve, peter.
Peter: That’s what I was afraid of.
(Peter comes home and tells Mike, who is in the den, about his day with Mr. Price.)
Peter: Hi, Dad.
Mike: Hello, Peter.
Peter: I just wanted to tell you, that I talked to Mr. Price and I told him what I did.
Mike: Well, I’m glad son. That took courage to do that.
Peter: And from now on, I’m not gonna take any candy bars, or movie passes, or anything else. No matter what I write in my column.
Mike: At a boy. I bet you feel better about that, don’t you.
Peter: I sure do. Especially about Mr. Price, he was really nice.
Mike: Well, I feel better about that, too.
Peter: You do?
Peter: That’s great, could you hold that feeling until my science grade comes out?
(Peter leaves and Mike gives a bewildered look, then laughs. The scene fades away.)
(The final scene has Mike and Carol in their room, with Mike signing all the kids’ report cards.)
Carol: You’re almost through, honey?
Mike: Yeah, sweetheart, I’m down tot he last signature. Well, I bet I’m the only parent in the neighborhood who gets writers cramp signing report cards.
Carol: Well, the kids did all right. Even counting Peter’s problem with Mr. Price.
Mike: Oh yeah, well, he got a C. (They both get into bed) Altogether I think they got 12 A’s, 29 B’s and only 7 C’s.
Carol: Well, that’s a good average.
Mike: You betcha. Good night, honey.
(He reaches over to kiss her.)
Carol: I give it a C.
(Mike lays down but then gets up again.)
Mike: Give what a C?
Carol: That kiss, I give it a C.
Mike: How about a chance to improve my grade?
Carol: That seems fair.
(He gives her an even bigger kiss.)
Carol: Umm, yes, that’s definitely A B.
Mike (shocked): Only a B?
Carol: I’m sorry, I call them as I feels them.
Mike: How about another chance for a willing pupil?
Carol: Fire when ready, Gridley.
(He shuts off the light and gives her an even bigger, more passionate kiss.)
Carol: Now that’s an A.
(They have another kiss.)