Take Charge

An recent college graduate starts her first day at a magazine as a reporter, only to find out the publication has been sold over the weekend — and the job offer is un-offered. She immediately gets to working trying to get her job back — making friends and enemies along the way.

TAKE CHARGE


TAKE CHARGE

By

Scott Spjut


Int. Office lobby -- morNING
WREN enters the lobby of a tall office building. The room has marble floors and elaborate sconces. Even though dozens of people are flowing in and out of the revolving doors, the room is quiet. Reverent. Clean.
Wren (23) wears professional attire -- with sneakers -- and eagerly approaches the front desk with a big smile. A guard, RYAN (50) -- a tall, broad-shouldered black man with big hands and a bigger scowl -- sits at the welcome desk. Wren approaches.
Wren
Hi. It's my first day.
Ryan
Where?
WREN
Uh, here, I think? Am I in the right building?
Ryan
What company?
Wren
Oh -- ha -- right. The Global Times magazine.
Ryan
ID?
She hands the guard her ID, and he begins looking up her information.
Wren
Wren Higgins.
(beat)
I just graduated from J school.
The guard continues to type tacitly at the computer.
Wren
University of Texas ... at Austin.
More silent working.
WREN
Hook 'em horns!
She laughs. He doesn't.

2.
The printer at the front desk pops out a temporary pass. The guard hands Wren's ID back to her. He swipes her temporary pass and the gate opens. He hands her the pass.
Ryan
14th floor. Elevator on the right.
She grabs it from him, affixes the temporary pass to her lapel, and heads off.
WREN
Thanks!
Int. Elevator -- conTINUOUS
The elevator matches the lobby's style -- clean, professional, with a touch of luxury.
As the elevator goes up, Wren removes her sneakers and puts on some high heels. She shoves the sneakers in her bag just as she arrives at the 14th floor.
The doors open to a hallway with big glass doors that say "The Global Times".
Int. Global times offices -- conTINUOUS
Wren opens the doors and finds -- a mostly empty floor. Old, gray computers sit atop old, gray cubicles. The tinge of luxury decor up to this point has been replaced with a tired, cliche newsroom.
She wanders through the cubicle aisles looking for -- anyone. She finally sees an office with "HR" labeled on the door. She knocks and slowly opens the door.
Int. HR office -- contiNUOUS
JEAN sits behind a desk.
Jean
Good morning! How can I help you?
Wren
Yeah, uh, it's my first day here. I'm supposed to be starting today.
JEAN
Wonderful! And your name?
Wren walks in and takes a seat.

3.
WREN
Wren, uh, Wren Higgins.
JEAN
Oh yes, Wren. I've got your paperwork right here.
Jean picks up a stack of folders and thumbs through them.
Jean
Here we are!
She opens Wren's folder and reads through it. Jean looks up.
JEAN
Yes. You're fired.
Wren
I'm sorry?
Jean reads from a piece of paper from the file.
JEAN
We have very much appreciated your dedication while employed here at T.G.T. -- but a business decision has been made to let you go.
WREN
Appreciated my dedication? I just got here.
JEAN
(reading)
You will be compensated for any previously submitted timesheets -- as well as from when you punched in this morning until now.
Jean puts the paper down.
WREN
What, the past 3 minutes? I don't have a punch card or anything. I don't work here.
Jean
That's the spirit.
WREN
What happened? Where are the reporters? The editors? The designers?

4.
JEAN
Well, it won't be announced publicly until this afternoon, but The Global Times was bought out -- over the weekend.
Wren
Wait, is this conversation on the record?
Wren reaches into her backpack and pulls out a notepad and pencil.
WrEN
Who bought it out? What did they buy? When did they buy it? Where ... uh ... did they buy it? Why did they buy it?
She writes "Who, What, When, Where, Why" on her notepad, leaving several lines in between each to fill in the answers.
Jean
Are you -- trying to use me as a source? For a publication that not only do you not work for, but that may not exist come this afternoon?
WREN
Oh right. So what do I do?
JEAN
I could care less. I'm just here to get any stragglers who didn't see last night's email.
Jean pulls out an unopened bottle of bourbon and two glasses.
Jean
Drink?
Wren stands up.
Wren
No. I'm a journalist, damn it.
JEAN
Journalists drink.
Wren
I'm going to get to the bottom of this. I'm going to find out WHO bought The Global Times, and I'm going get a job from them. I didn't spend six weeks on the arts and entertainment beat at UT for nothing! I didn't make phone call after phone call, walk from campus building to other campus building, just to come all this way and give up! No. I'm a reporter. And I'm going to report the news.

5.
Wren gathers her things and storms out of the room. Jean pours herself a drink.
Wren pops her head back in.
Wren
You COULDN'T care less.
Jean
What?
WREN
Earlier -- when you said you "could care less" -- you really should have said you "couldn't care less."
Jean stares back, blankly.
Wren
... just FYI -- for next time.
Wren leaves with a smile. Jean downs her drink.
Int. EleVATOR -- CONTINUOUS
Wren pulls out her sneakers, takes off her high heels, and switches shoes again.
Wren
(to herself)
Okay. Okay. Okay. How am I going to ... they couldn't just fire everyone ... are they just going to stop publishing?
She continues to mutter to herself.
Wren
Twitter!!!
She pulls out her phone and starts furiously typing.

6.
WREN
If journalism school taught me anything, when it doubt, Twitter.
The elevator arrives at the lobby.
Int. OFFICE LOBBY -- CONTINUOUS
She frantically searches through Twitter as she strides through the lobby, dodging other heads-down worker bees, and passing Ryan. She gets to the lobby doors and begins to push them open, but pauses.
Wren
(shouting)
TMI!
The room screeches to a halt.
Wren
Uh, Telecom Marketing International. That's who bought .. uh ... nevermind ...
She pushes through the doors to outside.
Int. Outside -- conTINUOUS
The street is hustling and bustling. She stops in the middle of the sidewalk.
Wren
(to self)
Now I've just got to find out where these TMI offices are.
She searches on her phone and discovers -- they're in the same building. On the 15th floor.
Wren
You've got to be kidding me!
She clumsily switches back into her high heels. She turns and re-enters the building.
Int. OFFICE LOBBY -- CONTINUOUS
She enters and walks right past Ryan again, trying to get through the gate. She pushes and nothing happens.

7.
Ryan
Your pass?
Wren
Ha! Right, of course.
She swipes her pass. Nothing happens.
She tries again -- nothing.
RYAN
(motioning her over)
Ma'am.
WREN
Don't you remember me? You just -- you JUST saw me. I just showed you my ID and everything.
RYAN
Badge please.
The guard checks his computer.
RyAN
It's not valid.
WREN
What?!
RYAN
Says you were terminated. On your first day?
WREN
I wasn't fired. I was laid off.
RYAN
Were you ever hired?
WREN
I need to go back up there. Could you please just -- you know what?
Wren takes off. She hops over the gates, losing one shoe in the process. She frantically mashes the elevator button.
Ryan leaves his desk and comes after her.
The elevator door isn't opening. Wren darts for the stairwell.

8.
INT. STAIRWELL -- CONTINUOUS
She throws open the heavy metal door, takes off her other shoe, and lumbers up the stairs -- taking them two at a time, shoe still in hand.
A moment later she hears the heavy metal door open and close again.
Realizing she's being followed by the security guard, she keeps booking it up the stairs -- all 15 floors.
She gets to the top, hunched over, breathing heavily, exhausted, and pushes open the stairwell door to the main floor.
Int. Tmi offices -- conTINUOUS
Ryan is standing there, outside the elevator, and walks toward her.
Wren
How did you ... I thought ... I heard ... hold on ...
She continues to pant. Ryan puts his hand around her arm.
Wren
Just give me a ... I really think I'm going to throw up ... you want that to happen? All over your standard issue shoes here? Give me some space.
He takes his hand from around her arm and places it on her back -- and she takes off again through the TMI office doors.
Wren
(shouting)
I'm here! I'm here! Please! I want my job back!
Ryan follows shortly after and begins to drag Wren away. She grabs onto the front desk, refusing to budge. Slamming her shoe onto the surface.
Wren
Let me go! I work here now! Sanctuary! I claim sanctuary!
A older gentleman, bolo tie, boots, suit, walks by. This is JACK, the owner and chairman of TMI. He sports a white goatee, a thick southern drawl, and the delicate sensibilities of someone raised on a proper estate in rural Texas -- because he was. Richard Branson meets Yosemite Sam.

9.
He's accompanied by his assistant, AMELIA.
Jack
Just a minute sir. Ma'am, what is going on here? Does she work here?
Ryan
No.
Wren
Yes!
Wren
(beat)
No. Kind of. I was supposed to start at The Global Times today.
Jack
I don't know what that is.
WREN
(beat)
You don't know what The Global Times is? You own it!
Jack
Oh THAT! Yes, I think I do recall buyin' that magazine. Still don' know what to do w'it. Always wanted to own one, you know? Today is your first day, you said?
WREN
Yes sir.
JACK
And where are you comin' from?
WREN
Just graduated from journalism school. UT. Hook 'em horns!
JACK
Hook 'em horns! Yes indeed. My alma mater. What was it exactly y'were hired t'do?
Wren
A writer, sir. Reporter.
Jack turns to his assistant.

10.
JACK
Amelia, when do all the magazine people start again?
AMELIA
Sir, they don't. You laid everyone off.
JACK
I did? E'ryone?
Amelia opens up a manila folder, leans over and shows Jack some paperwork.
AMELIA
Everyone, sir.
Jack thinks for moment, then points to Wren.
Jack
Put her in charge. She's clearly a fighter.
Ryan finally lets go of Wren.
Wren
(shocked)
In charge?!
(professional, confident)
Of course! Not a problem. I'll take care of it. Thank you sir.
Jack smiles and nods. He and Amelia begin to walk away.
Wren
(calling out to Jack)
Sir, I am going to need some help.
Jack
That's fine. Your friend there can work here too.
WREN
My friend?! No he ... uh ...
Ryan is as stunned as Wren. He tries to call out, but Jack is long gone.
WREN
So ... uh ... you like your job downstairs?
Ryan
Yes, actually.

11.
Wren
Really? When you were a little boy, you dreamed of becoming a security guard?
Ryan
Yes, actually.
(beat)
Bull Shannon was my hero.
Wren
Who is Bull Sh -- doesn't matter. Do you have any hobbies?
Ryan narrows his eyes.
RYAN
(curtly)
I draw.
Wren
Good. We'll need an art director.
Ryan is unconvinced.
Wren
You'll be a journalist! Speaking truth to power! Political cartoons! Layouts! Infographics!
RyAN
Will you be telling me what to do?
WREN
No. Of course not. You -- you do you. Whatever you want.
RYAN
Okay.
WREN
Great. Now we just need literally every other job filled.
(beat)
Amelia!
Wren takes off running in the direction that Amelia left.
WrEN
(shouting)
Amelia!
Amelia stops and turns.

12.
Amelia
Yes?
WREN
Is it too late to unfire some people?
AMELIA
We didn't fire anyone.
Wren
Un-layoff them. Whatever. I need a list of all the previous TGT employees. Is that what you have in that folder there?
AmELIA
That information is for internal use only.
WREN
I am ... I am internal. I'm an employee.
AMELIA
Are you though?
WREN
When I get this magazine up and running, I am going to op-ed you so hard.
AMELIA
You don't make sense.
Wren glares for a moment. Then has a lightbulb moment.
Wren
HR lady!
int. HR OFFICE -- CONTINUOUS
Wren bursts through the HR door. Jane is three-quarters of the way through her bottle of bourbon.
Wren
HR lady! I need your help.
jean
Huh? I'm Jean.

13.
WREN
Jean, I need your h-- are you drunk?
JeAN
Do you have any idea how hard this is?
Wren walks over to sit by Jean's side. She puts her arm around her.
WREN
I'm so sorry. I can't imagine. How many people have you had to tell this morning?
JEAN
Oh, no one. It's just hard sitting here by myself.
(beat)
When I'm bored, I drink.
WREN
How would you like your job back?
JEAN
Meh.
WREN
How would you like to help other people get their jobs back?
JEAN
I'm intrigued.
WREN
Call everyone. Tell them this week's budget meeting starts at noon.
int. GLOBAL TIMES OFFICES -- noon
Wren sits in an office, staring at a clock on the wall. 11:59 ticks over to 12:00 and she walks out of the office to the open floor.
There stand Ryan, Jean, and three other employees -- Adam, Bryn and Colt. Wren stands in front of them, positioned to give a rousing speech.

14.
Wren
Congratulations. You are the first of what I assume will be many returning employees.
Jean
No, this is it.
Wren
What?
Jean
I called everyone back already. Talked to them all. Adam, Bryn and Colt are the only ones who wanted to come back.
WREN
Wait, no one else? What did the others say?
Jean pulls out a notepad.
Jean
Go eff yourself. Why the eff would I believe you? Who the eff is Wren Higgins? That eff-face CEO can go eff himself. It'll be an effin' cold day in H-E-double hockey stick before I --
Wren
Okay, I get it.
JEAN
And one man told me to get bent. Which, at first, did not seem vulgar but it is actually wildly inappropriate.