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South is one in a million, and one in two.

South

They split a cab. The cab smells like lemons.

“How do you think it went?”

“What? Oh–”

“How’d you–”

“Great,” he says quickly. “Great. Yeah. It’s such good text.”

“Can’t always tell on the read-through,” she says. “But I agree.”

The cabbie avoids the strip, for which South is grateful. They pass little hotels: neon legs and adobe.

“So,” he says. “Heh. I should be up front about this.” He looks at his hands. “You’re just incredibly professional, and I’ve developed this huge crush on you. And I absolutely–it won’t interfere with the work.”

She’s smiling. “It never does.”

South

“You take notes during the dailies?” South asked Moses, the second day of principal, when he saw the little pocket pad. Moses just grinned.

The next night, South had his own notebook and ballpoint, getting down about half of what Bailey said (half legibly, anyway). He switched to a felt-tip when he realized it wouldn’t dent the pages.

At the end of the first week, he edges by Moses and sees the pages of his notebook, and of course there are no notes: Moses draws. All the right shots, broad shading, their faces and hands when they catch the best light.

South

Seven appears on day five–just as everybody’s murmuring about when Bailey’s going to cast the part, he walks in after lunch with a minor cult hero. The crew goes fanboy; nobody gets anything done.

“Welcome to the weird names club,” says South when they shake hands. He’s trying to be casual in a tiny g-string. It’s not easy.

“Bailey says he’s doing a shower scene today,” says Seven drily, “then mentions I get to work with Rebecca Chiltern if I sign. Just mentions.”

“Your conclusions are your own!” calls Bailey.

“It’s cool,” says South, “my ass is better anyway.”

South

They shuffle around, wiping their palms even in the icebox AC. South asks, “So this is a ‘meet and greet?’”

“Meat market, really,” says Moses.

“There’s a pun in there,” says Seven. “Please don’t find it.”

Bailey’s waiting behind the door. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, “our principals,” and then they’re in with the sharks.

Seven’s all teeth and sexy danger; South and Moses pair up and slay a whole tribe of execs, and Rebecca is God’s own golden girl. She looks invincible. They’re all invincible. South never knew he could do this. Before they went in, she squeezed his hand.

South

South shows up on Sunday, but the set’s empty. He goes home. They’re leaning on a van. He catches a familiar duffel bag.

“This is mine,” he says stupidly.

“Shouldn’t keep your key in that fake rock,” Seven announces.

“We couldn’t find any clean underwear,” grins Rebecca, “so I bought you some–”

“You what,” says South.

“You needed underwear!” says Seven. “For the kidnapping!”

“The network–”

“Won’t tell us anything for a week,” says Rebecca. “We’re going to the beach.”

Seven hauls open the door.

Then it’s Dandy Warhols on a boombox, the stereo’s broken, and three hundred miles to Coronado.

South

That first night they close out the Gaslamp bars, then can’t find their hotel. They sleep in the van. It’s awful. They like it; they go nocturnal (makeup would kill them if they came back bronzed).

They find the hotel. It’s being picketed. They cancel.

“I don’t have health insurance either,” says South. False dawn rosies the beach. “How different are we, us and the maids and handymen?”

“You’ll get Guild insurance,” Rebecca says, “once they pick up the pilot.”

“If.”

“When.” Six a.m. and she’s rubbing sunblock into her hands, which are thin and strong, raw knuckles and short nails.

South

Bailey seems so tired. South feels guilty about the sand in his hair.

“The good news is they bought it,” says Bailey, as soon as the door’s closed. “Full budget, full season. The bad news–” He waits out the noise. “Is we’re a midseason replacement.”

They blink.

“We get double budgets for twelve episodes?” says Rebecca.

“No, they want twenty-three.” Bailey rubs his head. “They’ll choose twelve to air.”

“That’s–” South begins.

“That’s network politics.”

“So what are we going to do?”

Seven and Bailey lock eyes. “You know,” Bailey says, starting to grin.

Anima in machina,” Seven whispers, delighted.

South

“You’re wondering,” says Bailey, “why the door’s closed, the cast is here, the writers are here, I’m here, but the directors aren’t. The guy you don’t know is Jeff.”

Jeff nods. His t-shirt reads abacabb–True Fatality!

“Usually, Jeff’s a mole,” says Bailey. “Studios hire him to leak what they want leaked: rumors, red herrings, building buzz. He works for us now. What you need to know, and keep to yourselves, is that as soon as we leave this room our set is on his filthy little camera. All day. Every day.”

Pause.

“Hey,” says South, “I remember that game!”

South

This is how South remembers the pilot: two days, two weeks long.

The first morning he shows up at 8:10 a.m., script in his mouth; he pulls off his shirt in the parking lot and somebody’s coming at him with a sponge. That day he eats three different meals called “lunch.” Bailey yells Cut, Wrap, Go Home at four in the morning.

South sleeps in his car for eleven hours. He wakes up, one big sweaty muscle knot, to Fenchurch the production assistant tapping on his window.

“They bought fifteen more minutes,” she says. “Shower, eat, next shoot’s at midnight.”

South

JONAH
Because I was in a dark place,
and I begged to be freed.

STAR
And you were answered?

JONAH
No.

INT. SIMILAR ROOM – NIGHT

We get a flicker of JONAH in a similar room, younger and clean-shaven, slightly to the right of where he’s sitting now.

JONAH (V.O.)
I cut

INT. STAR’S OFFICE AGAIN – NIGHT

JONAH
my way out.

STAR
Rough on the whale.

Long beat.

JONAH
Not as rough as remembering
this line.

“South!” says Rebecca.

“Bngah!” says South, gripping his head. “‘Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying–’

“Blooper reel, hour six,” she mutters.

“South!” says Sejal. “Don’t muss your hair.”

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