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Sleepwalker Sweet Home Chicago American Pharaoh Caveman Robot   

A feature length screenplay by David Eyre and Douglas Snider
GENRE: Thriller

The year is 1969. Top-secret U.S. intelligence agencies -- faced with widespread anti-government uprisings on America's college campuses -- set out to recruit patriotic students to infiltrate and spy on the campus anti-war activists. These informants' tuition and expenses will be secretly paid for by the U.S. taxpayers. When first approached, 18-year-old Forest Service smoke-jumper David O'Brien is seduced by the offer of a free college education.

Concurrently, a paranoid U.S. government - in full Cold War, Viet Nam era mode - has begun to secretly conduct mind-altering experiments on its soldiers - and appallingly - sometimes on groups of unsuspecting, ordinary citizens. In just such a program, David and his on-campus spying operation cohorts are unwittingly made into clandestine government research guinea pigs.

Thirty years pass. In present day, the residual effects of these covert programs go horribly awry. David suddenly finds himself at the center of a deadly maelstrom. The former co-members of his college era spy program are - one by one - being brutally murdered. David must discover why, before he becomes the next unfortunate casualty. David seeks out Jessica, an original member of the program and the first woman he ever loved; and Randy, a solid, resourceful friend from his old smoke-jumping days. With their help, David hunts for the killer - all the while, he too is being hunted.

SLEEPWALKER is a taut thriller, a cleverly twisted contemporary "Manchurian Candidate," guaranteed to keep audiences at the edge of their seat until its fast-paced, dramatic conclusion.

A feature length screenplay by Terry Schwartz, Robert Birnberg and Dan Halperin

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It's 1959. Four teenage boys just out of high school want to avoid the bleak future that surely awaits in their changing blue collar Chicago neighborhood. Our hero, Dave Lujak, is expected to inherit his family's funeral parlor, but he screams "I'm a musician, not a mortician." Dave rallies his three best friends, Deejo, Ziggy and Pepper into forming the greatest blues band, ever.

Dave tells them that if they can convince the nuns to let them perform at the church fair at the end of the summer, fame and fortune are surely just around the comer. But this is no simple task. Everyone and everything in the neighborhood conspire against them - parents; girls; the neighborhood bully Arms and his gang of toughs; and Frank Kazursky, the local butcher and weekend polka band leader. Frank is determined to prevent the boys from stealing the musical spotlight that he and his Polka Dots have enjoyed at the church fair for years and years. And he's not beyond ruthless tactics, he's a butcher.

Moreover, the boys have their own problems. Ziggy, the bass player, has recurring nightmares that an atomic bomb will drop on Chicago the night the White Sox win the pennant; Pepper, the drummer, must defend his mother from his father's increasingly abusive drunken attacks; and Deejo, the lead guitarist, is being pressured to join his father working on a factory assembly line; and Dave's parents expect him to start mortuary college in the fall. The band's success is the only thing that can help Dave and his friends escape their fate of certain lifelong misery. Along with the grim changes going on in their neighborhood as Chicago faces urban renewal, and toss in plenty of girl trouble for each of the boys - it's an adolescent nightmare.

As the summer comes to a close, and his friends, neighborhood and dreams crumble around him, Dave strives with all his might to keep the band together and "kill" on stage at the church fair.

While full of humor, in the tradition of coming-of-age classics like "Stand by Me" and "Diner," "Sweet Home Chicago" is a heartfelt homage to adolescent friendship...and to the best summer, ever.

"Sweet Home Chicago" is based on the award winning short story "Blight" by world-renowned Chicago author, Stuart Dybek.

Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Fight for Chicago and the Nation
Book for Cable Biopic by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor

Book Description

"This is Chicago, this is America." With those words, Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley famously defended his brutal crackdown on protestors at the 1968 Democratic convention. Profoundly divided racially, economically and socially, Chicago was indeed a microcosm of America, and for more than two decades Daley ruled it with an iron fist. The last of the big city bosses, Daley ran an unbeatable political machine that controlled over one million votes. From 1955 until his death in 1976, every decision of any importance - from distributing patronage jobs to picking Congressional candidates - went through his office. He was a major player in national politics as well. Kennedy and Johnson owed their presidencies to his control of the Illinois vote, and he made sure they never forgot it. In a city legendary for its corruption and backroom politics, Daley's power was unrivaled. Daley transformed Chicago - then a dying city - into a modern metropolis of skyscrapers, freeways and a thriving downtown. But he also made Chicago America's most segregated city. A man of profound prejudices and a deep authoritarian streak, he constructed the nation's largest and worst ghettoes, sidestepped national civil rights laws, and successfully thwarted Martin Luther King's campaign to desegregate Northern cities. A quarter-century after his death, Daley's outsize presence continues to influence American urban life, and a reassessment of his career is long overdue. Now, veteran journalists Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor present the definitive biography of Richard J. Daley, drawn from newly uncovered material and dozens of interviews with his contemporaries. In today's era of poll-tested, polished politicians, Daley's rough-and-tumble story is remarkable. From the working-class Irish neighborhood of his childhood, to his steady rise through Chicago's corrupt political hierarchy, to his role as national powerbroker, American Pharaoh is a riveting account of the life and times of one of the most important figures in twentieth-century domestic politics. In the tradition of Robert Caro's classic The Power Broker, this is a compelling life story of a towering individual whose complex legacy is still with us today."

Editorial Reviews

You might say it took a village to raise this child. Richard Daley and Chicago are inseparable, and it's impossible to discuss one without at least mentioning the other. Consequently, American Pharaoh includes far more material than your average biography; this is as much the story of the city as it is of the man. Covering the years between 1902 and 1976 (that is, between Daley's birth and death), authors Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor show us a life that in some ways symbolizes the American dream: a boy from a poor neighborhood grows up to wield unimaginable power, yet never forgets his roots. But Daley's was a complicated legacy. While filling Chicago with modern architecture and affecting national politics, he was also held responsible for the segregation and police brutality that tore the city apart during thee late '60s and early '70s. Throughout the book, Cohen and Taylor remind readers that Daley's real influence came from the powerful political machine he created. When he didn't like guidelines from national agencies, for example, he went directly to the presidents he helped get elected. When he got bad local press, people lost their jobs and his neighbors marched in his support. When Martin Luther King Jr. came to town, he was greeted by a handpicked organization of African American leaders with strong ties to Daley's machine. It's startling to remember that this was simply a local office; the mayor's loyalties and prejudices affected the entire country. American Pharaoh shows politics at its deepest level, and each chapter brings new insights into a complex man and the system he created in order to rule the city that mad him. - Jill Lightner

The New York Times Book Review, Alan Ehrenhalt

"…a splendid, serious treatment of Daley's life, the first full-length biography of one of the most fascinating and enigmatic characters of modern American political history."

San Francisco Chronicle, 7/16/00-7/22/00

"…never lets us forget the grander drama of Daley's public life…a fine biography [that] speaks to out time as well as to memory."

Publishers Weekly, 5/1/00

"Penetrating, non-sensationalistic and exhaustive, this is an impressive and important biography."

Business Week, 5/29/00

"…meticulously researched…likely the definitive biography…compelling…"

From Booklist

The legendary Richard J. Daley epitomized the political boss. Over his 20 years as mayor of Chicago and undisputed head of the Democratic machine, Daley reigned supreme. He is credited with providing the margin of victory in the election of J. F. Kennedy. Yet, his worldview was that all politics was local. Daley managed to institutionalize the cross-ethnic neighborhood political machine and find consensus along class lines against "perceived threats" from outsiders. He secured this partnership during his reign by emphasizing the redevelopment of Chicago's central business area, the Loop, and securing financing to expand O'Hare airport at a time when other Midwestern cities were earning a reputation as the "rust belt." But a successful balancing, if not merging, of interests could only be secured by subrogating the interests of black Chicagoans. Ethnic whites saw open housing as a threat to the tranquility of their neighborhoods, and downtown businesspeople saw the expanding black community's proximity to the Loop a threat to redevelopment. Thus, Daley used urban renewal to wipe out housing where blacks lived in problem areas. The success of Daley's balancing act laid the foundation for the current and monumental problems Chicago is facing under Daley the Younger, Richard M., the current mayor. The success of the American pharaoh may have provided the defining dilemma for his son and all who dare to follow the path of the political leadership in Chicago. This work delineates well the career of the kid from Hardscrabble, and it will surely extend his urban legend. - Vernon Ford

Kirkus, 4/15/00

"A monumental biography of Chicago's six-term mayor that elevates the coarse and cunning political boss to the status of American icon…breathlessly engrossing…"

Studs Terkel, author of Working and My American Century

"This is a myth-shattering portrait of Mayor Daley the elder. In its revelatory detail, it offers us a canny politician, not especially original or colorful, whose staying power enabled him to outlast all competition. It is an eye-opening work that entrails the reader from Page 1."

Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River

"American Pharaoh is biography at its absolute best. In the spirit of Robert Caro's The Power Broker, this is a story of more than just a man. It is a tale of tumultuous time, of the corruptibility of power, and of the strengths and frailties of our democracy. Best of all, Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, who have done an extraordinary job of reporting, know how to spin a good yam. I read this book on airplanes. I read it late a night. I read it when I should have been working. In short, it held me spellbound."

Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center and Professor of History, University of New Orleans

"American Pharaoh is a grand, sweeping profile of Chicago's Richard J. Daley, perhaps the most powerful and irascible mayor in American history. This is political biography at its absolute finest: sprightly prose, dramatic flare, definitive insights, careful research, colorful anecdotes, and a balanced interpretation. Daley leaps off these pages as if he were still alive."

William Julius Wilson, author of When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor

"I have read a lot of biographies, but none more compelling than Cohen and Taylor's brilliant portrait of Mayor Richard J. Daley. American Pharaoh is a tour de force. It is rich in detail, not only in the systematic chronicling of Daley and his activities, but also in the interesting discussions of the historical, social, and cultural factors that provide the broader context for understanding his incredible rise to power."

ALA Booklist, 4/1/00

"…this work delineates well the career of the kid from Hardscrabble, and it will surely extend his urban legend…"

Kirkus, 4/15/00

"…monumental…a breathlessly engrossing history of a classic urban political machine and the powerbroker who ran it his way."

Scott Turow, author of Presumed Innocent

"American Pharaoh is a unique gem. It is an enthralling narrative, a true page-turner, and also a needed work of history. It is the first serious biography of Richard J. Daley, the enormously complicated man who ruled Chicago for decades, and who, no matter how viewed, indelibly shaped not only one city, but the American political scene and national urban life."

Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center and Professor of History, University of New Orleans

"American Pharaoh is a grand, sweeping profile of Chicago's Richard J. Daley, perhaps the most powerful and irascible mayor in American history. This is political biography at its absolute finest: sprightly prose, dramatic flare, definitive insights, careful research, colorful anecdotes, and a balanced interpretation. Daley leaps off these pages as if he were still alive."

Chicago Tribune, 5/19/00

"…even handed, non-judgmental…precise and insightful…the best full-scale study of the mayor…"

About the Authors

Adam Cohen is a senior write for the Nation section of Time, where he covers law and politics. He has also written for Chicago Magazine, Chicago Tribune and The Harvard Law Review. He lives in New York. Elizabeth Taylor was Correspondent with Time in New York and Chicago for more than a decade. She is now Literary Editor and Sunday Magazine Editor of the Chicago Tribune. She Lives in Chicago.

Caveman Robot
Greetings from Jason Robert Bell.

Caveman Robot is perhaps something very profound or just an inside joke, maybe both. Ever since his creation over a telephone call with Shoshanna Weinberger, he has been floating around in my mind, standing there at my side!

St. Ignatius Loyola said he imaged that Jesus Christ was always standing at his side, urging him to endeavor to be on his constant best behavior. I have come to think of Caveman Robot in a similar way, always there ready to leap from my pen onto paper, a bombastic id force that dispatches obstructions with extreme overkill.

The fun thing about the clockwork Neanderthal is his ubiquitous nature, the rather open-ended template he is for anyone to access. Those who have been willing to give me their "take" on him have always returned with something that adds another facet to "the Concept." Some see him as a superhero, an action figure (literary) that kicks ass and cracks skulls with remorseless brutal might. Others see him as a comedic oaf combining the most negative aspects of his two names. Others have seen him as an oxymoron, a visual puzzle to design, or dissect into parts that are more straightforward.

Still others see him as a kind of Everyhuman, as we are all robotic primitives, viewing technology as an Arthur C. Clarke kind of magic. We howl and holler in front of the TV instead of the communal fire. We gaze longingly at the image of those most wanted consumer goods instead of the image of a beast to hunt. Personally, I see Caveman Robot, as an omnibusic idea. He is quite the rare Alchemical being, that can simultaneously be many different things to many different people. Right now he is the master of my notebook, standing there always changing form and mood.

Collaborators that I have shared him with have also become infected with his image. What red-blooded artist does not love to draw robots and for that matter, visit the lands that time forgot? An enigmatic wonder he is powered by Enrico Tesla's tower station somewhere outside of our timeline. Upright is his form, bolts and metallic limbs covered with the hide of some fearsome prehistoric spotted beast. Standing there in a dark primordial jungle, his electronic optical input devices blinking a bright red light, processing the entire visual spectrum. Then as the fast hum of his mini rockets ignite and blue flames burst from below his massive feet, he leaps over your head to take on a giant predator face to face.

Perhaps he is the star of a some Saturday morning cartoon, he and his gang of well meaning young hipster friends travelling around the world on the hi-ways and BI-ways solving mysteries and playing in their Rock n' Roll band. He is a cuddly cute stuffed toy that wiggles when you squeeze him, and the toy store only has a few of 'em remaining on the shelves. He is a go-project; the big guys in Hollywood have given the green light, the merchandising possibilities alone sold them!

Badly made rushed botched job of live action fiasco will fill the silver screen with Caveman Robot's visage. The bright young unknown actor that plays the lead will be forever typecast, his life ending in suicide. Nevertheless, the film will be an underground "cult classic," its viewing a rite of passage for every misunderstood suburban youngster.

Years later every watered down nostalgia hound will comb backwoods thrift shops for Caveman Robot items. Finding them will fill them briefly with that sense of fulfillment we all seek when we momentary recover the long yearned for irrecoverable artifacts of the fleeting past. Everywhere you go he will be there - comic books, beach towels, instant tattoos, T-shirts, plastic Halloween costumes, mouse pads, screen savers and candy bars. The giant Caveman Robot Balloon will fill the skies of New York on Thanksgiving Day. The Caveman Blimp over the Super Bowl. Knockoff hackjobs of the likeness of Caveman Robot will adorn the signs and windows of lower class day-care centers. The nationally syndicated newspaper comic strip produced by a legion of ghost artists will be right below those dreadful littlefoot affairs - Rex Morgan MD, Apartment 3-G, Steve Canyon. Little children in Bangladesh will learn their first words of English, and those words will be:

"Caveman Robot"

All these events will come to pass, or the skies will blacken with the unholy hellfire of Caveman Robot's wraith. The great cities of humankind will fall, societies will crumble, and the concepts of love and mercy will become mere fantasy. The term apocalypse will become a shinning daydream in contrast to the scattered wastelands of this once green earth. The tiny handful of unlucky survivors will meekly hide within the ruins of metal and plastic that was once our mighty skyscrapers. This is it, the end of all illusions, you had better get out when the gettin' is good, and one reality will be at the hub of our crossroads, its name:

"Caveman Robot!"

Only He can save us, only if, He will spare us.

Caveman Robot © Jason Robert Bell and Shoshanna Weinberger

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Copyright © 2005. All Rights Reserved.