Preem: A pilot for a new HBO comedy series
The Preem is in an anteroom with her staff: her deputy communications director Dan, her chief of staff Amy and her personal assistant Gary. On the other side of the door there are dozens of television cameras and reporters eagerly awaiting an update on a teachers' strike.
Preem: Okay, so what else?
Dan: Unlimited massages. They're asking for unlimited massages. Hammer that one home.
Preem: You're kidding me. (Rubbing her own shoulders) Wish I had an unlimited massage right now. That's supposed to be bad thing?
Dan: It makes them look coddled, ma'am. It reinforces our greedy, lazy, overpaid narrative. The base loves it.
Amy: And when you talk about parents, don't say "we." Say "parents." Remember, we're talking about people who send their kids to public schools here.
Preem: Poor bastards …
Amy: And don't forget – it's all the teachers' fault. They refused to suspend their strike for two weeks. This is on them …
Preem: But I thought the minister only asked them to do that if we were in mediation?
Dan: Doesn't matter; stupid detail. No one cares. All that matters is that they're still on strike so this is all their fault. Hardball, ma'am. We want parents to think that this thing is never going to end.
Gary: Let me look at you. (Adjusts Preem's hair – Preem pushes his hands away.) Teeth check. (Preem smiles brightly, then her face drops into a deep, annoyed frown.)
Amy: All set? Let's do this.
Dan: (Following her partway out the door, sotto voce) Unlimited massages. Unlimited!
Preem exits room, we hear cameras clicking and whirring off-screen, then hear her introduction:
Preem: Thank you all for being here …
Dan, Amy and Gary remain in the anteroom watching through an open door.
Preem: We, er, parents have had enough of …
Amy: (Rolls her eyes.)
Preem: … unlimited massages …
Dan: (Winks at Amy and smiles.)
Preem: And I'll tell ya somethin' else …
Cut to Dan and Amy, both cringing …
Preem: "… unlimited massages …"
Dan: (Pumps his fist – sotto voce) Yessssss!
Preem: (Returns to room with reporters still firing questions at her.)
Dan: (Closing door) That was great, ma'am. Great job.
Preem: It was okay, huh? Did I look tough? I felt tough. It felt good. Hey, who was that pencil-neck who asked me why I was provoking teachers?
Amy: No idea, ma'am. Public radio.
Preem: Well at least he reads my tweets.
Dan: You handled it well. Now let's see what that Talking Mullet does with this one. We've got him right where we want him. His members may kill him before we can even starve them out.
(Amy's phone rings – she answers.)
Amy: This is Amy …
(Dan's phone rings; he answers.)
Dan: Dan here …
Still on the phone, Amy glares past the Preem and straight at Dan. Dan is listening to his own phone while thumbing across the screen on a second phone.
Dan: (Into phone) What are you talking about?
Preem: (Standing between Dan and Amy looking back and forth mouthing "What is going on.")
Dan: (On phone) Where? I don't see it. Okay, there. Why didn't you say something?! Nothing. I gotta go.
Dan: (Hangs up phone, puts second phone away.) Small glitch, ma'am.
Amy: It's not a small glitch. They're not asking for unlimited massages. The teachers.
Preem: (Laughing incredulously) What are you talking about? I said it twice.
Dan: It was taken off the table last week.
Amy: The massages were never unlimited.
Preem: (To Dan) But I said it, you made me say it. I said it twice. Why am I even talking about stupid massages?
Dan: Look, why are we focusing on massages here …
Amy: (Looking at her phone) Because Dan, everyone else is …
Gary: (Looking at his phone) Hey look, #HappyEnding is trending.
Dan: Oh, that's original.
Preem: (Kicks off her shoes and collapses into a chair with her head in her hands.) Argh.
Gary: (Quietly slides in behind her chair and begins rubbing her shoulders.)
Fade to black.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One - 88.1 FM and 690 AM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn