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Fear Salesmen
by Chris

Rated: PG   Genre: Comedy   User Review: ****
The behind the scenes workings of writers for a fictional national news network. This isn't a full screenplay, but is instead one act of a short play.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.



There is a bright boardroom with an oak table in the middle.
Four men sit around the table, with piles of paper and
coffees in Styrofoam cups in front of them. There is a
whiteboard mounted to the wall in the background, and some
potted (but fake) plants in the corners of the room. One
man, Evan, has a laptop in addition to his papers. The logo
Media Corp. is hung above the whiteboard.
      (Nods towards Tom.)
Alright men, we need to come up
with some news stories to run next
week during the primetime lineup.
Our newcomer Tom has yet to be
involved in this process. Tom,
tonight, you get to see how NNC
      (Clearly in a
Yeah, sure, but letís make this
quick okay, itís getting late.
      (He shuffles some
       of his papers.)
Well, I guess the first order of
business is what to run on Peckís
show. I say we try a segment
about the economical effects
global warming could potentially
have, and you know, start a bit of
a scare about rising cooling costs
or some crap like that.
      (He is cut off by
       Tom at the end of
       his second
No, that just doesnít work for me.
Global warming is dead-


What? Last time I checked, it was
a problem.
Maybe, maybe not. Point isnít
that itís over with; itís that it
doesnít scare anymore. People
know what it is, itís out there.
Hell, they even released a bad
Hollywood movie about it. And
then you got Goreís preachy flick.
Long story short, it just doesnít
inspire as much fear as it did.
I donít know John, it seems really
popular to me. We could build on
the existing fear.
Hey, why build on existing fear?
Thatís where all the horrible
ďslasher flickĒ sequels fail. Hard
to scare someone twice with the
same stuff, man.
      (Still confused.)
Who cares if it doesnít scare?
Itís still a problem!
Look kid, itís not about the most
important story. Never has been.
We get to tell the people what the
most important story is.
      (Getting slightly
We need something about something
other than the latest ďGreenpeace
crisisĒ, Okay? Letís get on task
How boutí this? We run a story
about sex in advertising, we get
to run a program with plenty of
shots of short skirts and guys


                       ALAN (cont'd)
with their tops off, and we might
get a kid whoís never seen the
news before watching.
You want to run a story exposing
the use of sex in media, and hype
it by using "sex appeal?"
Look, sex sells. You know it.
Nah, sex is deader than dead. It
sells, but not as well. People
donít care about it.
Yeah, theyíre desensitized to it.
Now fear, fear sells. Fear is
white hot now. Itís all about a
scandal; itís all about creating a
ruckus, a total paranoia and
public panic. It works. If the
people think global warming will
be a problem, then by God,
tomorrow we say the worldís gonna
      (After a short
I like my idea, though. It works
on two levels. Sex isnít ďdeadĒ
exactly, it still works. Not as
well as it used to, but it does.
So we got that going for us. Then,
it also scares the parents of all
the kiddies who might be exposed
to the ďvileĒ sex in the media.
Itís a win-win.
I like it, we got a story for that
idiot Peck.
Wait, you donít even like the guy?


Itís not in the rules that we have
to like the guy. Manís a total
moron. In fact, Iíd say most of
his viewers hate him. Thatís why
they watch. They love to
criticize his half-baked extremist
views. You know, tying this back
to the earlier dilemma, it makes
sense to run a ďsexyĒ story on his
show. People donít take him
seriously, so he canít scare as
well. We got a plan here,
gentlemen. But what for the eight
oí clock set?
How about some UFO thing? You
know, a story about Government
cover-ups, or some home video
shots of UFOís. We get some
crackpots to talk about little
green men, and we scare the people
about the UFOís possible
intentions. Or hey, how about
anything supernatural? It seems a
little corny I guess, but it does
Yeah, itíll draw in both the
delusional and skeptical types,
How boutí that 2012 thing instead?
You know, the world ending in
December of that year? Thatís a
good scare.
You believe that crap?
Hell no! Donít believe in damned
UFOís either, but they sell.
World does end in 2012, NNC will
be the first to cover it.


I like the 2012 idea. It scares
better than UFOís that donít mean
a thing to anyone except a few
hick nutcases. The 2012 idea
still seems ridiculous but at
least it has a greater capacity
for breeding fear.
Alright, weíll roll with that.
Weíll throw that on Oí Brienís
show. Itís not his usual thing,
but people hate him boutí as much
as Peck, so theyíll watch it so
they can laugh at him.
Okay, what for Bahnís show?
Hmm. What about that Sergeant
Allen in Iraq getting his men out
of that jam? It was in a couple
places, but no oneís really
covered it. Manís a hero.
Damn straight.
Deserves about a hundred medals
for that.
Crazy SOB oughta get the Medal of
      (After taking a
       long sip of his
Okay, but have you guys looked at
the public support for the War?
Letís run the story about the
rogue unit that may or may not
have killed and raped the un-armed
villagers. Thatíll do about three
times better.


I like the way you think. Great
       bordering on all
       out anger.)
You can't do that! Isn't one of
our goals to present a balance
between the views on issues? It
doesn't matter what the pundits
say, the subject matter will still
influence viwers.
It isn't really about showing both
sides of the issue, Tom. We only
give the viewers what they want.
They don't like the War, so we
give em' what they want to hear.
Sometimes the truth hurts.
The truth doesn't sell. Who wants
news when everything's fine. No
one wants to hear stories of
heroism, or selflessness. Maybe
for a filler segment. But what
they want to hear, is that the sky
is falling, and we oblige them.
See, Tom? We aren't influencing
them, we're only indulging them.
News isn't about giving the people
what they want. It's about
reporting on world events.
Tom, the news hasn't been done
that way in a long time. Maybe it
never was.
The people want blood. We give it
to them.


What the Hell is wrong with you
If you don't like the way things
are run around here, you can
Count on it.
Tom leaves the room, slamming the door on his way out.
Something of an idealist, huh?
Yeah. But he isn't that hard to
understand. I get where he's
coming from, but you know, he just
doesn't get "us". We're more of
the "realist" type.
Not that hard for us to be
realists when we get to say what's
The men all laugh at Alan's comment. Papers are shuffled,
and Evan closes his laptop.
Well, that was a fine night's work
boys. See you all tomorrow. Maybe
then, we can discuss the food
contamination special Alan thought
up last week.
The men nod in agreement, and leave the room.


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From Angel Date 10/25/2008 ****
Nice! If you continued this into a full-blown feature-length script, it could be a very good script of one man(or maybe more than one)'s fight against bias and lying in the news industry.

From Roman Date 5/7/2007 ****
I changed my mind it turns out it is acually quite good

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