Access to Power, Excerpt from the Screenplay
The following excerpt is unedited and includes the first ten pages of the screenplay.
FADE IN:

INT. DARK BEDROOM - NIGHT (BEGIN MAIN TITLES)

A BLONDE (28) is sprawled out on the floor in lingerie, eyes open in a thousand yard stare as TWO MEN drag a trunk into the room. She's bruised, her neck turned as if snapped.

With faces hidden in the gloom, one man checks for a pulse, can't find it and shakes his head. The other nods, punching holes through the trunk with a drill. One after the other.

The drill hits the floor.

The two men grab the Woman, lift and drop her inside the trunk like a rag doll. The lid swings shut. As she's carried off, the Woman blinks ...

INT/EXT. SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE -- NIGHT

The trunk slides into the back. She looks through the holes, appears dazed but sees a face. Briefly. GEORGE RAYMOND (45) has hollow gray eyes and gray hair spiked out in a long crew.

Car doors slam, the SUV moving now. City streets. Washington monuments. Light dancing on the window above.

EXT. THE POTOMAC RIVER -- NIGHT

The SUV stops but no one moves or says anything. WATER LAPS in the b.g. A tear falls down her battered cheek as she waits.

Then the doors fly open, the trunk lifted into the air. She peers through the holes, sees Raymond's teeth clenched as he carries his end of the load, running across the asphalt to the grass until finally, she's hurled through the air.

The trunk plunges into the river, bobbing to the surface. She sees the Capitol, water rushing through the holes.

She forces air between her lips managing a series of faint whistles. The water washes over her face. Then she screams. Shrieks. The sudden burst of sound lost in the river as the trunk pitches forward and sinks ...

END MAIN TITLES -- FADE TO BLACK
FADE IN:

A POLITICAL SPOT FILLS THE SCREEN

with a MAP of the U. S., GRAPHICS & GAME SHOW SFX, cutting to shots of Virginia under a PHOTO of MEL MERDOCK (38). Trim and boyish, Merdock's smile makes him appear naive, goofy.

                             VOICE-OVER ANNOUNCER
                 Question. Of these five places -- New York,
                 Washington, LA, Fort Worth, or the entire state of
                 Virginia -- where has Texas millionaire and son of an
                 oil tycoon now turned senatorial candidate
                 Mel Merdock NOT lived in the last ten years? If you
                 guessed Virginia -- you're right! Millionaire Mel
                 Merdock has never lived, voted, or paid taxes in
                 Virginia, and only moved here from Fort Worth to
                 run for office. Does it make sense for Virginia to
                 elect someone who hasn't lived here? Of course not.
                 We need a senator who will fight for us -- not
                 millionaire Mel Merdock. Virginia's Lou Kay. He's
                 a working guy. He's one of us!


INT. MILES, DARROW & ASSOCIATES' MEDIA ROOM -- DAY

FRANK MILES (40) hits the pause button, staring at the TV. He's slim, handsome -- a media consultant with an angular face and eyes that see through everything.

                                              FRANK
                 ... We're dead.


Everyone in the office is here, waiting for his reaction:

WOODY DARROW (40), wire-rimmed glasses and stocky. Frank's partner since law school, standing in the doorway looking pissed off.

LINDA REYNOLDS (30), a new partner, holding back a smile with a pen between her lips. She's blonde, smart, refined. Even in a business suit, she's overwhelming.

Frank's assistant TRACY (25) smart and hefty. And two college interns, HARRY and TOM.
                                                LINDA
                    It's not like you weren't expecting it.

                                                FRANK
                    How many times did they use the word millionaire?

                                                LINDA
                                    (smiles)
                     I counted three.

                                                WOODY
                     You're on the wrong side this time. Merdock's
                     everything they say he is only a hundred times
                     worse and you know it.

                                                FRANK
                     Stewart Brown is doing Lou Kay's campaign.
                     If I don't hit back, we'll lose.
                                    (thinking, to Tracy)
                     I need someone to read a spot. Sammy or Rick.
                     Tell Vintage Video I want to be editing in an hour.

                                                TRACY
                     You want messengers?

                                                FRANK
                                    (nods, to Harry & Tom)
                      I want you guys to call the stations. Tell them
                      Lou Kay's disclaimer violates the election
                      code. It's too small. Tell them if they air it again,
                      they'll be fined. And try to act like you know what
                      you're talking about.

                                                 HARRY
                                    (checks monitor)
                      It looks okay to me.

                                                 LINDA
                      It is okay, but they'll have to pull the spot to
                      check. It won't be running.

Harry gets it, laughs. Tracy smiles, vintage Frank Miles.
                                                 TRACY
                      What about script approval?

                                                 FRANK
                      Forget it. I'm gonna kill these guys.


FRANK CUTS THROUGH THE WAR ROOM

passing cluttered desks and work tables. Campaign files, newspaper headlines, voice?over copy and videotapes. A board on the wall charts the firm's clients through election day. Out the windows, the Capitol is close enough to touch.

FRANK BOLTS INTO HIS GLASS-ENCLOSED OFFICE

sits before his computer beneath pictures of Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR and Jack Kennedy. On a side table, two PHOTOS from college: Frank playing soccer and baseball. Just as he starts writing, Woody enters.

                                                 WOODY
                      The guy is a lie.

                                                 FRANK
                      It's a lie. I like that ...
                                   (speaking what he types)
                      ... It's ... a ... lie ...

Tracy sticks her head in the door.

                                                  TRACY
                      Sammy and Rick are both available. Who do
                      you want to read the spot?

                                                  FRANK
                      Find out who's pissed off.

                                                  TRACY
                      Sammy's wife just left him. She wants a divorce.

Frank stops typing. Their eyes meet.

                                                  FRANK
                      Tell him we'll fax it over in ten minutes.
                                    (noticing Woody)
                      I'm busy, Woody. What do you want?

                                                  WOODY
                      I want you to drop the Merdock account.

                                                  FRANK
                      You're ridiculous. Get out.

Frank laughs, gets back to work. He loves this.

                                                  WOODY
                       Merdock's trying to buy a seat in the Senate
                       with his father's money. He's a dick. An
                       incompetent boob.
                                                     FRANK
                                     (speaking what he types)
                          The victim ... of a negative campaign.

                                                     WOODY
                          He's morally bankrupt. He's gonna spend
                          fifty million bucks.

                                                     FRANK
                                      (typing, laughing)
                          What Virginia needs -- no -- what Virginia
                          really needs --


TRACY, HARRY & TOM REACT FROM THEIR DESKS

cringing as they trade smiles and keep score.

                                                     WOODY (O.S.)
                           It's a fucking seat in the U.S. Senate. He
                           doesn't stand for anything.

                                                     FRANK (O.S.)
                           I'm sure he stands for something. If you don't
                           want your share of the media buy, then
                           don't take it.


WOODY OPENS FRANK'S DESK DRAWER

takes a cigarette out, lights it and settles in a chair.

                                                     WOODY
                           This isn't what we had in mind when we
                           got into this.

Frank finally stops typing, gives him a long look.

                                                     FRANK
                           What we got into was the business of
                           getting people elected.

                                                     WOODY
                           No matter what?

                                                      FRANK
                                       (smiles, typing again)
                            Children and puppies.

                                                      WOODY
                            What?

                                                       FRANK
                            He's for children and puppies.

                                                       WOODY
                            Fuck you.
Woody stomps out. Frank laughs and prints the spot, stopping when he sees Linda in her office. He tries to look away but can't. She's by the window, on the phone, gorgeous.

Tracy enters, breaking the spell, and takes the script from the printer. Mel and JAKE MERDOCK (35) enter the war room.

                                                   TRACY
                            The Merdocks, Frank.

He looks up, sees them. They're worried, heading for the conference room on Frank's nod.

                                                   TRACY
                            Sammy's at the recording studio. You need
                            to get out of here.

He checks his watch.

                                                   FRANK
                            We'll do the voice track by phone. Have them
                            set up a patch so I can listen. Let me know
                            when they're ready.

He walks out, then turns back. Tracy's already behind his desk, dialing the phone.

                                                   FRANK
                            You know what?

                                                   TRACY
                            What?

                                                   FRANK
                            You're the best, that's what.

She flashes an embarrassed smile, turns back to the phone.


FRANK WALKS INTO THE CONFERENCE ROOM

sees Woody brooding in his office as he closes the glass door.

Merdock appears as he did in the spot with a boyish face. His brother Jake is younger, darker, more shrewd looking.

                                                   MERDOCK
                            Did you see it?!

Frank nods calmly, pouring a cup of coffee.

                                                   JAKE
                            How do you think this affects Mel's
                            chances?

                                                    FRANK
                            If we work quickly, the spot won't have any
                            effect at all.
Frank paces before the table. Merdock and then Jake sit down.

                                                   FRANK
                           It's the first hit ... And Stewart Brown did
                           just what I said he would. He kept Lou Kay
                           off the air. They saved their money. Now they're
                           going to hit hard. Negative all the way to
                           election day.

                                                   MERDOCK
                           How do we fight that?!

                                                   FRANK
                           We hit back harder. And we do it more times.

Merdock pulls a copy of the POST from his briefcase.

                                                   MERDOCK
                            A poll came out in this morning's paper.
                            We're losing. Maybe we should make a
                            change on some of our issues.

                                                    FRANK
                            What issues? You don't have any.

Merdock and Jake look at each other.

                                                    FRANK
                             What you say or do after you're elected
                             is none of my business. Until you're elected,
                             I write the copy.

                                                     MERDOCK
                             ... If I want to win.

                                                      FRANK
                                           (nods)
                             People who read newspapers think the
                             issues are jobs and education. People
                             watching TV think crime's the real issue.
                             How's that possible when every study
                             shows crime going down?

Tracy waves from her desk. His recording session is ready. Frank notices his coffee, pushing it aside, untouched.

                                                      MERDOCK
                              ... Local TV news isn't local TV news anymore.

                                                      FRANK
                              It's a crime report designed to scare the
                              shit out of people. So here's what we do.
                              When we're on TV, crime's the big issue.
                              In print, it's jobs, education and social security.

                                                       JAKE
                              What about their spot? What are you
                              going to do?

                                                       FRANK
                              Turn it around. Make them wish they never
                              made it. I've gotta go.

And Frank's out, like a hurricane.
INT/EXT. RAYMOND'S ACCORD AT FRANK'S OFFICE -- LATE AFTERNOON

It's a hundred year old house behind ivy-covered walls. There's a sign: MILES, DARROW & ASSOCIATES. Frank hurries out with a garment bag and videotapes, jumps into a white Lexus and rumbles off.

Raymond's parked across the street, watching. He opens a file, glances at an article from the POST'S ARCHIVES off the internet -- TEENAGERS ARRESTED IN BURGLARY. He returns it to the file thoughtfully, gives the building a last look and drives off ...


INT. EDIT 1 AT VINTAGE VIDEO -- NIGHT

KIP (28) types LOU KAY TAKES MONEY FROM SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS as Frank adjusts a blank piece of torn paper beneath the title camera and gets into his tuxedo pants. On the monitor, the two images look like a headline ripped out of a newspaper.

                                                  FRANK
                           That's it. Bring it in and hold it.

Linda enters with files and videotapes, sitting at the table beside Frank's chair and open garment bag.

                                                  FRANK
                           We're almost done.

                                                  KIP
                                     (to Linda)
                           We're doing another spot?

                                                  LINDA
                           Just a fix. Colorado.

She watches Frank tuck his shirt in and picks up his script.

                                                  FRANK
                                       (to Kip)
                           Let's take a look.

Kip lowers the lights and hits his keyboard.

LOU KAY'S SPOT FILLS THE SCREEN AGAIN

smashed with the words IT'S A LIE. Then slow motion video of LOU KAY (54) speaking with fake headlines fading in and out. If Lou Kay were removed from the ad, he would look bright, forceful. Instead, he looks like a hack.

                                  VOICE-OVER ANNOUNCER
                         It's a lie. What Lou Kay is saying in TV ads like
                         these are absolute lies. The truth is that Lou
                         Kay is running a negative campaign. Why?
                         Because Lou Kay and his big Washington
                         consultants are hiding something. What Lou
                         Kay doesn't want you to know is that he's taken
                         big money from lobbyists, even special interest
                         groups. What Virginia really needs is a
                         senator who isn't in the pocket of the big shots.
                         Mel Merdock hasn't taken one dime from
                         lobbyists or special interest groups. On election
                         day, you can make the difference. Say NO
                         to Washington big shots. Say NO to Lou Kay.

The spot is devastating. Everyone laughs.
                                                   LINDA
                          You know you could say that about anyone.

                                                   FRANK
                          Is this a great country or what?


INT. THE BAR AT THE MAYFLOWER HOTEL -- LATER THAT NIGHT

A WAITER crosses from the bar with a tray of cocktails.

                                                   SENATOR PRYOR (O.S.)
                          I'm worried about you, Frank.

The Waiter reaches their table. Frank sits with SENATOR HELEN PRYOR (55), a handsome woman with a face lined by a life of hard work. Both are dressed for a black-tie event.

                                                   FRANK
                          The whisky's the senator's. Thanks.

The Waiter vanishes. They CLICK glasses and sip their drinks.

                                                   SENATOR PRYOR
                          One negative campaign after the next.

                                                   FRANK
                           What I did to Ozzie Olson got you elected
                           two years ago. It got ugly, Helen. I admit
                           that. But you don't need to feel guilty about it.

                                                  SENATOR PRYOR
                           I don't.

                                                  FRANK
                                      (laughs)
                           Yes you do. I can see you do.

Their smiles fade as they look up. STEWART BROWN (45) is passing them with an awkward smile and nod. He's heavy with slicked back hair, his tuxedo too small, beady eyes darting.

                                                   BROWN
                            Frank ...

                                                    FRANK
                            Stewart ...

Stewart Brown reaches the bar in the b.g., ordering a drink.

                                                    SENATOR PRYOR
                            He's doing Lou Kay's campaign, isn't he?

                                                    FRANK
                            Stewart Brown is a bottom feeder. The king
                            of sleaze.

                                                    SENATOR PRYOR
                            ... What about Merdock?

                                                    FRANK
                            What's wrong with him?

                                                    SENATOR PRYOR
                            He's spending his own money.

                                                    FRANK
                            He's got a lot of it. So what?

                                                    SENATOR PRYOR
                            By the time most of us can raise real money,
                            we're pretty well tested.

                                                    FRANK
                                     (understands, smiles)
                            But a candidate who can bankroll his own
                            campaign turns it all upside down. Think
                            about it. He won't owe anybody anything.

She thinks it over, still concerned ...


INT/EXT. RAYMOND'S ACCORD AT FRANK'S OFFICE -- NIGHT (RAINING)

Raymond pulls into the lot. SONNY STOCKWELL (18) and black, sits in the back. He's dead, wrapped in plastic, staring at Raymond in the mirror.

A second floor window is lighted. Raymond sips coffee from a travel mug, then slips into his gloves as he eyes Stockwell.

                                                    RAYMOND
                            Wait here.

Raymond exits the car. Crossing to the entrance, he picks the lock until it CLICKS. Then he opens the door and enters.
A C C E S S   T O   P O W E R,  T H E   S C R E E N P L A Y