Billboard by Lesley Harter | Script Revolution

Billboard

The worlds of privilege and poverty collide when the trophy wife of a corrupt real-estate tycoon and an ex-priest detective search for her ex-fiancé among San Francisco's homeless. (TV PILOT)

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Page Count: 
57pp

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SYNOPSIS OF THE PILOT:

San Francisco – Present Day. Trophy wife ALLISON BENNETT stops her Jaguar convertible at a red light and notices the BILLBOARD: a black-and-white photograph of five homeless men in a shelter. Her eyes fix on the face of a bearded man – He looks eerily like a homeless version of Danny Coleman, her college fiancé who disappeared six years earlier. That night, Allison shares a romantic Anniversary dinner with her real estate tycoon husband, SCOTT BENNETT. Dinner over, Scott tells Allison that he has to go back to the office -- but visits a hooker instead. Next morning Allison drops by Bennett Center, one of Scott’s flagship properties, where Scott and BRENDA RIENER go over blueprints in the Executive Suite. Afterwards, Allison stops by Bennett Properties’ Advertising Department to see if JACK HOWE can find out who shot the ‘Billboard’ photo. Jack says he’ll ask his billboard rep.

A few days later, a fire breaks out at the Hotel Luxe -- a rat-infested flophouse with dozens of safety code violations, that’s owned by Shelter Properties. Same day, Allison receives a text from Jack Howe with photographer CHUCK ARNOWSKI’s digits. Next day, Allison visits Chuck’s studio. He shows her a color photograph from the shoot at Hope House Homeless Shelter: The bearded man in the picture has red hair like Danny’s. That afternoon, Allison visits BERNIE COLEMAN, Danny’s dad, and shows him the ‘billboard’ photo. Bernie, adamant that Danny is dead, gets angry and asks her to leave. Later, at the police station, detective TIM LERCH informs Allison that the Coleman case is closed; there was no evidence of foul play. He refers her to private investigator Joe Blankenship who specializes in cold cases.

Allison visits her mother, PAMELA VANDER, at her luxury condo, and retrieves a cardboard box. Inside the box, next to photos of Danny and Allison, is Danny’s red bandana. Next day, Allison meets with private investigator JOE BLANKENSHIP in his home office. Joe agrees to look for Danny; Allison tells him that she thinks her husband is cheating on her. At Incisive.com, a start-up online newspaper, reporter ROSIE SALAZAR pitches boss BRYCE DAILEY on doing a story about Shelter Properties -- the City just awarded them a contract to convert three of their sub-par hotels into homeless shelters. Bryce gives her the go-ahead.

Brenda accompanies Scott to Miami for a ribbon cutting ceremony; construction is about to start on Bennett Tower, Miami. That night, she shows up at Scott’s hotel room with a bottle of champagne and Scott reluctantly invites her in. Brenda flirts with Scott, they finish the bottle. Scott says he’s tired, sends Brenda back to her room. With Brenda out of the way, Scott goes down to the hotel bar and picks up a hooker. Later that night, on her way to the ice machine, Brenda sees Scott and the hooker enter his room. In San Francisco, Rosie interviews one of Shelter Properties’ Section 8 tenants inside her moldy, roach-infested apartment. Joe drops by Hope House where manager GREG BRIGHT identifies the guy on the billboard as “Red.” He tells Joe that “Red” hasn’t been around for months but sometimes did odd jobs at New Day Church.

Allison, curious about Thelma Coleman’s death, tracks down an old newspaper article; learns that Danny’s mom committed suicide when Danny was eight. A converted school bus driven by SID RUSSO picks up a bunch of homeless men in the Tenderloin then deposits them in Union Square to raise money for homeless shelters. At New Day Church, FATHER ZAVIER tells Joe that “Red” no longer does odd jobs at the church – “Red’s” dangerous when drunk. Rosie calls Mike Zabia at Shelter Properties; he hangs up on her. At Open Heart Center, Joe learns that “Red” has been sleeping below the Cesar Chavez Bike Bridge. That night, he looks for “Red” on the bike trail and runs into MARGE KRAKOW who knows him as “Father Dominick” from his days as a priest.

Rosie follows Tina’s car when Tina drives away from Shelter Properties. When Tina is harassed by a drunk in a dive bar, Rosie intervenes; Tina buys her a drink. That afternoon, Joe gets a call from Greg at Hope House: Frank Reagan, a friend of “Red’s,” is there. Joe shows up, asks Frank too many questions, and Frank sucker punches him in the nose. That night, Allison stops by Joe’s, sees his broken nose and goes upstairs with him to put ice on it. Later, over dinner at a deli, Joe accuses Allison of “bringing Danny back to life” -- because her husband is cheating on her. She storms out.

Scott has a heart attack at a private sex club in Piedmont and is taken to Highland Hospital. A doctor contacts Allison, who thinks that Scott is in Miami, and she discovers that Scott never left town. Next day, Sid Russo curbs his bus at Fisherman’s Wharf and several homeless guys get off to hustle tourists -- The last one out is “RED.”

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Quarter-Finalist 2021 Emerging Screenwriters Genre Competition

Submitted: October 7, 2021
Last Updated: October 12, 2021

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Lesley Harter's picture

The Writer: Lesley Harter

My life often sounds like fiction to those who weren't there. My mom was an ex-starlet, my dad a politician, and yes, there was a lot of speculation about her past and his future. As it turned out, my dad wasn't going to have much of a future; he died when I was seven. A few months later, my mother changed the course of her future and mine by moving us to Europe and, eventually, marrying an Italian prince. ​I was seventeen when I returned to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. Within months I had dropped out of college and, with little funds and even less desire to get a job, I found myself living in the city’s grittiest neighborhoods; replacing my ‘finishing school’ friends with hookers, junkies... Go to bio

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