Jingle Belles by Jim Boston | Script Revolution

Jingle Belles

Seeking to usher in the new breed of rock-and-roll hitmakers, a songwriter-manager-record producer and a record-store clerk unite to start their own music-publishing company in 1959 New York City.



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It's Wednesday, February 4, 1959, and 25-year-old songwriter-manager-record producer KIRBY MCCULLUM strolls the music district in her native New York City. Sarcastic Kirby ends her tour at the Amalgamated Records store at 55th and Broadway...the store that employs a clerk named PENNY STAVROS, a 26-year-old Los Angeles native with a cheerleader's enthusiasm.

News about the previous day's Clear Lake, Iowa plane crash that claimed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson tests Penny's enthusiasm...yet gives her and Kirby the impetus to start their own music-publishing company, to help all those remaining rock-and-roll acts out there.

After drafting a "Can you write the next Top Ten smash?" ad that appears in "The New York Times" as well as "Variety," Kirby and Penny hold an organizational meeting at Penny's rented house in Queens...and land their first prospect: Tennessee-born DULCEY MAE WEATHERALL, a polite-and-optimistic singer-songwriter who initially mistakes Kirby as Penny's maid.

As the threesome straighten relationships out, nine more hopefuls arrive...chief among them the New York-born husband-and-wife team of SYLVIA THOMPKINS and HANK LEE, a hard-working recording artist and content-to-be-in-the-background manager, respectively; COLLEEN FITZPATRICK, a shy Chicagoan who becomes Dulcey Mae's partner; and a pair of collegians: Los Angeles-born worry wart MARTHA FANUCCHI and Chicago-born intellectual EVE REICH.

Once the dozen candidates pair up, Eve suggests they meet at the Journalism Building at Columbia University...but it doesn't work out. Neither does Penny's and Kirby's attempt to seek financing for a permanent space in Manhattan.

So Penny decides to set up the new Coast to Coast Music Publishing Company at her house.

With every space in Penny's abode except the kitchen and the bathroom now equipped with an old piano, the six teams- especially basement duos Eve and Martha, uninhibited Coloradan FLORENCE PEAKS and witty North Carolinian JOHNNIELOUISE HILL, and worldly JEANNIE ARCHAMBAULT and brassy fellow New Yorker ROSE KLEINSCHMITT- find the going rough to make it all work out.

When Jeannie's singing overpowers the other basement teams' efforts, Martha gives the company's founders an ultimatum: "If you don't do something about this, Eve and I will quit."

Kirby and Penny turn into do-it-yourselfers to put walls in the basement...and get the six basement writers to help out.

The writers can't convince record-industry leaders to take Coast to Coast's first batch of songs...but a ray of hope emerges when Kirby successfully woos THE DOO-WOPPERS, a street-corner singing group she admires...and Sylvia and Hank invite the group to one of Sylvia's recording sessions.

All it gets Penny is a visit from HER NEIGHBORS...who urge her to move out of that otherwise quiet neighborhood in Queens.

After three months in business, all Kirby, Penny, and Co. have to show for their efforts is the Doo-Woppers' first single, "You Knock Me Out," written by Hank and Sylvia...so the two founders call a meeting right after Sylvia's May 9 appearance at the Roseland Ballroom. The mission: Set up an event called "The Jingle Belles Revue," where the writers, the Doo-Woppers, and another of Kirby's discoveries, THE NINETY EIGHTS, perform Coast to Coast material.

Penny rents the New York Paramount Theater, and the event takes place on June 7. The event almost backfires: The writers barely draw the 1,000 fans needed to avoid a $500 fee.

The revue's a success...but when Penny gets home, she finds her house festooned with graffiti.

Result: The tunesmiths and the Doo-Woppers team up to confront Penny's neighbors...the very authors of the graffiti. And after a heated discussion, the factions make peace with each other.

Plus: Penny gets to keep living in her rented house.

Submitted: October 9, 2019
Last Updated: October 11, 2021

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The Writer: Jim Boston

I first got interested in screenwriting as a college student in 1979 (Iowa State University); an additional impetus was the paperback version of the "American Graffiti" screenplay. From 1980 to 1994, I pursued screenwriting with a vengeance...but other things happened in my life. Since 2016, I've been back chasing the dream...and it's only because I inherited a Power Mac from one of the codirectors (Nick Holle) of a documentary I was in: "The Entertainers," about the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest and Festival. (Nick received the computer from the husband-and-wife couple who helped produce the film, Brent and Jackie Watkins.) The Power Mac has a copy of Final Draft 6... Go to bio

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