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INT. ARDIZZONE’S CIRCA 1968 - EVENING

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The Picos are performing on stage in front of an excited audience. We see the mob boss watching from a table in the audience. YOUNG RODNEY Thank you ladies and gentlemen! We are The Picos, and it’s been a pleasure performing for you here at Ardizzone’s. YOUNG MARCUS (grabs mic from Rodney, SHOUTS) Be sure to try the veal, it’s the best in the city! Boys file off stage and are ushered by a mobster (YOUNG ANTONIO ARDIZZONE)to their private table. As they are being led away, a young girl wearing a black dress sits down at the piano and starts singing. YOUNG ANTONIO (gesturing for them to sit down) Great show tonight, guys. Maybe your best one yet. YOUNG WAYNE Thanks, Antonio. Yeah, we really packed the house tonight, didn’t we fellas? (high fives the others) Did you see all those pretty ladies falling all over me on the way out? YOUNG MARCUS God, it feels good to be playing back at home. Being on the road really takes it out of ya, you know? YOUNG ANTONIO Right this way to your table. The Picos are led through a hallway to their private table in a secluded booth, and Young Antonio holds the door open for the boys to file through.

 

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INT. ARDIZZONE’S 2010 – EVENING

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A young Italian WAITER is now holding the door to the private room, which is noticeably more modern and updated. The band, now much older, enters the room and is seated around the table as conversation begins. PAT Ah, always good to be back here. RODNEY Back? We were just here last week, Pat. Old age getting to you that bad, eh? PAT No, no. I mean, this place just brings back some great memories. WAYNE Yep. Those sure were the glory days, weren’t they boys? RODNEY Man, we really shook this place up back then. Girls everywhere, free drinks, and music that brought down the house. WAYNE Yeah, it’s a shame Marcus had to go get that Lily pregnant… we could still be playing. MARCUS Now, come on. If I didn’t give her a kid, she would’ve kicked me to the curb with my bags. Besides, that’s what married people did back then.

Ha.

RODNEY (scoffs and takes a drink) Back then?

PAT Ah, Marcus. We all had lives. You’re just the only one who had a wife. At the time, of course. WAYNE

 

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Ha! Yeah, thanks to you, I married the first of many wives later that summer. Givin’ up the band forced me to try to be domestic. RODNEY Not quite your gig, was it, Wayne? MARCUS Well, you jackasses could’ve carried on without me… WAYNE (takes a drink) Hell no, Marcus. We swore from the beginning we would never become some Temptation-style group. When one of us dies or has a kid or decides he’s through, we’re all through. This is a family. MARCUS Well, speaking of family, don’t forget Presley’s son, my grandson, Jackson is coming out here next week. Looking to break into the music business. RODNEY Ha! Good luck to him. Things just ain’t what they used to be – (cell phone rings) Excuse me. (gets up and leaves the table) WAYNE (looking around, surveying who’s sitting at the table) Now, who the hell is calling him? We’re all here… Rodney doesn’t have friends. PAT So, Jackson is looking to catch a break, huh Marcus? WAYNE Comin’ to the big L.A.?

 

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Brave kid.


MARCUS Well, he just graduated from Brown and isn’t quite ready to wear a stiff suit and tie every day for the rest of his life. Thought he’d try to make a go of it out here first. WAYNE I’ll say it again.

Ballsy.

Rodney reenters and sits down, not making eye contact with any of the other men and looking slightly shaken up. WAYNE Who was that, Rodney? You workin’ a secret comeback tour contract behind our backs? PAT You always used to have something up your sleeve. A new show, a new tune, a chance to headline with the hottest names on tour. WAYNE Yeah, but all at a price. Your crazy ideas kept me from ever hitting the A List of musical celebrities. MARCUS Now he’s just livin’ the dream in that ole beach shanty. Only reason I got off was because my Lily’s father was the biggest criminal lawyer in Hollywood. PAT Yeah, so who was that, Rodney? You never get phone calls on Saturday night. RODNEY Uh, nobody. WAYNE Oh, bull shit, Rodney. We’ve known you over 40 years. Hell, we play poker every week. We all can see when you’re bluffing.

 

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PAT Whatever it is, we’ve stuck by you over 40 years. Even through all the financial nightmares you dragged us through. MARCUS (jokingly) Even Wayne, who’s apparently still pissed he never really got his five minutes of fame. WAYNE (mutters) I really don’t think it was too much to ask. God, I wish we could go back to that time. MARCUS They were good years. WAYNE (turning to Rodney) Yeah, so ‘fess up. What you got goin’ on, Rodney? RODNEY (hesitates, runs finger around rim of his glass) I guess this is the price I pay for having such good friends. Can’t hold a damn thing in without one of you jackasses taking notice. (sighs) We’re in a little bit of trouble with Antonio. WAYNE Antonio?! As in… (gestures to the restaurant) RODNEY (nods) Yeah. Turns out we owe him a little bit of money. MARCUS (seriously) Rodney?

 

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RODNEY Okay, a lot of money. I kept telling him we’d pay him back after he loaned us all that money for studio time way back when. PAT (confused) Right… but I thought we’d paid that back years ago? RODNEY Well, it’s just like you guys were saying. Life got in the way. WAYNE Damnit, Rodney! How the hell are we gonna pay him back now? None of us have that kind of money any more. MARCUS Ah, calm down, Wayne. Antonio is an old friend of ours. (laughs a little) I mean, sure, he’s in “the family” (uses air quotes) and he’s got an ugly temper, but we’ve known him for so long, I’m sure he’ll cut us a break. RODNEY (to himself) I think he’s done giving us breaks. 3

INT.

MANCHESTER, NH TERMINAL - MIDDAY

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JACKSON and his mother PRESLEY are standing near the boarding gates of the airport. PRESLEY (sighs) Try to keep my dad in line, will ya? I can’t even imagine what he’s up to now that Grandma’s not around.

 

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JACKSON (laughs) Yeah, I’m hoping he can teach me a thing or two. PRESLEY Seriously, don’t let him get you into trouble! And I swear if you come home gnawing on stogies the way he does, I’m disowning you. AIRPORT ANNOUNCER Final boarding call for flight 653 to Los Angeles. PRESLEY Okay, get going. (shouts after him) Call me when you land! 4

EXT. LAX AIRPORT - DAY

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Guitar in hand, Jackson emerges from automatic doors, smiling and sporting aviator sunglasses. MARCUS is standing outside his car, waiting for his grandson. MARCUS Hey kid! Look at you, Gibson in hand and fancy sunglasses, must think you’re pretty badass, huh? JACKSON Come on Grandpa, give me a break. MARCUS So how good are you on that guitar? JACKSON I don’t know, I’m pretty good. (sheepishly shrugs) Marcus walks around to his side of the car, as Jackson climbs in the passenger side.

 

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INT. MARCUS’S CAR – DAYTIME

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Marcus and Jackson drive along the Pacific Coastal Highway to Marcus’s beach home in Malibu. JACKSON I’ve gotten a bunch of gigs out East, now just tryin’ to make it work out West. MARCUS Soooo… you’re awful. Don’t worry, the boys and I can teach you a thing or two. Starting with the fine game of poker. JACKSON What does music have to do with poker? MARCUS Everything. Real rock stars need women, and how do you expect to fool a lady into kissing you if you can’t even fool your friends at the poker table? How do you think I ever won your Grandma Lily? JACKSON Fair enough. I’m willing to take anything from you guys if it helps me land some gigs. They listen to rock music in the car as Marcus continues to drive. Finally, we see Marcus pull the car into the driveway of his house. MARCUS Don’t be so anxious to break into show biz son, it’s not all daisies and boobs like you think it is. (pulling up to the house) Here we are! Looks like the boys are already here. 6

INT. MARCUS’ MALIBU HOME- EARLY EVENING

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Marcus and Jackson walk through the living room to the back patio. Pictures of Marcus’ family and The Picos are hung all over the house. There are pictures of them with other famous musicians and several framed records on the wall.

 

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MARCUS Hey boys! Look who’s here! WAYNE Well, I’ll be damned… Jackson! you, son.

Hey.

Good to see

PAT (nods in their direction)

RODNEY Hey, Jackson! Grab a brewski and come out here and join us. We’ll deal you in. MARCUS Why don’t you go put your stuff in the guest room and I’ll grab the drinks. Jackson leaves with his luggage.

He reenters.

PAT (throws cards down on the table) Flush! Ah shit.

WAYNE

RODNEY Don’t mind him, kid.

He’s a sore loser.

WAYNE Loser? He means I’m being cheated. You dealt me a shit hand… again. (turns to Jackson, gestures at Rodney) Happens every time I play with this guy. PAT Oh, lighten up Wayne. Just ‘cuz I’ve been kickin’ your ass for 40 years… JACKSON (sarcastically) I’m not really sure if I want to play with you guys.

 

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MARCUS (reenters, holding two cold beers) Oh, they’re all talk. None of them are as good as me. Let your grandpa show you how it’s done. WAYNE (offers Jackson a cigar) Smoke, son? JACKSON (taking the cigar) Thanks. PAT (dealing the next hand of poker) So, Jackson. Tell us again why you’re out here? Marcus here told us you’re tryin’ to get a music career going. JACKSON Yeah, that’s right. Grandpa said you guys might have some good contacts and advice for me. I’m just looking for any break I can get. MARCUS Now, not just any break, Jackson. You gotta be a little bit picky or you’ll find yourself in a shitty, mediocre contract you can’t get out of. RODNEY Yeah we’ve got some good connections to help get you started. I know a couple really good agents. WAYNE Well, we had connections for you. (to Rodney) We’ll have to see how willing those contacts are to help us, won’t we? Wait.

 

JACKSON What do you mean, Wayne?

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PAT (puts a mediating arm in front of Wayne) We should be able to help you out, kid. MARCUS That’s right. Still plenty of people out here we can get you in good with. And Wayne, that’s enough. JACKSON What are you guys talking about? PAT No need to go there tonight. in.

Put your blind

RODNEY Eh, fold. MARCUS So, Jackson. Tomorrow’s Saturday. That’s our night to eat at Ardizzone’s, the best Italian restaurant this side of Venice. You bring a suit like I told you? JACKSON Sure did. Sounds good. RODNEY We’ll show you around town tomorrow afternoon. WAYNE Call. JACKSON Sounds great. Heard you have a sweet deal with the studio out here. RODNEY (exchanges glances with the other men and mutters, not directed at anyone) Yeah… we’ve been really lucky. Raise.

 

MARCUS All in.

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WAYNE Ooh… hot shot Marcus. You bitch. tryin’ to steal the show.

Always

MARCUS Jackson, you gotta try the veal scaloppini at Ardizzone’s. Best in the city. Got it.

JACKSON I fold.

WAYNE Jackson, your grandpa has been getting the same damn veal for 40 years. MARCUS I know what I like. lasagna once.

Ha!

Besides, I tried the

RODNEY (huffs) Once. PAT

Fold. WAYNE (to Jackson) Guess I’ll call, but we all know where this headed. (under his breath) Straight to the shitter. PAT (sarcastically) Ah, yes. Another crying call from Wayne. JACKSON (confused) Crying call? RODNEY (gestures at Wayne) A crying call is Wayne’s forte. Pretty much, you call even though you know you’re

 

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gonna lose. And you let the whole table know it, too. PAT Show your cards, boys. WAYNE (lays down a 3-of-a-kind, laughing) Can’t read my Poker Face. (does Lady Gaga hand gesture) ALL (laugh hysterically) MARCUS (once laughing dies down, lays down a high full house) Full house. WAYNE (slams the table, gets up) Oh, shit. I’m done with this. You ready to play some music, Jackson? JACKSON Hell yeah. The men all get up and head back into the house. 7

INT. BASEMENT OF MARCUS’S HOUSE – EVENING

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The guys are setting up their equipment. Wayne is on the drums, positioned behind the others. Pat is on the bass and Marcus sits down behind the keyboard. Rodney stands in the center of them, tuning his guitar. Jackson unpacks his guitar from its case and looks around, unsure of where he should stand. MARCUS Jackson, you play lead in the middle with Rodney, okay? Really?

JACKSON I don’t know if I can keep up.

WAYNE Well, I guess we’re about to find out.

 

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(clicks his drumsticks) 1-2-3-Woooo! Scene ends with the group playing music. 8

EXT. ARDIZZONE’S RESTAURANT – SATURDAY EVENING

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The guys arrive at the restaurant and park on the street a few blocks away. As they approach Ardizzone’s, we see a line out the door of the restaurant, with people waiting to get in. MARCUS (to Jackson) You’re really gonna love this place. There’s really no other authentic restaurant like it. JACKSON Good because I’m starving. (There’s a long pause as MARCUS is staring at a black Cadillac in the parking lot.) What is it? MARCUS Nothing. Thought I recognized that car. Let’s go in. (he exchanges looks with the other guys) PAT (nods knowingly) We better get in there. all the excitement.

You’re gonna miss

The group goes to the front of the line and speakS in hushed tones with the bouncer. Upon realizing who they are, the bouncer allows the group to enter the restaurant without having to wait in line. 9

INT. ARDIZZONE’S HOST STAND – EVENING

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The guys are greeted by HOST #1. The restaurant is dimly lit, but we can tell that it is crowded. On the stage, a woman wearing a black dress is seated at the piano and singing softly.

 

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HOST #1 Ah, good evening gentlemen. you to your usual table?

Should I show

MARCUS Please. We’re also going to need one more seat tonight. HOST #1 Yes, sir. Follow me, please. (he leads the guys to their table and hands each of them a menu) Your waiter will be right with you. The host leaves and we follow him back through the restaurant to his stand, where HOST #2 is greeting the customers. HOST #2 Was that them? HOST #1 Yep, that’s them. go tell the boss.

I’ll take over here.

You

HOST #2 (walking away) Right away. The guys are seated around the same table where they ate a week ago. MARCUS Rod, how long have we been coming here? RODNEY We go through this every week. since ’65.

I think

JACKSON So you guys have been coming here for over 40 years, huh? RODNEY Every Saturday that we can. best bands perform.

 

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That’s when the


WAYNE That’s when we used to perform, used to bring down the house in whenever we weren’t on the road recording. Folks would pack in sardines to hear us play.

Jackson. We this place, or like

PAT Didn’t your grandpa tell you we used to play here? JACKSON No… RODNEY (to Pat and Wayne) Never fails to mention the veal, but this he forgets… MARCUS (gives Rodney a look) Hell, we tore this place up. The owners got pretty mad that we caused such a ruckus, but the crowd loved us. JACKSON It’s kinda dark in here. MARCUS Yeah, but it makes the live performances much better and more entertaining. JACKSON Do many famous people still play here? MARCUS Well, not so much anymore. But, back a long time ago there were celebrities always coming in. This was a happening place, but music isn’t the way it used to be. WAYNE God, I miss those days. (all nod in agreement) WAITER #1 Are you gentlemen ready to order?

 

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MARCUS We’re all going to have the veal scaloppini. RODNEY And could you bring us a few shots of whiskey? WAITER #1 Absolutely. I’ll go put this in. JACKSON So you guys must be pretty close to the owners, right? RODNEY Ohh yeahhh! We’re pretty much family with them. Grew up with the owner’s son, Antonio. And we used to record in the music studio owned by the same family. JACKSON Oh, well perfect! Grandpa, maybe they would be able to help me get a contract somewhere? MARCUS (looks at Rodney, questioningly) We’ll see, Jackson. We just have to be careful not to get on their bad side. JACKSON What do you mean? MARCUS It’s just that, these are the types of people that you don’t want to make mad, if catch my drift. Ugly tempers and they just aren’t the type of people who take bad news lightly. JACKSON I see. Well, it’s still a really nice place. The men sit and listen to the woman singing. After some time, Wayne becomes frustrated that their food still hasn’t arrived.

 

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WAYNE Damn! How long is it gonna take for our dinner? I’m starving here. MARCUS Just enjoy the music and stop worrying. It’ll come soon. WAYNE I’m too hungry to enjoy music right now. I’m too hungry to do anything right now. Except complain to you guys about how hungry I am. Why didn’t we order appetizers? I knew we should have, this is taking way too long. RODNEY Will you shut the hell up, I’m trying to listen to the music. Look here’s our food now. See, I told you it wouldn’t take long. WAYNE Ughh, Finally. WAITER #1 Here you are gentlemen. Can I get you anything else? RODNEY More shots? WAITER #1 Sure, I’ll bring those out in just a moment. MARCUS (to Jackson) Well, how is it? JACKSON Best veal I’ve ever had! MARCUS (winks at Jackson) I told you you’d like it. Waiter #1 brings a round of Nocino shots to the table.

 

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JACKSON I’m not too crazy about these shots. (making a disgusted face) What’s in ‘em? Nocino.

WAYNE Good for the digestion.

PAT Well, I don’t know about you guys, but I am stuffed! WAYNE You should be, you inhaled your veal. PAT And it was delicious, as always. You were right, Marcus. WAYNE (Quietly whispering to MARCUS) Who are those guys over there? (He nods over to two menacing looking men sitting at a table watching them closely.) MARCUS I hope they’re not who I think they are. We might need to get out of here soon. WAYNE You’re probably right. Lets head out guys. WAITER #2 comes over to give them their bill but the guys realize it isn’t the same waiter they had. WAITER #2 You fellows enjoy your meal? RODNEY Oh yes, we can barely move, but it’s about time we head out of here. WAITER #2 Oh, well, then you can pay the bill.

 

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RODNEY Just go ahead and put it on my tab. WAITER #2 It seems that your tab has been stacking quite high. How about you just pay it now? RODNEY I think I’d rather just have it on my tab and I’ll pay it later. WAITER #2 (grabs Rodney’s arm, and speaks forcefully) I don’t think so. I think you’ll pay it now. RODNEY Listen, bub. We’ve been coming here for over 40 years and we always pay at the end of the month. WAITER #2 The Ardizzone’s are done doing favors for The Picos. (signals to the two men in the corner) The two big men start to get up and quickly walk over to the guys. MARCUS We need to get out of here. Come on Jackson, start walking. JACKSON What’s going on? MARCUS I’ll explain later, let’s go. As they exit, Rodney is still arguing with Waiter #2 about paying the bill. As he starts to leave, one of the menacing-looking men pulls out a gun and fires it at Rodney. Rodney immediately falls to the ground.

 

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WAYNE (shakes Rodney) Rodney! (looks at the men, then yells at the others) Run! MARCUS Go! Now! JACKSON What the hell?! Pat, Wayne, and Marcus quickly look for a way to escape and take off running. A confused Jackson follows. PAT (distressed) They killed him?!? JACKSON What the hell is going on? MARCUS (forcefully grabs onto Jackson) Come on! The men run down the hall of the restaurant, that leads into the kitchen. Pat, Wayne, Marcus, and Jackson dodge the cooks and waiters bustling about and escape out a back door. The mobsters cut around to the front of the restaurant. 10

EXT.

ARDIZZONE’S – EVENING

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The guys bust through the back door and start running toward the front of the restaurant. As they turn the corner, Mobsters in the black Cadillac swerve onto the sidewalk. The guys run to Marcus’ car and get in. They speed into the street, followed by the Cadillac. JACKSON (panicked) Somebody tell me what the hell is going on!

 

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MARCUS We owe them money. JACKSON Who? Who do you own money to?!?! MARCUS The Ardizzones. JACKSON Wait, so what are they…like the mob? WAYNE Pretty much. JACKSON Oh, that’s just great. kidding me!

You’ve got to be

PAT Take the 110 to Pasadena. MARCUS I thought Rodney took care of this! I thought he talked to Antonio this week. WAYNE I knew one of us should’ve done it. can’t believe they killed him.

God, I

PAT (points at the red light) Run it! They speed through a red light, the Cadillac following close behind. As they turn another corner, a black utility van comes out of nowhere and T-bones them into an alleyway, forcing the chase to stop. As the car is bulldozed into the side of the alley, mobsters get out of the black Cadillac and put black sacks over the guys’ heads and throw them in the back of the van through the side door.

 

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INT. DARK ROOM OF ABANDONDED BUILDING – NIGHT

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The van pulls up to an abandoned building. The men are dragged inside by the mobsters. ANTONIO (pacing back and forth, all the while keeping a gun pointed at the guys) Now, you all stay down there and listen to what I have to say. I’m sorry about Rodney, I really am. I told my men to keep it quiet and keep it clean. Idiots. But a bunch of talented, star musicians like yourselves, I would’ve thought you’d figure out a way to keep your asses clean. All I want is the money you fellas have been holding out on us for the last 40 years. Thought I could trust you, but it’s been too damn long and the family wants the money. Had to take some drastic measures, which again, I’m sorry about Rodney. It wasn’t personal, it was business. JACKSON (whispering to Marcus) Goddamit, you guys haven’t paid them anything for 40 years?! And who is this guy? The fuckin’ Godfather? ANTONIO I said shut up! You want to end up like the other one or not, son? MARCUS Listen, Antonio. There’s no need for my grandson to be caught up in this mess. He has nothing to do with this, and you know it. Let him go… ANTONIO Ah no, no no. I don’t think so, Marcus. I need that money and no one’s leaving here until I get it. As far as I’m concerned, he’s one of you now.

 

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WAYNE (to his friends) What are we gonna do? Rodney was always in charge of the money, who knows what he did with it. We don’t have that kind of money any more. ANTONIO (fires shot into the air) Well, if you don’t have the money, then I guess we’ll have to talk about alternative options, won’t we? Antonio walks over and puts the gun in the middle of Marcus’ back. Jackson, obviously squeamish, panics and tries to think of a solution. JACKSON Wait! Wait. Godammit, please just wait. have an idea.

I

ANTONIO I’ve waited long enough. We’re done giving second chances. (points the gun at Marcus’ head) We gave your dear grandpa and his friends here years to pay up, because we all go back a long time. But now we got to thinkin’ we’re never gonna see the profits from all those hit records. This is a business operation we’re running here and if I don’t have that money from you boys, my ass is on the line. (leans over to Jackson) This is LA, kid. And my ass can’t be on the line. MARCUS Antonio. Rodney never told us he wasn’t taking care of it. You’ve got to understand that. JACKSON (looks at his grandpa and the gun in his back and tries to create a diversion by jumping to his feet) I have an idea!

 

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ANTONIO (cocks the gun) Speak fast, kid. JACKSON (looking frantically from Marcus to Pat to Wayne, clears clears throat) Wh-what i-if we agree to fill your restaurant every night until the money is all paid back? I-It’ll be just as crowded and popular as it was back in the sixties. PAT (under his breath to Wayne) What the hell is Jackson doing? WAYNE (under his breath to Pat) Hell if I know. Should just let Antonio shoot us and put us all out of our misery. ANTONIO And how the hell do you plan on doing that? 12

INT. ARDIZZONE’S, 1 MONTH LATER - EVENING

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The restaurant is packed with people eating dinner. The same old woman wearing a black dress is sitting at the piano on stage. Men in black suits – presumed to be members of the mafia – are looming in the corners of the restaurant. Backstage, Marcus, Wayne, Pat, and Jackson are talking to Antonio. ANTONIO Remember, boys. As always, all paychecks and tips come directly to the house after you’re finished out there tonight. Any foul play, and we’ll be right back where we started. (brushes off Jackson’s sleeve) And don’t get too cocky, kid. Just because you’ve managed to pack the house every night for the past four weeks doesn’t make you a star any more than it makes me a nice guy. This is still my restaurant, my family…

 

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ANOUNCER ON STAGE (OC) And now… please welcome again to the stage The Picos! WAYNE Let’s go, boys! They run on stage and begin playing a song. At the end, Marcus and Jackson speak to the audience. MARCUS Thank you, LA! So great to be back for another night here at Ardizzone’s! As always, be sure to try the veal. JACKSON (smiles at Marcus) It’s the best in the city! WAYNE (click his drumsticks together) 1-2-3-Wooooo! The scene ends with the band playing the same song they played in Marcus’ basement earlier. At the end, the crowd gives them a standing ovation and the band bows together on stage.

 

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Screenplay