Chump Change

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Chump Change Treatment
(Fame, Fortune, Cheese & Beer)

by Stephen Burrows

A Treatment

"MILWAUKEE" STEVE, an aspiring writer/actor, hails from a dubious gene pool of misfits, and so feels he has exceeded his genetic potential when he finally, after years of scrambling, scores the lead role as the guy with jock itch in a commercial for "Crotch Fresh". Problem is, the job does little to further Milwaukee's career, and the paltry domestic royalties he earns from the spot hardly compensate for the fact that complete strangers now refer to him as "groin guy" and "crotch boy". Finding himself smack dab in the middle of a pre-mid-life crisis, Milwaukee decides to air out for a while by returning to his roots in, where else, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

After driving his beat-up '78 Chevy Nova across country, Milwaukee arrives at the ranch house of his divorced mother, BUNNY, only to find that she has taken her annual summer pilgrimage to Iceland, where the men adore her so she gets to have a whole lotta sex. Milwaukee is even more disturbed to discover that Bunny has sub-let his boyhood room to SAM (20's), a feisty strawberry blonde who immediately calls the cops on this stranger who has arrived on her doorstep. Fortunately, the OFFICER recognizes Milwaukee as the guy with crotch rot and begs for an autograph for his kid. After a brief round of name calling, Milwaukee and Sam begin to circle each other, realize the mutual attraction, and decide to make nice over a meal. After realizing that they're both crazy in the same way, Milwaukee opens up and tells Sam the story about how he got his big movie deal:

Milwaukee auditions for a TV sketch show in front of a bitter CASTING DIRECTOR by imitating Elvis doing both Yoda in Star Wars and Tessio in The Godfather, but when he does Socrates as a gay stand-up, the casting director orders him to take acting lessons from an renowned coach called "the man", whose calling card reads simply "The Man". The Man turns out to be a bullying, no-talent jerk, but Milwaukee does get to make the acquaintance of two fellow sufferers, MALONEY (38), a pretty actress whose non-career has exhausted her, and MISTER C., an aspiring psychopath. While the trio is commiserating over coffee, Milwaukee seizes upon the idea of hiring themselves by putting on a show. Having nothing better to do, Maloney and Mister C. sign up. After hours of rehearsals, A Trilogy of Titters is staged, featuring "Air-Traffic Controllers on Pot", "Suicide Hotline Operator with Tourette's Syndrome", "Stump the Alzheimer's Patient", "The Giraffe Whisperer" and "Diana Ross and the White Supremacists" etc. Critics quickly pan the show as the worst production of anything ever staged and one says he'd rather watch his parents making love than sit through it again. Not to be deterred, Milwaukee takes comfort in the fact that many artists don't make it big until they're dead, and so decides to fake his own death, sit back and watch his work become huge, then recover and collect the spoils.

To finance his death, Milwaukee appears on The Wheel of Fortune, during which he is utterly humiliated by becoming the first player in the history of the show to buy five vowels and still not be able to solve the puzzle. Milwaukee then gets into an argument with the host over whether the letter "y" was a vowel and ends up calling ol' Merv an asshole. After being sent home with a pair of roller skates as his only prize, Milwaukee makes a short film about the experience called The Soldier of Fortune, focusing on the whole Vietnam/game show metaphor. When the film starts winning first prize at festivals all over the country, Merv gets pissy and sues, which results in tremendous buzz about the hot young filmmaker who made this 'controversial' film that absolutely everyone loves, but that absolutely no one has ever seen.

Overnight, Milwaukee has legions of sleazy AGENTS and MANAGERS vying to represent him. The budding auteur chooses one of each, and is soon pitching his story ideas to SIMON "SEZ" SIMONE, an A-list producer who is famous for remaking both Animal House as an urban black comedy set on a slave plantation and Silence of the Lambs starring O.J. Simpson in the Jodie Foster role. Simon, who has the presence of a whirling dervish on crack, immediately dismisses Milwaukee's carefully crafted ideas because they don't make his penis twitch. Totally flummoxed, Milwaukee decides, what the hell, to wing it and ad-libs a one-liner about a brothel in New Orleans run by a mother and daughter that's frequented by a French military guy who has access to nuclear weapons. Before Milwaukee knows what has happened, Simon's penis is going crazy, and the aspiring writer is immediately dragged to the office of CHUCKIE SELF, a thirteen-year-old wunderkind studio executive who doesn't know what a brothel is, but loves the pitch anyway.

Back in Wisconsin over dinner, Milwaukee and Sam are delighted to learn that they both prefer mock chicken over the real thing, love Arby's, hate condiments, and wouldn't know a vegetable if it bit them on the ass. The tender moment is continually broken, however, as Milwaukee is accosted by fans who know him as "gonad guy" while he and Sam are trying to share their most embarrassing secrets. Thrilled by their blossoming romance, Milwaukee continues his tale:

Chuckie makes a rich deal for Milwaukee to write his story, which Simon has dubbed The Whore, Her Mom, the Frog, and the Bomb, and his status in town immediately undergoes a complete and utter metamorphosis. In addition to a high-tech office on the studio lot, Milwaukee is soon getting bizarre gifts from total strangers, invitations to endless parties, and even Simon throws in the LIMO GIRL, who drops by every Wednesday to service Milwaukee in the back seat of her, well, limo. Before allowing Milwaukee to start work, Simon reveals his secret "Theory of Comedy," including the facts that head whacks and crotch whacks are funny in any movie, as are baldness, farting, and bodily functions in general.

Simon demands 130 pages of laugh-out-loud comedy, so Milwaukee goes to work, determined to pen the best action sex comedy ever written. Completing the 130 page script puts Milwaukee on cloud nine, especially when his agent and manager praise him as a genius. But then Simon calls in the middle of the night, cursing a blue streak that the script is much too funny and too long by thirty pages. Turning to his agent and manager for comfort, Milwaukee is informed that both actually hate the script, that they agree that it's too long and too funny, and that Milwaukee will be fired if he doesn't give Simon exactly what he wants. Like a condemned man, Milwaukee immediately axes all the comedy, only to have Simon then demand to know where all the funny shit went. Milwaukee is soon getting thirty pages of notes for every new page he rewrites. For every change he makes, dozens of total strangers who haven't even read the script insist that he change it back again. After forty days and nights of pulling out his hair, Milwaukee is about to give up when he seizes upon the idea of turning in his first draft as his latest version. Everyone loves this first draft and are soon congratulating themselves for the tremendous contributions they've made.

Next day, Milwaukee receives a call from THE COLONEL, the head of the studio, who informs him that he's greenlighting The Whore, Her Mom, the Frog, and the Bomb and putting it into production immediately. Milwaukee can hardly believe his good fortune, but before he even has a chance to celebrate, he learns that the Colonel has been fired, that Simon has been killed by a lawn dad during Chuckie's 14th birthday party, and that Chuckie himself has been sent to juvey hall for throwing said dart. Milwaukee tries to get back on the horse by pitching to everyone in town, but can't seem to make anyone's penis twitch, and it's not long before both his agent and manager have dropped him. Desperate, Milwaukee begins auditioning again, but finds that he can't even land a commercial that calls for a "Milwaukee Steve" type. In total karma chaos, Milwaukee walks the streets like a zombie until he chances into a revival movie house showing The Poseidon Adventure, where he realizes that the catastrophe movie is his life, only turned upside down, which prompts the epiphany that life is, after all, a beautiful thing.

When Milwaukee insists that he was missing something in Hollywood, Sam immediately realizes what it is and takes him to a neighborhood polka bar, where the two guzzle boots of beer, dance The Chicken to a polka band, and fall in love. Returning to Bunny's ranch house, Milwaukee and Sam are about to fall into each other's arms when he receives an urgent call which stupefies him. After taking the call, Milwaukee sweetly proposes to Sam by informing her that "we're rich", and she, a kindred spirit, sweetly accepts. Milwaukee then explains that not only has his script been picked up in turnaround and greenlighted with an all-star cast, but that the movie has again created tremendous buzz and he's back on top again, and his Crotch Fresh commercial has gone international and is to be translated into 187 languages, which will result in gargantuan , royalties. Soon, even the luck of his old friends changes as Maloney turns a volunteer gig reading pornography to the blind into a onewoman show and Mister C. is so convincing playing a serial killer on America's Most Wanted that he can't go anywhere without getting arrested.

Finally happy, Milwaukee and Sam drive off in the Chevy Nova, careful to stop at every Arby's they see.

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