Thursday, September 24, 2009

“CARS: A New Beginning”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a one-act play. The participants in this drama are discussing the post-bailout future of America’s automobile industry. At the urging of President Barack Obama, they have begun to decide how their companies can move past the collapse of 2008… and plan for tomorrow.

SETTING: A secluded boardroom in Cleveland, Ohio. CEOs of the ‘Big Three’ automakers have assembled for a secret meeting.

THE PLAYERS: Henry Ford XVI; Antonio Chrysler; Corporal (Formerly General) Motors; Filmmaker Michael Moore; Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca.

PRELUDE: The participants chatter nervously over coffee, before opening their meeting. There is a mood of tension in the room. Everyone seems to have a different view on the needs of their struggling industry. Reluctantly, the session is called to order just after nine o’clock.

LEE IACOCCA – “Gentlemen, I’d like to welcome everyone to Cleveland!”

Grumbles and whispers fill the room.

HENRY FORD XVI – “Thanks, Lee. So… why aren’t we in Detroit? Or Washington, D.C.?”

L. IACOCCA – “With everything going on here, we can enjoy being out of the limelight. The FBI is all over Cuyahoga County. The sports franchises can’t win a championship. They’re still fighting about casinos and the Medical Mart. And anything of value is owned by people in Pittsburgh. So nobody will pay attention to us!”

MICHAEL MOORE – (Clearing his throat) “We’ve been asked by President Obama to meet with you concerning the future shape of this industry…”

ANTONIO CHRYSLER – “Barry asked YOU to help us get into shape? That’s a good one. Bada bing!”

CORPORAL MOTORS – “Pipe down, Tony. You sound like Robert De Niro.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Hey, what’s it to you? FIAT saved my cannolis. Okay?”

FORD XVI – “Lee, it’s good to see you again, but, what am I doing here? My company didn’t take any bailout money!”

L. IACOCCA – “President Obama hoped that you might help inspire the other two guys…”

M. MOORE – “He figured it couldn’t hurt to share ideas and plan for tomorrow.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Okay, he done good. But why should we listen to you, Fat Man? What do you know about building cars?”

L. IACOCCA – “Hey, give him a break, Tony. Mike made ‘Roger And Me.’ Isn’t that enough?”

FORD XVI – “That’s fine, but we need fresh ideas to save this business…”

C. MOTORS – “Right you are, soldier. Getting busted down to an enlisted man really stinks. I want to earn my stars again!”

M. MOORE – “Go see ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ and you’ll have all the ideas you need!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Fuggedaboudit! You just wanna drum up some ticket sales for that
clinker of a movie! Heyy!”

C. MOTORS – “Yeah, maybe you should’ve gotten in on the ‘Cash For Clunkers’ program, pilgrim!”

L. IACOCCA – “Gentlemen, please!”

M. MOORE – “Building better cars is fine. But you’ve got to PROMOTE them in the media. That’s where I come in…”

FORD XVI – “Thanks, Mike. But we’ve already got a spokesman for the next generation of our automobiles.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Yeah, FIAT says European quality. We don’t need no loudmouth to sell our cars…”

C. MOTORS – (Laughing) “Umm… I think it says you’d better get to know a good mechanic in the motor pool.”

L. IACOCCA – “Everyone! Could we stay on track here? The President wants us to come up with a long term plan to make the industry viable again…”

C. MOTORS – “Guess we better listen, soldiers. Barry is our CEO now.”

M. MOORE – “We need to write a new script from old material… just like I did for ‘Fahrenheit 911.’ And then use it to create something useful.”

L. IACOCCA – “The President is convinced that Mike can help us win, even against difficult odds.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Heyy, help me win at the tables in Vegas and you’ll have a friend forever! Oh yeah!”

FORD XVI – “It was bad enough trying to compete with Honda and Toyota. But then, Hyundai and KIA showed up.”

C. MOTORS – “Okay Mike, what’s your plan?”

M. MOORE – “At the auto shows, you’ve touted a trio of new concept vehicles that provide great fuel economy, right?”

C. MOTORS – “Ten hut! That’s right. The Beat, Groove, and Trax.”

A. CHRYSLER – “What, those are cars? They sound like something from the ‘Guitar
Hero’ game. Heyy!”

M. MOORE – “I’d promote them in a short film about The Three Little Pigs… is that inspired or what??”

Silence fills the room. Even Lee Iacocca is speechless.

FORD XVI – “Umm, okay. How does that help The Corporal sell any of his cars?”

M. MOORE – “Just think of it. The Big Bad Wolf is an oil company CEO. He’s blowing down houses all over the neighborhood with outrageous prices. But then the pigs band together to develop better ideas through a community-funded program… and run their wagons forever on a gallon of gas. Eventually, the wolf ends up on skid row. Yeahhh!”

Again, the group falls silent.

L. IACOCCA – (Speaking after a long pause) “Okay! Thanks Mike. It sounds like another winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Not to mention in dealerships across America.”

A. CHRYSLER – “I think that sounds like a big pile of caca!”

FORD XVI – “You need more than a gimmick to sell cars. It takes good design and guaranteed reliability.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Heyy! With FIAT, we got plenty of that. No problem!”

The other participants burst into laughter.

L. IACOCCA – (Miffed by their reaction) “C’mon! Take it easy on Chrysler. This corporate marriage will work out in the end. Just give him a chance.”

M. MOORE – “The President is betting on all of you to MAKE it work.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Bada bing! Barry is the boss. How can we lose with the government on our team? He’ll whack the competition.”

FORD XVI – “Sorry, Tony. This isn’t Cuba. You’ve actually got to SELL cars, not just ride on a government loan.”

M. MOORE – “Ah yes… Cuba…”

L. IACOCCA – “Mike, quit daydreaming. We’re working on a strategy here!”

C. MOTORS – (Brightening with realization) “So I get some cute little pigs to pose with my new cars, and the bucks roll in. Ten hut! I can salute that idea!”

M. MOORE – “It’s a bit more complicated than that. But… yes.”

A. CHRYSLER – “That’s great, you betcha. But what about me?”

M. MOORE – “I think Quentin Tarantino could jazz up your advertising a bit…”

FORD XVI – “Bah! Are you serious?”

L. IACOCCA – “Open your minds, gentlemen. We don’t want to disappoint President Obama.”

M. MOORE – “Think of ‘Pulp Fiction’ with a fleet of P.T. Cruisers!”

FORD XVI – “I’m glad my company didn’t take any government welfare.”

C. MOTORS – “You know, I kinda like that, soldier…”

L. IACOCCA – “That’s the spirit! Give this a chance to work and we’ll all be back in the money!”

EVERYONE – (Singing) “We’re in the money! We’re in the money!”

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