A Film Treatment By Peter Cook & Stu Billet

ABOUT the Collaboration

Producer Stu Billet’s vista from five decades atop the game show kingdom affords not only a panoramic sweep, but a peerless vantage from which to leap into story.  From TV’s Mesopotamian Valley in Manhattan’s live-TV heyday to TV’s Promised Land in La-La Land, Stu’s been-there-done-it bona fides jets him throughout the game show galaxy:  From Carson & McMahon’s pre-Tonight Show pairing on Who do You Trust? to Truth Or Consequences, onto his crown jewel, The Peoples Court and its spin-off seed — with a zillion between. 

Stories?  Got a million-a-d’em…

Here’s my two favorite Stu long-story-short stories:

But first — a little justice:  Stu’s a raconteur extraordinaire, a parable-popping rabbi with a P.T. Barnum psalter…  This little re-cap’s merely Champagne-in-a-juicebox-thru-a-straw.

But here goes.


It’s the black-n-white live-TV Big Bang days.  On his way down to work in the midtown studios, Stu cuts past Central Park Zoo’s Monkey House.  They got a TV in the monkey cages!  What the hell for, he asks!?  Turns out it mollifies them… 

Soon Stu’s morning askance glances turn from pique to fascination to outright study.  Now he finds himself standing in the zoo watching monkeys watch TV every morning!  Turns out, certain monkeys react differently to the same shows…

Hmm.  What if…

Suppose one of the monkeys could predict which shows…

What a story idea!  He tells a friend about his crazy idea for a really dark, deep look at the way television’s Guillotine choices really get made.  A hit-picking monkey as catalyst for showing up the insanity, the caprice of it all, the inside-out logic, the whole nascent nonsense…  What a movie idea! 

His friend tells him it’s a great idea, but he needs to find a writer to whip it up who can type with his tongue stuck pretty deep into his cheek.  What about Chayefsky?

So Stu gets all the way to Chayefsky’s door — literally — but doesn’t push the buzzer.  Nah…  It’s just a crazy idea.  Back to work.

By and by, Stu does tell others his idea.  But the story business being the story business, his seething TV exec excoriation monkey evolves into a pure Disney funfest!  Stu’s “Story By” début becomes Disney’s Kurt Russell-débuting The Barefoot Executive!

Stu story Number Two:

One day we’re having lunch while he’s generously offering me priceless advice on my game show industry story idea I call Nothing’s Too Stoooopid! [ask me all about it sometime].  Walking back to his glass-walled catbird suite overlooking Hollywood’s heart, he begins to illume the ambit of the precipice I’m tiptoeing toward with this TV idea by telling me yet another of his own story ideas.

His story idea, though!  It was such a purely perfected and perfectly pure story:  High-concept meets thinkpiece flying circus farce.  Commercial?  I felt like he’d shown me the combination to a wall safe!

I made him promise to let me write it up — for us

A Good Ol’Fashioned Orgy of Asinine Vulgarity — A film treatment By Peter Cook & the inimitable Stu Billet.  Thing is, obviously, we can’t give the thing of the thing away — on the internet, anyhow.  But it’s a wholly ready-to-go story, no script yet, though.  Goes like this:

He was THE profit prophet, THE virtuoso of the venal, a Midas touch fairy-dust sprinkler.  Reality TV’s race-to-the-bottomless bottom pioneer… 

Now he’s a hi-speed has-been before his first gray hair!

Desperate?  He'd kill for another chance —

Wait.  Kill for it?  Hmm. 

Who, though?

At bottom — which is where we’re racing to — the difference between these schadenfreude gawkfests and the Roman Coliseum's Sunday afternoon Lions v. Christians bloodbaths is…

Get right down to it?  Precious little.  Decency's last shreds? Long gone.  C'mon, relax, enjoy.  Blood, bombing?  It's on TV!

How real can it be?

Unless you’re really dead.

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