Whichever One You Are
by Craig Battle
September 22, 1994
Dear Glen and/or Les Charles,
I am an admirer of your vast body of work particularly
My Fair Clavin and Pitch It Again, Sam
(if I had to choose two) for their wit, charm and vision
and have been since September 30, 1982. Your contributions to
network television single-handedly made Thursday night my favourite
night of the week for over a decade. They have also filled the
5:30 timeslot on Channel 11 with big laughs each weekday since
the invention of syndication.
As such, with my broad knowledge of your writing and executive
production efforts, I feel I have written a screenplay close
to your own hearts and ideals. I would like to submit it for
Sweet Home Indiana, a working title, is the big-screen Cheers
comeback special we fans have all been waiting for. The script
brings the old gang from Sam to Diane (minus, of course, the
Coach) back together again in the strangest of places and circumstances
not Boston, Massachusetts, but Hanover, Indiana! Norm
always said, Before I die I gotta see that town,
and now he gets his chance. And on the big screen!
Ive enclosed a self-addressed stamped postcard, which
I picked up last fall in a gift shop at the Grand Canyon. [FYI.
There is a helicopter tour that actually sets you down right
inside the canyon, which I highly recommend, complete with finger
sandwiches and champagne on land bought from an ancient Indian
tribe for the specific purpose of the tour. Do I hear the sound
of sequel material? From Indiana to Indian? Yes!] Glen, Les.
I look forward to your comments.
November 17, 1994
This is the second letter I am sending you, or your brother,
whichever of you handles the mail. Someone, maybe my mother
(God rest her soul, she is in heaven with Nicholas Collosanto
and, I think, Rhea Perlmans dad) once told me something
about perseverance. She said, and I remember the wording specifically,
If at first you dont succeed, try try again.
Come to think of it, Mom died long before I think I first heard
it. Whoever it was, he or she or they had a point. This is me
I have read suggestions on how to write perfect query letters
and what Im doing now (and what Im about to do more
of) is called, in the business, a no no. I shouldnt tell
you about my personal life or anything beyond the fact that
I have something for you to read (which I do, and it is good.
It is very good and you would be very foolish, if you dont
mind my saying so, to go on about your business without curiosity).
Here it is. I live in a three-bedroom house on the Upper East
Side of You Know Where. Two of the rooms I rent to runaway high
school students, who allow me a unique window into the lives
of young people today. Loose not tight. Pepsi over Coke. It
is all about grunge. Here is a conversation I had with the high
school students recently (they were watching something called
Friends) and recorded for your specific benefit:
INT. LIVING ROOM. THURSDAY NIGHT.
There was this episode.
Shut up. Please.
There was this episode, you shouldve seen it, and Cliff
was a comedian. It was like, only Lilith got his jokes, like,
Ding dong. Whats up with that? And Lilith
was laughing so hard.
(Not looking up, sipping on bottles of Rolling Rock I bought
for them, reaching for potato chips, also my purchase)
We seen it.
Not live. You had to see them live. Thursday nights. Nine oclock.
- 30 -
Mr. Charles, you can see my concern. It has only taken a year.
Kids today dont know. Sam and Diane and their brand of
almost love, almost hate are history. No one remembers the chase
scenes around the bar, the nose pinchings, Sams Have
a good life, as Diane walks up the stairs and out of his
bar forever. These days it is all about Will Ross and
Rachel get together? and tomorrow, who knows? My point.
The time for a Cheers comeback special is now, now, NOW! The
world is in your hands, Mr. Charles. Dont let us down.
March 2, 1995
This is the third letter, six months later. By now I can only
ask, just as Cliff did in Cheers episode #234, Whats
up with that? Why, Mr. Charles, have you not returned
my cordialities? Are my typing skills sub par? Has the postal
service obscured my return address? Have I not been clear enough
with my objective, to get you to write me back? If not, here
you go: Write me back.
Dont get me wrong. I am not trying to be a whiner, here.
Nor a stick in the mud or a total downer or a cry baby. Not
in the least. I dont want you to write me back (dont
stop reading now, or you will not get my point) simply because
I am asking you to. I want you to write me back because I have
good ideas, which I do. But I dont get a response. And
I dont know how else to get your attention. Well, thats
not true. I know several ways, all of them illegal. Keep in
mind, Mr. Charles, I grew up in the East End. I have seen things
This is not a threat. If you knew me (which I am offering you
the opportunity) you would know that this is not a threat (know
me! Take the chance. It is a fun ride!).
Each day I get up before the first school bell and meet the
postman (his name is Jim, by the way. He is from the Caribbean
and knows very little trivia. We pass the time) at the mailbox
on the corner, because I fear the high school students would
burn your letter, advance and all, should they find it before
me. But each day, as you can probably guess, I receive nothing.
So I am pulling out all the stops. I am breaking all the rules.
Enclosed is an unabridged version of the script, now tentatively
titled, Getting Away From it All. And, while were at it,
since that was the last rule of query letters (not to send the
screenplay without request) here is a scene from the first act:
INT. PLANE. AFTERNOON. NORM PETERSON emerges from bathroom
and squeezes past STEWARDESS, who shares a glance with SAM MALONE.
COACH PASSENGERS (in unison)
looks confusedly about the plane, before returning his interest
to STEWARDESS. NORM half waves as he squeezes past CLIFFORD
CLAVIN into his window seat.
How does Pennsylvania look to you, Normy?
Better than it would if they decided to empty that bathroom
What does a guy have to do to get a beer around here?
Mr. Charles, if that doesnt wet your whistle, I dont
know what will. I expect Jim will have something for me (something
that is not a bill or a Publishers Clearing House cheque
someday soon, and I can take him out for a celebration Mocha
at the Starbucks on the corner soon after) with your name on
it. Very soon.
May 11, 1995
Dear Mr. Guy,
Thank you for submitting your screenplay, Getting Away From
It All. We very much enjoyed your work. However, we believe
that CBC Productions is not situated to give your manuscript
the editing, distributing and promotion it needs.
We wish you every success with your endeavors. We are sorry
we could not be more positive.
Charles Burrows Charles Productions
May 18, 1995
We live in a world. This is in italics for a reason,
Mr. Charles, whichever one you are. The reason is I am quoting
myself. I have been sitting here staring at these, what, four
or five words now for the past hour and I cannot get past them.
I have had, We live in a cold world, and We
live in a cruel world, and even added, Which is
why Cheers is so important.
But nothing. I got nothing. I have been drinking. I have taken
my shirt off and now I am drinking beer with my shirt and the
lights off. Take that. This is what youve done.
We live in a world full of hard bastards (thats it!),
of which you are two, I am sorry to say. Your work on Taxi and
Mary Tyler Moore and of course M*A*S*H and Cheers, have filled
my nights and early evenings with happiness, and given me a
common experience with millions of other viewers I could otherwise
have not attained, but that does not excuse your behavior.
When did my stomach grow this much hair? Mr. Charles, I dont
remember my stomach having so much hair this morning. Also:
it appears to be salivating.
I hope you both
[Note to self: Fill with mean things].
Did I tell you about the high school students? When they think
I am not at home, they do an impression of me trying to pick
up chicks in a bar. One of them says, Hey, baby. My cock
makes Norms bar tab look like Pauls, and the
other one says, Youre a suit-full, arent you?
See? Do you see? Theyre using you against me. Theyre
using Cheers, which you created, against me. Otherwise I would
As for my screenplay, I have retitled it, Cheers: Slouching
Toward Bethlehem. No longer will Norm discover his test results
were actually switched with those of a cancerous rat in Liliths
lab, and that in fact, it is the rat and not him who is dying.
He will not discover that. No:
EXTERIOR. MORNING. HAYFIELD. SAM, DIANE, REBECCA, CARLA, CLIFF,
WOODY, FRASIER, LILITH and ERNIE PANTUSOS GHOST push NORM
in a wheelchair. A combine rumbles in the background.
You guys hear that?
Hear what there Normy?
WOODY (to Sam)
Poor Mr. Peterson. Same thing happened to my Uncle Tyrone.
He was sick for a week and by the end of it he heard my Aunt
Sally talkin to him from his cereal. All she would say
was, Too much milk. Im drowning, over and
over again. He didnt last long after that.
You guys cant hear that? Well, what about this? Afternoon,
(rumbling, rumbling lots of rumbling, the field behind them
begins to shake)
Thank you, Mr. Charles. And Mr. Charles, thank you as well.
Thanks. Really. Someday when I am old and I am accepting my
Oscar for lifetime achievement I will say, Thanks to you
and thanks to you and the Academy and my beautiful wife, her
over there, and especially to Glen and Les Charles. This
is sarcasm. Like saying, Oh, yeah. Carlas a virgin.
In other words: I am dumping you. Dont call me. Well,
okay, call me if you want to. Or, you know, write me, whatever.
I have a steady date with the mailman. I will be waiting.
Always and forever,
Craig Battle is a contributing
editor of Forget. Not funny.