Frederick gets the vote
Frederick Polson II stormed the official screentest. The local crew in Phoenix had done a good job on him. The hairdresser teased his frail hair – normally ponytailed – into something close to the trademark Trump bouffant. Makeup had worked hard too, but not over the top. They’d tried a prosthetic internal brace to push his jaw forward, but while it looked good, Frederick developed a lisp, plus it hurt. “I’ll just remember to jut at every opportunity,” he said. And he did.
Costume supplied an ill-fitting but expensive suit, just as the President customarily wore, along with an extra-long necktie. There was also a MAGA baseball cap, to be put on and taken off to see how the hair behaved. The general opinion was, better than the President’s.
The rest of it was down to Fred Polson. He’d been awake all night, astonished and disbelieving. You have to be in your seventies before success eventually comes a-calling? All those long years of making the most moderate of livings, but sticking to it, doing his craft, and now… Could this really be his big break the enthusiastic Phoenix crew were predicting?
Then he did the audition, and he delivered.
Later that day the Reeltime Gang gathered on Zoom to preview the rushes. In the chitchat before screening there was talk about the trailer which had dropped for Netflix’s The Comey Rule, with Brendan Gleeson playing Trump. Will our Trump be anywhere as good as Gleeson’s Trump? How could he be? And then Pete Pinter rolled the rushes, and everyone calmed down. “That pretty well could be Trump,” Lyle O’Nolan spoke for everyone after the viewing.
“Ace!” said Arabella Fearnley.
“Brilliant work Pete,” said Kent Warfield.
“Issue draft contracts?” asked Sundeep Ghatak.
“Has he been checked out medically yet?” Jewel McClintock wanted to know.
“Later today,” answered Pete Pinter. “But he promises me he’s fit. He also says the last time he was in any sort of trouble was a parking violation in 1983. I’ve had long talks with his agent – she can’t quite believe what’s happening – but she vouches for our man, one hundred percent.”
“So if the medics say he’s good, and you’re happy with the contract Sunny, are we going to retain Mr Polson?” Kent asked. He was feeling uncharacteristically democratic, “Let’s have a show of hands.”
Approval was unanimous. “And me too,” said the synthesised voice of Security.
After that they connected with Frederick Polson and introduced themselves. He’d been waiting nervously at home in Maryvale Village, just south of Glendale, staring at the image of Margaret on his computer. He kept wondering when he’d wake from this strange dream of distant foreigners wanting to make him suddenly rich, and probably famous. But then his agent Nance kept calling, full of unusual froth and excitement. At the Frampton and Partners Agency, Frederick Polson II was one of those respectable never-beens who were hardly worth the admin, but Nancy was a loyal sort and didn’t dump on a person just because they’d gotten old. So if Nance was crowing stuff like ‘Bigtime baby!’ there must be something real going on.
And then the call came, and people were smiling at him, and welcoming him to the Reeltime Gang, whatever that was. And there was Kent Warfield, the Kent Warfield. Frederick had been looked right through by the great director on set, like he was part of the furniture. Now though Kent was talking to him, engaging with him, saying kind and encouraging things, like a director addressing a trusted high profile actor.
Frederick’s head was spinning as they fired different needs and wants at him. They’d arrange a psychiatrist to start briefing him on the narcissism that drove Trump. And a speech coach. Arabella would need his every measurement for whatever outfits might be needed, so a fitting session was organised at an associate of hers in downtown Phoenix. Then he’d have to get over to LA for sessions to experiment with his hair – a specialist from Mare Salon, no less. He’d need more blonding, but at least his hair was longish and would lend itself to styling. “You better get used to the smell of hairspray,” laughed Debs Maugham.
They really were. Offering. Him. The. Part. He signed off, dazed. “Well I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into Margaret,” he said to the screensaver. “But it seems like I am defin-itely in it.”
Later Madeline explained her story angle to the Reeltime Gang, and that got batted around, but agreed in principle. Would Trump, could Trump go for it? The consensus was that with Trump, the madder the scenario, the more likely it might be adopted by him, so yes, why not? OK, Kent would feed the idea to Tone, and see if he could fly with it.
After that Gabriel, Noah and Matt formed a cabal to talk about recording tech. One by one others eased out of the call, leaving Kent and Lyle to oversee the discussion, with Sundeep rattling his calculator keys as he tracked the outgoings, and Jewel riding shotgun, re-checking the figures that the boys were spending on their toys.
Gabriel proposed Black Magic cameras, Noah had been using Sony POVs recently, while Lyle had tried Marshalls and rated them. “I don’t care as long as we get pictures that’ll knock your eyes out,” said Kent. “And remember, none of this will be anything like the way we normally work. No opportunities for painting with light Gabriel. It’ll be run-and-gun all the way. And we’ll need hundreds of whatever cameras you chose.”
“So, it’s AKA Reality TV,” Lyle observed, once more.
“Yes and No,” countered Kent. “I’m thinking it’s more like war reporting, if that makes you feel any more noble. And most of this will have to be done remotely of course. We won’t be in the frontline.”
“So who operates?” Noah asked.
“Film students, a ton of them. Youngsters who are savvy enough to know where to plonk a mini-camera real quick, and who understand cross-shooting. Zsuzsa is on it.” Kent.
“We talk to them live?” Gabriel.
“We have comms links, yes, but we need the kids to be using their gumption all the time.” Kent.
“What please is gumption?” Noah.
And so it went, with Jewel singing out from time to time, “That’s another million spent!” As if the bigger the budget got, the more satisfyingly serious the project was becoming.
The premise is questioned
Are these guys senile?
Like they believe they can substitute Trump.
Dunno. They’re gonna try, that’s clear enough.
But unless old Fred is an identical twin – which he isn’t – everyone will see through it from the moment the scam drops.
Maybe, or maybe everyone will want to believe it. Google up some images of Trump.
See. We assume it’s the same guy.
Because it is.
But he’s sometimes fat, sometimes a bit thinner, sometimes whitish shorter hair, sometimes blond bombshell look. Sometimes he’s got a face like he’s sucking lemons. Here he has the orange skin, white eye sockets straight from the tanning bed, but oftentimes he looks like, um, almost natural.
Yeh, I see that. But it’s always Trump.
How do we know? Check out also ‘political decoys’ – Saddam Hussein had a load of them, and Hitler of course, and Stalin, and Boris Yeltsin I think.
He’d be a Russian dude I’m guessing?
Exactly. People believe what they are told to believe, and what they want to believe. Me, I’m thinking Madeline might get this idea to fly. And the next bit is going to be the big sales pitch.
Antony Tone Fentick?
Tone sweeps in
Antony Fentick does not do small. When he enters somewhere, he sweeps in, usually with a retinue. He went from high school to superstardom in two rocket fuelled years, a quarter of a century ago. On the strength of his musculature, plus smartass wisecracking, everybody in the world wanted to make love to Tone. Still true. And Tone, he wants to make love to everyone right back. Tone adores his fans, adores making blockbusters, adores that his fortune is now almost uncountable. And Tone hates Donald Trump, because Antony Fentick is a very rich man of very high principles, whatever his detractors might say. Antony Fentick is as American as can be, a Founding Father if he’d been alive at the right time. But the time is now, and there is a malign presence in the White House which the actor will do his damned best to root out. Of all the roles he’s played, this will be the most stretching, because it requires him to portray a slavish admirer of Donald J. Trump. He has to act as if he likes the President.
So he sweeps into the White House from the four SUVs that have dropped him and his team off, laughing with the security people who want to check through all the cameras and bags of kit. “Yeh, I understand you gotta do it guys, but hey, you know who I am!” He scribbles autographed dedications to the guards’ families (an assistant always carries a briefcase of glossy portrait shots). And all the time there are at least three cameras shooting around the action, placed in an ever-revolving ballet by the film students. Their Covid masks and baggy jeans and sweaters add to the impression that a gang of ninjas are taking over the venerable building. Ping go the Non-Contact Temperature Assessment Devices which the security staff wave around like pistols, attempting to proof everyone for Covid-19, but the ninjas are moving too fast.
Watching and listening in France and Switzerland, Gabriel and Noah bark instructions down the line, but the lag means that by the time their messages reach the camera operators, chances are the dervish dance of viewpoints has already changed. Kent Warfield is watching in Ángel Castro’s edit suite, but the two men simply nod their approval. Yep, the kids are covering the angles. Over in Denham, England, Matt Chovanec is coaxing closer microphone positions from the students, ‘The sound is too wide,” he says. “I need tight, close up sound.”
“They’re doing OK,” Ángel observes. “First day of the shoot, not bad. And they’ve already generated about ninety minutes of footage. This is going to be a monster my friend!”
Kent smiles, “Yeh, we won’t be short of material.”
Tone sweeps on, leaving his new best friends, the security guards. His party is now accompanied by a Secret Service detail who’ve been called to deal with this unruly arrival of youngsters surrounding a superstar. Usually visitors are awed by being in the White House, and on their best behaviour, but these kids are skipping around so fast, putting camera stands along the corridor of the Cross Hall, that it’s hard to even keep count of them. “Miss, you can’t put that cam…” and then that camera on a stick is picked up by another runner who surfs ahead of the group. The effect will be edited – as Kent has planned – into a sequence showing the unstoppable tide of Tone, like he’s coming to take over the place. Would militaristic drumming be too obvious? Well, that’s a decision for later. Much later.
A Presidential aide has sprinted ahead – on high court shoes at that – and is now standing at the entrance to the Blue Room like a traffic controller, waving the group in. Tone raises his hand and the advance stops. “Did we get that?” he asks. A brief comms consultation between his Producer, Iris, and Kent in the edit suite. “Sure, we got it. Warfield is happy.”
“OK, ten steps back everyone,” Antony Fentick orders, and everyone duly hits reverse. “OK, pickup shot,” he says loudly, to identify what they’re doing, then the team strides forwards again, wheeling into the Blue Room. “Yep, that’ll edit real good,” says Ángel.
Barely have the camera stands and minicams been spread around the room than a familiar, white-haired figure appears, coming through one of the six doors, accompanied by his own retinue. “Vice President!” Tone lights up, “Such an honour to meet you.”
“No, the pleasure is mine. I told Karen I’d be seeing you today and she was so thrilled. My wife is your biggest fan. Along with me of course.”
“How gratifying. What’s your favourite movie of mine?”
“Oh, you know, hard to say. They’re all so great. The one with the um, helicopter.”
“The helicopter one. OK, good.”
“Me, I’ve got to admit, Wizard of Oz has to be my all-time favourite.”
“Gosh, really? Me too!”
Iris does a double take at this surprising information from her boss. First she’s heard of it, in the twenty years of being Antony Fentick’s right hand.
“And the President?” Tone scans the room, as if expecting Trump to be shyly hiding behind the blue drapes.
“President Trump will join us momentarily.” Several of the Vice President’s party nod vigorously. Perhaps that’s their function in life, to confirm statements made by Mike Pence, knowing they will likely be countermanded within the shortest time. There are a few beats of somewhat awkward silence, filled by a “Well then,” from the Veep. Kent sees a great close up of Pence’s face, captured by an enterprising camera operator. “Beautiful!” He exclaims. “The guy is so out of his depth. Mark that shot someone – it’s a key moment.”
“Yeh, marking it,” Lyle’s voice comes over the comms. Each camera has a unique number, displayed on its screen. Each camera also records exact time-of-day code. In weeks or months, Lyle or Ángel will be able to call up, from the vast digitised database, camera 13, day 01, timecode 12:20:10:12 and have instant access to the shot of Vice President Mike Pence looking like the uncoolest kid on the first day of school.
Cover the entrances
“Cameras – quick, cover the entrances,” Kent Warfield orders, intuiting that the camera ops are all eyes on Fentick and Pence, and not ready for the big arrival. Just in time, one viewpoint picks up on doors opened by two marines in dress uniform, and then in comes, yes in comes, in comes the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald John Trump.
Antony Fentick is a megawatt movie star. He has worked with many others of his sort and is never glitzed out by fellow legends. He knows how the ordinary little people react to being in his presence – he’s just navigated Security and seen the usual haze of affection which shines from people’s eyes. They think they know him, that they are somehow his friend. And now he sees Donald Trump, and has a small sense of that same feeling: I know you. But you are not my friend.
The co-stars meet in neutral territory, a space rapidly sculpted by the camp followers of each of the three groups. The Vice President and his team obligingly melt further from the action. Some camera operators hustle in. Tone’s radio mic picks up everything, much to Matt’s satisfaction. The cameras catch the look between Trump and Fentick, measuring each other for the most alphaness. Who is tallest? Who is most muscled? Who is richest? Answer, Tone. But who is Presidentest? Undoubted answer, Donald. So Donald wins. He graciously extends his hand, “You have a deal to suggest? I like deals.”
There are now about fifty bodies in the Blue Room, which is a lot of bodies too many. “Mr President Sir,” says Tone. “What I have to propose is somewhat sensitive. It would be preferable to clear the room.” The President nods and does a finger clicking thing that his well-trained followers have clearly seen before. The numbers halve. “And with the greatest respect to the Vice President and his team, I mean for your ears only.” The Vice President and his assistants are also duly clicked out. Then the uniformed Marines. Trump raises a critical eyebrow at Iris and the team of technicians. “They’re security-cleared,” Tone improvises. “We have to record this historic moment.” The President nods. Yep, he understands that.
“May we sit?” Tone indicates the middle of the room, and two of the ninjas magic chairs into position. “These kids are good,” Madeline Moore observes, viewing in Egham, England.
Tone checks that the minicams are in place – one each for him and Trump, one each over the shoulder, one wide shot of them both – but Gabriel has already organised that. Matt is yelling for someone to get a radio mic on Trump, and they’re doing it. He’s a TV showman, he knows the score. “Mirror?” he asks, and Iris produces one from her tote bag. Trump and Fentick de-mask, and Trump checks his hair in the mirror, does some face exercises, pulls down his suit jacket behind him. “Check my shoulders honey,” he says to Iris. He means for hairs or dandruff. “Clear,” say Iris, attempting not to bristle at the honey.
“All good?” Antony Fentick checks again. No-one says No. “Mr President, thankyou so much for granting me this audience.” The President nods kindly assent. “I’m a great supporter of yours Mr President, but discretely of course. However I want to get more engaged. Let me tell you, whatever the outcome of this discussion, I’ll be making a very significant contribution to your re-election campaign.” Another Presidential nod of assent, like it’s the least he expects.
“Is that in the budget?” Jewel McClintock is watching from Brighton, England. Sundeep Ghatak, up the road in London, flips though his spreadsheets, “Nope, but seeing as the primary Production Fund is coming from Fentone anyway, I guess it’s up to him how he spends his money.”
“You’re not trying to offer me a sweetener?” Trump laughs. He mugs to a camera at the side to demonstrate his awareness of the process. This is just a show, and he’s on familiar ground.
“Marking that one,” sings out Lyle O’Nolan. “Sound is good,” confirms Matt Chovanec.
Fentick laughs back. “I’ve contributed before, but anonymously. Now I want to come out fighting. For the American way, for truth and justice, and most of all for Donald Trump.”
“Amen to that,” agrees the President.
“And ‘Amen’ is exactly what I want to hone in on,” Tone Fentick can feel his earnestness working. This could be Oscar material. Later, when he returns to the fold of democracy, people will marvel at how he pulled off this particular performance. “I want to take a lesson from the Bible.”
“Your favourite book, I seem to recall you saying recently Mr President.”
“Sure. Of course. But if you want to get into detail, Mikey’s the one to interview.”
“No Mr President. This is about you, and only you. Let me ask. What did Jesus Christ do in the wilderness?”
“Hmm, tough one. I guess he did stuff. Wilderness stuff?”
“For sure Mr President. Christ went into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, to do Wilderness stuff. He fasted and was tempted, and triumphed.”
“Sure, everyone knows that. He triumphed, sure.”
“Here’s the pitch Mr President: You do the same.” An explosion of mirthless laughter from Donald J. Trump, and more mugging to the side camera. Fentick presses on, “It’s like the greatest reality show ever. A worldwide audience, guaranteed. The biggest ratings.”
“But not in a desert?”
“Not as such. You know Johnny Depp?”
“Know who he is. Not a nice character. Nasty.”
“OK, not the point. Some years ago he introduced me to the Cays – islands to the East of Bermuda. It’s only a coupla hundred miles from Miami to Nassau, then seaplane or chopper from there. Quick and easy right? Johnny introduced me to this paradise, so I snapped up an island – that’s the desert I’m proposing.”
“I have my own luxury places to go to Tone. And what part of this is to do with Jesus?”
“What’s it got to do with our dear Lord? Let me paint you a picture.”
“Now this I really look forward to hearing,” Peta Pete Pinter observed from the gloom of her shuttered Berlin apartment.
Into the wild
“Election time coming up, and we know those cheating Democrats are trying to skew things, like with the postal vote.”
“And they’ll say whatever lies come to mind to try and stop you winning a second term.”
“So between now and November 3rd you’ll be fighting all the way, trying to beat back their lies.”
“Yep. Joke and Cameltoe, lying all the way…”
“Begging your pardon Mr President?”
“Joke Biden and Cameltoe Harris. Lying all the way.”
“That’s really funny Mr President. Great names. Let me ask you – have you ever studied Jujitsu?” Tone Fentick held up his hand, “Rhetorical question. Let me tell you, I have. And you know what? You use the power of your opponent to defeat them. When they push, you pull and boom! You topple them!”
“This is still to do with Jesus right? Always thought it was a strange kinda Mexican name for the son of God, but whatever.”
“It’s to do with you going out into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights, except the wilderness is a private island. You kinda disappear from public discourse. But every day we broadcast you being kinda detached and holy. Your Base will love it, because you’re doing what our good Lord did. Even your enemies will respect that you’ve gone on, kinda like a retreat. And for forty days and forty nights Joke makes every mistake in the book.”
“I get to watch?”
“Of course Mr President Sir. 24/7 if you want. Then after your time in the wilderness,” Fentick makes bunny ear speech marks to indicate how extremely unwild his island is, “You’re back, Bam! You’re fresh, charged up. The opposition is toast. You have become the co-star of the biggest TV show on the planet. You’re the only person anyone anywhere is talking about.”
“I mean star of course. But I’m gonna be with you all the way. You, me and my team, on the island Paradise. I mean you wouldn’t mind sharing the billing with a Hollywood star would you?”
“I get my own rooms? And my own toilet and everything?”
“Sure. Some of the most famous people in the whole world have stayed with me. It’s ritzy.”
“So I disappear for forty days… Just kinda rest up and play a little golf, then I come back and totally crush it?”
“You have it Mr President.”
“He is actually considering this,” Zsuzsa gasps.
“And the money?” Trump was asking. “The deal?”
“A whole heap better than a President of the USA earns.”
Trump nods, “We’ll need to talk about that. I have to think some, run it past Ivanka. This is kinda radical y’know Tone? Not quite the way Bill Stepien and the campaign team were planning for me to play it.”
“Sure. Well it’s your call Mr President. You can take it from your recently-appointed unproven campaign advisor, or the playbook of our Lord. At least I can say I tried.”
“I’m not saying no Tone, just that I have to consider the deal. Here’s the problem though – I can’t just disappear. Even if I’m not fighting Biden all the way, there are appointments, fundraisers. Yesterday I had to go make people happy that got trashed by Hurricane Laura. This week Kenosha. It doesn’t stop. And who’s gonna press the button on the nuclear football if it comes to it?”
“You’ll be just offshore of the USA Sir – supereasy to get back to command and control if you have to. And you do have a Vice President. But here’s the kicker – we put a stand-in here on the scene to handle all the routine stuff. Like he could have been in Louisiana handing out aid.”
“A stand-in? For me? Are you fucking crazy?”
“Let me show you a little video that ‘you’ recorded two days ago in Phoenix.” Another set of bunny ears for the ‘you’. “Iris, can you show President Trump his video? Honey.”
Iris steps forward with her laptop, tempted to smash it over the megastar’s head, but professionalism prevails.
“Sure,” she smiles sweetly. “Take a look at this Mr President.”
“Here we go,” says Kent Warfield. “Showtime.”
Jamar did one last check of his post, read the intro again.
Hi everybody. This is Jamar. I wrote lots of blogs before but I never posted them. Then Mrs Zoozar Wafeel, who is a neighbor helped me realize that I should go ahead and do it. She incouraged me. And I got a big story to start with, about her and some people who are gonna get rid of D. Trump (President).
Yay! I thought that might get you intrested.
This is my blog! I call it JAMAROLOGY! Follow me!
Now heres the BIG STORY…
His first published blog. Wow. His life as an Influencer had begun. He hit send.
Chapter 06 will be published on Thursday 10th September
You are welcome to comment on chapters at any time,
and contribute to Chapter 06 up to 8th September