When Stillness Speaks

Two decades after being convicted of a horrific crime, Caleb Taylor’s life sentence is commuted to time served by the governor. His release comes at the worst possible time for his brother, Brenan, the state’s attorney general with a reputation for being tough on crime, and who is commencing a campaign for governor against the affable, but perceived “weak” incumbent.

The incumbent governor, however, is no push over. He has made a secret deal with Caleb’s attorney, who has come to the governor with revealing and damaging information on Brenan, who bribed and blackmailed key witnesses and hid key evidence that would have exonerated Caleb years ago. The rub is that Caleb’s attorney had a long-term affair with Brenan, and after years of unbearable guilt, the defense lawyer is finally compelled to “right the wrong” and turn over exculpatory evidence.

For his part, Caleb has no recollection of allegedly murdering his father with a baseball bat. Yet he figures he must have committed the crime because he was so high and “jacked up” that he could’ve done anything that night, and besides, his fingerprints were all over the murder weapon.

After being released from prison, Caleb finds work in a small town north of where he grew up, and where Brenan, his family and their mother and sister still live. After being invited to join an addiction recovery group as an advisor, Caleb comes in contact with a woman who sees “the innocence in his eyes and love in his heart.” One night a desperate teenager shows up at the meeting. Caleb befriends him, and then learns the boy is Brenan’s son, who hitchhiked to the small town after getting caught up in a horrible crime that he can’t escape.

Intent on saving his nephew, Caleb is drawn back into the dark family secrets, reliving his past, the gruesome circumstances of his father’s murder and gaining a shot at redemption. But the path toward salvation is filled with obstacles; the largest among them — Brenan, who would rather have his brother killed than to have Caleb’s innocence revealed.

In the end, a fundamental choice must be made: Act in accord with moral rectitude, or languish in the shadowy world of manipulation and half-truths along the road to perdition. What will be the decision when stillness speaks?

Registered with Writers Guild of America. 

Frank T. Provenzano is a journalist, writer and screenwriter. He lives in Detroit. 
Represented by Eric Canton, Canton Literary Management
Phone/Text: 805.406.0527 Skype: ericcanton
Email: ecanton7@gmail.com

 

A Memory Called River

Screenplay

Genre: Historical

LOGLINE

One of the most famous men (Teddy Roosevelt) in the world sets out on a journey to map an uncharted tributary in the Amazon, which turns into a terrifying descent into a psychological abyss where he comes face-to-face with the limits of his ambition and deepest regrets. (Screenplay: Drama/Historical)

SYNOPSIS

Shortly after the devastating defeat in the 1912 presidential election, Theodore “TR” Roosevelt faces a daunting, unexpected challenge: what should he do with the rest of his life. A man of historic prominence and incomparable action with an insatiable curiosity who is struggling to stay a step ahead of the family curse of melancholy that’s led some relatives into the dark corners of despair, TR is emboldened by an expedition to South America, where he’s been invited to give several lectures and come along on a modest excursion into the Amazon jungle.

Notions of a serene and “safe” trip through the jungle, however, change dramatically when TR agrees to join a legendary South African adventurer on the endeavor to map an uncharted tributary, River of Doubt. The adventure through the stark and awe-inspiring landscape is transformed into an inward journey as TR comes to grip with mortality; a deep-seated self-righteousness; and, the gnawing regret of having his brother – a self-destructive alcoholic – placed in a sanitarium. (TR’s brother, Elliott – who is also the father of Eleanor Roosevelt – could not overcome his own demons and committed suicide twenty years earlier.)

From the height of power as president of the United States to a shriveling man infected by malaria, TR finds himself in an unaccustomed helplessness cast somewhere in an unmapped region of the one of the world’s strangest and most mysterious regions. Winning the campaign in the Amazon means coming to terms with the ever-expanding grayness of despair pervading his disposition.

In the end, TR faces the limits of his ambition and the depth of his regret that he couldn’t save his younger brother, Elliott, while he realizes the haunting parallels between his brother and his son, Kermit, who accompanies him on the expedition.
Along the way, TR learns the river is the current that passes through life blending experiences in way that makes the past, present and future inextricably bound.

Interested in reading the screenplay?

Please contact Eric Canton, Canton Literary Management, at ecanton7@gmail.com, 805.406.0527

Mr. President’s Bench

GENRE: Drama

LOGLINE

The dictator of an embattled second-world country arrives in America for medical treatment at the hospital where Armando works as an intensive care nurse. An emigrant from the same country as the despot, Armando befriends the ruler and his wife, and struggles to keep the secret from his father and other expatriates who want to kill the tyrant for revenge and a generous reward.

SYNOPSIS

Armando immigrated to America with his family more than a decade ago. During the last decade, he has worked tirelessly to become assimilated into the American mainstream, and travel along the path of the American Dream. Recently, he has earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing as he’s worked his way up at a prestigious hospital intensive-care unit. While Armando, his wife, two children and father live in a small apartment in a large city, the happenings and social unrest of their homeland, Hautera, are never far from their minds.

Indeed, Armando’s father, Carlos, is part of an expatriate community working to overthrow the despot of the second-world country. The proximity of that challenge becomes strikingly real and urgent when the dictator arrives for medical treatment at the hospital where Armando works. Dedicated to “caring for his patients,” Armando keeps the despot’s whereabouts a secret despite the intensifying search for the detested leader among the expatriate community who has learned the president is not only in America, but also in their city.

A high-price reward for the assassination of the president and a chance encounter with the president’s wife gives an expatriate the incentive and compelling clue of
the location of the despot. The ambitious expatriate hatches a plot that includes Armando’s father, whose oldest son was tortured by the president’s secret security force, and who is filled with unquenchable vengeance. Meanwhile, Armando grows fond of the president and his wife, coming to see them as people with faults who have been foisted as leaders of a country where they have made regrettable compromises to keep the military from taking over.

As the assassination plan goes according to plan, Carlos realizes the futility of vengeance and cannot bring himself to kill the president, thereby leaving him an easy target for the president’s security force. In the end, Armando discovers he can never truly leave behind his homeland, and learns that assimilation into American culture is a painful integration that recasts his cultural identity.

Interested in reading the screenplay?

Please contact Eric Canton, Canton Literary Management, at ecanton7@gmail.com, 805.406.0527

I Knew You When

GENRE: Drama, Romantic

LOGLINE

Mutually saved by a chance encounter when their lives are at a meaningless impasse, Addie and Will realize they are soul mates. Fate, however, casts many obstacles in their way.

SYNOPSIS

Will is a free spirit, looking for a good time, proud of living the bachelor’s life and not giving a commitment to any woman. Meanwhile, Addie is angst-ridden, never been in love (although it’s not because she hasn’t tried), and convinced she should marry despite not feeling in love with one of the nicest men she’s ever known, Bruce.

Will and Addie’s paths cross on a deserted stretch of shoreline when he comes to her rescue after drifting away from shore, looking as if she has intentionally wandered into the deep waters to drown. Drawn together by a magnet attractive force, the magical and torrid love-affair weekend at the beach is based on a mutual understanding that neither will reveal their identity, and both agree to “live in the moment” of what is the most exhilarating and passionate days of their lives.

Six months later, they are stunned when Will shows up at Addie’s wedding to Will’s best friend, Bruce. Knowing much more about each other than either realizes, Will and Addie restrain themselves and agree their weekend affair should be forgotten and they each need to get on with their lives. The problem, however, is once they realize their passion for each other, neither can live without the other.

In the years ahead, Will tries desperately to get past his love for Addie by marrying the daughter of the partner of an architectural firm where he works. But that’s not enough. Looking to “find himself,” Will leaves his wife and travels, settling in a small town out west, working as a bartender. With too much time on his hands, Will is drawn into the local meth scene. Soon thereafter, he is stealing money so he can keep up with his meth habit.

After Will falls on hard times after an unintentional overdose, Bruce comes to his aid and helps him to recover. Moving in with Bruce and Addie stirs up Will’s romantic feelings for Addie, and soon he and Addie are again passionately in love. Yet again, they realize they must leave each other for Will cannot live with himself for being disloyal to his best friend.

Interested in reading the screenplay?

Please contact Eric Canton, Canton Literary Management, at ecanton7@gmail.com, 805.406.0527

The Store

GENRE: Drama, Crime, Family

LOGLINE

In a city on the brink of widespread insurrection, Giacomo Borgetto comes face-to-face with the people and forces shaping post-World War II Detroit, including taking advantage of his connections to the mob while remaining mindful to keep his three sons on the straight-and-narrow path.

SYNOPSIS

In the mid 1940s After World War II, the social strife and impulses of change in Detroit are boiling over. As the home of organized labor, automotive manufacturing, an emerging civil right movement and the growing influence of organized crime, the city is the political and cultural ground zero of the dynamic social forces that will create profound, dramatic changes in the decades ahead.

Giacomo Borgetto — a grocery store owner — has a front-row seat to the people, circumstances and conflicts that will not only shape contemporary Detroit, but mid 20th-century American history. Among the personalities that cross his path are charismatic labor leaders, civil rights ministers, politicians, shrewd corporate executives and mafiaso tough guys.

As an immigrant, Giacomo struggles with assimilating to America culture and retaining the traditions of his homeland – Sicily. Indeed, the traditions are shared by a broad community of relatives and friends, many of who are members of a growing organized crime syndicate. At a critical time when he needed money to start his grocery store business, Giacomo borrowed money from the most powerful mafia family in Detroit, a regrettable decision that haunts him everyday.

Amid an environment of organized labor posturing, communist witch-hunts, and struggles to fight racial segregation, Giacomo struggles to find the moral path for himself, his family and the broader social world. While his choice to “do right” is often cast in a black-and-white world, the choices of this three sons isn’t as clear. Deeply righteous, he seems to be struggling against the prevailing current, although he will be vindicated by history.

Interested in reading the teleplay?

Please contact Eric Canton, Canton Literary Management, at ecanton7@gmail.com, 805.406.0527

 

In the Language of Birds

GENRE: Fantasy

LOGLINE

In the aftermath of the assassination of a beloved king, conspirators take control of the Kingdom of Melderone, unchallenged until the deposed ruler’s rightful heir learns of his destiny in a “Hamlet” meets “Beauty and the Beast” fantastical tale.

SYNOPSIS

The dying King of Melderone names his youngest son, Magnus, the next monarch, bypassing his oldest, conniving son, Torrence. Consequently, political machinations swirl and allegiances balance precariously as royal forces loyal to each brother commence a brutal fight to death to rule Melderone, an archipelago rich in natural resources and ingredients used in the making of a precious glass. The elements are made from the ashes of a buried village in the Sands of the Navejo, where the ghosts impart a curse on the king until he orders for the ground to remain untouched so the people of the sands can embark into the next world.

Unwilling to see the murderous streak in his brother, the kindly King Magnus – adored by the people of Melderone – is victim of an assassination during the annual Festival of the Fishes, a sprawling convivial gathering that fills the village streets of Castione, the capital of the island kingdom. At the time his wife, Queen Gabriella, is several weeks pregnant. When the new king, Torrence, finds out the newborn could challenge his throne, he orders his trusted aide to make sure the baby doesn’t survive. They travel to the Isle of Fortunella, where a physician tends to the Queen’s troubled and torturous pregnancy. Unbeknown to the king’s aide, the child, born with a distinctive birthmark and severely deformed, survives with the defense of flocks of birds, speaking to him in a language that strengthens and protects him – and carries the wisdom of his departed father.

Raised as his son by the physician who delivered him, the child named Ercole grows to become an imposing man, muscular and deformed. Only one person sees the “real, true Ercole” – the lovely Artemesia, daughter of one of the deposed king’s best friends. Through Artemesia’s eyes, she sees a handsome king-in-waiting.

Amid the onset of a revolt led by former allies of the late king, Ercole learns the truth of his birth, and soon joins the rebels to answer the call of destiny. In the end, he marries his great love, Artemesia, and assumes his role as king, ordering the Sands of Navajo to be left untouched and removing the curse on his family. As the people of the Navejo Sands enter into the netherworld and Ercole’s natural, handsome form returns, appearing as a stunningly handsome king, who is beneficent and restores justice to the Kingdom of Melderone.

Interested in reading the screenplay?

Please contact Eric Canton, Canton Literary Mangement, at ecanton7@gmail.com, 805.406.0527

THE U

GENRE: Drama, Social

LOGLINE

Jonathan Walden — idealistic and high-minded — is a long shot to become president of Midwest University until a shrewd deal gets him the post at the proverbial liberal arts/research school where football, status, allowing donors to have their way and taking any action to protect the brand is the norm.

SYNOPSIS

Few other times in its 200-year history has Midwest University (“The U.”) faced such a long list of grievances that expose many of its least appealing features and hypocrisies. In the heat of intense public criticism provoked by a mishandling of a rape case, a lawsuit by minority students regarding unfair admission policies, donors who seemingly get whatever they want and an athletic program playing fast and loose with the rules, the board of regents has voted narrowly to hire a new president – an alumnus with a brilliant record as a scholar, administrator and progressive thinker.

Soon after becoming president of Midwest University, Jonathan Walden learns the many ways “The U.” isn’t ready, willing or capable of changing. Indeed, “The U.” is a cesspool of self-interest where the dominant ethos is doing whatever it takes to get ahead, and where status transcends academic achievement.

In the early days, Jonathan learns of the many promises made by his predecessor, a charismatic less-than forthright aggrandizer brought to “The U.” to attract donors and create the wealthiest endowment for a university in the world. Slowly, the political minefield of navigating “The U.” – much more than a university and closer to a behemoth corporation – becomes startlingly apparent.

Through a series of inquires and setbacks, Jonathan learns the power of “The U.” is found in the alignment of special interest groups, including wealthy alumni, notable faculty, the legendary football coach, and a range of corporate and individual investors betting on turning research into profits.

Determined to transform “The U.” into pure environment of higher learning, academic integrity and a model for social justice, Jonathan seeks to rebuild the university culture from the grassroots. In his journey to make personal connections with donors, faculty, staff and students, he comes face-to-face with the cut-throat politics of wealthy donors, self-centered professors, staffers caught in a passive mindset, and students who live most days on the edge, pushing boundaries and wallowing in the excesses of despair, newfound freedom, drugs and sex while fixated on the latest gossip and postings in the social media world.

“The U.” is more than an in-depth look at the inherent contradictions of a major university and the precarious values of higher education; it’s a barometer of the state of American ideals.

Interested in reading the teleplay?

Please contact Eric Canton, Canton Literary Management, at ecanton7@gmail.com, 805.406.0527