Ever wanted to act out a Murdoch family drama with your friends? Did you always fight with your kid brother over who got to play Lachlan during your childhood games of News Corp?
Well now's your chance: Here are a couple choice scenes from the unproduced screenplay about Rupert Murdoch that everyone in Hollywood loves but no one has the balls to make.
Forbes' Jeff Bercovici was the first to get hold of the script by British writer Jesse Armstrong, which takes place over the course of one day as the Murdoch clan gathers to celebrate his 78th birthday, but we are the first to post actual scenes.
The script has Murdoch playing the angles on his own kids in an effort to get them to agree to alter the family trust to cut in his children with third wife Wendi Deng—a move that would effectively give Deng control of News Corp after Murdoch dies (or as Lachlan put it, would "fuck his family in the jam-hole").
Below are two key scenes, but first some casting notes:
For Rupert, we're going with Tom Wilkinson.
And for his wife, Wendi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's Michelle Yeoh.
For James, Parenthood's Peter Krause.
And for his brother Lachlan, Greg Kinnear (he'll have to play younger).
And finally, for daughter Elizabeth, Holly Hunter.
The first scene we chose shows Rupert capriciously firing Cal Pawsey, a composite senior News Corp executive, for advising him not to alter the trust. Pawsey is a toadie of James, the presumed heir apparent, and was partly responsible for icing Lachlan Murdoch out of the company. Pawsey unleashes a tirade on the fundamental emptiness of Murdoch's "content," and Rupert responds with a defense of lowest-common-denominator news.
Cal is pumped up and ready to pop. But instead of keeping him in the private office, RUPERT shows him out — walking him into the living room. They're in the public arena. Cal's all flustered. He picks up the wrong coat.
CAL PAWSEY This isn't my — where's my coat? (gathering his stuff, to himself) Fucking bullshit.
Wendi takes the young kids out, but the older ones start to notice this disturbance in the room, start to gather, or pay closer attention.
RUPERT (did he mishear or is he poking?) What's that mate?
CAL PAWSEY (louder) This is fucking bullshit.
For a quiet life Rupert should show him out, but for some reason he needles him a little.
RUPERT Yeah, you see it's for insights like that I've always enjoyed having you round.
Wendi has looked out another coat. She hands it to him.
CAL PAWSEY This isn't my coat alright! It isn't the right fucking coat!!
RUPERT Did you even have a coat?
CAL PAWSEY You fuck everything, don't you?
RUPERT That's right Cal.
CAL PAWSEY You fucked Australia. You fucked the UK. Now you're fucking me and the USA. That's what you do isn't it?
RUPERT Oh okay? You've been taking the pay but now let's hear what you really think big man?
CAL PAWSEY You take the papers and the cable stations and the — fucking anything — and you hollow them out and you pump them up full of shit and then you sell these baubles of shit and you fuck them.
RUPERT You were happy enough til today. Funny that.
CAL PAWSEY Yeah well, I thought I could do something. I thought we would do something. I guess I thought there was something fucking decent here. But you know what it's just a big fat bauble of shit.
This is too much for Lachlan. He's boiling up.
LACHLAN Two billion people can get their news from us Cal.
CAL PAWSEY Yeah, whatever. Someone else would have done it. What's he done that'll last? .
CAL PAWSEY Do you know what you are Rupe? You're a fucking sub.
JAMES C'mon mate, fuck off now.
CAL PAWSEY Once a sub — always a sub. He's fucking Beeverbrook's sub at heart. It's all about the strap-line, isn't it Rupe?
CAL PAWSEY We don't do content. We do the promise of content. The most fucking tantalizing way of plating up one single gram of media protein.
JAMES Mate. Come on dude.
CAL PAWSEY That's what he's does. He slaps a fat stupid strap-line on everything and the whole world goes, 'oh shit, better have a look.'
RUPERT If I'm the problem, Cal? Who are the good guys, eh? Who are these guys you want running the news? The good old days? Hearst? Fat Bob Maxwell? Nazi Rothermere? Are these the guys you want? Conrad Black in jail? Russian spooks buying up London? Are these the guys I should sell out to? Cos I tell you one thing, it's not going to be the Scott-Trust- Sulzberger-Bancroft family selling wedges of National Public Radio 4 on eco-friendly shit roll. It's going to be some hard nosed bastard who gives people what they want.
CAL PAWSEY And you know, don't you? You always know?
RUPERT No. No I don't. But I tell you what, you find out. Cos people don't buy what they don't want.
CAL PAWSEY People buy the shiniest shit on the shelf — and that's what we sell.
RUPERT You know who the cynical fuckers are? Not me giving people what they want, it's the pricks who think they know what people want. I trust the man on the street. They hate him. They think he's getting reprogrammed by Fox and jerking off to page three, but I know it's just not that fucking serious, Cal. He's listening to this, he's listening to that, and he doesn't want some toffee nosed cunt telling him what's what?
CAL PAWSEY Yeah well, see you around.
RUPERT Yeah go on Cal. No need for a thanks. No need for that. Who built this firm? Who is this firm. It's my firm, I do what I like, mate.
In the story's climactic scene, the Lachlan confronts Rupert over his failure to support his efforts to find a foothold in News Corp, and the kids finally reject his proposal to alter the trust.
He is ushers his kids towards his office. But as they go in he just goes to have one final word with Lachlan. As James and Pru head in, RUPERT takes him aside for a final firm-up.
RUPERT So, you alright son, everything clear?
LACHLAN Yeah, yeah I think so.
RUPERT Good. Cos. You know. I hope you can be there for your Dad, cos I've always been there for you, right son? This is just a bit too much for Lachlan. He laughs.
LACHLAN Yeah right.
LACHLAN Nothing Dad. It's fine.
LACHLAN (can't quite let it go) Just — when I did need you, when I was on the inside — maybe you could actually have muzzled the attack dogs who chewed my ass off?
RUPERT (ushering him in) I never knew Lachlan. It was all behind my back mate ...
LACHLAN I got fucked six ways hard by each Tuesday lunch and you were always looking the other way?
RUPERT A business isn't a cruise ship Lachlan. Friction makes heat. Napoleon didn't have a fucking career development officer, right?
LACHLAN Fine. I don't want to get into the old stuff.
It might be okay if they both leave it.
RUPERT You're older now. You know what you're doing now.
LACHLAN I knew what I was doing before Dad I knew what I was fucking doing, I just needed some back up.
RUPERT Well I fired Cal didn't I?
Lachlan wants to let things lie, but he can't quite let this go.
LACHLAN Today. Today you fired him, when you wanted, not when I said we should. It always suits you doesn't it?
RUPERT Have you been speaking to your mother? What's eating you?
LACHLAN Here we all are — and you've dropped this bomb on us — and we're trying to have a party for you and you're nearly 80 and you're playing these games and why can't we just be a family and hang out?
Liz is on her way in.
RUPERT Liz honey — just will you tell them I'll be two minutes, me and Lachlan just need to finish something and ...
ELIZABETH It's a no.
ELIZABETH No, no fucking way.
RUPERT Oh come on, hold on ... but, no, Liz sweetheart ...
James and Pru come and check out what's going on.
JAMES What's up?
LACHLAN She's saying no.
JAMES You're saying no?
RUPERT No she's not.
ELIZABETH Yes I am.
RUPERT This is hasty.
LACHLAN But Dad, why? Ah? What's it all for? All the, the acquisitions and the deals and the — this today — bullshit? What are you building, what shape is it even meant to fucking be?
RUPERT (dry) The final shape hasn't been determined. C'mon kids let's get in there and ...
LACHLAN But what the fuck is it all for? Why have you built this fucking Noah's ark of money and fucking newspapers and us?
RUPERT (joking trying to keep it light) Keeps me alive. A few more deals I reckon I can go to 120.
He's joking. But a bit of him isn't.
LACHLAN But Jesus Dad, is it worth it? I mean, what ... profits a man if he gains the world but, but, but, fucks his family in the jam-hole?
RUPERT Are you're looking for rosebud Lachlan? Ah? The key to it all? Well, fuck rosebud. The yankee dollar, that's all rosebud is, a hundred dollar bill mate. So stop worrying your heads and let's sign up.
LACHLAN I don't buy it.
Rupert can feels things slipping. Then, to all the kids:
RUPERT You know what the whole world is to me, family.
LACHLAN Yeah it's your greatest achievement. Funny how we all live on different fucking continents isn't it?
RUPERT This is a good family. How many billionaires do you know without a smackhead kid? Without one who's gone tits up on booze or God?
LACHLAN Yeah this family is better than Harvard business school. But how come you had to sow the seeds of fuck in everything? Did we ever have a game that wasn't a competition? Ah? And if it's all about the family — was it a good idea to have three different ones?
RUPERT That's too much.
LACHLAN So, you know what? No. I'm not signing up so you can keep things sweet here. I'm not a turkey and I'm not voting for Christmas. So screw you Dad. I love you Dad.
[Photos via Getty]