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Bearded Babe - synopsis
Slug Line: Middle-aged band finally gets a record deal - Archie Bunker meets Jerry Garcia
Created and written by Randy Chance
Gus, Brad and Dizzy are middle aged guys who have had a rock band together since they were teen agers. (Gus - guitar, Brad - keyboards and Dizzy - drums). They live in their own little fantasy world, in a trailer in a garage in an alley in North Hollywood. They are always complaining about how much better everything was back in the sixties - especially the music. (Archie Bunker is now Jerry Garcia and the dysfunctional family is a rock band.)
Their bass player, Brian, left mysteriously in the middle of the night (with Gus' old Fender guitar) back in the late seventies after having gotten very domestic and ranting on the rest of the band for not growing up. Brian had gotten married, bought a house and fathered a child, all of which he just suddenly left one night when he'd vanished without a trace. The three remaining band members are full of exaggerated mythology as to what they think had happened to Brian in the intervening years.
The band, called "Bearded Babe" also has an airport shuttle service with a Volkswagen van that is left over from 1972. It has flowers and a bearded baby painted on the side.
Gus is driving a very yuppie, uptight guy named Mel to the airport in the shuttle van and he talks about his band and plays a cassette in the van of some of their music. Mel gets very excited about it and says he has connections in the music business and wants to rep them.
Gus tells the rest of the band about the possible success, and all three of them go nuts. Mel sends his assistant, "Zombie" and his attorney, "Elaine" around to hear them. The band has a lot of friction with Zombie, who is a thirty-something gen x-er and hates baby boomers, but Zombie sets up a recording session because it's his job and he has to. During their interaction, Elaine the attorney reveals to the three band members that Mel is actually a multi-millionaire and he's head of one of the biggest record labels in the world. The three band members go even more nuts.
The record label's promotion machine goes into effect - The band makes big time news on MTV and VH1, though it's mostly in a pretty mocking way, which irritates them no end ("Old Man Band Lands Major Record Deal" etc.). The band starts getting into self destructive behavior and acting out all kinds of comical dysfunction.
Gus has his usual guitar lesson with his fifteen year old student, Dylan and he brags about his group's record deal. Dylan reveals wearily to Gus that Mel is actually his father and he's only signing them to get the government off his back for age discrimination. Dylan had suggested Gus' band when his dad was told by his attorney Elaine, that the government was going to make an example of him - his record label didn't have any artists over 30. (Dylan said, "Elaine told him, 'They're going to start really cracking down on the age discrimination thing in the music business, and you're going to be their first victim. They're going to make an example of you.' My dad said, 'Where am I going to find a middle-aged rock band?' I said, 'What about Gus?' Dad said, 'Who's Gus?' I said, 'My guitar teacher. He's always yapping on about this band he's had forever.'") It turns out that the drive to the airport was all set up in advance so Mel and Gus could meet. Gus is crushed and feels betrayed, but is determined to somehow prevail despite the difficulties. He thinks maybe there is a way he can turn this into his 'big break' after all.
Dizzy is on his way to the studio with the band's equipment in their VW Van when he gets into an accident and totals the VW. It comes out that he was drunk.
Gus and everyone else rush to the hospital, to see how badly Dizzy got hurt in the crash. Journalists, photographers and a famous TV personality have the hospital in an uproar. They are there to do a telethon fund-raiser for a rare and tragic high-tech neurological disease called, "AND" ("Anterior Neurological Dysfunction"). The poster boy for this year's telethon is in the hospital. Brad asks a nurse, "Who's this year's poster boy?" The nurse says his name: 'Johnathan S. Longshiver the Third.'
They also find out that the poster boy for the disease is in the very next room to Dizzy.
Dizzy has only broken his leg and he is convinced he can still play. Gus goes out for some food, and to avoid the crowd, he takes the freight elevator back to Dizzy's room. The big time television personality and his skeleton crew also get in, to avoid the crowds and to get up to the room of the AND poster boy to interview him. Gus has to think fast. He convinces the TV crew that, in the name of privacy, the hospital rooms have been switched, and steers the TV personality to Dizzy's room instead.
As luck would have it, as they are heading down the hall to Dizzy's room, the REAL Johnathan S. Longshiver steps out from his hospital room. Gus has to think fast, and works hard to convince everyone that this guy is really their road manager.
They all enter Dizzy's hospital room, and Gus talks fast to try to alert everyone to his plan: that Dizzy is the real sufferer from Anterior Neurological Disorder. To his great surprise, Johnathan Longshiver begins to ad lib in a way that helps, and seems genuinely empathetic about Dizzy's suffering. The TV crew eat it up, and begin video taping immediately.
Then Mel, his assistant "Zombie", his attorney "Elaine" and two policemen barge in. Gus is terrified that they have uncovered his little plot. Mel announces that the whole record deal is off: The cops have discovered that Dizzy's accident wasn't an accident - the brake cable had been cut. He's afraid that if he pursues this any further, more people might get hurt.
A scuffle ensues. Everyone begins to blame Mel's assistant, Zombie, the gen-exer who never really liked them to begin with. The TV people are confused.
Zombie insists he couldn't possibly have done it. In his anger at having been suspected, he reveals the scam about signing the band because of age discrimination. Gus counters his anger by disclosing that Dylan had already told him that. Zombie insists that Mel had never thought of them as anything more than a tax write-off.
Mel says he originally got interested in the band because of what Elaine, his attorney had told him about the age discrimination thing, but as he got to know them and hear their music, he got in touch with why he first loved music as a kid, and realized that, deep down inside, he was a "bearded babe" himself, and never really liked all the young rappers, heavy metal bands and others he'd been signing in recent years just to make tons of money. He had realized that it was much better for everyone if he would promote this band legitimately and see if there would be a real audience who would want to buy their music.
Zombie begins to defend himself again. Dizzy asks Mel's attorney, Elaine if she has anymore of that booze. Zombie is thinking hard. He suddenly says, "You gave Dizzy the liquor, didn't you?" Elaine counters with, "I just bought him a drink." Then Zombie says, "You know, come to think of it, you were the one who suggested Gus as a guitar teacher for Dylan, weren't you?" Elaine counters with, "I saw the free listing in L.A. Weekly."
Dylan says, "What d'you mean, 'L.A. Weekly?' You told me you were a fan of Gus' band and you had known him way back when". Gus says he'd never seen Elaine before Mel got interested in their band.
Suddenly, Elaine begins to look very suspicious.
Elaine goes into a rage and reveals that she is actually the daughter of Brian, their long-lost bass player.
She hated them because she blamed them for why her father disappeared so long ago. She invented the scheme about the government cracking down on record companies for age discrimination because she wanted to flush out the band and do something to really hurt them. She had deliberately gotten Dizzy drunk when she knew Dizzy was going to drive the equipment to the telethon, and she had cut the brake cable. She wanted to somehow destroy them for taking her father away from her, and yet at the same time was hoping all along that if she helped draw attention to the band, it might turn up some clues as to where her father was, or what had happened to him.
At this point, Johnathan S. Longshiver the Third comes forth and tells Elaine she doesn't have to look any further. He is, indeed, her father Brian. He'd left one night when he'd decided that he just couldn't take the responsibility of married life and home ownership and fatherhood anymore. He'd been living in Bakersfield under an assumed name ever since he'd left. ["That night we played that American Legion Post in West Covina. I went out to get a six pack for us and there was this kid in front who wanted me to buy him beer. A guy drove up and said, 'Are you interested in any fake I.Ds?' Two days later I drove back on my own with fifty bucks. I became ___ 'Jonathan S. Longshiver the Third'."
Elaine grabs Brian from behind and pulls out a gun. "Why should I have any remorse over ending your life? You ended mine twenty six years ago when you walked out on my mother and you walked out on me."
A struggle develops. Elaine attempts to shoot Brian, but the poster boy is too fast for her. He pulls something long out from under his hospital gown and swings it like lightening up over his head and beans Elaine out cold in a second flat. Turns out his weapon is an old Fender Stratocaster. [The twitch from his disease creates the bang on Elaine's head].
"I didn't like her when she was seven years old, and I don't like her now."
Brian hands the guitar to Gus. "Here. You can use this to play the telethon." Gus is touched. He asks if it's the guitar Brian had stolen so long ago. "Hell no. I pawned that to get to Bakersfield. I ripped this one off of some punk band's road manager in 1986. I thought that thing of yours was worth something. I was trying to get to London."
The ending of the story sees Bearded Babe doing a great live performance at the telethon and everyone loving them. They are on their way to the massive success they always knew would someday happen but were always convinced never actually would.