Song for the Soul
Thanks to R. Joy Helvie &
TVNewsCam for information taken from the
A Song For The Soul
April 7, 1963
INT. BACKSTAGE - NIGHT - ON SAM
An explosion of azure and white subsides into sam as he is
being hustled off stage. He slams his head into a low
overhang while screams and applause wash in from the wings.
"My Boyfriends Back" vamps from the house band on stage.
Sam wears a beehive wig and a black chiffon dress. He is
being pushed by two black girls in identical wigs and
dresses. The smallest is Lynell. She is all of fifteen and a
bundle of adorable energy. Next to her is Paula, seventeen,
lanky and all attitude.
Are you all right?
Listen, God listen, they love us!
Girlfriend, we were bad!
They slide some skin and squeal with delight. The announcer
yells to the audience from the stage.
BOBBY LEE'S VOICE
Y'all want more?
Screams and cheers from the crowd.
BOBBY LEE'S VOICE
Let's bring 'em back one more time!
Ladies and Gentlemen, The Lovettes.
They both turn wide-eyed to Sam; a mix of panic and delight
flushes their faces.
They want an encore!
Cheree, what do we do!
NEW ANGLE - INCLUDING BOBBY LEE
He's slick and handsome and is all style with his conk and
shiny sharkskin suit. He anxiously rushes up to the girls and
Ladies, ladies, get to it!
We don't have any more songs.
Just do a reprise. Cheree?
Oh, no I...I don't think I...
Sam catches his reflection in a full length mirror.
SAM'S POV - INTO MIRROR
A healthy black girl, stuffed into the chiffon dress, stares
back at him. Her eyes widen as she looks from the beehive wig
and down to the dress. Then settling on Cheree's face, we
Come on Cheree.
FEATURING SAM - INCLUDING MIRROR IMAGE
His expression is one of total stun as he mouths...
(calls out to the
From the bridge!
They shove a reluctant Sam back on stage as we...
END OF TEASER
INT. BOBBY'S BLUE NOTE NIGHTCLUB - NIGHT - FEATURING SAM
He is hopelessly trying to get through the lyrics, not to
mention the choreography of "My Boy Friend's Back."
'And he knows that you've been
tryin', and he knows that you've
been lyin'. What made you think he
believes all your lies. My Boy
Friend's back and there's gonna be
SAM AND PAULA
'Hey la de la, My Boy Friend's
back. Hey la del la My Boy
Lynell wails on top, trying to hold onto the crowd all the
while looking from Paula to Sam, as if he's lost his mind.
The audience is with them for awhile, but even they are
having trouble figuring out what the hell is going on. The
handclaps dissipate from a rockin' full house to a measly few.
CLOSE ON SAM
He's dying. As he smiles and fakes his way through the end of
the number, you have to feel for the way he's suffering.
ON GIRLS AND SAM
They can't believe what's happening. They hit their final
pose and Sam scrambles to match the picture. We hold an
anguished beat, and we hang on to the sound of one hand
clapping, as we...
EXT. CHICAGO STREET - NIGHT - ON SAM AND GIRLS
They talk and walk down a southside neighborhood street,
carrying their bundles of costumes and wigs. Their makeup has
been washed away and they are dressed in cotton dresses of
the period. For the first time you can see how young these
girls are. In the distance a street gang harmonizes a "Do
You must have hit your head a lot
harder than you thought.
Sam looks around him, a little uncomfortable about the area
they are walking in. They pass an occasional wino.
Uh...yeah. I guess I did.
We could have won.
That would have been a hundred
dollars, new costumes and a shot
at the finals.
Bobby Lee said we could come back
and try again.
He was scopin' you so hard, he
would have said anything.
That's not true. He just saw that
Cheree hurt herself and wanted to
give us another chance.
We should have won.
Paula notices Sam checking out the street.
(continuing; to Sam)
Now, what's your problem?
Well, I was just thinking that it
was kind of late for you...us...to
be out walking around by ourselves.
My daddy would kill me if he knew
I was her and so would yours.
Cheree's old man doesn't stay home
long enough to know when she's
RAG HEAD TEEN'S VOICE
Hey baby, come on over here and
talk to me.
The "Do Wop" dissipates into cat calls and whistles.
NEW ANGLE - INCLUDING THREE HARD-LOOKING BLACKS
They lounge all over the stoop of a run-down Brownstone.
Garbage is strewn around them.
Now, who the hell would want to
talk to your ugly ass?
RAG HEAD TEEN
You're talkin' to me, Paula. Come
on, bring your fine brown body
I said I don't talk to night
crawlers. So why don't you just
crawl back into whatever hole you
crawled out of.
The boys start to get up and Paula stops defiantly and puts
her hands on her hips. Sam grabs Paula by the arm and pulls
Just keep walking.
The boys circle around in front of them. The Rag Head stops
RAG HEAD TEEN
What about you darlin'? 'Cause you
know I like me some tall, healthy
Why don't you and your friends
just go on back and sit down.
RAG HEAD TEEN
Why don't you just sit down with
Well, actually we were supposed to
be home hours ago, and my father's
gonna be real upset if...
RAG HEAD TEEN
Well, let's give him somethin' to
be real upset about.
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING SAM
Sam's moves are so fast that the youth never knew what hit
him. A roundhouse kick, followed through with a straight
kick, sends the boy into a mound of trash cans. The little
group stands frozen in shock for a beat and then Sam takes a
stance to face off the other two youths. They scramble and
vanish into the night, with the Rag Head a few steps behind.
ON SAM, PAULA AND LYNELL
They are staring at Sam with their mouths hanging wide open.
Sam shuffles, trying to cover and starts walking, dragging
the two stunned girls with him.
How did you do that?
I think we better get home.
We live this way.
(turning the corner)
Cheree, I think we better get you
to the hospital. I mean, somethin'
must of really happened when you
hit your head.
Are you crazy? That bump turned
this child into some kind of
Paula mimics one of Sam's moves like a dance step.
Maybe we can put some of it in the
I love this move.
I...really don't know what
happened back there. But I do know
young girls shouldn't be walking
the streets at two in the morning.
Especially one with a mouth like
I can take care of myself!
They turn the corner and head past a row of old Brownstone
houses. They stop and head down some steep steps to a
basement door. Lynell hands her bundle to Sam. Her voice
drops to a whisper and she begins to work the lock with a
All I know is if Cheree hadn't
done whatever it was she did,
you'd be tellin' my daddy about it
'cause I'd a made sure I was dead.
(reaching for bundle)
Are you gonna spend the night?
Well, no, maybe I better...
Maybe the three of you better...
WIDER ANGLE - INCLUDING REVEREND WALTERS
He's a tall, imposing man of about fifty. He stands before
them wearing a simple sweater and a stern look. Reverend
Walters voice explodes like a cannon in the night.
...get your hides right through
this door and do some serious
explaining about what my daughter
is doing out until two in the
Paula, Sam and Lynell look like deer caught in someone's
headlights, wide-eyed and frozen.
I said, inside!
SAM'S VOICE OVER
Leaping into other people's lives
has taught me never to judge a
book by its cover, as well as many
other equally cliche, but useful,
Sam and the girls march sheepishly inside, as we...
INT. WALTERS HOME - MIRROR SHOT
The girls sit quietly in a row on the living room couch
looking down at their hands while the Reverend preaches to
them about the sins of singing in nightclubs. Lynell is in
REV. WALTERS SAM'S VOICE OVER
...and you certainly aren't I liked this man. Even with
old enough or experienced all his blustering and
enough to understand the bravado, Reverend Walters
kind of people who frequent was actually saying
places like that. Not to everything that I had
mention the fact that three wanted to say since this
young girls have no place leap started. His concern
on the streets of Chicago for his daughter's safety
unescorted at two o'clock and well-being was as
in the morning. And since grounded in as much reality
you are foolish enough to as the walk we just took
not understand the dangers home.
of life in a big city...
Camera pans around with the pacing Reverend to reveal Sam
sitting on the couch.
So, I've taken it upon myself to
call your parents and tell them
what's going on and how you
children have lied to us.
We wouldn't have to lie if you'd
come hear us, Daddy.
We're really good, Reverend.
I will not support my fifteen-year-
old daughter singing in a brothel.
It's not a brothel!
Paula, your mother is waiting up
for you right now and Cheree,
since your parents are...not
in...you are staying with Lynell
and I, until they come back.
I...I don't think you understand
how important this is to us, Daddy.
What's important is that you
understand there will be no more
nonsense about singing in
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING LYNELL AND REVEREND WALTERS
Lynell stands in terrified defiance, her small frame dwarfed
under his strong angular shoulders. She unleashes a rage of
It...it's not nonsense.
Not finishing school is nonsense.
Not getting your degree is
nonsense. Not becoming...
I want people to hear me sing!
You can sing for God and my
God gave me a voice to do with
whatever I want.
Not as long as you are under my
Then I'll leave!
I won't let him lock me away in
this miserable house. I killed
mama and I won't let it kill me
With that Lynell runs out of the room, trying desperately to
hold onto her emotions.
Lynell! Lynell Walters!
You come back here.
NEW ANGLE - ON ALL
Sobbing, Lynell races up the stairs to her bedroom. Paula is
on her feet and about to go after her when Reverend Walters
holds her back.
Let her go, Paula.
Paula turns on the Reverend. He is crestfallen by his
daughter's words. His eyes never leave the empty stairs.
She didn't mean that, Reverend. I
swear she didn't.
But she did. She still misses her
I love her and I have to do what
I believe is right. She'll
understand that when she grows up.
I better walk you home. Your
mama's up waitin' for you.
I'll walk her home. Why don't you
go talk to your daughter.
The Reverend smiles.
And then who's gonna walk you back
Cheree can take care of herself,
Reverend. You should have seen...
Sam clamps a hand over her mouth to shut her up. Sam looks
into the mirror.
SAM'S POV - MIRROR SHOT - ON CHEREE AND PAULA
The two girls stand there as Paula pulls her hand away and
shoots her a look.
Of course. I don't know what I was
NEW ANGLE - BACK ON SCENE
The Reverend Walters picks up Paula's bundle, hands it to her
and then gestures toward the door. He turns back to Sam.
Tell Lynell to get you a nightgown
from her mother's chest. There's
a blue one that should fit you
We'll all talk after services
With that he opens the door and gestures for Paula to exit.
Paula shoots a last look at Sam and they head out, closing
the door behind him.
NEW ANGLE - INCLUDING AL
He stands quietly in the b.g., watching. Sam startles a beat
when he sees him.
How long have you been here?
Long enough to hear the fireworks
between Lynell and her father.
She's a very angry little girl.
All Ziggy's come up with is that
her mother dies five years ago of
no apparent causes.
From what little we have to put
together, she just went to her bed
one day and stayed there until she
died, six months later.
What did the autopsy say?
So Ziggy thinks I'm here to help
Lynell deal with her mother's
We don't know. We're still
assimilating the data.
Well, what do you know?
Know about what?
NEW ANGLE - INCLUDING LYNELL
She stands watching Sam with a curious look on her face. He
picks up a photo of the three girls together in the living
That...you still have this old
picture of us.
Good recovery, Sam.
Old? I just got that printed last
Not so good.
Last week! How time flies when
Quit while you're ahead, Sam.
People are gonna think you're as
crazy as I feel.
You're not crazy.
Sam crosses next to her and the two of them sit on the sofa.
FEATURING SAM AND LYNELL
She is dressed in her babydoll PJ's and holds a folded
nightgown in her arms. There is almost a reverence in the way
she touches it before she passes it on to Sam. Al stands to
the sides. He and Sam exchange a look. The handlink beeps.
I'm going to be, if I don't get
out of this house.
According to Ziggy, she runs away
day after tomorrow.
You heard him. He's got my life
planned for the next twenty years.
Your father seems to be trying to
He wants to control me.
He loves you.
It's killing me, Cheree. The same
way it killed my mother.
Sam and Al exchange a look.
Don't look at me. Ziggy's working
as fast as he can.
I don't think your mother's death
was your father's fault.
You weren't here, Cheree. You
didn't see what it was like.
She had no friends. She wasn't
allowed to go out, except to
You're just angry and...
No, I'm not. And I'm not going to
let him lock me in and make me
shrivel up and die so he won't be
I'm hungry, want some chicken?
With that she heads into the kitchen.
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING SAM AND AL
They watch her as she exits the room. Al works the handlink.
What happens, Al?
She runs away and tries to make it
as a singer. Gets locked up in a
slave contract, someone named
Bobby Lee and it's pretty downhill
from there on out.
Drugs, arrests, crummy little
And her father?
We hear the sounds of the front door opening and they both
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING REVEREND WALTERS
tired and troubled. He locks the front door, his mind
preoccupied with the events of the evening.
Dies in Seventy two after losing
his church to a fire.
Ziggy says he and Lynell never
speak to each other again.
CLOSE ON SAM
He looks from Al to Reverend Walters and back again, as we...
END OF ACT ONE
EXT. CHURCH FRONT - DAY - ESTABLISHING - STOCK
The strains of a gospel chorus wail and fill the cloudless
sky with songs of praise. Above the chorus Lynell's voice
soars clear and free singing, "He may not come when you want
him, but he's right on time."
He may not come when you want him,
but he's right on time. Right on,
on time. He may not come when you
want him, but he's right on time,
INT. CHURCH FRONT - DAY - FEATURING LYNELL, SAM AND PAULA
She stands among the choir, her face glowing with the spirit
of God. Next to her, Sam claps to the rhythm of the music as
he watches Lynell. The organ and tambourines, as well as the
handclaps of the congregation, praise the Lord.
Same today and forever more, He'll
be there, don't you worry. He will
open every door. He may not come
when you want him, but he on time.
Right on, right on, Right on time,
he's on time. Right on. Right on
Right on. Right on.
WIDER ANGLE - ON ALL
The song ends on a sustain that's so powerful it sends
shivers up your spine and then falls into the revel of
praises and amens.
Amen! Praise the Lord! God
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING REVEREND WALTERS
He stands and crosses to the podium, his face reflecting
power and reverence. He stops and studies his congregation.
They respond to his sermon as the spirit moves them.
The voices of children.
The voices of children raised in
praise to the Lord God Almighty.
You know what that means, brothers
and sisters? It means...we are
Yes, Lord. Bless the children.
Blessed are those who walk in the
name of the Lord.
We are blessed. But with each
blessing comes the dangers of
temptation. Sinful temptation that
often leads those pure, sweet
young spirits to stand in the
fiery light of Satan himself.
Save us Father! Sweet Jesus!
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING LYNELL
It's obvious by the expression on her face that she's angry
at the intimation her father is preaching. She exchanges
looks with Sam.
And in that burning light those
innocent children lose their way
to God's light. And fall by the
wayside...like the seeds of the
farmer that fall upon the barren
rock never to take root and bear
God help us save the children from
Save the children.
NEW ANGLE - SAM AND AL
He stands next to Sam obviously caught up in the passion of
the sermon. Sam just looks at him.
There's nothing like a good
preacher to make you remember the
devil's out there waiting to try
Does that mean he got you and
forgot to let go?
I...uh...have to go to the ladies
Lynell nods and turns back as the choir stands to sing. Sam
rises and crosses in front of Al, gesticulating for him to
Got me and forgot to let go.
Al feigns mock hurt and exits. Sam makes faces of "I have to
go to the bathroom" as he passes the pianist.
INT. SIDE CORRIDOR OF CHURCH - ON SAM AND AL
They slip out the door and into a narrow corridor. The choir
goes into a rich spiritual. "Walk in the light of the Lord."
I resent your insinuations.
I'll have you know that I went to
Catholic schools my whole life.
That was at the orphanage and only
until you ran away.
It always amazes me what your
Swiss-cheesed brain chooses to
I think I figured out why I'm here.
Ziggy says there's a ninety
percent chance you're here to keep
Lynell out of show business.
I'm here to make sure her father
supports her and therefore keeps
their relationship intact.
No, no, no, Ziggy says...
Ziggy has been known to be wrong.
So, you and I have to trust her
statistics over yours.
She keeps better records.
Besides, Ziggy says the day after
tomorrow, you're supposed to sing
in some local contest. The winner
gets a hundred bucks and a guest
spot at the Regal Theater.
It's Chicago's version of the
Sam walks forward and peers into a side window of the church.
Except Lynell didn't sing.
SAM'S POV - LYNELL
singing with the choir.
She sings, alright.
BACK ON SAM AND AL
Sam turns from the window and stares at Al.
Apparently she lies to her father.
He finds out, traces her to the
club and pulls her off stage in
the middle of the show. A fight
breaks out and...
Lynell never forgives him.
Then I'm right.
I'm here to help Reverend Walters
understand and accept his daughter.
How are you supposed to do that?
Maybe if he saw how good we were...
...oh no! That means I'll have to
So! First of all I don't know the
songs or the routines and
secondly...I'm a man, not a
sixteen year old girl.
That's never stopped you before.
Besides, they'll see and hear
What does Ziggy say are the
chances of winning?
Fifty-fifty. But I could up the
odds with the right music and a
few choice steps.
I don't know a few choice steps.
I do. I'll teach you some moves...
You'll teach me some moves?
Al does a step slide a la The Temptations.
Sam, I saw the Regal in its prime.
Smokey, the Marvellettes, Martha
and the Vandellas, James Brown.
All you've got to do is get your
harmonies tight and remember to
THE LOVETTES VOICES
Do you love me? Do you love me?
EXT. WALTERS HOME - DAY - ESTABLISHING
The row house sits like a cookie cut out of the two that rest
on either side. In the heart of Forty-seventh street, their
home has the grace of a cared-for property. A rough piano
track with drums, plays on the Wallensack tape deck
underneath their voices.
THE LOVETTES VOICES
Do you love me? Do you love me? Do
you love me? Do you love me?
Now that I can Dance. Dance,
INT. LYNELL'S BEDROOM - MIRROR SHOT
The three of them strike poses in the mirror to the rhythm of
the music...hands on hips and then in the air singing as they
struggle through the new positions. There is something
strange about the movements, as we pull back to reveal...
PULL BACK - INCLUDING SAM AND AL
Al(who doesn't reflect in the mirror) stands in front of the
group and strikes a pose. Sam follows and Paula and Lynell
I can mash potatoes.
I can really groove.
I can do the twist.
Paula is getting frustrated. Lynell is doing the best she can.
I don't get these steps. I can really move.
Trust me, Sam. These moves Won't you tell me baby.
made The Temptations famous.
SAM Tell me baby.
These steps are ahead of
their time. LYNELL
Are you in the mood?
These steps are out of time. ALL
(beat) Are you in the mood. Tell
Damn, Cheree, you're movin' me! Tell me! Tell me!
like a white girl.
Stay with me, Sam.
Sam rolls his eyes to heaven as they start to fall into a
groove. The song lays into the ending vamp and even Sam looks
like he's starting to have fun.
I can mash potatoes.
I can really groove.
I can do the twist.
I can really move.
Won't you tell me baby.
Tell me baby.
Are you in the mood.
Are you in the mood. Tell me! Tell
me! Tell me!
Hey push push. Aw shake it shake
it baby. I can really move. Push
push. Aw shake it shake it baby.
Now that I can
dance...dance...dance. Watch me
now. Hey, push.
They punch the ending and freeze for a beat in a "Supremes"
type pose. Then break and squeal with delight, applauding
Don't be too thrilled. You guys
still need a lot of work.
We still need a lot of work.
We'll be terrific!
Yeah, but we're doing the wrong
'Dance' was a number-one hit.
But that's just it, it was...we
need something hot.
Sam looks to Al. Al dives on the handlink.
Lynell is right. We need something
with some real fire.
Oh. No. It won't be out for
another month. 'Can I Get A
Sam starts to speak, but Al cuts him off.
Never mind. Not out.
BOBBY LEE'S VOICE
How about 'Heat Wave'?
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING BOBBY LEE
He stands in the bedroom doorway looking wickedly handsome
and holding a slip covered forty-five. The girls are stunned
and Sam and Al are suspicious.
It's by Martha and the Vandellas
and I just so happen to have a pre-
release on it.
Who's this jabon?
How'd you get in here, Mister Lee?
I told you to call me Bobby.
Al starts a rundown on Bobby. It's obvious that Lynell has a
crush on him. But she's more afraid of her father than of her
My father will get upset if he
finds you here, Bobby.
He'll be more than upset, honey.
We're talking murder in the first
CLOSE ON LYNELL AND BOBBY LEE
He crosses uncomfortably close and stands next to Lynell. He
strokes her cheek as he talks to her, his eyes locked into
her eyes. There is some definite heat between them and Lynell
is totally overwhelmed.
Well, that's because a lady would
never entertain a gentleman in her
Well, since you understand that,
why don't we go downstairs.
It's not my fault, you see. There
I was, walking down the street,
and I heard that sweet, sensual
voice of yours riding on a cool
breeze. So I walked up to the door
and knocked. But nobody came. So
I knocked a little harder and...
(gesturing the door)
Al steps into the shot.
Watch him, Sam. This guy's slicker
than spit on a pair of patent
WIDER ANGLE - INCLUDING AL
Sam steps in between Bobby and Lynell and breaks the moment.
You shouldn't be here.
Lynell knows I mean no disrespect.
Trust me, Sam. This is a snake.
I'm sure you didn't. So why don't
He kisses Lynell's hand and steps back near Paula, handing
her the record.
I still meant what I said about
You girls sing this tomorrow night
and you are a cinch for first
place and a shot at the Regal.
Especially with a voice like
We don't have charts for the band
Can you learn the song?
Then I'll get Rainy to do up some
charts. He knows your keys.
Bobby Lee cuts Sam a look. The handlink goes wild.
'Cause I believe in talent. And if
you win, you sign an exclusive
contract with Bobby Lee and I take
you all the way to the top.
The handlink starts to beep in Al's hand.
More like the bottom. Get this
Sam. Robert Z. Lee. Small time
business man. Part-time pimp.
Well? What do you say?
Owner of the Blue Note Nightclub,
ended up doing twenty in the big
house for statutory rape.
(in response to Sam)
I...I don't know if we can get it
together that fast.
Sam takes Bobby's arm and directs him out the door. Bobby's
surprised by the brute force.
Well, Mister Lee Lynell, Paula and
I need to talk about this
and...listen to the song...
INT. WALTERS LIVING ROOM - DAY - FEATURING SAM AND BOBBY
Sam is escorting him down the stairs and toward the front
...before we can make a final
That's a hellified grip you've got
You don't know the half of it.
WIDER ANGLE - TO REVEAL REVEREND WALTERS
Paula and Lynell are close behind. Sam reaches the door and
runs smack dab into the Reverend who's standing in the
doorway watching everything. Al pops in just in time to know
there's big trouble. Everyone else freezes. Like a bolt of
lightening he's got Bobby by the collar, dragging him toward
Get out of my house!
He came by to bring us a new
That's the God's truth, Reverend
Walters. It's so new it hasn't
even been played on the radio yet.
Reverend Walters slams Bobby into the door frame and then
looks at Sam and the girls.
Then you better tell me why this
sinner has to deliver his record
to my daughter's bedroom?
I asked a question.
The fact that I don't attend your
church doesn't make me a sinner,
Even the fact that you don't
attend any church doesn't make you
But what you said to Leda Brown's
little girl, that makes you a
That's her word against mine. Now
if you don't mind.
Bobby pries the Reverend's hands off his jacket lapels. Again
Sam looks to Al. Al punches the handlink.
I got nothing, Sam. Whatever
happened, the charges were never
pressed or else they didn't stick.
Well, in my home your word has as
much truth as the devil hisself.
Mister Lee was trying to be nice
to me, not commit a crime.
This man will only hurt you,
Does that privilege only belong to
Reverend Walters raises his hand to slap Lynell's face. He
freezes as she cowers, covering her face. The group is
Her eyes widen. Shock is the only emotion. He trembles,
trying to control himself.
Go to your room!
You will not defy me!
And you stay away from my daughter
or as God is my witness, I'll rip
that brothel down with my bare
If you step one foot into my club
I'll tear you apart old man.
Do something, Sam. This must be
where it started.
You better leave, Mister Lee.
Reverend Walters and Bobby are nose to nose. Sam steps in the
middle and pushes the Reverend gently back toward the stairs.
Even Bobby Lee knows when it's time to go and exits out the
door. Lynell moves to follow.
Daddy, don't do this.
I'm doing this for your own good.
Now come in and close the door.
Reverend Walters goes back into the kitchen as Lynell glances
from Bobby to her father. As soon as the Reverend disappears,
Lynell is out the door.
EXT. WALTERS PORCH - ON SAM AND LYNELL
She exits out onto the street, Sam is close behind. He grabs
her arm and turns her.
She turns and looks at Sam and then after Bobby Lee, who
disappears down the street.
He's my chance to get out of here.
Maybe there's another way.
I don't know.
Then let me talk to him.
Not until you give me a chance to
figure out another way.
She looks after Bobby then back to Sam. Flustered, she gives
Sam a look and turns going back into the house. Al pops next
You better think of something, Sam.
I want you to get me the names of
all the local record companies in
I'm going to call every one of
them until I get somebody to come
here The Lovettes. Maybe I can
make Lynell understand there's
better people out there than Bobby
CLOSE ON SAM
His eyes shift from Al to Lynell. His face is filled with
concern, as we...
END OF ACT TWO
EXT. CHICAGO SOUTHSIDE ELL TRACKS -
NIGHT -ESTABLISHING - STOCK
The city stretches out before us filled with a million faces.
As they pass, each face keeps its secrets.
INT. WALTERS LIVING ROOM - NIGHT - FEATURING LYNELL
Lynell sits on the steps, staring down at her shoes and
humming. After a beat, Sam comes in and crosses to sit beside
What are you doing?
Lookin' at my feet.
Yep, and they're nailed down right
here at forty-seventh and Ellis.
Nailed down tighter than pine
(looking to Sam)
...and I'm running out of air,
Sam puts a comforting arm around her slumped shoulders.
You're going to be fine.
That's what my momma used to say.
She'd say, you'll make it just
fine Lynell. Just fine.
I'm sure she meant it.
Lynell gets up and crosses to the upright piano that sits in
the corner of the room. She picks up a photo of her mother.
CLOSE ON PHOTO
She is a beautiful woman in her thirties. Alive and vibrant.
She meant it until the day she
decided to die.
ON LYNELL AND SAM
She stares sadly down at the photo.
People don't decide to die.
And you know what? I think she was
happy. Happy to be free.
She couldn't have been happy,
Lynell...not to leave a daughter
She hated him more.
Setting the photo down.
She tried to leave him once. She
took me and she tried to run away.
But he brought us back.
You know why?
Because he loved you.
Because he was afraid of what
people would say about the
righteous Reverend Walters if his
wife had run off and left him.
It didn't matter that she was
unhappy. Or that she had no life
of her own. The only thing that
mattered was what everybody
That's when she decided to die.
And so will I if we don't sing in
that contest tomorrow night.
Singing in a talent contest isn't
going to save your life.
Bobby will give us a contract
We don't need Bobby Lee or his
He holds up a piece of paper.
I called Mister Madison Simms,
he's head of Checker Records and
he's willing to hear us sing.
As soon as I can find a club.
He can hear us at Bobby's club
We don't have a choice.
Sam is up and pacing. He knows he is running out of time.
Okay, we sing in the club.
But you have to promise not to
sign with Bobby.
And...finish high school.
The look of hope in her eyes changes to one of betrayal. Sam
crosses to her and turns her to him.
Trust me, Lynell. It's the only
way to get your father to let you
I can't change him, Cheree.
I think I'm here to try.
Lynell thinks about Sam's idea. Part of her wants to believe
and the other struggles with what has gone before. Finally...
We'll invite your father down to
Her face falls.
Are you crazy?
It's the only way. He'll accept
your singing career and you accept
It's the only way.
But if this doesn't work...
She turns and walks up the steps.
It doesn't work.
WIDER ANGLE ON SAM AND AL
Al stands by the steps watching as Lynell disappears upstairs.
...we sign with Bobby.
According to Ziggy, she ends up
with Bobby and a miserable life.
When she's out of earshot...
I don't think history can change
until after I talk to her father.
And when do you plan to do that?
Tomorrow night right before the
show. You'll choreograph some
steps to the new song and...
What about the sleaze with the
What he doesn't know won't hurt
him and keeping Lynell out of his
clutches is all that matters.
Al looks at Sam wondering if he's bitten off more than he can
chew. He punches up the stats on the handlink.
Ziggy says this is still going to
be a disaster.
Tell Ziggy to have a little faith
in human nature.
(the handlink squeals
She says that's the problem.
Sam looks at Al, whose look of concern only spurs him on
more, as we hear...
Hands over your heart and pump
INT. BLUE NOTE CLUB - DAY - ON SAM AND GIRLS
They are dressed in rehearsal clothes and standing three
across with Sam out front leading them through the moves.
Then on 'itchin' in my heart,
fists clenched over your heart...
WIDER TO REVEAL AL
He dances a few feet ahead of them. A waiter passes by.
Hey, watch where you're going!
Pump those hips. Then rip and open
and shoulder, shoulder.
Keep the hip action. 'Tearin' it
all apart'. Then tear and open
your hands like this and shoulder,
Show me that shoulder thing again.
Sam steps back and does the whole sequence again slowly with
Lynell and Paula.
Then when we say, 'It's like a
heat wave', both hands go up...
...and shimmy down your body, real
sexy and sensual...
Al is getting off on his choreography. Sam shoots him a look
as if to say, 'Cool off'.
Okay, okay, a little sexy.
Sam repeats the look and they put all the moves together.
Okay, let's try it with the words.
Take it from the chorus.
ANOTHER ANGLE - FEATURING BOBBY LEE
He sits at one of the cocktail tables watching Lynell, with
a look of a cat about to pounce on a canary. Rainy Gregoir,
the musical director, comes to the table and shows Bobby the
charts. He's a fair-skinned Creole with glasses and mussed
These charts are so hot I hope to
hell your girls can handle them.
Lynell will do fine and that's all
that matters to me.
(calling out to Sam)
Cheree. Rainy's made a pass on the
chord sheet. You want to take a
look at it.
He says something to Bobby and Bobby gestures him toward the
WIDER ON AL
Sam stops the rehearsal.
Say 'Let's take five!'.
Take five everybody.
(aside to Al)
I forget, can I read music?
You have a doctorate in it
Sam and Rainy meet by the first row of tables. Sam and Al
study the chart while Lynell looks on. Paula slips into the
wings and after a beat something catches Lynell's eye.
We see Bobby crook a finger to Lynell. She smiles and looks
around then slips over to talk to him.
CLOSE ON BOBBY AND LYNELL
He leads her off into a shadowy corner of the club where they
can talk privately.
You ladies are going to be
There's so much to do and it's
already one o'clock.
You'll be perfect.
(pulling her away)
Come here, I want to show you
INT. BACKSTAGE WINGS - ON LYNELL AND BOBBY
He takes her into the dimly lit corridor that leads to the
dressing rooms. Lynell is uncomfortable and hesitant.
Where are we going?
I have a little surprise for you.
He stops at a wardrobe rack and pulls back a sheet to
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING THREE SEQUIN GOWNS
Even in the dim light they sparkle and shine almost as much
as Lynell's eyes.
Oh Bobby, they're beautiful!
I had them made for a girls group
I was puttin' together
but...things didn't work out.
I want you girls to wear them
Now they're just on loan until
you're under contract and start
earning some real money. Then you
can pay me back.
I...I don't know what to say.
CLOSE ON BOBBY AND LYNELL
He smiles as he runs his fingers down her neck. She is caught
in his eyes. Slowly his face moves toward hers.
Darlin' you don't have to say a
He kisses her passionately, pulling her body into his and
taking her breath away. There is a moment of resistance but
she doesn't have a chance. As the kiss intensifies, we...
INT. STAGE - ON SAM, AL AND RAINY
They finish up some minor changes.
Then vamp for twelve bars and
punch the end.
Oh, tell him if there's a big
applause, be ready to come back in.
If we've got the crowd, be ready
to go back in at the coda.
You ladies pull this one off,
ain't nobody to stop you.
That's what I'm countin' on.
Rainy smiles and walks off leaving Sam and Al. After a beat,
Paula walks back on from the other side of stage.
I don't know about everything but
the charts are...smokin'.
Sam is so proud of himself for being hip. Al just rolls his
Well, we better get our chocolate
behinds in motion of we're gonna
look like a bunch of amateurs from
You got it.
Yeah, where's Lynell?
There's no answer. Al punches up the computer.
I'll center in on her and give you
He pops out.
INT. BACKSTAGE - DAY - ON BOBBY AND LYNELL - CONTINUOUS
She struggles in his embrace. Her blouse pulled up, her small
arms pushed against him. Al pops in.
Come on, baby. Just relax.
Bobby, please. Please, stop.
I like it when you struggle.
Back stage. Hurry!
INT. STAGE - FEATURING BOBBY, LYNELL AND AL - SFX
Bobby is getting more aggressive. He pins her to the wall and
kisses her. By now she is a frightened little girl in tears.
Al grabs through them trying to defend Lynell.
You're hurting me!
Take your hands off of her, you
Sam rounds the corner and in a flash, assessing the
situation, pulling Bobby away from her. Bobby pushes Sam away
and out of reflex, Sam slugs him, knocking him to the ground
at Paula's feet. She looks from a very pissed Bobby to Sam.
Don't you ever lay a hand on me,
Then keep your hands off...
I wasn't doin' nothin' she didn't
You...you were hurting me.
As far as I'm concerned you can
hit him again.
Hurtin' you? You don't know the
meaning of the word.
She doesn't have to learn it from
You want to sing in my club, you
take whatever I dish out.
We don't need you or your club.
She is torn and frightened. She looks back from Sam to Bobby
Lee. Her young life and all its dreams are falling apart in
front of her.
You better apologize.
Don't do it!
We don't need him.
You want to to perform tonight,
you be here with my apology or
With that he exits rubbing his sore jaw.
NEW ANGLE - ON ALL
Lynell is freaking.
What have you done!
He just saved your neck!
What have I done?
We...we have to apologize.
Are you crazy?
You don't need him, Lynell. We'll
get the man from the record
To do what? Come see us perform in
Now either you apologize with me
or I'm going on by myself.
Lynell storms off. Paula looks after her and throws up her
Lynell goes on by herself, her
father still breaks up the show
and she still ends up alone. But
this time she's completely alone.
She never speaks to Cheree and
CLOSE ON SAM
Now he's ruined everything. Off of his stunned expression
INT. CHURCH - EVENING - FEATURING REVEREND WALTERS
He moves through the front pew straightening bibles and stops
frozen in thought. He sits, tired and confused and stares up
at the stain-glass window. After a beat his eyes close in
prayer and he talks to the heavens.
Oh, Sylvia. Some days I miss you
The way you laughed. The sound of
your footsteps at night. The smell
of your hair on my pillow. But you
know what I miss most of
You always knew just the right
thing to say to Lynell.
WIDER ANGLE TO INCLUDE SAM
He stands near the back of the church, listening. He walks
slowly toward the Reverend.
She won't listen to me you know.
Lord help her. That child's got so
much anger locked inside her.
See, I used to think she was mad
at you for dying and me for
letting you, but Lynell...
Lynell's mad at herself, Reverend.
Reverend Walters turns to see Sam. After a long beat he turns
back toward the window but speaks to Sam.
I never should have let her take
care of her momma. She was too
young to see that kind of pain.
My mom used to say, God only gives
us what he knows we can handle.
She blames me.
She's hurt and angry.
Sam sits down next to him.
I've lost her.
If I try to hold her she'll run
Like your wife did?
Sylvia was very sick for a long
time. She stopped seeing her
friends and locked herself away
When she found out she was dying,
she tried to run away from me.
Lynell told me you stopped them.
Them? She didn't take Lynell.
But Lynell said...
That's what Lynell needed to
After Sylvia left, Lynell cried
for weeks. I finally found her
mother in a hotel and brought her
Lynell wouldn't leave her side
until they took her away.
She has a right to be angry. I
left them there to face death,
while I went and hid in my church.
And now, I've lost my little girl.
Not if you stand by her.
Tell her you want her to sing
tonight. And you want to be there
to hear it.
Reverend Walters looks at Sam. For a moment it looks as
though he's going to bend.
I can't. I want her to finish
school. Be someone.
Trust her to find her own reasons
to finish school. Make her own
Reverend Walters stands, he is weary and adamant with his
She's fifteen. She has plenty of
time to make her own choices.
Right now she has to live by mine.
With that he walks to the back of the church and finishes
gathering the bibles.
FEATURING SAM AND AL
Al stands next to Sam. They watch Reverend Walters.
Ziggy says there's a seventy
percent chance that Lynell goes
back to the club and... apologizes
to the slime bucket.
So, she goes on tonight?
But she doesn't win. That's what
really makes her desperate.
What about the man from Checker
I guess he never shows up.
Sam you've got to stop Lynell.
That pervert's gonna destroy her...
Not if I can help it.
Sam is on his feet and heading out of the church.
She's at her house. I'm going to
check on Mr. Sleazoid.
Al pops out as Sam disappears out the back door of the
church, as we...
EXT. WALTERS HOME - NIGHT - ESTABLISHING
The Chicago hawk whips at the barren branches of the front
Why are you doing this?
INT. LYNELL'S ROOM - CLOSE ON LYNELL
She sits at her vanity applying makeup. The lipstick is too
red, the shadow too heavy and the dress is too revealing.
Don't go playin' stupid with me
girl. You're gonna go give it up
to that creep, so you can sing
I'm not gonna give up nothin'. I'm
gonna apologize so that 'we' can
Don't use me as an excuse. You
want to lay down for that old man,
do it cause you want to, not for
me and Cheree.
Lynell stops putting on makeup and turns to Paula.
Bobby's just mad at Cheree. I'll
tell him I'm sorry and everything
will be fine.
But you shouldn't be sorry. Or
have your forgotten what he tried
I just wasn't ready for what he
Are you ready now? 'Cause if you
go in there talkin' a bunch of I'm
sorry, he's gonna be all over you.
FEATURE LYNELL - MIRROR SHOT
She looks at herself and tries to be brave.
I'm only fifteen...
So! To men like Bobby Lee that's
Cheree steps into the mirror behind her.
No, she's not.
NEW ANGLE - INCLUDING SAM
He stands in the doorway. After a beat he crosses over and
sits on the edge of the bed next to Paula.
Oh, don't you start too. Bobby's
a business man who wants to help
us and y'all are talking about him
like he's dog.
If the name fits...
Some men believe they should have
everything they want and they
don't care who they hurt to get it.
But Bobby's not like that.
Yes, he is.
He respects my talent.
I respect your talent but I'm not
going to seduce you to prove it.
(with a giggle)
You're a girl.
You know what I mean.
You can't go to Bobby Lee by
I will if I have to.
(getting an idea)
You can't go by yourself...but you
can go with us.
Lynell gets up and crosses to Sam and Paula.
You'll come with me?
(after a beat)
You gonna apologize to that fool?
I'll do whatever Lynell needs me
Sam is heading out the door. A stunned Lynell and Paula look
Well, don't just stand there.
We've got ourselves a contest to
He's out the door. Paula and Lynell squeal and hug, then bolt
out the door as we...
INT. ON STAGE - CLOSE ON MALE SINGER
A handsome black singer sings a sensual version of "Stay" to
INT. CLUB - BACKSTAGE WINGS - CLOSE ON BOBBY LEE
He stands adjusting his tie and admiring himself in the
mirror. Al watches, disgusted. The band is cooking and the
performer is pouring his heart out to the crowd.
(to his reflection)
You, my man, are fine as they come.
You, my man, are the kind of jerk
that gives men a bad name.
A young man of about twenty interrupts Bobby's admiration of
Mr. Lee, The Lovettes are here.
Well, we knew that.
Well, we knew that.
Sam, I hope you know what you're
Give them the pink sequins to skip
into and then bring them to me.
(back to the mirror)
I want them gorgeous when they
JoJo pads off in double time. Al all but growls and Bobby
Mr. Lee? May I have a word with
Uh oh. Gooshie center me on Sam.
With that and a punch of the handlink he pops out.
Reverend Walters stands with his hat in his hand. If it's
possible Bobby's smug smile gets smugger.
Well, well, well.
You know Reverend, you said some
pretty harsh words to me at your
home yesterday and...
(cutting him off)
What I said to you yesterday had
nothing to do with why I'm here.
And why is that?
My daughter wants very much to
sing in your contest.
That's up to her.
It's up to you too. And I want you
to tell her no.
Now why would I do that?
Because she's fifteen years old.
Let her grow up.
No, you let her grow up.
I see kids in and outta here, year
after year. Lynell's got the gift.
She'll still have it three years
from now. But she'll be able to
I'm asking you as a father to help
What's in it for me?
I...I'll make a deal with
you...you get my daughter out of
here and I won't call the police
and tell them you've got minors in
I don't need you to make a deal
NEW ANGLE - INCLUDING SAM, LYNELL, PAULA AND JOJO
They are visions in hot pink sequins. Bobby is pleased.
Then come home.
The Lovettes are on next, Bobby.
What do you want me to do?
Don't say it Sam.
We want to sing in your club
And when you win, you sign a seven
year contract with me.
If that's what Lynell wants.
I can't let you do this, Lynell.
It's Lynell's life. She's got to
decide what's important.
I...I want to sing. Please Daddy.
Sam crosses next to Reverend Walters.
(to Reverend Walters)
Tell your daughter you love her,
Reverend Walters. Tell her that
you trust her enough to stand by
her, whatever decision she makes.
The reprise is done and the audience is chanting for the next
act. The Reverend looks desperately to Lynell.
They're going crazy out there. You
want me to get the next act?
(to her father)
She's a frightened little girl. The crowd chants louder.
NEW ANGLE - FEATURING REVEREND WALTERS AND LYNELL
He crosses to her and holds her face as if she's touched by
a spirit. Lynell looks at her father. He smiles.
Sing Lynell. Sing with all your
I love you.
She smiles and hugs her father.
WIDER - INCLUDING ALL
A triumphant Bobby turns to face him.
Win this and I'll take you to the
Win for me, baby.
(with new strength)
I'll win for me, Bobby. Me.
ON STAGE - FEATURING BOBBY
He is a master MC. He has this crowd eating out of his hand.
Alright! Are you feelin' good?
I can't hear you! I said, are you
Then put your hands together and
get ready to stand up and party
with the lovely, the vivacious,
The band kicks into a funky groove of "Heat Wave".
BACKSTAGE - ALL
Lynell looks to her father. His face is hard and cold and
then as if he is touched by a spirit, he crosses to Lynell
and touches her. He smiles.
Sing Lynell. Sing with all your
I love you.
She smiles and hugs her father, then races out on stage. Sam
and Al exchange a look of triumph.
Sam and girls sing "Heat Wave".
(Heat Wave Lyrics to
INTERCUT WITH BACKSTAGE - REVEREND WALTERS
He watches his daughter with pride and love.
ON BOBBY LEE
looking like the cat that ate the canary and loving every
minute of it.
totally into it and having a party.
Mister Soul himself in a total groove.
ON STAGE - SAM AND THE LOVETTES
having a great time. They are tight and together.
ON BOBBY LEE
A man in a silk suit whispers in his ear. Bobby's smile gets
bigger. He turns back to Lynell with dollar signs in his eyes.
CLOSE ON LYNELL
She is singing her ass off.
The song ends to wild applause. They run off the stage.
BACKSTAGE - FEATURING BOBBY
He sweeps Lynell into his arms.
Y'all did it. You are going to the
Paula screams. Sam looks at Lynell who hugs Bobby. Reverend
Walters watches the excitement and then fades back, slipping
out the door. The crowd shouts for more.
We did it! We did it!
ON SAM AND AL
Sam is caught up in the excitement. Al sees the Reverend
leave and nods to Sam.
ON REVEREND WALTERS
He slips out the side door.
WIDER ANGLE - ON ALL
Sam starts to go after him when Bobby sweeps Lynell into his
arms. She struggles to get free, looking for her father.
Where's my father?
Who cares? All that matters now is
that I'm gonna make you a star.
You belong to me, baby.
I don't belong to anybody.
We had a deal.
Sam jerks him off Lynell and slams him against the wall. He's
about to punch him out when Paula grabs his arm pulling him
and Lynell back on stage for the reprise. The crowd goes
crazy and Lynell soars, giving a grateful smile to Sam.
INT. CHURCH - NIGHT
It's dimly lit and hangs in the silence of loss. Reverend
Walters sits next to his pulpit, an empty man. Sam walks up
to him with Al close behind. Sam has changed out of his gown.
I've lost her forever.
A profit named Gibran once said
'Hold your children with open arms
and they will always know they can
(shaking his head)
Too much sorrow has gone between
us. I don't think she can ever
forgive me for loving her the only
way I knew how.
I'll miss her, Cheree. I'll miss
that I'll never hear her sing
Lynell's voice fills the church and echo the strains of "Eye
on the Sparrow". Sam and the Reverend turn. Tears fill the
Reverend's eyes as he moves toward her.
NEW ANGLE - She stands in her gown, backlit by a wash of
light from the entry and singing with the passion of an angel.
(song to come)
NEW ANGLE - ON SAM AND AL
They look on like proud parents who've done a good thing. Al
reads the handlink.
She turned down the Regal, the
contracts, the whole kit and
caboodle and stays at her father's
Get this Sam, the man from Checker
comes through. The Lovettes have
a hit that gives Lynell enough
money to get through medical
school. She becomes a doctor, Sam.
Gets married and has three kids.
ON LYNELL AND HER FATHER
She finishes her song and touches his face. Her eyes well
I love you, Daddy.
I love you too.
They embrace. Paula stands in the b.g. watching, happy for
INCLUDING SAM AND AL
They smile. With a small good-bye he's enveloped by a flash
of Quantum blue, and...
END OF ACT FOUR