I finished my revision, uh, full rewrite of The Cage late last night. And yes, I was able to bring in a TV pilot under 50 pages. 48 pages, to be exact, running on a 6-Act-Structure. If the tag is removed, it will only be 44 pages (I wanted to give some variation of choice). Wow. Me. Writing something that is actually not big and sprawling.
The new version is very tight, very fast. I had to lose some of the West Wing-ish dialogue to do it, but the script is better for it. It also answers the question (that nobody ever asked, mind you) of "can you do a Bourne structure and apply it to a story about reporters?"
The answer is yes. If the stakes are high enough.
And they are.
In my original draft, I created journalists. It was very realistic, so much so that numerous of my ex-colleagues commented, upon reading it, that this was likely the most realistic thing they had ever read about how a newspaper works. Some of these things, though, confused the hell out of people who don't know.
In this version, I created heroes. The realism isn't gone, but it no longer crushes the story and the characters as much. Yay, me!
Imagine the author now, exhausted and giving himself a day of not thinking. I often joke that I'm the Diet Sorkin (double the page count! none of the cocaine!), but one of the reasons I am constantly skating around the line of Burn-Out is that once I switch on my brain, it is virtually impossible for me to switch it off. Or even put it in neutral.
In other words, I do understand why for some drugs are so very appealing.
I just love my brain too much to use any.
Oh, yes, one more thing that makes me happy. I got to put something in the pilot that I always wanted. It's big, bulky, comes in racing green and has 540 horses under the hood. And hey, there is even a good, logical, character-based reason for having it there. So please, oh, whoever is running the universe, let this be produced and aired, just so I can sneak that particular thing from the set and drive around in it.
(Just the fact that I said it's racing-green should give away what it is)