Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 7: Episode 1

81a: (none) / Rod Stewart

"Prose and Cons"

Tyrone Greene ... Eddie Murphy
... Terry McDonell
... Swifty Lazar
Bobby Glover ... Joe Piscopo

[Film begins by panning over a series of hardback bestsellers: Harold Robbins' Goodbye Janette, Sidney Sheldon's Rage of Angels, Judith Krantz' Princess Daisy and Judy Mazel's The Beverly Hills Diet.]

Narrator: Robbins, Sheldon, Krantz, Mazel -- all popular fiction writers.

[Montage of elite university buildings.]

Narrator: All of them sprang from the prestigious educational institutions that have been the backbone of American literature.

[Rolling Stone editor Terry McDonell drinks a cup of coffee.]

Narrator: Where are tomorrow's Hemingways and Faulkners coming from?

Terry McDonell: [finishes coffee, answers narrator] Prisons.

[Montage of prison life set to the rhythm of a tin cup beat against prison bars: a huge gate closes, views of various prisoners in and out cells, etc. SUPER: PROSE AND CONS. Cut back to Terry McDonell. SUPER: Terry McDonell / Mng. Editor, Rolling Stone]

Terry McDonell: I think that most of today's writers are coming from the straining, compacted bowels of that beast we call the American penal system.

[Montage of prisoners: playing ball in a rec room, leaning on prison bars, exhaling cigarette smoke, working at a typewriter.]

Terry McDonell V/O: These men have lived. They've suffered. They've maimed, they've killed. They've written some stunning books.

Prisoner at Typewriter: [pleased with his work] Yeah!

[Balding celebrity super agent Irving "Swifty" Lazar addresses the camera. SUPER: Swifty Lazar / Literary Agent]

Swifty Lazar: Without a doubt, anything by a prisoner is an automatic bestseller. I tell aspiring writers, if you commit a crime, we'll talk.

[Handel's Alla Hornpipe from his "Water Music" suite -- an aristocratic piece of classical music -- accompanies a montage of prisoners: in cells and rec rooms, doing push-ups, reading a book, pecking away at a typewriter, engaged in animated conversation while reading a comic book, writing on paper with pen in one hand and cigarette in another, etc. Music ends. A buzzer sounds. A gate opens. The warden enters and walks through a cell block, smoking a cigar.]

Narrator: Rockland Prison. Warden Carl Hoddegar.

[SUPER: Carl Hoddegar / Warden, Rockland Prison]

Warden V/O: Ah, you can talk Leavenworth, you can talk Attica. You can even talk Folsom. But none of them -- none of them -- has the sterling literary tradition we have here at Rockland.

[Warden walks past cells with prisoners busy typing. We linger on Cell #4 where a tough-looking mustachioed inmate wearing a red bandana sits at his typewriter.]

Narrator: Bobby Glover is serving up to twenty years for cutting up his fiancee with a linoleum knife.

Bobby Glover: [rises, addresses the camera with working class accent] I'm into haiku. The narrow restrictions of the form have led me to an imagistic freedom heretofore--

[Shouting from off screen drowns out Bobby. Camera pans jerkily down the cell block to discover two guards dragging a protesting prisoner away.]

Narrator: Our cameras are there when one prisoner is caught in an act of plagiarism.

[An angry inmate reaches out of his cell to hit the plagiarist in the head with a book as he is dragged by.]

Angry Inmate: [to plagiarist] Why don't you see what you can steal out o' that?

[Visiting hours: watched by guards, various prisoners talk to their well-dressed agents through glass.]

Narrator: Here, the prisoners keep in touch with the outside world.

Prisoner 1: No way I'm gonna accept less than eighteen percent of the--

Prisoner 2: People who watch "Merv Griffin" don't buy books! Any agent in the business knows that! Get me Donahue--

[Montage of gates and cell doors closing which ends on a door marked MAXIMUM SECURITY.]

Narrator: Each year, Rockland sponsors a poetry festival.

[Camera trucks up and forward to reveal the occupant of the maximum security cell: Tyrone Green, psychotic young African-American male.]

Narrator: Tyrone Greene is this year's winner.

Tyrone Greene: [angrily intense, directly into camera]
Images by Tyrone Greene ...
Dark and lonely on the summer night.
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
Watchdog barking - Do he bite?
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
Slip in his window,
Break his neck!
Then his house
I start to wreck!
Got no reason --
What the heck!
Kill my landlord, kill my landlord.
C-I-L-L ...
My land - lord ...

[Handel's Hornpipe plays again as prisoners are cuffed and led away.]

Narrator: Dostoyevsky said, "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons." As someone else said, "If Shakespeare were alive today, he'd be doing time."

[Credits roll over images of prison bars:


Produced by / Norman Mailer

Directed by / Norman Mailer

Written by / Norman Mailer

Research Assistant / Jack Henry Abbott

Credits by / NORMAN MAILER]

Submitted Anonymously

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