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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Soap Opera of the Future?: Environmental Place

Air Date: Week of

In a tribute to two new television soap operas airing in Chile with environmental themes, Living On Earth's staff presents its version of what an environmental Hollywood soap opera might sound like. A satire for the funny bone - but not the faint of heart.


CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. Two Chilean television stations recently began airing a new soap opera. That's not so unusual, but the plot is. It revolves around the defense of the nation's natural heritage. Taking its cue from real life forestry conflicts, state-run Television Nacional's Green Gold soap opera depicts citizens protesting plans by the timber industry to exploit native forests. We here at Living on Earth think that's a great idea and can't wait for Hollywood to follow suit. So with that in mind, we present Environmental Place, where the hip, cool, and young do battle with the old, entrenched, and powerful.

(Dramatic music. Ambient voices. A phone rings.)

ASHLEY: Hello. Green Resources Advocate Sierra Society, can I help you? No... No! No! What will I tell Billy?

(A door opens)

BILLY: Hey, Ashley, here's your double decaf organic cappuccino -- what's wrong?

ASHLEY: (tearfully) I don't know how to tell you this, Billy. It's -- Miranda!

BILLY: My fiancee?

ASHLEY: She's -- she's dead!

(The coffee cup crashes to the floor)

BILLY: No! It can't be! She just returned from being held hostage by the Brazilian iguana hunters.

ASHLEY: Yes. She went there to protect the indigenous people, right after she recovered from the amnesia caused by that toxic waste spill? (Billy gags) And now this! Melted inside a nuclear waste disposal plant!

BILLY: (Crying) Oh, Ashley! What'll become of me now?

ASHLEY: Is there anything I can do to help?

BILLY: You've -- been so kind --

ASHLEY: (seductively) I'd do anything, Billy.

(They kiss. A zipper unzips. The door opens.)

AMANDA: Billy! Ashley! How could you?

(The door slams)

BILLY: Oh no!

ASHLEY: It's the boss. Hi, Amanda.

AMANDA: You know we have a ban on fraternization. What if someone at Snyde, Satan and Brown got a hold of this?

ASHLEY: Those horrible lobbyists for the resource extraction industries? What would they do?

AMANDA: They'd leak it to the press and derail our plan to save endangered species everywhere.

ASHLEY: You're right! I've been such a fool! I'm sorry, Billy. I never would do anything to hurt what Miranda gave her life for. I'd better get on the phone and put the best spin possible on her death.

(Typing sounds; a door slams)

BILLY: I thought she'd never leave.

AMANDA: I know. Me, too. Oh! (A zipper unzips) Billy!

(Dramatic music up and under. A phone rings.)

MARIA: Hello. Snyde, Satan and Brown. Hold, please. Yes, Ms. Snyde?

SNYDE: Maria, get Senator Craven on the phone. Our clients at Chainsaw Incorporated have some national parks they want to despoil.

MARIA: (Sniveling) Yes, Ms. Snyde.

(A phone rings)

CRAVEN: This is Senator Craven.

SNYDE: Zelda Snyde here, Senator.

CRAVEN: Hello, Zelda.

SNYDE: Senator, the environment committee you chair is scheduled to hold hearings on the future of the National Wildlife Reservation.


SNYDE: Well, we think it would be a great place for a mall.

CRAVEN: What? But it's home to 17 different endangered species and 3 shrines holy to Native Americans.

SNYDE: Well, that's very nice. But we have a dream. And it's a dream that involves a lot of money. Picture it. An eco-theme mall. The floors will be Astroturf. The shopping bags will be recyclable. We'll have nice paved paths through the woods and lots of trees around the parking lots. Think of how much money it will generate for the park.

CRAVEN: What about nature?

SNYDE: We'll have a petting zoo.

CRAVEN: I won't stand for it, Snyde.

SNYDE: Yes you will, Senator. Unless you want the world to know about your -- fondness for escort services.

CRAVEN: How -- how did you know?

SNYDE: Well, some people call her Madam. But I just call her Mom. (Slams down the phone and laughs.) Maria, what do you say we engage in a little sexual harassment later?

MARIA: Yes, Ms. Snyde.

(Dramatic music up and under. Fade to clattering dishes.)

WAITER: Are you ready to order, miss?

AMANDA: How's the tofu today?

WAITER: Very fresh.

ASHLEY: Amanda! Waiting for someone?

AMANDA: Oh -- hi, Ashley. What brings you here?

ASHLEY: Bad news. Senator Craven has capitulated on protecting the National Wildlife Preserve.

AMANDA: Not dad!

ASHLEY: Yes, dad! He's a two-timin' little piece of Washington trash, just like his daughter.

AMANDA: How dare you say that!

ASHLEY: Oh, Amanda -- you and Billy should really turn off the copying machine before you lie down on it!

AMANDA: Oh you little --

(Scuffling, slapping, broken dishes)

BILLY: Ashley...

ASHLEY: Billy!

BILLY AND ASHLEY: What are you doing here?!

ASHLEY: Billy! You ignorant slut!

AMANDA: Stop it! Stop it! Sure we've got our problems. But you know, the problems of people like us don't amount to a hill of organic coffee beans compared to the threats posed daily to our wildlife and ecosystems. We've got to save the National Wildlife Preserve!

BILLY: What'll we do?

AMANDA: Let's chain ourselves to the trees!

ASHLEY: I know some famous musicians I can get to help us out!

BILLY: That's a great idea!

(A helicopter rotor)

BICKELHOFF: Live, from the standoff at the National Wildlife Preserve, I'm Bix Bickelhoff. Celebrities and radical extremists from an eco-terrorist group known as GRASS have chained themselves to a dozen trees here at the preserve. With us is Zelda Snyde, chief spokesperson for Friends of the Preserve and a partner in the lobbying firm of Snyde, Satan and Brown. Ms. Snyde, what do you make of this protest?

SNYDE: They're radical liberal extremists who want to deny the preserve to the rest of us.

BICKELHOFF: But isn't it true that the Nature Center is just a mall?

SNYDE: Well of course there's a shopping component, but we view it as a way to get the preserve to pay for itself.


BICKELHOFF: Oh, hey, what are those loggers doing?

SNYDE: I think they're sick and tired of these eco-terrorists interfering with their right to earn a living and feed their families.

BICKELHOFF: We send you now to Sue Sudelman, who's in the trees with the protesters.

(A tree falls)

SUDELMAN: Thanks, Bix! Up here at 300 feet it's a whole different world! You're really at one with nature. I'm talking to Ashley Whitebread, executive senior director of GRASS. Ashley, what do you make of all this?

ASHLEY: It's horrible! They're killin' the animals. They're hurtin' the trees!

SUDELMAN: Well look, on the next tree over -- it's Sting! Sting! Sting, play something for us.

(Sting plays: "Free free, set them free. Free free, set them free." Intercut with buzzsaw. "Free free, set them free..." A scream. The tree falls.)

BICKELHOFF: They've cut down the tree with Sting in it!

AMANDA: Oh -- my -- God! I don't believe it!

ASHLEY: It doesn't surprise me. They're heartless.

SUDELMAN: No, down there, standing next to Zelda Snyde! It's --it's Miranda!

BILLY: My late fiancee? What's she doing?

SUDELMAN: Taking notes. It's like she's her secretary or something.

BILLY: Give me those binoculars!


SEVERAL AT ONCE: They're cutting down our treeeeeeee!

(A tree crashes. Dramatic music up and under)

CURWOOD: On the next Environmental Place...

OFFICER: All right, Snyde, put down the chainsaw and come out with your hands up.

SNYDE: Don't work too hard, officer. I'll be back on the streets before your donut gets cold.

BILLY: Miranda! I thought you were dead!

MIRANDA: I can see you spent a lot of time mourning. Now I'll get my revenge!

(Gunshots. Fade to dramatic music up and under)

CURWOOD: Environmental Place was written and produced by Constantine Von Hoffman.



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