"Saga: Embassy" is a television drama pilot script. "Saga" begins with an assault and takeover of an American Embassy by an elusive war criminal. The clock is ticking and with international politics standing in the way, it is up to the hostages to save themselves.
Synopsis: A sea of blue, red and white flags, as the parade flows down Kneza Milosa Street. A banner across the bottom of the screen reads, “April 27th, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. National Day, a celebration of the 1992 independence of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which is now called Serbia and Montenegro.
A black Mercedes stops at a crowded street corner. Three men and a woman get out. The last is BRANIMIR, who looks twice the age of the others. Over the crowd’s cheers, he barks a barely audible order and one pops the trunk. They pile several large duffel bags on the sidewalk.
Bags in hand, they round the corner onto Kneza Milosa Street, disappearing into the parade crowd. SRDJAN, lags behind. He turns back to the car, takes a cell phone from his pocket and pounds at the keys. We hear the line ring; a man with a Balkan’s accent answers. “I must talk quickly,” says Srdjan.
“Srdjan!” calls DRAGANA, the one woman. Srdjan drops the phone into his pocket, and turns, holding something up for her to see. “Forgot the keys,” he says before joining her. They disappear into the parade.
SARAH MCLAUGHLIN, Chief Political Officer of the US Embassy in Serbia, knows that for this ambassador, a schedule is always written in pencil. She checks her watch and sighs. As chief of the United States embassy's political section, her job would be infinitely easier if that was not so. She paces outside the Ambassador’s lavish office. Through the wide windows she can see and hear the celebrating crowds. A river of Serbians is flowing by; a scary scene considering this countries recent history.
ZOOMING down to the street and through the mob we STOP on BAXTER MITCHELL, who is preparing for his on-camera segment. The camera man gives him a countdown, 3 … 2 … 1 …
“Hundreds of people are gathered here to celebrate this historic day …” Baxter comes alive as the feed goes live. His deep golden tan is evidence of his time in the field, and although good looking, he doesn’t have the chiseled, clean, safe “Anchorman” look
“… which is a much different scene,” Baxter walks with the camera, “from just six years ago when American troops unleashed a devastating bombing campaign on this very country in efforts to resolve the deadly civil war.” The crowd plays for the camera, as Baxter continues. “But underneath this sea of high-spirit and celebration is a dark current of resentment as Kosovo looks forward to its own independence.”
BACK INSIDE THE EMBASSY
AMBASSADOR COLLINS rushes out his oak doors followed by a horde of minions. He sees Sarah and stops abruptly: “No one told me you were waiting! Am I late?” Sarah smiles: “The reception, sir.” The Ambassador shrugs – a big child. Sarah shares a glance with his Executive Assistant KELLY LONG, who just rolls her eyes. It’s Ambassador Collins’s world, and we just live in it . . .
That wide window - explodes, spraying glass, molding and metal spraying across the lobby. Everyone falls to the deck – several bloodied. The room is filled with smoke – darkness – silence. Some asks, “Car bomb?”
Another voice stammers, “What the hell was that?” Ambassador Collins is the first to stand. He is on his feet, assessing the situation, when the double doors to the lobby fly open. Three hardened Marines fly through with tricked out M4 carbines at high ready. They don’t stop moving as they blast through the room, snagging the Ambassador by his suit jacket and walk/dragging him towards the exit.
“What the hell is going on?” he cries. “We’re under attack,” lead Marine COLTON yells. “Shut up and MOVE!”
Outside, the street is erupting in gunfire, explosions, and screams . . .
“Saga: Embassy” is a sixty (60) minute scripted drama set primarily in Belgrade, Serbia. A group of student nationalists have stormed the United States Embassy. Their goal is simple. They intend to stop Kosovo from leaving the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). It is a dramatic and violent gesture to outsiders and the world, but as significant to Serbians as if the South were to leave the United States.
In the bloody fight, some of the occupants escape, while others die. When the smoke clears, the urban guerillas have taken twenty-two American hostages. The show is their story over the next 23 days.
Americans of a certain age remember how the Iranian hostage crisis played out for over a year on the nightly news - “Day 200! - Day 201 ..!” But this is a new day, post-September 11th, and Americans have lost their patience with terrorists of any kind. Every option is on the table . . .
In “Saga: Embassy,” we watch the crisis from several vantage points – the hostages, behind the scenes of the political response, the military response, the captors, on the ground intelligence operatives, State Department negotiators in Serbia, and the outside terrorist groups who pursue allegiance with the students holding the embassy.
Of course, nothing – and no one – is what it seems.
The most stunning characteristic of “Saga: Embassy” will be the elimination or departure of one main cast member every week.
“Saga” utilizes the success of the reality genre and incorporates it into a traditional TV drama. It is a new model that will appeal to the reality audience which has grown accustom to investing in characters that may soon leave the show; while providing the characters and storylines traditional TV dramas have always provided.
Each week a hostage may escape, be killed, or disappear. They may meet their demise at the hands of their captors. They may be shepherded out of danger by the hands of a stranger. Further, the individual leaving may not always be a hostage. Captors and would be rescuers are also at risk. Negotiators or sympathizers may land in the wrong place at the wrong time. Regardless, one person the audience has grown to know -- will be gone the following week.
“Who shot J.R.?” will become “Who will leave ‘Saga’ this week?”
Above all else, “Saga” is a character driven drama; whose success will ultimately rely on the audience’s relationship with the cast members. To that end it imperative that “Saga” be focused on creating well-rounded and dynamic characters, as seen in televisions best dramatic series.
Each episode will begin with a news report updating the audience on what has transpired, and end with a cast member leaving the show sometimes alive, sometimes dead.
The nature of “Embassy” means that a wide variety of characters are likely to be present at any given time. As in “Lost,” not all of the characters need be seen each week or have a major role in each week’s action. However, a few characters inside and outside the embassy will provide continuity throughout the series. Are they heroes or villains? That is the question the audience will have to answer for themselves.
“Saga: Embassy” will show each point of view from a distinct film look. For instance, the hostages would be shot with saturated reversal stock film, the elite squad of Marine rescuers from hand held, the news footage on video, and the captured in heavy grained, saturated stock. The show will be fast paced and frenetic. The student’s final deadline will tick closer each week, yet each episode will feature its own countdown to elimination. The State Department negotiators are on the verge of a deal, the Special Forces are in the air, the student’s detonator is primed and ready . . . all building towards a conclusion that will shock everyone.
The “SAGA” formula is simple. “Which character will go next?” “SAGA” is a character driven series that offers vast story opportunities, and an uncharted television drama.