Selling Life

Genre: Drama
Age rating: Everyone
In post 911 New York, Teddy Shaw is an insurance salesman that does not believe in life insurance. When he becomes criticially ill, he is given just 30-days to sell three policies to save his life. There's just one catch; however, all three inidivuals are just like him.
Synopsis: Selling Life is the story of Teddy Shaw, a fast-talking and highly successful New York Life Insurance salesman that does not believe in his product. He secretly calls Life Insurance … “Death Insurance.” When Teddy is suddenly sidelined with a critical brain aneurism, his ability to sell Life Insurance is the the only thing that can save him. He is given a second chance, but it comes at a great cost and with a big catch.

Teddy’s wife Kate is practical and steady. She has loved Teddy since college and has always been rock solid, but not as the story opens. Teddy sees her looking pale and frail. She stands by a doctor as he lay motionless on a stretcher. “What on earth has happened?” He suddenly jets away from his own body and emerges in a grassy field where three “old school” insurance men are seated at dark, wooden desks. Mr. Bryce, Mr. Nesbit, and Mr. Ackerman give Teddy a life or death choice. He must sell three life insurance policies in thirty days or he will die.

Teddy sells for a living, so he accepts what appears to be an easy challenge, but there is one big catch. Teddy has to sell all three policies to three people just like himself: skeptical, cynical, live-for-today types who are each about to meet an untimely end which Teddy is forbidden to disclose.

The three designated “leads” include Dr. Harvey Sneed, a widowed doctor with an exotic parrot named Winston; Robert Porter, a near-do-well journeyman in a bitter custody battle for his kids; and Cynthia Newcomb, a no-nonsense, African-American, lesbian attorney with an artist lover named Merril Page.

In post “9-11” New York, Teddy must draw upon all his skills of persuasion, salesmanship, and persistence to convince all of them to invest in a brave, new world … without them in it.

A salesman through and through, Teddy believes that every buyer ultimately has an angle. He sells a policy to Dr. Sneed by working up a plan that takes care of the only thing that matters to him … his African Gray Parrot. He quickly realizes that Porter wants revenge, so he works out a policy that takes care of his kids but excludes his wife. Cynthia Newcomb is his biggest challenge. She exists behind a wall of accomplishment and bitterness. She feels jilted by life, love, and a world of gross inequity. Teddy ultimately approaches Merril Page, Cynthia’s beautiful bohemian girlfriend, who senses something “desperate” about him. Merril is inspired and soulful, and Teddy counts on her to provide the breakthrough that he needs to save his life.

As Teddy delves further into the complex personalities of the old doctor, the young father, and the middle-age lawyer … his belief system comes into question and his personal relationships slowly unravel. Convinced he is in the throws of a mid-life crisis, his childhood friends, Vince and Herbie, attempt an intervention. Vince is a rough-talking, Westchester real estate agent with a soft underbelly. He has a beautiful wife and is a slave to his overindulged kids. Herbie is the manager of NYC’s Water Department. He’s unfulfilled and careful. He has always lived and worked for the day he can retire.

The stress of Teddy’s pressing “task” takes its toll. After a few desperate meetings with Merril, Kate is convinced that he is having an affair. She threatens to leave him, and as his desperation increases, his time decreases. His internal demons rise up to reveal a man that is suddenly vulnerable, flawed, sensitive, and introspective.

With the final minutes of his life winding down, Teddy makes a desperate, last effort to sell the immovable Cynthia. When all appears to be lost, a dramatic twist of fate turns Teddy's "task" upside-down forever bucking the conventions of life and death and re-affirming mankind’s potential for redemption, positive change, and a simple second chance.

We are left to derive our own meaning of Teddy’s journey, Sneed’s loneliness, Porter’s revenge, and Cynthia’s obstinacy as well as the enduring role of the now defunct, Pinnacle Life Insurance Company.


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