Partners

Genre: Comedy
Age rating: Everyone
Oil and water try to get along when London tennis instructor Larry Dale and uptight New York lawyer Joanne Stempel learn they must together run their fathers' business successfully for one year in order to collect their inheritances.
Project collaboration: Closed
Synopsis: In her early 30s, JOANNE STEMPEL is the hardest-working (and highest-billing) lawyer in the large prominent New York law firm for which she works.

In his 30s, LARRY DALE is the tennis pro at a prestigious London sports club. His good looks and charm have women falling all over him, both on and off the court.

FRANKLIN FEINBERG is about to drop a bomb on both Joanne and Larry. He’s the executor of the wills of Max Stempel and Sam Dale — the late, lamented partners of Stempel & Dale, the largest independent auction house in London. Max and Sam died in a car crash en route to woo a potential client. Now it’s Feinberg’s duty to tell Max and Sam’s heirs that Stempel & Dale is theirs.

When Joanne gets the phone call to come to London for her estranged father’s funeral — and the reading of the will — at first she says she never even knew the man and doesn’t have time for his death. Then, intrigued by Feinberg’s hints at a major surprise, she agrees to come.

When Feinberg tells Larry about the reading of the will, Larry says he can’t be bothered – just send him a letter with the highlights. Frank entices Larry with a promise of a major surprise.

At Frank’s law office Joanne and Larry are introduced. Larry has come directly from the tennis courts in his white shorts and shirt. Joanne is wearing her New York lawyer suit. She’s not impressed by his looks or his charm, and as for Larry’s first impression of Joanne, she’s an ironclad bitch.

Frank drops the bombshell – the partners have left the business equally to each of their only children – Joanne and Larry. If they choose not to take over the business and run it for at least a year before selling it, they forfeit everything, including the dual life insurance proceeds of 5 million Euro each.

For Joanne, sick of the law business, it’s worth a try, especially with the promised financial reward.

For Larry, it’s too much like work — might take him away from his adoring female court. But even for him 5 million Euros plus the proceeds of the sale of a profitable business is a lot to turn down.

While Larry, of course, knows about his father’s business, he has never pretended to be interested in it or visited since he was a young boy. Joanne has never heard of or seen the business. Frank drives them there.

The windows of Stempel & Dale feature two exquisite Impressionist paintings with a discreet sign that says the annual spring sale of Impressionist paintings will take place May 5th, a month from now. The immediate problem is that, as of this date, Stempel & Dale does not have the critical mass of Impressionist paintings necessary for the spring sale.

If Joanne and Larry can’t rope in more artwork to sell, the spring sale will have to be canceled, creating a very bad smear on the auction house’s reputation and thus greatly reducing the value of the business.

It seems that at their death Max and Sam were on their way to woo a couple – the Altwoods – who were considering allowing their massive Impressionist collection to be sold at the spring sale. If Joanne and Larry can snare these paintings, the sale can go forward as planned.

Joanne realizes they need help and calls in her assistant MALCOLM from New York to be their behind-the-scenes brains. Then Joanne and Larry must quickly bone up on Impressionist paintings. Joanne can’t distinguish a Manet from a Monet much less pick out a Pisarro from a roomful of paintings. Larry doesn’t even know what Impression means.

Once the cram course on Impressionism has been completed, Joanne and Larry meet the Altwoods and the wooing begins. Here every thing they do seems to splash mud on their faces.

There’s even the time they lay siege to the Altwood mansion to discover the Altwoods’ taste in champagne and other edibles -- and the fearless duo are arrested by the London police for vagrancy.

Meanwhile, Joanne has met a most interesting man, STEPHEN, who comes to the auction house and he tells her he’s representing a major art buyer. He’s a real charmer, everybody likes him, and he squires Joanne around town. Only Larry can see through him — it takes one to know one.

When Larry unsuccessfully tries to break up Joanne and Stephen, everyone believes he’s jealous. He swears he’s not, just considering the best interest of the business.

And at the 11th hour, Joanne and Larry finally learn to work together. Larry unmasks Stephen as a spy for a rival auction house who is interfering with Stempel & Dale’s acquisition of the Altwood collection.

Then the Atwoods still refuse to allow their collection to be auctioned. Yet at the last minute a nondescript couple offer their modern art collection to be auctioned – in gratitude for Joanne and Larry not treating them as nobodies.

As the sale is in progress Larry proposes a toast to Joanne — to the partnership of Stempel & Dale — and not just in business. The staff of Stempel & Dale cheer as Larry and Joanne come together for THE KISS.

And in a surprise epilogue we learn who really engineered this new partnership.

NOTE: This screenplay is one of the screenplays in the book FOUR COMEDY SCREENPLAYS, which is on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Four-Co...

Latest Work

  • Script 1 - Phyllis's Original Draft
    04/12/12
    Creative Notes:
    I switched the location of the story from Larry being in LA and Joanne in NY to Larry being in London and Joanne in NY to create more opportunities for misunderstanding as these two fumble their way through trying to fulfill their father's last wishes.