American Beauty (1999): An Excerpt Scene I BRAD Hey Les. You got a minute?

Lester turns around, smiling perfunctorily LESTER For you, Brad? I've got five. INT. BRAD'S O I!E " #O#ENTS LATER in his big corner office.

Brad is seated behind his des

BRAD I'm sure you can understand our need to cut corners around here. Lester sits across from him, loo ing small and isolated. LESTER !h, sure. "imes are tight, and you gotta free up cash. #otta spend money to ma e money. $ight? BRAD %&actly. 'o... Brad stands, ready to usher Lester out. LESTER (blurts) Li e the time *hen +r. Flournoy used the company +aster,ard to pay for that hoo er, and then she used the card numbers and stayed at the 't. $egis for, *hat *as it, li e, three months? BRAD (startled) "hat's unsubstantiated gossip. LESTER "hat's fifty thousand dollars. "hat's somebody's salary. "hat's somebody *ho's gonna get fired because ,raig has to pay *omen to sleep *ith him-

BRAD .esus. ,alm do*n. /obody's getting fired yet. "hat's *hy *e're having everyone *rite out a 0ob description, mapping out in detail ho* they contribute. "hat *ay,

4 (loo s up at Lester) 2ell. +anagement *ants you gone by the end of the day. Brad. *hile I fantasi3e about a life that doesn't so closely resemble hell.management can assess *ho's valuable and11 LESTER 2ho's e&pendable. BRAD It's 0ust business. retiring to the men's room so I can 0er off. for fourteen years I've been a *hore for the advertising industry. You've been here ho* long. BRAD (reads) 4. a *hole month? BRAD (fran ) I'm one of the good guys.my 0ob consists of basically mas ing my contempt for the assholes in charge. 0ust *hat sort of severance pac age is 4management4 prepared to offer me? (#ORE) . Les. smiling. reading a document. I'm trying to level *ith you. at least once a day. LESTER (laughs) Brad. Lester stares at him. and.. Scene $ INT. Lester sits across from him. LESTER (angry) I've been *riting for this maga3ine for fourteen years. "his is your one chance to save your 0ob. you obviously have no interest in saving yourself. "he only *ay I could save myself no* is if I start firebombing.. BRAD'S O I!E " DA% Brad is seated behind his des . BRAD 2hatever. po*erless. LESTER 2ell.

LESTER (!ONT'D) . LESTER (!ONT'D) 2hich I'm sure *ould interest the I. 5 beat.. *hat do you say I thro* in a little se&ual harassment charge to boot? Brad L56#H'.(!ONTIN&ED) '(. *ith benefits.'. . BRAD +an.onsidering the information I have about our editorial director buying pussy *ith company money. BRAD 5gainst *ho? LESTER 5gainst you. Brad stops laughing. since it technically constitutes fraud. Brad sighs. LESTER . LESTER 2ell.$.raig's *ife. BRAD 2hat do you *ant? LESTER !ne year's salary. BRAD "hat's not going to happen. !ONTIN&ED: LESTER (!ONT'D) . studying Lester. 5nd I'm sure that some of our advertisers and rival publications might li e to no* about it as *ell.an you prove you didn't offer to save my 0ob if I'd let you blo* me? Brad leans bac in his chair. /ot to mention. You are one t*isted (f777) person.

. I'm 0ust an ordinary guy *ith nothing to lose.(standing) /ope.

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