“At times like this, I am reminded of a scene from an SNL skit.”
“Yeah, boss, which one? The Bassamatic?”
“Nah. But that was a good one, wasn’t it? No, I was thinking more about the Citizen Kane parody, where the owner says, while pointing a gun out the window and shooting six times, ‘Take a headline, Bernstein: “Crazed Sniper Guns Down Six!” We’ll have the innocent men, women and children angle an offer for $10,000 for the madman’s capture!’ That kind of parody.”
“No. Parody. Parody, parody, parody. Similar to satire. You know, sarcasm.”
“Ahh…sarcasm. That I understand, boss. Kinda like the way you call me smart when you mean the opposite.”
“Kinda. Anyway, watching the news, I see these talking heads and the puppet strings that jerk their faces around, then I imagine the producers and finally, the owners. Take Fox, for instance. Can’t you see Rupert Murdoch telling his minions, ‘Guys, I need a headline grabber, like this…”
[Video fades to black, cuts to scene from SNL]
Citizen Kane II
Written by: Michael O’Donoghue
Mr. Thompson…..Buck Henry
Jed Leland…..Chevy Chase
Charles Foster Kane…..Dan Aykroyd
Mr. Bernstein…..John Belushi
Delivery Boy…..Garrett Morris
[ black-and-white ]
[open on the dark, moody atmosphere of Mr. Thompson’s room. He lies on his bed reading, as a knock sounds at the door. He rises to answer it, allowing a Nurse to enter the room. ]
Mr. Thompson: Yes? Can I help you?
Nurse: I.. don’t suppose you remember me, but.. I’m the nurse that was with Mr. Kane when he died.
Mr. Thompson: [ momentarily confused ] Mr. Kane?
Nurse: Charles Foster Kane – the big newspaper tycoon.
Mr. Thompson: Of course! You’re the one who told us Mr. Kane’s last word – Rosebud. Huh.. never did find out what it meant.
Nurse: Well.. Rosebud was.. one of his last words.
Mr. Thompson: What do you mean, one of his last words?
Nurse: Well, you mustn’t get angry.. but I just remembered a few more.
<[ theme music crescendos, as the title superimposes on screen: “CITIZEN KANE II” ]
[ Mr. Thompson sits on the edge of his bed, across from the Nurse who sits in a chair ]
Nurse: You see, he was on this all-liquid diet —
Mr. Thompson: Get to the point, woman! What were Charles Foster Kane’s last words?!
Nurse: After he said Rosebud, he coughed a few times, then he muttered: “Henri.” And then he died.
Mr. Thompson: Henri? Henri.. ah! Henri! Of course! A man’s name! Kane’s closest friend, Jed Leland, is still alive in one of those uptown hospitals. Let’s pay him a visit! If anyone knows who thie Henri is, he will!
[ Mr. Thompson and the Nurse rush out of the room, as the music crescendos again and we fade to black ]
[ fade in on the close-up face of an aged, spectacled, moustachioed Jed Leland ]
Jed Leland: [ pondering the clue ] Henri.. hmm.. Henri..
[ pull out to reveal Jed Leland sitting in a wheelchair. He turns to face Mr. Thompson, who sits with his back to the audience and obscured by shadows ]
Jed Leland: You’re absolutely sure you don’t have a good cigar? I’d give anything for a good cigar.
Mr. Thompson: Sorry, Mr. Leland, but what about this Henri?
Jed Leland: Who?
Mr. Thompson: Henri.
Jed Leland: Henri. Well, I’m afraid I don’t know any — nope.. wait a minute. [ suddenly remembering ] Why, of course. Henri. The little French man. I’ll never forget the first and last time I saw Henri. It was the day Charlie took over the Enquirer. My, what a day it was..
[ flashback dissolve to the Enquirer office, Mr. Bernstein standing alone as Charles Foster Kane and a younger Jed Leland enter ]
Charles Foster Kane: [ chuckling ] Well, Jedediah, here it is! My own newspaper, the New York Enquirer. And I’m going to turn this newspaper into something that this own will want to read. Why, just look at this dribble! [ holds up a newspaper ] “Noted Mitten Manufacturer Retires.”
Mr. Bernstein: Why, it must be a slow day for news, Mr. Kane!
Charles Foster Kane: A slow day for news, Bernstein? I’ll show you a slow day for news!
[ Kane points a gun out the window and fires 6 shots below ]
Charles Foster Kane: Take a headline, Bernstein: “Crazed Sniper Guns Down Six!” We’ll have theinnocent men, women and children angle an offer for $10,000 for the madman’s capture!
Mr. Bernstein: Right away, Mr. Kane! [ rushes out of office ]
Charles Foster Kane: Slow days for news —
[ Delivery Boy enters office ]
Delivery Boy: Did anyone order a roast beef on rye with mustard?
Charles Foster Kane: Yeah, I did. Thanks.
[ Delivery Boy distributes the sandwiches, then exits office ]
Jed Leland: Let’s see here, what am I, chopped liver?
[ Henri the printer rushes in with the new front page reading: “Crazed Sniper Guns Down Six – Woman and Children Among Victims”. Mr. Bernstein appears behind him. ]
Henri: Here’s ze new front page, Mr. Kane!
Charles Foster Kane: Well, you certainly took your time about it, boy. What’s your name?
Henri: Henri, sir.
Charles Foster Kane: Henri, you’re fired! We’re running a scandal sheet here, not a newspaper! [ starts to eat his sandwich ] Mmm.. great sandwich.
Henri: Funny.. I thought it was: “We’re running a newspaper, not a tea party.”
Mr. Bernstein: A tea party?! That doesn’t make sense! how about: “We’re running a newspaper here, not a pet shop!”
Jed Leland: Uh, wait a minute. Obviously, we’re not running a pet shop. That’s no good.
[ Delivery Boy re-enters scene ]
Delivery Boy: Who, uh, gets the tea with no lemon?
Henri: How about, uh.. police office!
Mr. Bernstein: Oh, yeah.. hey! That’s a good idea! “We’re not running a newspaper here –”
[ suddenly, Charles Foster Kane fires 5 more shots out the window ]
Charles Foster Kane: Get out an extra! “Sniper Strikes Again!” Double the reward!
[ everyone but Kane and Leland clear the room ]
Jed Leland: You know, since you took over, you certainly have changed the Enquirer, Charlie.
Charles Foster Kane: Change the Enquirer.. change the newspaper.. I haven’t changed anything, Jedediah. I’ve only changed the front page. What about its heart, its soul, its very being? That’s why I’ve set out this Declaration of Principles. [ posts card on the wall ] 1. Sell millions of newspapers by any means possible. 2. Make that billions of newspapers.
Jed Leland: Can I keep that, Charlie? I have a hunch it could turn out to be pretty important some day.
Charles Foster Kane: [ reflects ] Important someday. Yeah. [ looks out the window ] Jedediah, do you think I can hit that organ grinder down there, from this far away? He looks to be about.. oh.. one-hundred, two-hundred yards. Let’s see if I can get a beat on him. [ fires a shot ] Damn! Bernstein!
[ Mr. Bernstein re-appears ]
Mr. Bernstein: Yes, Mr. Kane!
Charles Foster Kane: Get out an extra! “Sniper Kills Organ Grinder’s Monkey, Not Even Pets Safe in Weird Murder Spree.”
Mr. Bernstein: Sure thing, Mr. Kane!
[ Kane admires the copy of his newspaper, as he flash-dissolve back to the aged Jed Leland in the hospital ]
Jed Leland: Yeah.. Henri. That’s who Henri was.
Mr. Thompson: He doesn’t really seem important enough, somehow. I mean, why would Kane’s last words be about some printer he fired fifty years before?
Nurse: Oh, wait.. I’m sorry. I just remembered that Mr. Kane said one more thing before he died. He said: “Rosebud”, coughed a few times, muttered: “Henri”, and then he turned to me and whispered: “With Mustard.”
Mr. Thompson: Wait a minute.. let’s put this all together: “Rosebud.. Henri.. With Mustard.” I wonder what it means.
Nurse: Beats me.
Jed Leland: Well, maybe it was a horse he bet — [ Chevy Chase suddenly cracks up ] It could’ve been a horse he bet on!
Mr. Thompson: Yes, that might be amusing if it were.
Nurse: Maybe a woman he knew.
Jed Leland: Might be.
Mr. Thompson: I guess we’ll never know.
[ dissolve to a fiery incinerator. The door is pulled open, and a hand inserts a menu into the flames that read: “Roast Beef On Rye With Mustard” ]
[ fade to black, up on SUPER: “The End” ]
[ dissolve to SUPER: “Introducing The Cast” ]
[ dissolve to “Laraine Newman as the nurse.” ]
Nurse: You see, he was on this all-liquid diet.
[ dissolve to “Chevy Chase as Jed Leland.” ]
Jed Leland: I’d give anything for a good cigar.
[ dissolve to “Buck Henry as Mr. Thompson.” ]
Mr. Thompson: What do you mean, one of his last words?
[ dissolve to “John Belushi as Mr. Bernstein.” ]
Mr. Bernstein: How about: “We’re running a newspaer here, not an ant farm!”
[ dissolve to “Tom Schiller as Henri.” ]
Henri: Here’s ze new front page, Monsieur Kane!
[ dissolve to “Garret Morris as the delivery boy.” ]
Delivery Boy: Who gets the roast beef on rye with mustard?
[ dissolve to “Dan Aykroyd as Charles Foster Kane.” ]
Charles Foster Kane: Mmm.. great sandwich!
[ fade to black ]
“I don’t know boss. It’s awfully complicated.”
“Yeah, maybe you’re right. But I wouldn’t put it past Murdoch to fund a few fundamentalist groups and keep their leaders on speed dial when he needs to up his viewership and advertising rates. Oh, just forget it. Let’s watch a rerun of ‘The Americans‘ and call it a day.”