screenplay synopsis by
Old Jake: Alix Duncan, Boston journalist and middle-aged emotional mess, is heading for a breakdown. Fortunately, a memory of an old hermit from her Kentucky childhood swoops in and saves her. She returns to her hometown to find the old man and learn of his fate, but what she finds is love and spiritual salvation through the help of a midnight dose of "Mountain Moonshine", wild critters, and two broken old men.
Alix Duncan, an emotional, stressed out, wreck-of-a-woman, possessing the mouth of a truck driver, is at her wit's end. On the cusp of turning 50, the Boston freelance writer is caught in a mental downward spiral. Frustrations from modern day technology and their never ending glitches, seem to be the source of her impending demise. She confesses to friends she is beginning to identify with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber! After shocking them with this revelation, and assuring them she never-ever intended to go into bomb making, she remembers a hermit named "Old Jake" from her childhood vacations in rural Kentucky.
To her therapist Margaret's relief, the memories of Old Jake, a more benign transference than Mr. Kaczynski, take hold. The answers as to why he became a recluse and his eventual fate, become Alix's new obsession. After scenes where her chronic cussing is cleverly bleeped out by Boston traffic horns, and beeps from everyday living — think: coffee makers, microwave ovens, ATM's — she meets with her main editor, Abby. Alix, desperate, announces to her she's had it, she's taking time off. She tells Abby what she know of Old Jake and informs her she is going to the small town of Cow Creek where her family summered, research the man's life, and just maybe write a story about him, if only for herself — Alix does just that.
She arrives in town and begins inquiring about Jake: some of the older residents do remember him. Alix is offered a ride by a townie who knows the way to the old shack which according to him, still stands. He drops her off and she begins to explore. She pokes around the dilapidated structure and is utterly amazed at what she finds. As she walks through the old door frame to leave, a heavy piece of woodwork over the door slips loose, violently hitting her on the forehead. She stumble to the old cot in the corner, lays down and loses consciousness.
Alix, damp cloth on her forehead, wakes to a beautifully restored version of the little cabin. The interior's carved wood splendor is in stark contrast to its "before" condition. Dazed and confused she glances around and is stunned when she sees sitting in the corner with hazy rays of sunlight streaking before him — Old Jake. He is not old; he is handsome, long-haired, self-possessed with intense dark eyes, and perched on his left shoulder is a large shiny, coal black crow. As she attempts to comprehend what is before her, his deep intelligent voice whispers, "Welcome back Sleeping Beauty".
The romance is on — Is this real? Is this a dream? Who cares!
While she recovers from her concussion, Jake and Alix, who he now calls "Beauty", spend their days discovering each other. In little time she learns the truth behind his self-imposed exile, and having confessed to being from another time, she convinces him to consider going back to his old life with his wife and son. In return, Jake, who has found serenity in his world of nature along with his hermit buddy Dr. Bob, gently guides Alix to her own inner peace and serenity. Dr. Bob, a Native American mental casualty from the Vietnam war, has his own little shack where he lives with his hilarious animal cohorts, Buddy the bear, Marvin the mountain lion, and Jane the doe.
A mind-blowing, "Mountain Moonshine"mushroom trip the three take one night accompanied by the animal menagerie, changes Alix forever. Mountain Moonshine is Jake and Bob's profitable psilocybin (an hallucinogenic made from local mushrooms) business. Their "product" raises money for the anti-Vietnam War movement of their era, and Jake's sister Evie, who brings them supplies every few weeks, is their whack-a-doodle "Mountain Moonshine Mule".
Alix and Jake know time is not on their side. One morning Alix wakes alone to find — no Jake, no rays of sunlight, no shiny black crow named Crow, only the ramshackle ruins of his past. She stands, gash on her forehead, awkwardly stumbles towards the door, and there in the garden with his back turned to her, is Jake. Flabbergasted, she calls out his name. The man turns and says, "Alix? We've been looking for you. Jake? Jake was my father, I'm his son James."
So did "Beauty" find peace, love and truth, or was it all merely a beautiful dream?
"Old Jake" is written as an eight part limited series.
Treatment and pilot episode available.
Registered WGAE 2019