The Black Notebook
Letter from Mrs Edwina Wright, Representative for the ‘Blue Bird’ Series of Television One-Hour Plays, USA. Dear Miss Wulf: Watching with hawk-like eyes for plays of durable interest to bring to our screen, it was with great excitement that your novel, Frontiers of War, was brought to our attention. I am writing to you in the hope that we may work together on many projects of advantage to us both. I shall be in London for three days on my way to Rome and Paris and hope you will ring me at Black’s Hotel so that we may meet for a drink. I am enclosing a brochure we have compiled for the guidance of our authors. Yours sincerely.
The brochure was printed, nine and a half pages long. It began: ‘In the course of any year we receive hundreds of plays in our office. Many of these show an authentic feeling for the medium, but fail to meet our requirements through ignorance of the fundamental exigencies of our needs. We present a one-hour play once a week, etc., etc., etc.’ Clause (a) read: ‘The essence of the Blue Bird series is variety! There are no embargoes on subject matter! We want adventure, romance, travel stories, stories of exotic experience, domestic life, family life, parent-child relationships, fantasy, comedy, tragedy. Blue Bird says no to no screenplay that sincerely and authentically grapples with genuine experience, of whatever kind.’ Clause (y) read: ‘Blue Bird screenplays are viewed weekly by nine million Americans of all ages. Blue Bird brings screenplays of living verity to the ordinary man, woman and child. Blue Bird considers it has a trust and a duty. For this reason Blue Bird writers must remember their responsibility, which they share with Blue Bird: Blue Bird will not consider screenplays dealing with religion, race, politics, or extra-marital sex.
We are looking forward with eager anticipation to reading your screenplay.’
Miss Anna Wulf to Mrs Edwina Wright. Dear Mrs Wright: Thank you for your flattering letter. I see however from your directive brochure to your writers that you do not like plays which touch on race or extra-marital sex. Frontiers of War has both. Therefore, I feel there is not much point in our discussing the possibility of adapting this novel for your series. Yours sincerely.
Mrs Edwina Wright to Miss Wulf: A telegram. Thank you so much for prompt and responsible letter stop Please have dinner with me tomorrow night Black’s Hotel eight o’clock stop Reply pre-paid.
Dinner with Mrs Wright at Black’s Hotel. Bill: £11 4s 6d.