Mad Libs TV: The Truth Behind HBO’s “Perry Mason”
How Robert Downey Jr. decided to reboot America’s favorite defense attorney as a down-on-his-luck private eye
EXT. THE SET OF “AVENGERS: ENDGAME” — DAY
CHRIS, MARK and ROBERT sit on foam boulders, drinking bottles of water during a filming break. All are wearing parts of their costumes.
MARK: I understand you two are jealous, but give me the credit I’m due — I’m going to be starring in a Sunday-night show on HBO. That’s as good as it gets on television these days.
ROBERT: (snickering) It’s still a TV show, Mark. Some of us don’t have to do television.
MARK: You wouldn’t want to be part of Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, or Westworld?
CHRIS: Mark, my least talented brother is on Westworld!
ROBERT: That’s what Liam says about you, Chris!
MARK laughs as CHRIS brings Mjolnir down on ROBERT’s head
MARK: I don’t think Luke would claim to be the star of Westworld, Chris. I’m not only the lead, I’m playing both main roles!
ROBERT: Both? Are you the new Tatiana Maslany?
MARK: Chris, give me that hammer!
ROBERT: It’s cute you’re excited, Mark, but getting a TV show made is not a big deal.
MARK and CHRIS roll their eyes.
MARK: We know, Robert, you are the king of Hollywood. You could get anything onto HBO at nine on Sundays!
ROBERT: Actually, when you put it that way…
ROBERT turns to a nearby group of actors.
ROBERT: Benedict, Brie, come here — we’re going to play Mad Libs!
BENDEDICT and BRIE exchange a look before heading over. Another voice pipes off from off camera.
GWYNETH: I love Mad Libs? Can I play?
EVERYONE: (in unison) No!
GWYNETH giggles and joins the group.
BRIE: I’m new here. Is this some odd tradition?
MARK: No, Robert’s showing off.
ROBERT: We’re going to make a TV show! Brie, you first. Name a genre.
BRIE glances at ROBERT and BENEDICT before breaking into a smile.
BRIE: Detective fiction.
ROBERT: (grinning) Very good. Ben, can you name an American city?
BENEDICT: I’ll try. How about Los Angeles?
ROBERT: That works. You’ve made about a billion dollars here. Gwyn, since you’re here, give me a famous crime.
GWYNETH: Dr. Jennifer Gunter picking on me!
GWYNETH: She tells people not to put my jade eggs in their vaginas!
ROBERT stares blankly at GWYNETH for a long second before shaking his head.
ROBERT: Okay. Mark, can you give me a … second famous crime?
MARK thinks for a second before answering.
MARK: The Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
ROBERT: Perfect! Chris, how about a historical era?
CHRIS: The Great Depression. Yes, we had that in Australia too.
ROBERT: I’m sure you did. OK, so far we’ve got a show about a detective investigating the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in Los Angeles during the Great Depression.
ROBERT gazes off into the distance, then looks around.
ROBERT: That’s way too easy. Scarlett!
SCARLETT looks up from her phone.
ROBERT: Name a Depression-era job.
SCARLETT: (looking back at her phone) Dairy farmer.
ROBERT: OK. Our private eye also has a dairy farm. That’s pretty weird.
ROBERT picks up his phone and hits a button.
ROBERT: Diana, I need a meeting with whoever is doing programming at HBO these days. Tell them I have his next Sunday hit.
ROBERT smirks at MARK.
ROBERT: Oh, I’m also going to need a meeting with Tatiana Maslany and her people. That should be … actually hang on.
ROBERT holds the phone against the breastplate of his Iron Man costume.
ROBERT: I almost forgot! Mark, you sold HBO an adaptation, so I need to be fair.
ROBERT looks around the set before spotting someone.
ROBERT: Sam! Name a famous fictional character!
SAMUEL: (without hesitation) Perry Mason. I love Perry Mason.
ROBERT brings the phone back to his face.
ROBERT: Diana, tell HBO it’s a Perry Mason reboot. Right. Thanks.
MARK shakes his head in disbelief.
FADE TO BLACK.