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Music Of The Heart Movie Script

Writer(s) : Pamela Gray

Genres : Drama

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                                    MUSIC OF THE HEART


                                       Written by

                                       Pamela Gray



                                      SHOOTING DRAFT
                                     January 25, 1999


                

               FADE IN:

               CREDITS OVER PHOTOS IN AN ALBUM

               The photos include a sepia-tone portrait of an Italian 
               immigrant family... a b&w snapshot of ROBERTA, a nine-year-
               old girl playing violin in front of a refrigerator (1950)...

               ...Roberta and her dashing Italian father, hand-carving a 
               wooden music stand... a b&w snapshot of Roberta in a communion 
               dress... Roberta at 15, playing violin in front of the same 
               refrigerator, eyes on the music stand...

               ...a color photo of two cute blonde little boys building a 
               sandcastle on a beach... a color photo of a groom in a white 
               naval uniform and his pretty bride, (Roberta at 25), her 
               hand over his as they cut their wedding cake with a sword...

               ...a color photo of Roberta and her husband Greek dancing 
               with another couple at an outdoor taverna. Roberta's husband 
               and the other man's sexy wife are exchanging a slight smile...

               HOLD ON THIS LAST PHOTO as we now see the ALBUM open on the 
               floor of a bedroom, as if it's been tossed. We are:

               INT. GUASPARI HOUSEHOLD, ROME, N. Y. - BEDROOM - DAY (1988)

                                     WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
                         Wake up, Roberta!

               We hear the sound of KNOCKING as the CAMERA PANS a small, 
               darkened guest room. A few streaks of daylight filter through 
               Venetian blinds.

                                     WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
                         Come on, Bert -- get out of bed!

               The CAMERA finds a WOMAN lying face down on a twin bed, thick 
               wavy hair sprawled across her shoulders.

                                     WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
                         Please, Bert -- you need to get out 
                         of that bed.

               The KNOCKING continues, and she puts the pillow over the top 
               of her head.

               END CREDITS

               INT. GUASPARI BEDROOM - DAY

               The WOMAN -- ROBERTA GUASPARI-DEMETRAS (38) -- retrieves the 
               photo album from the floor, looks at a photo and removes it. 
               She's a beautiful woman with large, expressive eyes, but 
               right now she looks like hell. She stares at the photo -- 
               it's the two couples dancing. A quick glimpse of hurt on her 
               face, then her jaw tightens and she rips the picture in half. 
               There's muffled talking outside the door, and then two young 
               boys' voices.

                                     BOY'S VOICE (O.S.)
                         Can you come out now, Mommy? Please?

               She puts the half with her and her husband on the dresser, 
               then tears the woman off the other half and rips her into 
               pieces.

                                     BOY #2 (O.S.)
                         Mommy, Nick broke my crayon!

                                     BOY #1 (O.S.)
                         Well, Lexi hit me and he almost 
                         broke... he almost broke my ear!

               O.S. arguing "I DID NOT!" "YES YOU DID!" "LIAR!" etc. As if 
               that one action siphoned all her energy, Roberta returns to 
               bed, gets into fetal position, and stares at a point beyond 
               the wall, ignoring the O.S. voices.

                                     WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
                         Hear that? Your boys need you.

               EXT. GUASPARI HOUSE - DOORWAY - DAY

               ASSUNTA GUASPARI (58), Roberta's slender, tired Italian-
               American mother, stands in the doorway of a well-tended 
               working-class home, addressing a young NAVAL OFFICER who 
               holds a lengthy delivery inventory. It's a gray day with 
               ominous storm clouds. Late 70's CARS are parked on the street.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         But I have no room for this!

                                     OFFICER
                         I'm sorry, M'am. We have orders to 
                         deliver these.

               Assunta looks beyond the man, dismayed.

               HER POV

               Large wooden CRATES cover her front lawn, and TWO MOVERS 
               plant down another. They hurry back to the TRUCK, grabbing 
               the next crate too quickly this time. It slips from their 
               hands, CRASHES to the ground and splinters open. Several 
               VIOLIN CASES spill out. The crate looks like it holds a whole 
               lot more.

               BACK TO SCENE

               Instantly a second-story window is flung open, and Roberta 
               sticks her head out, a hundred times more energized than 
               we've seen her so far.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Watch it, you idiots! Be careful 
                         with those!

               The men scramble to pick them up. Assunta looks at all the 
               violins, then up at Roberta.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Why so many?

               Roberta disappears inside and slams the window shut.

               INT. GUASPARI LIVING ROOM - DAY

               The living room is filled with boxes shipped from Greece, 
               labelled by the U.S. NAVY. And on the floor, in the middle 
               of the boxes, are FIFTY VIOLIN CASES of various sizes, also 
               with Greek and U.S. NAVY labels. NICK (7) and LEXI (5) climb 
               over the boxes as if they were giant blocks.

                                     NICK
                              (calling)
                         Mommy, which box has our toys?

               INT. GUASPARI HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

               ROBERTA'S on the phone, yelling at someone. She's still in 
               the same ratty nightgown.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Look, I know he's there, so quit 
                         lying to me!... Then check under 
                         Lana Holden -- Mrs. Lana Holden... 
                         Fine. Just tell Lieutenant Demetras 
                         that his wife called and --

               ASSUNTA grabs the phone from her hand and hangs it up.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Ma!

                                     ASSUNTA
                         No. I want you to listen to me. You 
                         can't keep doing this to yourself -- 
                         or to the boys. They need their mother 
                         now. You're a beautiful, talented 
                         woman and you have your whole life 
                         ahead of you.

                                     ROBERTA
                         If I'm so beautiful and talented, 
                         why did Charles leave me?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Because Charles is a big jerk.
                              (beat)
                         Now get dressed.

               She exits, leaving Roberta to mull over her words.

               INT. GUASPARI KITCHEN - DAY

               Coffee is brewing and homemade cinnamon rolls are cooling on 
               a rack. We recognize the kitchen from the home movie footage. 
               As Assunta clears the boys' breakfast dishes from the table, 
               Roberta enters. She's dressed, but hasn't put on makeup or 
               done much with her hair. It's a start.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You really think Charles is a jerk?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         From the day you married him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why didn't you say something?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Since when do you listen to me?

               Roberta half-smiles, pours herself some coffee, then sits 
               down at the table.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (sighs, then)
                         What am I gonna do?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         First, you eat breakfast. Second, 
                         you go out and get a job -- any job. 
                         Your boys, god-bless-em, are good 
                         eaters -- but I can't afford it.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Mama, he's gonna get tired of her -- 
                         you'll see.

               Assunta's face shows she's doubtful about this.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Well in the meantime, get a job.

               INT. DEPARTMENT STORE - GIFT WRAP COUNTER - ROME, N.Y. - DAY

               Roberta is behind the counter, meticulously wrapping a present 
               with ribbons, bows and stickers. At one point she even unties 
               a ribbon and redoes it because it's not perfect. She looks 
               pretty, but she's dressed conservatively, like a navy 
               housewife. There's only one other clerk wrapping gifts and a 
               long line of impatient customers. A male SUPERVISOR appears 
               behind Roberta.

                                     SUPERVISOR
                         Just wrap. You're not Picasso.

               He exits, and Roberta quickly tries to finish her task.

                                     MALE VOICE (O.S.)
                         Picasso would probably put the bows 
                         on the back of the box.

               Roberta looks up to find BRIAN TURNER (40), a handsome, sexy 
               guy with longish hair and a beat-up leather jacket.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Brian Turner?

                                     BRIAN
                         Hello, Roberta.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I thought you moved away.

                                     BRIAN
                         I did. I'm in town for my Mom's 
                         birthday.

               He holds out his hand. Roberta misunderstands the gesture 
               and tries to shake his hand.

                                     BRIAN
                         No -- that's her gift.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (embarrassed)
                         Oh! Sorry.

               Roberta hands him the gift she's been wrapping.

                                     BRIAN
                         It looks very pretty.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Thank you.
                              (beat)
                         I heard you had a book published. I 
                         didn't read it but...

                                     BRIAN
                         That's O.K. My parents didn't read 
                         it either. It looks good on their 
                         coffee table, though.

               Roberta smiles.

                                     BRIAN
                         So what are you doing here? I thought 
                         you'd be in Carnegie Hall by now.

               HOLD ON ROBERTA as she takes this in.

               INT. COFFEE SHOP - ROME, N.Y. - DAY

               Roberta sits opposite Brian. Her lunch is untouched.

                                     ROBERTA
                         My college professors said it was 
                         too late -- I hadn't had enough 
                         training to be a concert violinist. 
                         So I got a teaching degree instead.

                                     BRIAN
                         I'll bet you're a great teacher.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I think I am. It's just that...
                              (sighs)
                         See, every time I'd get started 
                         somewhere, Charles would be 
                         transferred... then I had my kids 
                         and took time off to raise them... 
                         and then when I decided to teach 
                         again, no one would hire me 'cause 
                         you can't count on a navy wife to 
                         stick around. I finally decided I'd 
                         start my own program -- Charles gave 
                         me the money and I bought fifty 
                         violins from this little Greek shop -- 
                         got started at a private school and 
                         then...

                                     BRIAN
                         Your husband ran off with your best 
                         friend.

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         She wasn't my "best" friend. She was 
                         a friend.
                              (beat)
                         Charles is the last person you'd 
                         think would cheat on me -- he never 
                         broke a rule...
                              (a few beats)
                         I wake up one night -- it's like one 
                         in the morning -- and he's not in 
                         bed. I go outside and our neighbor -- 
                         this old Greek guy -- is sitting out 
                         there, smoking a cigar, so I ask if 
                         he's seen my husband. "He's taking a 
                         walk with the other officer's wife," 
                         he says. "He takes a walk every night 
                         with the other officer's wife."

               A beat as she gets lost in the memory. She takes a bite of a 
               french fry.

                                     ROBERTA
                         God, these are cold.

                                     BRIAN
                         So you're just gonna wrap presents 
                         and wait for him to come back?

                                     ROBERTA
                         You sound like my mother.

                                     BRIAN
                         That's not very sexy.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Are you trying to be sexy or be my 
                         friend?

                                     BRIAN
                         A little of both.

               Roberta smiles, blushing a bit. Brian looks at her, getting 
               an idea.

                                     BRIAN
                         You know, I know this really cool 
                         lady who runs this elementary school -- 
                         I wrote a piece on her. It's a public 
                         school, but it's alternative -- she 
                         might be able to create some kind of 
                         gig for you. Let me give her a call.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Great!

                                     BRIAN
                              (takes his last bite 
                              of sandwich)
                         If she hires you, though, you have 
                         to be willing to relocate.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where is it?

               EXT. SPANISH HARLEM, NEW YORK CITY - TRAVELLING SHOT - DAY

               A SALSA SONG PLAYS OVER as we see stores with Spanish names 
               and signs; Black and Latino elementary school children walking 
               home from school; some burned-out buildings; Black and Latino 
               teens playing basketball on a cement court; Spanish graffiti 
               on walls; elderly women buying fruit at a produce stand.

               PULL BACK TO REVEAL this is the POV of Roberta from the back 
               seat of a cab. The SALSA SONG plays on the cab's radio. 
               Roberta looks scared shitless.

               Suddenly, two YOUNG MEN flash down the middle of the street, 
               dart IN FRONT of the cab and the driver SLAMS on the brakes, 
               jerking Roberta forward.

                                     TAXI DRIVER
                         Welcome to East Harlem.

               EXT. CENTRAL PARK EAST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (CPE 1) - EAST 
               HARLEM - ESTABLISHING - DAY

               INT. JANET WILLIAMS' OFFICE - DAY

               JANET WILLIAMS, a Black woman (40's) with a kind face, sits 
               behind her desk and looks at Roberta's resume. A sign on her 
               desk indicates that she's the DIRECTOR. Also on the desk is 
               a FRAMED PICTURE of Janet, her husband, daughter (14), and 
               son (12). Roberta sits nervously in the chair opposite her.

                                     JANET
                              (looking at resume)
                         Aside from half a term in a private 
                         school -- in Greece -- and a year 
                         teaching chorus in Hawaii -- ten 
                         years ago -- it doesn't look like 
                         you've had any other teaching 
                         experience.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, not traditional teaching 
                         experience. I've been doing private 
                         lessons...

               Janet looks for this on the resume.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's not on there... I taught my 
                         sons.

               Janet smiles politely.

                                     JANET
                         I'd like to help you, Mrs. Demetras. 
                         Brian spoke highly of you and I told 
                         him I'd consider starting a violin 
                         class... But without the proper 
                         qualifications, and without any 
                         experience in an inner city school...

               Roberta nods, defeated.

                                     JANET
                         I'm very sorry.

               INT. CPE 1 - HALLWAY - DAY

               Roberta stands outside Janet's office, dejectedly watching 
               the children noisily running through the hall.

               INT. AREA OUTSIDE JANET WILLIAMS' OFFICE - THE NEXT DAY

               Roberta knocks on Janet's door.

                                     JANET (O.S.)
                         Yes?

               As Roberta opens the door, we see that Nick and Lexi are 
               with her. All three have violins. INSIDE, Janet's in 
               conversation with DENNIS RAUSCH (38), an uptight man with a 
               tie that doesn't match his suit jacket. He's showing Janet a 
               large scheduling chart.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm sorry to interrupt, but I wanted 
                         you to meet my sons -- Nick, Lexi...

               They enter.

               INT. JANET'S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

               Janet smiles at the boys, but clearly thinks Roberta's a 
               little off. Roberta holds her hand out to Dennis.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Roberta Guaspari-Demetras.

               Dennis shakes her hand, regarding her warily.

                                     JANET
                         This is Dennis Rausch, our music 
                         teacher and program coordinator.
                              (beat)
                         Mrs. Demetras, didn't I make things 
                         clear yesterday?

                                     ROBERTA
                         If I could just show you something -- 
                         it'll only take a minute.

               Before Janet can answer, Roberta and the kids quickly take 
               out their violins and get into position. Janet and Dennis 
               exchange a look.

                                     DENNIS
                         Are we having a talent show? I should 
                         have brought my tap shoes.

               Roberta ignores the jab, then nods to the boys. The three of 
               them begin an incredibly impressive violin trio, playing an 
               ETUDE in three-part harmony. For the first measures, Janet's 
               still annoyed by the intrusion, but she's quickly won over. 
               Dennis watches impassively.

               Roberta and the boys finish their piece; Janet applauds and 
               Dennis joins in to be polite. The three take bows. A beat.

                                     LEXI
                         Will you hire her now?

               Janet laughs, then gestures for them to sit.

                                     JANET
                         How long have you boys been playing?

                                     NICK
                         Since I was three.

                                     LEXI
                              (contemplates, then)
                         Maybe since I was three and a half.

                                     JANET
                         Your mom must be a good teacher.

                                     NICK
                              (shrugs)
                         She's O.K.

               Roberta gives Nick a look, but Janet smiles.

                                     JANET
                              (to Roberta)
                         If you could teach our students to 
                         play like that, I'd be thrilled, but --

                                     ROBERTA
                         I can. Any child can learn the violin.

                                     DENNIS
                         Assuming they had the discipline.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'll teach them to have discipline.

                                     JANET
                         A lot of our parents are struggling 
                         to feed their kids and pay the rent -- 
                         they don't have time to help them 
                         learn violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         They don't have to. If they can help, 
                         great -- but these kids will be 
                         committed. They'll practice on their 
                         own, they'll help each other in the 
                         classroom --

               Dennis laughs. Roberta looks at him, a bit miffed.

                                     DENNIS
                              (with an edge)
                         I think I know these students, Miss 
                         Demetras. Their attention span doesn't 
                         go past do-re-mi. Maybe on a good 
                         day, I can get them to "fa."

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're underestimating them. They 
                         can play as well as any other kids.

                                     DENNIS
                         That I'd like to see.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You will.

               A beat. Janet observes the tension, then turns to Roberta.

                                     JANET
                              (to Roberta)
                         For now I'll put you down as a sub, 
                         but I have to warn you -- even if it 
                         works out, the Board may not let me 
                         create a permanent position for you.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That's O.K. I'll worry about that 
                         later.
                              (with a grateful look)
                         Thank you.

               We see relief -- and fear -- in Roberta's face.

                                     DENNIS
                              (to Janet)
                         Well, I've already planned out the 
                         whole term, and I can tell you right 
                         now, there's no room for this! 
                         Besides, where you gonna find money 
                         for violins?

                                     ROBERTA
                         You need violins?

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               In a noisy music room with bad acoustics, Roberta tries to 
               take control of fifty kids, third through fifth-graders, who 
               are in a state of manic excitement over the FIFTY VIOLIN 
               CASES on the floor.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (gently)
                         Please do not open the cases, O.K.?

               They ignore her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Look, can everyone just settle down 
                         and listen to me -- please?

               ANGLE - Three girls open their cases.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (starting to lose it)
                         Keep them closed! Please.

               ANGLE - Two boys open their cases.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to the boys)
                         Did you hear what I just said?

               ANGLE - Three kids are using the violin cases as pretend 
               machine guns -- and shooting each other.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Put those down, please!

               ANGLE - A boy and a girl are having a "sword fight" with 
               their bows.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to the fencers)
                         Don't do that! Put the bows back in 
                         the cases -- right now!

               There's the SOUND of violin strings being plucked.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Who's plucking?

               Roberta wheels around to find a girl plucking her violin 
               like a banjo, and doing a little dance. This is LUCY, a skinny 
               Puerto Rican girl in perpetual motion.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What have I been saying? Put that 
                         away! Back in the case!

               Roberta takes a breath. The kids settle down a bit.

                                     ROBERTA
                         O.K. Thank you. That's much better.
                              (takes another breath)
                         I'll be dividing you into five 
                         classes, but for today --

               ANGLE - A boy plays "bongos" on his violin case.

                                     ROBERTA
                         O.K. -- that's it! You! Stand up!

               The bongo player stands.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You will be the first student who 
                         will NOT be in my violin class. Out!

               The child looks stunned.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I said OUT!

               With a sheepish expression, he exits. The room is finally 
               quiet -- and Roberta's amazed that something worked. She 
               puffs up a little bit, enjoying the feeling of control.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Who else would like to be kicked out 
                         of my class?

               The students stare at her, afraid of her now. DE SEAN, a 
               small but tough Black boy, raises his hand.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Are you raising your hand because 
                         you want to be kicked out?

                                     DE SEAN
                         Yeah.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why?

                                     DE SEAN
                         I don't wanna learn no stupid violin. 
                         It's for wimps.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Who told you that?

                                     DE SEAN
                         I just know.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What's your name?

                                     BOY
                         De Sean.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, De Sean -- you haven't given 
                         me a good enough reason, so you're 
                         staying.

               She looks around the room.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Anyone else?

               Silence.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - LATER

               In front of the class, Roberta helps NAEEM, a graceful Black 
               boy, hold the violin. He has a serious expression and a scar 
               on his left cheek. Roberta controls the bow and fingerboard, 
               but it appears that the boy is playing music. He smiles.

                                     NAEEM
                         Hey, I play pretty good.

               Roberta laughs.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to Naeem)
                         See how easy it is?
                              (to the class)
                         Maybe in the spring, we could have a 
                         big concert for your families and 
                         for the whole school.
                              (to the boy)
                         What's your name?

                                     NAEEM
                         Naeem.

               Roberta writes in a notebook and we see that she's measuring 
               for violin sizes.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to class)
                         If you listen to me and do exactly 
                         what I say, you're gonna sound 
                         beautiful at the concert and you're 
                         gonna be so proud of yourselves.
                              (to Naeem)
                         Good, Naeem. Your hand's staying 
                         soft.
                              (to the class)
                         But if you don't listen to me, you'll 
                         sound so bad that your own parents 
                         will feel sick when they hear you. 
                         They might even throw up.

               ON THE KIDS, not used to a teacher speaking like that.

               INT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               A funky apartment on the Upper West Side. Nick and Lexi are 
               both asleep in sleeping bags on top of a futon on the floor, 
               their suitcases nearby. Brian tiptoes past them, carrying 
               two glasses of champagne. He knocks on his office door.

                                     ROBERTA (O.S.)
                         Come in.

               INT. BRIAN'S APARTMENT - OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

               Roberta's in a bathrobe and nightgown, some rollers in her 
               hair. She's tidying up her suitcase, etc., next to an old 
               couch that's been made up as a bed. Leftist political books 
               line a shelf above Brian's desk, including copies of his 
               own, TO HELL AND BACK: INTERVIEWS WITH VIETNAM VETS by BRIAN 
               TURNER. His desk is covered with files and books pertaining 
               to MIGRANT WORKERS. Brian enters.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (referring to champagne)
                         What's this?

                                     BRIAN
                         It's a toast.
                              (giving her a glass, 
                              holding his up)
                         To Roberta, who's made it through 
                         her first week.

               They clink glasses and drink.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I don't know, Brian. I'm hanging on 
                         by a thread there. Out of fifty kids, 
                         maybe six are listening to me.

                                     BRIAN
                         Look at the progress. Didn't you say 
                         no one was listening to you on Monday?

               Roberta laughs.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I really appreciate all you've done 
                         for us. And I promise -- this weekend 
                         I'll start looking for a place.

                                     BRIAN
                         There's no rush.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No, we've put you out enough. You're 
                         supposed to be writing, not 
                         babysitting for us.
                              (crosses to his desk, 
                              flips through his 
                              Vietnam book)
                         I've started your book. It's very 
                         powerful.

                                     BRIAN
                         Thank you.

               Brian comes up behind her and starts to kiss her neck. 
               Roberta's scared -- so she keeps talking, as if it's not 
               really happening.

                                     ROBERTA
                         So what made you choose migrant 
                         workers for your next book? I mean, 
                         how do you know what to write about?

                                     BRIAN
                              (kissing her neck)
                         I follow my gut, pay attention to 
                         what I'm being drawn to...

               Roberta's aroused, in spite of herself. She turns around and 
               faces him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What are you doing?

                                     BRIAN
                         I've been waiting to do that since 
                         Mr. Baines' orchestra class.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You didn't even notice me!

                                     BRIAN
                         Sure I did. You used to ignore me 
                         and it drove me wild.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You had at least five different 
                         girlfriends.

                                     BRIAN
                         It didn't mean I had the one I wanted.

               He gives her a flirtatious smile, then takes out one of her 
               rollers.

                                     BRIAN
                         You're not a navy wife anymore...

               He moves to takes out another roller and Roberta stops him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes I am... legally.

                                     BRIAN
                         And is it a navy requirement that 
                         you dress like it's the 1950's?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I do not!

                                     BRIAN
                              (goading her)
                         Who did you vote for in the last 
                         election?

                                     ROBERTA
                         What does that have to do with 
                         anything?

                                     BRIAN
                         Tell me.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (hesitates, then)
                         I don't know. Charles filled out my 
                         absentee ballot.

                                     BRIAN
                         Oh my God -- it's even worse than I 
                         thought!
                              (touching her hair)
                         Is this the same Roberta who got the 
                         orchestra to strike until they gave 
                         us new uniforms?

               She laughs wistfully, then looks a little sad.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That Roberta's not around anymore.

               He pulls her towards him by the belt to her robe.

                                     BRIAN
                         I don't believe that.

               They kiss and it heats up quickly. Roberta pulls back.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I shouldn't.

                                     BRIAN
                         Because?

                                     ROBERTA
                         The boys --

                                     BRIAN
                         They're sleeping.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I know, but... I'm still married.

                                     BRIAN
                         And what's your husband doing right 
                         now?

               A few beats, and she moves towards him.

               INT. BRIAN'S BEDROOM - DAY

               Sun streams into the room as Roberta awakens in Brian's bed, 
               a look of afterglow on her face. She suddenly remembers where 
               she is, and quickly looks at the clock.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh shit -- the boys.

                                     BRIAN (O.S.)
                         They're still sleeping.

               She turns, relieved, until she sees that Brian's packing a 
               suitcase.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where are you going?

                                     BRIAN
                         Texas.

               He dashes out. Roberta sits up, rattled by this news.

               INT. BRIAN'S OFFICE - DAY

               Brian excitedly gathers papers and files scattered around 
               his electric typewriter.

                                     ROBERTA (O.S.)
                         What's in Texas?

               He turns to see Roberta in the doorway.

                                     BRIAN
                         Farm workers. I just got the call -- 
                         it came through -- my research grant! 
                         It came through! Isn't that great?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Today?

               He places items into a carry-on bag, packing at a rapid clip. 
               In contrast, Roberta seems to be moving in slow motion.

                                     BRIAN
                         I've got a few families lined up 
                         there, some in California --

                                     ROBERTA
                         How long will you be gone?

                                     BRIAN
                         Two, three months.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?

               INT. BRIAN'S BATHROOM - DAY

               Brian throws toiletries into a plastic bag. Roberta enters.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I thought... I just thought you were 
                         gonna be around. And then last night --

               He stops what he's doing and looks at her.

                                     BRIAN
                         Whoa. Roberta -- last night was great 
                         but did you think I was gonna marry 
                         you in the morning?

                                     ROBERTA
                         No! Of course not.

               We see in her face that part of her did think that.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's just that... we just got here 
                         and we're barely... I don't even 
                         know where to buy groceries.

               Brian softens as he sees how vulnerable she is. He takes her 
               in his arms.

                                     BRIAN
                         You're gonna be fine. You have a 
                         job, a place to stay, your kids have 
                         a school to go to -- and there's a 
                         D'Agostino's around the corner.

               She attempts a smile.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Congratulations.

               He kisses her forehead, then exits. HOLD ON ROBERTA, looking 
               hurt and frightened.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Roberta rosins her bow, standing in front of ten kids -- 
               third through fifth-grade -- who sit on the floor next to 
               their violin cases. The kids are Black and Latino, with a 
               couple of white faces. They're all talking and ignoring 
               Roberta except for NAEEM and GUADALUPE, a petite Mexican 
               girl with a long dark braid. [NOTE: We'll see other violin 
               students from time to time, but this is the class we'll follow 
               for Roberta's first year]

                                     ROBERTA
                         And what am I doing now?

                                     NAEEM/GUADALUPE
                         Rosining the bow.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Good. And what am I doing when I 
                         turn this little screw?
                              (raising her voice)
                         Everyone stop talking. Right now!

               The kids quiet down. Only Naeem raises his hand.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Naeem?

                                     NAEEM
                         Tightening the horse hair.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (touches the heel of 
                              the bow)
                         And what do we call this?

               Again, only Naeem raises his hand. Roberta sees him but turns 
               to DE SEAN, who's talking to his neighbor.

                                     ROBERTA
                         De Sean?

                                     DE SEAN
                         Yeah?

                                     ROBERTA
                         What do we call this?

                                     DE SEAN
                         I don't know.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why not?

                                     DE SEAN
                         I wasn't here.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes you were but you weren't paying 
                         attention! Do you want people to 
                         think you're stupid?

               This makes De Sean blush -- and it pisses him off.

                                     ROBERTA
                         All right, Naeem -- tell them.

                                     NAEEM
                         It's called the frog.

               Some kids giggle and joke about this. Roberta points to the 
               scroll of the violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Anyone remember what this is?

               LUCY, the fidgety girl, snaps her fingers.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lucy! Do you like people snapping 
                         their fingers when you're talking?

                                     LUCY
                         Yeah!

               The kids laugh. Roberta doesn't. She points to the scroll.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What is this called?

                                     LUCY
                         The jeri curl?

               Roberta laughs, even though she's trying to be tough.

               INT. DENNIS' MUSIC CLASSROOM - DAY

               Dennis's twenty students play recorder in rows of attached 
               theatre-style seats. Dennis sits at his desk, a METRONOME 
               ticking, and apathetically leads them in scales, using a red 
               pen as a baton. He keeps one eye on a stack of quizzes that 
               he's marking, stopping to circle mistakes with the pen.

                                     DENNIS
                         C-C-C-C, D-D-D-D, E-E-E-E...

               ANGLE - Roberta stands in the hallway at the open door, 
               dismayed by Dennis' uninspired teaching. She enters and 
               crosses to Dennis, speaking quietly to him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Excuse me -- sorry to interrupt --

               The students immediately start to chatter.

                                     DENNIS
                         No talking!

               He looks back at Roberta, annoyed by her intrusion.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm supposed to take kids out of 
                         Miss Cooper's classroom for my ten 
                         o'clock class -- there's nobody there.

                                     DENNIS
                         Miss Cooper's students have phys ed 
                         on Tuesdays.

                                     ROBERTA
                         But you scheduled them for violin.

                                     DENNIS
                         You must have read the schedule wrong.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (trying to remain 
                              polite)
                         I don't think so.

                                     DENNIS
                         Well, I can't solve this problem for 
                         you right now.
                              (nods to his class)
                         I'm trying to teach.

                                     ROBERTA
                         So am I.

               She exits.

               INT. BRIAN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

               Lexi and Nick are in Brian's bed. Roberta's tucking in Lexi; 
               he holds a toy truck with Greek writing on it.

                                     LEXI
                         Can I bring a puppy for show and 
                         tell tomorrow?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Honey, we don't have a puppy.

                                     NICK
                         Daddy said we could get one when we 
                         moved back to America.

               Roberta looks at Nick, then turns back to Lexi.

                                     ROBERTA
                         How about your truck? I'll bet you're 
                         the only one in school with a truck 
                         from Greece.

                                     NICK
                         When's Daddy coming back?

               Roberta turns to Nick and tucks him in.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, he's still on his tour, so 
                         we'll just have to see but... It 
                         shouldn't be too much longer.

                                     LEXI
                         Is he gonna live with us and Brian?

                                     ROBERTA
                         No, honey. We're just staying at 
                         Brian's house for a little while.

               She turns back to Nick who looks worried. She kisses him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Good night, sweetie.

               She kisses Lexi, then reaches to turn off the lamp.

                                     NICK
                         No! Leave it on.

               Roberta nods, smiles at her sons, and exits.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Nine children stand, violins under their right arms, bows 
               hanging down from their right hands, and try to position 
               their feet as Roberta addresses them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Now take the right foot and put it 
                         on a tile. Good. Now with the other 
                         foot take a tiny step forward and 
                         put it on a line. Try to make a box 
                         with your feet --

               She walks over to BENJAMIN, a white boy with glasses, and 
               corrects his feet. She sees Lucy dancing in place.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lucy! Would you like to leave the 
                         class right now?

               Lucy nods, giggling. Roberta walks down the row of students.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You should feel very strong -- so 
                         strong and balanced that if I wanted 
                         to knock you over I couldn't.

               She crosses to TANISHA, a sweet-natured Black girl with her 
               hair in tiny braids, and gently pushes her belly.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You see? If you're standing strong, 
                         I can't even push you.

               Roberta turns to De Sean, who's talking to JAMES, a pudgy 
               Black/Puerto Rican boy.

                                     ROBERTA
                         De Sean! James! Quiet!
                              (as she crosses to 
                              another student)
                         Does anyone know where Naeem is?

                                     TANISHA
                         I saw him this morning but he's not 
                         here.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes, I know he's not here -- that's 
                         why I'm asking.

               She gently pushes Guadalupe's belly. The girl stumbles back.

                                     ROBERTA
                         See how I pushed you? It means your 
                         feet aren't centered.

               Guadalupe tries to correct her feet. Roberta bends down to 
               help and sees that the little girl wears LEG BRACES under 
               her pants. Roberta stands and gestures to one of the boys.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Can you bring over a chair?
                              (to Guadalupe)
                         It's probably better for you to sit.

               The boy brings the chair. Guadalupe sits, embarrassed.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - DAY

               Roberta walks through a school yard filled with kids and 
               parents picking them up. She sees Naeem and crosses to him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where were you today, Naeem?

                                     NAEEM
                         I can't be in violin class anymore.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why not?

                                     NAEEM
                         My mother won't let me.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?

               NAEEM'S MOTHER, MRS. ADISA, steps INTO FRAME. She's an 
               attractive Black woman in a dress and head scarf made of 
               African fabric.

                                     MRS. ADISA
                         My son's got more important things 
                         to do than learn dead white men's 
                         music.

                                     ROBERTA
                         They're gonna learn "Twinkle Twinkle 
                         Little Star"!

                                     MRS. ADISA
                         How many Black classical composers 
                         can you name? How many Black classical 
                         violinists do you know?

                                     ROBERTA
                         That doesn't mean it's the way it 
                         should be. Naeem's learning to play 
                         music -- and that makes him feel 
                         good about himself. Why should it 
                         matter who wrote it?

                                     NAEEM
                         Please, Mom? Can't I be in the class?

               Mrs. Adisa puts a protective arm around her son, then 
               addresses Roberta.

                                     MRS. ADISA
                         Look. I've seen this before. You 
                         white women come up here and think 
                         you can rescue our poor inner city 
                         children who never asked to be rescued 
                         in the first place. No thank you.

               She walks off with Naeem. He glances back at Roberta, then 
               turns away quickly. Roberta watches after them.

               INT. BRIAN'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta attempts to read Brian's book, To Hell and Back: 
               Interviews with Vietnam Vets, but she's distracted. She 
               glances at her purse, then back to the book. She puts the 
               book down and dials the phone.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Brian Turner's room, please.

               While she waits, she looks at Brian's picture on the book 
               jacket. There's no answer and she hangs up. She starts to 
               straighten the already clean room, then gets her purse, takes 
               out her wallet, and opens it to the plastic covered pictures.

               INSERT - PICTURES

               Charles in uniform; a studio shot of the boys when they were 
               3 and 1; the whole family posed on the terrace of their home 
               in Greece, a view of the ocean behind them.

               BACK TO ROBERTA

               She's really depressed herself now.

               INT. CLASSROOM - DAY

               ALICE CROWLEY (50's), a no-nonsense Black teacher, shows her 
               fifth-graders a globe. She doesn't turn as Roberta enters 
               and crosses to her. In the b.g. we see ROBERTA'S STUDENTS 
               waiting in THE HALL.

                                     ALICE
                         And which ocean is this?

               Kids simultaneously yell out "ATLANTIC" and "PACIFIC."

                                     ROBERTA
                         Excuse me... I'm here for the violin 
                         students.

                                     ALICE
                              (icy)
                         You're late.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Just a couple of minutes -- I'm sorry.

                                     ALICE
                         They're having a lesson now.

                                     ROBERTA
                         But this is when they have violin 
                         class!

                                     ALICE
                         That's not my problem.

               Roberta's reluctant to argue in front of the kids; she exits.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - DAY

               Lots of noise and chaos as kids run wild during lunch recess. 
               Janet rushes through the throngs while Roberta tries to keep 
               up.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I thought all the teachers agreed to 
                         this.

                                     JANET
                         In theory.
                              (to a student)
                         Adam! I want you in my office right 
                         after lunch, you understand?

                                     ADAM
                         What'd I do?

                                     JANET
                         Think about it!
                              (to Roberta)
                         Whenever you pull kids out, it's a 
                         disruption, plus it's extra work for 
                         the teacher 'cause they have to fill 
                         the kids in on what they missed. 
                         Some teachers resent it.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, can't you talk to them?

               Janet stops walking and pulls a box cutter out of her pocket.

                                     JANET
                         I took this off a second-grader this 
                         morning. I'll help you Roberta -- 
                         but I can't hold your hand here.

               Janet starts to walk away, then turns.

                                     JANET
                         A word of advice? When you're picking 
                         up your students, go to Alice's 
                         classroom first.

               Roberta stands there as Janet walks on ahead.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               The nine children hold their violins in position as Roberta 
               addresses them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         So pretend you're driving a car and 
                         I'm the policeman and I say STOP! 
                         Thumb up, fingers straight up, flat 
                         palm. Now you be policemen, but turn 
                         your hand and make it say stop to 
                         yourself.

               ON THE CHILDREN, attempting this. She walks around and helps.

                                     DE SEAN
                              (to himself)
                         You're under arrest.

               Some kids crack up and start joking and chatting.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Knock it off, De Sean!
                              (to all)
                         If you kids can't take this seriously, 
                         I don't want you here. I'm teaching 
                         you a difficult instrument because I 
                         respect you and have faith that you 
                         can learn it. But none of that matters 
                         if you don't have respect for 
                         yourself.

               Some of the children think about what she's saying. A couple, 
               uncomfortable with the intensity, hold back giggles.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Now turn your wrist so it's flat 
                         against the fingerboard, and that's 
                         how you'll set up your hand...

               Roberta sees Guadalupe struggling.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Guadalupe! You've got the violin in 
                         the wrong hand! How did that happen?

               Embarrassed, Guadalupe corrects her position.

               INT. BRIAN'S KITCHEN - NIGHT

               At the small kitchen table, Nick does homework and Lexi puts 
               stickers in a sticker book. Roberta's cooking dinner; she 
               grabs a potholder and checks on a bubbling lasagna in the 
               oven. The PHONE RINGS and she answers it.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Hello?

                                     CHARLES (O.S.)
                         Hello, Bobbi.

               Her face falls as she hears the voice. She holds onto the 
               counter to steady herself.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where are you?

                                     CHARLES (O.S.)
                              (calm, detached)
                         I'm back in the States. I'm at my 
                         parents.

               Roberta closes the oven and gathers her courage.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Are you still with her?

               A beat.

                                     CHARLES (O.S.)
                         No.

               We watch Roberta's body collapse into a sense of overwhelming 
               relief. FOLLOW HER as she steps into THE HALLWAY, then 
               stretches the phone into:

               INT. BRIAN'S BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS

               She half-closes the door, leans against the sink and starts 
               to cry.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (through tears)
                         We've missed you so much, Charles. 
                         The boys... they can't wait for you 
                         to come home... I know we'll have a 
                         lot to work out and it won't be easy 
                         right away, but we're gonna get 
                         through this, you know? We're a family 
                         and we belong together and --

                                     CHARLES (O.S.)
                              (more emotive than 
                              before)
                         Bobbi -- stop, O.K.? Just stop.

               Roberta looks as if she's been slapped. A beat.

                                     CHARLES (O.S.)
                         I want a divorce.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?

               Silence.

                                     ROBERTA
                         But you said... you and Lana... you 
                         said it was over.

                                     CHARLES (O.S.)
                         It is.
                              (beat)
                         It's over between us too, Bobbi.

               HOLD ON ROBERTA, devastated. ANGLE on NICK, watching her 
               through the door.

               INT. BRIAN'S HOTEL ROOM, TEXAS - NIGHT

               Brian's on the phone with Roberta. He's in a t-shirt and 
               sweats, and his papers are scattered on the bed.

                                     ROBERTA (O.S.)
                         He wouldn't even talk about it! No 
                         explanations, no discussion...

               INTERCUT

               Roberta in Brian's living room. She's extremely agitated and 
               her eyes are puffy from crying.

                                     BRIAN
                         I can't believe you were still holding 
                         out hope. The guy hasn't called you 
                         or the kids in three months -- I 
                         thought you'd moved on.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I never said that.

                                     BRIAN
                         No? Maybe not with words.

               This embarrasses her, then pisses her off.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You know what? I shouldn't have called 
                         you. This was a mistake.

                                     BRIAN
                         No, no -- I'm sorry. Look, I know it 
                         hurts, but you're gonna get through 
                         this, Roberta -- you will.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm moving back to my Mom's.

                                     BRIAN
                         What? You're gonna quit teaching in 
                         the middle of the term?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I don't fit in there -- I'm not making 
                         any progress with the kids...

                                     BRIAN
                         What are you gonna tell Janet -- 
                         your husband left you and nothing 
                         else matters?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I don't know yet.

               INT. BRIAN'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta lies awake on the futon, heartbroken.

               INT. BRIAN'S BEDROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta stands and watches Nick and Lexi sleep. She lies 
               down beside them and closes her eyes.

               INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY - DAY

               Roberta walks through crowds of kids towards Janet who's in 
               the middle of confronting a boy student. Janet holds a FIFTY-
               DOLLAR BILL. Roberta hangs back and waits for a chance to 
               speak.

                                     BOY
                         My mother gave it to me.

                                     JANET
                         Why would she give you fifty dollars?

                                     BOY
                         To buy breakfast.

               Janet gives him a stern look.

                                     JANET
                         Do you know how hard your mother 
                         works? Do you think it's right for 
                         you steal from her?

                                     BOY
                         I didn't!

                                     JANET
                         Well let's go call her right now and 
                         ask her.

               As Janet turns to walk off, Roberta crosses to her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I need to speak to you. It's 
                         important.

                                     JANET
                         It'll have to wait.
                              (to the boy)
                         Come on. In my office.

               Roberta watches as Janet dashes off with the boy in tow.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Guadalupe sits on a chair in the empty room, struggling to 
               set up her violin. Roberta enters, surprised to see her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Guadalupe? What are you doing here?

                                     GUADALUPE
                         I can't get the stop sign.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Honey, your teacher's probably looking 
                         for you.

               Guadalupe sighs, then hands Roberta the violin.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         I can't come anymore. It's too hard.

                                     ROBERTA
                         The violin is hard for everyone.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         But everyone else is better than me. 
                         I'll always be slow.

               Roberta looks at her sadly and puts the violin in its case.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Did you ever hear of Itzhak Perlman?

                                     GUADALUPE
                         No.

                                     ROBERTA
                         He's one of the greatest violinists 
                         in the world, and he has problems 
                         with his legs too. He walks with two 
                         canes -- but he still makes the most 
                         beautiful music.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         And he sits down when he plays?

                                     ROBERTA
                         He has to.

               Guadalupe takes this in.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         He was your student?

               Roberta laughs.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No. But if he was, I'd tell him the 
                         same thing I'm telling you. You 
                         shouldn't quit something just because 
                         it's hard.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         But I can't stand strong.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Standing strong doesn't only mean 
                         using your legs. You can stand strong 
                         on the inside too.
                              (beat)
                         Know what I mean?

               Guadalupe nods. Roberta holds out the violin case. Guadalupe 
               lunges forward and hugs her around the waist. Roberta 
               awkwardly accepts the hug, startled and touched by it, and 
               strokes the girl's hair. Guadalupe lets go, takes the violin 
               and exits. HOLD ON ROBERTA as she absorbs what just happened. 
               JANET pokes her head into the room.

                                     JANET
                         You wanted to speak to me?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh. Umm -- that's O.K. It's taken 
                         care of.

               Janet looks at her curiously, then exits.

               INT. EMPTY APARTMENT - EAST HARLEM - DAY

               Roberta walks around an empty, rundown apartment, her 
               expression somber. Crayon markings on the walls, cigarette 
               burns on the floors, a filthy bathroom and kitchen. An older 
               Puerto Rican woman stands back as Roberta inspects the place. 
               Roberta wipes grease off one of the windows.

                                     LANDLADY
                         Is just for you and your boys?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes.

                                     LANDLADY
                         No husband? No boyfriend?

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - LUNCH RECESS - DAY

               Roberta enters the yard from inside the school. It's filled 
               with kids playing, including Nick and Lexi. She waves to 
               them and Lexi runs up to her, carrying a piece of artwork.

                                     LEXI
                         Look what I made you, Mommy!

               He gives her a tempera PAINTING of a man's face, the 
               background decorated with glued-on macaroni. It says DADDY.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (covering her 
                              discomfort)
                         That is so beautiful!

               He runs off. Roberta exhales, sits down alone on a bench and 
               takes out her lunch. She smiles at ALICE CROWLEY and another 
               TEACHER but they cross to another bench. ISABEL VASQUEZ (25) 
               approaches, a lively Puerto Rican woman with a strong New 
               York accent.

                                     ISABEL
                         Whatsa matter -- you got cooties?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Apparently.

                                     ISABEL
                         I'll take my chances.
                              (extends a hand)
                         Isabel Vasquez. Second grade.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Roberta Demetras. I'm the --

                                     ISABEL
                         Violin teacher. I know.

               She sits down beside Roberta, takes out her lunch.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Is it my imagination, or does everyone 
                         hate me?

                                     ISABEL
                         It's hard to fit in when you're doing 
                         a special program. People figure 
                         you're not gonna be here very long, 
                         so why make the effort?
                              (beat)
                         It may take a while for folks to 
                         warm up, but nobody hates you.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (sotto)
                         What about Alice Crowley?

                                     ISABEL
                              (sotto)
                         A) she thinks the violin's a waste 
                         of time... and B) -- she's a bitch.

               Roberta laughs.

                                     ROBERTA
                         And then there's Dennis.

                                     ISABEL
                         The Music Man. You've had the bodacity 
                         to threaten his private little empire -- 
                         not to mention the fact that you 
                         messed up his sacred scheduling chart.

                                     ROBERTA
                         How come you're being nice to me?

                                     ISABEL
                         Ulterior motives. I want my daughter 
                         in your class next year.

               Roberta smiles.

                                     ROBERTA
                         If I'm here next year.

                                     ISABEL
                         You will be.

               INT. ROBERTA'S NEW APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               LEXI'S PAINTING is on the wall, along with a crayon drawing 
               of himself, Roberta, and Nick in front of a house.

               ANGLE - ROBERTA looks out the window. She's gotten some used 
               furniture, cleaned the place, and it's less depressing.

               ROBERTA'S POV OUT THE WINDOW

               On the street below, three prostitutes stand at the corner. 
               Two men sit on a stoop, smoking a joint, and in a parked 
               car, three men seem to be making a drug deal. One of the 
               buildings on the street is burned out, missing a front door.

               BACK TO SCENE

               Nick, in his pajamas, enters and crosses to his mother. She 
               smiles at him and they both look out the window.

                                     NICK
                         In Greece, we could see the ocean. 
                         Remember?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I remember. And the fishing boats...

                                     NICK
                         And the octopuses.

               Roberta smiles and puts her arm around him.

                                     NICK
                         Is Daddy coming here soon?

               Roberta tenses up.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, that's something I've been 
                         wanting to talk to you about. Daddy's 
                         not gonna live with us anymore. You 
                         and Lexi will have special times 
                         when you stay with him, like at 
                         Christmas.

               A beat.

                                     NICK
                         Can you tell the birthday story?

               Roberta looks at him, concerned that he's not responding to 
               her news.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Don't you want to talk about what I 
                         told you?

                                     NICK
                         I want to hear the birthday story.

               A beat as she contemplates whether to push or not, then:

                                     ROBERTA
                         It was the day of Grandpa's birthday, 
                         and I was sad because he had died a 
                         few months back.

                                     NICK
                         But you knew I'd be born that day.

                                     ROBERTA
                         So I packed a bag and got all ready --

                                     NICK
                         And Daddy laughed.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I said, "It's my father's birthday, 
                         and the baby's gonna be born today."

                                     NICK
                         He didn't believe you. But I was 
                         born. The same day as Grandpa.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It was a happy day.

                                     NICK
                         Was Daddy happy too?

               She looks at him, taken aback by the question.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Of course he was.

                                     NICK
                         Then why is he leaving me?

               Roberta, overcome with emotion, can barely answer.

                                     ROBERTA
                         He's not leaving you, Nick. He loves 
                         you and Lexi very much.

                                     NICK
                         Then why can't he live here?

                                     ROBERTA
                              (struggling)
                         It's very hard to explain... Sometimes 
                         things happen between grown-ups... 
                         and they just can't be together.

               The CAMERA moves behind them as they continue to look out 
               the window, and we see Nick move away from his mother.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               The kids play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and they sound 
               awful. Roberta looks disgusted as she leads them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Slow bows! Slow bows! Don't squeeze! 
                         Stop! Everybody stop!
                              (to De Sean)
                         How much did you practice this week?

                                     DE SEAN
                         My asthma -- it was very bad and I 
                         had to go to the hospital.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Again? You told me you went to the 
                         hospital last week.

                                     DE SEAN
                         Oh yeah. Maybe it was last week.

               Roberta rolls her eyes, then turns to Lucy.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lucy -- you sounded the worst of 
                         all. Have you practiced?

                                     LUCY
                         No.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why not? You can't be in this class 
                         if you don't practice!

                                     LUCY
                         My grandma got mugged.

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh. I'm sorry. Is she O.K.?

                                     LUCY
                         She died.

               Roberta stands there, sobered.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm really sorry, Lucy.
                              (tries to get her 
                              bearings)
                         Just do the best you can.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - DAY

               A group of kids stand together with their violins and chat. 
               Roberta exits the building and they greet her. She waves 
               back, but she's clearly still upset by her interaction with 
               Lucy. She sees Naeem and his mother and approaches them.

                                     NAEEM
                         Hi, Roberta.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Hi, Naeem. Can I talk to your mom 
                         for a minute?

               Naeem nods and moves off.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Look, I didn't come up here to rescue 
                         anybody. I'm a single mother and I 
                         needed a job. And I know you think 
                         you're protecting your son, but you're 
                         not. I mean, what if Arthur Ashe's 
                         mother had stopped him from playing 
                         tennis because it's a "white man's 
                         game"?
                              (beat)
                         The important thing is that when 
                         Naeem plays music, his whole face 
                         lights up. You should see him.

               Mrs. Adisa takes this in. Roberta exits. Mrs. Adisa looks 
               for Naeem and sees him watching the violin students, longing 
               to be among them. She watches her son with compassion.

               EXT. OUTDOOR MARKET - DAY

               Roberta and the boys shop in a colorful outdoor produce market 
               in their neighborhood.

               The boys suddenly rush over to A MAN sitting on the ground 
               with mixed-breed PUPPIES in a cardboard box. The boys pet 
               them excitedly. Roberta watches her sons; they're happier 
               than she's seen them in ages.

               INT. ROBERTA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               A brown puppy is jumping all over Nick and Lexi who laugh 
               delightedly. Roberta is putting down newspapers.

                                     ROBERTA
                         We all have to take turns cleaning 
                         up, O.K.?

               The boys are oblivious to her -- they're in heaven.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to herself)
                         Yeah, right.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Roberta's SCREAMING at the kids as they play "Twinkle Twinkle 
               Little Star."

                                     ROBERTA
                         First finger on the E! Three -- two -- 
                         one -- open!
                              (to a white girl with 
                              pigtails)
                         Wrong string, Becky! We've done this 
                         fourteen times! And look at your 
                         nails! You're supposed to cut them 
                         for violin class! O.K, everybody 
                         stop! It sounds horrible! I can't 
                         believe how bad it sounds!

               They stop playing. Tanisha raises her hand.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Is this an important question, 
                         Tanisha?

               Tanisha nods.

                                     TANISHA
                         Do you have two of those skirts?

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?

                                     TANISHA
                         You wore a skirt just like it on 
                         Monday.

               Some of the kids crack up.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You know, Tanisha -- I don't think 
                         that's such an important question.
                              (to class)
                         O.K. Let's try --

               The door opens and Naeem enters with Mrs. Adisa. Roberta 
               crosses to them.

                                     MRS. ADISA
                         Naeem and I were wondering if he 
                         could still be in the class.

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'd love that.
                              (to Naeem)
                         You'll have a lot of catching up to 
                         do. You think you can work that hard?

                                     NAEEM
                         Yeah, I can.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Maybe we can also arrange some private 
                         lessons at my house.

                                     MRS. ADISA
                         I wouldn't have the money for that.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That's O.K.
                              (to Naeem)
                         Why don't you go grab one of my spare 
                         violins?

               Naeem happily runs to the extra violins at the front of the 
               room; Mrs. Adisa nods to Roberta with a look of gratitude, 
               then exits. Roberta crosses back to the front of the room.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to class)
                         Let's try it again.

               They begin again, and we see Naeem take out a violin and 
               join in. As they play, Roberta's ears perk up at something 
               she's hearing. She crosses to Lucy.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What are you playing?

                                     LUCY
                         Twinkle.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to class)
                         Everyone stop!
                              (to Lucy)
                         Let me hear.

               Lucy hesitates, thinking she's in trouble. She plays a jazz 
               variation of the song. Roberta smiles.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Did someone teach you that?

                                     LUCY
                         No. I made it up.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That's really great, Lucy. I'm proud 
                         of you.

               Lucy beams.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to class)
                         All of you -- try it.

               The class plays Lucy's jazz variation and Naeem happily joins 
               in.

               INT. JANET WILLIAMS' OFFICE - DAY

               Roberta sits opposite Janet and MRS. LAMB, a white woman in 
               her 30's.

                                     MRS. LAMB
                         You're shouting at them. All the 
                         time.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Not all the time. But if they don't 
                         listen --

                                     MRS. LAMB
                         Didn't you tell them that they were 
                         making their parents sick?

               Janet raises her eyebrows at this.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That wasn't exactly what I said --

                                     MRS. LAMB
                         I'm raising Becky in a supportive 
                         atmosphere. I don't send her to school 
                         to be abused.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm just trying to discipline them. 
                         If they're gonna learn an instrument, 
                         they need to take it seriously --

                                     JANET
                         I think what Mrs. Lamb is trying to 
                         say, Roberta, is that you're a little 
                         too harsh. I'm sure you might be 
                         able to soften some of your comments 
                         to the children?

               She gives Roberta a long hard look. Roberta nods.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Roberta listens to the students play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" -- 
               badly. They finish and stare at her, afraid of her response.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, that was... that was pretty 
                         good... that wasn't too bad...

               They look at her in disbelief, then look at each other.

                                     DE SEAN
                         It wasn't? I thought we stunk.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I wouldn't put it that way... You 
                         all just need to practice a bit more.
                              (to James)
                         James, have you practiced this week?

               The boy nervously shakes his head no.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Can you please try a little harder 
                         for next week?

               James nods. The kids are baffled by her politeness.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Good. Just do the best you can.

                                     DE SEAN
                         Why you acting like that?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Like what?

                                     DE SEAN
                         Nice.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Don't you want a nice teacher?

                                     DE SEAN
                         I already got nice teachers. You 
                         added some variety.

                                     LUCY
                         Yeah. We like you better the way you 
                         used to be.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh.
                              (to Becky)
                         What about you, Becky?

                                     BECKY
                         Yeah. This is even worse. You're 
                         acting weird now.

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, then -- I take it back. You 
                         all stunk.

               The kids laugh.

                                     ROBERTA
                         But don't tell your parents I said 
                         so!

               The kids laugh again.

               INT. KENNEDY AIRPORT - DEPARTURE GATE - DAY

               Christmas MUZAK plays in the b.g. as Roberta kisses and hugs 
               Lexi and Nick goodbye. A FLIGHT ATTENDANT stands nearby.

                                     LEXI
                         Can't you come with us? Please?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Honey, I told you. This is Daddy's 
                         special time with you.

               Lexi looks upset; Nick is stoic. Roberta hugs them one last 
               time. The FLIGHT ATTENDANT steps forward.

                                     FLIGHT ATTENDANT
                         I'll take good care of them.

               The FLIGHT ATTENDANT escorts them into the jet way. Roberta 
               holds back tears as they get further away from her. At the 
               last moment, Lexi turns and waves; Nick does not. Roberta 
               waves, tears starting to fall, and the boys disappear from 
               sight. She observes all the families travelling together, 
               and feels like the loneliest person in the airport.

               INT. ROBERTA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta enters her apartment, back from the airport, and 
               double-locks the door behind her. You can see on her face 
               that she's dreading the emptiness. She crosses to a small 
               Christmas tree, obviously decorated by her and the boys, and 
               plugs in the tiny blinking lights. It's not exactly 
               Rockefeller Center. She turns on the T.V., playing IT'S A 
               WONDERFUL LIFE.

               She crosses to the kitchen, then returns with a carton of 
               eggnog, a glass, and a bottle of rum. She sits down on the 
               couch, pours herself some eggnog, adds rum, adds more rum, 
               goes back into the kitchen, returns with nutmeg, sprinkles 
               some on top, then drinks. She sighs, glancing miserably at 
               the tree and the T.V. Pathetic. She couldn't look any less 
               festive if she tried. There's a KNOCK on the DOOR.

               Roberta gets up and warily approaches the door.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Who is it?

                                     BRIAN (O.S.)
                         Santa Claus.

               She looks through the peephole, then quickly unlocks the 
               door and opens it, revealing BRIAN, giving her a big smile.

               He looks sexy as hell (even with a silly lit-up Santa Claus 
               pin on his leather jacket), and he holds a long-stemmed red 
               rose in one hand, and a Christmas present in the other.

                                     BRIAN
                         I'm back.

               Roberta's thrilled and relieved to see him. She embraces 
               him, and they kiss passionately.

               INT. BROWNSTONE - DAY (TIME CUT - TWO MONTHS LATER)

               CLOSE ON plaster walls being knocked down with sledgehammers. 
               REVEAL Brian, Roberta, and a couple of workmen knocking down 
               the walls in an old brownstone.

               EXT. BROWNSTONE - EAST HARLEM - THE SAME DAY

               A mild winter day. Roberta, covered with plaster dust and 
               overheated from working, leans against a car and drinks a 
               beer. The three-story brick building has some graffiti on it 
               and is badly in need of a paint job; there are a few broken 
               windows, and the front stairs need repairing. WORKMEN file 
               in and out. We can see from the STREET SIGNS that we're on 
               118th STREET, a few houses off FIRST AVENUE.

               Brian (also dust-covered), Nick and Lexi toss around a 
               football. LAWRENCE (6), a Black boy who lives next door, 
               joins them. Brian crosses to Roberta, sweaty and out of 
               breath. He takes a swig of her beer.

                                     ROBERTA
                         O.K., enough goofing off -- back to 
                         work.

                                     BRIAN
                         You trying to kill me?

               She laughs and they kiss.

               ASSUNTA comes up the street with a bag of take-out food. She 
               casts a dubious glance at the lovers.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         I was the only person in the whole 
                         coffee shop not speaking Spanish.

               Roberta rolls her eyes. O.S. a car BACKFIRES.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         You hear that? Gunshots! How you 
                         gonna live here by yourself?
                              (calling)
                         Boys, come eat!

                                     ROBERTA
                         I work in this neighborhood, Mama. I 
                         want to live here.

               The boys approach and Assunta hands them sandwiches. Lawrence 
               hangs back. Assunta calls to him.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         What's your name?

                                     LAWRENCE
                         Lawrence.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         You hungry, Lawrence?

               Lawrence nods and she hands him a sandwich. Roberta smiles 
               at her mother's gesture. The kids move off to Lawrence's 
               front steps and Assunta gives Roberta and Brian sandwiches.

                                     ASSUNTA
                              (to Brian)
                         Why did you let her buy this house?

                                     BRIAN
                         Hey, your daughter does what she 
                         wants -- or haven't you noticed?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         I've noticed.

               INT. ROBERTA'S APARTMENT - KITCHEN - DAY

               Robert washes dishes and Assunta dries. The leftovers from 
               an Italian dinner are on the counter.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         I still don't understand the rush.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Having my own place will make me 
                         feel like I'm really starting my 
                         life again.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         But if you invested your divorce 
                         settlement, you could buy something 
                         nice someday. It's bad enough that 
                         you've been renting in this 
                         neighborhood, but to lock yourself 
                         into a mortgage --

                                     ROBERTA
                              (snapping)
                         Mama, please. Just stop!

               Assunta backs off. Roberta feels guilty and moves to her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Don't worry, O.K.? Besides, if things 
                         keep going well, I'm sure eventually 
                         Brian will move in with us.

               A few beats.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         How much do you know about this man?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Brian's a good person, he's helped 
                         me a lot, he's great with the boys -- 
                         since he got back to town, it's been 
                         really sweet.

                                     ASSUNTA
                              (with an attitude)
                         And how long has he been back?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Two months.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         That's not very long. Don't make the 
                         same mistake twice, Bert. You barely 
                         knew Charles when you married him.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (defensive)
                         I don't get it -- you're ragging on 
                         me about buying the house -- I would 
                         think you'd want Brian to live with 
                         me.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Not if he's the wrong person.

               Roberta locks her jaw, not wanting to believe that she's 
               right.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               The kids play "Allegro," Roberta leading them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Get ready, now -- we're coming up to 
                         the fermata...

               They reach a certain note, then pause.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Hold... Hold... Don't anybody move. 
                         Now at the Spring Concert, the 
                         audience is gonna be dying for that 
                         next note -- but we'll make them 
                         wait. As a matter of fact, I think 
                         I'll go grab a cup of coffee.

               She starts for the door and the kids moan and groan: "Come 
               on, Roberta!" "Roberta, get back here!" She smiles.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, O.K. But you have to promise 
                         you'll all start together.

               She nods. They begin again -- all at different times.

                                     DE SEAN
                         Man. We'll never get that right.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That's not a very nice thing to say 
                         about your classmates.
                              (to class)
                         How many people think they can get 
                         it right by the concert?

               All the kids raise their hands. De Sean looks around, 
               embarrassed, then raises his too. Roberta smiles.

               INT. ROBERTA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Brian and Roberta finish making love on the futon. They lie 
               in each other's arms, still breathing heavily.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I love you.

               Brian makes a sound that's either panting or laughing.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Did you just laugh?

                                     BRIAN
                         I'm sorry. It's just...

               Roberta looks at him, offended.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?

                                     BRIAN
                         Why do people feel like the minute 
                         something's going great, they gotta 
                         name it?
                              (beat)
                         Once you name something, you snuff 
                         the life out of it.

               She disentangles from him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Jesus, Brian. Do you still get away 
                         with that crap? It's not the Sixties 
                         anymore.

                                     BRIAN
                         Well, maybe if you'd actually gone 
                         through the Sixties, you'd know what 
                         I'm talking about.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Fine! We won't name it, we won't 
                         talk about it, we'll act like we 
                         have no feelings for each other 
                         whatsoever!

               She angrily turns on her side with her back to him. Brian 
               regrets hurting her and moves to her, kissing her shoulder.

                                     BRIAN
                         I'm sorry. I'm being an asshole.
                              (sweetly teasing)
                         You can say you love me if you want.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Forget it. I changed my mind.

               He laughs and coaxes her to kiss him -- a temporary truce.

               INT. BROWNSTONE - DAY

               ERNIE (70's), a rickety Black man in work boots, looks baffled 
               by a tangled mess of wires protruding from a wall. Roberta 
               approaches.

                                     ROBERTA
                         How's it coming, Ernie?

                                     ERNIE
                         Well, if I could just remember what 
                         I did here yesterday, I'd be moving 
                         a whole lot faster.
                              (beat)
                         You look real pretty today, honey.

               Brian overhears, rolls his eyes and pulls her aside.

                                     BRIAN
                         You're crazy. Why did you hire him?

                                     ROBERTA
                         He needed a job. Besides, he's wired 
                         all of East Harlem.

                                     BRIAN
                         When? Fifty years ago?

               Brian sighs and walks off into another room. Two MEN carry 
               in large panels of sheetrock with old WALLPAPER on it.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why is there wallpaper on it?

                                     MAN #1
                         That's how it comes.

               They lean the panels against a wall. Roberta turns to Ernie.

                                     ERNIE
                         Yep, that's how it comes now.

               The guys quickly exit. Brian re-enters and sees the panels.

                                     BRIAN
                         What the hell is this?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Sheetrock.

                                     BRIAN
                         You've gotta be kidding. Those ex-
                         cons you hired ripped this off -- 
                         and you too!

               Roberta feels stupid but doesn't want to show it.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Look -- this house is taking every 
                         penny of my settlement. I can't afford 
                         fancy union workers!

                                     BRIAN
                              (throwing up his hands)
                         Fine. Do it your way.

               He stomps off. ANOTHER ANGLE - Nick watches them fight and 
               looks distressed.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - DAY

               Lots of screaming and commotion as the kids crowd around a 
               fight in progress. As we move through the crowd we see that 
               NICK's in a fight with another boy; Nick's nose is bleeding 
               and he has the boy in a headlock. TWO TEACHERS run over to 
               break it up.

               INT. AREA OUTSIDE JANET'S OFFICE - DAY

               Nick sits outside, holding an ice pack to his bloody nose.

               INT. JANET'S OFFICE - DAY

               Roberta stands opposite Janet.

                                     JANET
                         I'm giving him a two-day suspension -- 
                         but next time he'll be expelled.

                                     ROBERTA
                         There won't be a next time -- I 
                         promise.

                                     JANET
                         Have you noticed your son lately? 
                         He's tied up in knots and he needs 
                         help.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Janet, kids fight. You're making too 
                         much of this.

                                     JANET
                         He was choking the kid.
                              (beat)
                         Nick's in trouble, Roberta. You need 
                         to deal with it.

               Roberta takes this in, upset.

               INT. ROBERTA'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta plays "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" with Guadalupe, De Sean, 
               Naeem, Benjamin, and two kids from the other classes. Lexi 
               plays along with them. Nick enters from the kitchen, eating 
               a cookie, ignoring the students. He turns on the T.V.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to students)
                         Keep playing, guys.

               Roberta crosses to Nick and shuts off the T.V.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You can watch when we're done.

                                     NICK
                         It's my house! They don't live here -- 
                         I do!

                                     ROBERTA
                              (sotto)
                         Nick honey -- the kids are real 
                         nervous about the Spring concert. 
                         You could probably give them some 
                         pointers.

                                     NICK
                         I don't feel like it.

               He reaches for the T.V. dial and she stops him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I said no.

               She crosses back to her students; Nick turns on the T.V.

               EXT. CENTRAL PARK - DAY

               Brian, Nick and Lexi laugh as they play frisbee alongside a 
               DUCK POND. Roberta watches, relieved to see Nick enjoying 
               himself.

                                     BRIAN
                         Good catch Nick!

               Nick throws it back to Brian and it lands in the WATER.

                                     BRIAN
                              (mock sternly)
                         Uh-oh. You know what that means?

               He stalks towards Nick menacingly, picks him up and pretends 
               he's going to throw him into the water. Nick laughs 
               hysterically.

                                     NICK
                              (through laughter)
                         Don't! Don't throw me in!

                                     BRIAN
                         Whatsa matter? Afraid of a little 
                         water? The ducks aren't afraid! Are 
                         you a chicken or a duck?

                                     NICK
                         Don't! Don't throw me!

                                     BRIAN
                         Looks like you got yourself a chicken, 
                         Roberta!

                                     NICK
                         I'm not a chicken!

                                     BRIAN
                         Well then you must be a duck!

               He pretends again to throw Nick in, then puts him down. Lexi 
               holds out his arms to Brian.

                                     LEXI
                         Throw me in the water, Brian! Do it 
                         to me!

               Brian swoops him up and Lexi starts laughing. Roberta laughs 
               along, happy to see the affection between Brian and her sons.

               EXT. CENTRAL PARK - A LITTLE LATER

               Brian and Roberta speak as they stroll; the boys run ahead 
               of them, dragging sticks along the pavement. In the b.g. we 
               see HARLEM STREETS bordering the park.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You seem to be the only one who can 
                         get Nick to laugh these days.

                                     BRIAN
                         He misses his dad. I'm just a 
                         surrogate.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No -- I think Nick really likes you.
                              (taking his arm)
                         You know... we're all hoping you'll 
                         move into the new house with us.

                                     BRIAN
                         Whoa. Can we just slow down here a 
                         minute? It's too much like getting 
                         married.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What's so bad about that?

                                     BRIAN
                         That kind of commitment just isn't 
                         realistic. I mean, how can we know 
                         that you and I will even be able to 
                         stand each other in five years?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, we don't. But if two people 
                         care about each other, they take a 
                         chance.

                                     BRIAN
                         And look what happened to you and 
                         Charles.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm not talking about Charles. I'm 
                         talking about us.

                                     BRIAN
                         Look, Roberta. Marriage is based on 
                         a belief that one person can 
                         completely meet another person's 
                         needs. I just don't buy that.

               This is making her nervous. She looks at him, afraid of what 
               he might be saying.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (carefully)
                         What are you saying? If there's some 
                         need you have that I don't meet, 
                         you'd go and get it "met" by someone 
                         else?

               He heaves a sigh of frustration, not wanting to answer the 
               question.

                                     BRIAN
                         I'm saying that it's the 80's and 
                         it's a fantasy to think of marriage 
                         lasting these days. One out of two 
                         marriages ends in divorce!

                                     ROBERTA
                         You didn't answer my question.
                              (beat)
                         If I don't meet all your needs, and 
                         we're in a committed relationship -- 
                         forget marriage for a minute; I'm 
                         just talking about a relationship -- 
                         would you go to someone else?

               A beat.

                                     BRIAN
                         In theory, yes.

                                     ROBERTA
                         In theory.

               Roberta looks very disheartened. Brian feels badly.

                                     BRIAN
                         Roberta, we've got something good 
                         right now -- that's the important 
                         thing. Let's just keep it that way, 
                         O.K.?

               He pulls her to him, kissing her neck, but she pulls away 
               from him. ON NICK, observing with an anxious expression.

               INT. ROBERTA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

                                     NICK (O.S.)
                              (whining)
                         Why can't he?

               Roberta looks distressed by her talk with Brian as she and 
               the boys enter, back from the park.

                                     ROBERTA
                         He just can't, O.K.? Brian's at his 
                         house tonight, and we're at ours.

                                     NICK
                         Well then I wanna go to his house.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Enough, Nick. Now why don't you and 
                         your brother practice while I make 
                         dinner.

                                     NICK
                         I don't feel like practicing.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well do it anyway.

                                     NICK
                         I wanna go to Brian's!

                                     ROBERTA
                         Stop whining, and get your violin.

               Nick stomps off to get his violin. Lexi follows. Roberta 
               puts down her bag and takes off her coat. While Lexi sets up 
               his violin, Nick opens his violin case, takes out the violin 
               and angrily starts playing, loudly and roughly.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What the hell are you doing?

                                     NICK
                         The problem with you is you're mean 
                         to everybody and then they don't 
                         want to be with you!

                                     ROBERTA
                         I've heard just about enough from 
                         you, young man. Now set your violin 
                         up properly and start practicing.

               Nick THROWS the violin against the floor. Roberta's 
               speechless.

                                     NICK
                         I hate the violin!

                                     ROBERTA
                         You pick that violin up right now 
                         and don't you ever ever --

               Nick picks up the violin and THROWS the violin down even 
               harder, then YELLS at Roberta before she can even respond.

                                     NICK
                         It's all your fault! You made Daddy 
                         leave and you're gonna make Brian 
                         leave too! You're gonna be all alone 
                         and I'll have to take care of you!

               Roberta is stunned. The anger drains out of her as she 
               suddenly sees what this is all about.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Nick -- you don't have to take care 
                         of me.

                                     NICK
                         Then who's going to?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'll take care of myself -- and I'll 
                         take care of you and Lexi. I promise.

                                     NICK
                         You didn't try hard enough. You made 
                         Daddy leave us.

               This hits her in the solar plexus. Her hurt and vulnerability 
               start to pour out.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That's not true. I begged him not to 
                         leave, but he didn't listen.

                                     NICK
                         Why not?

               Roberta hesitates, but knows she has to tell them the truth. 
               She addresses both boys.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Your father met someone he liked 
                         more than Mommy, and then --

                                     NICK
                         Who?

               Roberta swallows, shocked to hear him ask this. She can hardly 
               answer him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lana. Remember our friends Lana and 
                         Tom?

                                     NICK
                         Is he gonna marry her now?

                                     ROBERTA
                         No, but he's not coming back... to 
                         me.

               Nick and Lexi look very upset, not only from hearing the 
               finality in her words, but from seeing their mother's pain. 
               Roberta moves closer to them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'll take care of you, Nick. You 
                         too, Lexi. I promise. I'm not going 
                         anywhere. We're still a family.

               Nick starts crying. Roberta takes him in her arms. Lexi starts 
               to cry and Roberta holds him too.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (softly, to both)
                         I promise.

               INT. BROWNSTONE - DAY

               Ernie's radio plays a BLUES SONG. The BRICK WORKERS radio 
               plays SPANISH MUSIC, and the PAINTERS' radio plays a RAP 
               SONG. Roberta stands in the middle, about to lose her mind.

               HER POV - Ernie sits on a stool facing his wiring. He's fast 
               asleep. ANOTHER ANGLE - The brick workers build a crooked 
               fireplace.

               BACK TO SCENE

               Roberta sighs heavily, then crosses to the painters.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What color is this?

                                     PAINTER
                         White.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I told you Eggshell.

                                     PAINTER
                         Eggshells are white.

               Brian watches this interaction as he sands a door.

                                     BRIAN
                         You're an idiot! I told you -- you 
                         can't be your own contractor.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're right. I'm an idiot.

               She crosses to Ernie and shakes him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Wake up, Ernie.

               He looks at her groggily.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're fired.

               She crosses to the brick workers.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're fired.

               She crosses to the painters.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're fired.

               Brian smiles at her, impressed.

                                     BRIAN
                         That's more like it.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're fired too.

               Brian laughs.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No, Brian. I mean it. I need to be 
                         with a man who can make a commitment 
                         to me. I need that, and my sons need 
                         that.
                              (beat)
                         So can you?

                                     BRIAN
                              (hesitates, then)
                         Roberta --

               His tone and expression tell her the words are not 
               forthcoming.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Get out.

               He looks at her, shocked by her toughness, but knows he can't 
               give her what she wants. He exits. Roberta stands in the 
               middle of the room, a determined look on her face.

               INT. SCHOOL AUDITORIUM - NIGHT

               ROBERTA

               Stands in the aisle, leading the students and playing violin.

               ON STAGE

               The fifty fifth-grade students play the "Twinkle" variations. 
               Their playing is impeccable and they look terrific.

               As the CAMERA PANS the audience, we recognize: MRS. ADISA, 
               tears in her eyes as she watches Naeem; MRS. LAMB and her 
               husband, watching Becky in amazement; ISABEL and her daughter 
               sitting with ASSUNTA, NICK and LEXI; JANET, impressed as 
               hell; and DENNIS, seething with jealousy. As the kids start 
               the jazz variation of "Twinkle," a WOMAN elbows her husband:

                                     WOMAN
                         That's the one Lucy wrote!

               The CAMERA returns to the children and captures their own 
               pride in their playing, including LUCY, who smiles as she 
               hears her song played by fifty.

               THE CONCERT - TIME DISSOLVE

               The students are now playing "Allegro," and they reach the 
               fermata. They hold their positions in silence and the audience 
               watches in anticipation. Roberta cues them and they play the 
               next note in perfect unison. An involuntary smile lights on 
               DE SEAN's face. They finish the song, the audience applauds, 
               and Roberta turns to face them.

               She lights up when she sees how thrilled Janet looks, and 
               Janet in turn raises her hands higher as she applauds Roberta.

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               EXT. CPE 1 - DAY - ESTABLISHING - TIME CUT (1998)

               The side of the building now has an impressive mural: an 
               urban landscape with three super heroes -- Puerto Rican, 
               Black, and white -- rising up out of the street. It reads 
               ONLY THE STRONG SHALL SURVIVE.

               INT. CLASSROOM - DAY

               Roberta stands in front of a classroom of twenty cute first-
               graders -- mostly Black and Latino, a few white -- sitting 
               on the floor, chatting excitedly. Even though Roberta's ten 
               years older, she seems more youthful; her wavy hair is loose 
               over her shoulders, her clothing's casual and artistic. Beside 
               her is Janet, her hair flecked with gray, and Dennis, who 
               looks pretty much the same. The classroom teacher is ISABEL, 
               a little older, a little tougher.

                                     ISABEL
                         C'mon everybody, settle down -- Janet 
                         wants to talk to you.

                                     JANET
                         Today's a very special day because 
                         we're starting the tenth year of the 
                         East Harlem Violin Program. This is 
                         a wonderful opportunity for you, so 
                         I want you to talk to your parents 
                         about whether you'd like to try this.

                                     ISABEL
                         My daughter took violin with Roberta 
                         when she was your age, and now she's 
                         in high school and she still talks 
                         about how much she loved it.

                                     DENNIS
                         Janet and I started this program 
                         because we knew how much you kids 
                         could benefit from it.

               CUTAWAY to Roberta and Janet exchanging glances over Dennis 
               taking credit for the program.

                                     DENNIS
                         You should know, however, that the 
                         violin is a difficult instrument.

               JUSTIN, a Black boy with attitude, raises his hand. He always 
               wears a puffy red, yellow and green crocheted beret. Isabel 
               nods to him.

                                     JUSTIN
                         Who's that lady in the back?

               ANGLE - DOROTHEA (Doro-taya) VAN HAUFTEN (40's), an elegant, 
               beautiful woman, smartly dressed, takes photographs from the 
               back of the room.

                                     JANET
                         That's Dorothea Van Hauften --

                                     JUSTIN
                         Say what? What kinda name is that?

                                     ISABEL
                         Justin -- sshh!

                                     JANET
                         -- and she's taking pictures of 
                         Roberta's classes for a magazine 
                         article about music education.

                                     JUSTIN
                         I wanna be in the magazine!

                                     ISABEL
                         First things first, Justin. Roberta's 
                         gonna explain to you about the 
                         "lottery."

               Roberta steps forward. RAMON OLIVAS (7), a small, adorable 
               Puerto Rican boy with a crew cut, watches her with adoration.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I used to just teach fifty kids at 
                         this school. But now I teach a hundred 
                         and fifty kids at three East Harlem 
                         schools and there's so many children 
                         who want to take violin classes that 
                         we have to have a lottery.

               VANESSA raises her hand, a white girl whose clothes and 
               accessories are always adorned with cats.

                                     VANESSA
                         Can I be in the class?

                                     ISABEL
                         Roberta's explaining that. Just 
                         listen.

                                     ROBERTA
                         After your parents sign your 
                         permission slips, I'm gonna put them 
                         in a sack, and I'll pick fifty names 
                         from each school.

               ANGLE - Ramon listens intently with his fingers crossed.

                                     ROBERTA
                         So everyone bring in your slips by 
                         Friday, and I'll come back and tell 
                         you who's in violin class.

                                     ISABEL
                         Remember, she's just picking names 
                         from a hat. It doesn't mean that 
                         anyone's better than anyone else.

               RAMON raises his hand.

                                     RAMON
                              (to Roberta)
                         I really really hope that I get in 
                         the class.

               Roberta looks at him, struck by his sweetness.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I hope so too.

               EXT. 118TH STREET - STREET SIGN - ESTABLISHING - DAY

               EXT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - DAY

               The brownstone looks a lot better than when we last saw it. 
               Graffiti's been removed, the stairs have been repaired, the 
               windows have security bars, and there are flowers blooming 
               in pots in front of the building. Roberta steps INTO FRAME, 
               walking Allegra, now a 10-year-old dog.

               INT. BROWNSTONE - DAY

               The house is transformed: the first floor is one long open 
               room with oak floors, a living room in front with a beautiful 
               fireplace and a grand piano, and a country kitchen in the 
               rear, complete with pots hanging over a large butcher block.

               NICK (17) practices cello and LEXI (15) practices piano; 
               they play Haydn's "Trio #13." Now handsome young men, their 
               blonde hair has darkened to brown. Nick is huskier; Lexi has 
               a slighter build. Both are passionate, talented musicians.

               On the couch, RACHEL (12), a mature, beautiful Black girl, 
               rosins her bow.

                                     RACHEL
                         How come you guys don't play the 
                         violin?

                                     LEXI
                         Well, picture her being your teacher 
                         and your mother.

               Rachel cracks up but stifles her laughter as Roberta enters 
               from outside with Allegra.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Hi Rachel. Be right with you.

               As Roberta removes Allegra's leash, Rachel and Lexi share a 
               conspiratorial look. In the b.g., Nick packs up his cello.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to Nick)
                         You're gonna practice upstairs?

                                     NICK
                         No. I'm done.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Already? You've barely practiced.

                                     NICK
                         What -- are you timing me with a 
                         stop watch? Why don't you pick on 
                         Lexi for a change?

                                     LEXI
                         'Cause I'm perfect.

               Nick jostles him and heads upstairs. Lexi gets up from the 
               piano.

                                     LEXI
                              (to Rachel)
                         Have a good lesson.

               He crosses to a sharp-looking bike parked behind the front 
               door and addresses Roberta.

                                     LEXI
                         I'll be back in a couple of hours.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Be careful.

               Lexi mouths "be careful" along with her.

               EXT. RIVER EAST PARK - DUSK

               Lexi plays basketball with a group of Black and Latino guys. 
               Despite his small stature, he's a great athlete, and an 
               accepted part of the group. The game ends. He and his buddy 
               Lawrence (now 16), both all sweaty, cross to a water fountain. 
               As Lexi takes a drink --

                                     MALE VOICE (O.S.)
                         Can I try your bike?

               Lexi wipes his mouth and looks up at HENRY (18), a tall, 
               intimidating Black teenager who towers over him. Lawrence 
               watches tensely.

                                     LEXI
                         I'm gonna be leaving pretty soon.

                                     HENRY
                         Just wanna take it for a spin.

                                     LAWRENCE
                         C'mon, Henry -- he don't want to 
                         loan you his bike.

                                     HENRY
                         I didn't hear him say that.
                              (to Lexi)
                         Is that true? Did you say that?

               Lexi looks at him, knowing there's only one right answer.

               INT. LIVING ROOM - DAY

               Roberta and Rachel play Bach's "Minuet One" together on the 
               violin. The girl has obvious talent.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Vibrato... don't wiggle your wrist.

               Rachel stops, frustrated.

                                     RACHEL
                         Dang! I can't get that right.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You almost have it.

                                     RACHEL
                         Almost isn't good enough.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Did I turn you into such a 
                         perfectionist?

                                     RACHEL
                         No. I came that way.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (smiles, then)
                         Just as long as you get it right for 
                         your Julliard audition.

                                     RACHEL
                         What?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I've recommended you for a gifted 
                         kids scholarship.

               Rachel looks at her in wide-eyed gratitude.

               ANGLE - Lexi enters the front door, a glum look on his face.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where's the bike?

               INT. HONDA/EXT. EAST HARLEM STREETS - NIGHT

               Roberta drives with Nick in the front, Lexi and Lawrence in 
               the back. They're in a dangerous looking part of East Harlem.

                                     LEXI
                         Mom, please. Don't do this to me!

                                     NICK
                         C'mon, Mom -- why don't you let me 
                         handle this?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Are we getting closer, Lawrence?

                                     LAWRENCE
                         It's the next block up.

                                     LEXI
                              (to Roberta)
                         You don't have to do this. I'll pay 
                         you back.

                                     ROBERTA
                         How? It took me six months to save 
                         up for it.

                                     NICK
                         I'll help him, O.K.? We'll both pay 
                         you back.

                                     LEXI
                         Or we'll ask Dad -- he'll help us 
                         out.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yeah, right.

                                     LAWRENCE
                         O.K., slow down. It's the second one 
                         on the right.

               Roberta slows the car down next to a HOUSING PROJECT.

               EXT. HOUSING PROJECT - NIGHT

               Not a place you'd want to go into, even in the day time.

               PULL BACK TO REVEAL this is their POV from INSIDE THE CAR. 
               The boys look frightened, but Roberta's on a mission.

                                     NICK
                         C'mon Mom, let's get out of here.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lock the doors.

               And she exits. The boys watch as she heads for the building, 
               then Lexi shakes his head and covers his face.

                                     LEXI
                         I'm dead. She's gonna get me killed.

               Nick jumps out of the car and heads after her.

                                     NICK
                         I'm coming with you!

                                     ROBERTA
                         No. Get back in the car and stay 
                         with the boys.

               Nick hesitates and heads back. Roberta presses on. Lawrence 
               opens the window and calls to her.

                                     LAWRENCE
                         Don't take the stairs!

               INT. TENEMENT BUILDING - LOBBY - NIGHT

               CLOSE ON THE ELEVATOR DOOR with a handwritten SIGN that reads 
               OUT OF ORDER.

               WIDER - Roberta stands in front of the elevator, staring 
               tensely at the sign. She takes a deep breath, then heads for 
               the staircase.

               INT. TENEMENT BUILDING - STAIRWELL - NIGHT

               Roberta climbs the dimly-lit stairs of a dilapidated, scary 
               building. O.S. a BABY CRIES, a couple of TV's BLARE.

               INT. TENEMENT BUILDING - HALLWAY - CONTINUOUS

               At the top of the stairs, Roberta turns down the hall, passing 
               a door riddled with bullet holes. She finds the apartment 
               and knocks. No response. She knocks again.

                                     OLD WOMAN (O.S.)
                         Yeah?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm a school teacher. Henry has taken 
                         my son's bicycle and I want it back.

               A beat, then the door cracks open, an OLD WOMAN visible 
               through the chain lock.

                                     OLD WOMAN
                         Henry's not here.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well you tell Henry that if he returns 
                         the bike, I won't have to notify the 
                         police -- or his school principal. 
                         Although since I am a teacher, it 
                         would be very easy for me to do that.

               A couple of beats.

                                     OLD WOMAN
                         He's not home. He doesn't get home 
                         till late.

                                     ROBERTA
                         How late?

                                     OLD WOMAN
                         Not till after ten.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'll be on the steps of CPE 1 at 11 
                         P.M. I'll be waiting for him.

               The door closes. Roberta exhales. Did she just do that?

               EXT. CPE 1 - NIGHT

               Roberta, Nick, Lexi and Lawrence sit on the front steps of 
               the school. The street is deserted.

                                     LEXI
                         You're crazy. He's not gonna show.

               Roberta sits confidently.

                                     NICK
                         You think he actually cares that 
                         you're a teacher? You think he even 
                         goes to school?

                                     LEXI
                         C'mon, Mom -- let's just go.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's only five after eleven.

               Nick and Lexi roll their eyes and exchange a look: she's 
               nuts. Suddenly, there's the SOUND of a bicycle. Nick, Lexi 
               and Lawrence look towards the sound, incredulous. Lexi stands.

               Henry rides up on the bike and dismounts. Lexi looks directly 
               at him as he takes the bike from him.

                                     HENRY
                         I was just borrowing it.

               He glances at Roberta, then walks off.

               INT. CPE 1 - CLASSROOM - DAY

               Roberta stands in front of Isabel's class and calls out names, 
               handing the selected children acceptance letters. The kids 
               are charged up; "My heart is pounding!" "Please pick me!"

                                     ROBERTA
                         Shandra Wilson.

               A pretty Black girl with braids and tons of barrettes jumps 
               up and down, then runs up for her letter. The kids SQUEAL 
               and CHEER for each student called. Shandra hugs her best 
               friend MYESHA, a chubby Black girl who also holds a letter.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Justin Brady.

               JUSTIN raises his fists in triumph. ANGLE - RAMON anxiously 
               waits to see if his name will be called. JUSTIN sits down 
               next to him, waves his letter in Ramon's face, taunting him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Vanessa Klein.

               Vanessa takes her letter and smiles. She puts it into her 
               cat-shaped backpack.

                                     ROBERTA
                         O.K. One more name...

               Ramon crosses his fingers and holds his breath.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Leonard Hood.

               RAMON looks crushed. JUSTIN taunts him some more. LEONARD, a 
               scrawny white boy takes his letter, scared by it. He starts 
               to cry.

                                     LEONARD
                         It's too hard! I don't wanna do it!

                                     ISABEL
                         Don't you even wanna try, Leonard?

                                     LEONARD
                              (through tears)
                         I don't want to!

               Isabel looks at Roberta.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, O.K. then. I'll pick someone 
                         else.
                              (she picks a name)
                         Ramon Olivas.

               Ramon's face lights up.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - DAY

               As Roberta walks through the yard, she sees kids excitedly 
               showing acceptance letters to their moms.

               SHANDRA and MYESHA hold hands as they run to Shandra's mom, 
               BEVERLY WILSON, pushing a stroller. She looks at the letter 
               and hugs Shandra.

               ANGLE - RAMON reads his letter to his mother, CONCEPCION 
               (45), whose eyes tell you that she's lived through a lot. 
               She speaks with a Puerto Rican accent.

                                     RAMON
                         This is to inform you that your child, 
                         Ramon Olivas, has been chosen by 
                         lottery to be in the violin program.

                                     CONCEPCION
                         You happy?

               Ramon spins round and round with the letter in his hand.

                                     CONCEPCION
                         I think you're happy.

               EXT. RIVER EAST ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - DAY

               Roberta illegally parks her old Honda, rushes out of the 
               car, grabs her book bags and three violins, pulls a parking 
               ticket from her pocket and puts it on the windshield.

                                     WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
                              (German accent)
                         Does that really work?

               Roberta turns. It's DOROTHEA, the PHOTOGRAPHER we saw in the 
               classroom.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No. But I keep trying. And maybe 
                         someday the school will give me a 
                         parking space!

               She rushes towards the school and Dorothea follows her.

                                     DOROTHEA
                         Wait --

               She hands Roberta a thin box. Roberta puts down her violins, 
               glances inside it and forgets about being late.

               INSERT

               -- Terrific black and white shots of Roberta's advanced 
               classes playing violin.

                                     ROBERTA (O.S.)
                         God, these are great.

               BACK TO SCENE

                                     DOROTHEA
                         Those copies are for you.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Thank you. Can I... pay for you them?

                                     DOROTHEA
                         Don't be silly. Besides -- you'll 
                         need your money for parking tickets.

               They smile at each other.

                                     DOROTHEA
                         What you're doing for these children 
                         is wonderful. My husband's a violinist -- 
                         he was quite impressed when I told 
                         him about you.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What's his name?

                                     DOROTHEA
                         Arnold Steinhardt.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Of the Guarneri String Quartet?

               Dorothea nods, and hands Roberta a card.

                                     DOROTHEA
                         Stay in touch. Let us know when the 
                         kids have a concert.

               RACHEL, heading for school, calls out to Roberta.

                                     RACHEL
                         Don't be late for violin class! I 
                         hear the teacher's really mean.

               Roberta smiles, slips the card in her pocket, nods to Dorothea 
               and follows Rachel.

               INT. RIVER EAST SCHOOL - MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Roberta's advanced class plays "Can-Can." Rachel's one of 
               the eight sixth-graders. Roberta plays along, crossing to 
               AMANDA, a white girl in a country-western outfit.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Amanda, what did I tell you about 
                         wearing cowboy boots to violin class? 
                         They're too slippery!

               She crosses to a pudgy Black/Puerto Rican boy with glasses.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Relax your two, Simon...

               She glances at STEPHANIE, a white girl with red hair, next 
               to KENNY, a Black boy with an earnest expression.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Your stop sign has to be up, Kenny! 
                         Stephanie, it doesn't look like you 
                         ever had a lesson with me!

               CARLOS (13) hurries in, a handsome Black boy in a baseball 
               jacket that says "LOS LEONES." He looks 15.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where's your violin, Carlos?

                                     CARLOS
                         It's coming.

               He nervously looks down the hall.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What, is it walking here by itself?

               A Black third-grade girl rushes into the room and hands Carlos 
               his violin, then runs off. Roberta crosses to Carlos as he 
               quickly readies the violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Your buddies giving you a hard time?

                                     CARLOS
                         Look, it's just not cool. You wouldn't 
                         understand.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Hey, you want your sister to carry 
                         your violin, that's fine. But is she 
                         practicing for you too? Because 
                         lately, that's how it sounds.

                                     CARLOS
                         I've been busy! I've been --

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm not interested! Just get here on 
                         time, and commit to this class or I 
                         don't want you in here, you 
                         understand?

               He nods sullenly.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're a good violinist, Carlos -- 
                         and it's definitely not "cool" to 
                         waste your own talent.

               Carlos takes this in as Roberta crosses to another student.

               EXT. RAMON'S APARTMENT - EAST HARLEM - ESTABLISHING - NIGHT

               It's upstairs from a grocery store on a busy street.

               INT. RAMON'S APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Ramon sits on the floor, upset, half-heartedly building with 
               Legos, while his parents argue in the KITCHEN. His father 
               MANUELO is a stocky, muscular man. INTERCUT between the two 
               areas. This is a modest, well-kept apartment. Off the kitchen, 
               religious candles burn on a shelf above a washing machine.

                                     MANUELO
                         Why didn't you show it to me?

                                     CONCEPCION
                         It just needed one parent's signature.

                                     MANUELO
                              (with some Spanish)
                         Well, I'm his parent and I don't 
                         give permission! He should be playing 
                         baseball, not the violin!

                                     CONCEPCION
                         It makes him happy.

               ON RAMON, looking far from happy at the moment.

               EXT. RIVER EAST SCHOOL - DAY

               Rachel steps off a city bus, carrying her violin. She passes 
               two sixth-grade boys and a girl.

                                     BOY #1
                              (loudly)
                         Ooh, check out little Miss Violinhead.

                                     GIRL
                         She carry that violin with her all 
                         the time 'cause she think she special.

               Rachel turns to them.

                                     RACHEL
                         I am special.

               She proudly continues on, then sees Roberta walking towards 
               the school and catches up to her.

                                     RACHEL
                              (nonchalant)
                         So I heard from Julliard.

               Roberta stops and looks at her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         And?

                                     RACHEL
                         They said yes!

               Roberta gives her a big hug.

               INT. CPE 1 - MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               ON THE BEGINNER'S CLASS, including Ramon, as they play 
               "Lightly Row." Roberta walks around, making corrections as 
               she addresses the students. She doesn't see Justin poking 
               Ramon with his bow; Ramon swats the bow away and glares at 
               his nemesis. Roberta moves some of Shandra's braids away 
               from the violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         So when you take the violins home, 
                         tape your music to the wall directly 
                         in front of your nose so you can 
                         play with perfect posture. Your 
                         parents are gonna be so excited to 
                         hear you play!

               INT. RAMON'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               SCREECHING comes from Ramon's room as he practices "Lightly 
               Row." His brothers, PEDRO (18) and ERNESTO (17), cringe as 
               they try to watch T.V. Ernesto gives up and puts on his 
               Walkman; Pedro's ready to break the violin. Concepcion listens 
               patiently as she folds laundry, but even she winces.

                                     PEDRO
                              (yelling)
                         Ramon! How many cats you killing in 
                         there?

               INTERCUT RAMON - He plays with pride, eyes on the music taped 
               to the wall.

               INT. CPE 1 - MUSIC ROOM - DAY (A FEW MONTHS LATER)

               ON RAMON, his improved playing showing that time has passed. 
               WIDER - the beginner's class plays "Lightly Row."

               JUSTIN is struggling more than the other students. Roberta 
               plays along with the class, eyeing each student.

                                     ROBERTA
                         More bow! To the frog! Myesha, your 
                         stop sign line should be touching. 
                         Don't let it wiggle! You're on the 
                         wrong string, Justin! And look at 
                         your feet!

               Vanessa enters the front door without her violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where's your violin?

                                     VANESSA
                         I forgot.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Goodbye! And you may be dropped.

               Vanessa pouts and exits. Roberta moves to ROSARIO, a Puerto 
               Rican girl.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Look at those nails, Rosario!

               She pulls a clipper from her pocket and swiftly clips them. 
               MYESHA nervously glances at her own nails.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I see you over there, Myesha.

               She moves to Ramon and corrects his bowing position.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to Ramon)
                         You're doing much better.

               As Roberta walks on to the next student, Justin purposely 
               knocks over Ramon's music stand.

                                     RAMON
                         Drop dead, Justin!

                                     JUSTIN
                         It was a accident!

                                     RAMON
                         Was not!

                                     ROBERTA
                         Ramon, I don't like that kind of 
                         talk. Justin, pick up his stand, 
                         now! Our spring concert is in three 
                         weeks and you might not be in it. Is 
                         that what you want?

               EXT. CPE 1 - DAY

               As Roberta heads for her car, she sees Vanessa being helped 
               into a car by her FATHER, his suit wrinkled and tie loosened. 
               There's SNOW on the ground.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Mr. Klein? I'm gonna have to drop 
                         Vanessa from the class if she keeps 
                         forgetting her violin.

                                     MR. KLEIN
                              (sotto)
                         She's going back and forth between 
                         houses. My wife and I split up.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (softening)
                         Oh. I'm sorry.

               Roberta leans into the car window.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Vanessa, maybe you could write down 
                         for your Mom and Dad which days are 
                         violin days.

                                     VANESSA
                              (almost in tears)
                         The tape doesn't stick.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?

                                     VANESSA
                         I taped the music to the wall at my 
                         Mom's house and then I took it to my 
                         Dad's house and it doesn't stick 
                         anymore.

               Mr. Klein's eyes tear up and he quickly wipes them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well you know what? That's an easy 
                         problem to solve.

               She looks through her book bag, takes out a piece of music 
               and gives it to her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Now you have two, O.K.? One for each 
                         house.

               Vanessa nods, clutching the piece of music. Roberta and Mr. 
               Klein exchange a look. She touches his arm, then walks off.

               INT. RAMON'S HOUSE - NIGHT

               Ramon, holding his bow and violin, crosses to his father 
               who's watching a baseball game on T.V.

                                     RAMON
                         You wanna hear my new song, Papa?

                                     MANUELO
                              (in Spanish)
                         Not right now.

               Ramon exits, hurt. Concepcion watches from the side, and 
               crosses to her husband.

                                     CONCEPCION
                         We made mistakes with Pedro and 
                         Ernesto and we can't fix them now, 
                         but Ramon -- he works so hard. The 
                         violin makes him want to be good at 
                         everything.

               He shows no response, and she exits. Manuelo ponders what 
               she said.

               EXT. CPE 1 ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - DAY (MORNING)

               Roberta approaches the school on a winter morning. She smiles 
               as she sees Vanessa get out of her MOTHER'S car with her 
               violin. Roberta nears the front door and finds Isabel and 
               some teachers huddled in conversation. A few students are 
               crying.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to Isabel)
                         What happened?

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               The beginners sit on the floor and rosin their bows. A few 
               chat, but it's quieter than usual, except for RAMON who is 
               "blessing" kids with his violin bow.

                                     RAMON
                         You go to heaven... You go to hell... 
                         You go to hell... heaven...

               Roberta enters slowly. She looks very shaken up. She takes 
               note of what Ramon is doing, and overhears Toussaint and 
               Shandra in mid-conversation.

                                     TOUSSAINT
                         My grandpa died and my uncle, so 
                         that makes six.

                                     SHANDRA
                         I know more than that. At least seven 
                         people... maybe even nine.

               Roberta gently tells Ramon to sit, and then she sits down on 
               a child-sized chair in front of them.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (quietly)
                         I know that you've all heard the bad 
                         news about Justin.

                                     MYESHA
                         I didn't hear.

                                     TOUSSAINT
                         There was a drive-by shooting by his 
                         house and he got shot on accident 
                         and he died.

               Myesha takes this in, looking sad.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Does anyone want to talk about it?

                                     RAMON
                              (angry)
                         I think we should just play violin.

               Roberta watches him.

               INT. RAMON'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM/KITCHEN AREA - DAY

               Concepcion cooks chicken and Pedro sets the table, whistling 
               along to Ramon's O.S. violin playing "We Shall Overcome." 
               There's a KNOCK on the door. Concepcion answers it, revealing 
               Roberta.

                                     CONCEPCION
                         Roberta! Come in.

               Roberta enters.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I came by to check on Ramon.

                                     CONCEPCION
                              (confused)
                         Why?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Didn't he tell you what happened at 
                         school?

               Concepcion shakes her head no.

               INT. RAMON'S ROOM - DAY

               Ramon is still playing violin as Concepcion and Roberta enter. 
               When he sees Roberta he straightens up even more.

                                     CONCEPCION
                         Roberta wants to talk to you, O.K.?

               He nods. Concepcion touches his head, then exits.

                                     RAMON
                         Did that sound O.K.?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yeah, it did.

               Ramon smiles, pleased with himself.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I've been thinking about Justin. 
                         Remember how mad I got the last time 
                         I saw him?

                                     RAMON
                         Yeah. You got very strict with him.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It wasn't always so easy to be nice 
                         to him, you know?

               Ramon looks away from her, upset.

                                     RAMON
                         You think Justin's in heaven or hell?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Heaven.

               Ramon runs his fingers along his bow.

                                     RAMON
                         I told him to drop dead.

               Roberta touches Ramon's back.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Justin didn't die because of what 
                         you said. I promise.

                                     RAMON
                         How do you know?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I don't think you're that powerful, 
                         do you? I mean, if you had such 
                         powers, just imagine what kind of 
                         violin player you'd be by now!

                                     RAMON
                         Yeah. I'd be better than you!

               They laugh together, then Ramon looks sad again.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's O.K. to cry, you know.

                                     RAMON
                         Not for a man.

                                     ROBERTA
                         My boys still cry and they're big, 
                         strong young men now.
                              (beat)
                         I bet Justin's daddy cried.

               Ramon's eyes get teary. Roberta quietly leaves the room.

               EXT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - ESTABLISHING - DAY (SPRING)

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - DAY

               Roberta brings in the mail, looking curiously at a manila 
               envelope with a return address from the NY REVIEW OF BOOKS. 
               She opens it, looks inside, then pours out a batch of other 
               letters onto the table. They're addressed to BOX HOLDER 127. 
               She opens one, reads it, then rushes to an INTERCOM.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Nick, Lexi! Get down here right now!

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - MOMENTS LATER

                                     NICK
                         We were just trying to help!

               Nick and Lexi stand by the table, opposite Roberta -- with 
               the incriminating pile of letters between them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         This is humiliating!

                                     NICK
                         Mom, no one knows it's you! I mean, 
                         you don't even have to read them if 
                         you don't want to.
                              (glances at pile)
                         Although obviously, a lot of guys 
                         are interested in dating you.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No. A lot of guys are interested in 
                         dating you and Lexi.
                              (beat)
                         What did you say about me, anyway?

               They thought she'd never ask.

                                     NICK
                         "Beautiful musician, late 40's, tired 
                         of playing solo --

                                     LEXI
                         -- seeks a healthy, stable, attractive 
                         man who's not afraid of a duet with 
                         a strong, independent woman.

                                     NICK
                         My violin playing will feed your 
                         soul...

                                     LEXI
                         ...And my lasagna will be music to 
                         your palate."

               They beam with pride. Roberta looks at them, mortified.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh, my God.

                                     LEXI
                         Did you catch all the music metaphors?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Don't you think it's a little weird 
                         that you're trying to get your mother 
                         a date?

                                     NICK
                         Don't you think it's a little weird 
                         that you're not even interested in 
                         dating?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Boys, look. Number one -- even if I 
                         wanted to date, I don't have time. 
                         And number two -- I've got my 
                         teaching, I've got you guys -- that's 
                         all I need.

               The boys nod, disappointed, and she exits. They look at each 
               other with glum expressions.

                                     LEXI
                              (to Nick)
                         I really thought she'd like the music 
                         metaphors.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta lies on the couch, reading the personal ad letters. 
               She tosses one aside, then opens another.

               INSERT

               The letter is designed like a newspaper with a headline that 
               reads: JOURNALISM PROFESSOR DAN PAXTON ANSWERS PERSONAL AD; 
               HOPES RUN HIGH BEAUTIFUL MUSICIAN WILL CALL FOR A DATE!

               BACK TO SCENE

               Roberta can't help but be charmed.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta, Nick and Lexi play Haydn's "Trio #13" together on 
               their respective instruments. We sense that this is a special 
               family ritual. They play throughout their conversation:

                                     ROBERTA
                         I think you're flat, Nick.

                                     NICK
                         I'm not flat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         The B sounded flat.

                                     NICK
                         Just play the violin, Mom. I'll take 
                         care of the cello.

               They play for a few beats.

                                     LEXI
                         You nervous, Mom?

                                     ROBERTA
                         No. I'm fine.

               The DOORBELL rings and Roberta jumps up, bolting into the 
               bathroom down the hall.

               Lexi and Nick exchange a smile, then Lexi crosses to the 
               door and opens it.

               INT. DOORWAY - CONTINUOUS

               Standing in the doorway is a man in casual college professor 
               attire. He's nice-looking, but no Prince Charming. He shakes 
               Lexi's hand and smiles warmly.

                                     DAN
                         Hi. I'm Dan Paxton.

               Lexi shows him in.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BATHROOM - CONTINUOUS

               IN THE MIRROR - Roberta takes a last look at herself, 
               wondering if he'll find her attractive. She touches her hair, 
               adjusts her dress, then takes a deep breath as she builds up 
               her courage.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

               Roberta enters the living room where Dan is chatting with 
               Nick and Lexi. Dan sees her and is instantly smitten.

                                     DAN
                              (shaking her hand)
                         Wow. An honest woman.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Honest?

                                     DAN
                         Your ad. When you said you were 
                         beautiful, you were telling the truth.

               She smiles, blushing, and avoids eye contact with her sons 
               who are trying really hard not to laugh. As she and Dan start 
               to exit:

                                     NICK
                         Make sure you're home by midnight, 
                         young lady.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               CLOSE ON CLOCK

               It reads 12:30.

               WIDER - Nick and Lexi play a video game on the TV screen. 
               O.S., there's the SOUND OF A CAR. They race to the window.

                                     LEXI
                         Ten bucks he tries to kiss her.

                                     NICK
                         That's a no-brainer. Of course he'll 
                         try. The real question is whether 
                         she'll let him.

                                     LEXI
                         O.K. -- ten bucks she lets him.

                                     NICK
                         You're on.

               They stare out the window intently.

               INT. DAN'S CAR - NIGHT

               Dan pulls his car up in front of Roberta's house. Beside 
               him, Roberta holds a program from a Lincoln Center concert. 
               Roberta's tense, but Dan seems relaxed and centered in his 
               attraction to her.

                                     DAN
                         I had a lot of fun tonight.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yeah, I did too.

                                     DAN
                         I have a confession -- I've never 
                         answered an ad before. I did it on a 
                         dare.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, I have a confession -- my boys 
                         placed the ad behind my back.

               They both laugh, then smile at each other. An awkward beat: 
               will he or won't he? Dan leans in to kiss her, and Roberta 
               turns away, uncertain.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Look, Dan -- I went along with this 
                         'cause it's been a while. Quite a 
                         while... And I had a very nice time... 
                         but I'm not sure if I'm ready to get 
                         involved with anyone right now.

               A beat. Roberta feels badly about rejecting him.

                                     DAN
                              (deadpan)
                         Does this mean I don't get any 
                         lasagna?

               Roberta cracks up. Dan smiles at her.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

               Roberta enters. The boys are back to their video game, 
               covering that they've been spying on her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why are you guys still up?

                                     NICK
                              (all innocence)
                         Why? Is it late?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Good try, Nick.

                                     LEXI
                         So how was it?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well... he's nice.

                                     NICK
                         "Nice"? As in "let's just be friends" 
                         nice?

                                     ROBERTA
                         I don't know yet. We'll see.

               Nick looks disappointed.

                                     NICK
                         There's still a lot more letters.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Good night, Nick.

               She starts heading upstairs.

                                     LEXI
                         Hey, Mom -- can you loan me ten 
                         dollars?

               INT. CPE 1 - MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               THE BLACKBOARD reads: SPRING CONCERT IN 10 DAYS! PRACTICE 
               PRACTICE PRACTICE!

               Roberta rushes in, frazzled, not noticing at first that the 
               beginners are very quiet -- and that most don't have violins.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Guys, I'm so sorry -- I got stuck 
                         over at CPE 2...

               She puts her stuff down, then looks at the kids.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What's going on? Where are all your 
                         violins?

                                     RAMON
                         We heard you got fired.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?!

               EXT. HALLWAY - DAY

               Janet and Dennis talk outside Janet's office. Roberta storms 
               over to them. Janet looks at her, alarmed.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Is it true?

                                     JANET
                         Why don't you come in my office?

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's true? You're firing me?

                                     JANET
                         It's not me, Roberta. The Board of 
                         Ed. cut the budget, the District had 
                         to comply, and as of the end of this 
                         term, the violin program has been... 
                         excessed.

               Roberta takes this in, momentarily speechless. In the b.g., 
               the beginners slip into the hall to watch.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Excessed.
                              (beat)
                         They specifically said that my violin 
                         program has to go.

                                     JANET
                         They've slashed the budget -- music 
                         and art programs got hit the worst.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What about Dennis' classes?

                                     DENNIS
                         I'm tenured, Roberta.

               Roberta looks at him, then back to Janet.

                                     ROBERTA
                         When was this decided?

                                     JANET
                         Things happened very quickly... I 
                         wanted to tell you myself --

                                     ROBERTA
                              (reeling)
                         I just... I can't even believe this 
                         is happening!

                                     DENNIS
                         Why not? You're a sub. Your position 
                         has never been permanent.

                                     JANET
                         Shut up, Dennis! You're not helping!
                              (softly, to Roberta)
                         Come into my office, please.

               They leave Dennis standing there, looking as if he's had his 
               face slapped.

               INT. JANET WILLIAMS' OFFICE - CONTINUOUS

                                     ROBERTA
                         There's gotta be a way to fight this!

                                     JANET
                         Fight it with what? I don't have any 
                         other extra programs to give them 
                         instead.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh, I see. So after ten years, after 
                         fourteen hundred children have learned 
                         to play the violin, this is just an 
                         "extra program."

                                     JANET
                         You know I don't feel that way and 
                         you know damn well I've been standing 
                         by you all these years! You think I 
                         haven't noticed what you've done for 
                         these kids?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Then do something!

                                     JANET
                              (points to her phone)
                         I've been on this phone for the past 
                         three days trying to "do something" -- 
                         the District office can't even stand 
                         the sound of my voice. Believe me, 
                         there are some people around here 
                         I'd much rather get rid of. But as 
                         far as the Board's concerned, violin 
                         classes are not a priority.

               Roberta's fury starts to give way to grief. She looks terribly 
               wounded. Janet looks at her helplessly.

                                     JANET
                         I don't have the power here, Roberta. 
                         I'm so sorry.

               A beat, and Roberta exits.

               EXT. SCHOOL YARD - DAY

               Roberta's dazed and in pain as she walks through the crowds 
               of children, oblivious to kids calling her name and waving.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - DAY (LATE AFTERNOON)

               Nick and Lexi enter the darkened house, chatting as Nick 
               wheels in the bike and Lexi bounces a basketball. They turn 
               on a light to reveal

                                     ROBERTA
                         sitting at the kitchen table with a 
                         glass of wine, her face ashen.

                                     NICK
                         What happened?

               EXT. STREETS - DAY (LATE AFTERNOON)

               Roberta, Nick and Lexi walk Allegra in their neighborhood. 
               Roberta looks worn out.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm a good teacher. I've worked so 
                         hard to give these kids something to 
                         be proud of.

               Lexi moves to comfort her.

                                     LEXI
                         I'm so sorry, Mom. I can't believe 
                         they did this to you.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's like when my father got killed. 
                         For twenty years, he followed every 
                         safety rule the factory had, and 
                         then someone else flips the wrong 
                         switch...
                              (she chokes up)
                         It's not fair. You do everything 
                         right and then...

                                     NICK
                         It's the wrong analogy. You couldn't 
                         do anything about Grandpa's death. 
                         It was irreversible. This isn't.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Tell that to the Board of Education.

                                     NICK
                         Let me ask you something. Why did 
                         you risk your life for a bicycle?

               Roberta and Lexi look at Nick, baffled as to the relevance 
               of the question.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I did not risk my life.

                                     NICK
                         Of course you did! That building? 
                         Threatening Henry? And for what -- 
                         two hundred dollars?

                                     ROBERTA
                         No. Not for that.

                                     LEXI
                         Then why?

                                     ROBERTA
                         When someone steals something that 
                         belongs to my kids, I'm not gonna 
                         sit back and let that happen!

               A beat as she realizes what she's just said. The boys look 
               at her and the three of them stop walking.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Guys -- you need to think about this. 
                         If I try to fight this -- with no 
                         salary coming in -- I could lose the 
                         house, screw up your college plans... 
                         It would be a lot safer to just go 
                         out tomorrow and get a job in a 
                         private school.

                                     LEXI
                         Yeah, but is that where you really 
                         want to be?

               INT. ROBERTA'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               Roberta frantically searches through her purse, then crosses 
               to a hall closet and quickly checks the pockets of her coats 
               and jackets.

               She feels inside a jacket pocket, then finds it: DOROTHEA'S 
               BUSINESS CARD.

               EXT. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - ESTABLISHING - DAY

               INT. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - DEPT. OF JOURNALISM - DAY

               FOLLOW DAN PAXTON as he walks down the hall towards his office 
               and sees a strange silver object on the floor in front of 
               his office door. He picks it up.

               INSERT

               -- A foil-covered plate with a note on top: DO YOU KNOW ANYONE 
               AT THE NEW YORK TIMES?

               BACK TO SCENE

               Dan lifts up the foil to reveal a large piece of LASAGNA.

               INT. CPE 1 AUDITORIUM - THE CONCERT - STAGE - NIGHT

               SEVENTY-FIVE KIDS play "We Shall Overcome" and it's incredibly 
               moving. Nick's on cello, Lexi plays piano. ROBERTA proudly 
               leads the children. At the side of the stage, we see DOROTHEA 
               photographing the concert. THE CAMERA PANS THE AUDIENCE of 
               teary-eyed parents, many of them with CAM CORDERS. We FIND 
               Ramon's family. Manuelo is riverted by his son's playing, 
               and he starts to cry. Concepcion knows this without looking. 
               She takes his hand.

               ANGLE - JANET stands along the side and her eyes start to 
               fill with tears. She tries to stay composed, then discreetly 
               exits the auditorium.

               The song ends and the audience APPLAUDS, rising from their 
               seats, including ASSUNTA (now 65), next to ISABEL and DAN. 
               Someone remains seated: a REPORTER (40's), sitting beside 
               Dan and taking notes.

               The STUDENTS bow, then point to Roberta who bows and takes 
               the stage. She gestures for people to sit. A beginner student 
               brings her flowers. Roberta kisses her, then approaches the 
               mike.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to the audience)
                         The beautiful concert that you just 
                         heard could be the last concert of 
                         the East Harlem Violin Program. The 
                         Board of Education and the District 
                         Superintendent don't think that music 
                         is important for our children. But 
                         they're wrong -- and they're in for 
                         a fight.

               The parents stand and applaud. We see the REPORTER writing 
               quickly. Dorothea snaps more pictures. Roberta extends an 
               arm towards the kids, directing the applause at them. Ramon 
               gives her a thumbs up.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               ROBERTA is vacuuming the living room while Assunta dusts. 
               Extra chairs are set up in the living room in preparation 
               for a meeting. The doorbell RINGS.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Someone's early.

               FOLLOW ASSUNTA to the DOOR. She opens it, revealing JANET, 
               who's carrying two bags of groceries. Assunta's demeanor 
               instantly cools when she sees her. In the b.g. Roberta sees 
               Janet and turns off the vacuum cleaner.

                                     JANET
                         Hello, Assunta. How are you?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         I'd be a lot better if my daughter 
                         had a job next year.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Ma!

                                     JANET
                              (to Assunta)
                         I would too.

               Janet briskly walks into THE LIVING ROOM, puts the grocery 
               bags down on a table, and begins to take things out of them. 
               Roberta watches her, mystified.

                                     JANET
                              (to Roberta)
                         Sorry I'm early, but I figured we'd 
                         need time to set up.

               Roberta watches Janet for a beat, then addresses Assunta.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Mama, why don't you take Allegra out 
                         for a walk?

               Assunta hesitates for a beat, then gets the dog and exits. 
               Janet continues unpacking the bags as if there's nothing 
               unusual about her being there. Cheeses, crackers, bread, 
               salads, fruit, paper plates, napkins, etc. She sees Roberta's 
               confused expression.

                                     JANET
                         You are having a meeting here tonight, 
                         right? Parents and teachers?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, yes, but ...

                                     JANET
                         Take it from me. If you want to get 
                         parents to help you with something, 
                         you have to feed them.

               She holds up two wedges of cheese.

                                     JANET
                         You have a cutting board for these?

               Roberta crosses into the kitchen and returns with a cutting 
               board and a knife.

                                     JANET
                              (as she continues to 
                              unpack)
                         And if you think parents are bad, 
                         teachers are even worse, no offense. 
                         If you don't feed them, you never 
                         get anything extra out of them. That's 
                         why I got this.

               She pulls out an Entenmann's blackout cake.

                                     JANET
                         Entenmann's gets them every time.

               Roberta continues to stare in amazement at Janet.

                                     JANET
                         What? Don't tell me you expected me 
                         to bring something homemade.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (as she takes the 
                              cake from her)
                         Well, no... I --

                                     JANET
                         Good. Because take it from me -- my 
                         own family begs me to stay out of 
                         the kitchen.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What I didn't expect was for you to 
                         be here.

                                     JANET
                         Why not? We've gotta figure out a 
                         way to fight this.
                              (as she arranges 
                              crackers on a plate)
                         After ten years, Roberta, I can't 
                         imagine walking through those hallways 
                         and not hearing that off-key, 
                         screechy, scratchy, nails-on-the-
                         blackboard violin music.

               Roberta smiles. Janet holds up a baguette.

                                     JANET
                         What do you think? Cut it into slices 
                         now, or leave it whole?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Let's cut it now. It'll be less messy.

               Janet hands her the bread. A beat as the two women exchange 
               a private smile, then return to their respective tasks.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

               There's a crowd of PARENTS assembled in Roberta's front room, 
               talking at once, yelling out ideas, including CONCEPCION, 
               BEVERLY WILSON (Shandra's mom), MR. ADAMS (Black) and MRS. 
               ADAMS (Puerto Rican), the parents of James (from Roberta's 
               first year) and Simon. DOROTHEA, JANET, ISABEL are also there; 
               ASSUNTA is keeping tabs on the refreshments.

                                     ISABEL
                         Don't they realize how much this 
                         program helps the kids?

                                     MR. ADAMS
                         Simon's our third child to study 
                         with Roberta. James is pre-med, 
                         April's valedictorian -- now that 
                         says something!

                                     MR. KLEIN
                         I think we should inundate the Board 
                         and the District with letters.

                                     JANET
                         You're wasting your time. The Board 
                         and the District are not gonna pay 
                         for this program, no matter how many 
                         letters they get.

               Disappointed grumblings.

                                     ISABEL
                         What if we raise the money ourselves?

                                     JANET
                         I can't see how they'd object to 
                         that.

               A beat as people take this in.

                                     CONCEPCION
                         Well once that newspaper article 
                         comes out, that should help bring in 
                         money.

                                     BEVERLY
                         Yeah, but what if it doesn't? For 
                         all we know, it's gonna be buried on 
                         the back page. Besides, who says 
                         anyone's gonna give a damn about our 
                         kids?

                                     DOROTHEA
                              (to Roberta)
                         What if you do a benefit concert? We 
                         can raise a batch of money from ticket 
                         sales, and then the concert itself 
                         could be great publicity. There's 
                         word of mouth... you could get 
                         reviewed...

                                     ROBERTA
                         It better be a good concert!

               Some people laugh but we see the anxiety on Roberta's face.

                                     ROBERTA
                         We have to offer something more than 
                         me and the kids.
                              (to Dorothea)
                         Do you think maybe your husband would 
                         perform with us?

                                     DOROTHEA
                              (slyly)
                         I'm sure I could persuade him with a 
                         little pillow talk. And maybe he can 
                         get another violinist too -- Itzhak 
                         Perlman, perhaps.

               This gets people's attention.

                                     ROBERTA
                         That would be fantastic.

                                     DOROTHEA
                         We could rent a place like the 92nd 
                         Street Y -- it's perfect for this. 
                         It seats about nine hundred people 
                         and if we charge between fifty and a 
                         hundred a ticket --

                                     ISABEL
                              (to Roberta)
                         We could probably raise enough to 
                         reinstate your program for a year.

                                     JANET
                         Sounds like a plan.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (half to herself)
                         It better be a good concert.

               The DOORBELL RINGS and Roberta crosses to get it. DAN enters, 
               holding copies of the NY POST, the DAILY NEWS, and a couple 
               of other papers. Each paper has been opened to a specific 
               page.

                                     DAN
                         Take your pick.

               Roberta grabs the top one -- the POST -- opened to page 5.

               INSERT

               The page has a photo of Roberta at the Spring Concert, and a 
               large article headlined A VIOLIN TEACHER FIGHTS BACK.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Lots of chaos as a TELEVISION NEWS CREW sets up. Roberta 
               tries futilely to get the beginners to pay attention to her.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Kids, listen to me -- it's really 
                         important that you don't look at the 
                         camera and you try to act as natural 
                         as possible.

               Dennis storms in.

                                     DENNIS
                         Who authorized this?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Janet.

                                     DENNIS
                         Well Janet's not here today and I 
                         want these people out of here.

               The kids quiet down and watch them argue. A CAMERA GUY starts 
               shooting the argument and Dennis sees him.

                                     DENNIS
                         Turn that off, you hear me?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Why are you doing this? We're not 
                         bothering anyone.

                                     DENNIS
                         You're disrupting school and I want 
                         them out of here -- now.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You still don't get it, do you? I 
                         don't care if you hate me, Dennis -- 
                         that's your business. But think about 
                         the students for once. Every time 
                         you interfere, you're not hurting me -- 
                         you're hurting them.

               She points to the kids. They're silent, waiting to see if 
               Roberta got through to him. A beat.

                                     DENNIS
                         Get these people out of here or I'm 
                         calling the police.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Go right ahead, call them. That'll 
                         look real good on the eleven o'clock 
                         news.

               A beat and he exits. Roberta takes a deep breath, then turns 
               back to the kids who are watching her, impressed.

                                     RAMON
                         I don't hear no sirens.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

               ON THE TV is the news segment: ROBERTA speaks to an unseen 
               interviewer.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm from a blue collar family, and 
                         if it weren't for the lessons I got 
                         in public school, I never would have 
                         learned the violin.

               It CUTS TO Roberta's beginners speaking to the interviewer.

                                     INTERVIEWER (O.S.)
                         How does it make you feel to lose 
                         your violin program?

                                     SHANDRA
                         It makes us sad!

                                     RAMON
                         Yeah, like we're never gonna have no 
                         more violin lessons --

                                     VANESSA
                         And it's bad because... because we 
                         love violin class.

               WIDER - REVEAL Roberta, Lexi and Nick watching the TV.

               INT. ARNOLD STEINHARDT AND DOROTHEA'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

               ON TV - THE SAME NEWS SEGMENT, ANOTHER SOUND BITE

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes, I've gotten offers from two 
                         private schools, but this is where I 
                         want to be.

                                     DOROTHEA (O.S.)
                         Arnold, these kids need help.

               WIDER - REVEAL a comfortable Upper East Side apartment and 
               DOROTHEA watching T.V. while ARNOLD practices violin. There's 
               FRAMED PHOTOGRAPHY on the walls, signed by Dorothea.

                                     ARNOLD
                         Didn't we send them a donation?

                                     DOROTHEA
                         They need something bigger. And you 
                         can't just write a check -- you have 
                         to get involved.

                                     ARNOLD
                         Involved how?

               The look on her face tells him it's more than he bargained 
               for.

                                     ARNOLD
                         Uh-oh.

               INT. SERIES OF SHOTS - DAY

               1. Arnold Steinhardt speaks on the phone. His Roladex is 
               open to the name ITZHAK PERLMAN. In the b.g., Dorothea tensely 
               waits to hear if Itzhak Perlman will say yes.

               2. Parents, Roberta, Nick and Lexi hang "FIDDLEFEST CONCERT" 
               posters around their neighborhood, announcing a concert at 
               THE 92ND STREET Y with ARNOLD STEINHARDT, ITZHAK PERLMAN and 
               STUDENTS FROM THE EAST HARLEM VIOLIN PROGRAM.

               3. Parents -- including Beverly Wilson, Concepcion, Mr. Adams 
               and Carlos' mom and dad -- stuff envelopes with INVITATIONS 
               to "FIDDLEFEST" and accompanying LETTERS and TICKET ORDER 
               FORMS. Roberta and Dorothea open envelopes with filled-out 
               TICKET ORDER FORMS and CHECKS. They stack the checks in a 
               pile, address return envelopes and place FIDDLEFEST TICKETS 
               inside them.

               INT. MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               Thirty-three excited kids from Roberta's different classes 
               chat, tune their violins, rosin their bows. The students 
               include Carlos, Stephanie, Amanda, Kenny, Rachel, Simon, 
               Ramon, Vanessa, and Shandra. Roberta enters the room, full 
               of energy, and addresses them as she heads to the front.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Listen up, everyone! Quiet down!

               The students give her their attention.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You are my very best beginner and 
                         advanced violin students and I've 
                         chosen you to play in Fiddlefest 
                         because I trust that you can handle 
                         the pressure. It's gonna be a lot of 
                         work -- a lot. Right now, we've sold 
                         some tickets, but I'm not gonna be 
                         back here in the fall if the audience 
                         storms out of their seats, demanding 
                         a refund!

               She nods to Rachel who starts handing out sheets of music.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Rachel's gonna be my lieutenant and 
                         I expect you to listen to her.

               Ramon looks through his music sheets.

                                     RAMON
                         Bach's "Minuet One"?

                                     ROBERTA
                         People are gonna be paying good money 
                         for this concert -- we're not just 
                         gonna play "Twinkle."
                              (handing out papers)
                         I'm passing out a contract that you 
                         and your parents need to sign.

               The kids read the contracts. Carlos' eyes widen.

                                     CARLOS
                         Every Saturday and Sunday?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Plus night time rehearsals during 
                         the week. There's only six weeks 
                         till the concert, so classes in school 
                         won't be enough.

               The kids look sobered by this.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Come to think of it, we'll probably 
                         also need to meet before school.

               Lots of grumbling: "Say what?" "No way!" "Before school?" 
               I'ma be sleepwalking!"

                                     ROBERTA
                         You've heard of Navy Seal Training? 
                         Well, this is gonna be Roberta String 
                         Training.

               ANOTHER ANGLE - Two young men and two young women walk in, 
               carrying violins. We realize from the scar that one is NAEEM 
               (20), now a strikingly handsome man, over six feet tall. 
               With him is DE SEAN (19), a short guy with dreadlocks, looking 
               more like a rapper than a violinist. GUADALUPE (19), walking 
               with a cane, is now a beautiful young woman, her long braid 
               pinned up. The fourth is a reserved Puerto Rican woman (20).

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh my god! Naeem! De Sean!
                              (hugs them)
                         Guadalupe!

               She hugs her, then looks closely at the other woman.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lucy? Is that you?

               The woman snaps her fingers and smiles. Roberta laughs and 
               embraces her, then turns to the students.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Kids, these are four of my very first 
                         violin students and I've asked them 
                         to play in the concert with us.
                              (to the alumni)
                         I was just telling them how hard 
                         they're gonna have to work.

                                     DE SEAN
                              (to class)
                         Take it from me -- this lady don't 
                         lie. Y'all are gonna work your butts 
                         off.

               INT. RAMON'S HOUSE - NIGHT

               Ramon's father carefully reads the violin contract while 
               Ramon and Concepcion anxiously watch. He stops to look up a 
               word in the English-Spanish dictionary beside him. Ramon and 
               his mom are squirming. Manuelo nods as he finishes reading, 
               then SIGNS the contract. Ramon breaks into a smile, throws 
               his little arms around his Papa and kisses him.

               EXT. RIVER EAST - DAY

               School's letting out; Carlos' sister exits, carrying Carlos' 
               violin. A few beats later, Carlos quickly exits, checking 
               his watch. He sees his LOS LEONES teammates standing in a 
               group, and tries to bypass them without being noticed, but 
               they spot him.

                                     TEAMMATE #1
                         Hey Carlos! Where ya goin'? We got a 
                         game, remember?

                                     CARLOS
                         Yeah, I know, but... I can't make 
                         it.

                                     TEAMMATE #1
                         What you talkin' about?

                                     CARLOS
                         I just can't make it.

                                     TEAMMATE #2
                         You got a date with the violin 
                         teacher?

               A beat.

                                     CARLOS
                         Yeah. I do.

               He dashes off, a barrage of Spanish and English curses behind 
               him, and crosses to his sister, waiting for him DOWN THE 
               STREET. He takes the violin from her and carries it himself.

               INT. CPE MUSIC ROOM - DAY

               The Fiddlefest kids, including Carlos, Vanessa, Shandra, 
               Ramon, Stephanie, Amanda, Kenny, Simon, Thomas, De Sean and 
               Guadalupe practice Bach's "Minuet One," Roberta leading them 
               and giving direction. They're playing badly.

               Rachel plays as well, but walks around the room making 
               corrections. It's early morning, and the kids look half-
               asleep.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Frog! Frog! I need more accents on 
                         the down beat! More bow! More!

               They play a few more bars and still sound pretty bad.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Stop! Stop!
                              (they do so)
                         You sound horrible! Isn't anyone 
                         practicing?

                                     CARLOS
                         How can we practice? We're rehearsing 
                         all the time.

               Some kids laugh, including Stephanie.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to Stephanie)
                         You think this is funny, Stephanie?
                              (to all of them)
                         You think the four hundred people 
                         who've bought tickets so far will 
                         think it's funny too? You think Itzhak 
                         Perlman will think it's funny that 
                         he's donating his time and you're 
                         all gonna stink?

               Vanessa yawns and Roberta sees her. Uh-oh.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Am I boring you, Vanessa?

                                     VANESSA
                         No. It's 7:30 in the morning. I'm 
                         just tired.

                                     ROBERTA
                         There's no time to be tired.
                              (to all, getting her 
                              violin in position)
                         Let's try it again.

               INT. ARNOLD AND DOROTHEA'S APARTMENT - DAY

               Dorothea opens the door for Roberta who just charges in, 
               agitated, without even saying hello. We sense that Dorothea 
               too, is troubled by something.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I must have been crazy to agree to 
                         this. They're never gonna be ready. 
                         And you should hear the Bach Double! 
                         A disaster. So the good news is 
                         tickets are selling like hot cakes, 
                         but the bad news is that the kids 
                         sound like shit.

                                     DOROTHEA
                         There's more bad news... We've lost 
                         the Y.

               Roberta looks at her, aghast.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?!

                                     DOROTHEA
                         They had a flood -- a water heater 
                         burst... The concert hall was damaged 
                         and they've cancelled all events.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Until when?

                                     DOROTHEA
                         "Until further notice."

                                     ROBERTA
                         This can't happen! We've sold tickets! 
                         We've done publicity! The concert's 
                         in three weeks!

                                     DOROTHEA
                         I've been on the phone all morning 
                         calling other theaters. Nothing's 
                         available.

               They both sink into the couch, completely undone by this.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Just keep looking.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - NIGHT

               The Fiddlefest kids are crammed into Roberta's house, 
               (including De Sean, Guadalupe, Ramon, Vanessa, Shandra, 
               Carlos, Thomas, Stephanie, Amanda, Kenny, and Simon), 
               rehearsing "Orange Blossom Special." They play badly. Rachel 
               helps Roberta correct students.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Stop! Someone's playing the wrong 
                         notes! And you shouldn't need your 
                         music anymore! Except for the Bach 
                         Double, everything has to be memorized 
                         by next rehearsal!

               The kids look at each other, daunted.

                                     ROBERTA
                         And you sound like you're 
                         sleepwalking. Your heart's not even 
                         in it.

                                     VANESSA
                         Maybe 'cause we don't have a place 
                         for the concert.

               Roberta looks at her, and then notices the despondent looks 
               on many of the kids' faces.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Well, you're right. This might all 
                         be for nothing. So we can either 
                         keep on rehearsing in case we find a 
                         place -- or we can just... give up.

                                     DE SEAN
                         Am I hearing right? Did you use the 
                         words "give up"?
                              (to the students)
                         Let's take a vote. How many of you 
                         want to give up?

               No one raises a hand. Roberta takes this in.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         See? You taught us well.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - KITCHEN - DAY

               It's early morning. Lexi cooks breakfast while Nick and 
               Roberta look at scribbled-on, marked-up lists.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What about in the Bronx?

                                     NICK
                         There's nothing.
                              (beat)
                         Why don't you just do it in one of 
                         the schools? It'll be a lot smaller 
                         but --

                                     ROBERTA
                         We won't make enough money.

                                     LEXI
                         What about postponing it?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Itzhak and Arnold are booked all 
                         summer.

               They all look depressed. Lexi places an equally depressing-
               looking stack of pancakes on the table. There's a BANGING on 
               the door, startling everyone.

                                     DOROTHEA (O.S.)
                         It's Dorothea.

               Nick opens the door and Dorothea rushes in, out of breath, 
               talking a mile a minute.

                                     DOROTHEA
                         I have good news -- really good news. 
                         Arnold got a call from his friend 
                         Wally Scheur who heard about us losing 
                         the Y and wanted to see how he could 
                         help -- and then Wally had this 
                         brilliant idea and called his friend 
                         Isaac Stern and it's all arranged! 
                         We have a new place for Fiddlefest!

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where?

                                     DOROTHEA
                         Carnegie Hall.

               Dorothea grins from ear to ear, Nick and Lexi whoop and 
               holler, and all wait for Roberta to jump up and down for joy -- 
               but she looks stricken.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (panicked)
                         Carnegie Hall?

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - DAY

               CLOSE ON THE CEILING OF CARNEGIE HALL, revolving slowly.

               PULL BACK TO REVEAL THIS IS ROBERTA'S POV

               She stands on the empty stage, gazing at the ceiling as she 
               slowly turns around. She's holding her violin case. She looks 
               at the UPPER BALCONIES -- THE LOWER BALCONIES -- THE ORCHESTRA 
               SEATS. Her footsteps echo as she walks towards the front of 
               the stage, then stops.

               CLOSE ON ROBERTA

               We can see her imagining the audience on the night of the 
               concert. She can't believe her eyes. A beat, and she looks 
               around to make sure she's alone. She takes out her violin, 
               takes a deep breath as she looks out towards her "audience," 
               then starts to play the second violin part of the Bach Double 
               Concerto. Suddenly, there's the SOUND of a stage door opening. 
               Roberta stops.

                                     MALE VOICE (O.S.)
                         Incredible sound in this room, no?

               Roberta turns to see ISAAC STERN approaching her. She's 
               completely flustered.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh my god -- Isaac Stern.

                                     ISAAC STERN
                         You must be Roberta.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Thank you so much for helping us.

                                     ISAAC STERN
                              (looking out at the 
                              hall)
                         Would you believe in 1960, they tried 
                         to tear this place down? They wanted 
                         to replace it with a bright red 
                         skyscraper -- we called it "the red 
                         terror."

                                     ROBERTA
                         You're kidding.

                                     ISAAC STERN
                         We had to fight like hell, but with 
                         a lot of help, we saved Carnegie 
                         Hall.

               Roberta takes this in, relating it to her own struggle.

                                     ISAAC STERN
                         If it's all right with you, I'd like 
                         to play in your concert. Maybe bring 
                         a couple of friends...

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes, of course! That would be great!

               Isaac nods, then touches her shoulder.

                                     ISAAC STERN
                         Don't give up.

               EXT. SIDEWALK CAFE, UPPER WEST SIDE - DAY

               Roberta pours nervous energy into her cappuccino, adding 
               cinnamon, chocolate, and sugar, stirring loudly. Dan sits 
               across from her, observing.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I just don't see how I'm gonna do 
                         this. It's huge. It's gigantic! It's 
                         Carnegie Hall! And listen to this: 
                         now Isaac Stern wants to play with 
                         us -- Diane Monroe, Michael Tree -- 
                         there's other people calling --

                                     DAN
                         That's fantastic!

                                     ROBERTA
                         Fantastic? I'll never get the kids 
                         up to speed in time, I'll never get 
                         myself up to speed. I'm gonna be 
                         playing side by side with the world's 
                         greatest violinists.

                                     DAN
                         And "the world's greatest violinists" 
                         are playing side by side with you 
                         because they want to help you win 
                         this fight.

               He offers her a forkful of some decadent-looking chocolate 
               cake, but she shakes her head.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Yes, but... you don't understand. 
                         Maybe there's a good reason why I 
                         never made it as a violinist -- maybe 
                         I just can't cut it. I keep blaming 
                         it on not having enough early 
                         training, but if I were talented, if 
                         I had a gift --

                                     DAN
                         But you do have a gift. You're gonna 
                         put thirty East Harlem kids on stage 
                         at Carnegie Hall not because they're 
                         prodigies, but because you got them 
                         to stick with something that's hard 
                         as hell and to strive for excellence -- 
                         which, by the way, I certainly wasn't 
                         striving for when I was their age. 
                         Not to mention the other ten years' 
                         worth of students whose lives were 
                         changed because of you. That's your 
                         talent, Roberta.

               She takes this in, looks at him gratefully and puts her hand 
               over his. He strokes her hand.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I'm scared.

                                     DAN
                         I know.
                              (beat)
                         And by the way, I happen to think 
                         you're a pretty good violinist too.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You've barely heard me play.

                                     DAN
                         I've heard enough to know you're 
                         gonna do just fine.

               Roberta looks at him with trepidation. Dan takes another 
               forkful of his cake.

                                     DAN
                         Besides, no one's gonna be paying 
                         attention to your playing anyway.

               Roberta laughs. Dan smiles, glad he got her to lighten up.

               EXT. CPE 1 - DAY (EARLY MORNING)

               The Fiddlefest kids (including Ramon, Shandra, Vanessa, De 
               Sean, Naeem, Guadalupe, Lucy, Simon, Stephanie, Amanda and 
               Kenny -- but RACHEL is absent) stand outside the locked school 
               gate, waiting for Roberta. Some of the kids have their violins 
               out of the cases, tuning them.

                                     CARLOS
                         Teacher's late. I think she should 
                         be dropped, don't you?

               Kids laugh.

                                     RAMON
                         Yeah. I don't think we should let 
                         her play in Fiddlefest!

               A few kids start playing "CAN-CAN." It catches on, and more 
               of them join in. PASSERSBY stop to listen, and some drop 
               change into the open cases. RAMON and a couple of other kids 
               grin at this.

               CARLOS steps in front of the kids as he plays, and begins an 
               uncanny imitation of Roberta:

                                     CARLOS
                         More bow! To the frog! You sound 
                         terrible! I can't believe how terrible 
                         you sound!

               The kids crack up, but a few spot ROBERTA heading quickly up 
               the street. Carlos is oblivious to this -- and no one signals 
               him that Roberta's watching.

                                     CARLOS
                         You're gonna make everyone in Carnegie 
                         Hall sick to their stomachs! That's 
                         right, they're gonna pay a thousand 
                         dollars a ticket and you're gonna 
                         make them throw up on their gowns 
                         and tuxedos!

               Carlos senses a presence and turns to see Roberta. A tense 
               beat as he awaits her reaction.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (in all seriousness)
                         If you're gonna imitate me, do it 
                         right.
                              (corrects his posture)
                         Shoulders back. Violin higher. Check 
                         your feet. There.
                              (beat)
                         G'head, Carlos. Continue.

               Carlos freezes.

                                     CARLOS
                         No, that's O.K. You can take it from 
                         here.

               Roberta nods, and addresses the kids as she unlocks the gate.

                                     ROBERTA
                         He's right, by the way. You do sound 
                         terrible, and you are gonna make 
                         everyone in Carnegie Hall sick to 
                         their stomachs.

               The kids start filing in. Rachel comes up the street and 
               catches up to Roberta.

                                     RACHEL
                         I need to talk to you.

               Roberta sees how distressed Rachel looks.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (to kids)
                         I'll be right in. Start on Minuet 
                         One.
                              (to Rachel)
                         What's wrong?

                                     RACHEL
                         We're moving away.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What? Where are you moving?

                                     RACHEL
                              (looking downward)
                         It's a secret... My father... he's 
                         been hurting my mom... We have to 
                         leave.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (gently)
                         Has he been hurting you too?

               Rachel shakes her head no, then starts to cry a little.

                                     RACHEL
                         I'm sorry about Julliard... and the 
                         concert.

               She hands Roberta her violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Keep it. Take it with you.

                                     RACHEL
                         No... I don't want to play anymore.

                                     ROBERTA
                         What?! You can't give up violin, 
                         Rachel -- it's a part of you. A very 
                         important part.

               Rachel looks anguished. Roberta moves closer and touches her 
               arm.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Please honey. Just take it.

                                     RACHEL
                         I don't want to.

               Roberta looks at her, pained, then hugs her. Rachel quickly 
               kisses Roberta goodbye and exits. Roberta watches her.

               INT. CPE 1 - MUSIC ROOM - A LITTLE LATER

               Roberta leads De Sean, Naeem, Guadalupe, Lucy, Stephanie, 
               Thomas, Carlos, Erica and Nicholas in the Bach Double 
               Concerto. The other kids watch. Roberta's on the edge of 
               hysteria. She signals the players to stop.

                                     ROBERTA
                         No, no, no! Accent the up bow after 
                         the slurred notes and then it'll get 
                         you off of those slurred notes! You 
                         Double Concerto kids need to be 
                         working harder! This is the grand 
                         finale of the concert! You're each 
                         gonna be sharing a music stand with 
                         one of the world's greatest 
                         violinists!

               The kids say "the world's greatest violinists" along with 
               her -- they've obviously been hearing this a lot. Roberta 
               glares at them.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I think we should forget the Bach 
                         Double.
                              (to the other kids)
                         And you guys are never gonna get 
                         Minuet One. I think we should drop 
                         that too.

                                     VANESSA
                         No! We can do it, Roberta!

                                     CARLOS
                         And we'll get the Bach Double. We 
                         will.

               She stops, takes a breath.

                                     NAEEM
                         It's gonna be O.K., Roberta.

                                     ROBERTA
                              (vulnerable)
                         You think?

               All the kids nod. A few beats.

                                     ROBERTA
                         O.K...
                              (not believing it)
                         It's gonna be O.K.

               She crosses to take a look at her music, and the kids exchange 
               looks that say, "Oh shit. What did we just promise?"

               REHEARSAL MONTAGE - SERIES OF SHOTS - DAY

               1. Carlos practices violin against the fence around River 
               East School. In the b. g., his buddies make fun of him.

               2. Shandra practices in a school stairwell, ignoring a boy 
               who pulls one of her braids as he passes by.

               3. Stephanie practices at a bus stop, her eyes closed, then 
               looks up and realizes she's just missed her bus.

               4. Ramon practices in his living room, his father watching 
               attentively, then helping him lift the violin higher.

               5. Vanessa practices in a crowded school hallway, frustrated 
               as kids keep bumping into her.

               6. Roberta, in her nightgown, practices in front of her 
               refrigerator in the middle of the night.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - DAY (LATE AFTERNOON)

               Pandemonium. Nick and Lexi, both in tuxes, are doing several 
               tasks at once while Roberta, in a simple black velvet dress 
               and stockinged feet, tries to put on her makeup but keeps 
               poking her head out of the bathroom, giving orders. Allegra 
               BARKS outside the back door.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Nick -- did you feed Allegra?

                                     NICK
                              (fixing Lexi's tie)
                         Yes, Mom.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lexi, can you make sure the charts 
                         are still in my bag?

                                     LEXI
                         I already checked, Mom.

                                     ROBERTA (O.S.)
                         Check again, please. And look for my 
                         repair kit too.

               ASSUNTA descends the staircase, dressed in a formal dress. 
               She holds a small jewelry box and heads for the bathroom.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Bert, which earrings you want?

               Roberta sticks her head out and picks the earrings. Assunta 
               enters the small bathroom to work on her own makeup.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Nick? Get two more violins.

                                     NICK
                         You've already got two -- how many 
                         emergencies can there be?

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Get three more. And make sure a couple 
                         of them are half-size.

               Nick rolls his eyes and runs upstairs while Lexi organizes 
               things by the door: Nick's cello, Roberta's papers, extra 
               violins. Roberta rushes out of the bathroom, adjusting the 
               earrings. She starts compulsively straightening the house.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Lexi -- can you call about the car 
                         again?

                                     LEXI
                         Mom, they're not gonna forget to 
                         send a car!

               Nick comes running down the stairs with the violins and stares 
               in disbelief at Roberta fluffing a couch pillow.

                                     NICK
                         What are you doing?

                                     ROBERTA
                         Just straightening a little.

                                     NICK
                         You're insane, you know that?
                              (grabs the pillow)
                         Finish getting dressed!

               He throws the pillow onto the couch. Roberta heads upstairs.

               INT. CARLOS' ROOM - DAY

               IN THE MIRROR - Carlos adjusts his tuxedo. We see the 
               reflection of his baseball bat, glove and trophies in the 
               room behind him.

               INT. GUADALUPE'S ROOM - DAY

               Guadalupe's mom pins up her braid, then steps back to look 
               at her daughter, radiant in a floral gown. Her mom starts to 
               cry.

               INT. SHANDRA'S ROOM - DAY

               Beverly puts rhinestone-studded barrettes in Shandra's hair.

               INT. RAMON'S ROOM - DAY

               ON RAMON - He's in a sharp black suit and looks very dapper. 
               WIDER - Manuelo and Concepcion stand back to admire him, 
               then Manuelo straightens Ramon's tie, brimming with pride 
               over his son.

               INT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - FRONT ROOM - DAY

                                     ROBERTA (O.S.)
                         SHIT!

               Nick and Assunta look towards the stairs. Roberta comes 
               running down.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Can you believe this?

               She turns around, revealing a RIP on the back of the dress, 
               next to the zipper. The DOORBELL RINGS.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It can't be time! Is it time?

                                     ASSUNTA
                         I'll sew it in the car.

               EXT. ROBERTA'S BROWNSTONE - DAY

               Roberta, Assunta and the boys step outside, amazed to see a 
               STRETCH LIMOUSINE double-parked in front, a CHAUFFEUR waiting.

                                     LEXI
                         See? I told you they'd send a car.

               Roberta's open-mouthed. She leads her entourage towards the 
               limo. THE NEIGHBORS come out of their houses to watch. Some 
               lean out windows, gawking. Ad libs... "Who's that?" "It's 
               the Violin Lady!" LAWRENCE, dressed in a tux, gives Lexi a 
               high sign.

               The chauffeur helps Roberta and Assunta into the limo while 
               Nick and Lexi start to load the instruments into the trunk.

               INT. LIMOUSINE - CONTINUOUS

               Roberta sits down beside Assunta and turns around so Assunta 
               can mend the tear in her dress. Assunta partially unzips the 
               dress and starts stitching it from the inside.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Thank you, Mama.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Don't worry about it. You rip -- I 
                         sew.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Not just for that.
                              (beat)
                         Thank you for getting me out of bed.

               Assunta stitches, remembering, and smiles.

                                     ASSUNTA
                         Don't thank me -- thank Charles.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Charles?!

                                     ASSUNTA
                         If that jerk hadn't of left you, 
                         none of this would've happened.

               Roberta contemplates this. A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Thank you, Charles.

               Her last stitch finished, Assunta rips the needle from the 
               thread.

               EXT. CARNEGIE HALL - ESTABLISHING - DUSK

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACK STAGE - NIGHT

               The kids and their parents are practically boiling over with 
               excitement. Last minute kisses, violin tunings, and clothing 
               adjustments take place throughout the room.

               The boys are in suits or tuxes, the girls in velvet or 
               flowered dresses, some with bows in their hair, some with 
               their hair up in buns. Roberta tries to take a head count, 
               Dorothea confers with a stage manager, Assunta fixes a boy's 
               tie, and Janet helps one girl with her hair, stopping in the 
               middle to button the back of another girl's dress.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Where's Vanessa? Has anyone seen 
                         Vanessa?

               Janet looks at her, concerned.

                                     JANET
                         I'll call her house.

               ANGLE - Roberta sees MRS. ADISA enter the room with Naeem. 
               The two women walk towards each other and embrace. As they 
               start to chat, Roberta suddenly sees someone and excuses 
               herself: BRIAN is walking towards her, wearing a tux. They 
               smile at each other, but Roberta's clearly a bit shaken to 
               see him. They're not quite sure how to greet each other -- 
               he takes her hand, and then kisses her on the cheek.

                                     BRIAN
                         Congratulations.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Thank you...

                                     BRIAN
                         I knew you'd get here sooner or later. 
                         I'm glad I'm here to see it.

               A beat.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I am too.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACKSTAGE WINGS AREA - NIGHT

               Guadalupe shyly approaches Itzhak Perlman, her mother behind 
               her, silently encouraging her.

                                     GUADALUPE
                         Excuse me, Mr. Perlman?

               He turns around.

                                     GUADALUPE
                              (extends a hand)
                         I'm Guadalupe. I've wanted to meet 
                         you for a long time.

               He smiles at her and they shake hands.

                                     ITZHAK PERLMAN
                         A pleasure to meet you, Guadalupe.

               As Guadalupe introduces him to her mother, CARLOS approaches.

                                     CARLOS
                         You nervous, Mr. Perlman?

                                     ITZHAK PERLMAN
                         Should I be?

                                     CARLOS
                         Us kids are gonna be great -- I don't 
                         know about you guys. How much did 
                         you practice?

               Itzhak Perlman laughs.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACK STAGE - NIGHT

               Roberta talks to Janet with a worried expression.

                                     ROBERTA
                         You called Vanessa's father and 
                         mother?

                                     JANET
                         No answer at either.

               A Carnegie Hall staff person in a suit enters.

                                     STAFF PERSON
                         Half hour call! It's now half hour 
                         call! So pace yourself accordingly. 
                         Don't get more than thirty minutes 
                         worth of nervous!

               The room electrifies with nerves.

               VANESSA

               rushes into the room with her father. She's out of breath, 
               her stocking has a big run in it, and she's in tears.

                                     VANESSA
                         They stole the car!

                                     MR. KLEIN
                         With the violin.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Oh my God.
                              (calling)
                         Nick, Lexi --

                                     NICK
                         Done.

               The boys rush over to the extra violins and look to find the 
               right size.

                                     VANESSA
                              (crying)
                         And then when we were getting a taxi, 
                         I fell down.

               Roberta comforts her and Janet moves in.

                                     JANET
                         C'mon honey -- let's get you cleaned 
                         up.

               ANGLE - DAN enters with a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses. 
               He's in a tux and looks very handsome. He crosses to Roberta, 
               hands her the flowers, and they hug.

                                     DAN
                         You're glowing.

                                     ROBERTA
                         It's terror.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - NIGHT

               The hall is filling to capacity as people take their seats, 
               the room buzzing with voices.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACKSTAGE - NIGHT

               The CARNEGIE HALL staff person enters.

                                     STAFF PERSON
                         FIVE MINUTE CALL. WE NOW HAVE FIVE 
                         MINUTES.

               The tension in the room shoots sky high.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - STAGE - PODIUM - NIGHT

               Janet stands onstage and addresses the audience.

                                     JANET
                         When I became the principal of Central 
                         Park East Elementary, I envisioned a 
                         school where children could fulfill 
                         their highest potential, despite the 
                         challenges of poverty and racism. 
                         Ten years ago, Roberta Guaspari walked 
                         into my office because she needed a 
                         job, and because she had a vision 
                         that any child could learn the violin. 
                         We put our dreams together and created 
                         the East Harlem Violin Program which 
                         has helped more than a thousand 
                         students expand their vision of what's 
                         possible in their lives. When a 
                         program like this is cut, our 
                         children's future is compromised. I 
                         want to thank you for your support. 
                         Enjoy the concert.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACKSTAGE - NIGHT

               In the b.g. we hear the audience APPLAUDING Janet. Roberta 
               holds up her hands to quiet down the anxious students.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Everyone -- attention please!

               They become quiet.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I want you all to take a second just 
                         to breathe, O.K.? Deep breath.

               The kids breathe.

                                     ROBERTA
                         I would like you all to play with 
                         your heart, all right? Play like I 
                         know you can play. You'll be 
                         wonderful. Watch me, don't look out 
                         in the audience -- you don't need to 
                         be afraid. It's gonna be really 
                         wonderful. So play -- play from here.

               She pats her heart.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACKSTAGE CORRIDOR - NIGHT

               The kids head out towards the stage, the APPLAUSE getting 
               louder as they get closer.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - STAGE - NIGHT

               CRANE SHOT of the children on stage, in their positions.

               REVERSE SHOT - FOUR FILLED BALCONIES

               BACK TO THE STAGE

               Some of the kids look awestruck by the audience; one subtly 
               waves hi to her family. Roberta walks out to APPLAUSE. She 
               bows to the audience, turns to the kids, signals them with a 
               slight nod and the BACH MINUET ONE begins. We've heard it in 
               all phases, and now it is flawless.

               PAN the STUDENTS watching her: VANESSA, wearing a corsage; 
               SIMON in his red bow tie; SHANDRA in black velvet with pearls; 
               NAEEM standing proud and tall, DE SEAN in dreadlocks and a 
               tux; RAMON playing from his heart...

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACK STAGE - CONTINUOUS

               Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Michael Tree, Arnold Steinhardt, 
               Diane Monroe, Karen Briggs and Mark O'Connor wait back stage, 
               chatting and listening to the kids.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - THE STAGE - MOMENTS LATER

               The students finish MINUET ONE. There's an exquisite moment 
               of silence, then APPLAUSE.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - THE STAGE - LATER

               Country fiddler MARK O'CONNOR plays ORANGE BLOSSOM SPECIAL 
               with the kids. He improvises, surprising them as his violin 
               makes the sound of a TRAIN moving through a tunnel.

               RAMON smiles, awed by this -- but he remains calm and 
               professional.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - BACK STAGE CORRIDOR - LATER

               As the guest violinists head for the stage, we hear their 
               names over a mike, mixed with APPLAUSE:

                                     MALE VOICE (V.O.)
                         Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman, Arnold 
                         Steinhardt, Diane Monroe, Michael 
                         Tree, Mark O'Connor and Karen Briggs.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - STAGE - MOMENTS LATER

               CRANE SHOT of the six guest violinists on stage for the Grand 
               Finale, each one sharing a music stand with a student. Roberta 
               nods, and they begin THE BACH DOUBLE CONCERTO. She turns to 
               face the audience as she joins them.

               MOVE IN AND PAN the performers and students: NAAEM shares a 
               stand with ARNOLD STEINHARDT; ISAAC STERN stands and plays 
               with GUADALUPE, sitting beside him; ITZHAK PERLMAN sits and 
               plays next to CARLOS, standing beside him; MICHAEL TREE plays 
               beside DE SEAN; DIANE MONROE plays beside LUCY; KAREN BRIGGS 
               plays beside THOMAS, and MARK O'CONNOR plays beside STEPHANIE. 
               NICK plays cello; LEXI plays the piano behind them; and, 
               playing with her own solo music stand, ROBERTA.

               Their expressions are serious and passionate, broken by 
               occasional smiles lighting on faces: Isaac Stern... Lucy... 
               Carlos... Itzhak Perlman... Diane Monroe... De Sean.

               The song finishes and the APPLAUSE begins. The OTHER 
               FIDDLEFEST PLAYERS come out from back stage, RAMON in front, 
               and join the rest. More applause. The CAMERA PULLS BACK TO 
               INCLUDE the audience facing the stage, then REVERSES to show 
               the audience standing in the orchestra and balconies.

               We see the students' PARENTS; JANET, ISABEL and their 
               families; ASSUNTA, LAWRENCE and DOROTHEA; DAN; CONCEPCION, 
               MANUELO and their sons; BRIAN; and DENNIS -- even he can't 
               stop himself from applauding.

               BACK AGAIN to the stage where the students and guest 
               violinists bow... and MOVE IN CLOSER on ROBERTA in her moment 
               of triumph.

               INT. CARNEGIE HALL - STAGE - PODIUM - MOMENTS LATER

               Roberta addresses the audience. Her voice is strong but softer 
               around the edges; she is a woman in a state of grace.

                                     ROBERTA
                         We're all here tonight because we 
                         have a bigger mission: to take the 
                         magical spirit of tonight's concert 
                         with us out into the world, and to 
                         fight for music and art to be a part 
                         of every child's education. Thank 
                         you.

               The APPLAUSE is DEAFENING, then slowly diminishes as we:

                                                               DISSOLVE TO:

               INT. CPE 1 - MUSIC CLASSROOM - DAY

               Roberta addresses ten first-graders sitting in a circle on 
               the floor. She points to the horsehair on her bow.

                                     ROBERTA
                         And this? What's this?

                                     BOY
                         The frog hair?

               Roberta and the kids laugh.

                                     ROBERTA
                         Did you ever see a frog with hair?

               The boy smiles and shakes his head.

                                     A FEW KIDS
                         It's horsehair!

                                     ROBERTA
                         That's right.
                              (to the boy)
                         But you're right, there is a frog. 
                         Can you show me where it is?

               One girl raises her hand with urgency.

                                     GIRL
                         Ooh! I know!

                                     ROBERTA
                         Sssh -- let him answer.

               The boy points to the frog of the bow and Roberta smiles. 
               And as she continues her lesson, her voice recedes and we:

                                                                  FADE OUT:

                                         THE END

               CRAWL:

               Roberta Guaspari lives in East Harlem with her daughter Sofia, 
               whom she adopted from El Salvador. Nick is a professional 
               cellist in a graduate music program, and Alexi has been 
               accepted to medical school.

               Roberta teaches violin to approximately 150 students a year 
               in three East Harlem elementary schools. The East Harlem 
               Violin Program, however, is still not funded by the New York 
               City Board of Education.

               The money raised from Fiddlefest supported Roberta's violin 
               program for three years. Roberta and Opus 118 continue their 
               fundraising efforts to keep the program alive.