Capital in Crisis
1 February 2011 |
This hour long documentary will be the first full episode of the 7-part “Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.” It’s the end of sweltering summer and the capital of the United States is under siege. From the airless alleys of a neighborhood called Helltown—jammed with thousands of political refugees—to the mansions of cabinet members and diplomats, scores of people fall ill and die from a mysterious disease that baffles medical experts. After two weeks, politicians finally acknowledge the crisis—but the death toll continues to mount. Across the city, dozens of funerals are held each day. By the fourth week, with still no certain explanation, and fear mounting, all essential government operations are forced to relocate. The Treasury Secretary is stricken. The President flees. Soon Congress follows on his heels. On most days, all that’s left is silence. Authorities have even banned the tolling of church bells for fear of further upsetting the public.
Avian flu? Swine flu? Or bio-terrorism? No, the epidemic is something doctors call “Yellow Fever,” so named for the pallor of its victims. The year: 1793. The city: Philadelphia. The result: more than one in ten are dead, America’s first great city lies in ruins. The country itself is teetering in the midst of a diplomatic crisis. Anger and resentment linger, as does a mystery: what’s the source of this modern plague? And on everyone’s minds: what to do about it?
This film is in pre-development, awaiting funding. I am the screenwriter.