Jim Joins the Network (1981)
(theme song playing)
Who am I kidding?
I just don't have it in me to be a good television executive.
I'm... I'm too concerned about people liking me.
I-I'm too afraid to get tough.
Janine, when you're against the wall, you always come through.
But I've got something really unpleasant to do, and I don't think I can do it.
You'll do it, because your sense of responsibility will make you do it.
And you'll do it great.
JANINE: I don't think so.
I'm so nervous about it.
MAN: Janine, you can do it.
Maybe you're right.
Of course, I'm right.
Okay, here goes.
I'm gonna have to fire you.
Mitch, if the ratings don't come up next week, you're fired.
Oh, driver, I'll get out here.
Oh, you helped me again.
Thanks a million.
I don't know what I'm gonna do without you.
(clears throat) Ah.
You can't live with 'em, you can't live without 'em.
You're in television, right?
You look pretty young to be a network executive.
Well, it's a young man's profession.
In my business, you can be burnt out by the time your skin clears up.
You know, I've always wondered how the networks decide what shows to put on.
It's a lot of complex variables.
We-We look at sex, education, income.
It's-It's very scientific.
Oh, then how come you took off Star Trek?
That was my favorite show.
I really miss Star Trek.
Well, actually, that wasn't even my network.
But the point is is that...
The only guy I didn't like was the leader of the Romulans.
Well, you see...
It wasn't the actor's fault.
It was the script.
They gave him things to say that no Romulan would ever say.
Well, I guess you might as well drive me home now.
I-I live at Central Park West and 68th...
So... any, uh, new shows coming on?
Oh, yeah, sure, all the time.
For instance, we're trying out a couple tonight.
Well, the first one is very, very, very good.
We're very excited about it.
It's-It's a special one-hour presentation of Hometown Girl.
That's our most popular daytime soap opera.
That one's a winner.
Oh, what's the other one?
That one's trouble.
It's musical variety.
Oh, oh, oh. I love musical variety.
What is it?
The Pittsburgh Steelers at Marineland.
Would you mind hearing an opinion?
You've got it backward.
The marine show will win big.
The soap opera will get clobbered... everywhere except Chicago.
Were you ever in the business?
No, I-I just have these hunches.
For no reason at all, I'll suddenly see something happening in the future, and it usually comes true.
Yeah, well, let's-let's make a deal, okay?
You don't tell me how to program television shows, and I won't tell you how to drive a cab, okay?
(horns honking loudly)
Why are you heading into the exit of the Lincoln Tunnel?
Oh, oh, oh! Remember our deal.
(tires squealing, loud honking of horns)
Does anyone happen to know why there's white powder all over Louie's cage?
Oh, yeah, I bet I know what that is.
That's rat poison.
It'll never work.
He brings his own lunch.
Louie's convinced that we have a mouse in the garage, so I-I bet he dusted his cage with that stuff.
What's going on here?
Jim, we're trying to figure out what this white powder is.
No, no, no, Jim!
That could be rat poison!
Oh. Oh, oh, oh. Oh.
Hey! Get away from there!
Don't touch anything!
Just as I thought.
What? What? What?
My little plan worked.
What does that look like to you?
A set of tiny footprints!
And what does that tell you?
You just had a dance lesson?
We got a mouse, Reiger.
He walked through the powder, and now he's tracking it all over the garage.
His little footprints are gonna lead me right to him.
ALEX: The American sportsman in action.
I'm gonna find out where he's hiding.
Then I'm gonna surround the place with mousetraps.
As soon as that little sucker moves a muscle, Minnie's a widow.
Louie, come on!
Come on, you're not gonna really set traps, are you?
Traps are so cruel.
Please, I hate to see even a helpless little mouse suffer.
LOUIE: Yeah, and as soon as that helpless little mouse scurries across the floor, you know who's gonna be standing on that table, screeching like a banshee, don't you?
Maybe I would, but that still don't mean you should kill it.
He's back in there.
No time for love, Nardo.
I'm looking for a mouse here.
Louie, you don't want to have to spend money on traps, do you?
If you let us catch the mouse alive, then not only have we saved his life, but we'll save you a couple of bucks, too.
You always know how to appeal to my finer instincts, Nardo.
All right, okay, go ahead.
You try it your way, but if you guys don't catch him pretty quick, little pink-eyes gets a metal necktie.
Hi. Do you remember me?
I'm the guy in television.
Oh. Raymond Burr!
No, no, no, I'm not... I'm not Raymond Burr.
My name is Mitch Harris.
I'm the television executive you had in your cab last night.
Uh, what can I do for you?
I need your help desperately.
Everything that you predicted about last night's shows came true.
You were even right about Chicago.
Oh, it's no big deal.
Yes, it is!
What-What you did went against all conventional wisdom.
Oh, it's just some kind of crazy knack.
Jim, I have to ask you a favor.
I want you to come into my office and do what you did last night in the cab.
You know, just-just tell me your hunches about television shows.
My job is hanging by a thread!
I-I'm just asking for a few hours of your time.
It's been a long-standing policy with me to turn down any executive offers that came my way.
I'm sorry. I can't do it.
Jim, if you had had this chance a few years ago, you could have saved Star Trek.
What do you say, Jim?
Shall we boldly go where no man has ever gone before?
Louie, I need to take the rest of the afternoon off.
I'm gonna go save television.
MITCH: See anything that impresses you so far?
Oh, yeah, yeah.
The one where the train smashed into those cars, and then the cars go through the house and over the cliff.
Oh, you mean Stunt Wife.
Well, you pray for ideas like that to come along.
Ah, look, Jim, there's something that I haven't mentioned yet, but in case somebody walks in, I think we're gonna need an identity for you.
Well, to explain what you're doing here.
You know, I mean, if people found out that I was basing my decisions on your hunches, it might not sit too well with the top brass.
Let me see. Who could you be?
No offense, but you don't really look like my lawyer or my accountant.
Oh, I suppose a periodontist is out.
I've got a brush and polish in this top drawer.
If someone walks in from upstairs, you came to shine my shoes.
It would really save a lot of embarrassment, you know?
I don't mind.
Okay, now let's take a look at this schedule.
You see, Tuesday night is always the biggest problem.
It has been for years.
Excuse me, Mr. Harris.
Oh, I'm, uh, just looking over the schedule before I shine his shoes.
Okay, now these are the shows that we're considering for Tuesday night, Jim.
MAN (on TV): What's the matter?
You never seen one of these before?
WOMAN (on TV): Yeah, but under the bed.
Not on your head.
Oh, oh, oh.
And here's-here's a game show that tested very well.
It's kind of an updated version of Truth or Consequences with celebrity contestants.
MAN (on TV): All right, if you guess right, you'll move one step closer to the giant jackpot.
But if you guess wrong, well, you know what happens to your celebrity partner.
What's in that big tank over Paul Lynde's head?
This is great!
Yeah, it is... it is great.
We kind of see it, though, as a summer replacement.
This is a winner!
The problem would be, I guess, where to place it.
Hold it! Hold it!
Uh, hunch, hunch.
Uh... well, maybe Friday at 8:00?
At 9:00 on Friday the competition has a new James Bond movie and Brooke Shields Turns 17.
You want to put a game show on opposite that?
I'm just tellin' you my hunch.
I've got a crazy feeling it could win there.
9:00 on Friday?
(mutters): Don't-don't talk.
I can't believe that I'm letting a cabdriver off the street do my job for me.
Hey, don't feel bad.
If you could do your job, you would!
Okay, I've got the mousetrap.
Jason finished it this morning.
That's an impressive little device your son cooked up.
Yeah, it looks slick.
But I don't think it's gonna work.
I mean, no mouse is gonna be dumb enough to walk right up in here and get himself caught.
Don't get encouraged, Nardo.
Just because Banta fell for it, doesn't mean a mouse will.
Yeah, just a minute.
It's right there in your hand.
It's a phone call for you!
The guy at the network.
Hi, Mitch, how's it goin'?
Wow, that's terrific!
If you can't tell me how happy you are, why did you call?
I'll-I'll drop by later this afternoon.
Jim, what happened? Tell us.
The network won Friday night in the ratings for the first time in two years.
ELAINE: Oh, that's wonderful.
TONY: I can't believe it.
You're kidding me!
Oh, do you know what this means?
This means you're gonna be a big shot at the network.
I mean, you're gonna have an office and an expense account.
This is your ticket outta here, Jim.
Oh, they must be paying you a fortune. Ooh!
Uh, well, "fortune" is a relative term.
Well, how much are they paying you?
But what are they doing for you?
Uh, as a matter of fact, they treat me like a shoeshine boy.
Well, it's probably my own fault.
While I'm there, I shine the guy's shoes.
Jim, this is ridiculous.
You're being taken advantage of.
That guy's gonna get all the credit and you're not gonna get any recognition at all.
Hey, it's thanks enough to me that he's walking around with a nice shine on his shoes.
Every time he gets a compliment on his shoes, it reflects on me. Jim!
I'm not talkin' about shoes!
God, sometimes you can infuriate me, you know that?
ELAINE: Oh, wait a minute, Alex.
What are you getting so upset about?
It's not his fault.
Yes, it is his fault, Elaine.
Some people in this world make themselves victims, and Jim is one of them.
People who invite other people to walk all over them.
He's letting that guy walk all over him.
Wait a minute, Alex.
What can I do?
How can I change? Help me.
Jim, there's only one person...
There's only one person in this life that can help you.
There's only one person you can trust.
I do trust you, Alex.
Not me, damn it!
Jim, when do you finally stand up and assert yourself?
Wrong answer. You say when.
Now, Jim, now!
Start standing up for yourself right now!
You have dignity and value as a human being and it's high time that that Mitch person knew it.
Value? That's right.
Thank you, Alex.
This little conversation has been an eye-opener for me.
If you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go have a little talk with that old buddy of mine, Mitch. Good!
About a little thing called human dignity.
Don't give me that.
I've got a little news for you, Mitch.
I'm not gonna be shining shoes anymore.
And not just because I'm outta black.
It's more than just that.
It's a lot more.
It's got to do with a little thing called human dignity.
You ever heard of that, Mitch?
I've been doing your work for you.
You've been taking all the credit.
Jim, you're right.
The only explanation I can give you is that I was afraid.
I was afraid that if they found out, I'd-I'd lose my job.
And I know that's no excuse, Jim, but I wasn't just thinking of myself.
I was thinking of them.
You know them?
These are my children, Arlene, Bennet and Dorothy.
Boy, I bet they say some cute things.
They do. Like what?
Well, I can't think of anything now...
Well, I'll take your word for it.
You know, maybe it would be good for them.
Maybe it'd be good for all of us to cut back a little bit, not have it so soft.
Oh, that would be terrible.
Bennet's gonna need braces.
No, no... don't-don't try to talk me out of it, Jim.
My mind's made up.
Mitch, they're having a victory party down the hall.
Everybody's asking for you, so come on.
No, no, Janine, come in, please.
I have something to tell you.
I had nothing to do with the schedule.
That man is the one who did it all.
Jim, here, is a programming genius.
Well, I guess the cat's outta the bag.
Mitch, they're waiting for us at the party.
I can't go up there and take credit for something that he did.
Oh, Mitch, all of us here are always asking people's opinions about television.
All our friends, our lovers, the man on the street, even the shoeshine boy.
I've gotten advice, darn good advice, from my hairdresser.
My nephews picked our 6:00 news team.
Now, what does it matter in the final analysis how we arrived at those choices?
The point is we made the final decisions and we stuck to them.
Now I'm going to that party.
The champagne's getting warm.
It was nice meeting you.
I'll see you at the party, Mitch.
Yeah, I'll-I'll see you at the party.
JIM: I love champagne. Jim!
And-and do they have shrimp? Jim? Jim...
Those... I love those big shrimp. Right.
Yeah, Jim, you know, and I'd-I'd love to invite you to the party, but I-I think it would be a little bit awkward having you there.
You sure? I guess so.
But-but listen, first thing Monday morning I'm gonna talk to someone about getting you an office and a salary.
No, no, no, no, I...
I can't accept any money.
I just wouldn't feel right.
My ability to see glimpses of the future is a gift from God and I refuse to abuse it or taint it by using it for financial gain.
Well, Jim, if that's how you feel...
Uh, you can pay me for the shoe shine.
How much do I owe you?
At last we meet!
What to do, what to do...
I could flush you.
Send you bodysurfing down the tubes.
A little sewer snack for some alligator.
I could leave you in this jar for another 15 minutes.
Just my luck you're a baby.
All right, I'll give ya a fair chance.
Heads, I set you free.
Tails, you're a dead mouse.
Here, look here.
Huh? Huh? Huh?
Nah, I was only kiddin'.
All right, all right, get outta here.
Get outta my garage.
Go on, go on.
(theme song playing)
WOMAN: Good night, Mr. Walters!