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All's Fair in Love and WENN

By Emma Redmer

Rated: G

Disclaimer is on the Introduction Page.

February 9th, 1945

Betty Sherwood knocked lightly on the door to her husband's office. "Scott?" she called. "It's me, Betty."

"Just a minute!" Betty heard the tail end of another one of Scott's mysterious government calls. They came with more frequency ever since she came back from Elkhart. She would give anything to know what he was up to. He changed the subject when she asked about it. "Ok, Betty, come in."

"Hi, Scotty," she said, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "The new owner of Hampton's Vegetable Soup is on his way to meet us."

"That's right," Scott admitted, "he has an idea for a show that he wants us to consider."

"He was very vague about it," Betty told her husband. "Said he'd explain it when he got here." Betty smiled as she listened to the radio. "Scott, what do you think of my new story line for 'This Girl's Kinfolk'?"

Scott chuckled. "I think that if it gets any closer to real life, you might as well just call Becky and Steve Scott and Betty."

"You don't think it's too hokey, do you?"

"Well, I..." Scott's words were cut off by the arrival of Gertie. "Betty, Mr. Jurrington of Hampton's Vegetable Soup is here." A tall, lean man followed her.

"Thank you, ma'am," Jurrington said quickly as Gertie left.

Betty shook Jurrington's hand. "Thank you, sir. I'm Betty Sherwood, and this is my husband, Scott."

Scott shook Jurrington's hand as well. "We were told that you have an idea for a new show."

Jurrington nodded and sat down in the visitor's chair. "As the new owner of Hampton's Vegetable Soup, I'm trying to create a new, more contemporary image for the company. It's been bogged down in saccharine coziness and country quaintness since its inception. What we need is a show that will prove to the world that soup is more than just a quick pick-me-up for farmers and rural hicks. Something glamorous and cosmopolitan."

"Betty and I served our daughter Hampton's Vegetable Soup for lunch, Mr. Jurrington," Scott said proudly.

Betty shot him a look. "And, as I recall, she wouldn't eat it. Said it was yucky."

Jurrington pasted a fake smile on his face and ignored Betty. "What I had in mind is a show set in the most glamorous and beautiful place on earth, a place where there is nothing but beautiful people and beautiful scenery and magic and the most up-to-date everything - Hollywood!"

"What a fresh and original idea, Mr. Jurrington," Scott exclaimed. "A radio show that will take you deep into the heart of the best-known city in the universe!"

"Hampton's Vegetable Soup is willing to go all out on this show. Big guest stars, fancy costumes for your regular actors, the works!" Jurrington declared. "We'll call it 'Hampton Studios'."

"This sounds wonderful," Betty said. "There are so many different types in Hollywood stories. We'd have to have the gossip columnist, and the struggling screenwriter, and the big diva, and the little starlet who just arrived in Hollywood from the middle of nowhere for her big break." Betty looked dreamy. "I wonder if I should make the starlet more like Trish or Becky from 'This Girl's Kinfolk'? It'll be so..."

"Oh, by the way," Jurrington said offhandedly, "I'm canceling 'This Girl's Kinfolk'."

Scott and Betty both looked at him in shock. "Say that again?" Betty asked.


"But...but..." stammered Giselle Bedeux, "that is not right! 'This Girl's Kinfolk' was Betty's favorite program!" She sighed as she finished her egg salad sandwich from the Buttery. "And mine as well. I always wondered what it would be like to have a family like Becky's."

"Right or not, it's gone as of tomorrow," Mackie Bloom explained. He picked up his coffee. "I don't like it any more than you do, kiddo. That was really rotten of Jurrington to spring that on us. We could have used more time to get used to the idea."

Seven-year-old Mary Foley nodded as she threw the almost-year-old Agatha Sherwood her favorite ball. "Jurrin'tin bad," Aggie stated.

"I think so, too," added Mary. "Aunt Betty is really upset. I think she cried. So did Mommy."

Hilary Booth Singer stormed into the green room with her own daughter Lia in tow. "Ooooohhh, what I wouldn't do to get my hands on that Marc Jurrington! If I had my way, he'd be tied to a train track with the heaviest chains in Pittsburgh and left there while the rest of us stand there laughing as the train carries his remains to the most remote corners of Pennsylvania!"

"Mommy's mad," Lia told them. "Jurrin'tin made her mad."

"I take it you read the script for Jurrington's newest opus," Mackie said.

"Well," Mary grumbled impatiently, "why did Mr. Jurrington decide to take 'This Girl's Kinfolk' off the air if everyone liked it?"

"Because it didn't fit the image he wants to create for his company," Hilary said. "He wants to polish Hampton's to a hard shine."

"Yeah, and polish off anything that stands in his way," Mackie added. He sat down and skimmed the script in his hands. "I don't think Betty's heart was really in this script. It's not one of her best."

"Not one of her best?" Hilary shouted. "It makes 'Valiant Journey' sound like Shakespeare!" She tossed her script on the table. "And what on earth possessed Betty to cast me as an aging gossip columnist who gushes over ever big star in Los Angeles like they were real actors? She knows what happened the last time I related gossip over the airwaves!"

"I am playing a little girl from the country who becomes a star-et," Giselle said, "but I do not play a nice girl. I feel funny, reading this. It is not like Betty's writing. It's so..."

"Stupid?" Hilary suggested.

"Harsh," Mackie corrected. He gulped his coffee. "I can't believe that this is what Jurrington thinks of as modern. Hasn't he ever seen 'Oklahoma'?"

"Hasn't he ever seen a decent script?" added Hilary sarcastically.

Giselle turned on the radio. "Might as well hear the end of the show," she said.

"And the worst thing is that Betty ended on three cliffhangers," Hilary added. "Becky's old flame John came back from the dead and confronted her husband Steve."

"Yeah, and Miss Petunia just proposed to Uncle Charlie," Mackie went on.

"And Trish just found out that her fiancée is wed to someone else," Giselle finished. She started morosely at her cup of cocoa. "I guess we will never know the answers."

"...And that concludes the program 'This Girl's Kinfolk'," Maple announced. "Stay tuned for 'US Bandstand', followed by 'Twenty Miles From Paris', and the premiere of the most spectacular new program ever to be broadcast on WENN, 'Hampton Studios'."

Scott hobbled through the door as Giselle left, only to be the recipient of five angry looks. "Oh, come on, guys!" Scott exclaimed. "This wasn't my fault! I didn't know what Jurrington had up his sleeve, honest!"

"Did Scott Sherwood just use the word honest?" Mackie asked. He lightly punched Scott on his arm. "Scotty, are you slipping on us?"

"No," Scott snapped, "but this deal wasn't my idea. I didn't know that he was going to cancel 'Kinfolk'," he snapped his fingers, "just like that!" Scott shrugged. "I don't like it either, but Jurrington has a point. 'Kinfolk's had low ratings since it first went on the air."

Aggie tugged on her father's pant leg. "Up, Daddy!"

Scott pulled the little girl into his arms. "Whoa," he grunted, "you're getting to be a big girl, Aggie!"

Everyone stood when Betty came in. Her eyes were red and she sniffled, but she accepted the staff's condolences and told them that she was fine.

"We'll go out to dinner tonight, Betty," Scott stated, "just the three of us. Well," Scott rubbed his wife's swelling stomach, "maybe the four of us."

"I don't know why I'm acting like this, Scotty," Betty said. "It's just a radio show. I poured my heart into it for five years, but it's no big deal. I mean, shows go off the air every day. For every success, there has to be a failure, right?" No one answered her.

Aggie patted her mother's arm. "It ok, Mommy."

Betty stroked her daughter's thick black hair and began laughing and crying at the same time. "It is, isn't it, sweetie? It was just a radio show." She hugged her daughter and husband as best she could with her growing belly. "It was just make believe. Becky wasn't real, and Trish wasn't real, and Uncle Charlie wasn't real, and Bonnyville Mills wasn't real."

Scott wiped the tears from her eyes. "But they were to you."

"And to us," Hilary added. The others nodded in agreement.

Aggie hugged her mother. "Mommy sad." She gave her a kiss. "All good now?"

Betty laughed and wiped her face with her wrist. "Yes, all better." She gave Aggie back to her daddy. "I'm going to finish the scripts for 'Six O'Clock Circus' at four and then we'll have an early dinner, Scotty."

Scott watched her as she went back to the writer's room. He grinned. Hilary narrowed her eyes. "Uh oh."

"Uh oh wat?" Lia asked.

"Uncle Scott has an idea," Mackie explained. "Some of his ideas get very exciting."

"Id'a!" exclaimed Aggie.

"Unca Scott tell!" Lia said.

"Tell what?" Maple inquired as she entered the green room.

Scott sat on the couch with Aggie beside him and beckoned to the others to do the same or at least get close. "I have a humdinger of a scheme. It'll make your Mommy very happy, Aggie."

"Yeah!" the little girl squealed.

"Hoo boy, here we go," muttered Mackie.


Jurrington sat in the control room with Betty and Lester. "We're all set to go, Betty," Lester said.

Betty nodded and sniffled. Jurrington didn't notice. "Isn't the first day of a new production exciting, Mrs. Sherwood? This is so much better than some outdated, underrated program about a town where no one's changed since 1914. 'Hampton Studios' will attract a new, larger audience, real high society folks, not small town hicks and back road nobodies."

Betty glared at him. She couldn't believe that he was that insensitive. "I grew up in a small town, Mr. Jurrington, and I'll have you know that the people in Elkhart are neither stupid nor 'hicks'. They may not be important to you, but they're the ones who really listen to the shows."

"But do people in Deerleg wear pretty clothes and act in Cecil B. De Mille's latest feature?" Jurrington asked casually. Betty just glared at him, but he turned his attention back to the performers.

"Welcome to 'Hampton Studios'," Mackie introduced, "the show that gives you a glimpse of what it's like to work on a real Hollywood lot. Sponsored by Hampton's Vegetable Soup, the soup with a glamorous touch. And now we bring you to the office of Hampton Studio head Jerry Hampton, as he casts his latest and greatest picture, 'The Rose of San Diego'".

Much to Betty's surprise, Giselle walked up to the microphone. "Yes," she read in the deepest voice she could muster (which still sounded feminine and French), "we need a new, young, gorgeous face to replace our old actress Retta Rimlo in this wonderful new picture. If we can't find someone to take over for her, we'll be ruined! I already mortgaged the entire studio just to finance this movie!"

Hilary took the next lines. "Mr. Hampton!" she squeaked, imitating a young man, "Mr. Hampton! Here's the eightieth draft of 'The Rose of San Diego'! Do ya like it?"

Giselle snorted. "That's no good," she read. "It's not big enough, not beautiful enough. Nothing's too small for my picture!"

Jurrington clenched his knuckles so hard they turned white. "Why are they reading the wrong scripts?"

Betty restrained a giggle. "They, uh, um, are trying to put a new spin on the material."

Mackie read the starlet's lines. "Oh, Mr. Hampton," he simpered, "I'm willing to do anything to get this part! Anything at all!"

"Anything?" Giselle asked. She gave Mackie the sexiest look she could manage without falling over in laughter. "How far will you take 'anything'?"

Mackie gulped. "Um, about as far as the Brown Derby? You know, they make a great apple pie there." Hilary, Maple, and Betty all hid their smiles. Jurrington stormed out of the control room and into the office.

"Sherwood!" he growled. "You're making a mockery of my cosmopolitan show!" He pounded Scott's desk.

"Please keep your voice down, Mr. Jurrington!" Scott scolded. "The kids are taking their naps."

"I don't care if they're taking their sabbaticals! What's going on in there?" He switched on the radio.

Maple's attempt at a male voice assaulted their ears. "So, Miss Nora Dession, you'll help me make Jill Brighten a great star?"

"Oh, yes, Fredrick," breathed Major Floyd Stewart, the officer who volunteered to join the staff in Studio A that afternoon. "I'll drop a few not-so-subtle hints about her acting talent and you'll clothe her in the finest gowns that Hampton Studios can provide and we'll trot her around the fanciest acting spots in town. By tomorrow, she'll rival Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth as a movie queen!"

"If they don't start playing this right in five minutes," growled Jurrington, "I am going to withdraw all of Hampton Vegetable Soup's advertising!"

Scott's jaw fell. "But you can't do that!"

"Watch me," Jurrington hissed.

Gertie rushed into the office. "Mr. Sherwood, come quick! You have to answer these phone calls. They're all complaining about 'Hampton Studios'. I've gotten more than two hundred calls asking about 'This Girl's Kinfolk'. The fans want to know why the show ended with so little fanfare. The calls are getting so ugly that I couldn't repeat some of them on the air. These folks are really serious! They want to know what happened with all those cliffhangers - and they blame the station for the cancellation!"

Scott raised his eyebrows while Jurrington sputtered. "But that show had poor ratings! I read them myself!"

"Numbers don't say anything about dedication or loyalty," Scott said.

"Yeah," Gertie added. "Just because a show gets canceled doesn't mean it doesn't have fans. It just means it has quiet fans." The switchboard buzzed. "And there's more quiet fans. Excuse me." Gertie returned to her station.

"Jurrington," Scott said, "I think I have a way of making us all happy."


February 13th, 1945

"I wish you could have convinced him to keep 'This Girl's Kinfolk' on the air for a bit longer," Betty sighed. She and Scott were watching the final hour-long conclusion to her favorite program.

Scott shrugged. "I'm lucky I convinced him to let us finish it after what happened with 'Hampton Studios'." He held Betty. "Maybe writing about Hollywood won't be so bad. After all, there are lots of characters in Hollywood. Who knows? Maybe Hampton Studios will make a movie about a small town called Bonnyville Mills someday, starring Becky and Steve Schwartz."

Scott and Betty embraced as Trish told her fiancee Jake that she was nobody but his. They were joined by the newly wed Uncle Charlie and Miss Petunia, and by Becky and Steve Schwarz, who were settling down in Bonnyville Mills after she sent John on his way.

"With Becky's uncle Charlie as the top character actor," Betty added happily, "and her sister Trish as the ingénue..."

This war won't last forever...

Why has Scott been on the phone so much? What is his involvement with the government?

On the Edge of the Precipice Series

Go to On the Edge of the Precipice#23 - Unexpected Visitor!
Go Back to On the Edge of the Precipice#21 - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas!
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