INT. SOUND BOOTH. DAY.
Clint leaned back in the swivel chair inside the recording booth, as he watched Nikki through the window. She was smiling from ear to ear, clearly having the time of her life, as she watched the musicians lead into the bridge before she turned back to her own microphone and started singing.
Clint grinned to himself, it was rather fun watching her record. She seemed so excited by it, so into it. He knitted his fingers behind his head and lifted his feet to rest on one of consoles.
“Please, don’t do that,” said the sound engineer, as he adjusted a dial. “I don’t want you to touch anything.”
Clint rolled his eyes, but brought his feet back to the ground.
“I don’t even know what you’re doing in here,” the man muttered under his breath.
“I couldn’t agree with you more,” said a cool voice from the doorway. Clint turned around. Vanessa glided into the room, briefcase in one hand cellphone in the other.
“Hello Vanessa,” said Clint pleasantly.
“Mr. Morgan,” she responded curtly, not bothering to look up from her phone. She typed in a text message and sent it before she pocketed the cellphone and turned to the engineer. “Could you please bring Ms. Steele in here?”
The man nodded and pulled a mic towards him. “Ms. Steele? You could you please come into the recording booth, you have a visitor.”
Nikki and the band came to a halting stop. She pulled her earphones off and hung them on her microphone and crossed the room and opening the door to the booth.
“Vanessa! This is a surprise.” Nikki unscrewed the cap off a water bottle and took a long gulp. “Did you want to hear how the song was sounding?”
“It seems to be coming along well,” said Vanessa a little stiffly.
Clint raised a hand to hide his smile at the reluctance so evident in her voice.
“It is,” said Nikki, nodding eagerly, either unaware or ignoring Vanessa’s tone. “The guys are great,” she added, waving at the musicians behind the glass. “I’m really excited about the single. I think it’s going to be my best yet.”
“Well,” said Vanessa, “I hope it’ll be ready in time for the benefit.”
“Benefit? What benefit?” asked Nikki.
“The annual gala fundraiser of the International Association for Artists.”
“The IAA?” asked Clint, rising to his feet.
“Yes,” said Vanessa, not looking at him.
“That’s a big deal,” said Clint. “That’s huge. Everyone who is anyone wants to go to that. Stars fly in from all over the world for that. Plus they get top notch performers every year.”
“I am aware of all this,” said Vanessa coldly, “Which is why I pulled every string I have to get them to book her for a song. Though after the very positive reviews for her performance on The Bailey Show they were quite happy to have her. They did ask however that she perform her new song,” she added regretfully. “But I’m sure it will do.”
“I can’t believe you made this happen!” Nikki hugged her. “Thank you so much! Wow, I’ve never performed at the gala,” she said, turning to Clint. “I haven’t even been invited for the past two years! Clint!” She rushed over and hugged him too.
Vanessa cleared her throat. “Yes well. We’ll need to get your vocals recorded for the performance.”
“What do you mean?” asked Clint, pulling away from Nikki.
Vanessa sighed. “I really don’t know what part you’re not clear on Mr. Morgan.”
“She’s not lip-synching, if that’s what you mean.”
Vanessa looked at him for one very long, silent minute. “You really want her to perform live on what could possibly be one of the most important nights of her career? Mr. Morgan I realize you’re new at this,” she said word ‘new’ with distaste, “But the gala is a huge event. The most important people in the industry will be there. If Nikki can pull this off she could end up more successful than she ever was before. It will definitely make her comeback a success, not to mention it will mark a successful transition from teen star to adult performer. Do you know how hard that transition is to take? Do you need me to list every star, singer or actor, who has fallen while trying to make that change? This is not the time to take chances.”
“Nor is this the time to give stale performances by lip-synching. She doesn’t need an elaborate dance number or complex chorography. She needs something simple, direct and real. She can sing. She has real talent and doesn’t need auto-tune. So let her do something real.”
“Or let her crash and burn so you can continue to convince her that she somehow needs you for her career?”
“I think I’ve done pretty well so far.”
“And what have you done?” asked Vanessa dryly “Picked a song that the label sent over? Had her appear on a show that the label booked for her?”
“An appearance I helped her with, that I talked her through-”
“Oh please. Nikki has been handling the press for years; I don’t think she needs your ‘guidance’.”
“Stop it!” Nikki snapped. She looked between the two of them. She shook her head. “I’m standing right here. If you want to know if I’m lip-synching at the benefit you can both ask me! I’m going back to recording.” She left the booth, slamming the door behind her. She pushed the earphones back on and gestured towards the booth and the band to start back up.