The Body

The Broadway musical Jesse Ventura never wanted you to hear

The Jesse Musical was a Joke, Folks! Our July 31 cover story, "Jesse Ventura in The Body," was a parody. The music, lyrics, and dialogue were fictitious, not the work of writer Stephen Dolginoff. The e-mails and memoranda in the piece were also of our invention. In fact, Mr. Dolginoff did not participate in the spoof in any way. If there was any misunderstanding as to Mr. Dolginoff's involvement in our parody, we apologize.

The first tip camein early June. It was anonymous: some black ballpoint scribbled on the back of a postcard from New York, mentioning something about "gubernatorial gaffes" and Jesse Ventura's insufferable ego. Interesting for a minute, perhaps--but then again we get stuff like that all the time around here.

A few weeks later, Ventura announced that he would not seek reelection as governor. Shortly after that The Body Ventura, a musical based on the lame duck's life that was more than two years in the making, was put in limbo. Our hopes of hitting the Great White Way to hear songs like "The Heart Is a Muscle," "Hoo-Yah!" and "Win if We Can, Lose if We Must, But Always Cheat" were dashed. We would never know whether the title role would be played by Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff or former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason (you can't make this stuff up).

But then our anonymous New York source revealed himself, and he came through with a spirit-lifting salvo.

Turns out that our correspondent, who calls himself Heath Quincy-Browne, is a Broadway vet who worked on the Ventura musical and wants finished bits of the play to see the light of day. He also wants to set the record straight. Pierre Cossette, the show's experienced producer, and Stephen Dolginoff, a relative unknown who wrote most of the script and 16 songs for The Body Ventura, have publicly praised the governor for his cooperation and input. But Quincy-Browne, who apparently quit as Cossette's assistant just weeks before the project crashed, paints a less flattering portrait of the ex-wrestler.

"Quite unstatesman-like," is how Quincy-Browne, a native of Wales, summed up his impression of the gov in a typewritten letter to City Pages. "The other two chaps can suck up to Jesse Venture [sic] as they wish, but I've no longer got use for it."

Quincy-Browne does confess that he never quite got comfortable "conceptualizing" the musical (a blend of Rocky and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Dolginoff told the media). Ultimately, though, he was defeated by Ventura's wrathful meddling. Apparently, while the project was still in its infancy, Ventura became obsessed with casting the musical with close personal pals like Carol Channing and Bill Walton. And Quincy-Browne made the mistake of criticizing Ventura for both his "bullying" and "premature" enthusiasm.

"While I wish Jesse Venture [sic] no ill will, I have forwarded correspondence, a half-written script, song titles, and lyrics so the good people of Minnesota may someday get a glimpse into the self-inflated churlishness of this man," the Welshman concluded in his missive. "I'm going back to the U.K. to regain my bearings. Godspeed, Heath Quincy-Browne."

The package also contained demo tapes of three songs: "I Don't Know the Meaning of Can't," "Football Practice (Drop and Gimme Twenty)," and "Retaliate in '98." And we must admit, they're not half bad.

Repeated attempts to reach Quincy-Browne, or verify his existence, have been unsuccessful. But the material speaks for itself. The governor showed fits of impatience with casting, often complained that the music was "too soft," and pushed to change the content of the musical from G-rated to "gritty, gutty, and R-rated." He also threatened to tell Warren Zevon and Hunter S. Thompson (both tapped for cameos) that Quincy-Browne was a narc.

Until now, we simply knew Jesse Ventura as Jim Janos, a Navy SEAL, professional wrestler, radio jock, action-movie star, agitator, and elected official. This material reveals another side to the man--a deeper, darker side: Jesse Ventura, master thespian.

Thank you, Heath Quincy-Browne, wherever and whoever you are. Godspeed.

 

--PAUL DEMKO AND G. R. ANDERSON JR., JULY 30, 2002

CORRESPONDENCE

 

TO: Jesse Ventura

FROM: Heath Quincy-Browne

SUBJECT: Casting

Dear Friend: Sorry to dampen your enthusiasm, but I really do think Josh Hartnett is going to be a wee bit difficult to procure for the "Young Jesse" role. (He probably can't sing, anyway!) And who is this Jonny Lange [sic] fella? Never heard of him. Does he have much experience on the Great White Way? Either way it's MUCH too early to be tossing about names of actors for the Young Jesse role. After all the script is not yet completed! Godspeed, HQB

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Jesse Ventura

SUBJECT: re: Casting

well excuse Me for butting in. it's only the story of My life. just remember that without Me you have nothing. you are nothing. zero. zilch. I've got a call in to hartnett's people to see when he will be available for the role. I'm sure he'll be honored to portray the young Jim Janoes [sic]. after all, he's just like Jonny l-a-n-g. he's a minnesota boy!

I know you've been talking with david hasslehoff [sic] and boomer esiason to play the roll of Big Jesse. and those are both fine choices. but I wanted to suggest a couple of other possibilities. ever since Me and Terry watched "the king and i," I've thought of yul brynner as a sort of kindred spirit. he understands the isolation that comes with great power. and brother can he sing! My close, personal pal arnold ("I'LL BE BACK!") would be brilliant, too. but he claims that he can't sing. any other thoughts? what about that guy from "fiddler on the roof"? the greek guy.... THE GUV

p.s. let Me know if you need arnie's phone number.

 

TO: Jesse Ventura

FROM: Heath Quincy-Browne

SUBJECT: re: re: Casting

Dear Friend: That would be Zero Mostel. He's Jewish, not Greek. Or I should say he WAS Jewish--because he's dead. And he's been dead for 25 years! He's been dead even longer than Yul Brynner (poor fellow perished 17 years ago).

I really don't know why we're having this discussion. It's a waste of your time and mine. Yes, we have talked about Mr. Esiason or Mr. Hasselhoff filling the lead role, but it's still very much up in the air. As I said before, we CANNOT cast the musical until it has actually been written. Can we please drop this subject, Mr. Venture [sic]? Best, HQB

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Jesse Ventura

SUBJECT: re: re: re: Casting

okay mr. smarty pants. not everyone is as up to snuff on their musical theater trivia as you are. I guess yul and the greek guy are out then.

what about ozzy osbourne? I know he's a little puffy right now, but when I was a Navy SEAL, Me and My buddies went to see a black sabbath show and it really rocked. IRON MAN!!!! Or maybe mick jagger? do you know if bruce willis can sing? Or how about ving rhames, that bald, black bad-ass from pulp fiction?

as for Terry, how about sally struthers? or is it sally field I'm thinking of? you know--the one who played forest [sic] gump's mom. or what about ... cher!?!? that babe from seinfeld? THE GUV

 

p.s. here's arnie's home phone:
313.555.2232. don't pass it around!

 

TO: Jesse Ventura

FROM: Heath Quincy-Browne

SUBJECT: re: re: re: re: Casting

Dear Friend: Obviously we're having a communication problem. If you are going to ignore every single thing I say, this will be a very long and stressful process. I am already taking twice as much Zoloft as my doctor prescribed. And I'm up to three martinis at tea time. I really don't need any more stress in my life. Please, can we drop this conversation?!

Rest assured that Mr. Dolginoff, Mr. Cossette, and I will cross these bridges when we get to them. You must trust us. HQB

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Jesse Ventura

SUBJECT: re: re: re: re: re: Casting

I think I've got just the guy to play Tyrrel [sic]. do you remember that movie with that funny guy ferris bueller? Tyrel loved that movie. in fact, he and his new friend from hollywood had the cast from "full house" over to the mansion last night to watch it on dvd. that guy mathew brodrick [sic] would be perfect. do you think he's available? As for Jade, how about that katie holmes girl? Or is it kate hudson I'm thinking of? The one who's on that TV show, dawson's creek. THE GUV

 

p.s. have you ever tried one of those onion wheat hoagie thingies?

 

TO: Jesse Ventura

FROM: Heath Quincy-Browne

SUBJECT: The End

Friend: I'm sorry, but I cannot take this anymore. I will no longer be responding to your insipid inquiries. Please desist. May God help you.

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Jesse Ventura

SUBJECT: re: The End

Huh?

EXCERPTS FROM THE SCRIPT

 

ACT II, SCENE II

 

Ventura is now a talk-radio host, suburban mayor, and family man. It seems he has settled down. But, as this scene will illustrate, he can't help but feel the pull of power politics.

The setting is pure, small-town America: an Independence Day parade on the Main Street of Annandale, Minnesota, in 1996. Ventura is on hand to campaign for his friend Dean Barkley, a long-shot candidate for U.S. Senate.

 

[There's a parade under way. Costumed townsfolk ride on homemade floats, waving sparklers, streamers, and balloons. A band marches behind them, playing a John Philip Sousa classic--tubas, trombones, etc. Firecrackers pop on the curbside, where a crowd has gathered. Above them, a large American flag, its stars and stripes accented with glitter, waves proudly. Ventura and Dean Barkley bring up the rear on foot. Ventura is dressed in jeans, a black Navy T-shirt, and matching do-rag. Barkley wears a white, short-sleeve shirt with a brown tie and khakis.]

BARKLEY: You know, Jesse, there's something about parades that always kinda depresses me.

VENTURA: [not listening, head bobbing, chomping gum] I love this kinda crowd. Beer drinkers and old ladies. They always love me.

BARKLEY: Which ones?

VENTURA: Which what?

BARKLEY: The beer drinkers or the old ladies? Which ones love you?

VENTURA: Whoever's smart enough to see I'm one of them. [cracks gum] Hey, Deano, ya wanna get a coupla brats?

[Ventura and Barkley walk off the street and take a few steps upstage to a small sausage stand. The parade continues.]

BARKLEY: [despondent] Jesse, listen to me. Look, I'm a true believer in the American values that this parade represents. But parades always remind me what a nobody I am. I mean, this is my hometown, and nobody seems to even care that I'm running for senate. Look at them. All they care about is swilling beer, eating brats, and...

VENTURA: [bites into brat, talks with mouth full] Hey, Deano, can it for a second, won't ya? Jeez. Life is not just handed to you one fork at a time. In fact, good things never come to those who whine. Look at me: I've never been a nobody because I never learned the meaning of can't.

BARKLEY: [sighing] Yeah, I guess you're right, Jesse. I just don't know how to explain campaign finance reform to all these people while they're watching a parade.

VENTURA: Quit being such an egghead, Deano. The important thing is to go out there, meet the real people, and let them get to know you. If nothing else, make 'em hate you.

 

[Band marches past playing a shaky, off-key version of "Stars and Stripes Forever."]

BARKLEY: Jeez, Jesse, I don't know what I'd do without you. I wish you were on the campaign trail all the time, boosting my spirits...

VENTURA: Stop it! Enough with the self-pity! I am an expert at drawing attention, that's true. But we're not here for me. This is your campaign. Now get your butt in that parade. And remember: If you start to whine, I'm just a few steps behind you, and I'll kick you right in the keister if I have to.

BARKLEY: [brightening]: All right, Jesse, whatever you say.

 

[Barkley and Ventura rejoin the fray, walking alongside the floats, cheerleading squads, and marching bands.]

BARKLEY: [to member of the crowd] Hey, Karl, it's me, Dean Barkley! Remember me? We had shop class together all those years ago.

CROWD MEMBER #1: [puzzled] Who?

BARKLEY: [to another Crowd member] Anna Johnson! It's me, Dean! I'm running for U.S. Senate!

CROWD MEMBER #2: [laughing] Oh, Dean, you goof! Why would you go and do something like that?

BARKLEY: [despondent again] Good question...

 

[Suddenly there's a swell of applause as the crowd recognizes Ventura. There's hand-shaking and back-slapping. Old ladies run up to embrace him. He flexes his biceps.]

VENTURA: You people just make sure you all get out there and vote for my friend Dean Barkley! He's gonna kick some Washington-bureaucrat butt!

[More cheering. Barkley sulks.]

VENTURA: [approaching Barkley] Hey, Deano, lighten up and swing, baby! These people love me!

BARKLEY: [sighing] I know, Jesse. That's the problem.

 

[A float rolls by carrying the Annandale High homecoming queen, a rock band, and members of the high school's varsity football team. Ventura spontaneously leaps onto the float, à la Elvis inClambake, and starts high-fiving players. Then he turns around and starts scanning the crowd to find Barkley.]

VENTURA: [pointing at Barkley] This one's for you, Deano!

 

[The crowd makes a circle as an electric-guitar chord is strummed. The band kicks in, and Ventura launches into a sea-shanty song--reminiscent of "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean"--entitled "Football Practice (Drop and Gimme Twenty)."]

VENTURA: [singing]

(VERSE)

My boys fall out in the morning/My boys hang around through the day/But when it comes time for football practice/My boys show up and play/They tease the girls in the lunchroom/They fumble and frolic so gay/But when they are bad/As coach I get mad/Here is what I'm wont to say

(CHORUS)

Drop and give me twenty/Don't whimper and don't whine/Drop and give me twenty/With my boot on your spine/Drop and give me twenty/Twenty-one, twenty-two/Drop and give me twenty till I'm through

(VERSE)

When the going gets tough, I get going/And I ain't got time to bleed/Listen up, my ol' pal Deano/All of these words you should heed/Muscle is stronger than money/And heart is all that you'll need/So stump and campaign/Kiss a babe in the rain/From the cameras there is no reprieve...So

(REPEAT CHORUS)

Politics is just like football/If it's not your cup of tea/Run while you can/I'll be holding your hand/Now drop and give me twenty...So

(CHORUS REPRISE)

Drop and give me twenty/For your country and your God/Drop and give me twenty/ Put your face in the sod/Drop and give me twenty/First you're red, now you're blue/

Drop and give me twenty till I'm through/

Drop and give me twenty till we're through!

 

[The crowd cheers wildly, starts chanting, "Run, Jesse, Run!"]

VENTURA: [high-fiving the parade-goers] See, Deano? That's takin' it to the people!

BARKLEY: [smiling broadly] Wow, Jesse! You sure put on a show! I think the wrong guy is running for the senate!

VENTURA: [beaming] Nah, the senate's not for me. I don't wanna mingle with those bozos in Washington. I wanna stay with my people here in Minnesota.

 

[The crowd quiets.]

VENTURA: But...I could run for governor. That's a job I could really get my mitts on!

 

[Crowd lets out one last cheer. The lights go down. A lone spotlight dances across the flag's glitter. Jimi Hendrix's guitar version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" plays as the stage fades to black.]

 

ACT II, SCENE III

 

It's more than two years later, and Citizen Ventura is on the campaign trail. Even though the media has treated Ventura's candidacy as a joke, he is gathering momentum. There are only three days left in the gubernatorial campaign, and Ventura is making his "Ride to Victory" in a cavalcade of motor homes. Ventura's wife Terry, Dean Barkley, now his campaign chair, and campaign manager Doug Friedline are along for the ride.

 

[Local TV news crews compete for space with a gaggle of Ventura fans at the Mermaid, a working-class sports bar and bowling alley in a northern suburb of Minneapolis. As Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" blasts over the sound system, Ventura, dressed in bomber jacket and jeans, bursts through a side door, fist over his head. He signs a few autographs while Friedline hawks black shirts emblazoned with neon letters that read, "Retaliate in '98." Ventura approaches a tattooed, twentysomething man in a Harley-Davidson T-shirt and leather baseball cap. The man greets Ventura with a can of Pig's Eye and a drunken gleam in his eye.]

VENTURA: Pig's Eye! Quality brewski. Minnesota's finest.

HARLEY MAN: Damn right it is.

VENTURA: I was the pitchman for that beer just a few years ago. Still got free cases of it in my garage. [Pauses a beat to stick an unlit cigar in his mouth.] So, are you going to do your duty and vote this Tuesday?

HARLEY MAN: Damn right. And I wouldn't vote for those other pencilnecks if they put me in Pig's Eye for the rest of my life.

VENTURA: All right then. [Gesturing toward Friedline] Doug, give this good man a T-shirt.

 

[Barkley walks up to Ventura and hands him a microphone. Ventura addresses the crowd.]

VENTURA: Tuesday is an important day for all of us. It's the day we are all given our right to vote. For some of you, it will be the first chance you've had to vote, and I don't want you to blow it.

[crowd whoops and hollers]

VENTURA: [leaning in, bearing down] I've had it with career politicians who get nothing done. I've had it with the tax-and-spend liberals, and the conservatives who want to push their close-minded Christian agenda down our throats. I've had it with politics as usual, and I know you have, too!

[Applause and hollering grows louder.]

BARKLEY: [shouting] What should we do, Jesse?

VENTURA: You know what to do!

[Silence]

FRIEDLINE: [shouting] You'd better tell 'em what to do, Jesse!

VENTURA: [scowling]: We're gonna retaliate in '98!

[Burst of applause]

VENTURA: What are we gonna do?

CROWD: Retaliate in '98!

VENTURA: Louder!

CROWD: [working themselves into a lather] Retaliate in '98!

VENTURA: One more time!

CROWD: [in a frenzy] Retaliate in '98!

[Ventura claps his hands and stomps his feet--everybody joins in. There's a squall of feedback from the orchestra pit as the band launches into "Retaliate in '98," an anthem that conjures both Kid Rock andCabaret.]

VENTURA: [singing]

(CHORUS)

Retaliate--in '98/Retaliate--in '98/Retaliate--in '98/Retaliate/Retaliate

(VERSE)

I wake up in the morning, kiss the body electric/My wife complains that my life is too hectic/Me, I'm show/Pro-wrestling pro/ When I step on a stage/Watch the spotlights glow

People will say I'm a wasted vote/Scrapin' the fray--like the fringe on my coat/Do-rag tight/I just might/Shock the world/The future's bright

(REPEAT CHORUS)

This lady at my side is Mae Schunk/She's the funky Schunky, I'm the hunk/I need a miracle/Data empirical/She drive the senior block/Hysterical

SCHUNK: [singing]

When I was young, Sinatra was king/I couldn't wait to hear Bing sing/Fifty years later/I'm an educator

VENTURA: [singing] Who on God's green earth is gonna hate her?

(REPEAT CHORUS)

Ali got his start as Cassius Clay/I got my name from that street in L.A./Voters are cynical/Close to pinnacle/If I'm gonna beat the heat/Your vote's critical

From Navy SEAL days, I've found memories/All the broads we knew, fine mammaries/I drink Pig's Eye beer/My son ain't queer/We'll kick this campaign/In high gear

But enough about me, meet Terry/She thinks politicians kinda scary/She rides stallions/Married this hellion/Wants you all to join our rebellion

Let me wrap it up on this note/I need y'all to get out and vote/I'm a type/Not on the pipe/Sorry, Chuck D/Believe the hype!

(REPEAT CHORUS TWICE)

 

VENTURA: There is no such thing as a wasted vote. I don't even care who you vote for. Just do it.

[A pause. More cheering.]

VENTURA: [lowering his voice an octave] And do not let us down!

 

[More cheering as the song kicks in again. Ventura works the crowd, pumping his fist and high-fiving. He makes his way out the side door, and as it slams shut, a round of flash pots and cannons goes off. The stage goes dark.]

 

ACT II, SCENE IV

 

Election night. The exit polls and news broadcasts have been predicting a Ventura victory for hours, but the unthinkable is yet to be officially acknowledged: Neither opponent has called to concede the race.

 

[It's just past midnight and Ventura and his supporters are having an election-night party at Canterbury Park, a horseracing track and card room just south of the Twin Cities. Ventura, chomping on a cigar, is dressed in a black, pinstriped suit and red patterned tie. Dean Barkley and Doug Friedline are both in the room, sweating profusely, cell phones glued to their ears, eyes fixed on a bank of television sets. Terry Ventura and Mae Schunk are keeping a silent vigil. In the background the sound of delirious, drunken supporters can be heard. Chants of "Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!" are interspersed with cries of "Landslide! Landslide! Landslide!" and "Packers suck!"]

BARKLEY: [clicking his cell phone shut] Well, it's official. The Democrats and Republicans have both conceded. [To Ventura] You are going to be the next governor of Minnesota!

[Friedline and Barkley embrace and dance ecstatically across the stage. Ventura slumps despondently in a chair.]

VENTURA: I can't believe it. Are you sure those numbers are right, Deano?

 

[Dan Rather is seen on the TV screens, declaring, "People in Washington could not be more surprised if Fidel Castro came loafing through on the back of a hippopotamus."]

BARKLEY: I would never pull your leg like that, Jesse. You're gonna be the next governor of Minnesota. You really are.

VENTURA: [sulking] But nobody told me that I might actually win. Maybe there are still some votes left to count.

BARKLEY: C'mon, Jesse, buck up. This should be the happiest day of your life.

VENTURA: Yeah, I know, Deano. [looking disdainfully at his outfit, pulling at his tie] But will I have to wear dress-up clothes all the time?

BARKLEY: [exasperated] No, Jesse. You can wear whatever you want.

VENTURA: T-Shirts and jeans?

BARKLEY: Yes!

VENTURA: A do-rag?

BARKLEY: Yes!

VENTURA: Feathered boas and fatigues?

BARKLEY: Yes!

VENTURA: Well, all right then! Call me Governor Ventura!

[A long, loud drum roll leads the orchestra into "Retaliate in '98." Doug Friedline and Dean Barkley lock arms with Mae Schunk and kick up their heels, chorus-line style. The lights dim and flashbulbs pop. Images of news anchors and wildly cheering fans are projected onto the walls as a swelling chant of "Jesse! Jesse!" is heard. At center stage Ventura and Terry embrace; a spotlight follows them as they waltz across the stage. The lights go out. The crowd noise continues to swell. When the lights come back up, Ventura is at a podium.]

VENTURA: We shocked the world! Nobody thought we had a chance!

[He takes a long pause as the crowd again chants, "Jesse! Jesse! Jesse!"]

VENTURA: Remember the Rumble in the Jungle? Nobody thought Muhammad Ali could defeat George Foreman either. Nobody gave him a chance.

[He's again interrupted by raucous cheers, shouts of "We love you, Jesse!"]

VENTURA: Remember the Miracle on Ice? Nobody thought the Americans could defeat the Russians--who were, like, professionals or something. Nobody gave them a chance.

[Another pause for boisterous cheers; crowd briefly breaks into chant of "Mae Schunk! Mae Schunk! Mae Schunk!" Ventura turns and hugs his running mate.]

VENTURA: This is our Rumble in the Jungle. We sucked them in with the rope-a-dope and laid them flat on the canvas. This is our Miracle on Ice--Minnesota-style! [Pauses for dramatic effect, then shouts] We shocked the world!

 

[The crowd erupts into one last frenzy, with Jesse pumping both fists in the air. Then the noise gradually begins to fade out, the lights dim, and the podium is removed from the stage. A spotlight is focused on Ventura, now standing alone at center stage. He begins singing "I Don't Know the Meaning of Can't," an upbeat tune reminiscent of the Rat Pack's finest work.]

VENTURA: [singing]

(VERSE)

I learned to swim the Mississippi/The gridiron taught me the statue of liberty/Halfback options were never foreign to me/I knew enough to never be no hippie/But I don't know the meaning of can't

I found my way around the brothels of Reno/I fought with the SEALs/Hunting man, I know how that feels/I even learned a few words of Filipino/But I don't know the meaning of can't

(BRIDGE)

I've eaten my rations/Fatigues and Zubaz are my fashion passions/I know detonation like MacGyver/I'm an expert with the pile driver/Then I married Ms. Terry/My knowledge of merry/Became extra, extra... or-di-nary

[Stage lights come up to reveal that the crowd is now made up of ballroom dancers, who line up behind Jesse, chorus-line style. He does a little soft-shoe.]

Well...I mastered my stump on the hustings/The pundits gave me no chance/To make the big dance/And typical politicos grew scared of my bustings/But I don't know the meaning of can't

I will master the art of being gov/I'll grow to love the veto/I can tell it's really neato/And words like unicameral I'll learn to know and love/But I don't know the meaning/ No, I never learned the meaning/Hell, I just can't learn the meaning...of...ca-ya-ya-yan't!

[Ventura finishes as he started, both fists pumping the air. Fade to black.]

 

 

MORE CORRESPONDENCE

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

CC: Pierre Cossette

FROM: Stephen Dolginoff

SUBJECT: Jesse

Gentlemen. I am very sorry to inform you that I must tender my resignation. The situation with the "Governor" has gone beyond the pale. The man is as dull as a month-old pedicure. He simply does not have a firm grasp of the English language! As much as I would like to see The Body Ventura through to fruition, and as proud as I am of our work thus far ("Football Practice" is an absolutely smashing number), for the sake of my mental health I must step down. I will be returning to Wales immediately for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Apologies for the hasty retreat, but drastic action is necessary. Yours, HQB

 

TO: Heath Quincy-Browne

CC: Pierre Cossette

FROM: Stephen Dolginoff

SUBJECT: re: Jesse

Heath. I am very sad to hear that you are leaving us. Working with an old pro like you has been a joy! The musical would never have progressed this far without you. It's a shame that Jesse's bullying, thimble-headed ways have gotten the best of you. We've all suffered during this last year (last week the "Governor" wanted to know if Broadway actors actually sing their songs, or if they "lip-synch"). Hopefully the rest of us will be able to keep sane. If I have to tell one more idiot reporter how "theater savvy" Jesse is, and what a "pleasure" he is to work with, I might be joining you in Wales. Godspeed! Stephen

 

TO: Stephen Dolginoff

CC: Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Pierre Cossette

SUBJECT: re: re: Jesse

Just keep me out of it! I'm going tuna-fishing with Frank Gifford. Be back in a week. Pierre

 

 

THE FINAL CHAPTER:
A MEMO

 

DATE: May 22, 2002

TO: Jesse Ventura

CC: David Bradley Olson; Lee Knifmot; Heath Quincy-Browne

FROM: Stephen Dolginoff

SUBJECT: ACT III!

We are nearing the finish line, gentlemen. The dramatic possibilities are wide open! I see no reason to be constrained by "reality" here. This is not a biopic, but a musical. We need a grand, dramatic conclusion to rightfully cement Mr. Ventura as an icon of the American dream.

The third act opens with the ex-governor in a funk. Ventura is sitting alone in his Maple Grove home chomping on a cigar and staring vacantly at his cell phone. Ventura's cachet in Hollywood and on the talk-show circuit has plummeted to an all-time low. He even confesses to missing the relentless hectoring of reporters. After a long sigh, Ventura rises and sings. Possible titles include "Why Won't Larry (King) Call," "Where Have You Gone, Greta Van Susteren," or "(Not So) Young and Restless." The first scene ends with Ventura at center stage, illuminated by a spotlight, both hands raised to the heavens. Perhaps he sings a melancholy reprise of "Football Practice (Drop and Gimme Twenty)," dropping to the stage and doing pushups.

 

I see three possibilities for how we can proceed at this point.

 

I. Jesse Joins the War on Terror

 

The action opens with Ventura calling President Bush (preferably played by former congressman Fred Grandy, the onetime Love Boat star). Mr. Ventura wants to serve as a special advisor to the Department of Homeland Security, with an emphasis on covert operations. Both Ventura and Bush are onstage in their respective offices. The president is joined by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield [sic] and Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge. Mr. Ventura urges Bush to do a "gut check on his patriotism." Immediately swayed, the president, Rumsfield, and Ridge sing a patriotic number, possibly "America Needs the Body."

The climactic scene features Jesse and Terry in their down-filled bed at the ranch, lovingly bickering over the prospect. Terry is skeptical: She wants to settle down and live a quiet life. She sings a contemplative, wistful number, possibly "Settle Down, Cowboy" or "(Let's Just Ride Into the Sunset) My Cowboy." Ultimately Ventura convinces her that it's his duty to help fight the War on Terrorism.

The show ends with Ventura singing a rousing patriotic number. Various cast members join the Venturas onstage. His SEAL buddies descend on ropes from the rafters; pro wrestlers take turns body slamming each other across the stage. Various iconic images from American history (Martin Luther King on the mall, the raising of the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima, Abraham Lincoln, etc.) are projected on the theater walls. Possible titles for the finale include "Osama Will Be Sorry" or "I Will Fight Again (for America)," and a reprise of "I Don't Know the Meaning of Can't."

 

II. Jesse Runs for President

 

The action opens with Ventura receiving a phone call from Sen. John McCain imploring him to run for president. It's 2004 and Bush and Gore are locked in an ugly, if still dull, rematch of the previous presidential election. Both McCain and Ventura are onstage in their respective offices. The senator (hopefully played by Conrad Bain, the Broadway veteran and onetime Diff'rent Strokes star) appeals to Ventura's distaste for partisan politics. He sings a song, possibly "The Republicrats Must Go" or "Gush and Bore No More," with Ventura gradually joining in. By the end of the scene, the two Vietnam vets have locked arms and are high-stepping across the stage as confetti falls from the rafters.

The climactic bedroom scene is same as above, except: Ultimately Mr. Ventura persuades Mrs. Ventura that it is his duty to make a bid for the White House. The show ends with Ventura singing a rousing patriotic number. Possible titles for the finale include "Commander in Chief" (to the tune of "Cruella de Ville") or "Just a Boy From Minnesota."

 

III. VenturaWorld

 

The scene opens with Ventura resting in a hammock reading Playboy. He eventually drifts off to sleep, and we enter Jesse's dream world. The stage goes dark for a moment, and when we next see Ventura, he's riding a Jet Ski down the Mississippi, whistling "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah." He passes by buxom bikini-clad women and beer-drinking, shirtless young men chanting, "Ride, Jesse, Ride!" and the Rolling Stones playing "Honky Tonk Women."

When Ventura awakes, he's struck by the idea of creating his own amusement park. He jumps out of the hammock and begins laying out his vision for VenturaWorld. He sings of the various rides, which are simulated onstage by other cast members. There's the "Shock the World" log flume; "The Media Jackal Smackdown," a virtual-reality game in which contestants destroy various media celebrities; and "Terrorist Hunter," a roller-coaster ride on which Ventura leads visitors on a mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden (think "Space Mountain" at Disneyland).

The show ends with Jesse singing a crowd-pleasing number. Various cast members join the Venturas onstage, including his SEAL and pro-wrestling buddies. Possible titles for the finale include "Anything Dolly Can Do I Can Do Better" (in reference to Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park), "Life Is a Roller Coaster," and a reprise of "I Don't Know the Meaning of Can't."

Gentlemen, I continue to have such high hopes for this musical. While we are all somewhat new at staging such a large Broadway production, I remain convinced that, since 9/11, what the world needs now is a Jesse musical. The finish line is in view; let's not back down now. I remain sincerely yours, Stephen Dolginoff

 

Lyrics © 24-Carat Fox on Wheels Music

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