Building the L.A. of “All That Glitters”: Obsessing Over the Details

This article excerpt, part of a series entitled The Quorum Chronicle, appears in full — along with expanded audio content — exclusively for our Patreon backers. See our Patreon page for further details.


The Quorum ChronicleAs an author, when crafting any new story, it’s important to make sure your environment is fleshed out as much as possible. For one thing, even if much of that background material is never explicitly referenced in the final result, it helps you avoid inconsistencies — which careful readers, viewers, or listeners will notice, no matter how much you might try to convince yourself otherwise. For another, it gives you a foundation on which to make revisions — and rest assured, no matter how confident you are in your initial outlines, there will be revisions. And finally, it ensures that your world has the same kind of tonal consistency as your story and characters.

The Hall of Records is a genuine location, and one I couldn’t readily fictionalize without breaking the illusion of reality… but for the sake of storytelling, I opted to retain the location while dramatizing its contents.

The first season of The Gambler’s Tale, “Outstanding Debts,” was set in and around Las Vegas, and I took great pains to make sure my representation of the city was as thorough as possible. That’s not to say it was completely, factually accurate, but it was based in reality — which meant that any time I deviated from reality, I did so intentionally, and made sure that within the bounds of my tale, everything remained consistent. The casinos and other locations may have been fictional, but I made sure I knew where each of them was situated geographically, even to the point of checking traffic routes and distances between them. Anyone who’s spent any time in Las Vegas — and, admittedly, my time there has been limited — will know there’s a big difference between the classic casinos on Fremont Street and the Strip-based megaresorts.

This season, The Gambler’s Tale heads to Los Angeles with “All That Glitters.” And once again, I wanted to make sure to present the city in as detailed a manner as possible. Again, that’s not to say it’s exactly accurate in the strictest sense, but any alterations to reality are made with deliberate intent. For example, we feature several real-life locations and landmarks — such as the Griffith Park Observatory, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Exposition Park Rose Garden, the L.A. Civic Center, and the viaducts crossing the Los Angeles River — but just as many fictional ones. As a general rule of thumb, in cases where I’d be depicting these locations as they appear in real life — or where they were too iconic to reimagine as fictional alternatives — I would go ahead and reference them directly. But in instances where the location was purely fictional, even if comparable to some real-life location, I’d take the time to give it its own distinct flavor, while still anchoring it alongside its real-world analogue (or analogues).


Be sure to check out the complete article, in both text and enhanced audio formats, along with the rest of The Quorum Chronicle series, at our Patreon page. And thanks so much for your continuing support of Jabberwocky Audio Theater!

— William R. Coughlan, writer/director of Quorum

The Most Famous Poker Game in Hollywood

This article excerpt, part of a series entitled The Quorum Chronicle, appears in full — along with expanded audio content — exclusively for our Patreon backers. See our Patreon page for further details.

It’s said that California — and Los Angeles in particular — has the most poker playing going on of anywhere outside of Las Vegas. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t really matter; in a town that thrives on storytelling, the truth is at best a passing consideration.

But there certainly are a lot of often high-stakes games going on, whether at the regulated cardrooms or in private settings — which made situating the second season of The Gambler’s Talein the City of Angels a natural fit. And in filling out the environment of this tale, one real-life game served as at least initial inspiration for Margaret Florian’s undertaking in “All That Glitters” — that of Molly Bloom, as related in her memoir, Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker, and its film adaptation, Aaron Sorkin’s more succinctly titled Molly’s Game.

Be sure to check out the complete article, in both text and enhanced audio formats, along with the rest of The Quorum Chronicle series, at our Patreon page. And thanks so much for your continuing support of Jabberwocky Audio Theater!

— William R. Coughlan, writer/director of Quorum

Leaving Las Vegas: Gambling in California

This article excerpt, part of a series entitled The Quorum Chronicle, appears in full — along with expanded audio content — exclusively for our Patreon backers. See our Patreon page for further details.


The Quorum ChronicleThe world of gambling as depicted in the second season of The Gambler’s Tale, “All That Glitters,” is decidedly different than that in “Outstanding Debts.” No longer is our story set against the backdrop of high-stakes Las Vegas poker, with its unique set of professional players and power brokers. Moreover, online poker is no longer an ongoing concern. As of the summer of 2012, when our story is set, not much had changed since the conclusion of our first season, at least not as will impact the world of Quorum — online funds remained largely unavailable to players, and the dust was still settling in terms of criminal indictments and civil actions. But most importantly, we’re not in Las Vegas anymore. And gambling in California is decidedly different.

Under California law, percentage games are illegal, but because poker falls outside that category, whether or not you want to consider poker “gambling,” that specific prohibition doesn’t apply.

Popular wisdom (at least in the United States) holds that gambling is legal in Nevada (and Atlantic City) but illegal pretty much everywhere else. But that is far from the reality. Still, attempting to apply any kind of consistent logic to the various legal restrictions can quickly become an exercise in futility. For one thing, as we touched on in one of our earlier entries in this series, coming up with a single, coherent definition as to what constitutes “gambling” is problematic at best. For another, most jurisdictions are more than happy to ban gambling — largely on moral pretext — right up until they have a chance to share in the often-substantial profits, or when the beneficiaries are charitable organizations (as if the purported immorality of promoting such an insidious activity as gambling miraculously changes based on who’s running the game). And sometimes, a particular form of gambling is just too ingrained in the public consciousness — or its operators are too powerful — to prohibit outright.

A prime example of this last point is betting on horse races, as is featured in this season of Quorum. The full history is far too complicated to go into here, but in a nutshell, horse racing is so ingrained into the nation’s culture that despite the underlying structure being effectively identical to comparable forms of gambling that are largely illegal, such as sports betting, it would be extraordinarily difficult to prohibit. (With specific regard to California, horse racing was legalized by voter referendum back in 1933.) That said, until 1970, all horse betting had to take place at the actual track. That year, New York became the first state to legalize off-track betting — that is, betting on a race taking place other than where the wager was physically placed. But after actual racetracks complained that they were losing revenue to off-site betting parlors, the federal government stepped in with the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978. This act certainly didn’t require states to allow off-track betting, but at the very least it allowed them a clear framework within which to do so, as well as establishing that states had the right to regulate the process. (California does allow such off-track betting and has a number of authorized betting outlets.) In a surprising parallel to the world of online poker, regular debates around the applicability of the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 to horse betting often raged. And in an ironic twist, while the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (or UIGEA) referenced in season one of Quorum was intended, at least substantially, to target online poker, that same act carved out an explicit exemption for online horse betting, enshrining its status as a legal form of gambling.


Be sure to check out the complete article, in both text and enhanced audio formats, along with the rest of The Quorum Chronicle series, at our Patreon page. And thanks so much for your continuing support of Jabberwocky Audio Theater!

— William R. Coughlan, writer/director of Quorum

La La Land

This article excerpt, part of a series entitled The Quorum Chronicle, appears in full — along with expanded audio content — exclusively for our Patreon backers. See our Patreon page for further details.


The Quorum ChronicleReal estate speculation has long been a vital part of the American economy — and prompted more than a bit of illicit activity. To quote Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor (to whom we even give a little shout-out in our tale), “Son, stocks may rise and fall, utilities and transportation systems may collapse. People are no damn good. But they will always need land, and they will pay through the nose to get it.” And while Luthor’s plan — destroying half of California to create a new west coast — was appropriately grandiose, befitting an iconic movie supervillain, we’re definitely more grounded in Quorum.

The contentious Kelo v. City of New London Supreme Court case in 2004 affirmed that city governments had the right to seize property and turn it over to private developers, rather than solely for public works projects.

In my first outlines of the script, the specifics were vaguely defined. I was more interested in developing the character conflicts and general motivations than in the details — at least initially. But once I began researching the backdrop of Los Angeles in 2012 (since, just as “Outstanding Debts” was linked to a specific time, so too would our second story arc, “All That Glitters”), I uncovered a wealth of real-life drama that I could incorporate as backdrop, even if substantially modified to work within the scope of our tale.

The most memorable of these, of course, is the demolition and replacement of the Sixth Street Viaduct, which spans the LA river from the city’s downtown Arts District to Boyle Heights. Originally built in 1932, the bridge had long been an iconic fixture of the Los Angeles cityscape, being featured in countless films and television series, including Grease, Terminator 2, Gone in 60 Seconds, Tapeheads, 24, and Lost, just to name a few. It was even declared eligible for inclusion in the National Registry of Historic Places. But engineers discovered that the substandard chemical composition of the bridge’s concrete had resulted in a chemical process known as alkali-silica reaction (colloquially referred to as “concrete cancer”), causing it to deteriorate a mere 20 years following its construction. Various methods had been used over the decades to try and ameliorate the damage, but ultimately, seismic vulnerability studies revealed that the bridge was in danger of collapse in the event of a major earthquake, and the bridge’s inevitable closure and demolition planning began. A design competition was launched for the bridge’s replacement in April of 2012, with the winning submission — from architect Michael Maltzan and the Kansas City-based HNTB infrastructure design firm — being announced that October. The new design, called “The Ribbon of Light,” features sweeping cable-supported arches, and will accommodate not only the original bridge’s four traffic lanes, but also dedicated bicycle lanes and 14-foot-wide sidewalks, as well as multiple sets of stairs allowing pedestrians to descend from the bridge to the planned 12-acre Sixth Street Parc below. This new community space is expected to include basketball courts, soccer fields, fitness areas, a dog park, skate park, amphitheater, and several picnic and garden areas. In other words, a much larger development than simply replacing the existing structure with something comparable. Once I learned more about the project, I knew that — with a little creative embellishment — it would serve as a particularly apt anchor for one of the critical revelations in “All That Glitters.” Closure and demolition began in January of 2016, and after several delays, the bridge is finally scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2022.


Be sure to check out the complete article, in both text and enhanced audio formats, along with the rest of The Quorum Chronicle series, at our Patreon page. And thanks so much for your continuing support of Jabberwocky Audio Theater!

— William R. Coughlan, writer/director of Quorum

Quorum — The Gambler’s Tale: “All That Glitters,” Part 10 of 10

July 2012. As events come to a head, Jimmy Harmon finds himself finally confronting the conspirators behind the White Bluff Restoration Trust. But as the situation escalates, Jimmy is forced to grapple with an uncomfortable realization — and the sudden loss of a key ally. Unable to escape, Jimmy finds himself in mortal peril as the plotters take whatever action they can to prevent their schemes from coming to light — in shockingly extreme fashion.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

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Length: 37:56

Rated AD-PG, so parental guidance is suggested
Contains semi-adult language (“ass,” a few instances of “bitch” and “SOB,” JC’s name in vain, “crap” and descriptive variants thereof, “damn” and associated variations, including “GD,” “dumbass,” “jackass,” “pissant,” “screwed over,” multiple uses of “hell”), horse-race gambling, homicide by firearm, threatening with a gun, hand-to-hand violence with lethal outcome, unsafe flying (with a shameful lack of proper seatbelt usage), and nefarious scheming of the world-dominating variety.

Cast (in order of speaking)

Announcer: Marsha Rehns
Jimmy Harmon: Cameron McNary
Malone: Ricardo Padilla
Glen Chambers: Kevin Murray
Parker Wells: Daniel Rylee Bush
Anton Kreitzer: Pete Papageorge
Gabriel: Greg Jones Ellis
Farah: Liz Christmas
Eleanor Wallis: Ariana Almajan
Drake: Brooks Tegler
Voice Mail Announcer: Tom Kramer
Robin Freeman: Emily H. Gilson
Ben Marshall: Nick DePinto
Will Archer: James E. Lewis
Mr. King: Pete Papageorge
Mr. Queen: Joel Snyder
Ms. Rook: Faith Potts
Mr. Bishop: Brian Crane
Ms. Knight: Anna Fitzgerald
Racing Announcer: Bob Hurley
Tom: Tom Kramer
Paul: James Whalen

Crew

Recorded at Tulgey Wood Studios in Deepest Springfield
Supplemental recording at various other studios throughout the area
Music by Brooks Tegler
Dialogue and sound effects editing, mastering and final mixing by William R. Coughlan
Produced by Bjorn Munson
Written and directed by William R. Coughlan

Music Selections

Early in the Morning
composed by Clyde Hunt
performed by Brooks Tegler’s Hot Jazz
from the album And Not Only That!
Amazon | iTunes

Chill On The Tropical Beach
performed by Gushito

Quorum — The Gambler’s Tale: “All That Glitters,” Part 9 of 10

July 2012. Poker player Jimmy Harmon and his ex-girlfriend Robin Freeman have at last uncovered the truth behind the White Bluff Restoration Trust’s plans. But knowing the truth and being able to prove it are different things entirely. Jimmy plans to return to his exclusive private poker game in an attempt to glean more information while Robin collects their evidence — a course that may be complicated by an ill-conceived betrayal of trust between the pair… and an unforeseen danger awaiting Jimmy.

LISTEN TO THE EPISODE

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AD-PG

Length: 32:06

Rated AD-PG, so parental guidance is suggested
Contains semi-adult language (uses of “bitch” and “SOB,” several uses of “damn” and variations thereof, including “GD,” several uses of “hell” and descriptive forms thereof, “pissed,” “screw up” and “screwed over,” “Oh my God” as an exclamation, JC’s name taken in vain), horse-race gambling, torture and its aftermath, intimations of extramarital relations, wildly unrestrained gunfire, Hand-to-hand violence with lethal outcome, auto theft, vehicular assault, and homicide by firearm.

Cast (in order of speaking)

Announcer: Marsha Rehns
Jimmy Harmon: Cameron McNary
Robin Freeman: Emily H. Gilson
Margaret Florian: Laura Rocklyn
Parker Wells: Daniel Rylee Bush
Boyd: Tara Garwood
Anton Kreitzer: Pete Papageorge
Glen Chambers: Kevin Murray
Malone: Ricardo Padilla
Eleanor Wallis: Ariana Almajan
Racing Announcer: Bob Hurley
Betting Window Clerk: Lydia Kraniotis
Tom: Tom Kramer

Crew

Recorded at Tulgey Wood Studios in Deepest Springfield
Supplemental recording at various other studios throughout the area
Music by Brooks Tegler
Dialogue and sound effects editing, mastering and final mixing by William R. Coughlan
Produced by Bjorn Munson
Written and directed by William R. Coughlan

Music Selections

Early in the Morning
composed by Clyde Hunt
performed by Brooks Tegler’s Hot Jazz
from the album And Not Only That!
Amazon | iTunes