Where Everybody Knows Your Name: The Characters of “All That Glitters”

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 primary character-naming convention of “All That Glitters” started as a kind of inside joke. By way of background, the scene where Jimmy impresses a big-time L.A. venture capitalist — initially named “Bob Lawrence” — appeared in the very first draft of The Gambler’s Tale, way back in early 2011. At the time, the story had Jimmy hastily departing Las Vegas for Los Angeles — with Big Mike, no less — immediately following the car bomb that apparently took Will Archer’s life. At the time, I was envisioning the tale as a single story arc, as opposed to subdividing it into separate “seasons.” But once I opted to keep the action in Las Vegas for the inaugural story arc, now called “Outstanding Debts,” this scene quickly ended up on the cutting room floor. But I knew I’d be bringing the character back in season two.

The decision to make Malone a corrupt police detective came fairly late in the process, but served to add another element of menace — not only would he be physically untouchable, but he would also be, to a large degree, immune from legal consequence.

Even before I finished that initial script, I worked up a “story bible” for the series, a sort of master blueprint to make sure I kept the plot and characters consistent. Not a complete script, or even a full outline, but mapping out the major beats for each season and defining the key characters. So now, I started developing this investor character in greater depth, working out his key personality traits. He had to be engaging and personable, but with a ruthless quality — something lurking beneath the surface that would only come to the fore when he was crossed. Not quite so simple as turning a switch on or off, but still a transition that could happen surprisingly quickly. At the risk of going into some vague spoilers, while we see hints of that transformation in “All That Glitters,” it promises to become more evident in our third-season story arc.

For some reason, an old Cheers episode popped into my head, 1989’s “The Two Faces of Norm,” in which barfly Norm Peterson is taken advantage of by his painting-business staff, who see him as a lovable pushover. To whip his team into shape, he invents a fictional “business partner,” Anton Kreitzer, who can be the hard-nosed taskmaster while Norm remains the affable, good-natured buddy. At one point, Norm even has to adopt the Kreitzer persona in an attempt to keep up the ruse — which naturally falls apart in typical sitcom fashion. Amused, I penciled in the name “Anton Kreitzer” for my venture capitalist and didn’t think much more about it. Later, rewriting his introduction to the story, and having already added Eleanor Wallis to the scene, I realized I needed another character in the mix, to provide an additional point of potential conflict. And if I had one character named for Norm, why not name this new character for Norm’s near-constant barstool companion? So Cliff — short for Clifford — became Ford.

From there, throughout the entire writing process, I started sticking in Cheers character names. Malone, Chambers, Boyd, Pantusso — that’s Coach’s last name, by the way — and even a bunch of secondary characters, like Tom, Paul, Drake, and Gittes, who’s actually named for Harry Anderson’s flim-flam character rather than for Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown protagonist. None of the Quorum characters are really anything like their Cheers namesakes, but once I got rolling, it just sort of stuck. I even threw in a reference to a “Screaming Viking,” a fictional drink featured in the show.

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

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