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The Burial (2023) | Transcript

Inspired by true events, a lawyer helps a funeral home owner save his family business from a corporate behemoth, exposing a complex web of race, power, and injustice.
The Burial - Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones

Original title: The Burial
Release date: September 11, 2023 (Toronto International Film Festival), October 6, 2023 (USA)
Running time: 126 minutes
Directed by: Maggie Betts
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tommy Lee Jones, Jurnee Smollett, Alan Ruck, Mamoudou Athie, Pamela Reed, Bill Camp

Inspired by true events, when a handshake deal goes sour, funeral home owner Jeremiah O’Keefe (Tommy Lee Jones) enlists charismatic, smooth-talking attorney Willie E. Gary (Jamie Foxx) to save his family business. Tempers flare and laughter ensues as the unlikely pair bond while exposing corporate corruption and racial injustice in this inspirational, triumphant story.

* * *

(“Trust in the Lord” playing)

(cheering)

♪ ♪

Uh-huh. Yes, Lord.

MAN: Yes, sir.

I’m Willie Gary.

All right, now, you know my brother’s Albert, he preaches here, but he asked me to come down and-and, uh, share a bit with y’all.

But I say like this, when God calls…

(congregation agreeing)

…you have to answer.

That’s right.

Mm-hmm.

And that’s what it is.

God was on my heart and on my spirit today, (slaps pulpit) so that’s why I came here to speak to you.

I say to myself, what sustains us?

What gives us a feeling of, of a spirit that, where we, we feel safe?

(congregation murmurs encouragement)

I believe it’s home.

(congregation exclaiming)

If I could just get home.

(congregation agreeing)

Even saying the word “home” makes you feel a kind of way.

Where do I need to get?

CONGREGATION: Home.

Where do we want to be?

Home.

Home is where the heart is. Amen.

Amen.

Hallelujah.

Hallelujah.

‘Cause when you home, your family’s there, everybody’s there, you home.

And where’s home for us?

Black church.

(congregation exclaiming)

Huh?

CONGREGATION: Black church.

I don’t hear you. Where are we?

CONGREGATION: Black church!

Speak to it.

(exclaiming)

In Black church, they don’t say that I fit the description.

In Black church, they don’t judge me because of the color of my skin.

(congregation agreeing)

In Black church, they don’t call me out my name.

And if they do call me out my name,

you know what they call me?

CONGREGATION: What do they call you?

I said, do you know what they call me?

What do they call you?

They call me a child of God.

(cheering)

You are one. Yes, sir!

♪ ♪

All right.

Thank you.

All right, now, doc. Good to see you.

Now, y’all take care, okay?

All right, now. All right.

Have a good week.

All right, doc.

All right.

All right, you take care.

That was a wonderful message, you hear me?

Right.

(chatter, laughter)

(dog barks)

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you ♪

♪ Happy birthday, dear Grandpa ♪

♪ Happy birthday to you. ♪

Happy birthday, Grandpa.

I made it just for you.

Well, aren’t I lucky?

Let’s have a look here.

WOMAN: 13 children, 24 grandchildren.

I’d say you done good, Mr. O’Keefe.

And you have done well…

Mrs. O’Keefe.

Very well indeed.

(chuckles)

Not one felon in the whole damn bunch.

(laughing)

Are you… Hey.

Hmm?

Hey, are you okay?

Yeah.

Uh-huh. Yeah.

I’m just checking in on you.

I’m still allowed to do that.

Yes, you are. Yes, you are.

That’s good. Good to hear.

I could not be happier with this day.

♪ ♪

WILLIE: The well-being of this man’s life depends on y’all.

Can I just talk simple to y’all?

Hmm? Plain, ordinary talk?

‘Cause I think they trying to talk over y’all head.

And we not gonna allow that.

Now, I got some secrets about my client.

And I’m gonna tell you right now,

my client ain’t no good.

(murmuring)

He ain’t.

My no-good client, Clovis Tubbs, on the day of the accident,

was drunk.

That’s right. Drunk.

Uh… tanked.

Wasted. Toe up from the flo’ up.

Matter of fact, you want to check the numbers?

The numbers say, uh, 0.4 percent blood alcohol level.

It’s right here.

Inebriated, if you want to say a big word.

Not only that,

he was going through mental things.

He said he was suffering from depression.

Some would say that he was suicidal, and we have the proof of that,

because when he was talking to his therapist,

he’d told his therapist, “I’m feeling so bad I wish I could get in my car

and ride straight into a tree.”

But he couldn’t do that.

My no-good client couldn’t do that. You know why?

His license is revoked.

(chuckles)

Ain’t even got a license.

So what’d he say? “I’m gonna get me a bicycle

and I’m gonna do it that way.”

And that’s exactly what he did.

He got on his bicycle and rode over there to Alberta and Vine.

Y’all know the liquor store over there, huh?

And he got him a big old bottle of Scotch and he downed it, and what’d he do?

Get on that bicycle and he rode straight towards the highway, towards traffic.

Hmm?

And then, here comes Mr. Eighteen-Wheeler,

Finch and Company, not paying no attention.

To nothing. Coming down Elm.

And what did he do? Bam!

He hit Clovis.

He hit him.

He should be dead.

He should be dead.

Y’all know that song, um…

♪ I’m looking for a miracle ♪?

WOMAN: Mm-hmm.

Hmm?

That’s a miracle, right here.

That’s why we asking for you to look in your hearts and your soul

and award him that mere $75 million.

You know why? They got it.

They got it.

They got the bank to do it.

But they know they big, trying to step on the small man.

And then you say, “Well, why $75 million, Willie Gary?”

I’m-a tell you why.

Because we have the evidence.

The evidence will prove that there was negligence.

Because no-good Clovis

had one thing going good for him,

at that time.

Even though he was drunk,

tanked, toe up from the flo’ up,

depressed and suicidal,

my no-good client, Clovis Tubbs…

…had him a green light.

(gallery exclaiming)

MAN: Yes, he did.

WILLIE: I rest my case, Your Honor.

(cheering)

(“Whatta Man (feat. En Vogue)” by Salt-N-Pepa playing)

♪ ♪

♪ All right ♪

♪ Ooh, what a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man ♪

♪ Gonna say it again now ♪

(elevator bell dings)

♪ What a man, what a man, what a man ♪

♪ What a mighty good man ♪

♪ He’s a mighty, mighty good man ♪

♪ What a man, what a man, what a man ♪

♪ What a mighty good man… ♪

I’m Willie Gary. Y’all come on in.

Listen, I apologize for keeping y’all waiting out there so long.

Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Gary. I’m Jeremiah O’Keefe.

“Jeremiah.” I like that.

That’s biblical. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations. That’s biblical.

Now, who’s this?

Hey…

JEREMIAH: He’s my junior counsel, Halbert Dockins.

Well, H-Hal’s fine.

Uh, it’s an honor, Mr. Gary.

You’re too young

to be a lawyer, Negro.

I thought you was his foster child.

Really? Come on, no, I’m just kidding with you.

Come on in here.

This is, this is my, uh, partner, Reggie Douglas.

He runs my point.

So, what y’all got? What y’all got for Willie Gary?

Hmm? P.I.?

I beg your pardon?

P.I. Personal injury. Y’all got some personal injuries?

Didn’t y’all see the sign outside?

That’s the only kind of law we practice round here.

Uh, well, yes and no.

Um, I guess… I guess we sort of have a…

a P.I. case, but with a bit of a twist.

Bit of a twist? Okay, what-what kind of twist?

What kind of case is it?

It’s a contract law case.

Contract law? Oh, come on, man.

We don’t do no contract law here.

REGGIE: Hell, nah.

That sound like a nap waiting to happen.

Yeah. Yeah, we don’t do no contract law.

REGGIE: I mean, hell.

R-Right, but look, we understand it’s not necessarily your field,

but perhaps you could just hear him out.

I think you’ll find the case compelling.

I am a, um, funeral director

from Biloxi, Mississippi.

I have a business there… Well, actually, I have several businesses there.

I have eight funeral homes and one burial insurance company.

We are a family business,

and have been for over a hundred years.

And we are not about to lose that without a fight.

After I returned from the war,

my father passed the business to me,

which I considered a sacred trust.

Annette and I were blessed with 13 children,

and we intend for them

to carry the business into the future.

But about a year ago,

I ran into some financial trouble.

Good afternoon, gentlemen. How can I help you?

We’re here on behalf of the state insurance commission.

Mr. O’Keefe, as a registered burial insurance broker

in the state of Mississippi,

I’m sure you’re aware you’re required to maintain

a certain minimum funds in your account at all times.

Well, yes. Of course I’m aware.

Insurance regulators?

You gotta be kidding me.

What’d they say they want, exactly?

Truth is, I may have gotten myself into a lot of trouble.

Trouble?

Jerry…

I’ve been your lawyer, what, coming up on 30 years?

Was your friend even before that.

You and I both know

I’ve been in debt up to my neck for years,

trying to make this business strong,

make it last,

so I have something to leave my children.

(sighs)

Let’s not panic just yet.

I get how stressful this is,

but I’m pretty sure we can find a way out of it.

Hold up a second.

Excuse me, son.

Do you want another drink?

No, no.

Whenever you get a chance, could I get another bourbon over here?

Yeah.

Yes, sir.

So, look,

have you considered selling off part of the business?

No.

Just part of it. Okay?

Well, I’m not saying I want to, but if I did,

where would I find a buyer?

Canada, actually.

They made an inquiry.

Loewen Group? Oh, yeah.

They’ve been on a pretty significant acquisition spree.

Going all across the country,

buying up every independently owned funeral chain they can get their hands on.

These guys, they’re really big players.

Now, you know how I feel about these big corporations, now.

Yes, I do. But all I’m saying is it’s an option.

And it’s out there.

Might be a way out.

You could think about it.

(plane flying overhead)

(car horns honking)

(indistinct announcement over P.A.)

Jerry.

Perfect timing.

Hey, you need a hand with that?

Oh, no, I got it.

Hey, so, listen.

You’re sure about this, right?

No, I’ve given this a lot of thought,

and I believe this is the right thing to do for my family.

All righty, then.

Next stop, Vancouver. You ready to go inside?

No, we got to wait for Hal.

Who?

I told you about Hal.

He’s a friend of my son’s from college,

very bright young man

just getting started out as a lawyer and, uh…

Well, hell, here he comes now.

Recently passed the bar exam.

Hungry for experience.

Who, which one?

That tall kid?

Hey, hey, sorry. So sorry, Mr. O’Keefe. Um…

My taxi just dropped me off at the wrong terminal, so…

Oh, don’t worry about it. Halbert Dockins, I want you to meet Mike Allred.

Really great to meet you, Mr. Allred.

I’m very excited to be a member of the team.

Hi, there. Nice to meet you, too.

Yeah.

So you’re a lawyer?

(chuckles) Uh, yeah.

Well, that’s just great. Good for you, son.

I’ll see you guys inside.

Come on. We’re going to Canada.

BOB: I work for Ray Loewen.

He’s really looking forward to meeting you.

As I’m sure you can gather,

Ray’s a very hands-on kind of guy.

One of the only CEOs in the industry

who likes to meet with every seller personally.

Hey, Ray!

Allow me to introduce Mr. Jeremiah O’Keefe

and his colleagues.

It is a pleasure to meet you, Jerry.

So, boys, how do you like the way we do business up here in Canada? (laughing)

Come on on board. Get you a drink.

(seabirds screeching)

BOB: At present, we own 1,115 funeral homes,

427 cemeteries,

354 insurance companies.

RAY: My strategy is simple.

Buy as many funeral homes as I can

and put myself in a position

for what I like to call

the Golden Era of Death.

Sorry?

It’s when all the baby boomers across the U.S.

finally reach their age of demise.

RAY: Resulting in a minimum 60% increase

in death rates nationwide.

Do you have any idea how many people are living in the U.S.,

right now,

over the age of 65?

51 million.

(Bob and Ray laugh)

JEREMIAH: That sounds kind of cynical to me.

Aren’t you worried about losing sight of your customer?

RAY: My customer?

What customer? My customers are dead guys.

(laughing)

I’m just kidding.

I’m just kidding, Jerry.

Look, the more funeral homes I own,

the more money I make,

the more I am able to meet the demands of my customer.

And provide for his… growing needs.

Maybe it’s time that we drop all this chit-chat

and start talking about a deal. What do you say, gentlemen?

I’m interested to hear what you have in mind, Ray.

My understanding

is that you’re having a bit of trouble

with the state regulators down there.

How’d you come to that understanding?

RAY: You own… what?

Nine homes across the state?

JEREMIAH: Eight.

I own eight funeral homes across the state.

And my insurance business, of course.

So what about this?

You sell me three of your homes,

at a fair market value to be agreed upon later.

Then, not only do you get to keep

the bulk of your assets,

but it would also provide you with more than enough fresh cash

to deal with the regulators.

Now, there’s something else I want out of this deal.

I make most of my profits from selling burial insurance.

There’s no way I can survive if you have a monopoly

on that, too, so what I propose

is that I sell you three of my funeral homes,

fair market value…

…but you’re going to have to promise, here and now,

to no longer sell burial insurance in southern Mississippi.

Okay.

So does this mean we have a deal?

I’ll get my lawyers to draw up the contracts

so we can get it done immediately.

What the hell is taking so long?

We closed on this deal, um…

Coming up on four months now.

They keep trying to re-trade the terms.

When we left Vancouver, they said it would take 30 days max.

It just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t know, makes perfect sense to me.

MIKE: Why?

Have you considered the possibility

that Loewen has no intention of closing this deal at all?

Son, with all due respect, you don’t have the faintest idea

what you’re talking about.

I think I do.

Think about it.

The longer he stalls, the worse you’re screwed.

First, the insurance commission takes your license,

effectively destroying your livelihood,

until, sooner or later, you have no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

Now not only does Loewen get the three homes,

he can actually buy your entire business out from under you

at yard-sale prices.

You really think he’s trying to bankrupt me?

Hell, he can’t do that; I got a signed contract.

It was only signed on our end.

With no closing date attached.

And, by the way, I heard Mr. Loewen

is actually still selling insurance in the region.

Oh, come on. Stop with the conspiracy theories.

Son, I’m sorry, but you really are paranoid.

Okay.

Um…

would you mind doing me a favor?

Would you mind stop calling me son?

I am not your son, Mike.

Whoa.

Just take it easy, okay?

You really want to be taken seriously

as a lawyer in this town?

Okay. Who says I’m not?

Enough of that, y’all.

Do you really think Mr. Loewen has the intention of running me into the ground?

I do.

Why the hell should he be on our clock anyway?

Well, that’s it. I’m gonna sue him.

You’ve never sued anybody before in your whole life.

Well, I’m liable to, just about any minute now.

Yeah. Well, you think 75 years of age is a good time to start suing people?

Old men don’t file lawsuits.

The way I see it, if somebody tries to take advantage of you,

and you know it’s wrong, it don’t matter how old you are.

This fellow tried to bully me out of business.

And I don’t think I should be expected to stand for it.

♪ ♪

I’m here to file a lawsuit.

That the complaint right there?

May I see it, please?

“Jeremiah J. O’Keefe Sr. v. The Loewen Group LLC.”

Ooh.

Sounds juicy.

Who do you think’s gonna win?

Excuse me?

(doorbell rings)

Well, goodness, Hal,

what are you doing here?

You know what time it is?

Look, uh,

I know it’s late. I’m really sorry about that.

I-I found something I think will be really useful for our case.

ROBIN LEACH (over TV): The thrills continue with another

opulent episode on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

You won’t believe the amazing journey of famed

personal injury lawyer Willie E. Gary,

a man who refused to accept a life sentence of poverty

because he believed in the American dream.

Born to a family of migrant sharecroppers

working the sugarcane fields of Florida,

life wasn’t always a bed of roses for Willie Gary.

I just always had this burning desire to be something, you know?

And I-I knew I was going to make something of myself.

LEACH: And make something of himself he did,

as now Willie regularly wins multimillion-dollar cases…

Are you suggesting I hire this guy as one of my lawyers?

Seems like a crazy idea,

but this guy wins cases. I mean…

LEACH: He not only owns his own private 737 jet,

called Wings of Justice,

he also lives the high life in a 50-room mansion

along the luxurious Florida coast.

But Willie can’t take credit for the decorating,

as that job belongs to Willie’s childhood sweetheart,

his gorgeous and alluring wife Gloria.

GLORIA: One thing

that I always try to remind Willie of is to…

is to never forget where he came from.

Mm.

Stay humble.

LEACH: Yes,

“humble” is Willie Gary’s middle name.

Don’t never let nobody tell you you can’t do something, okay?

Willie Gary told you that.

Give me a pound.

LEACH: Never forgetting his roots…

(tape stops)

Believe it or not, he’s got an absolutely flawless trial record.

He supposedly hasn’t lost a case in over 12 years.

What does he know about contract law?

This is a contract law case.

The case was filed down in Hinds County.

That’s a three-to-one Black/white ratio.

That means there’s a 70% chance we’ll get a Black judge,

and if we do go to trial,

likely a Black jury as well.

So what?

With all due respect,

you-you can’t put a guy like Mike Allred in front of a Black jury.

Why the hell not?

He has been my attorney for 30 years.

He knows contract law better than anybody.

You’re really gonna make me spell this out.

Um…

He literally reeks self-satisfied, good ol’ boy Southern bigotry.

I mean, a Black jury sees a guy like that coming…

The idea of us pandering to a jury like that, Hal, it’s not…

It… (sighs)

This is not a discrimination suit.

You and I both know that race has nothing to do with this.

I happen to know, for a fact, that Mr. Gary is trying a case

down in Florida this week.

What if… what if…

you and I went down there, just for the day,

and try to meet him in person?

Essentially, we just want to hold the Loewen Group

responsible for their actions.

WILLIE: Nah, nah, nah. That ain’t what you want.

What you want to do is you want to make ’em pay.

REGGIE: Make ’em hurt, make ’em pay.

Yeah, yeah.

So, how much money y’all trying to get, hmm?

JEREMIAH: Uh, $6 million.

$6 million.

That’s full, fair market value plus damages,

and I’ve already filed a civil claim in Hinds County, Mississippi.

HAL: Well?

What-what do you think, Mr. Gary? Do you like the case?

I’m gonna give you my personal opinion.

Honest.

Look, Mr. O’Keefe, I’m sorry for what this Loewen guy did to you…

he sounds like he’s a big asshole and everything like that…

but, um, this ain’t no Willie Gary case.

It just ain’t. It ain’t…

It ain’t a Willie Gary case.

Uh, wait, what-what do you mean? Why-why not?

It ain’t a Willie Gary case

’cause it ain’t for Willie Gary.

No, but…

I’m sorry, what is a “Willie Gary case,” then?

I don’t…

In other words, what he’s saying is

a Willie Gary case is the type of case where I have the upper hand.

Where I feel that I can take this case to trial. Understand?

All the way.

And-and once I get ’em in that trial,

I mean, y’all seen my tape.

When I get ’em in front of… especially in front of people

that-that look like me… I’m-a play ’em like a symphony.

Mm. Mozart.

A Willie Gary case is where I could take that judgement

and push it all the way up, to the heavens if I need to,

and get as much money as I can for my client.

Uh, what he’s saying is, a Willie Gary case

is a case we know we can win.

This case… not so much.

Matter of fact, your case a little bit iffy.

And, uh…

the other thing is this.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but, uh…

He, uh, he’s… you’re white… he’s white.

And I don’t have white clients.

I’ve never had any, so…

No offense or anything like that, but this is just unusual for me.

No offense taken, Mr. Gary.

That guy’s too rich and famous for us, Halbert.

Uh-huh.

Um, you know what, Mr. O’Keefe? Just, um…

What?

You know, just-just give me one second.

All right?

Where you going?

I’m-I’m gonna talk with him one more time.

G-Give me five minutes, okay?

The green light scenario,

when I was talking to the, the one juror, uh, uh…

What’d she have on?

I’d have maybe looked at her a little bit longer.

You know, gave her some eye contact.

Sometimes you got to romance them.

Listen, I’m not…

That’s the thing, I don’t know that…

Look, Mr. Gary,

I’m so sorry to come back in here like this, I really am,

but I just need a minute of your time.

WILLIE: What’s going on with you, man?

You lost? Huh?

Yeah. Lost your mind…

Or did he fire your ass out there by the elevator?

Okay, yeah, maybe so, but listen, I… I…

I just need a minute of your time.

You need a minute?

One minute. That’s all I ask.

Well, you know what, that’s all you got.

‘Cause we busy. Then, come on, Hal.

I mean, Jerry’s a… a dream client.

He’s got a great narrative.

He’s a war hero.

A decorated war hero.

He served in World War II.

He was, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross…

Yeah.

…for service for his country.

Hmm.

Is that all you got?

Man.

That’s it?

Wasn’t World War II about 50 years ago?

Yeah, man.

Hal, don’t nobody give a shit except them.

That’s old news, nigga.

All right. All right. How about this?

Okay, um…

In 1976,

Jerry was serving as a two-term mayor in his hometown of Biloxi.

The KKK tried to organize a march…

And he stopped ’em from buying white sheets.

(Willie and Reggie laughing)

Shit, man.

I guess, I guess he’s supposed to be

our white savior now. (laughs)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. KKK, man.

REGGIE: You sound like you in love with him, man.

(laughing)

No, that’s not my point. I’m saying we’re hopefully trying the case in Hinds County.

There’s a three-to-one…

Hold-hold on. Let me stop you, Hal.

Now, listen, Hal, I like you… I-I think you come from good stock…

but you got to understand how we work here.

One, we don’t do contract law.

Two, we don’t have no white clients.

REGGIE: No.

And three, that ain’t enough money.

My, not enough money.

It ain’t enough money, Hal. You know, I-I-I love you, man,

but it ain’t enough money for us.

Brother, look around. You see where you are?

You don’t see this mahogany wood?

Gold finish?

Got to see it.

Preach. Yeah.

REGGIE: It’s the big time, baby.

We doing cases for $50 million, $30 million,

$80 million cases monthly.

Yeah.

HAL: Okay. Okay.

But how do you know this case can’t be something bigger?

Well…

we don’t know.

You know something we don’t?

Ray Loewen happens to sit at the top

of one of the biggest industries in this country.

Hmm.

I’m talking about the $20 billion a year death care industry.

There are two huge corporations moving in and taking over everything,

and the Loewen Group is one of them.

Now, what they did to Jerry is truly terrible, but…

I have a feeling it’s just… it’s-it…

No. I know. It’s the tip of the iceberg.

Hmm.

HAL: Can I keep going?

Sure. Shit.

Well, that’s where you should’ve started.

You guys try all these $80 million cases, and…

and you have your private jet and all that, I get it, that’s fine, but…

Yeah, I do. Wings of Justice.

HAL: Great. Look, you know as well as I do

that as far as the more elite legal community in this country goes,

you’re nothing more than a glorified ambulance chaser.

No offense.

Now, Hal, now don’t make me whoop your ass now.

Disrespectful, boy.

What if…

What if, what-what if…

what if this case is the one that puts you on the map?

What if this case takes you to a nationwide level?

I’m talking, um…

William Kuntsler,

Clarence Darrow,

Thurgood Marshall.

Look, I’m talking…

I’m talking Johnnie motherfucking Cochran.

(“Everybody Everybody” by Black Box playing)

♪ ♪

Well, I’ve never heard of him.

Was this your idea, by the way, Mr. Dockins?

Yes.

No, it was not his idea,

it was mine, and I realize, Mike, it might piss you off,

me bringing on additional counsel like this, but…

MIKE: Piss me off? Not at all.

Doesn’t piss me… Do I seem pissed off?

I’m not pissed off.

Hell, it’s your money, you can do what you want to with it,

I just think you’re making a big mistake.

I am trying to put us in the best possible position

in the event we end up going to trial.

Got it.

Except we’re not going to trial.

Seriously, what’s so special about this guy, anyway?

Hal and I went over to Florida to watch him try a case in front of a jury,

and I want to tell you, this man can absolutely,

(laughing): positively galvanize a jury.

(laughing)

Yes, sir.

Well…

if you believe in him that much,

then sure, okay, I’ll work with him.

I’ve partnered up before.

Just as long as it’s clear

I’m still lead attorney.

Appreciate you being a good sport about this, Mike.

No problem.

So what time is he supposed to get here, anyway?

You know, actually, I think this is them now.

Now?

(“DWYCK” by Gang Starr (feat. Nice & Smooth) playing)

♪ Greg N-N-N, N-N-N ♪

♪ Has gots to be the sure shot ♪

♪ Gang Starr has gots to be the sure shot ♪

♪ Nice & Smooth has gots to be the sure shot ♪

♪ Greg Nice, Greg N-I-C-E ♪

♪ Oka-yay, o-o… ♪

Jeremiah Lamentations. How you doing, Jerry?

Good to see you, Willie.

Good to see you, doc.

Good to see you. You looking good.

Thank you.

Hey, Hal, what you doing over there, huh?

It’s a pleasure.

You gettin’ younger on me, man?

Huh? What, you on some Dorian Gray shit?

Willie, let me introduce you to Mike Allred, right here.

Mike.

Now, I understand we working together, hmm?

So I understand. How you doing, Mr. Gary?

(chuckles) I look like a million, huh?

You look like ten million Yankee dollars, Willie.

(chuckles) Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

I feel good.

This your war room here, huh?

Uh, well, we got the conference room, you know.

Mm-hmm.

I like these over there. I like these books. I like all those.

This is nice, though.

(clears throat) Before we get to work, though…

I hope this doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, but, uh…

I got some questions I got to ask you.

Oh, sure. Feel free to ask me anything. I’m all ears.

Good.

Um, question is, uh…

how do you feel about working with Black folk?

Man-to-man?

Is there any other way?

No, sir. You want an honest answer?

I need that.

All right.

Well, if you want an honest answer,

truth be told, I suppose I am a little prejudiced.

Mm. Okay.

I’m not saying I’m proud of it or anything.

I appreciate your honesty.

In fact, I’ve been working real hard

on trying to overcome it.

Mm. Well, then you should.

I’m glad you’re working on it.

But yes.

Did you meet my team?

Hi. I’m Chris.

Hi, Chris.

Yes. Dashaan.

Dashaan.

Mm.

Al.

Reggie Douglas.

Gentlemen.

Okay. Uh… now that that’s all cleared up,

why don’t we all just head over to the conference room,

where the rest of the team is waiting, yeah?

Jerry. We’re gonna work this out, all right?

Yeah.

He’s gonna be okay.

Okay, that’s fine.

WILLIE: Afternoon, gentlemen. How you feeling?

You good? Huh? Good, good, good.

For all y’all that don’t know who I am, my name is Willie Gary.

Tell ’em who you are.

Now, I done brought a couple of partners of mine from my firm up here from Florida

to help y’all win this case.

And for all of y’all who are unfamiliar with the Willie Gary style of litigation,

let me break it down to you.

We ’bout to go to war.

‘Cause that’s what I think litigation is.

Litigation is war.

It’s a battle, a battle to the death.

And I’m not talking about no bullshit, either;

I’m talking about some Jean-Claude Van Damme ass-kicking shit.

Now I know y’all looking at me crazy, but that’s how I like to get.

And if we don’t get crazy with these motherfuckers,

I’m telling you, this Loewen Group?

They’re powerful.

Got a lot of money, got a lot of influence.

They have everything that we don’t.

But we not gonna let them intimidate us.

‘Cause I’m not intimidated.

Now, it ain’t no secret.

For the past 12 years, I have not lost a case.

And why is that?

Can you tell me why?

‘Cause I hate to lose.

I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!

I’d rather somebody pull a gun on me and blow my head off

than to lose a case.

Now, that being said…

…there’s one thing I’m-a tell you I’m not gonna bend on.

I do not plan on settling this case.

We don’t do that, no.

MIKE: Excuse me.

Anyone mind if I say something here?

Go ahead, Mike.

Mr. Gary,

when it comes to the matter of settling, I’m afraid that’s not at all

the strategy we’ve developed here.

In fact, I’ve already drafted a letter to Mr. Loewen

offering to settle at $8 million.

Though, just between us here in this room,

we’d probably be willing to drop to seven if need be.

WILLIE: Well, Mike, thank you for the update…

appreciate that… but, unfortunately, things have changed.

We’re not settling.

No matter what you said,

the discussion is still on the table

and will remain so until I’ve decided what the best course is.

Huh.

Till you decided, huh?

What’s going on here, Mike?

Hmm? Who’s in charge?

No, seriously, who’s in charge?

‘Cause you done have Willie Gary come down here to take over the case

and now here you’re telling me what you’re gonna do.

I said we’re not settling the case and that comes from the lead attorney.

Come again?

Come again what?

What’s the matter? You need your ears checked or something?

Excuse me, sir.

No, you’re not.

Mike, you raise a finger to me,

you’ll get your ass whupped in here.

Boss, calm down.

MIKE: Believe me, Mr. Gary, you are not lead attorney.

AL: Come on, settle down.

Then what am I, then?

May I remind you

you are in my town…

Your town?

…sitting at my conference table…

Every town I go to, Mike, is my town.

…across the table from my client.

Evidently it ain’t your town,

or they wouldn’t have called me.

JEREMIAH: Gentlemen. Gentlemen.

Gentlemen, could y’all let the temperature down a little bit?

WILLIE: I didn’t come here to fight you, Mike.

MIKE: What?

I said, I didn’t come here to fight you.

I came here to get a job done.

Now, Mr. O’Keefe…

Last I checked, he wants to win this case.

Not toot his ass up in the air for a funky little $8 million.

Like a bitch.

MIKE: Jesus Christ, Jerry. What’s going on?

I think we ought to give him a chance.

Did you hear that speech he just gave?

He has no idea what he’s doing.

He hasn’t lost a case in 12 years.

For personal injury cases.

He clearly has no idea about real law, about contract law.

What about lead attorney?

You’re not considering giving him lead attorney.

Yeah.

I am.

We good?

(sighs) Yeah.

Mike, you good?

All right, since we’re all good,

uh, does anybody here mind, uh, taking some dictation?

Cynthia, would you mind taking dictation for Mr. Gary?

WILLIE: All right, Cynthia. I sure appreciate it.

All right.

Address to Mr. Ray Loewen,

Chairman, Loewen Group.

Dear Mr. Loewen, my name is Willie E. Gary.

I’ve just been appointed lead counsel

in the suit brought against you by Jeremiah O’Keefe.

In regards to the prior settlement,

the offer you received of $8 million,

I hereby rescind that offer.

As of the date of this new letter we have,

the new offer is in the amount of $100 million.

Whoo. That’s what I’m talking about.

(scattered laughter)

Did he just say $100 million?

As in eight zeros?

$100 million.

Why don’t y’all just relax? Hear what I’m saying?

It’s literally $94 million more than our original claim.

Sounds to me like your original claim was about $94 million short.

Uh, yeah, Mr. Gary, perhaps you could

help us understand…

MIKE: $100 million?

It’s absurd and you know it.

What you trying to do, destroy this case?

Mike, anybody ever tell you you got balls the size of a garden slug?

W-Willie, I’m afraid that I agree with everybody’s concerns.

That’s a hell of a lot of money.

We throw out a number like that, we’re gonna humiliate ourselves.

WILLIE: Listen, I understand how you feel, Jerry.

But you got to trust me, okay?

Mm-hmm. Trust him.

Okay?

Everybody’s got to trust me.

All right?

REGGIE: Amen.

Now, Cynthia, where were we?

MAN: “Starting as of the date of this letter,

“our new settlement demand is now

$100 million.”

(men laughing)

(man whistles)

MAN 2: Oh, what?

MAN 3: Oh, come on. You got to be kidding me.

$100 million?

MAN 4: Who the hell does he think he is?

MAN 2: Is he crazy?

MAN: Eight zeros, did you count that?

Eight zeros.

There’s no way that is not a joke.

That is a joke.

It looks like a fucking dozen eggs.

(laughter)

No joke.

Jesus Christ, this O’Keefe guy, he’s a piece of work, no?

Yeah.

Who is this clown he’s hired as a lawyer?

Apparently, some guy by the name of William Gary.

Thank you, Bob, I also read the letter.

But my question is,

who is he?

What’s his story?

Where did O’Keefe find him?

From what we could dig up,

he’s this kind of flashy personal injury lawyer,

uh, out of Florida.

Ambulance-chaser type.

Personal injury?

This is a contract dispute.

Why the hell would he hire a personal injury lawyer

for a contract dispute?

Maybe they don’t have any regular lawyers

(Southern accent): down in backwater Mississippi.

You should talk like that more.

Turns out, the case was filed in some remote county

in the lower region of the state, called Hinds County.

RAY: Yeah? So?

So, Hinds County also happens to be

one of the poorest, and about 70%, uh…

…Black.

Oh.

So that’s why he was hired.

Because he’s Black.

Gary’s Black.

He’s an African American man.

(“Hold On” by En Vogue playing) ♪ When… ♪

♪ I… ♪

♪ When I ♪

♪ Had you ♪

♪ Had you ♪

♪ I treated you bad ♪

♪ Bad ♪

Well, like I said, like my grandfather said,

“Who in so ever it is…”

(knocking at door)

I ain’t worried about it.

Reg, you’re not understanding the whole…

MAN: Sorry to interrupt.

We just got the info you requested

on who Loewen appointed as lead counsel.

HAL: May I see that, please? Thank you.

Well, who is he?

Do we know him?

She.

WILLIE: She?

What you talking about, “she”?

Yeah, what does that mean, “she”?

“She” as in, like, a… like a…

A woman?

Her name is Mame Downes.

♪ Ooh… ♪

She graduated with her BA from Howard University.

Oh. That means she just ain’t a woman,

she’s a Black woman.

She’s a sister.

Well, what do you know?

We done got out-Blacked and out-womaned, all in one go. (chuckles)

(“Hold On” continues)

Graduated top of her class from Harvard Law School.

Jesus Christ.

Then went on to clerk two years

for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

Three years associate at Paul, Weiss

and now currently the youngest partner ever

at Cranston, Brown and Atwell.

Mm-hmm.

Okay, that’s impressive.

Friend of mine used to work with her, over at C, B and A.

And, um…

well…

he told me they had a nickname for her around the office.

Mm. What was it?

Ain’t that right?

“The Python.” (chuckles)

On account of her particular style during cross?

Yes. Yes.

You know, how she used to strike

when you least expect it.

(murmuring)

Mm-hmm. Okay, Ms. Python.

But you know what?

REGGIE: Very descriptive.

You know what?

I’m the boa constrictor. (grunts)

REGGIE: Let’s see what she got.

ANNETTE: I think we may need to call the cable company.

Every time I try and turn on Turner Broadcast,

it’s just some weird, empty screen.

Think there’s something wrong with it.

There’s nothing wrong with it. I canceled the subscription.

What do you mean, you canceled it?

Annie, those insurance regulators came by again the other day.

They suspended my license this time.

I’m gonna have to shut the business down for a while.

What?

What are you talking about?

It’s only temporary.

Soon as we get this trial over with, Loewen makes his restitution,

we gonna be up and…

Jerry. Jerry.

You hear yourself?

As soon as Ray Loewen makes restitution?

Do you really know for sure that’s even gonna happen?

I mean, you still haven’t told me how we’re paying for all this.

That fancy new lawyer you just brought in from Florida.

You don’t have to worry about him.

(soft chuckle)

Well, I just don’t understand why you’re continuing with this ridiculous lawsuit.

You can find another buyer

for those three homes.

You know that.

Clearly, this is about something else for you.

Maybe it is.

Maybe I just don’t want to see him get away with it.

Who? Ray Loewen?

My God, Jerry.

What is your obsession with this man?

What do you expect me to do, Annie,

just lay back and let him walk all over me?

Let him walk all over our family?

What I expect you to do

is to think of me,

at some point.

Hmm.

You don’t think we can win.

If you want to know how I’m paying for it,

I took out a third mortgage on this house.

(indistinct chatter)

How you doing?

JEREMIAH: Tell me, Willie, how’d you wind up being a lawyer?

Mm. (chuckles)

Well, that depends.

You want the, um, long or the short story?

That’s up to you.

(chuckles)

Well,

when I was a young husband,

young father,

me and my wife, we had, you know, we had a little money,

so we had a little landscaping business.

Real nice, too.

You know, kept-kept all the yards…

fantastic.

But then my wife was like, “You know what?

I want to move into a bigger place.”

I said, “Well, all right. Let’s do that, then.”

And so… (inhales)

…got the paper, saw this ad.

Three-bedroom apartment, man. Real nice.

Uh, nice new complex.

Over there in a white neighborhood at, uh, Raintree.

So I said, “Yeah, that’s what, that’s what we need.”

So I called the owner, I said, “Hey, man.

“Me and my family are looking for a new place.

We want to come to where you are.”

I said, “Do you have any vacancies?”

And he says, “Uh, yeah. Yeah, I got plenty of vacancies, you know?

“Matter of fact, uh, at the end of the month, you can move in.

Get your lease.”

We all looking forward to that day, man.

I mean, we just excited.

You know, just brand-new beginnings, if you would.

So when the day comes,

I pack everybody in the car.

I got the-the-the, the boys in there,

I got my-my wife, I even got my dog in there, man.

And we just happy, man. We happy.

Uh, and we listening to gospel music.

You know, singing, rocking and rolling.

(sighs)

But, um…

when we get there, guy comes out.

I said, “How you doing?” He barely speaks.

He says, “What do you need?”

I said, “I’m the one that, uh, called you about the vacancies.”

He said, “What vacancies?”

I said, “I’m Willie Gary. I called you about the… the vacancies.”

He says, “Oh.

We don’t have no more vacancies.”

What’d you do?

Tell you what I wanted to do.

Wanted to hurt him.

I mean…

disrespecting me like that in front of my boys, man.

My boys look up to me.

I’m their everything.

What-what do I tell ’em?

That…

they daddy ain’t good enough to be in an apartment?

What I tell my queen?

That we not good enough?

But I didn’t act out.

What I did was,

I went back to that hotel,

and I opened up the phone book.

Now, I hadn’t even thought about being a lawyer until this happened.

I opened it up and I…

First law school I saw, I said, “Mm. I’m going right there.”

And I did it.

I enrolled, worked hard,

I graduated, I passed the bar.

And I got my own practice.

And the first thing I did was

went down to Raintree Apartments

and bitch-slapped him with a five-count discriminatory practices lawsuit.

(chuckles)

Take that for your vacancies.

You a fighter.

Yeah.

Oh, I’m a fighter.

You are, too, Jerry. You’re a fighter, man.

You know why I say you’re a fighter?

Going up against this big Loewen Group, man…

small business owner, man, that’s something, doc.

That’s why we connect.

What made you want to do it?

‘Cause he tried to mess with the one thing that means the most to me in life:

being able to leave something behind for my children

and my grandchildren when I go.

They have a legacy, Willie.

And I do mean to pass it on to ’em.

Let’s play some music.

I like music, Willie.

(laughs) Good.

Steve, look, why don’t you go up there and turn on some music?

Sure thing, boss. Anything particular you want to hear?

You know what my jam is, man. Tony! Toni! Toné!

Wise choice, my brother.

I like that. Like that.

You know what’s crazy about Tony! Toni! Toné!?

Ain’t none of ’em named Tony. (laughs)

(“Feels Good” playing)

WILLIE: Oh, there it is.

Hey.

Hey. All right.

♪ It feels good ♪

Hey.

♪ Yeah ♪

WILLIE: Yeah. (laughs)

Hey.

♪ It feels good ♪

I like that.

You like that, Jerry?

♪ Oh, it feels good ♪

Jerry, you like that?

Yeah, it’s good.

WILLIE: It feels good?

(sings along): ♪ It feels good ♪

(laughs)

(chuckling)

♪ Oh, it feels good ♪

Come on to our side!

Oh, you’re-you’re my man now, doc.

You’re my man now, baby.

♪ It feels good ♪

♪ It sure feels good to me. ♪

(music ends)

(bell dings)

This is nice.

(soft music playing in background)

Hey, hey.

RECEPTIONIST: Hi.

Welcome to Hotel Intercontinental.

Well, thank you. I have a reservation for Gary, Willie Gary.

Absolutely.

And welcome to Jackson, Mr. Gary.

Mm-hmm. Thank you.

If you have a credit card you’d like me to run,

I can go ahead and get you all settled in.

Mm-hmm.

Thank you.

Hey, hey, so don’t look now, but that’s, over there, that’s Loewen’s legal team.

Where-where’s that? Hmm.

(indistinct conversation)

HAL: Jesus Christ.

It’s like a who’s who of every prominent Black lawyer in the country.

You actually recognize all of them?

HAL: Okay, so, that guy over there, that’s Howard Pfieffer.

Mm.

He’s a former state representative

and current president of the DC bar association.

Mm.

That gentleman there, that’s Richard Mayfield.

He’s one of the leading experts on antitrust

and complex business litigation.

And that gentleman, right over there, that-that’s Walter Bell.

He’s a former Supreme Court Justice of Mississippi.

Fuck.

Man, Loewen must have spent a fortune on these dudes.

You know what? She don’t actually look as bad as I thought she was gonna look.

What’s her name? Uh, uh, Mammy, May, Mame?

Mammy, Mammy Downes?

Seriously? Is that all you have to say?

Yeah.

That’s all I got to say ’cause they all look like chumps to me.

Matter of fact, could you do me a favor?

Could you send your finest bottle of, uh, champagne over there to that table?

Certainly. Do you have a preference?

What you got?

We have Dom, Moët,

Cristal…

Cristal.

Cristal.

That’s what we need.

Send some Cristal over there.

Make sure that you say that it’s, uh, compliments of Mr. Willie Gary.

Hey. Seriously, man?

Please don’t do that.

Oh, seriously, Hal.

Shut up.

Uh…

Listen, I always say this:

You see me fighting a bear? Pour honey on me.

We’re just gonna pour a little honey.

(horn honking in distance)

WENDELL: Well, we keep the strategy simple.

Firmly cementing the validity of the document

as a contract in the jury’s mind.

That’s definitely gonna be the defense strategy, too.

Except they’ll be focused on proving how it’s not a contract.

Okay, look, we got to be honest about this.

They’re likely gonna be a lot better at this than we are,

considering this is their area of expertise.

REGGIE: I-I say we just forget about all that contract mumbo jumbo.

Bog the jury down with a whole bunch of information

that we know they ain’t interested in.

CHRIS: Personally, what I think we gotta do…

what we gotta prove, rather…

is motive.

We center our argument squarely on the issue

of Loewen Group stalling on closing.

And show what they had to gain from it.

Uh, I’m not so sure.

What? What, Hal?

What-what you ain’t sure about?

DASHAAN: What? Hal?

HAL: What I mean is, I’m not so sure we can actually prove

that the Loewen Group had motive.

Right? Unless we have some kind of internal company memo.

Or someone just openly admits it.

Like, how do you actually prove

that the stalling was intentional?

Well, we’re obviously never going to be able to prove that.

Truth is, we don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning this case.

(“Let a Woman Be a Woman

Let a Man Be a Man” playing)

♪ Some people call me ♪

♪ Broadway Tramp now ♪

♪ They even said, yes, they did ♪

WILLIE: What’s happening, doc?

♪ I had no place to stay… ♪

BARTENDER: Yeah, how you doing, boss?

I’m good, Max. Hey, how ’bout you give me your…

your strongest ginger ale?

Sure thing.

Coming right up.

How’s your night been?

BARTENDER: Not too bad. Livin’.

Good. Good, good.

♪ Gotta let a woman be a woman ♪

Strongest ginger ale in Mississippi.

Thank you.

♪ And let a man be a man ♪

Yeah, it’s not too bad, so… I…

♪ Gotta let a woman be a woman ♪

Yeah, she’s been here for a while.

♪ And let a man be a man ♪

♪ Well, listen… ♪

I believe it’s Ms. Downes, isn’t it?

I’m Willie Gary.

(gentle piano music playing in background)

You look thinner on TV.

Mind if I sit down?

(Mame scoffs)

You know, I’ve actually never did this before.

Where it’s sitting down with the opposing counsel, the…

drinks and things like that, you know.

Music, candles.

It’s like we almost, uh,

on a date.

Or maybe not.

♪ ♪

(indistinct chatter)

You say you’re from Compton, but I’m trying to understand

why you taking all these fancy white cases.

I could ask you the same question.

Couldn’t I?

Yeah, well, I actually believe

in my case, Ms. Downes.

Oh, well, I actually believe in mine, too, Mr. Gary.

Well, that puts us in a very

precarious situation then, all right,

Does it?

because one of us gonna win and one’s gonna lose.

I think that’s how this goes, yes.

Mm-hmm.

But it’s different in my situation, because

I’m actually Black employed.

See, I don’t work for the man.

Oh.

See, I-I work for Willie Gary,

which is myself. I’m employed

to myself…

Tell me, tell me.

…for myself.

Where should I be working, huh?

You tell me. Come on. School me.

What-what tiny little piece of the pie

would you be comfortable allotting to someone like me?

What, should I be working pro bono?

Or maybe I should be in some shitty DA’s office,

trying eviction cases.

Would that make you comfortable?

Would you be more happy with that?

Hold on a second.

Hold on, hold on. We-we-we not at trial right now.

You said you were trying to school me, so come on, now, school me.

I don’t know how much you know about me, but I’m the son of a sharecropper.

I was eight years old

out there in them sugarcane fields, you know.

Working. Me.

But now, you know, I got…

you know, mansions and…

Rolls-Royce and Bentleys.

My own private plane.

I mean,

what it sounds like is

we’re both living our own little version of the American dream.

A little less red, white and blue

and a little more, uh, um…

caramel and stripes and…

(both laughing)

MAME: Although, I do believe that the

Black American dream is quite different than the white American dream.

Case in point.

(speaking indistinctly)

WILLIE: O.J. trial, hmm?

Supposed to be the “trial of the century.”

(chuckles)

It’s a circus.

You want to go there?

Nah, that’s murky territory.

Where you leaning?

Is… is he innocent? Or is he guilty?

Doesn’t matter.

‘Cause O.J.’s not the one that’s on trial right now.

White frontier justice,

that’s what’s on trial.

Mm.

I hear that.

Gun to your head, though.

Gun to my head?

Gun to your head.

I don’t know now.

Gun to your head,

Ms. Downes, gun to your head.

Come on, trying to put a gun to my head.

Does anyone hear this?

Got a gun… gun to your head now.

Oh, hell nah.

Opportunity to be the lead counsel on the defense

or a opportunity to be the lead prosecutor,

which one do you choose?

Oh, that’s… that’s a tricky one.

Yeah, I know. It’s tough, it’s tough.

Defense.

His ass is guilty.

And I’ve never defended someone who I knew was guilty before.

You know what they say:

Lawyer’s got to try that at least once.

Remember these words:

if it doesn’t fit…

WILLIE: Hmm.

…you must acquit.

(Cochran continues indistinctly)

Prosecution.

(laughs) Yeah?

I have this reoccurring dream

that I’m prosecuting a case

against that slick-ass Johnnie Cochran.

(chuckles) Mm.

Him in all them fancy suits and shit…

Okay. Well, how does this dream end?

I wipe the floor with him.

(laughs)

I wipe the floor with his ass.

(both laughing)

Oh.

Let me get that.

Oh, absolutely not.

You were so, uh,

you were so kind and generous to send me

a bottle of…

What was that called?

Cristal.

Allow me to return the favor, just this once.

(chuckles) Although, I wouldn’t get too used

to me being kind to you, Mr. Gary.

Once we begin that… trial…

nigga, I will destroy you.

Have a good night.

♪ Hold tight… ♪

WEATHERMAN: Good morning, Jackson, Mississippi.

73 degrees, going up to a high of 78.

No rain in the forecast for the next few days.

(exhales)

(muttering)

Let me start off by saying that this case

that you’re about to hear

is a case…

(muttering)

(babbling)

♪ If you want to make this feeling stay ♪

♪ Hold tight… ♪

(takes deep breath)

Jurors, this… this trial

deals with the oldest sin known to man.

You’re pointing too much, Gary.

You’re pointing… you’re pointing too much.

♪ Stay ♪

♪ Hold tight ♪

This just simply wasn’t personal, it was just business.

And they had…

♪ Stay, hold tight ♪

Fuck.

♪ Hold tight ♪

♪ Don’t let this moment fade away ♪

(elevator bell dings)

♪ Hold tight. ♪

♪ ♪

Hey, hey, hey. Wait, wait.

What’s the matter?

We can’t split the pole.

Can’t split the pole. Now come on.

No, come on, we can’t split the pole.

This new to you?

WILLIE: Huddle up.

Be unlucky. Let’s go.

Come on.

(bell tolling in distance)

BAILIFF: All rise, all rise.

The court is now in session, pursuant to the adjournment.

Hear ye, hear ye.

All persons having business with this honorable court, draw near.

Give your attention and you shall be heard.

The Honorable Judge James E. Graves,

circuit county judge for the First Judicial District

of Hinds County, Mississippi, presiding.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…

How y’all doing?

Thank you for being here.

This case here is really about the oldest sin known to man.

MAME: Contracts.

Plain and simple.

Now, Mr. Gary would have you believe

that this case is about…

Greed.

And while that sounds,

uh, entertaining and a bit dramatic…

We know for a fact that the deal had already been approved

by Loewen and his board.

They crafted every single aspect, outlined it,

and put it down in writing.

That’s a contract.

How can it be a binding contract

between two parties

if one of the parties didn’t sign the contract?

Y’all, these people lie.

That’s what it boils down to.

So why did Mr. O’Keefe have such a-a-a panic,

such an urgency,

such a desperation

for this deal to close?

Why?

Well, because everything in his life

hinged on this deal.

Everything.

For the Loewen Group, not so much.

They had one goal in mind.

Stall him out.

Stall him out.

It wasn’t personal.

He just got impatient.

(whispering)

(bell tolling)

(bell continues tolling)

MAN: In fact, there is such a thing

uh, as an anticipatory breach of contract.

And this is when,

though the actual breach has not yet occurred,

one of the involved parties,

heretofore referred to as the “soon to be breaching party,”

will not fulfill their obligations

set forth by the terms of the agreement.

When a situation like this arises,

it is my opinion that…

(sighs)

…it is well within the means of dispute

for this contract.

Wake your ass up!

Whoa!

Whoa.

Jesus Christ.

Wake up!

What are we doing? We sit up in these books,

talking about contracts every single day.

For what?

We putting ’em to sleep.

We done lost our connection, lost our edge.

And what do I get from y’all? Nothing.

I gotta make the decision.

I’m-a put Jerry on.

(overlapping arguing)

No, no, no.

You can’t do that.

WILLIE: We put him on next week.

(overlapping arguing)

WILLIE: You hard of hearing? I’m putting him on.

We got to shake it up. And plus, he’s a great witness.

You said it yourself. He’s a good witness, he’s honest, he’s-he’s-he’s,

he’s a family man,

he’s-he’s a war hero.

To civil-civil rights.

Everything he did for Black folk?

We put him in front of that jury, he gonna play ’em.

MIKE: It is much too soon to put Jerry on the stand.

It’s much too early in the trial. We don’t have all the information yet.

It ain’t never too soon with me, Mike.

It’s never too soon with me.

HAL: Willie.

We know nothing about Mame yet.

We’ve only seen her interview, what, technical witnesses?

We know nothing about her real cross-examination style.

Nor know how actually dangerous she is.

WILLIE: Y’all don’t know y’all ass from a hole in the ground.

Now I made the decision.

You can either get on board or you can get the fuck out.

♪ ♪

WILLIE: Let’s talk about some of your values.

Because, if I’m not mistaken, Jerry, you an eight-time decorated hero.

You got the Air Medal, the Navy Medal.

You got the, you got the Flying Cross.

And you did all of that in the sacrifice for your country.

Well, I don’t think war’s anything to be celebrated.

But I did serve my country and quite proudly.

Hmm. Thank you for your service.

But you didn’t stop there. You came back to your county,

you took over the family business,

and then, uh, you did what I call

you jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, man.

You wanted to be in politics, didn’t you?

You ran for mayor in your home town in Biloxi.

I ran twice and served two terms as mayor,

from 1974 until 1982.

And I understand, in one of those terms,

that a very friendly group of people came to visit you.

The Ku Klux Klan.

Objection, Your Honor.

What is the relevance to this line of questioning?

Overruled, Ms. Downes.

MAME: We are in a case about contracts,

Your Honor.

You may answer that question.

I denied them a permit to demonstrate in Biloxi.

You told the Ku Klux Klan

in Biloxi, Mississippi, “No.”

Now, flying warplanes is one thing,

but to tell the Klan “no” at that time, that’s a different type of bravery.

Jerry, I’ve gotten an opportunity to know you.

You and your family.

But these good folks here have not.

I just want to ask you, what are your values?

What is important to you?

Mr. O’Keefe.

Good day. How are you?

JEREMIAH: I’m doing well, thank you.

You are? Good.

(pages rustling)

Uh…

having just listened to the testimony you gave,

I think it’s fair to say that the real, material substance

centered on character. Would you agree?

Yes. I-I agree.

I couldn’t hear that. Can you speak up?

I said yes, ma’am, I agree.

MAME: Okay, character.

Let’s talk about character.

The overall insinuation being made is that,

while you are a man of honor,

of strong moral principles,

according to you, my client is not.

I think Mr. Loewen and I have very different approaches to…

as to how to deal with people in business.

Ah. “In business.”

Yes. Right, okay.

Something I’m curious about…

How did you end up needing to sell those funeral homes to Mr. Loewen?

Well, I had run into a little bit of financial trouble.

What kind of financial trouble?

Huh?

Because I’m, uh, pretty sure

the actual reason you so desperately needed to sell at the time that you did

is because the Mississippi state insurance commission

was about to revoke your license.

Is that correct?

As a matter of fact, your license

to sell insurance in the state of Mississippi

is currently under suspension.

Can we agree that that is a true statement,

Mr. O’Keefe?

JEREMIAH: No, we cannot.

Because it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Enlighten me. How is it more complicated?

Was your license suspended

or was it not?

Objection, Your Honor,

on the simple fact that she’s just angry.

Overruled.

MAME: It’s a yes or no question.

We already knew

that he was in financial trouble.

MAME: He said “overruled.”

Overruled.

MAME: Well, the real truth here is that

you lost your license

because you got involved in some shady savings and loans business deal

with a man that, if I’m-I’m not mistaken,

is currently in jail right now.

WILLIE: Your Honor, objection.

MAME: Can I ask you something?

WILLIE: This is not on trial here today.

GRAVES: Overruled.

MAME: Was the money that you used

to finance this deal, was that money yours?

I was responsible for that money.

You used other people’s money.

Actually, you used your clients’ money

to finance your involvement in said “business deal”

with a now-convicted felon.

Am I correct?

WILLIE: Objection, Your Honor.

Am I correct, Mr. O’Keefe?

WILLIE: This has nothing to do with this case.

Overruled.

Am I correct, Mr. O’Keefe?

That’s not how I would characterize

this at all.

MAME: I mean, is it possible

that this entire case

stems from jealousy?

WILLIE: Objection, Your Honor. We’re talking about emotions?

Jealousy?

MAME: I mean,

Mr. O’Keefe…

GRAVES: Overruled.

…you said yourself that you and Mr. Loewen have

very different ways of doing business,

and that might be the truest statement you’ve said all day long,

because, like you,

Mr. Loewen inherited a business from his father.

However, unlike you, he was able to build

that business into a multimillion-dollar empire.

Meanwhile, what has become of your father’s legacy?

(door closes)

♪ ♪

Jerry! Hold up, now!

Jerry! Wait up, will you?

Jerry.

What in the hell was that?

What you talking about?

I-I don’t understand. You angry with me?

Am I angry with you?

You were supposed to protect me up there.

Supposed to make sure I was safe

under cross-examination and all that shit.

That ain’t my fault. I didn’t know she was gonna ask you all that.

It’s your job to know what she’s gonna ask me.

You didn’t tell me all this shit.

You told me about the-the savings and loan, you told me about the money,

but you didn’t tell me nothing about him going to jail.

When I made the deal with him,

he was not a felon.

I had every reason to believe that

that was a good, solid deal.

I understand.

But I can’t read your mind. That’s not my fault.

Of course it is. Since the first day I hired you,

you have been trying to turn this case

into your own, personal one-ring circus.

I’ve done everything I can to try to save your ass.

I put every dime I have into this deal,

and you’re still fucking around.

I understand. I’m not fucking around.

Listen, that ain’t fair. That’s not fair, Jerry.

You don’t have anything on the line here, Willie.

When this case is over, win, lose or draw,

you’re gonna get in your airplane and fly away.

I’m gonna be here. I got plenty on the line.

I got my damn life on the line,

and I don’t know how much of that’s left.

I know that, Jerry.

I’m making a decision.

A decision for what, Jerry?

I’m gonna replace you as lead attorney.

For Mike?

That’s what you’re doing? Huh?

I’m telling you right now, Jerry,

that’s a huge mistake!

(cart wheels rattling)

♪ ♪

Shit.

Hey.

Hey, baby.

What you doing?

GLORIA: Just doing a little bit of reading.

You-you sound a little down, baby.

Is everything okay?

No, I’m, uh, I’m, uh, I’m good. I’m good. Uh…

Okay.

No, no.

Well…

No, I, uh…

I got replaced.

What?

I said, I got replaced.

They replaced me.

No.

What?

Yeah, Jerry…

Replaced you?

Baby, what does that mean?

It means that, uh, they want…

they want somebody else to be lead counsel and so, uh…

…so they replaced me.

Uh…

Honey, really?

But wait. I don’t understand.

Why would he do that?

Why?

I, uh…

I screwed up. Screwed up.

I screwed up.

I screwed up by, uh…

I put Jerry on the stand and I-I didn’t have him prepared enough,

and when they, uh, did the cross-examination, they, uh…

…they annihilated him.

They, uh… It was bad.

It’s got me upset. I’m upset.

The-the reason that I’m upset is because I…

Seeing… seeing Jerry so upset,

it-it’s got me upset, so I’m just…

I see.

I’m upset about it.

You sound like you really care about this man.

Jerry?

Yeah.

Yeah.

Yeah, I care. Jerry’s a cool guy.

(sighs)

(entry bell jingles)

Hi. Pardon me.

Are you, by any chance, Mrs. Lorraine McGrath?

Well…

well, yes, but I…

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, I…

It’s just I was kind of expecting a lawyer.

Yeah, I am a lawyer.

I’m the guy you spoke with on the phone, Hal Dockins?

Oh.

I’m so sorry. Uh…

I hope I didn’t offend you.

It just… uh, well, to be honest, you look very young.

WAITRESS: Here y’all go.

LORRAINE: Thank you.

I worked at a Loewen-owned funeral home for 13 years.

(quietly): Just… in all that time,

I saw a lot, you know,

about how that company operates.

Before we go any further,

I just have to ask you:

would you be willing to testify?

MIKE: Mrs. McGrath, hi.

How you doing this afternoon?

Um, very well, thank you.

MIKE: That’s fine. That’s just fine.

Mrs. McGrath, would you mind telling us

how long you worked as an employee

for the Durbin and Sons Funeral Home in Southaven, Mississippi?

LORRAINE: Um, I worked at that funeral home

for about 13 years before I quit.

MIKE: Mm-hmm.

And did you witness any transfer of ownership during this time period?

LORRAINE: Um…

(clears throat)

Uh, uh, Durbin and Sons was bought by the Loewen Group

sometime around 1990.

And I was there during that time.

And did you notice any changes

in the way the company was run

after the Loewen Group took over?

Uh, the most significant was, uh,

how they implemented this,

this policy of-of raising prices on certain items

in areas where they, uh, didn’t have any, any competition.

Mostly, this turned out to be, um,

poor areas, where there was a lot of-of poverty.

Could you give us an example of this type of selective pricing?

There was this one, uh, casket in particular I remember.

The, um, the Wilbert Copper Trubune.

It, uh, was supposed to retail for $750.

Uh, which it did in-in some places,

like, say, Madison.

Uh, but then in other places, like Corinth,

which, as you know, is-is very poor…

Yes, of course.

Over there, they hiked the price up to something crazy.

Like three times what it was supposed to cost.

Just because they could.

They knew customers didn’t have anywhere else to go.

So, basically,

if I understand you,

the Loewen Group was involved in a form of selective price gouging.

Of what?

Objection. Your Honor, how could the witness possibly know

the intentions of people she’s never even met before?

Sustained.

All right, then.

Let me ask you this.

In your time at Durbin and Sons, were you ever left

with the impression that the Loewen Group

might have been specifically targeting

minority communities…

MAME: Objection.

Your Honor.

Wow! Really?

My God.

MAME: Speculation.

Mr. Allred, what is the basis for this line of questioning?

Mr. Allred?

You know what?

I apologize.

No basis. It was just speculation, is all.

Please, consider it stricken.

But Your Honor, I do take exception to Ms. Downes’ tone.

You’ve got to be kidding.

My tone?

GRAVES: Noted.

Her tone.

MAME: Oh, yeah.

MIKE: Thank you, Mrs. McGrath.

No further questions.

MAME: It was noted, all right.

♪ ♪

Morning, Jerry.

Willie, how are you?

(sucks teeth)

I guess you’re still mad at me, huh?

It was a very bad day. Why don’t we just leave it at that?

All right, here we go.

Look, I-I messed up in there.

Okay? I-I did the wrong thing and I, and I blew it

and, uh, I just want to say I’m sorry, and I…

I apologize.

Very well.

Apology accepted.

Good. We got that over.

Is this the first time you ever apologized to somebody like that?

Mm.

Huh. Be honest with you, my wife, uh,

she helped me with the phrasing.

Mm-hmm.

Well, she did a very nice job. I want you to thank her for me.

All right.

(siren wails in distance)

And you know what I can’t stand about that man?

What?

(overlapping chatter)

His face.

(laughter)

(laughter)

I know what you mean. It’s, uh…

You know what I’m talking about.

…in the expression.

Mm-hmm.

RICHARD: No,

it’s generation upon generation of white entitlement

and privilege all encapsulated in one, single,

simpering grin.

(laughter)

But him with that woman on stand today,

posturing and pretending like

he’s some sort of savior for our people… Ooh!

(laughs)

RICHARD: Unfortunately,

the jury did seem to eat it up.

(sighs) Yeah. That is a problem, isn’t it?

Didn’t I see his name

on the witness list at some point?

WALTER: Supposedly, Gary was planning on

calling him a…

Calling him as a material witness to the agreement between O’Keefe and Loewen.

Which means I will have him on cross.

Which means you’re gonna have him on cross.

(printer whirring)

PETER: Hey, have any of you guys read about this deal

that the Loewen Group made with something called

the “National Baptist Convention”?

The National Baptist Convention?

What… What is that?

It’s like, um, you know, like…

an arm of the Black church.

But a really big one.

Probably the biggest, actually.

Sorry, did you… did you just say

that the Loewen Group has a deal with the Black church?

The, uh, National Baptist Convention. But yeah.

Yeah, how? How does that make any sense?

I don’t know.

But it’s all right here.

Apparently, they created some sort of partnership

about a year ago.

Hard to say why, though.

Okay, can you get me some more information about this?

PETER: Yes, sir.

GRAVES: Are the plaintiffs ready to call their next witness?

REGGIE: Yes. Actually, Your Honor, we’d like to call

Mr. O’Keefe’s longtime attorney, Michael Allred, to the stand.

MAME: Your Honor.

Seriously?

Where are you going with this, Mr. Douglas?

Your Honor, we-we recognize how this might seem a little unusual.

However, Mr. Allred was with Mr. O’Keefe,

as his attorney, the entire time he was dealing with Loewen.

And, uh, we feel like his-his testimony will be essential.

REGGIE: Michael Allred.

Oh, hell, we friends. I’m-a call you Mike.

You bet, Reggie.

(chuckles)

So, Mike,

in your 30 years of practicing law,

specializing in contract law,

did it ever occur to you, when you were drawing up the contract

between Mr. O’Keefe and Mr. Loewen, that there could be

any kind of misunderstanding as to what that document actually was?

MIKE: No, sir.

It was extremely clear to everyone exactly what it was.

It was a contract.

Contract. It’s a contract.

Now, was there anything that suggested, in the language,

that the, uh, agreed-upon time for the deal to close

would be… open-ended?

How’s it feel to be sitting in that chair?

It’s a little uncomfortable, yeah.

MAME: Mm.

Imagine, we haven’t even gotten started yet.

You’ve been Mr. O’Keefe’s attorney quite some time now, yes?

MIKE: I have.

For 30 years… nearly 30 years.

MAME: Mm.

And would you say you and Mr. O’Keefe are good friends?

Sure. He’s one of my closest friends.

Hmm.

Yeah, we share a lot in common.

I admire him.

Mr. Allred, would you say this is a case about race?

(quietly): Objection. Objection.

Objection.

Overruled.

Would I say this is a case about race?

No, I would not say this is a case about race.

(exhales)

Really?

Okay, well, the subject of race does seem to keep coming up, doesn’t it?

Almost exclusively from your side.

Uh, for instance, this whole heroic narrative

about, uh, Mr. O’Keefe supposedly having some sort of civil rights record

and denying the KKK a permit…

Uh, explain to me what relevance that has to a case about contracts.

Uh, about Jerry’s character.

It’s more about his integrity

and his decency.

MAME: ‘Cause he does

such great things for Black people, huh?

Object-Objection.

REGGIE: Objection, Your Honor.

WILLIE: Stand up.

Objection. I’m not standing up.

I said “objection.”

GRAVES: I will not allow

this line of questioning, Ms. Downes.

Sustained.

REGGIE: I’m-I’m objecting.

MAME: Another thing that has been made quite clear in this case is

how important family, family legacy,

is to Mr. O’Keefe.

Is that something you share?

Family important to you as well?

Well, it’s not just important to me, it’s everything to me.

It’s everything. Well, that’s something you and Mr. O’Keefe have in common.

Objection.

Objection, Your Honor.

(arguing over each other)

MAME: Because you’re best friends, yeah?

GRAVES: Overruled. The witness can answer the question,

but let’s try and get to the point.

Absolutely, it’s something that we share in common.

I-Is this really what you want to be asking me, Ms. Downes?

It is.

Actually.

But thank you.

You love your family.

Yeah?

Your extended family, your immediate family…

you love all of your family, yes?

Every member of my family.

MAME: Yeah?

So, there-there’s no one that you secretly wish you could disown?

MAME: Someone that you’re maybe

Objection, Your Honor.

a little ashamed…

It doesn’t matter what he feels.

MIKE: Disown?

She doesn’t know what…

‘Cause I know I have some family members I would love to disown.

But you don’t.

REGGIE: I’m-a take care of this.

MIKE: No.

No? You don’t.

No.

Say, for instance, your grandfather.

My grandfather.

MAME: Yes.

Your grandfather.

He was my grandfather. What does that have to do with this case?

Remind me:

how long was your grandfather a member of the Ku Klux Klan?

(gallery murmuring)

Objection. Objection.

Objection. Objection.

Objection.

(gavel pounding)

We gonna stop this right now.

WILLIE: Your Honor, I am gonna continue

to say “objection.”

This is wrong.

Objection.

(gavel pounding)

Objection. Objection.

Did you bond with your grandfather

(Willie continues)

about the KKK?

Did you share some bond?

What is the question?

What is the question?

Did you share some love

about the burning cross?

You go to any, uh, KKK rallies with your grandfather,

Mr. Allred?

WILLIE: Now, you know

this is out of line, it has nothing to do with this case.

Objection.

Overruled, Mr. Gary.

How can you overrule that?

Answer the question, Mr. Allred.

With all due respect, Your Honor, this has nothing to do with the case.

Answer the question.

What’s the question?

Are you asking me was I aware that my grandfather was once a member of the KKK?

Mike, you don’t have to answer that question.

Objection.

I heard you the first time, Mr. Gary.

Yes, I was asking that question.

I am no longer asking that question.

No further questions.

(gavel pounds)

WILLIE: What his grandfather has done…

MIKE: You know, lawyer to lawyer,

that was completely out of line, Ms. Downes.

Oh, the hypocrisy.

The hypocrisy.

It’s quite outrageous, Your Honor.

(whispering)

REGGIE: Room full of brothers right now.

Denounce your granddaddy.

CHRIS: Yeah.

Say it, Mike. Say it.

Go on. It’s easy.

Come on, Mike. Denounce him.

Yeah.

You know what?

I’m sorry.

All right?

I’m sorry.

Her behavior was unconscionable.

You cannot hold someone responsible

for the mistakes of their ancestors.

Mike, your granddaddy is a racist,

land-stealing, slave-raping

piece of shit.

Oh, come on now, Reggie Douglas, that’s not right!

That’s not right. He’s still my granddaddy.

I wouldn’t say that about…

Don’t you bring…

Hey, hey, hey, hey!

Don’t you bring up on me!

Hey, hey, hey, hey.

Stop all this.

Stop it right now. Stop it.

Reg, you stop. All of y’all.

Mike, we not fixin’ to crucify you…

about what happened in the past.

He can’t fix his grandfather or anything else.

But you know what we can fix?

This case.

REGGIE: Hold on.

Hold on, man.

So you-you fixin’ to give him a pass?

That was this is?

I’m-a give him a pass

because you didn’t know enough about his past

and that’s why you got your ass kicked.

Fuck this case, man.

I think we can win.

No, man, I’m going back to Florida. Nah.

Doing exactly what we should’ve did in the beginning.

Come on, man.

WILLIE: I got a question for you, Reggie:

What’s taking you so long to get out the door?

REGGIE: Wow.

Willie…

You don’t have to tell me twice.

Have fun with these white folks.

Reg.

Hey, Reggie.

Reg!

You want to go, too?

You know what?

I’m out.

I’m tired of this shit.

AL: I’m out, too.

I miss home, anyway.

Willie, I’m gettin’ too old for this shit, man.

Mike, I’m sorry.

I’m truly, truly sorry.

Me, too.

MIKE: Can’t have this.

Have what?

We got a case.

To win.

I should probably…

I should probably recuse myself.

Oh, no, no, no, no, no.

Mike, no, you can’t do that.

Yeah, I probably should.

No, Mike, you can’t do that.

I should, shouldn’t I?

Now, we got a long way to go, but we can win this case.

MIKE: If I even dare to step foot in that courtroom again,

the jury’s never gonna see me,

they’re just gonna see a guy with a sheet on his head.

Listen, listen. We dug a hole.

We dug a hole, but we can dig out of it.

I’m sorry, Willie, I can’t do it, ’cause we both know if I stay on,

my presence is just gonna hurt the case more,

and I can’t do that to you and I sure can’t do that to Jerry.

Mm-hmm.

MIKE: All right.

We’ll have to win it without you.

You’re gonna.

Halbert. Be good.

(siren wails in distance)

♪ ♪

Well, there you are. I’ve been looking for you.

(sighs)

This trial’s not going the way I wanted it to.

I feel like I made a bad mistake.

And I ought to be cutting my losses.

I thought justice was blind.

That I could hold Ray Loewen to his word in a court of law.

Make him pay. But hell, I was the one turned out blind.

I am sorry for putting you through all this.

You don’t need to say sorry, Jeremiah.

Not to me, anyway.

I know who you are.

Have you told Willie yet?

No.

I think he goes home to Florida on the weekends.

Feel like I ought to tell him in person.

I think that would be the right thing to do.

Hey, sorry. Um…

Wait, what’s-what’s in this one again?

Um…

It’s that info you requested on Loewen’s deal with the National Baptist Convention.

Actually, would you mind leaving that one here with me?

PETER: Really think it’s over, boss?

I don’t think there’s any way we can win this case,

and my guess is, Jerry’s starting to see it that way as well, so…

(seabirds screeching)

(doorbell rings)

You-you must be Mrs. Gary.

Yes.

I hope you’ll forgive me

for just showing up like this, but, uh,

I’m Jeremiah O’Keefe.

Oh!

You mean Jerry.

Yes, ma’am.

The Jerry that my husband keeps going on about!

(chuckles) Uh, is Willie home, by the way?

Oh, no, I’m afraid he’s not.

He’s over at his mother’s in Indiantown, where he usually goes on Saturdays.

(quietly): Okay.

Hey, I tell you what. You give me a minute

to grab my car keys.

I’ll drive you there myself.

Oh, no, please, no.

I-I don’t want to impose.

Jerry, absolutely not.

You family now.

(laughs)

Come on, now.

(“Just for a Thrill” by Peggy Lee playing)

Just entering Indiantown now.

This where Willie’s from?

Where we’re both from.

Willie and I have had our differences.

I want you to know I think he’s a remarkable man.

(children shouting, laughing)

…upside-down on a ledge.

Right. Exactly.

(laughter)

No.

(laughter)

I’m a mess.

(laughing)

WILLIE: Know what I’m saying? Everybody’s going to Dallas.

Ah… (laughing)

Oh, my.

MAMMA GARY: Oh, my goodness.

Hmm.

Willie ever tell you he’s one of 11 siblings?

(smacks lips)

Mm-hmm.

Surely.

Number six out of 11.

Well, believe it or not, I have 13 children of my own.

GLORIA: Oh, my God.

Do you now?

I do.

I say.

Ooh.

(laughing)

Y’all have 26 kids between you.

Well, then you know,

there’s always that one baby

that, no matter what you do,

is always clinging to you for dear life.

Wrapped around the bottom of your leg,

and can’t let go.

Oh, man.

(laughing)

MAMMA GARY: That’s my Willie.

And look at where all that longing

and desperation for love

has gotten him now.

JEREMIAH: My grandfather was a sharecropper.

WILLIE: Uh-huh.

JEREMIAH: My paternal grandfather.

Mm-hmm.

My namesake.

I was eight years old,

out there in them sugarcane fields, you know?

Working.

Me.

(train horn blowing)

4:30 in the morning, she’d wake me up, man, get me out here.

I wasn’t no taller than this grass, man.

That’s how it all got started, out there in the sugarcane.

JEREMIAH: Reason I came all the way out here, Willie, is ’cause I…

Look, listen, listen, listen, listen.

‘Fore you even get there. I know.

You want to drop the case.

I know it’s got to be a disappointment.

But if there was any way that I thought…

Look, look, listen, listen, Jerry.

You-you… you don’t understand, doc.

Look…

Now, I know you got to do what you got to do.

But at the same time,

you just got to know that I know,

down deep in my heart, that me and you together, we could’ve did it.

We could’ve took that company down, man.

I just hope you know how much I’ve enjoyed getting to know you.

This one didn’t roll our way.

But getting to know you…

was a… highlight.

(phone ringing)

What-What’s that noise?

Listen…

(ringing continues)

Man…

Hold on a second.

Hey.

HAL (breaking up): Hello? Hey.

Hal?

HAL: Hello? Can you hear…

Hal, I can barely hear you.

Hey, are-are you with Jerry right now?

WILLIE: Yeah. Yeah.

Good. Yes. Okay.

Yes, I am.

Do not let him drop the case.

Hello?

Hal, can you hear me?

It’s a bad connection.

I said, do not let him drop the case.

Just-just trust me, okay?

I… I may have found something.

WILLIE: Okay. Good, I’ll call you.

(chuckles)

(chuckles)

♪ ♪

HAL: Thank you all for taking the time

to speak with us, Mr. Soames.

Everyone.

What can you tell us about the deal

that the Loewen Group made with the National Baptist Convention?

Well, nothing good ever come out of it.

At least not for Black folks. That’s the truth.

‘Bout a year back,

the Loewen Group connected with some of the top leadership

of the NBC.

National Baptist Convention?

RUBEN: Yes, sir.

One of the largest single branches of the Black church.

They represent over 33,000 churches

and more than eight million members.

Anyway, they made a proposal to the NBC,

told ’em that if they could convince the Black church

to endorse the Loewen Group as their death care provider of choice,

then they’d turn some of its members into salesmen.

Like, uh, teach ’em how to sell everything

from graves to crypts to headstones

and, uh, burial insurance straight to their own people.

And for every product they sold,

they could keep the commission.

WILLIE: Hmm.

Wait a minute now, so the Loewen Group

was taking poor Black people, having them sell their funeral products

to other poor Black people for a commission.

Course, they said it was all win-win.

Help people out of poverty,

boost economic empowerment.

But it never did much for anybody.

Except the Loewen Group, of course.

Yeah.

MATTIE: They was just trying to find another way

to exploit Black folks

in their most vulnerable moments.

♪ ♪

You know what this right here is?

Not sure.

What it is, is a cemetery.

Now, you can’t tell from looking at it

on account of the fact that there’s no headstones.

Why’s that?

RUBEN: That’s ’cause it’s a different kind of cemetery.

It’s an old slave burial ground.

Everybody knows slaves didn’t have no money of their own

to ever bury their loved ones with a headstone.

Though you can’t really tell by looking at it…

…our entire history,

history of Black people in the South,

history of Black people in America…

(sighs) …of our slave ancestors, it’s,

it’s all buried everywhere out here.

Deep underground.

Pretty much everywhere you look, that’s where our history is.

In these vast, empty fields.

In some places, they put up all these statues.

You know, like all these Confederate monuments

and statues you see everywhere.

All the lot of ’em is put up right on top of a slave burial field.

Mm-hmm.

It’s like taking one history

and putting it right on top of another.

It’s like taking one man’s legacy,

putting it on top of another.

Till, one day, it gets pushed down so deep

buried so deep…

…can’t no one ever find it no more.

WOMAN: Some of the members came to me

and told me that

the actual cost of burying my father

was gonna be much more than what they said when I bought the policy.

When I told them that I didn’t have the extra money,

and I didn’t know how long it would take me to get it,

they happily said they’d keep the body on ice.

Rather than give me any comfort,

the deacon assigned to be counselor

used it as an opportunity to shove a bunch of brochures in my face

and try and recruit me as a Loewen sales rep.

Then, suddenly, this man from the NBC shows up,

asking if I’ve made funeral arrangements and…

if I’d be interested in a Loewen burial package.

He said I’d get a much better deal if I paid upfront.

Before my son died.

Once my husband finally passed,

that’s when they said that the package that I bought

didn’t cover the cost of embalming or moving the body.

The coffin I bought for my mom

was the least expensive one.

Come to find out

the one they sold me was three times more than average.

Your own preacher come to you, telling you you need something,

and you religious, you believe it.

WILLIE: Now, I understand that you are

one of the analysts for the Loewen Group.

You deal with some of the high-level deals.

Is that correct?

Yes, that’s correct.

WILLIE: Mm-hmm.

Also that you were, uh,

one of the architects of this latest deal

that you had between the Loewen Group

and the National Baptist Convention.

Is that right?

Yes, I was.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You Baptist?

No, not Baptist.

No.

Christian, though, right?

Yes.

Yeah, yeah. We all Christian, right?

We all believe in God. Amen?

Amen.

(Willie exhales)

Here’s the question, though.

How much money did the Loewen Group

project to make from this deal

of them and the NBC?

And remember…

you’re under oath.

Uh, our original long-term projections for that deal were somewhere around

1… maybe $1.2 billion.

$1.2 million?

$1.2 billion.

$1.2…

$1.2 billion?

$1.2 billion, that’s-that’s good money.

That’s good money for the Loewen Group, correct?

Yes.

That’s good money.

That’s good money. $1.2 billion.

I thought you said “million,” but you said “billion dollars.”

Uh…

How much did you pay ’em?

I’m sorry?

I said, how much did you pay ’em?

How much did the Loewen Group

pay the National Baptist Convention

as compensation as a result of the deal?

I believe we made about a $200,000 donation.

The jury heard it.

We didn’t have a defense for it.

Oh, what a fucking mess.

I’m gonna have to call Loewen.

♪ ♪

RAY: Dealing with people honestly

is something that’s always been important to us.

Do we seek to be tough competitors

in an increasingly volatile market?

Yes.

But we don’t cheat people.

That’s not how we operate.

MAME: Mm.

No further questions, Your Honor.

Your witness, Mr. Gary.

WILLIE: All right.

Mr. Loewen, how you doing?

I’m very well, thank you, Mr. Gary.

You look good in that suit, doc.

That’s that Armani, I can tell that

a mile away.

(chuckles)

Listen, I just want to thank you for coming down here.

I know you’re really busy,

and we appreciate it, but it’s good to have the big man here.

Because, um, you know, we want to shine some light on some of these dark places.

And, uh, I’ll just start right off with it.

I want to know, from your perspective…

(clears throat)

…what was the deal that you had between you and Mr. O’Keefe?

I believe it was roughly a year ago

when we received an enquiry

from a representative of Mr. O’Keefe’s.

In fact,

I’m pretty sure it was his lawyer, Mr. Allred, who contacted us.

My understanding is

they were very anxious to sell.

So we started looking into the deal.

Sussing it out.

Trying to determine if it was something

that would be a good fit for our business.

Sometime after that, I invited Mr. O’Keefe and his associates

up to Vancouver.

If I recall, they came for dinner,

at my boat, and we discussed things.

After that, uh, hard to say.

Normally, at that stage, I turn things over to my acquisitions team.

Well, that’s pleasant.

I mean, that really is.

And… (clears throat)

…lucky for you,

uh, Mr. Loewen, I don’t have a lot of follow-up questions.

I just have, uh, one thing I want to ask you. Uh…

What kind of boat?

Come again?

Oh, I said: “What kind of boat?”

You-you said earlier that you guys were all on the boat together,

and y’all was eating and having a good time,

having the best fish,

and I just wanted to know, what kind of boat is it?

I don’t understand.

Are you asking about the particular make, or…

Matter of fact, I was asking…

Can I read from this? It says, “Nine sunning decks.”

Mm. “Six elegant staterooms.”

Uh…

Objection, Your Honor.

What is the relevance…

“Five luxury guest cabins.”

…of the witnesses’ boat?

Overruled.

Your Honor, can I just read what the boat is?

Overruled, Ms. Downes.

It’s a nice boat.

Overruled.

I just want to recognize

and let everybody see that it’s a very nice boat.

You got, uh, helicopter, helicopter pad.

You can land a helicopter

on that thing, huh?

Mm-hmm.

That’s something else right there.

That’s high grass.

How much did, uh, how much did this boat of yours cost?

I really don’t know.

I think we’re…

You’re not understanding the question.

I’m… Let me frame it again so you can understand it better.

I’m asking you

how much did you pay

for your boat?

I don’t know.

MAME: Objection.

RAY: I don’t know.

Can I ask…

MAME: Asked and answered.

You know what? Forget about that.

Let me ask you this:

How much you pay for your plane? Huh?

Since you can remember some things and you forget other things,

how much you pay for your plane?

How much did you pay for your plane, Mr. Gary?

I saw it on the runway.

Oh. You know what?

We could talk about how much I paid for my plane,

’cause I know exactly how much it was,

but we not talking about my plane right now.

We talking about your boat.

So, let me ask one more time,

so everybody can hear and understand what I’m saying

to Mr. Loewen, the billionaire

who doesn’t know the price of his own boat

that he had dinner on with his colleagues.

I want to ask you again: how much did you pay

for your boat?

I don’t know.

I think he’s not hearing what I’m saying.

I’m gonna ask you one more time, Mr. Loewen.

How much did your boat cost?

What is your point?

What’s my point?

What is my point?

While you were sitting there sunning on that $25 million boat,

eating your $30 a head lobster,

did it ever bother you that it was all being paid for

by all the poor people and destitute people

that your company was systematically taking advantage of

and profiting from every single day?

MAME: Objection! Counsel is testifying.

Huh? Not only that,

they were taking advantage of ’em at their worst time,

when they’re downtrodden, when they lost somebody,

when they’re mourning somebody.

And now, who has to pay for it?

The small businessman like Jeremiah O’Keefe.

The small businessman in this country,

who worked so hard to pay for everything

and stay on top and keep afloat

while these greedy corporations

do everything they can and…

Objection, Your Honor!

I think I’ve had quite enough of this.

Sit your ass down!

(gavel pounding)

You sit your ass down

until I finish what I’m saying, because I’m not done.

I’m not done with my question by a long shot.

Mr. Gary!

Language of that nature will not be tolerated in my court.

Mr. Loewen, you may not leave the witness stand

unless you’re excused by me.

Do you understand?

You may continue, Mr. Gary,

but I warn you to tread lightly.

I just want to know one thing.

Did it ever bother you at all?

No.

(gallery murmuring quietly)

(lightly slaps stand)

That’s all I need.

(murmuring increases)

You’re dismissed.

RAY: Motherfucker!

Motherfucker!

What was that? What was that?!

I was skewered out there!

Well, Sister Souljah, what you got for me?

Well, came to let you know we’ve come to a decision.

Mm. We have? And what have we decided?

Well, in light of recent events,

it does feel that it would be best for all parties involved…

Oh.

…to reopen a settlement discussion.

In other words, we are…

we are prepared to make your client

a very generous offer.

(chuckling)

I know that’s hard for you to, uh, get out, but how generous are we talking?

I mean, work with me, Willie. It’s not gonna be $100 million.

Work with you? What are you talking about?

I mean, needless to say,

it’s gonna be in the range in which neither Jerry…

Uh-huh.

…nor his kids nor his grandkids would ever

have to worry about anything again.

Okay.

That sound good. That sound good.

Yes.

I’ll tell you what.

Why don’t we meet in your room in a couple hours?

And make sure you get your best negotiator. You know why?

Your ass gonna need it.

NEGOTIATOR: Generally, damages in tort are awarded

simply to restore the plaintiff back to the position

he or she was in before tort occurred.

However, given how protracted this whole matter has become,

we believe that it is in all our best interests

just to resolve this once and for all.

We’d like to make you what we consider

a very generous offer.

Obviously, should you decide not to take it,

we can all go back into court tomorrow.

You can roll the dice with the jury.

But, frankly, uh, the chances that you will win

or come anywhere close to this number,

is a risk I doubt you want to take.

Okay.

Here’s our offer.

The answer’s no.

MAME: Are you serious?

He’s serious?

JEREMIAH: I said the answer’s no.

RAY: You mean to tell me you are really going to turn that down?

You sure you don’t maybe want a little more time to think it over?

JEREMIAH: I’ve thought it over enough.

RAY: Have you?

I think we both know that’s more money than you’ll ever see in your lifetime.

We gonna get down to business or y’all gonna keep wasting our time?

(Ray sighs)

The man said no.

Hmm?

(Ray clears throat)

(whispering)

Mm. Okay.

You sure?

Yes.

(pen scratching)

MAME: Best and final.

WILLIE: Mm-hmm.

(soft grunt)

Answer’s still no.

(coughs)

Well, this is just fucking unbelievable.

What the hell’s your problem, O’Keefe?

You can’t honestly tell me that is not enough.

It’s more than enough for me.

It’s just not enough for you.

For me?

As in enough to put you out of business.

Ah. (scoffs)

Come on.

Let me tell you something, pal.

The amount of money it would take to put me out of business…

the real, actual amount…

is a number you can’t even calculate.

Take the money, Jerry.

You’re 80 years old.

Seventy-five.

Can you please talk to your client?

WILLIE: Talk to him about what?

About the fact he just turned down…

Oh, he said no.

Last I checked, “no” means “no,” right?

RAY: What does it feel like

to be some small-time, nobody funeral director

on the verge of bankruptcy

who just passed on his one and only chance

at $75 million?

What’s it feel like?

RAY: Mm.

(rhythmic tapping)

♪ It feels good ♪

(laughing)

♪ Feels good ♪

BOTH: ♪ Feels good ♪

WILLIE: Yeah. (grunting in rhythm)

♪ Feels good ♪

(“Feels Good” playing) ♪ It feels good ♪

Yeah. That’s it.

♪ Yeah ♪

He said no. We see you all in court tomorrow.

Okay, you can leave now. Thank you.

MAME: I mean, it’s… it’s a circus.

♪ Oh, it feels good ♪

JEREMIAH: ♪ Feels good ♪

(Willie laughing)

♪ Feels good, feels good ♪

♪ Feels good ♪

WILLIE: ♪ It feels good, hey ♪

(doorbell rings)

(fading): ♪ It sure feels good to me. ♪

(laughing)

Surprise.

Guess who it is?

What you doing?

I thought you could use some company.

Oh, baby.

Missed you so much.

(“I Like” by Guy playing) ♪ You do to me, you know I like it ♪

Go on over there. Now, go on over there.

♪ I like ♪

♪ Don’t stop now ♪

Yeah, that’s right.

That’s how we do it.

That’s right.

♪ I like ♪

Ah. Mm.

♪ Ooh ♪

I’m gonna come on past you now.

Come on past you now.

♪ Hey ♪

That’s right now.

Oil the engine up. Oil the engine up.

Hey.

♪ Oh, oh, oh ♪

Ah.

♪ I like ♪

Ah. Ooh! That’s all mine.

WILLIE: Closing arguments tomorrow.

GLORIA: You think I don’t know that?

Done a lot of big cases, but…

…this particular one is…

Lot of people’s lives in my hand. And…

I think I kind of feel that a little bit, you know.

Especially…

especially when it comes to Jerry.

(sighs)

So…

I don’t want to lose.

I mean, I don’t…

I-I think…

…what if I don’t win

and…

…I let all these people down?

Well…

you’re not going to let them down.

So you don’t need to worry.

(sighs)

You know that for a fact, Miss Gloria?

I don’t know it for a fact.

I know you for a fact.

Mm.

I know the man I married.

Yeah, baby.

(gasps) Oh, but…

One suggestion, though, baby?

Yeah? What’s that?

When you’re up there in court tomorrow,

doing your thing…

Doing my thing.

…just…

try not to refer to yourself in the third person.

Okay.

(laughs)

What, um… (clears throat)

What you, what you talking about, Gloria?

(smacks lips) I don’t, I don’t do that.

Yeah, you do.

Go on.

Nah, I…

Just a little.

I don’t think I do that.

I don’t.

“Girl, get ready. Willie Gary coming upstairs now!”

(laughing)

Trust me.

You do.

I… I guess Willie Gary does do that every once in a while.

(bell tolling)

(shoes scuff on floor)

(pacing footsteps)

WILLIE: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury…

…I just have one small question to ask.

Do y’all mind if I keep things simple? Hmm?

Just plain and ordinary talk.

(clock ticking quietly)

GRAVES: Has the jury reached a verdict?

After careful consideration,

we the jury in case number 9661,

of the Hinds County District Court,

Mr. Jeremiah J. O’Keefe v. the Loewen Group, LLC,

have decided to side in favor of

the plaintiff, Jeremiah O’Keefe.

(gallery murmuring)

We have further decided to award a verdict of

$100 million in compensatory damages…

WOMAN: All right! Oh!

…to be paid to Mr. O’Keefe by defendant Loewen Group, LLC.

And…

…a verdict of $400 million in punitive damages

to be paid to Mr. O’Keefe by defendant Loewen Group.

WILLIE: You deserve it.

Come on!

(cheering, excited chattering)

♪ ♪

(excited chatter continues)

♪ ♪

$500 million, Jerry.

(sighs) I know it, Willie.

I know it.

(sighs)

(footsteps passing overhead)

(indistinct chatter)

Hey, Willie.

Hey, Mame.

What you do, you, uh…

come down here for your last licking?

Oh, my last licking?

(chuckles)

(chuckling): No.

I actually just wanted to congratulate you.

Really?

Yeah.

Congratulate me?

Mm-hmm.

Now come on. You mean that?

(scoffs) Listen, I hate losing.

But it was a well-earned victory. I can be honest about that.

Well, I venture, but that’s $500 million.

Now, somewhere inside, I know you think that’s way too much.

Yeah, maybe there’s a part of me that thinks it’s not enough.

Well, I can take more.

(chuckles)

Good luck to you, Willie Gary.

Ah. Keep in touch.

Hope to see you on the trail.

Well…

Hey, Mame?

I gotta tell you something.

You one of the toughest lawyers I’ve ever had to go against.

You, too.

No doubt Johnnie would be impressed.

(“Better Days” by Le’Andria Johnson plays)

♪ Sometimes it feels cold ♪

♪ And you feel all alone ♪

Johnnie.

♪ But hold on ♪

♪ Better days are coming ♪

♪ It can be rough ♪

♪ In this world ♪

♪ I know ♪

♪ It ain’t easy ♪

♪ But hang on in there ♪

♪ I know better days are coming ♪

♪ You seen good, you seen bad ♪

♪ You’ve been hurt beyond sin ♪

♪ But just remember ♪

♪ That better days ♪

There’s always the one.

♪ That better days ♪

There’s always one. Just…

♪ Are coming ♪

♪ Friends… ♪

♪ Will leave you ♪

♪ All by yourself ♪

♪ But don’t cry ♪

♪ ‘Cause better days ♪

♪ Are coming ♪

♪ Oh ♪

♪ Better days ♪

♪ Better days ♪

♪ Better days ♪

♪ I’ll see, yeah ♪

♪ Better days ♪

♪ Are coming. ♪

(song ends)

(laughter, chatter in song)

(“Stand By Me” by Jimmy Ruffin and David Ruffin playing)

♪ When the night ♪

♪ When the night ♪

♪ Has come ♪

♪ Mm ♪

♪ And the land is so dark ♪

♪ And the moon ♪

♪ Is the only light we’ll see, my brother ♪

♪ No, I won’t ♪

♪ Be afraid ♪

♪ No, I won’t be afraid ♪

♪ Mm ♪

♪ Just as long ♪

♪ Just as long as you ♪

♪ As you ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, stand by me ♪

♪ Hmm, mm ♪

♪ Ah ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, if the sky ♪

♪ That we look upon ♪

♪ Should crumble and fall ♪

♪ Or the mountain ♪

♪ Should crumble down to the sea, oh, yeah ♪

♪ I won’t cry ♪

♪ I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no ♪

♪ Oh, no, I won’t cry ♪

♪ I won’t, I won’t shed a tear ♪

♪ Just as long ♪

♪ As you ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Don’t you worry ♪

♪ Oh, stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, stand ♪

♪ By me… ♪

Hey, what’s happening there, doc?

Hey, what’s up?

Willie Gary. I can’t believe it.

Yeah.

How you doing, man?

Nice to see you, Dr. G. How you feeling?

I want to be just like you when I grow up.

You know what? You’re gonna be better than me.

Get out of here. Take care now.

All right. Good seeing you now.

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Ooh ♪

♪ Come on and ♪

♪ Stand ♪

♪ Stand by me ♪

♪ Oh, stand… ♪

(song fades)

(“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach playing)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(music ends)

♪ ♪

♪ ♪

(music ends)

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