A Cinematic Affair

Scottsdale's Steven McKay is an accomplished Hollywood screenwriter. His legal war with an ex-lover is as melodramatic as any B-movie.

Steve and Jean in bed.

Voiceover: "I'm trying to be discreet about the description. The bottom line is that we wound up doing the wild thing that afternoon. And that was in her room. And I'm not going to go into the details, advantageous as they might be to me. Suffice it to say that she aggressively pursued the relationship."

Scenes of Steve and Jean dating; Jean breaking up with her husband; the day, a couple of years later, when Steve and Jean move into an apartment together to cut expenses.

Voiceover: "I had a great time with her. She was a lot of fun. I didn't feel like I had to punish myself, to start dating Satan's daughter or something."

Scene 8: The present. Jean Caperonis, a statuesque blonde, in her living room in Scottsdale.

Sitting on a chair, Caperonis appears to be lost in thought. The frame dissolves to a series of scenes from her three marriages, from careers in modeling and cocktail waitressing, from her work in dental offices and from her jobs sorting film for low-budget movies.

The focus moves to her relationship with McKay, and its gradual deterioration. Quick scenes dissolve one into another: Caperonis asks McKay to marry her. McKay tells her he's just not the marrying kind--at least, not this time. McKay sells his first script--Hard to Kill, which grosses $50 million at the box office. There are arguments over her emotional and household sloppiness; he claims he cannot concentrate on his work. McKay ends his relationship with Caperonis, moves to a $400,000 house in Palm Springs.

Caperonis hounds McKay, writing him letters, calling him, begging him to take her back. Reluctantly, he agrees. They decide to move to Scottsdale, his hometown.

McKay calls it the "Great Experiment." They agree Caperonis will work on films part-time in Los Angeles and pursue her own writing aspirations the rest of the time. They'll share household expenses.

He warns her he'll end the relationship again if she doesn't behave.

Scene 9: July 1993, a central Scottsdale ranch home.

Caperonis and McKay sit at the kitchen table. Get some paper, he says. I want you to write this down.

It's over, he tells her. You have begged me to marry you again, you aren't bringing money into the household, you're a mess. I want you out in two weeks.

He offers her a 1993 Jeep Cherokee he purchased in both their names, $1,200 a month, $10,000 toward a down payment on a condominium and an additional $5,000 if she'll leave her furniture and artwork.

Caperonis becomes hysterical.
McKay announces he's leaving that evening for Palm Springs. She is to pack and get out. She begs him to stay, grabs his keys and the two fight over them. Finally, he leaves.

For weeks, their only communication is via fax. When he returns to Scottsdale, he learns she has decided to sue him for half of everything and has gone to city court to secure a restraining order prohibiting him from throwing her out of the house.

Scene 10: Present time, McKay at the kitchen table.

He bites into a bialy spread with cream cheese and topped with lox, chews, then levels his gaze at the camera.

"For her to turn around boldly, after I end the relationship with her, to say all of the sudden that (his voice changes, mimicking a woman), 'Oh, wait a minute, he made a verbal contract with me back in June of 1984 that I was entitled to property that he didn't even know he owned yet.'

(Voice changes back) "It's so nonsensical. It's so stupid. It's so ridiculous on the face of it. Who would need a lawyer?"

McKay laughs a manic laugh, as the scene dissolves from the kitchen to a courtroom.

Scene 11: September 1993, Maricopa County Superior Court, Judge Thomas O'Toole's courtroom.

Caperonis is there with her lawyer, a young man named Greg Meell, an associate with the Phoenix firm Sherwood, Klein, Dudley and Abrams. The camera looks at him through McKay's eyes; Meell turns momentarily into Eddie Haskell from Leave It to Beaver.

McKay's lawyer is Don Lindholm, a seasoned, high-priced domestic-relations attorney with the firm Burch and Cracchiolo.

Judge O'Toole orders McKay to pay Caperonis $725 a month in support, and--because McKay refuses to allow her to drive the Jeep Cherokee--to rent her a car.

Scene 12: Fall 1993. Montage of shots of McKay in various lawyers' offices, courtrooms, and at home sorting through papers, receipts, typing on his computer. Interspersed, throughout: shots of his unused desk, through the months. The Synonym Finder and dictionaries gather dust, mail from Hollywood piles up, his writing pads are empty. The only thing that changes is the months on the desk calendar, which mark the time as it passes. Included in the montage of shots are scenes where McKay fills a three-inch binder cataloguing the most minute details of the litigation.

The camera shows Caperonis in court, presenting a judge with a pile of receipts she's signed, identifying herself as "Mrs. Jean Caperonis McKay" or "Mrs. Steven McKay," which, she tells the judge, identify the two as husband and wife.

In the next shot, back at his home, McKay leafs through copies of the receipts, stopping at a copy of a receipt from T&S Furniture warehouse in west Phoenix. The camera zooms in on the signature: "Jean Caperonis McKay."

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