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.

The camera follows McKay as he gets in his car, drives to the west side, and asks a clerk to pull the original receipt.

Again, the camera zooms in on the signature. On the original, the signature is simply: "Jean Caperonis."

In the next shot, McKay sits at the computer, typing, the original receipt on the desk beside him. The camera pans to the computer screen, where McKay has typed:


He prints the page, punches holes in it, and places it in the binder along with copies of the receipts.

Scene 13: Judge O'Toole's court, December 1993. A dog-custody hearing.

The court learns:
Cassius, the male Belgian Tervuren, has remained at home with McKay. Phoebe, the female, is with Caperonis. McKay purchased the dog himself, but she is registered in both McKay's and Caperonis' names.

Both parties want Phoebe.
Caperonis--aided by the dog's breeder and the president of the national Belgian Tervuren Club--argues that Cassius and McKay are not suitable companions for the dog.

McKay tells the court Phoebe should be returned home, to her playmate--and future stud--Cassius. McKay holds up a copy of a videotape and asks the judge to watch his daily routine with the dogs, which he feels will show how good a canine father he is.

Cut to dog tape, shot as home video. CAMERA SHAKES. McKay walks over to his bed, sits down.

"The purpose of this tape is to provide the court with a more complete and better-rounded picture of my dogs' lives and of their relationship with me."

The day begins with Phoebe nuzzling him awake, McKay says, adding that such favoritism by the dog always bothered Caperonis. Usually, the dogs would breakfast with Caperonis in the kitchen, because McKay is a late sleeper. But one day, a few weeks before McKay asked Caperonis to move out, McKay awoke to find a lump in the bed. It was Phoebe.

"She had tiptoed back here and got into bed with me. And what that moment told me was that she knew. And in all likelihood probably knew what was coming. I don't know how they do that, but I was raised with horses and dogs all my life, and I know that they do.

"At any rate, that's how our day starts, and we'll get on with it."
He rises, then pauses and reaches for a book on the nightstand.
"By the way, some interesting bedtime reading. (Picks up book from nightstand.) Walter Olson's The Litigation Explosion, and what happened when America unleashed the lawsuit.

"It's a must-read."
The video details McKay serving Cassius pot roast he has made specially for the dogs and taking Cassius for a walk. In the final scene, McKay sits on the family-room couch, Cassius asleep at his feet.

"Inevitably, they wind up conked out here at our feet, and often with Phoebe literally draped over one of mine.

"I hope this has given you a better picture of my dogs' lives outside of the two hours a week that they spend in training classes, and I hope that you'll keep all these things in mind when you're making your decision about where Phoebe should be for the interim period. She has been gone for four months, and I just want to emphasize that she had no say in her removal, and her being taken from her home and from Cassius, from me, had no bearing on her best interest or her well-being, and I'm sure that she misses us as much as we miss her. And I know that it must be her Christmas wish--wherever she is--that she be returned home.

"As we say in Hollywood, that's a wrap."
Cut to the courtroom. O'Toole refuses to look at the video, but allows Phoebe to return to McKay for Christmas.

Scene 14: O'Toole's Court, spring 1994.

McKay's attorney, Don Lindholm, argues that the judge should dismiss Caperonis' case because she didn't lay claim to half of McKay's assets when she filed for personal bankruptcy in 1991. Lindholm argues that the bankruptcy can never be reopened.

The judge disagrees. The case moves to U.S. Bankrupcty Court, where the bankruptcy is, indeed, reopened.

Scene 15: Summer 1994 to summer 1995, central Phoenix. More law offices, more courtrooms. Again, interspersed throughout, are shots of Mckay's desk as it gathers dust. Again, the calender marks the passing months.

Exterior shot of Steven McKay walking into Burch and Cracchiolo's red-brick offices. Interior shot of Don Lindholm introducing McKay to another lawyer, Howard Meyers, and explaining to McKay that Meyers is a bankruptcy expert.

The camera follows Meyers as he leads McKay into a conference room and closes the door.

Meyers recommends that McKay settle the bankruptcy, clearing the deck and eliminating any claim Caperonis may have on his assets.

McKay tells Meyers he will happily settle the bankruptcy, even though he is Caperonis' largest creditor. He tells Meyers he would much rather pay the innocent creditors than give Caperonis one more dime.

Cut to U.S. Bankruptcy Court. McKay watches as Judge Frederick Baum agrees to settle the bankruptcy for almost $20,000, to be paid by McKay--including $2,500 for the bankruptcy trustee. Repeatedly, McKay leans over and tries to get Meyers' attention. Meyers brushes him off, whispers that he shouldn't worry, everything's taken care of.

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