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Basquiat (1997)

by Julian Schnabel.

More info about this movie on IMDb.com


FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY


BLACK

We HEAR "Waltzing Matilde," by Tom Waits.


INT. MUSEUM OF MODERN ART  DAY (DREAM SEQUENCE IN GRAINY BLACK 
AND WHITE)

Fade out music. 

Silence.

A well-dressed black BOY and his MOTHER walk through several 
galleries.

They stand before Picasso's "Guernica," holding hands. 

The mother is disturbed. Crying.

The boy looks up, confused and frightened, concerned to see his 
mother crying in public. She looks at him tenderly.

Her brow furrows. She stops crying. She stares just above his 
eyes.
 
Something's happening: she looks with wonder at the top of his 
head... his eyes roll upward, trying to see  it's a crown! 

He raises his hands. He touches it. 

A beam of light illuminates the crown, casting its glow on his 
mother's face. 

The beam gets whiter, the rest of the screen gets black.


INT. CARDBOARD BOX

Silence. In darkness, we hear a VOICE  imbued with a sense of its 
own history:

VOICE (O.S.)
Everybody wants to get on the Van Gogh 
boat. There's no trip so horrible that 
someone won't take it. The idea of the 
unrecognized genius slaving away in a 
garret is a deliciously foolish one. We 
must credit the life of Vincent Van Gogh 
for really sending this myth into orbit. 
How many pictures did he sell? One? He 
couldn't give them away. We are so ashamed 
of his life that the rest of art history 
will be retribution for Van Gogh's 
neglect. No one wants to be part of a 
generation that ignores another Van Gogh.

The beam of light shines through a small hole. It falls upon a 
sleeping, dreaming, delighted face. It belongs to JEAN MICHEL 
BASQUIAT.

OUTDOOR, DAYTIME SOUNDS filter in. 

Hearing the voice, Jean frowns at being woken up.


EXT. TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK  DAY

A long, rectangular cardboard box. 

SUPER: "NEW YORK CITY"


ANGLE ON:

RENE RICARD (early 30's), seated at a park bench, hunched over a 
notebook. He's a raggedy dandy: A poet in a hooded sweatshirt and 
white hightops. 

As he writes, he reads aloud, as if addressing Posterity.

RENE (CONT'D)
(sighing theatrically)
In this town one is at the mercy of the 
recognition factor. One's  public 
appearance is absolute.

Beyond him, a HAND gropes its way out of the box. It tosses a can 
of YOOHOO chocolate drink.

RENE (CONT'D)
I consider myself a metaphor of the 
public. I am a public eye. I am a witness.

A HEAD appears from the box. It's Jean's. 

Jean sees the start of a crisp, colorful autumn day. The urban 
park around him is alive with a typically full range of the good 
and bad in life. He eases himself out of the oversize box in which 
he has spent the night. There's something about the way that he 
stands while waking up that suggests he's almost surprised at his 
own body, the adultness of his limbs  just a subtle hint of him 
coming out of a dream.

He squints in the sunlight. He has a soft, gentle, Haitian face. 
His hair is pulled tight to his head. He wears two pairs of blue 
jeans (one cut like chaps over the other) a paint-covered Wesleyan 
University T-shirt, and the inside lining of an overcoat. His 
appearance is unruly, but it's deliberate. He's stylish. 

He shakes himself off and collects his stuff, which includes: a 
small book of Pontormo drawings, a can of black spray paint. and a 
cigar box made into a loudspeaker with pencil holes and masking 
tape.

Jean walks out of the park and looks up past the buildings at the 
sky: 


SUPERIMPOSED IN THE SKY  STOCK FOOTAGE OF A HAWAIIAN SURFER

Jean sees the surfer, 'riding the nose' in glistening, shimmering 
sunlight.

DISSOLVE TO:


EXT. TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK  DAY

Rene grabs the box for use as a desk and continues to speak out 
loud as he writes. 

RENE (CONT'D, O.S.)
Part of the artist's job is to get the 
work where I will see it.


EXT. LOWER EAST SIDE ST.  DAY

As he speaks, we see Jean pass the wall of a funeral parlor. He 
spraypaints: "SAMO AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO GOD"

RENE (CONT'D, O.S.)
When you first see a new picture, you 
don't want to miss the boat. You have to 
be very careful because you may be staring 
at Van Gogh's ear.

Jean signs his words with his 'logo', a triple pointed crown. 

As he presses the spray can, we HEAR the roar of a breaker.

CUT TO:


INSERT: CLOSEUP OF SIDEWALK

Pressed into the concrete is a pair of EYEGLASSES. A light-colored 
piece of rock completes the picture to make a face. 


EXT. LESHKO'S RESTAURANT  DAY

JEAN'S POV: His shoes pause next to the face in the concrete. 

CUT TO:


IN FRONT OF THE RESTAURANT

Is a METAL BILLBOARD with red plastic magnetized LETTERS that 
reads: "TODAY'S SPECIAL: CLAM CHOWDER $1.50. TRY IT!!!"

CUT TO:


INT. LESHKO'S  DAY

Jean enters.

CUT TO:


EXT. LESHKO'S RESTAURANT  DAY

The sign. It now reads: "SAMO'S DAY OLD TEETH $5.00"

CUT TO:


INT. LESHKO'S RESTAURANT  DAY

Bending over a countertop, we see GINA CARDINALE, 22. He fixates 
on her.

She looks up and notices his stare. She continues to work.

Still staring at her, he sits down at a table. He pours maple 
syrup onto the table. He draws in the syrup with his fingers. 


CLOSE ON SYRUP ON TABLE

ANOTHER WAITRESS arrives at his table. She's put off by the syrup.

WAITRESS
What'll it be?

Jean thinks about it, eyes still following Gina.

BASQUIAT
Ummm. It'll be great. We'll live together 
in peace. What's her name?
(indicates Gina)

He looks up at the waitress.

WAITRESS
Gina. What'll it be?

BASQUIAT
Pancakes.

She leaves and whispers something to Gina. Gina turns and glances 
over at Jean.

Jean pours more syrup and starts writing his name.

At the grill, LESHKO, the burly Owner/Cook, has his watchful eye 
on Jean. He doesn't like what he sees.

Jean smears the syrup thinly, so it doesn't erase itself. He draws 
a picture of Gina, using his fingers and the silverware, rendering 
her last expression strikingly with a few quick lines. 

A GAUNT YOUNG MAN saunters up to Jean's table. He's sort of a  
tall Puerto Rican Alain Delon with sleepy eyes. He is BENNY.

BENNY
Hey  Willie Mays.

BASQUIAT
Willie Mays.

Suddenly, Rene Ricard enters  a one-man parade. He beckons to 
Gina, snapping his fingers.

RENE
Nurse!!! Oh!!! Nurse!!! Carrot juice. Tofu 
burger. Rapido!

GINA
We don't serve that  amigo.

RENE
Fine... A greasy cheeseburger. Fries  and 
a vodka.

BASQUIAT
(under his breath)
Who's that?

BENNY
The Devil, man. Rene Ricard. Art critic  
writes for Artforum. People read him. Tell 
him who you are..

BASQUIAT
Who am I?

BENNY
SAMO.

BASQUIAT
Oh yeah..

Rene lands at the counter.

Jean's gaze is still on Gina.

She waits on a MAN at a nearby table. 

CUSTOMER
How's the special today?

GINA
It's your stomach.

She hurries past Jean.

BASQUIAT
Hey.

She slows down, not wanting to.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
What do you think?

She looks at her portrait in the syrup... She can't resist 
smiling.

GINA
It's me. I've never been done in maple 
syrup. Here's a rag.

Gina smiles. She offers him one. As she holds it out, their eyes 
lock. She tries to resist his smile. 

BASQUIAT
(gently)
Gina?

She puts her finger in the syrup and licks it off.

Benny takes it all in.

Leshko is upon them. 

LESHKO
Alright. Look at you, staring at this 
girl,  making a mess.

He waves Jean toward the door.

Jean takes Gina's rag and begins cleaning his mess, seemingly 
compliant.

BASQUIAT
How about those pancakes?

He brings out a roll of dimes to the tabletop and splits it open. 
Dimes roll all over the table and stick in the syrupy parts. The 
manager explodes.

LESHKO
OK! Goodbye!

GINA
Pipe down, Lech. Let him order.

LESHKO
You nuts? Let him order? You on his side? 
You're not such a good waitress. You get 
out, too. 

GINA
I just don't think you're being fair.

LESHKO
I need this?

GINA
I need this?

Gina quietly removes her apron in disbelief.

Benny gets up to leave very casually.

BENNY
(waving g'bye to Jean)
Willie Mays.

LESHKO
(to Gina)
That's right. You go with them. Make 
babies the government has to pay for.

CUT TO:


GINA AND JEAN 

Leave the restaurant.

Behind them, we see Rene, absorbed in his writing.


EXT. AVE. A  DAY

They stand outside, not knowing quite what comes next.

Jean gives Benny a look (i.e. 'scram'). 

BENNY
Catch you later.

Benny leaves.

A CHILLY WIND picks up.

Jean's mood is suddenly downcast.

They button up their overcoats, about to leave.

GINA
What's a job, anyway?
(pause)
What's wrong with you?

The truth is, he feels awful for causing Gina's trouble, but shows 
it by moping like a child.

GINA (CONT'D)
No, don't tell me  you just got fired by 
your crazy boss. 

BASQUIAT
I guess you did.

GINA
Guess I just got sick of him.

BASQUIAT
Can I walk you home?

GINA
I think I could do that alone.

Gina walks away.

He runs after her.

BASQUIAT
Wait, I'm in a band....We're at the Mudd 
Club on Halloween. I'll put you on the 
list.

Gina turns and looks back at Jean.

GINA
I hate the Mudd Club.

He catches up to her.

Gina notices a dead leaf in his hair and picks it out.

GINA (CONT'D)
Have you been camping? You could use a 
scrub.

BASQUIAT
I'm clean. Smell me. I always smell good. 
I don't know why, I just do!

He leans forward, offering his neck.

GINA
(smelling)
You do! You definitely do.

BASQUIAT
Just come to the Mudd Club on Friday. 

GINA
I don't go there. Too many party girls.

BASQUIAT
Party girls? Can I call you?

GINA
(teasing him)
Yeah, if you have any dimes left. 477-
0496.

He writes her number on his pant cuff with a big fat magic marker.

BASQUIAT
Here, this is for you. I made this.

He hands her the small speaker.

She takes it.

GINA
Thanks.

She admires the speaker watches him walk off.


EXT. MENTAL HOSPITAL (OUTSIDE THE CITY)

We see Jean crossing a lawn outside a mental hospital.


INT. MENTAL HOSPITAL  RECREATION / VISITING ROOM  DAY

PSYCH. PATIENTS fill a cavernous day-room engaged in arts and 
crafts. Some of the sadder patients stare off into space as Jean 
crosses the room. He carries a plate of cookies and a full glass 
of milk.

He approaches a sad, nice-looking, middle-aged black woman  the 
same one from the dream, earlier. She sits alone fondling a pillow 
in her lap. It's his mother, MATILDE. She doesn't see him coming.

As he sets the plate in front of her, she notices him. She 
recognizes him and seems pleased, even in her isolation. He kisses 
her on the cheek.

BASQUIAT
Hey, mom.

She smiles slightly. 

Jean takes a cookie. She does likewise.

They eat in silence, looking at each other, communicating what 
they can. 

Time passes. In between cookies her fingers find and break the 
stems of the pillow feathers.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
I met the girl I'm gonna marry.

His mother brightens. She drinks the milk. They finish the 
cookies.

MATILDE
Do you like it here?

BASQUIAT
I'd like it better in Hawaii.


INT. CARDBOARD BOX  NIGHT

Jean tries to sleep in the box. RAIN falls heavily onto it.

Drops of water hit his face.

He wills it to stop. It doesn't.

Finally, he can't stand it. Rain forces his blinking eyes open.


INT. BENNY'S APARTMENT   NIGHT

A door opens to reveal Jean's wet face.

Benny lets him in.

Jean enters a rundown railroad flat crammed with musical 
instruments, beer cans, and homemade art. There's a couch with a 
sheet over it. 

Junk is piled in a corner  mostly art books and drawings. 

Benny sits down at an electric piano, which he's evidently 
playing. He sings along, softly, working out the words, 
concentrating, absorbed.

Jean sets his belongings on the couch, walks to a mic stand and 
starts making up his own words.

BASQUIAT
"She loves me.
Oh yeah she loves me!
She loooooooves me,
Oh yeah she loves me!"
Bring me some chicken, baby!

BENNY
Would you shut the fuck up? You hear what 
I'm doing?

BASQUIAT
Yeah man. I'm jealous. You're always 
great, Benny. 
(goes back into 'act')
"Her name is G-I-N-A Gina
And she lo-oooves me."
I did say chicken!

Benny turns off the piano and lights a roach, angry at Jean's 
self-centeredness.

Jean digs through a pile of garbage. Finally, he finds what he's 
looking for  a pile of "SAMO baseball cards"  color Xeroxes of 
his favorite images and words. He pockets them.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
I knew I left these somewhere. One of 
these'll send your kids to college 
someday. 
(hands it to Benny solemnly)
Here  I made this for you. 

BENNY
Thanks.
(beat)
Your dad called again  something about a 
job.

He hands Jean a slip of paper. He notices the number on Jean's 
pants.

BENNY (CONT'D)
You got a date already?

BASQUIAT
(exhaling)
We're getting married. She said she could 
tell I was a great artist  she could see 
it in my eyes. She said she wanted to be 
by my side and have inter-racial babies 
with me. 

Benny grins. He grabs a basketball and spins it expertly on his 
index finger. 

BENNY
G'night... See you in court tomorrow.

Jean turns on the TV. He notices the roach. He picks up the paper 
Benny gave him with the message from his father and sets it on 
fire.

He lights the roach with it. 

He looks up; on television, we see a BUM being interviewed. Jean 
turns up the volume. 

The bum's on the ground, looking beat up. Jean picks up a pocket 
recorder and turns it on:

BUM
The guy just hit me and I was on the 
ground!!!! Boom, for real.

Jean mutes the sound on the TV. He rewinds and proudly plays back 
the words "Boom, for real."

He picks up the phone and dials. He turns on the speakerphone. 

Jean holds the recorder to the speaker as someone answers the 
phone. (Jean walks in and out of frame throughout the following.)

VOICE
Hello?

BASQUIAT
(deadpan)
I-Is this the s-s-suicide h-h-hotline?

VOICE
Yes. My name is Chris. What's yours?

BASQUIAT
Jean Michel.

CHRIS
That's a beautiful name. French?

BASQUIAT
Haitian. I'm going to kill myself. I'm 
taking pills. Reds, blues, greens.

Jean opens his notepad and looks down a long list of seemingly 
random words. He comes to the words (in order) "liquid, hijack," 
and "Marlboros."

CHRIS
What? Wait a minute... talk to me.

BASQUIAT
(about to sob)
Life doesn't... make... sense. This city's 
k-killing me. I want my liquid hijack 
Marlboros!

CHRIS
What? Life's beautiful. Depression isn't 
permanent. Don't you believe that?
(pause)
What is it  did your girlfriend leave 
you?

BASQUIAT
No! I have a boyfriend. He loves me.

Jean spies an electric pencil sharpener and plugs it in.

CHRIS
You see? You have someone to live for.

BASQUIAT
No, I don't. I'm alone. We all are. 
Especially here. The world's unjust. The 
respect fools get. The disrespect I get.

CHRIS
What is it you want? Respect? I have 
respect for you, just for making this 
call. One philosopher said "Sadness is a 
sin against the richness of the world." 
Think about it. Feel it.

BASQUIAT
You don't even know me. I want real 
respect.

He jams a pencil into the electric sharpener and holds the 
receiver right next to it, giving the guy an earful: 
RRRRKKKKKKK!!! 


ANGLE ON

CLOSE UP  A speaker. It fills the screen.

We continue to hear:

CHRIS (O.S.)
(beat)
What? What do you want?

BASQUIAT
(breaking loose)
Fame. My liquid hijack Marlboros and the 
moon and the cow that jumped over it.

CAMERA PULLS BACK FROM SPEAKER TO REVEAL:


INT. MUDD CLUB  HALLOWEEN NIGHT

Jean and Benny are on stage with two other GUYS, members of the 
band Gray. Everyone but Jean is dressed in some sort of Halloween 
costume.

We HEAR the words "Boom, for real" blasting from the P.A. system. 
What follows is a continuation, a collage of words from Jean's 
"suicide hotline" call  

P.A.
One philosopher said "Give me my liquid 
hijack Marlboros. Life's beautiful. You 
have someone to live for. What do you 
want? RKKKK! That's a beautiful name... 
French?

Jean sits in a chair onstage with his band members. Benny plays 
the organ. The other band members play percussion and guitar.

It works. The crowd loves it. 

The song ends abruptly. 

We begin to hear James Brown's "Sex Machine."

Jean looks out into the crowd and notices Gina. She's looking 
right back at him from the bar. Pleased to see her face, he says 
to himself  

BASQUIAT
Boom, for real.

We see him walk offstage into the crowd. They meet.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
I thought you hated this place?

GINA
I do.
(beat)
I just said that. I was never here before. 
I actually like it.

MUSIC segues into PIL's "Public Image".

BASQUIAT
Let's get out of here.

He leads her towards the exit. They step out of the club.


EXT. MUDD CLUB  NIGHT

HIGH, WIDE ANGLE

It's raining heavily. Jean motions for Gina to wait under the 
entrance. He tries to hail a cab... And another. And another.

A parade of them passes, but each time they slow down, they get a 
glimpse of Jean and drive off.

Finally, Gina steps out of the entrance. She raises her hand, and 
a car pulls over instantly.


INT. CAB  NIGHT

They scurry into the backseat.

The cab pulls off.


EXT. CHINESE RESTAURANT  NIGHT

Through a steamy, rain-wet window, we see Jean and Gina seated at 
a table, dining. 

They seem to be having a nice time.


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  NEXT MORNING

Gina lays in bed. Daylight streams into the apartment. Jackhammers 
RATTLE outside. (Music: REGGAE SONG  Errol Scorcher's "Cockroach 
in de Corner.")


EXTREME CLOSEUP

A cockroach crawls from Gina's bedroom across the floor and into 
the kitchen where Jean sits naked on the floor, working on a 
drawing. It crawls over his drawing towards a cardboard box.

Jean rummages through a cabinet. He finds a can of bugspray. Jean 
tears off a side of the box. With cardboard in one hand and 
bugspray in the other,  he forgets the cockroach. 

He's mesmerized by the list of ingredients on the aerosol can. 

Someone POUNDS furiously at the door. 

Ignoring the pounding, he starts listing the ingredients on the 
piece of cardboard, finishing his new drawing by including a 
symbol of a cockroach to the left of the list.

LANDLADY
Miss Cardinale... Open up for me, please!

He gets up and peeks through the security hole. He sees a middle-
aged Hispanic woman reaching to unlock the door. He opens it. 

LANDLADY (CONT'D)
Ohhh, Dios mio!

She stares at him levelly.

LANDLADY (CONT'D)
I just want the rent.

BASQUIAT
Why didn't you say so? Damn! She's asleep!

Jean draws on a piece of paper on the counter next to him. He 
hands it to the landlady. It's a a little shack with a big head 
next to it that says "'Here' For Rent."

The landlady looks at him like he's crazy. She balls up the 
drawing and puts it in her pocket.

Gina arrives in the doorway, wearing a robe. The landlady's 
trapped between them.

GINA
(to Jean)
What're you doing?

The landlady wags her finger at Gina.

LANDLADY
Next Monday.

Gina and Jean look amused as they watch her leave. 

BASQUIAT
Wanna go get some breakfast?

GINA
A friend of mine offered me a job doing a 
little work installing a show in a 
gallery. He's an electrician. I was 
supposed to be there an hour ago.

She looks at the bugspray drawing on the floor. 

GINA (CONT'D)
Ohh, that's nice.

Jean kisses her neck as she looks at the drawing.

We HOLD on the drawing.


INT. MARY BOONE GALLERY  DAY

White dust sprinkles down onto Jean's face from the ceiling. 
Unable to use his hands, he tries to blow the dust out of his 
eyes... 

His boss, GREG, a mild-mannered hippie electrician, works above 
him on the ladder. Jean steadies the ladder. Greg's head is out of 
frame.

The gallery is an impressive space under preparations for an 
opening.

GREG
Jean, could you get me a Phillips 
screwdriver?

BASQUIAT
A what?

GREG
A Phillips head. From the toolbox.

BASQUIAT
Yeah.

Jean searches through the toolbox. He picks up a screwdriver and 
reads the handle: "CRAFTSMAN"

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
'Phillips head,' right?

GREG
Yeah.

Jean shakes his head and puts it back. He tries a couple more  
they each say "CRAFTSMAN." He puts them back. 

Finally, he finds one with a different handle. It says "G.S.C. 
2000."

BASQUIAT
You don't have any!!! 

GREG
That's impossible. I've got, like, five of 
'em!

He comes down off the ladder.

GREG (CONT'D)
You're holding one in your hand!!! 
(beat)
You've never done this kind of work 
before, have you?
(demonstrating)
See, this is a regular screwdriver, and 
this is a Phillips head. The cross 
thing... I'll tell you later what all the 
tools are so you'll know. 

A GROUP of people arrives. 

Albert Milo comes into view, tailed closely by Rene Ricard and 
MARY BOONE  well dressed, petite, intense, 30. Milo, (also about 
30), wears casual clothes splattered with paint. Mary Boone is 
engaged in conversation with Milo. Rene chatters away.

Greg climbs back up the ladder. He holds a piece of wire down to 
Jean. Jean stares at the group while trying to be invisible.

RENE
I need to make a call, Mary. You don't 
mind, do you?

MARY BOONE
Certainly not. You can use my line.

Rene picks up the phone.

RENE
To Paris. Bernard Picasso  
(to Mary)
You know Bernard  

MARY BOONE
(wincing)
Be my guest.

Jean watches the group talking.

GREG
Jean? Hold this, please.
(beat  he sees why Jean's 
so distracted)
You'll get there. But it's good to have 
something to fall back on. That's why I 
became an electrician. It pays the rent. 
Y'know, I'm an artist, too.

BASQUIAT
I didn't know. 

GREG
I sculpt. I'm really just starting to find 
myself. How old are you? Twenty? You're 
just like I used to be. I'm forty-one. And 
I'm glad I haven't gotten any recognition. 
It gave me time to develop.

Jean watches Mary and Milo talking.

MARY BOONE
(to Milo)
I can't tell you how happy I am with this 
show.

Mary yells across the room to Jean.

MARY BOONE (CONT'D)
(her tone impersonal)
Excuse me  you  what's your name? Would 
you move those tools there and put them 
somewhere else?

He looks at her.

Milo watches to see what he's going to do.

BASQUIAT
(to Milo)
My name is Jean Michel Basquiat. Have you 
heard of me?

ALBERT MILO
(amused)
No. Should I have?

BASQUIAT
I'm a painter, too.

ALBERT MILO
Really. Huh. Too bad.

MARY BOONE
Excuse me, would you please move those 
tools?

Jean looks at Milo. Milo looks back at him.

Jean walks past the tools and continues toward the door. He walks 
out without turning around.

Milo smiles to himself.


EXT. BOONE GALLERY  ALBERT MILO OPENING  DUSK

The ART WORLD CROWD fills the gallery. Jean lurks across the 
street, watching through the window.

Cabs and limousines line the block. A crowd outside blocks the 
street.

Jean's obviously impressed, jealous and estranged   he feels 
entitled to all this. 

He crosses the street to get a closer look. 


THROUGH THE WINDOW

He sees Albert Milo talking with ANDY WARHOL and BRUNO 
BISCHOFBERGER. Andy, of course, is thin, silver-haired, and nearly 
albino. Bruno is a Swiss art dealer in his 40's. He exudes money  
a pillar of security.

On the other side of the room, Rene Ricard is surrounded by a 
coterie of young, mostly BLACK AND HISPANIC MALES. Rene looks 
drunk, enjoying the moment, holding court.

Rene crosses to Albert and Andy.

People pass by. 

Jean starts to walk. 

About half a block away, he sprays on a wall:

"THE WHOLE LIVERY LINE BOW LIKE THIS WITH THE BIG MONEY ALL 
CRUSHED INTO THESE FEET"

He looks pleased. He turns and looks up West Broadway beyond the 
buildings at the sky:


SUPERIMPOSED IN THE SKY

We see a surfer emerging from a HUGE WAVE. He looks powerful and 
exalted.

CUT TO:


EXT. BASKETBALL COURT  DAY

ANGLE ON: A wall. We see the following graffity:

"JIMMY BEST ON HIS BACK TO THE SUCKERPUNCH OF HIS CHILDHOOD YEARS"

A basketball bounces against a wall.

Jean and Benny amble onto a basketball court. Jean's changed his 
hairstyle. Now the dreadlocks stand straight up from his head. 

Benny dribbles with skill while Jean puffs furiously on a 
cigarette. He doesn't look like he's slept, but he's happy. 

Benny throws the ball to Jean. It bounces off a puddle and 
splashes Jean. 

BENNY
Come on, Jean. Get rid of your cigarette. 
Concentrate.

BASQUIAT
I am... On Gina.
(beat)
Fuck  I didn't think we were actually 
gonna do this.

BENNY
Concentrate on the ball. Shoot.

Jean shoots. It flies up, up, up   and over the backboard. 

He runs after the ball, gets it, and dribbles clumsily. 

BENNY
You're shattering all my myths.

BASQUIAT
About what?

BENNY
Your people.

BASQUIAT
Oh  you mean black people! 

He shoots and misses again. He throws it to Benny, who does a 
picture-perfect lay-up.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
(changing the subject)
How long do you think it takes to get 
really famous? 

During the following, Benny performs a series of amazing shots 
while Jean looks on admiringly.

BENNY
For a musician or a painter?

Jean shrugs.

BASQUIAT
Whatever. Famous. To where you can do your 
stuff all day without thinking about 
anything else.

BENNY
Ummm... Four years. Six to get rich.

He shoots. Swish.

BENNY (CONT'D)
First, you have to dress right.

He shoots again. Swish.

BENNY (CONT'D)
Then, you have to hang out all the time  
with famous people  the right people, the 
right chicks, the right parties.

He shoots again. Swish.

BENNY (CONT'D)
And you gotta do your work all the time 
when you're not doing that. The same kinda 
work, the same style   over and over 
again, so people recognize it and don't 
get confused. Then, once you're famous, 
you have to keep doing it the same way, 
even after it's boring  unless you want 
people to really get mad at you  which 
they will anyway.

Benny tosses Jean the ball. Jean walks off the court.

BASQUIAT
Come on. I hate this. I'm no good at it.

Jean shoots the ball and keeps walking. The ball goes in. He 
doesn't notice. Benny runs after it.


EXT. HOUSTON ST.  DUSK

Benny and Jean walk along. Benny dribbles.

BENNY
Famous people are usually pretty stupid. 
You're too smart. You'd get bored to 
death. You don't wanna be like John Henry 
 fighting the machine. Just do what you 
do. It's about integrity. Follow your 
heart.

BASQUIAT
Who's John Henry?

BENNY
Oh man! Folklore guy  worked on the 
railroad. Y'know, pounding in spikes and 
laying down track. Then one day they 
invented a machine to do it. And he says 
"Fuck that, I'm a MAN" and he challenges 
the machine to a race to lay down a mile 
of track. It takes two days. Neck and neck 
the whole time. They get right to the end, 
and he beats it by one spike.
(pause)
Got a cigarette?

BASQUIAT
So then what?

BENNY
He drops dead! See? Just do your shit like 
you do it! Your friends like you, you get 
laid, everyone walks by, sees your stuff 
everywhere. It's good. What else do you 
want?

They watch a long stretch limo cruises up across the street. 

BASQUIAT
Like I said  my liquid hijack Marlboros. 
(indicates limo)
Check it out.

The LIMO DRIVER opens the back door. Andy Warhol and Bruno 
Bischofberger step out.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
Andy Warhol. He's famous and he's not 
boring. 


INSERT: AN IMAGE OF ANDY'S PAINTINGS AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM 
(FOOTAGE FROM JONAS MEKAS FILM)

Jean scrounges in his pockets, pulls out his Xerox cards, and 
readies himself as Bruno and Andy enter BALLATO'S RESTAURANT. 

BENNY
What're you doing? You're doing something.

BASQUIAT
He's the best painter in the world. I'm 
gonna give him one of these.

BENNY
Don't give him anything, man. Your art's 
worth a lot. Trade. That's what real 
artists do with each other. Besides, he'll 
just use you. He's famous for that.

Benny watches Jean crosses the street. Jean passes the limousine. 
Inside, the driver (a 24-year old Rasta) takes a hit from a joint 
and watches Jean.


CLOSE ON

The driver's eyes.

CUT TO:


DRIVER'S POV:

He watches Jean cross the street. 

Jean enters the restaurant.


INT. BALLATO'S  DAY

Jean enters. Andy and Bruno spot him. The Maitre'd becomes 
alarmed. but it's too late  he's at their table. 

He spreads his cards on the table. The topmost card reads 
"REDEEMABLE BECAUSE OF HIS YOUTH."

Andy stares dead ahead, Sphinxlike. 

Bruno watches the non-interaction between the two. 

MAITRE'D
(to Jean, flustered)
Can I help you?.

He taps Jean's shoulder.

MAITRE'D (CONT'D)
(to Jean)
Sir...?

BRUNO
(sympathetically)
 I think it's ok.

MAITRE'D
Of course, Mr. Bischofberger.

Bruno picks up one of the cards.

BASQUIAT
You wanna buy some ignorant art? Ten 
bucks.

ANDY WARHOL
Ignorant art? 

BASQUIAT
Yeah... Like  stupid, ridiculous, crummy 
art.

ANDY WARHOL
Ohhh. That's new. That sounds good. 

BASQUIAT
Ten bucks apiece.

ANDY WARHOL
I can give you five. You didn't do very 
much to these.

BASQUIAT
You don't even work on your stuff!

BRUNO
It doesn't matter how much you worked on 
them. It matters how much you can get for 
them. 

BASQUIAT
I can get ten.

ANDY WARHOL
I'll take two. This one and... that one.
(to Bruno)
Can I borrow some money, Bruno?

Bruno pulls out a hundred dollar bill. 

BRUNO
Here. Do you have change?

As WAITER arrives with the tray, Jean pockets the bill.

BASQUIAT
You made a good deal. Here, you can have 
these, too.

He leaves all the cards and walks toward the door.


BRUNO'S POV:

Jean leaving past stupified Maitre'd.


EXT. GINA'S APARTMENT  DAY

Jean and Benny are outside the entrance to Gina's building. Jean 
carries two huge bags overflowing with groceries and flowers. He 
buzzes. There's no answer. 

BASQUIAT
I'll be right back.

He produces a key and lets himself in. 

He enters the building.


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  DAY

Jean sets the groceries on the counter and leaves.

We notice the Bugspray painting on the wall, along with more of 
Jean's work and supplies.


EXT. GINA'S APARTMENT  DUSK

Jean rejoins Benny in front of Gina's building.

As they're leaving, Gina comes up the street.

BASQUIAT
(to Benny)
Check you later, man.

BENNY
Hi Gina.

GINA
Hi.


INT  GINA'S APARTMENT  DAY

Flowers and groceries are strewn on the counter.

FADE TO BLACK

FADE IN:


Over the following MONTAGE we HEAR:

RENE (O.S.)
... 'APT 20'... The church bells would 
ring at noon and six a.m.. 24 strokes:
How many times we counted them.
We called our bed the cloud.
And there we'd float.
The bathtub was in the kitchen
and took forever to fill up.
We'd bathe together afterwards.
Oh the countless cigarettes and
take out Chinese food...
The bed was so narrow
Three years we made it fit.
The sheets were green the 
sheets were pink the sheets
white linen from the past.
Little home, farewell,
The broken windows
and the bodega on the corner.
Now from my balcony
I look out over all New York...


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  NIGHT

Jean and Gina are sleeping.

SERIES OF DISSOLVES: As they're turning together in their sleep.

FADE TO BLACK

FADE UP:


INT. KITCHEN / LIVINGROOM (GINA'S APARTMENT)  DAY

Filled with Jean's paintings. 

SERIES OF DISSOLVES: Paintings and objects fill the room.

FADE TO BLACK


SUPER: "A YEAR AND A HALF LATER EAST 9TH ST."

FADE UP:


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  DAY

Jean watches "The Little Rascals" on TV in the living room. The 
sound is turned off and a record player PLAYS Gypsy music loudly.

Rolled up in a large drop cloth, Gina is asleep on the floor. Next 
to her, Jean works on all fours, drawing figures, crowns, and 
houses.

Working feverishly, he writes "HEY, HEY, HEY" in big clusters, 
then writes other words: SHARK, IMMORTALITY, JOHN THE REVELATOR, 
FAME, INK, TEETH, HAWAII SUPERMARKET, POLE STAR, BABOON and TAR.

He has an acoustics manual and Bible open on the floor. He copies 
the technical blueprints from the manual. He reads the Bible, 
following the text with a dirty finger. It seems that he watches 
TV, draws, listens to the music and reads at the same time. 

He mixes Liquitex paints and puts some colors on the drawings. He 
draws a long blue line and carries it over onto the floor. Up the 
wall. Through the fridge. Across the window.

He takes off his paint-covered clothes and changes into Gina's 
black slip. He rummages around the room, gathering pieces of his 
and Gina's clothes.

He spreads the clothes on the floor, and selecting wide brushes 
with long bristles, picks up the cans of Liquitex paint.

When paint spills on the clothes, he spreads it into shapes.

Gina wakes up. She reaches for one of the painted shirts.

GINA
(in disbelief)
Basquiat, those are my best clothes!!! 
What are you doing?

BASQUIAT
C'mon, baby, I painted them for you. 
They're beautiful now.

GINA
I'm going to my parents this weekend. What 
am I going to wear?
(she begins to cry)
How could you do that to me?

Jean wipes his hands off on his thighs and puts his arms around 
Gina, holding her.

BASQUIAT
... I'll buy you some new ones.

GINA
You don't have any fucking money..

Jean lets her cry for a moment, then notices the music playing on 
the stereo  a Gypsy song sung in Spanish.

BASQUIAT
Do you know what he's saying?

GINA
What who's saying?

BASQUIAT
Manzanita....
(translating song)
... if one day I die, and you read this 
piece of paper, I want you to know how 
much I love you. Although I'll never see 
you again, Gypsy, Gypsy, your hair, your 
hair, your face, your face'

Gina looks up at him.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
'Even though you were never mine
And you never will be
You have a piece of my heart
You have, you have, you have...'
(he reaches down, wiping off 
Gina's face)
'Gypsy, Gypsy, your hair, your hair, your 
face, your face.'

No longer crying, Gina leans her head against Jean.

We HEAR a CALL from the window:

BENNY (O.S.)
Willie Mays!!! Willie Mays!!!

BASQUIAT
(at the window)
Come on in!

CUT TO:


Benny and two GUYS come barreling into the apartment. Immediate 
chaos. Benny holds up a packet of drugs and jiggles it temptingly. 
They make themselves at home. Jean sits with them and starts to 
chop up the drugs. 

Gina gives Jean a look. She stands, still wrapped in the drop 
cloth. She lets it fall to the floor. She's wearing only her 
underwear. She walks to the bedroom. Benny watches her.

BASQUIAT
Gina, don't you want any of this? You 
could use some.

Gina doesn't respond. She comes out of the bedroom with a small 
suitcase.

GINA
See you later.

She leaves.

Silence.

GUY #1
Nice underwear...

They start to laugh.


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  LATER

Kneeling on the floor, Jean covers the surface of the refrigerator 
door with fast, rushing strokes. He mixes paint in a large 
soupbowl and dips his hair in the bowl. Pressing his head to the 
door, he paints with his hair. He stops to examine the marks. 

He HITS his head against the door harder and harder.

FADE TO WHITE


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  MORNING

CAMERA PULLS BACK: Revealing Jean's eyes. They're open and 
motionless. His head is tilted toward his chest. 

OFF SCREEN WE HEAR the sounds of Gina coming home: 

The LOCK turns. The door OPENS. 

Gina comes in and drops a bag on the floor.

GINA
Basquiat?

Silence. She picks up the mail from under the door and walks into 
the room. There's a lump on the floor. It's Jean.

GINA (CONT'D)
Wake up! I'm back!

She shakes his arm. No result. She lifts his head, revealing his 
painted hair. 

She shakes him harder. His body is totally limp.

The whites of his eyes are red; his pupils slowly float up, 
vanishing.

GINA
Jean, what did you do to yourself? 

She listens to his breath, then to his heart.

GINA
(panicking)
Jesus Christ!

She finds heroin sprinkled into some pot on the floor near him.

GINA
(slapping his face)
Don't do this to me.

She shakes him until his eyes unglue. His pupils float into their 
proper place.

BASQUIAT
... What's the matter?

GINA
(furious)
Oh, God, Basquiat, you scared the shit out 
of me. How the fuck could you do that to 
yourself?

BASQUIAT
You're back.

GINA
It's Monday morning.

BASQUIAT
It's not Sunday? I missed you. You 
shouldn't leave me alone.

GINA
You're blaming me? I had to go see my 
family.

BASQUIAT
I'm your family.

GINA
Basquiat, what did you take?

Jean tries to pick himself up from the floor. He gets up stiffly, 
like Pinnocchio. The long sleep made his limbs wooden.

BASQUIAT
Nothing special  just some weed.

He finds an old joint and lights it up.

GINA
Basquiat, don't lie.
(holds up powder)
This is smack.

BASQUIAT
You want some?

He offers her the joint.


EXT. ST. MARK'S PLACE  NIGHT

Jean and Benny walk along, sharing a beer in a brown paper bag. 

They approach a DRUG DEALER and exchange money for dope.

Jean finds a discarded window frame in a pile of trash and carries 
it with him.

They sit down on a stoop. Jean rolls up a dollar bill, empties the 
dope onto the window, and splits it into two lines. He hands the 
rolled up bill to Benny, who snorts the line. 

Benny shakes his head involuntarily, making a violent face, as 
though the dope burned a hole in his sinus.

BENNY
We got beat.

BASQUIAT
For real?

Jean takes a taste with his finger... He tastes his tongue and 
makes a face..

He snorts part of his line, anyway, to make sure. 

He frowns.

They continue onwards. Jean still carries the window.

BENNY
You gonna carry that around all night?

BASQUIAT
Yeah... I'll paint on it.


INT. PARTY  NIGHT

The party's winding down  hip-hop kids, Lower East Side types. 
Jean and Benny pass through the room, ignoring the two or three 
clusters of people  maybe fifteen in all... 

Jean encounters a familiar face: an enormous red-haired dealer  
ROCKETS (35). They greet each other as friends. 

Rockets leads Jean aside. They stand near a wall where a painting 
hangs ("Flats Fixed"). It bears Jean's three-point crown.

ROCKETS
You did that, didn't you?

Jean shrugs.

BASQUIAT
I gave it to Maripol. She let me stay here 
for awhile.

Jean hands him twenty dollars. Rockets hands him two dime bags. As 
if thinking better, he hands the bill back to Jean.

ROCKETS
Do one for me and it's free. How's that?

Jean re-pockets his money. He gestures to Rockets as if to say 
"fine  it's a deal."

He and Benny sit down across the room and split a bag onto the 
window, as before. This time, it's good. They lean back into it, 
slumping down into the couch.

Nearby, Rene sits on a couch with THREE STREET KIDS  artists (who 
we've seen at Milo's opening). They sit on their knees looking out 
a window passing binoculars back and forth.

ARTIST #1 looks through the window with a pair of BINOCULARS. He 
points down towards the street, trying to get Rene's attention. 

ARTIST #1
Check this out, Rene.

Rene lunges towards the window. The stereo BLARES (Curtis Blow's 
"Survival")

RENE
(singing along)
"The name of the game is survival, You 
learn it in jail upon your arrival!"

Another ARTIST (#2) a young black man, runs up and tries to turn 
down the volume.

Rene grabs his crotch.

ARTIST #2
Chill, man! Be cool! This isn't even my 
apartment!

RENE
Oh man, you a FINE nigga! You know that?

ARTIST #2
Cut it out, man! And don't be callin' me 
that shit!


ANGLE ON:

Benny is now alone on the couch. He nods out.

RENE
(noticing him)
Oh my, there goes the neighborhood. Who's 
house is this, anyway?

Artist #2 is still mad at Rene.

RENE (CONT'D)
(to Artist #2)
That's what I like about you straight 
boys. You're so sensitive!!!
(resumes singing)
"The name of the game is survival, 
Survival! Survival! only the strong 
survive"

ARTIST #1
Rene! Come here, man!

RENE
I gotta go pee.

Rene weaves across the room. Suddenly, he stops cold. He's staring 
at Jean's painting. He doesn't move.

RENE (CONT'D)
(to himself)
Who did this?
(beat  louder)
Who did this?

ARTIST #2
I don't know. I told you, this isn't my 
apartment.

ARTIST #3
I know who did that. That's Jean Michel's. 
He's right here, man... 

He turns to look for Jean.

ARTIST #3
Fuck, man, where'd he go? Where's Jean?

Benny looks around ineffectually and shrugs.

RENE
(to himself)
It's fucking amazing. Motherfucker's got 
to put a crown on it.

ARTIST #1
(yelling from the window)
Rene, man, check this out. Whoa... He's 
kinda cute.

Rene looks to him and back at the painting. He takes one last 
look.

He stumbles towards the window and grabs the binoculars from 
Artist #1..

We look through the binoculars' POV at a GUY coming down the 
street. He's wearing all black, cowboy boots, and sunglasses.

RENE
Naaaa. Poor thing has a little dick.

ARTIST #2
How do you know?

RENE
Just look at him. 
(Rene hands the binoculars 
to him)
Little silver thingies on his cowboy 
boots? Honey, I don't think so.

He looks around the room again as if looking for Jean.

ARTIST #3
Whoa  check it out. It's him!

Rene grabs binoculars.


BINOCULARS POV:

Jean pauses before one of his own graffiti pieces:

"PLUSH SAFE, HE THINK"

Rene watches in awe. Jean, moving a bit slowly, `signs' his tag 
with the copyright sign. He walks off.

RENE
MOTHAFUCKAH!

ARTIST #2
That's the same guy who did this painting.

RENE
I know that. Don't let him get away.

He hands the binoculars to Artist #3 and runs towards the door.


EXT. STREET  NIGHT 

BINOCULARS POV

We watch as Rene looks frantically for Jean, but can't spot him. 
Finally he sees Jean's hair-do bobbing up and down a block away. 
He runs towards it.

RENE
Hey, wait up!!!

Huffing and puffing, he catches up. 

RENE
You heard of Albert Milo. I made that 
niggah. I'm Rene Ricard. Didn't you read 
"Not About Albert Milo?" I know who to 
hype. Baby, I'm gonna make you a star.

BASQUIAT
Can you put me in the ring with him?

RENE
I can put you in the ring with him. Even 
book the dates.
(beat)
But those big boys know how to fight. They 
could make you look real sissy.
(they laugh)
I was looking at that painting upstairs. 
It's the first time a picture made me 
embarrassed to own anything.
(beat)
So what's your real name? 'Samo?'

BASQUIAT
Jean Michel Basquiat.

They shake hands.

RENE
Sounds famous already.


INT. PS 1 SHOW  DAY

INSERT:  A huge poster reads:

"NEW YORK / NEW WAVE
100 ARTISTS"


CLOSE ON: A HAMMER, POUNDING

Jean pounds a nail into one of his pieces, nailing it directly 
onto the wall. Everyone stares.

RENE
Oh child... You got no respect. Didn't 
anyone teach you how to mount paintings?

Rene smiles. Jean finishes pounding the last piece into the wall.

CAMERA pulls back to reveal several of Jean's paintings  found 
objects with paint on them.

RENE (CONT'D)
This is a very important season in New 
York. One's public appearance is absolute.
(beat  a man approaches)
Oh!!! Louise!!! I'd like you to meet Jean 
Michel Basquiat  
(beat)
SAMO. This is Henry Geldzahler.

A crowd begins to gather around the work.

HENRY
Ohh... SAMO. I've heard a lot about you. I 
love your graffiti. 

BASQUIAT
I was a kid then.

HENRY
(to Rene)
How much are these?

RENE
You or the museum?

HENRY
It's for me.

RENE 
Five.

HENRY
I'll take it.

Henry leaves.

RENE
That's five thousand dollars.
(hissing to Jean)
He's from the Metropolitan Museum of Art 
so suck my pussy, you star.


LATER

There seems to be a buzz about Jean already. People gather around 
his paintings. 

Gina arrives. She looks great.

BASQUIAT
You look fucking beautiful, beautiful.

GINA
Well thanks!

ANNINA NOSEI, a sophisticated, well-groomed woman appears at 
Jean's side. She takes in his paintings.

As Jean, Rene, and Annina talk, Gina is left out.

RENE
This is Jean Michel, whose work I told you 
about.

ANNINA NOSEI
(to Jean)
Rene hasn't stopped talking about your 
paintings. Haven't I seen you in my 
gallery?

BASQUIAT
No.

ANNINA NOSEI
(to Rene)
You haven't been by lately. 

RENE
I didn't have the subway fare. My Medicare 
ran out.

ANNINA NOSEI 
(to Jean)
How do you come up with all those words 
you put over everything?

BASQUIAT
I don't know.

Jean sees Bruno and turns his back to her.

Bruno looks at the paintings with a smile... He gives a cheerful 
nod to Annina.

BRUNO
You're doing well.

He leaves. Annina's impressed that Jean knows Bruno.

ANNINA NOSEI
I'd love to see some more of your work... 
Where's your studio?

BASQUIAT
You name it, I paint there.

ANNINA NOSEI
Well, I don't want to get mugged on a 
Bowery street corner. Maybe I could find a 
place for you to work. Take my card.

BASQUIAT
You want a drink?

He produces a pint bottle in a paper sack.

ANNINA NOSEI
No thanks. 
(to Rene)
But I'd like one of these paintings.

She walks off.

GINA
Who's that? 

RENE
You kidding? That's Annina Nosei. Jean's 
been in her gallery a thousand times.
(to Jean)
You slut. How do you know Bruno 
Bischofberger? 
(to Gina)
He's only the biggest art dealer in 
Europe.

BASQUIAT
I had lunch with him once.


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT (BEDROOM)  NIGHT

Jean and Gina lay in bed. 

BASQUIAT
Which island of Hawaii do you want our 
house to be on? Maui? Kaui? Molokai?

GINA
(a little upset)
I hadn't thought about it.

BASQUIAT
(in perfect Hawaiian)
Oahu, Lanai, Niihau, Kahoolawee  

GINA
Staten Island would be ok.

Beat. Silence.

Jean can't sleep. He stares at the ceiling.

BASQUIAT
Do you wanna marry me?

Beat. 

No reply. 

Gina's asleep.


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT (KITCHEN)  LATER (NIGHT)

Quietly, Jean kneels on the floor of the kitchen. He paints on an 
old window.

He draws figures of three people sitting at a table  obviously a 
family. He crosses out one person and paints a dog under the 
table.

He crosses everything out. 

He mixes the paint in a large bowl and starts again. 

Again, he crosses everything out.


INT  GINA'S APARTMENT  MORNING

Jean continues to work. He's wearing pajamas and a bathrobe.

Gina enters, waking up. 

She looks at the painting.

GINA
Kind of a family portrait.

Jean moves to add something. She stops him.

GINA (CONT'D)
It looks done.

BASQUIAT
Think so?

He pauses.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
... babies.

GINA
You mean babies with you?

BASQUIAT
What's wrong with me?

GINA
You're your own baby.

Jean paints out the image.

There's a KNOCK at the door.

GINA
Who is it?

ANNINA NOSEI (O.S)
Annina Nosei.

GINA
Who?

Jean jumps up and locks himself in the bathroom. Gina goes to the 
door, unlocks the chain, and looks out.

GINA (CONT'D)
(through the crack)
Hello? Oh. Come in.

She opens the door.

ANNINA NOSEI
Is Jean Michel here?

GINA
No.

Closed in the bathroom, Jean smiles while eavesdropping.

ANNINA NOSEI
I'm here to see some work.

Annina starts noticing all the work around her. Gina hands her a 
stack of drawings.

ANNINA NOSEI (CONT'D)
These are great.

GINA
Aren't they?

ANNINA NOSEI
How much for these five?

GINA
You should talk to him about this.

Annina contains her excitement.

ANNINA NOSEI
(continuing to stare at the 
work)
Um... Do Rene and Jean have a contract 
together?

We see Jean in the bathroom looking at himself in the mirror with 
a bird's nest on his head. 

ANNINA NOSEI (CONT'D)
I'm interested in showing Jean's work.

GINA
I really think you should talk to him 
about this.

Jean pops out of the bathroom.

BASQUIAT
When?

ANNINA NOSEI
How about right now?

She opens the door. 

Unnoticed, Gina starts for the bedroom.

GINA
(calling back)
Be ready in a minute!

CUT TO:


THE DOOR SLAMS 

As Jean exits with Annina.


INT. TAXI  DAY

Jean waits in a taxi in front of Benny's apartment.

BASQUIAT
Honk the horn again, will you please?

The DRIVER obliges. The back of the cab is loaded with all his 
belongings. Boxes piled with junk. Bags of new painting supplies.

Benny emerges from his building and jumps into the cab.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
(annoyed)
You're late.
(to cabby)
One-fourteen Prince. 

The cab pulls out. Jean lights a joint. and smokes it furiously. 
He doesn't pass it to Benny.

BENNY
What's the rush, John Henry? 

BASQUIAT
I ain't John Henry.

BENNY
Good.

BASQUIAT
What's your fuckin' problem, anyway?

Benny holds out his hand for the joint.

BENNY
(inhaling)
I don't really have any problems.

BASQUIAT
Good. What do you have?

BENNY
What's your fuckin' problem? You get a 
girlfriend and a little attention and then 
start acting all uppity with me.

BASQUIAT
(mortified)
'Uppity?' Like as in 'uppity nigger?'

He snaps his finger for the joint back.

BENNY
That's not how I meant it. 
(beat)
For all you know, you might just be a 
flash in the pan! You can never tell.

BASQUIAT
Hey fuck you! I deserve this shit. You're 
just jealous 'cause it ain't happening to 
you! 

The cab stops for a red light. Benny gets out. He doesn't say a 
word. Jean doesn't look at him. The cab sails off. 


EXT. ANNINA NOSEI GALLERY  DAY

It stops in front of the gallery. From outside, we see Annina 
conversing on the phone. She looks up and opens the door for him.


INT. STAIRWELL  BLACK.

Off screen we HEAR Jean walking down the stairs.

ANNINA NOSEI
I've got to find the switch.


INT  BASEMENT, ANNINA'S  DAY

Annina flips on a light. 

ANNINA NOSEI
Here it is.

Jean looks around him. He's in a large, empty cement-floored room 
lit by fluorescent lights.


INT. BASEMENT, ANNINA'S  (LATER)  DAY

Jean bends over, beginning several canvases. He pours paint on 
them  kind of like photographs we've seen of Jackson Pollock. We 
HEAR Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches."


INT  BASEMENT, ANNINA'S  DAY (LATER)

GRANDMASTER FLASH'S "WHITE LINES" fills the room. 

The walls are covered with half-finished, unstretched CANVASES. 
Two or three more lie on the floor.

He works like a maniac, buzzing back and forth from one painting 
to another, adding figures, crossing out words, all the while 
smoking and eating cookies. The crumbs fall onto the paintings. He 
walks on them. 

Every so often, he refers to a book of DaVinci drawings. Torn 
pages litter the floor beneath the book. 
 
We hear someone THUMPING down the stairs. 

It's Rene. A PUPPY follows him. 

He dumps a huge load of paint supplies, art books, and carryout 
ribs. The puppy sniffs around happily, licking at Jean and walking 
over the paintings, wagging his tail.

He stops the tape player and inserts some Persian music.

Jean empties some foil-wrapped bags of coke. He cuts a line of 
coke on a foil plate. 

Rene starts reading from a poem he's evidently written:

RENE
3rd night I called him 'boy'
He sed "don't call me 'boy'" "Well
Then don't call me 'Boss'" That
Was the end for us and I've
Been seeing him for 2 1/2 years.
In kangaroo court I want to be
Able to say I never kept a 
Slave. But he tricked me in
To Tying him up and busting his 
Face. He'll jump up at my Trial
Yelling 'He wupped me gud.'

Jean warms the plate 'til the coke crackles, and then "chases the 
dragon," sucking the smoke through a straw.

He offers it to Rene, who refuses. He lights and hands Rene the 
joint. Rene takes a hit. Jean takes it back.

Jean starts to work again.

The PUPPY runs around, chasing after him, getting in his way, 
running across the paintings. Jean laughs, playing tag. The puppy 
gets a hold of Jean's sleeve. It unravels about ten feet.

While Jean's playing, Rene spots a painting with the words "Famous 
Negro Athletes."

RENE
Oh man! That's one looks famous already.

Without hearing him, Jean walks towards the painting and with a 
swipe, paints out what Rene is pointing to.

RENE (CONT'D)
You are a willful boy. How'm I s'posed to 
write about you if you keep changing 
everything?

The phone RINGS... Jean ignores it. Rene gets it  

RENE (CONT'D)
Uh huhh... Band practice?
(to Jean)
It's Benny. He wants to know why you're 
not at band practice...?

BASQUIAT
(quietly)
Fuck...
(to Rene)
I forgot about that.

He sets his brush down.

Rene hold the phone against his leg.

RENE
Fuck band practice... If you're gonna be a 
painter you're gonna have to break a few 
hearts  you don't wanna be like Tony 
Bennett..

BASQUIAT
Tony Bennett... What do you mean?

RENE
Singing on stage and painting in your 
spare time.

BASQUIAT
I didn't know Tony Bennett painted.

RENE
My point exactly.

Jean picks up the phone... All he hears is a DIAL TONE.

RENE (CONT'D)
So keep painting.

BASQUIAT
Yes, Boss. 
(beat)
If you're so smart, why are you here with 
me in this basement? 

RENE
You're news. I want the scoop. I write it 
down. When I speak, no one believes me. 
But when I write it down, people know it's 
true. 
(beat)
There's never been a black painter in art 
history that's been considered really 
important, you know? 

BASQUIAT
So what?

RENE
So shut up and keep painting..

BASQUIAT
(touched)
What time is it?

RENE
5:11.

Jean regards a near-finished painting. He writes "5:11" on it. He 
crosses it out and re-writes it, "Rene 5:11." Rene looks pleased.

BASQUIAT
That one's for you.

RENE
Thanks... I'll take it tonight.

BASQUIAT
I can't. After the show.

Jean continues painting. Rene slumps down onto the floor, happy  
a parasite content to have a host, impressed with Jean's limitless 
energy. Rene closes his eyes.

BLACK


INT. ANNINA'S BASEMENT  LATER

Jean is bent over his work. He looks to see a pair of legs. They 
belong to Albert Milo. 

BASQUIAT
Hey  it's the big A.M..

ALBERT MILO
Rene's been telling me about your work.

Milo takes his time looking at the paintings. 

Jean continues to work, never wanting to appear impressed by 
anyone. He walks on top of the paintings. 

ALBERT MILO (CONT'D)
Is this finished yet?

BASQUIAT
I don't know.

ALBERT MILO
When's your show?

BASQUIAT
Not sure. How was yours?

ALBERT MILO
I haven't decided yet.
(beat)
Rene, you wanna come over to the studio 
tomorrow. I wanna make a painting of you.

RENE
How about now?

Rene shrugs to Jean. He prepares to leave.

ALBERT MILO
See you at your opening. Thanks.

Albert and Rene begin to ascend the stairs. Jean continues 
painting. The dog leaves with Rene and Albert.

WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
Ohhh, Albert Milo, what a pleasure to meet 
you. 

Jean's brush stops.

ALBERT MILO (O.S.)
This is Rene Ricard. 

Jean paints over the words "Rene 5:11."

We hear FOOTSTEPS COMING DOWN THE STAIRS. The woman continues  

WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.)
We're Tom and Cynthia Kruger  nice to 
have met you.


JEAN'S POV

We see Annina's legs coming down the stairs.


REVEAL

A man wearing a pin-striped suit and gold-rimmed glasses. The 
woman is wrapped in a cashmere shawl.

ANNINA NOSEI (O.S)
Tom and Cynthia Kruger.

BASQUIAT (O.S)
I know.

We SEE that Jean continues to paint, looking down.

ANNINA NOSEI
This is Jean Michel Basquiat.
(beat)
You've seen the SAMO graffiti everywhere. 
That's his. This is the true voice of the 
gutter.

As she speaks, Jean squirms. He grabs a banana from a fruit bowl. 
Without peeling it, he takes a big bite. And another. And another. 
Everyone looks uncomfortable. Annina starts showing them the 
paintings.

CYNTHIA KRUGER
We've seen the graffiti. I work on Wall 
Street. And I've heard wonderful things 
about the paintings. Everybody's talking 
about you.

BASQUIAT
Yeah. 

He looks up at them, eating the banana.

ANNINA NOSEI
Here's a very good example of his recent 
work that's not spoken for yet.
(beat)
He's got to work in a basement. He's got 
so much energy that if he worked in a 
place with a window, he'd jump right 
through it. Most of these are reserved 
already. After this week, this work will 
not be available. 

TOM KRUGER
(to his wife)
... I don't know.... This one's nice, but 
I don't know if I could live with it. That 
green is so... institutional.

He (Kruger) looks up to see two KIDS enter  young black artists, 
one of whom we saw with Rene at the loft party.

They walk right into the middle of the room, completely oblivious 
to the presence of Annina and the Krugers..

KID #1
(enthusiastically)
Yo, man, you're a damn lucky nigger 
selling this shit!

BASQUIAT
You like it?

KID #1
Not bad. Yeah, I do.

The Krugers hem and haw in front of the painting next to Jean.

CYNTHIA KRUGER
I'm fascinated by his choice of crossing 
out words that way.

ANNINA NOSEI
Yes, well, they are more meaningful in 
their absence, no?

KID #1
(to Jean, joking)
What does it mean?

Jean paints the words "Rene 5:11" back into a painting. They 
ignore the kid..

CYNTHIA KRUGER
I like this one, but that green...

Suddenly, we see LEGS coming down the stairs. It's Gina. Everyone 
looks at her.

BASQUIAT
Y'want me to make it a nice shit brown?

TOM KRUGER
Beg pardon?

Gina hadn't expected to find herself in the middle of this scene.

BASQUIAT
Hi. This is Gina.

Annina nods to her.

Gina nods to the group. 

CYNTHIA KRUGER
They're something like Dubuffet's... 
That... childlike quality. 

Gina tries to connect with Jean. He's cold. 

CYNTHIA KRUGER (CONT'D)
(to her husband and Annina)
I can't make up my mind.

TOM KRUGER
I like this one. If it were just another 
color..

BASQUIAT
Get a fucking decorator. If you buy one, 
you'll have to change your whole lives  
maybe even sell your kids!
(to Annina)
These paintings aren't even done yet!!! 

He sets his brush down. As he leaves  

TOM KRUGER (O.S.)
I think we'll take the green one.


HOLD ON:

Gina, left standing in the middle of this.


INT. MCDONALDS  DAY

CLOSE ON McDonald's COUNTERMAN. He smiles.

BASQUIAT
I'll take three big Macs, two chocolate 
shakes, two orders of fries, and an apple 
pie. 

COUNTERMAN
You want three Big Macs, two chocolate 
shakes, two orders of fries, and an apple 
pie.

A line begins forming behind Jean.

BASQUIAT
Forget it .I'll take six, no, seven 
chocolate shakes, an order of fries, a Big 
Mac, and two apple pies.

COUNTERMAN
You only want one Big Mac?

The people in line are beginning to get impatient.

BASQUIAT
Yeah... And make it three apple pies.


EXT. SOHO STREET  DAY

Jean leans on a fire hydrant, eating a Big Mac.

A pink scarf blows on the wind right in front of his face. He 
catches it. 

A BOMBSHELL BLONDE arrives with her hand outstretched to retrieve 
it.

BIG PINK
How can I ever thank you?

BASQUIAT
(with a smile)
I'd like to squeeze your titties.

He offers her a Big Mac. 

BIG PINK
Come on.

BASQUIAT
Wanna Mac?

BIG PINK
No, I'd like the scarf.

BASQUIAT
Have a Mac. 

BIG PINK
I don't eat junk food.

BASQUIAT
Oh. I didn't know. I'll take you to the 
best restaurant in town.
(beat)
You'll miss a great meal and I'll keep the 
scarf, anyway. What's your name?

BIG PINK
You're a fast mover.

BASQUIAT
No name? That's ok. I'll just call you Big 
Pink.

A man sleeping on the ground with a beehive of paper bags on his 
head and three overcoats sticks out into the sidewalk. 

Jean leaves the McDonald's bag near his head as he walks down the 
street with the girl. 


INT. GINA'S APARTMENT  NIGHT

Jean enters the apartment.

GINA
Hi. 

BASQUIAT
Hi.

GINA
What's that?

BASQUIAT
A present I picked up for you.

Gina holds the scarf up and looks at it.

GINA
It's beautiful. Thanks.

As she holds it up he puts it around her neck and kisses her.

BASQUIAT
(tenderly)
You look like an angel.


INT. ANNINA NOSEI GALLERY  NIGHT

Silence.


CLOSE UP PAINTING

We read the words:

"BOOM #2
A CAT POURING TACKS ON ITS TONGUE"

SOMEONE (the big red-haired dealer we met earlier) walks in front 
of us.

CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal a crowd in a gallery. It is literally 
filled with people. Again  all this takes place in silence.

We begin to HEAR Peggy Lee's "Is That All There Is?" It colors the 
motion of the crowd. 

CUT TO:


EXT. PRINCE ST (BET. MERCER AND WOOSTER)  DUSK

Jean walks down the street. He's got on a new set of clothes and 
he listens to a Walkman. We HEAR Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches."


JEAN'S POV

We MOVE down Prince St. and take a left on West Broadway. We 
approach a huge crowd. We get closer and closer until we are 
immersed in it. 

The crowd realizes Jean's amongst them. People start approaching  
him. Someone removes the headphones. 

The DIN of the crowd replaces the music. Amongst the normal crowd 
chatter, we hear friends' calling out:

VOICES IN CROWD
Jean!!! Jean Michel!!!


INT. ANNINA NOSEI GALLERY

Annina beckons to him. Beyond her, he sees Albert, Andy, and 
Bruno. He's being escorted or maybe just pushed  it's hard to 
tell. Each step of the way, he's pounced upon by INDIVIDUALS we've 
never met. The room is wall-to-wall with people. People are swept 
along in currents.

MAN 
(wildly enthusiastic)
Jean, man!!! Let's make a record!

WOMAN
(slyly, intimately)
You finally did it.

MAN #2
(pointing to Jean, sneering)
He's so fulla shit.

MAN #3 (O.S.)
How much is he getting for these?

Jean walks up to Andy Warhol.

BASQUIAT
Andy, man, thanks for coming. I'd like to 
paint your jacket.

ANDY WARHOL
My jacket? Gee, great...
(he Polaroids Jean)
Your show looks great. Quite a turnout. 
You look great. You kids. You drink red 
wine with fish. You can do anything! Make 
paintings in the basement of your gallery? 
First time I've heard of that!

They are approached by Mary Boone, a short woman in high heels and 
an Armani suit).

ANDY WARHOL (CONT'D)
Jean Michel, this is Mary Boone. She's got 
the great new gallery.

BASQUIAT
Yeah, I met her already.

MARY BOONE
(shaking Jean's hand)
You should be pleased. It's a great 
show...I'm having a dinner later at Mr. 
Chow's for Albert. You should come.

In the background, we see Annina watching.

ANDY WARHOL
You'll like it. Everyone'll be there.

Annina walks over to Jean with a COUPLE.

ANNINA NOSEI
Jean, your parents are here.

BASQUIAT
Hi Dad. Hi Nora.

NORA
Congratulations.

BASQUIAT
Thanks for coming.

Rene appears out of the crowd.

ANNINA NOSEI
(continuing to Jean's 
father)
You must be very proud.

FATHER
I am!

RENE
How does it feel to have a genius in the 
family?

FATHER
It feels... good!

Jean notices Benny across the room. He slows down and waves.

Jean sees Gina across the room wearing the scarf.

Just beyond her, he sees Big Pink approaching.

There must be ten people between them.

BASQUIAT
(to Rene)
I'll be right back.

He moves towards her. Suddenly, directly in front of him are the 
Krugers.

TOM KRUGER
We love our painting.

BASQUIAT
Which painting?

TOM KRUGER
The green one.

BASQUIAT
Oh yeah.

CYNTHIA KRUGER
We got a couch to match.

TOM KRUGER
She's only kidding!

Looking past the Krugers, Jean looks for Gina. He sees her. His 
path is blocked.

He presses forward, looking for Gina, getting caught in the crowd.

Jean strains to keep an eye on Gina and Big Pink..

Benny arrives at Jean's side holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and 
a shot glass.

BENNY
Willie Mays. A Toast.

Jean brushes past him. 

BASQUIAT
Not now, ok?

Benny is left standing next to Andy holding the bottle.

Jean manages to advance a few more feet through the crowd, then 
runs smack into Rockets, his drug dealer.

ROCKETS
Jean Michel, my man. Nice party. Should we 
step into my office?

Nearby, Benny sees this meeting and walks off, disgusted, thinking 
this is why Jean gave him the brush off.

BASQUIAT
That's alright. I'm cool now.

Jean looks off and sees Big Pink fingering the scarf, saying 
something to Gina. 

Gina slaps her in the face.

Jean tries to get around the dealer.

Gina turns to leave. She catches Jean's eye. 

She walks out.

ROCKETS
A gift! I was just trying to give you a 
gift!

The dealer palms something to Jean.

BASQUIAT
I gotta go.

Jean steps away from Rockets, but is trapped in the crowd. Rockets 
looks after him with disappointment.

Rene arrives with, Andy, Bruno, and a PHOTOGRAPHER.

RENE
(edging his way in)
This guy wants a picture.

They shrug and crowd in  Jean, Andy, and Rene. The photographer 
gets them to squeeze closer and closer. 

PHOTOGRAPHER
Of the painters, please.

There's not enough room. Rene accidentally gets pushed out of 
frame.

Rene fumes. Albert Milo arrives with his parents (JACK AND ESTHER 
MILO). They are a nice Jewish couple in their 70's.

BASQUIAT
He said 'of the painters!' Hey  Albert! 
Get in the picture!

Albert crowds in. The photographer SNAPS a picture and the FLASH 
blinds everyone momentarily. 

ALBERT MILO
Hey, Jean, I'd like you to meet my 
wife....and my parents. Mom, Dad, this is 
Jean Michel Basquiat.

Jean pulls out a joint and lights it as if it were a cigarette. He 
offers it to Albert, who takes a hit.

ESTHER MILO
(frowning at her son)
Don't do that.
(beat)
Hello, Jean.

JACK MILO
Hi, John... Are your parents here? 

BASQUIAT
Well. 
(inhaling)
My dad's here with his wife. My mom 
couldn't make it.

He offers the joint to Albert's mother. 

ESTHER MILO
(waving it away)
No thanks.

Everyone laughs.

BRUNO
(to Jean)
I'd like to do a show with you.
(pointing to "Rene 5:11" 
painting)
I'm especially interested in that one. I'd 
like to buy it for myself. 

Jean spots the very word on the painting ("Rene 5:11") and freezes 
for a second. 

BASQUIAT
I wasn't gonna sell this one.

He looks around the room for Rene, but doesn't see him. Bruno 
remains smiling, waiting for an answer.

BRUNO
You shouldn't have put it in the show. 
This is the one I absolutely have to have. 
I really love it. 

BASQUIAT
Sure, ok..

Jean wants out. He feels compromised. 

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
Do you think I could borrow your 
limousine? I'll get it back to you in an 
hour.

BRUNO
It's OK. Just have him bring you to dinner 
at Mr. Chow's later. We'll be there.

ANDY WARHOL
Bye, Jean. 

Jean makes his way through the crowd, as we see images of the 
crowd and fragments of paintings. As he nears the door, he feels 
his arm pulled.
 
RENE
(hissing)
You fucking little whore! You sold my 
painting! I'm gonna tell you something, 
brother  when you're climbing up the 
ladder of success, don't kick out the 
rungs! Believe that shit.

BASQUIAT
I'll make you another one. 

RENE
Forget it. 

He pulls out a scrap of paper and starts writing.

BASQUIAT
Rene 

Rene shushes him... He hisses loudly, like a cat.

RENE
SHHHHHH. Later.
(speaking to himself)
"What is it about art, anyway......"

Jean pauses. He turns around and surveys the room once more. 

A blink. 

Silence. 

We see the crowd in SLOW MOTION.

Everyone's eyes are shut.

RENE (O.S.; CONT'D)
... that we give it so much importance? 
Artists are respected by the poor because 
what they do is an honest way to get out 
of the slum using one's sheer self as the 
medium. The money earned is proof pure and 
simple of the value of that individual... 
The Artist. 


INT. / EXT. GALLERY  NIGHT

The CAMERA rises higher and higher over the crowd and follows Jean 
as he makes his way toward the street.

We begin to DISSOLVE into a MONTAGE of stills of ARTISTS:

RENE (O.S.CONT'D)
The picture a mother's son does in jail 
hangs on her wall as proof that beauty is 
possible even in the most wretched. And 
this is a much different idea than the 
fancier notion that art is a scam and a 
rip-off. But you could never explain to 
someone who uses God's gift to enslave 
that you have used God's gift to be free."


EXT. STREET  NIGHT

Jean enters a waiting limo. It pulls away from the curb.

Rene finishes as the limo threads its way through the night-lit, 
twinkling city.


INT. LIMO  NIGHT

The DRIVER is the young Rasta we saw earlier outside Ballato's 
driving Bruno and Andy.

Jean slumps in the back seat.
 
The driver can't help staring in the rearview mirror.

DRIVER
I really... admire you.

BASQUIAT
Me? Why?

DRIVER
You did it! You made it. I'm a painter, 
too. 

BASQUIAT
That's great.

DRIVER
Would you check out my studio some time?

BASQUIAT
Sure. I'd be glad to.

The limo pulls over. 

DRIVER
Here?

Quickly, Jean gets out of the limo. He leaves the door open. 

The DRIVER watches as Jean talks to two DRUG DEALERS. 

Jean jumps back into the limo.

The driver pulls away. In the rearview mirror, he sees Jean 
separate a bag from a bundle of ten. He rips it open and snorts 
directly from it. 

He lays his head back and takes a deep breath. 

BASQUIAT
(calm, relieved)
What's your name, man?

DRIVER
They call me Steve, but I prefer Shenge.

BASQUIAT
Nice to meet you, Shenge. Want a job?


INT. MR. CHOW'S RESTAURANT  NIGHT

An elegant Chinese restaurant on the Upper East Side. The dining 
room is split level with a mezzanine reserved for celebrities and 
special friends of the owner. 

At the podium, the MAITRE'D approaches.

MAITRE'D
Good evening.

From behind the Maitre'd on the mezzanine we see Bruno waving to 
Jean. 

In the dining room on the lower level sit Annina and Rene. Nearby, 
at another, smaller table, are seated DAVID MCDERMOTT and PETER 
MCGOUGH, two artists dressed in Victorian attire.

Annina beckons him. 

Rene looks away from him and talks to a WAITER. Jean waves to 
Annina and continues towards Bruno's table.

Seated at a large table are Andy, Bruno, Albert Milo, his wife and 
parents, Henry Geldzahler, MELINA PORTOS (a young heiress) and 
FRANCESCO and ALBA CLEMENTE and Mary Boone. Dinner's already 
served.

At the large table, everyone watches as Milo makes a portrait of 
Francesco in a beautiful leatherbound book. It belongs to Mr. 
Chow, who is nearby at the bar.

ANDY WARHOL
Hi, Jean.

He motions to Mr. Chow to set a chair for Jean between Mary Boone 
and himself. 

BRUNO
Jean, everyone loved your show.

As Jean is seated, Andy and Jack Milo resume conversation  

JACK MILO
Nixon lives in Saddle River, New York.

ANDY WARHOL
Saddle River's in New Jersey.

JACK MILO
Saddle River, New York!

ANDY WARHOL
It's in New Jersey.

JACK MILO
New York.

ANDY WARHOL
I think it's in New Jersey.

JACK MILO
It's in New York.

ANDY WARHOL
Oh, I didn't know that.

CLOSE UP: Jean smiles at Andy's diplomacy.

Albert finishes drawing his portrait: it's Francesco with his arm 
around a headless torso. 

ALBERT MILO
(to Francesco)
You finish it.

He pushes the book across the table.

Francesco begins to draw. 

MARY BOONE
(to Jean)
I hear your show was sold out already. 
There's a very important collector who's 
interested in some of your works.

BASQUIAT
Bring him over sometime. I have some other 
stuff to show him.

Annina watches from the other table as Jean talks to Mary.

Francesco finishes his drawing.

Albert takes the book and passes it to Jean.

ALBERT MILO (CONT'D)
Go on, take it..

Jean takes it. Mr. Chow watches his book change hands.

Jean takes a bowl of moo-shoo pork in front of him and dumps it 
onto the book. Then he uses a piece of pork to draw a head.

Suddenly, there's a shrill, familiar voice.

RENE
I'd like a glass of your best champagne, 
please?
(reading)
This is an enormously important season in 
New York, and to make a false step could 
have severe repercussions for years. We 
are no longer collecting art, we're buying 
individuals.

ANDY WARHOL
Oh shut up, Rene.

RENE
Everything's over your head, Andy. Even 
Mr. Chow's menu.
(beat  to Jean)
Thanks for not inviting me

He leans over everyone and helps himself to some spears of 
asparagus.


ANGLE ON

Esther Milo, watching.

RENE (CONT'D)
I'm starving. You can't buy advertising 
like this. This is the most glamorous 
dinner you'll have here this fall. How 
about some of that imitation crab? 

MR. CHOW
I'm not paying for the drawing with crab. 
It's a present to my friends. It's my 
birthday. 

Jean finishes his drawing  a big beautiful head that fills the 
screen.

Rene grabs it from him. He holds it up for everyone to see. 

RENE
Isn't he great? Thanks, Jean.

He rips the page from the book.

RENE (CONT'D)
He owes me one.

Everyone's face drops. Mr. Chow grabs his book. He motions to a 
couple WAITERS  

MR. CHOW
You're too much, Rene. Get this guy out of 
here.

RENE
I haven't eaten yet!!!

The waiters grab Rene's arms. 

RENE (CONT'D)
Hands off me, you faggots! I'm going. I'm 
going...I've kept Diana Vreeland waiting 
too long, anyway.

ANDY WARHOL
Wow... That was a nice drawing, too, Jean. 
Maybe you should do another one.

MR. CHOW
(exhausted)
Some other time.

Spontaneously, David McDermott climbs onto the tabletop downstairs 
and sings "Paris Je T'aime." 

As he belts it out in a theatrical falsetto, he glides over 
glasses and plates, executing a leap to another table in mid-song. 

The restaurant staff and OTHER DINNER GUESTS watch, agape. 


CLOSE UP  DAVID'S SHOES.

As David dances, Annina walks over to the table, greeting people 
and saying goodnight.

ANNINA NOSEI
(to Jean)
It's great that people are interested, but 
if anyone's going to buy anything, I'll 
handle it for you. Everything goes through 
the gallery, even if they come to your 
studio.

BASQUIAT
Sure.

Annina leaves.

Jean leans back in his chair, taking in this splendid new world. 
He pulls out a joint, lights up, inhales with pleasure, closes his 
eyes and smiles.

SUPER OVER HIS FACE: "FOUR YEARS LATER"

SCREEN GOES BLACK

INTERVIEWER (O.S.)
... had twenty-three one man shows, been 
in forty three group shows from Zurich to 
Tokyo..

FADE UP


INT. GREAT JONES STREET LOFT  DAY

Note: The following scene is shot in documentary style.

INTERVIEWER (O.S, CONT'D)
... had over fifty articles written about 
you, switched galleries  how many times? 
 DJ'd in the hottest clubs  

Jean looks out the window, yawns and rubs his eyes. He now sports 
dreadlocks bundled into groups of spikes sticking out of his head. 
He wears a wrinkled Wesleyan College T-shirt, paint-splattered 
jeans, and no shoes; just out of bed, it would seem.

An INTERVIEWER  a balding Brit with all the humor of a bank clerk 
 tries to buddy up with Jean on camera.

INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
... one of the youngest artists ever to be 
included in the Whitney Biennial, also 
produced a rap record. It's said you're 
quite the ladies man  even dated Madonna 
for a couple months!!!
(takes a breath)
All at the ripe old age of 24. One might 
ask: is there anything left for Jean 
Michel Basquiat to do?

Jean and the interviewer face each other in front of one of Jean's 
paintings. Jean stares at the interviewer, incredulous.

INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
What is it that gets you out of bed in the 
morning?
(nervous laugh)

BASQUIAT
I hate this. Turn that off.

Jean walks off camera and disappears into his bedroom.

Shenge (the former limo driver, now working as Jean's assistant) 
assembles stretchers.

SUPER: "GREAT JONES STREET, 1985"

A CAMERA CREW waits in the room. Jean returns.

INTERVIEWER
We're running a little late. 

He signals to the crew that he's beginning. 

INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
(to crew)
Ready?

He points to some scribbled words on the canvas.

INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
... Can you... decipher this for us?

BASQUIAT
Decipher?

INTERVIEWER
Yes. What do they... stand for?

BASQUIAT
They're just words.

INTERVIEWER
Yes, I understand  but where do you take 
them from?

BASQUIAT
Where? Do you ask Miles where he got that 
note from? Where do you take your words 
from?
(beat)
Everywhere.

INTERVIEWER
(pointing to a detail)
What are they?

BASQUIAT
(smiling mischievously)
Leeches. A long list of leeches.
(looking at some frames 
Shenge's working on)
It looks good like that.

INTERVIEWER
Hmmm. And 'Parasites.' 
(beat)
You seem to be a Primal Expressionist.

BASQUIAT
You mean like an ape?

He grabs a huge double mouthful of French Fries and washes them 
down with champagne..

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
(chewing, spilling)
A primate?

INTERVIEWER
Well, you said that.
(beat  looks at notes)
You've got a lot of references from 
Leonardo da Vinci, don't you?

BASQUIAT
Oh, that's a "Leonardo's Greatest Hits" 
painting. You like it?

INTERVIEWER
Yes, but as a black painter  

BASQUIAT
I use a lot of colors  not only black.

INTERVIEWER
What?

BASQUIAT
I'm not black.

INTERVIEWER
You're not?

BASQUIAT
Not what?

INTERVIEWER
Not black.

BASQUIAT
No, I'm Haitian-Puerto Rican. 

The BUZZER sounds. He signals for Steve not to answer the door.

INTERVIEWER
Yes, yes... Let's talk about that.... your 
roots... Your father is from Haiti, isn't 
he?

BASQUIAT
(growing weary)
Yup.

INTERVIEWER
Hmmmm. Interesting. And when you grew up 
were there any primitives hanging in your 
home?

BASQUIAT
We don't hang them at home, y'know  just 
in the streets..

INTERVIEWER
I see..
(beat)
And... How do you respond to being called 
 hmmm...
(peruses some notes)
 yes, "the pickaninny of the art world."

BASQUIAT
(smiles   hurt, stunned)
Who said that?

INTERVIEWER
Why, that's from Time Magazine. 

BASQUIAT
No, he said I was the Eddie Murphy of the 
art world. He said the Eddie Murphy.

INTERVIEWER
Is it true that your mother resides in a 
mental institution?

Jean walks off camera like he just received a punch in the 
stomach.

The filming of the interview becomes increasingly erratic.

INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
Let me... just... open something up here. 
You come from a nice, middle class, 
respectable home. Your father is an 
accountant. Why did you at one time live 
in a cardboard box in Tompkins Square? 

Jean walks back into frame.

INTERVIEWER (CONT'D)
Or rather, do you think you're being 
exploited or are you yourself exploiting 
the white image of the black artist from 
the ghetto? 

BASQUIAT
Are those the only two possibilities? 
(cramming a French Fry into 
his mouth)
You wanna French fry?

INTERVIEWER
OK. One last thing. Is there any anger in 
you? Any anger in your work?

BASQUIAT
Should there be?

INTERVIEWER
Tell me about it. What are you angry 
about?

Jean drifts off.

BASQUIAT
Mmmm. I don't know. I don't remember. 


INT. FANCY GOURMET DELI  DAY

Jean and Andy browse through the aisles. Jean piles things into 
his cart. 

Jean approaches the specialty counter. Andy continues with the 
cart.

BASQUIAT
(to COUNTERMAN)
Can I have some caviar, please?

The Counterman selects a miniscule plastic spoon of caviar and 
begins to put it into a tiny glass jar.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
I'd like to taste it, first.

Reluctantly the Counterman gives him a taste with a look like 
"what's a person who looks like you doing buying caviar?"

Jean tastes the caviar and hands him back the spoon.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
Is that the best quality you have?

COUNTERMAN
Yeah, it's the best one.

BASQUIAT
I'll take the whole tin.

COUNTERMAN
It's three thousand dollars!

BASQUIAT
I'll take it. 
(wipes nose with sleeve.)
Andy, gimme three thousand dollars.
(beat)
Just the caviar  I'll get the rest.

He hands two one hundred dollar bills for the other items to the 
counterman, who checks them carefully.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
You check everyone's bills or just mine?

CUT TO:


EXT. WINDOW  DAY

A cheap pharmacy gift shop window. Jean and Andy look in on two 
yellow furry stuffed ducks which are part of a larger display.

ANDY WARHOL
When I was little, my brother and I used 
to have two ducks as pets. We called them 
the Rodriguez Brothers.

They walk into a beauty salon.


INT. BEAUTY SALON  DAY

Jean and Andy recline on the beautician's armchairs. THREE 
BEAUTICIANS busy themselves with the two of them, simultaneously 
giving them pedicures and manicures. Jean sets down a magazine.

BASQUIAT
I wish they'd quit writing this shit about 
me. 

ANDY WARHOL
That's good. At least they're interested.

BASQUIAT
Everybody's paying top dollar for scraps 
of paper, refrigerator doors  anything 
with a SAMO tag on it.
(beat)
The other day, I just wanted a pack of 
cigarettes, so I did a drawing and sold it 
for two bucks. A week later this gallery 
calls me up: "Somebody's offering us the 
drawing. Should we buy it for five 
thousand?"

ANDY WARHOL
Wow... Stop giving them away.
(beat)
I got an invitation to model for Comme de 
Garcons... You wanna do it with me?

BASQUIAT
Yeah  I'd do that... You could teach me.

ANDY WARHOL
Gee. I don't need to. You're a natural. 
You should sign up with my modeling agent.

Jean points to Andy's ankles  they have plastic flea collars on 
them.

BASQUIAT
Cool.

ANDY WARHOL
My dog, Archie... I woke up with flea 
bites... Creepy. I ran out and bought flea 
collars. They work really well.

Beat.

BASQUIAT
Let's leave this town and go someplace. 
Some island.

ANDY WARHOL
Let's go to the Carnegie Museum. They have 
the world's most famous sculptures all in 
these giant plaster replicas. It's really 
great. It's in Pittsburg.


EXT. STREET   DAY

They walk out of the beauty salon..

Jean sees the back of a girl. She looks a lot like Gina.

BASQUIAT
Ouch..

ANDY WARHOL
What's wrong?

BASQUIAT
That girl looks just like my old 
girlfriend Gina. 

ANDY WARHOL
Do you still love her?

BASQUIAT
Yeah. I really blew it. I still think 
about her.

ANDY WARHOL
Well, have you asked her to come back?

Jean shakes his head `no,' sorry that he didn't.


INT. BARBETTA'S (RESTAURANT)  DAY

A medium-sized dining room with dark wood paneling and tastefully 
appointed furnishings.

Jean and Gina enter. Gina looks considerably more conservative 
than previously  more like a student. Jean's dressed well, but 
looks even more careworn than usual. His hair is tied back with a 
necktie. He has a couple sores on his face. His skin looks a 
little puffy.

The MAITRE'D smiles at Jean and bows  

MAITRE'D
Mr. Basquiat  what a pleasure to see you 
again.

BASQUIAT
Hey George, what's up?

A huge table with NINE WHITE EXECUTIVES. WAITERS clear their lunch 
settings. As they spot Jean and Gina entering, they gawk and 
snicker.

George leads them to their table. As they take their seats, Jean 
notices the suppressed giggles coming from the executives' table. 
They try to ignore it. George disappears.

Jean seems self-conscious about the sores on his face. 

GINA
So are you really friends with Andy? He 
seems like such a weirdo. 

BASQUIAT
He's not. He's out of town and he calls me 
every day. What's weird about him?

GINA
Don't you think he's using you?

BASQUIAT
Why does everybody say that? He's the only 
person I know who doesn't need to use me. 

George reappears.

GEORGE
Would you like to see the wine list?

BASQUIAT
Chateau Latour '64, please.

George disappears again.

GINA
So. Are you ready? I start Columbia next 
fall. Of course, there's like, a year of 
pre-med stuff, but  whatever. I'm really 
excited.
(beat)
And: Rene gave me a job as his secretary. 
His poems are getting published. 

BASQUIAT
How is he?

GINA
Pretty much the same.

Jean's eyebrows go up.

BASQUIAT
Wow. Congratulations. I hate that asshole.
(beat)
Thanks for coming. I guess I just wanted 
to find out how you're  

GINA
(referring to an extra loud 
snicker from execs)
What's that about?

BASQUIAT
Forget it.

George arrives and pours a sip for Jean to taste. He nods. George 
moves off. Two or three of the executives break out laughing.

Jean puts the glass down and looks at them. The other table is 
clearly making fun of him.

GINA
That is amazing. What year is it?

BASQUIAT
George?

George hurries over.

GEORGE
I'm sorry, Mr. Basquiat.

BASQUIAT
See that table over there? I'd like to pay 
their bill.

Long silence.

GEORGE
I'm sorry?

Gina looks at Jean, confused.

BASQUIAT
Yeah, just put their bill on my tab.

GEORGE
Really?

BASQUIAT
Yeah.

GEORGE
Very well.

He moves off towards the executives. George whispers to the HEAD 
EXECUTIVE, and nods towards Jean. The executives spread the words 
amongst themselves. They're horrified.

BASQUIAT
(continuing)
Baby, I think about you a lot. I'm really 
sorry about everything. You have to 
believe me. I'm serious. I wish, y'know, 
that we were  

GINA
I don't believe it, Jean  they're picking 
straws.

A YOUNG EXECUTIVE, obviously the loser, takes a deep breath and 
heads towards them.

YOUNG EXECUTIVE
Excuse me... On behalf of my friends I'd 
like to apologize. We're really sorry.

BASQUIAT
I wish you niggahs could get it togeth-
ahhhhhh.

The Executive reaches to shake Jean's hand. Jean puts a hundred 
dollar bill in his hand.

YOUNG EXECUTIVE
What's this for?

BASQUIAT
The tip.

Jean turns back to Gina. The Executive leaves them. George smiles.

GINA
You don't have to be sorry. There's no one 
to blame. Jean, you're a real artist. I 
thought I was one. You made me realize I 
wasn't. 

BASQUIAT
What's his name?

Gina balks. Rather than face a disappointment  

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
I have to go to the bathroom.


INT. BARBETTA'S (BATHROOM)  DAY

CLOSE ON JEAN  looking in the mirror. 

He looks at himself.

He starts to pick at his face.


INT. PALLADIUM  HUGE ROOM  NIGHT

Jean and Albert Milo sit on a banquette 

A huge white painting of Jean's with a dragon's head hangs on one 
wall to their left. On the opposite wall in back of the bar hangs 
another huge painting with a lot of heads, mostly black.

Lots of PEOPLE mill about a huge room.

A GIRL  another Gina look-alike walks through the crowd. Jean's 
eyes follow her momentarily..

BASQUIAT
(re: the paintings)
What do you think?

ALBERT MILO
I like the one with the dragon's heads a 
lot. But the black one's filled up with 
too many heads...
(beat)
I'd take some of them out.
(beat)
I think you're painting too fast. I 
wouldn't put in so many heads. Let it 
breathe a bit.

BASQUIAT
It's always how you would do it. This is 
my version. 

ALBERT MILO
You're right. It's your version. You 
should come over to the studio sometime.

BASQUIAT
Why, so you could humiliate me?

ALBERT MILO
No, I wanted to make a painting of you.


EXT. UNION SQUARE PARK  DAY

Jean rides his bicycle through the park. He's looking up at the 
birds flying in the trees. 


ANGLE ON

The birds. We see the statue in the middle of the park, but we 
have no idea where we are until we see the Mays Dept. Store sign. 
The birds circle in flocks, never lighting on the trees.


EXT. THE FACTORY (ENTRANCE)  DAY

Jean presses a buzzer. He's admitted. He carries his bike on his 
shoulder.


INT. THE FACTORY  DAY

Jean enters a broad, high-ceilinged studio. It's neat. Paintings 
lie on the floor.

Andy's back is turned to him. As Jean gets closer, he sees that 
Andy's assistant FRANK is peeing on canvas covered with copper 
pigment. We hear the SOUND of the piss.

Frank holds a bottle of beer in his hand.

ANDY WARHOL
A little more to the right, Frank. OK... 
Good. Now up... You got a little more?

Jean notices a bunch of Andy's wigs on a desk.

BASQUIAT
What's with the wigs?

ANDY WARHOL
I'm going to send them to my friends for 
Christmas presents.

BASQUIAT
You think those are good presents? Who 
wants an old wig?

Jean makes a grimace. He walks up to the painting Frank's peeing 
on.

BASQUIAT
Piss painting?

ANDY WARHOL
I wanted to make a few more of these. 
Frank's been drinking this Mexican beer. 
It makes a good green.

BASQUIAT
How come you're not peeing on them 
yourself?

ANDY WARHOL
I don't like beer.

Looking down at the painting  

BASQUIAT
If you ever want me to shit on 'em, just 
ask. You could finger paint.


INT. THE FACTORY  LATER

Jean and Andy collaborate on a large canvas. Andy outlines a Mobil 
Oil winged horse. 

Jean paints it out. To the side he paints a penguin with a hat.

ANDY WARHOL
That was my favorite part! 

BASQUIAT
We can do better. It needed more white.

Andy watches as Jean lights a joint and continues working on his 
penguin.

ANDY WARHOL
Jean, you make me feel worthless. You're 
so famous.

Andy paints an Amoco logo next to the penguin. 

BASQUIAT
I don't even have any friends anymore 
besides you. And everyone says "Warhol? 
That death-warmed over person on drugs? 
He's just using you."

ANDY WARHOL
Gee. You shouldn't take it so seriously, 
Jean. That's why you can't stop taking 
drugs. You always think people don't like 
you. Everyone likes you. 

BASQUIAT
People are only interested in you because 
you're famous, not because they know a 
fuckin' thing about your work.

Jean paints out part of Andy's logo.

ANDY WARHOL
Bruno called. In Europe, people are saying 
you're gonna die from drugs. They think 
they can cash in on your death. 

BASQUIAT
When I was poor, everybody doubted I could 
make it. When I got rich, everyone said, 
`yeah, but he'll never keep it up.' Now 
everyone says `he's killing himself.' So I 
clean up, and then they say `Look. His 
art's dead.' I don't take drugs, anyway. 
I'm healthy now.

Jean obliterates Andy's logo.

ANDY WARHOL
If you say so. You sleep until 5:00 p.m. 
You call at four in the morning. You never 
show up anywhere on time  if you show up. 
You're painting out everything I do! 

Andy paints back in part of the horse.

BASQUIAT
That's better.

Jean adds some letters on top of Andy's logo.

ANDY WARHOL
I can't even see what's good anymore.

Jean Michel obliterates the rest of the logo with some white.

Andy steps back and squints as he examines Jean's work. 

ANDY WARHOL (CONT'D)
Yeah, I see what you mean about the white. 
It's better.

Jean quits painting. 

BASQUIAT
After the show we should take a nice long 
vacation. Maybe go to Hawaii. That's what 
I'm gonna do. I'm going to give up 
painting and start playing music again. I 
wanna sing. 

ANDY WARHOL
That would be a pity because you're a real 
painter.

Frank arrives.

FRANK
Here's the poster for the show.

He presents them with a yellow poster of Jean and Andy facing each 
other with boxing gloves.


INT. FACTORY  NEXT DAY

Shenge hands Andy a box. 

Andy opens the box. Inside is a football helmet with Jean's 
dreadlocks glued to the outside.

CLOSE UP: Andy in mirror wearing helmet.

CUT TO:


INSERT

The screen is filled with the cover of the New York Times 
Magazine. Jean is featured on the cover, without his dreadlocks.


INT. GREAT JONES ST. LOFT  NIGHT

As Shenge opens the door, a CROWD of people spill out. They pour 
into the loft. The studio is crowded with PEOPLE. (Many of them we 
recognize from earlier scenes in Mudd Club, Jean's opening, etc). 
On the wall there is a portrait of Jean by Andy. The background is 
a piss painting.

Inside, Jean kneels on the floor in the corner of the loft with a 
bunch of people around him  girls, mostly. Twenty-five copies of 
the Times Magazine lay stacked on the floor.

Crouching on one knee, Jean signs a copy for a BRUNETTE. 

Looking up  

BASQUIAT
Name? 

BRUNETTE
Elke.

BASQUIAT
Number?

BRUNETTE
505-0236.

A BRUNETTE walks up  

BASQUIAT
Name?

BLONDE
Monica.

BASQUIAT
Number?

BLONDE
477-0258.

Andy's assistant, Frank, arrives with CHRISTINE, 25, a model. 

BASQUIAT
Yo, Frank.

FRANK
This is really great. What a nice place. 

Jean is taken with Christine.

FRANK (CONT'D)
Have you met Christine?

BASQUIAT
I don't think so. 

He's thrown off his rhythm.

CHRISTINE
Would you sign one of those for me?

TOXIC (seen with Rene at loft party earlier) spots Jean and steps 
in.

TOXIC
YO! Jean, this is Ramellzee. 

RAMMELLZEE
Yo... You know why Rammellzee's here, 
don't you?

TOXIC
Uh-oh!

RAMMELLZEE
I'm here for an interrogation. You've been 
called a graffiti artist and I wanna know 
why. All I see are scribble scrabble 
abstractions!

BASQUIAT
Boom.

RAMMELLZEE
Boom? As in ordnance? Are your letters 
armed? What is the prime directive of 
graffiti culture? Do you know, black man?

Jean likes Rammellzee enough to be patient... Toxic grins and 
rolls his eyes to Jean. Jean watches Christine as they go on.

TOXIC
(to Ram, re: Jean)
Man, I was up on him years ago on the IRT. 

RAMMELLZEE
You're selling and ending the culture. Not 
one bit of information. Only to get the 
money and growl with the power, man.

TOXIC
That's ignorant.

BASQUIAT
That ain't ignorant  that's just stupid.
(beat  to Christine)
Can I get you a bowl of gumbo?

Rammellzee yells after him  

RAMMELLZEE
This interrogation is not over!

Jean escorts Christine to the kitchen.

Bruno and Andy stand in the crowd.

Nearby are two WOMEN.

WOMAN
Albert Milo? Ugh! He's just a pressmonger. 
That's all these people do.

WOMAN #2
You know, I love Jean's early work. It's 
really got something. But this 
collaboration with Andy  maybe they 
thought it was a joke... I mean  whose 
work is it? Jean's or Andy's?

Walking by, Rene responds to this  

RENE
His early work? He's only twenty-six!

Rene walks over to Jean.

BASQUIAT
Hey, Rene.

RENE
Thanks again for not inviting me. I'm only 
here on business.

Rene heads back out into the party.

Jean eats gumbo while Christine thumbs through the Times Magazine.


ANGLE ON

Rene responds to something Andy's been telling him in a low voice.

RENE (CONT'D)
(loudly)
You're asking me? Nigga, please. After the 
way you treated me? This is the first time 
I've heard from either of you in months! I 
had to crash this party! You treated me 
like a suede biscuit. Rene don't play 
that! I can't get him off drugs! I don't 
even talk to him any more!!!

ANDY WARHOL
(to Bruno)
What's a suede biscuit?

CUT TO:


CHRISTINE

Looks up from her magazine..

CHRISTINE
(amused)
Hey, what's this? It says right here 
you're Andy's... "lapdog"...

Jean walks away.

He passes through the crowd, making his way to the door.

He exits.


EXT. GREAT JONES ST LOFT  NIGHT

Drugged, upset, Jean leaves the party. 

He opens a limo door and looks back at his house. The party 
continues.

The limo drives off.

We HOLD on Jean's building.


INT. LIMO  NIGHT

The limo floats through the streets. 

Jean stares out the window.

BASQUIAT
Here... Pull over.

The limo pulls over. 

Jean exits.


EXT. STREET  NIGHT

Jean disappears around the corner.


ANGLE ON

THREE KIDS in the process of prying a door panel with crowbars.

We see that they're removing one of Jean's SAMO pieces from a 
wall. We read:

"PAY FOR SOUP
BUILD A FORT
SET IT ON FIRE"

Jean arrives behind them. 

BASQUIAT
What's up?

KID #1
Mind your own fuckin' business.

BASQUIAT
(recognizing his work)
That's mine. 

KID
That ain't yours, man. Some asshole named 
SAMO did this.

KID#3
He's dead. That's what I heard.

KID #2
He ain't dead yet. He's gonna kill 
himself. That's why all those art fags in 
Soho are paying more every time we bring 
one of these in.

KID #1
Stupid SAMO... Hardly any of this shit 
left.

The panel is almost pried free without a scratch.

KID #3
This one's damn nice. I say we hang onto 
it if he's almost dead.

Jean shoves his way in front with a magic marker and adds a couple 
words; now it reads:

"SAMO IS DEAD"

BASQUIAT
There you go. Now it's worth more.

The kids are outraged, thinking Jean's ruined their find.

They jump on him.

They beat the shit out of him.

They're done.

Jean lies curled up on the ground, trying to talk.

KID #2
What's he saying?

BASQUIAT
I'm SAMO... I'm SAMO...

KID #3
(bending close)
He says he's SAMO.

Kid #1 whacks him in the back once more for good measure.

KID #1
He wish.

DISSOLVE TO:


THE SEA

It is flat, dead, gray. 

Ominous and waiting.


INT. GREAT JONES ST. LOFT  DAY

Washed in sunlight, a large painting leans against the wall, the 
words "HAITIAN BASEBALL FACTORIES" scrawled through its center.

Jean lays down, watching TV. 

He looks older now, more worn. His face is slightly swollen. His 
complexion is discolored.

Shenge covers a triptych with wide brush strokes of yellow paint. 
He circles a large, primitive figure of a black man drawn with 
magic marker in the center. He is careful to leave the figure 
intact.

BASQUIAT
Paint it out.

SHENGE
Out? 

BASQUIAT
Yeah... Maybe just his arms.
(Shenge paints out the arms)
Put some Cerulean Blue there.

Jean points to the lower corner. 

Shenge picks up the phone, which has been RINGING for some time.

SHENGE
It's Andy again.

BASQUIAT
Still not here.

SHENGE
 In this corner?

BASQUIAT
(not looking)
Yeah..

Shenge changes the brush and dips it in the can.

SHENGE
You want me to put it here?

BASQUIAT
Use your fucking instinct.

Shenge shrugs and starts to spread the blue. Jean looks at his 
work.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
Don't try to make art. Just paint like a 
housepainter.

A woman's shout can be heard through the open window. Shenge looks 
out.

SHENGE
It's Maria Portos. What should we do?

BASQUIAT
Why don't you try letting her in, Steve  
I mean Shenge. 

SHENGE
Get up. She won't buy anything if she sees 
me working on it!

BASQUIAT
Wanna bet? If you show too much respect 
for people with money, they don't have 
respect for you.

MARIA, a raven-haired, sharp-featured beauty in a Chanel suit 
jacket, blue jeans, and pearls walks into the room. She's with 
ELLEN  younger  a millionaire fake hippie from Texas.

Maria carries a bag with clogs in it  a present for Jean. She 
takes them out.

MARIA
(showing him the clogs)
These reminded me of you, the clogs. I 
found them in Amsterdam.

Jean doesn't get up from the floor.

MARIA (CONT'D)
How are you?

BASQUIAT
Fine.

MARIA
You remember Ellen?
(looking around)
What are you working on?

Basquiat points at the painting.

ELLEN
How much is something like that?

Jean raises his hand and pumps five fingers three times in the 
air.

MARIA
Fifteen. Reasonable.

Ellen makes a snotty face.

BASQUIAT
It's unfinished.
(to Shenge)
How 'bout some blue in the corner?

Shenge gives Jean a stupefied look.

SHENGE
Blue? Where?

BASQUIAT
What's wrong with you today?

Shenge is embarrassed by Jean's remark in the company of the two 
women.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
Don't look at me like that. It hurts my 
feelings.

He points. Unsure, Shenge picks up the brush and paints one of the 
corners.

Maria browses through a stack of paintings leaning against the 
wall.

MARIA
I love these.

ELLEN
God... I just can't even care anymore. 
Compare this to a mountain or a tree. 
Who're y'all trying to kid? That's what I 
think. I was just in the Himalayas, and 
like  OK  is this important? No. I mean, 
compared to the rain forest or something? 
These are just narcissistic jokes.

MARIA
(to Jean)
Who are you selling these through now?

Jean gets to his feet. He dips a long, thin brush into black paint 
and nonchalantly crosses out the half figure that Shenge is 
carefully surrounding with blue.

BASQUIAT
Well, that's better.
(to Maria)
You can buy direct from me.

ELLEN
Look at these  silkscreens? What're you? 
Andy Warhol Junior? It's like  not even 
handmade anymore.

She's not even worth a response. Jean looks around, numb. 


INT. MARY BOONE GALLERY  DAY

Jean enters the gallery. Cleaned up. Healthier. Bruises healing.

He looks like he's been painting.

Mary looks up from her desk, surprised to see Jean.

MARY BOONE
Jean Michel... Crawling from the wreckage?

BASQUIAT
I need a dealer.

MARY BOONE
You have a bunch of them, don't you? 
Albert Milo walks in from another room.

ALBERT MILO
Hey Jean!
(to Mary)
It'll never fit.

MARY BOONE
It'll be ok.

ALBERT MILO
You better take a look. Why's your door so 
small? The ceilings are sixteen feet and 
your door's the size of a mouse hole!

MARY BOONE
Why are your paintings so big? Just go 
home. I'll get it in.

ALBERT MILO
(to Jean)
You doing anything right now?

BASQUIAT
Naa..

ALBERT MILO
Let's get out of here.

BASQUIAT
See ya in an hour.
(to Mary)
So what do you think?

MARY BOONE
Bruno spoke to me already. We could talk 
about it.

BASQUIAT
I'm here.

MARY BOONE
OK. I'll be at your studio Thursday three 
o'clock.


INT. ALBERT MILO'S LOFT  DAY

Albert shows Jean through a series of large rooms filled with 
enormous paintings. 

It looks like the Cairo Museum.

They pause before a painting.

ALBERT MILO
This is painted on a backdrop from the 
Kabuki theater in Japan. I painted it 
after Joseph Beuys died. A rebirth 
painting. I felt like he could've painted 
it, or maybe someone else was painting it 
instead of me. The Chinese calligraphers 
used to change their name mid-career so 
they could start over as someone else..

BASQUIAT
Do you ever get sick of it?

ALBERT MILO
Of what?

BASQUIAT
The whole thing  painting.

ALBERT MILO
No. It's one of the few times I feel good. 
I used to have to go to work and cook 
every day. That I got sick of. 

BASQUIAT
What about the shit they write? 

ALBERT MILO
You're asking me this because of the 
'lapdog' remark. I read that. The person 
that wrote that has the compassion of a 
housefly. That's your enemy, not your 
audience. Your audience hasn't even been 
born yet. It's a lie that art is popular. 
The only thing popular about it is that 
it's written about in newspapers. I'm 
surprised when anybody comes to my 
openings. There're about ten people on the 
planet who know anything about painting, 
and Andy's one of them. 

BASQUIAT
I haven't felt like talking to him since 
that thing came out.

ALBERT MILO
As long as I've known Andy, he's never 
asked me for anything except to speak to 
you about getting off drugs. He's painted 
my picture, we've eaten dinner in God 
knows how many places together. But he 
doesn't care about me. He cares about you. 
You're the only person he cares about. 
He's your friend. Fuck that article. You 
want a toasted bagel with cream cheese?

Milo's daughter STELLA (12) calls out from over the balcony.

STELLA (O.S.)
Papa, the TV's broken... Will you fix it 
please?

ALBERT MILO
Alright. I'll be right up.

Albert leaves.

Jean looks at some paintings.

Stella comes downstairs. 

STELLA
(to Jean)
Hi.

BASQUIAT
Hi.

STELLA
I've seen you before. I like your 
paintings a lot. Your hair was different. 

BASQUIAT
You like your dad's paintings?

STELLA
Some of them.

BASQUIAT
Stand still.

He draws her.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
See you later.

STELLA
Thanks

He walks to the door, leaving the drawing on the floor.

Albert returns.

ALBERT MILO
Where's Jean?

STELLA
He just left.

Albert opens the door to the stairwell looking for Jean. 

He hears the sound of URINATING. 

He leans over the stairwell.

He sees Jean Michel, taking a piss on the landing.

He shuts the door quietly.


EXT. GIFT SHOP WINDOW  DAY

Jean walks out of the gift shop (seen earlier, next to 
beautician's)


EXT. BROADWAY AND HOUSTON STREET  DAY

Jean walks through the middle of the intersection. He carries two 
yellow, furry toy ducks under his arm.

SUPER: "FEBRUARY 22, 1987"

Seeing Bruno at the wheel of a black Mercedes stopped at a light, 
Jean clowns around like a street vendor who wants to wash his  
window. 

Bruno doesn't notice him.

BASQUIAT
B.B. It's me  Jean! What's the matter? No 
snow in Switzerland this year?

BRUNO
I didn't see you. 

BASQUIAT
What do you mean?

BRUNO
You haven't heard? Andy's dead.

The light changes.

Bruno pulls across the street because of the traffic.

Jean drops one of the ducks in the street and walks off.


ANGLE ON

The duck lying in the street.


EXT. GREAT JONES ST. LOFT  NIGHT

The "OUT FOR RIBS" sign hangs outside Jean's door. 


EXT. GREAT JONES ST  DAY

Mary sits in her limo trying to call Jean. 


INT. GREAT JONES ST. LOFT  DAY

Near darkness. The curtains are drawn. Music plays: `Birds' by 
Neil Young: "it's over.....it's over". 

Jean watches a video tape with the sound MUTED. The screen fills 
with Andy's face. We SEE a series of quick scenes from his life.

Jean and the remaining duck are lit by the TV.


INT. GREAT JONES ST. LOFT  DAY

EXTREME CLOSEUP: A COLORED PENCIL TIP

Held in Jean's hand. It's stalled in mid-stroke. He writes with a 
magic marker on the heel of two wooden clogs the word: "TITANIC"

There's a loud BANGING at the door. 

When it stops, the pencil tip resumes its long voyage across the 
page.

MUSIC UP: Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues" 


EXT. GINA'S APARTMENT  DAY 

Jean buzzes the doorbell. He's wearing the clogs. He's hurting. 
The intercom comes on.

BASQUIAT
Hello? Gina?

MALE VOICE
Who is it?

Jean recognizes Benny's voice.


ANGLE UP

Gina and Benny look out the window into the street.

Jean's a block away.


EXT. MENTAL HOSPITAL  NIGHT

Jean gets out of a cab. He walks up to the entrance.

The doors are locked. He rattles them.

Inside, an OLD JANITOR keeps mopping.

Jean pounds harder, RATTLES the doors more.

BASQUIAT
Hey, come here! Please. Just for a second. 
Open the door.

The janitor gets nervous. He leaves.

He returns a moment later with a large SECURITY GUARD.

BASQUIAT
Open up! Open up!

The guard unlocks the door, hoping to settle Jean down.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
My mother's inside.

GUARD
Come back tomorrow. Visiting hours are 
over.
(beat)
Don't cause any trouble.

BASQUIAT
I'm not here to visit... I wanna take her 
home.

The guard gently ushers Jean out through the door.

GUARD
Don't cause any trouble.

He locks the door and walks off with the janitor.


EXT. STREET  DAYBREAK

Jean, walks around, drifting, stoned. He looks up at the skyline. 

DISSOLVE TO:


Waves crash silently over a surfer.

FADE TO BLACK

FADE IN:


STREET SOUNDS

BENNY (O.S.)
Willie Mays.

FADE IN:


EXT. STREET   MORNING

Jean has been passed out on a sidewalk. 

CLOSE ON: Benny's face. 

He leans over Jean and helps him up.

BASQUIAT
Willie Mays... Nice to see you.

Benny looks at Jean's eyes. 

Jean stretches, kicking life back into his limbs.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
How's Gina? You guys getting along?

Benny looks at him guiltily.

BENNY
She's good.

BASQUIAT
I guess it was a long time ago.

BENNY
Come on, let's get out of here.


EXT. JEEP  STREETS  DAY

Jean and Benny zoom along in a battered old Army Jeep. Now 
revived, Jean stands up, waving at people miming General Patton. 
We HEAR the music of "Summer of Siam."

BENNY
Sit down! You're gonna fall out!

BASQUIAT
Me fall? Let's get some drugs!

BENNY
Drugs??! 

BASQUIAT
Medicine, man! Like health food. I'm 
taking care of my health! 


INT. HEALTH FOOD STORE  DAY

A mountain of homeopathic medicine and health food on the counter. 
Benny helps the clerk load it into a box.

CLERK
You starting a hospital?

Jean approaches and dumps some more stuff onto the counter.

He's chewing something.

BASQUIAT
Just ring it up. I don't need a bag.
(to Benny)
Try this tabouli  it's great...

Tabouli spills onto Jean's shirt.


EXT  WEST BROADWAY  DAY

Jean and Benny walk along. Benny's arms are full with boxes. 

Jean walks in front, eating yogurt. He's wearing his Titanic 
clogs.  Benny tries to keep up.


BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
My mom told me this... Or was it a dream?

DISSOLVE TO:


INT. CELL  DAY

A crude stone jail  almost medieval  fairy-tale like. A thick 
wooden plank suspended by chains for a bench. A candle on the 
wall.

A small, crowned prince (the boy seen in the dream in intro.) 
looks longingly out the window at rolling green hills. Terraced 
hillsides, cedar trees, cottages, smoke wafting up from chimneys. 
Dirt streets.

The prince smashes the window. He hits his head on the bars, 
gripping them tightly. 


EXT. MEDIEVAL VILLAGE'  DAY

The villagers cease their activities as they listen to the SOUND. 
Looking up, they smile, as if warmed to their souls by some 
unearthly and intangible substance. They look heavenwards.

CAMERA follows their collective gaze skywards.

We shoot up, up, into the sky.

BASQUIAT (O.S.)
There was this little prince with a magic 
crown. An evil warlock kidnapped him, 
locked him in a cell in a huge tower and 
took away his voice. There was a window 
made of bars. The prince would smash his 
head against the bars hoping that someone 
would hear the sound and find him. The 
crown made the most beautiful sound that 
anyone ever heard. You could hear the 
ringing for miles. It was so beautiful, 
that people wanted to grab the air. They 
never found the prince. He never got out 
of the room. But the sound he made filled 
everything up with beauty.

BASQUIAT (O.S)
It's definitely time to get out of here. 


EXT. WEST BROADWAY  DAY

We rush down, down through the sky. 

Buildings come up at us. 

We're over Soho. 

We're back on the ground. 

Benny and Jean continue walking.

We see Jean from behind. He's looking up.

Benny stops to readjust his parcels. 

Jean continues down the street, talking louder.

BASQUIAT (CONT'D)
Hawaii? Fuck Hawaii. Let's go to Ireland. 
We'll stop in every bar and have a drink.


FREEZE FRAME ON HIS FACE
 
SUPER:

"JEAN MICHEL BASQUIAT
BORN: DECEMBER 14, 1961
DIED: AUGUST 12, 1988"


EXT. IRELAND  DAY

Rolling hills. Green. Lush. Peaceful..

FADE OUT
THE END
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