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Title: The Soft Green Claw
Logline: A novice prep school counselor is thrust into the world of college admissions' corruption, forcing him to play along and make his students' dreams, or fight the system and risk losing everything.
Pitch: The news has been abuzz lately with scathing stories of scandal, but this story examines the often overlooked characters in the world of college corruption, the little guys left to deal with the fallout.
Synopsis: When the college guidance counselor position at the prestigious Dozier Academy mysteriously opens up, the eternally optimistic Mickey Russo, a young, talented English teacher, reluctantly accepts the job to provide for his growing family. He's soon confronted with the business's machinations when a Yale rep, Jodi Kinsley, shows up unprompted. Mickey scrambles to find the right students for meetings, recruiting the help of a protege/friend, Romeo 'Chez' Sanchez. As a thank you for the favor, Mickey gets Chez a meeting with Kinsley, but the move is not appreciated. Mickey begins to doubt himself, wondering if he could ever make a difference in a school full of the privileged elite. He is only further discouraged when he discovers Chez has been ditching school to work construction, putting his future in jeopardy.
At his Brown reunion, Mickey rekindles his relationship with a college buddy, Roger, now an admissions officer at the school. He asks him about Chez, but Roger says Chez's grades are too low and he should look at a design school like WashU more suited to his interests. Mickey starts to get the hang of counseling, including helping Jocelyn, a shy girl whose father is Mickey and his girlfriend's OB. But when Mickey discovers Chez is still ditching, he goes to confront him leading to a physical fight which draws the ire of headmaster Dabney. To make things worse, students begin to protest Dozier's counselor rec policy which favors Ivy applicants. Mickey caves and opens up the pool, much to Dabney's chagrin. As the birth of Mickey's child nears, rec writing eats him up, and Roger is of little help in regard to his new charge, Jocelyn. Things begin to turn around after a chance meeting with WashU's admissions director -- Chez agrees to apply, they work on his app together, and submit it j
ust before the deadline. To make things better, Mickey receives an amazing job offer in New York.
Just when it seems fine and dandy, Mickey is invited to a strange meeting with Kinsley in which she reveals the existence of a bribe ring which has been propelling Dozier's acceptances all these years. More frustrated than ever, Mickey begins to unravel: attempting to reveal Kinsley and Dabney's machinations while inadvertently framing himself. Refusing to cooperate, his job in New York disappears, students that were locks to get in recieve rejections, and Mickey becomes increasingly depressed, leading to his firing. For a moment presented with a chance to start his life over, Dabney hits him with the hammer, offering Mickey up as a scapegoat to deflect from the school's real problems, hours after discovering Chez's WashU rejection. Only years later, after reuniting with a now successful Chez, does Mickey realize how much of an impact he truly made on the students he guided.