Featuring Robert Sakowitz, Oscar Wyatt, Lynn Wyatt, Douglas Wyatt, Steve Wyatt, Bernard & Ann Sakowitz, David Berg, Sarah Ferguson
TO: Aaron Spelling, Aaron Spelling Productions
FROM: Mimi Swartz
Beverly Hills, Schmeverly Hills—I’ve got the summer blockbuster for you! It’s the story of a family—another Texas family, as a matter of fact, but instead of your Ewings of Dallas, I’ve got the Sakowitzes and the Wyatts of Houston. There’s merchant prince Robert Sakowitz; his sister, international socialite Lynn Wyatt; and her husband, Oscar Wyatt, one of the most ruthless oilmen in the world! There are also the Wyatt boys: mild, mysterious Douglas, and his party boy brother Steve. When these folks mix it up in court, you get a miniseries that’s got everything! Greed, power, international intrigue—and haute couture! Love, war, sex—and family dysfunction! British royalty on bad behavior, Saddam Hussein at his best, and jewelry salesmen from another planet! Paris, London, the Middle East! New York, Monaco, and of course, the great state of Texas, on that nasty roller coaster ride from oil boom to oil bust! This is it: Big money! Big oil! Big hair! And best of all, it’s all true!! C’mon! Whaddaya say? Lunch next week?
THE ROMANCE OF WAR
We open in a courtroom, Houston, Texas. Attorney David Berg, a Dustin Hoffman type, paces between the jury box and two tables—one for the plaintiff, one for the defendant. The courtroom is packed. At the plaintiff’s table, surrounded by lawyers, sits Douglas Wyatt. Behind him, his father, Oscar. Mother Lynn is nowhere in sight. At the other table, also surrounded by lawyers, Robert Sakowitz and his beautiful blond second wife, Laura. Behind them sits Robert and Lynn’s mother, Ann, grim-faced. Neither side acknowledges the other, but they’ve all got on great clothes.
The hallway is crammed with photographers and reporters. This is a big story: Houston’s flashiest family at each other’s throats. It started as a will dispute. Douglas is suing his uncle for $8.5 million, claiming Robert blew the money, which was supposed to go into his and his brothers’ trust funds, on the family business—while somehow managing to emerge from the wreckage as a multimillionaire. But behind that charge is a tale of Texas-size dreams and Texas-size wheeling and dealing and Texas-size revenge—the kind that proves the Texas myth did not collapse with the price of oil. Mr. S, it can’t miss!
Back to opening statements. Berg sinks his teeth into the Wyatts right away. “I’ve gone against the federal government and the Ku Klux Klan, but these people,” he says, pointing to Oscar and Douglas, “are powerful beyond belief.” We’re told that Robert is the real victim here—he’s even had to put his own River Oaks Boulevard home up for sale to make ends meet. His family ignored him while he fought to save the family company, and now they blame him for its demise. And when Robert tried to tell his sister what was going on, she was just too busy to listen. “It is very difficult to explain something to someone who is always under a hair dryer,” Berg says.
Douglas’ attorney leaves the fireworks at home. Dignified, old-line Andy Vickery wants to take the high road to victory. Robert, he says, is simply a man who “because of greed, betrayed the trust of his family.”
Who betrayed whom is, of course, the real key to this story—the resonance, maybe the subtext too. Because this is, above all, a family story, in particular, a story of secret bargains and shifting loyalties. To really understand these people, you gotta go back to the beginning.
Flashback to the late forties and early fifties. Robert and Lynn have golden childhoods, but they want more. Maybe it’s because in that era Jews still had to wait on Houston society to be a part of it. Brother and sister are close, but Robert is the one whose destiny is guaranteed. He sells eggs door to door, driven by ambition and the family chauffeur. He marks shirts in the family store for 10 cents an hour. Because Lynn is a girl and this is the fifties, she can’t go into the family business. We see her future in this scene where she stands in front of a mirror while her mother braids her hair. “Mommy, let me do it this way,” she says, as she coils the braid around her head like a crown. Ann is surprised but proud. She sees that Lynn’s way is better.
In East Texas, Oscar Wyatt is growing up too. But while Robert and Lynn are learning about finger bowls and fancy fabrics, Oscar has to fight for everything he gets. Home is no fun because his daddy has a temper. Oscar earns his own way from the age of thirteen; he quits Texas A&M to fight for his country in World War II. His plane goes down, but even with his nose broken, his jaw smashed, his skull fractured, and one eye hanging down his face, Oscar saves all five members of his crew. This guy is tough.
Back to Robert. Newly graduated from Harvard, he lands at Paris’ Galeries Lafayette department store, speaking flawless French to the customers. Cut to Manhattan, where he hits the Macy’s training program. But New York is a pretty big pond, and Robert gets a bad dose of little fish—itis. Just in time, his father, Bernard, makes him a sink-or-swim offer: The Sakowitz junior department could use a hand. Cut to Robert packing his bags for home.
Lynn’s a little slow getting started. She drops out of beatnicky Bennington to marry Robert Lipman, the heir to a New York real estate fortune. He’s got a “Bad News” sign flashing over his head, but she can’t see it. Lipman moves to Houston and goes to work in the family store, but he and Bernard have, um, clashing values (one works, the other doesn’t). The marriage ends in 1960. Lynn moves back home with her two sons, Douglas and Steve. The boys play football with Uncle Robert.
Enter Oscar. Picture another airplane, going into a dive. Oscar’s at the controls again. It’s the early sixties, and he’s everything the Sakowitzes aren’t. Rude, shrewd, and getting rich, rich, rich—Mr. Texas Oilman. He’s also a three-time loser at the altar—he can’t find a woman who can match him. Next to him, her face white, is Lynn Sakowitz. She has had her fill of namby-pamby rich boys. You see right away they’re made for each other: She can shine Oscar up with some polish, he can give her … the whole damn world! As the ground rushes up to meet them, Oscar offers her a deal: Marry me or else!
Back to Robert. It’s not the oil patch, but the Sakowitz junior department sales figures show a jump of 57 percent the first year, 37 percent one year later. You know Robert’s got it. He helps his father plan a new Sakowitz at the intersection of Post Oak and Westheimer, he goes on buying trips to places like the Soviet Union, he launches lavish store promotions like one called the Romance of War, in which he reenacts the Battle of Waterloo with 12,500 toy soldiers.
Okay, back to Lynn. Bernard, Mr. A-plus when it comes to integrity, has Oscar’s number. He’s afraid that one day the guy’s gonna pull over and leave Lynn by the side of the road. So Bernard says he’ll give Lynn away if Oscar will give her $1 million worth of stock in his company, Coastal Corporation. Is Bernard the only man to get the best of Oscar Wyatt? Could be. Maybe so. The next scene is the 1963 wedding of Lynn Sakowitz and Oscar Wyatt.
Next thing you know, it’s fairy tale time. Christmas at Allington, this humongous estate that once belonged to Houston’s most famous oilman before Oscar, Hugh Roy Cullen. Now it’s the Wyatts’ little swankienda, all duded up in Louis this and Louis that—furniture Lynn bought in just five days. For a minute, you think this scene is going to be sad. Everybody’s hanging around the Christmas tree, and everybody has a present—everybody but Lynn. You see on her face that she’s thinking maybe she has been a bad girl, but then Oscar points to the top of the giant Christmas tree. “Well, aren’t you going to open your present?” he asks. Someone gets a ladder, and we see Lynn climb the rungs, higher and higher, close to the top of the tree. (Get the symbolism, Mr. S?) She finds an envelope up there. She reaches for it—maybe the ladder wobbles a little—and inside is … the deed to the mansion, transferred to her name. The attached love note ends, “P.S. And the taxes have been paid.” Oscar is a good guy after all!
Or is he? Flash-forward to the courtroom. Opening arguments have drawn to an end. Oscar eases from his seat. Slowly, he moves toward Douglas, ignoring his brother-in-law and his mother-in-law as he passes by. He leans down and, in front of everybody, kisses his son. Then he walks out of the courtroom, alone. Maybe he’s leaving Douglas to fight his own battles, but maybe he’s thanking him for fighting his daddy’s. You aren’t sure. You gotta tune in tomorrow to find out.
Open in the courtroom. The jurors have taken one look at the Wyatt and Sakowitz wardrobes and come back in their best clothes. The first witness is testifying. It’s Lynn. Only she’s on video; Vickery doesn’t want to put her through the agony of a public appearance, so the jury is seeing her deposition testimony. So the jury is seeing a rerun—even so, they’re hooked. It’s like watching Dallas, only set in Houston. Lynn, see, is Houston’s heroine. Decades of charity work, decades of Women’s Wear Daily walk-ons, decades of proving that Texans know which fork to use. And that’s how you see her here: poised and coiffed. She even admits that the family business wasn’t her first priority. But—and this is a big but—her family was. “In my mind,” Lynn begins, “for someone to sue someone in the family was horrifying to me… .” The question is, which family?
Flashback: We see a picture from the Houston Opera Guild Calendar, 1966. A pretty blond woman sits on a rattan throne, holding a baby: It’s Lynn and her youngest son, Brad. The other three boys—Douglas, Steve, and Trey—pose beside her. Everybody’s dressed like they’re going to the Easter parade, except for an unidentified guy, off to one side, who wears a welding mask over his face. Could it be Oscar? The calendar page is sponsored by Wyatt’s original company, Coastal States. The caption reads, “Our expansion program is right on schedule.” It’s scary, like there’s trouble for this family hidden off to one side.
The picture tells you something else—Lynn has entered a new phase. You might see the next scenes as pages from Lynn’s social scrapbook: Lynn learns to summer on the French Riviera; Lynn wins a spot on the International Best-Dressed List; Lynn, in 1978, is named to the International Best-Dressed List Hall of Fame, along with Jackie O and the Duchess of Windsor. “Does this mean,” Oscar asks his wife, “I don’t have to buy you any more clothes?”
Robert is doing great too. Houston’s crazy about him. He teaches rich ladies how to dress—and boy, does he have the stuff to dress them in! He has pulled off retailing coups by getting famous French designers like Yves St. Laurent to sign exclusive deals with him. When he meets the girl of his dreams, he has to do something great, because she’s gorgeous Pam Zauderer, the heiress to a New York real estate fortune, and she expects the best. So Robert takes her to a Harvard-Yale game and hands her a box of Cracker Jacks. But it’s not just any box of Cracker Jacks. What’s the prize? An engagement ring! Cut to the roof of Manhattan’s St. Regis Hotel. We’re surrounded by 10,000 yellow roses—it’s the 1969 wedding reception of the Houston Chronicle’s most eligible bachelor of 1967! Hey, isn’t that Lynn and Oscar in the crowd? Look out, Bobby’s gainin’ on ya!
We move forward in time, and way down the economic ladder. It’s 1973, the year of the energy crisis. Families across South Texas are doing without heat because a Coastal subsidiary ran out of gas. In San Antonio, Oscar faces down a mob of furious customers who say he sold Coastal’s gas reserves to keep profits up. You start to see that this guy is not Albert Schweitzer. We hear a gavel rapping, as armies of lawyers work to settle this mess without sending Oscar to the poorhouse. Coastal stock takes a nosedive, and Oscar has to give up the subsidiary. It looks like Oscar is broke, but he manages to hang on to Coastal.
While Oscar’s got thunderheads, Robert’s got nothing but blue skies. A Sakowitz business meeting, 1975: Bernard passes his son a small box. All conversation stops. Robert takes the box from his father’s hands. He opens it. Inside is a gavel. Robert looks at his father; Bernard looks at his son. An understanding passes between them. Robert is now the president of Sakowitz. He’s in charge of not just the store but also his family’s legacy. Big moment. Cut to a commercial.
Back to another courtroom, another gavel, more bad news for Oscar. 1980. This time he pleads guilty to violating price controls, a misdemeanor. Today’s fine—$40,000 from his own pocket, $9 million from Coastal’s. How’s Lynn handling this? Like a pro. A Women’s Wear Daily reporter quizzes her about the judgment. She waits, just a beat, then: “My friends are my friends. And my enemies are delighted.” What class! But it’s important too, because, you see, she has made a deal of her own: She is part of Oscar’s world now, no matter what.
Okay. Oscar makes a decision. If he can’t get along with the U.S. government, he’ll find a government he can get along with. We see Coastal employees unloading crude oil from mainland China, Oscar meeting with a young Saddam Hussein, Oscar sitting down with sheiks in robes at a conference table. He even makes deals with those bad, old Libyans. But nobody gets the best of this guy: When a Coastal shareholder complains at the annual meeting that he doesn’t see Oscar often enough, Oscar says, “Listen, you only get one kiss at the pig each year.” At his Duval County ranch, Oscar builds himself a house that looks like a cross between a bunker and a Saudi palace. You see him there, alone, against a searing Texas sky (Lynn’s off, doing stuff like the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala with guest cook Truman Capote), and all around him are fields and fields of scaly cacti, with, like, Texas-size thorns. I hear music here, Mr. S, music that says Oscar is making plans. He names his ranch Tasajillo, after that cactus. It’s tough, sharp, and takes the heat. Just like him.
Back to Robert. The company is his. He’s a CEO, but he wants more. He jets from Paris to New York to Houston in one day. He moves among three simultaneous meetings through a secret passage in the downtown store—an idea he borrowed from Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. His board, made up mostly of loyal family friends, is dazzled. The oil boom has hit Texas, and Robert’s got the fever. He makes deals to add more stores outside of Texas—and to own the land beneath them. He borrows $1 million from the company to invest in an oil well and makes a $5 million profit. He wears cowboy boots and a cowboy hat with pheasant feathers to the Paris fashion shows. Get it, Mr. S? He’s retailing’s wildcatter!!!
At some point, you begin to feel weird about Robert, but you don’t know why. Turns out Lynn did too. Back in the courtroom, she says so on TV. She admits that she let Robert run the store; she didn’t keep track of the family business like she should have. Now she’s sorry, but she wants to make it right for her kids. “I’m not good at specific things,” she says. “But I do tell you one thing. I trusted my brother. I no longer trust him. I love him, but I don’t trust him.”
THE DAGGER UNSHEATHED
Open in the courtroom. Robert is nervous, hunched forward on the witness stand. He admits that he never funded the trusts called for in his father’s will and that the estate taxes have not been paid. But while Douglas charges that Robert borrowed $1 million from the company and never paid it back, Robert says he lent the company that money in the first place. Today he wears a stunning blue suit and tie—by now, the couture cowboy has ridden off into the sunset. Robert even swears he didn’t wear a cowboy hat to get attention, but because “it rains a lot in Paris.” It’s humble pie time. “I talked to anybody who would listen to try and save the company,” he says.
Flashback to the moment when everything starts going sour for Robert. This is a chance to do some sexy stuff, like when, in 1978, wife Pam falls in love with another man, Tony Bryan—the husband of another rich Houstonian, Josephine Abercrombie. Next: wiretapping, messy divorce, the works. Bernard dies in 1981, leaving Robert without that all-important moral compass. Then oil prices start to tumble; nobody needs this year’s YSL for the unemployment line. Mexico devalues the peso—adios, rich Mexican shoppers. Even worse, the big New York chains that came into Sakowitz territory during the boom have forced the store into an expand-or-die mode. Honoring his father’s dream, Robert has built stores all over the Southwest by now, thinking—like a true Texan—that the hard times can’t last. But they do. Take a look at the store racks, Mr. S! Very skimpy! Robert can’t get vendors to give him the goods ’cause he ain’t payin’! Still, Robert is an optimist, like all our Lone Star stars. Sakowitz’s 1983 Ultimate Gift is a $10,000 mink teddy bear. Nobody buys.
Let’s face it: When Robert’s ceiling falls in, it caves. In a feud with another branch of the family, Robert loses a strip of land at the Post Oak store site, and a developer puts up a Châteaus-R-Us-style shopping center. Robert quietly buys the sewer rights to the Post Oak property from the city, signing his name as the owner of the land when he really isn’t. This way he can control development on the site and build the hotel-office-and-retail empire of his dreams. Someday. When things get better.
Oscar, who has come through the bust richer than ever, has been watching all this, and he doesn’t like it. He thinks Robert’s living awfully high for somebody who’s making $200,000 a year. Plus, Oscar’s got a financial stake here. He guaranteed a Sakowitz debt back in 1974, as a favor to Robert and Bernard, and is still on the hook for more than $1 million. Now he wonders if he’s ever going to see that money again, especially when banker friends start telling him the company is in big trouble. He has this idea about his brother-in-law: The good deals fall in Robert’s pocket, while the bad deals fall in the store’s.
Naturally, Oscar’s suspicions lead to trouble at home. Whenever Lynn comes home from a Sakowitz board meeting, Oscar gives her the third degree, even though he knows that Lynn has no head for business. It gets to the point where she walks out of the room whenever he brings up the subject—Lynn can’t stand being put in the middle, between her husband and her brother. Then she just quits talking about the board meetings completely. But Oscar fixes that by getting one of his high-powered attorneys, snarling, silver-haired Tom McDade, to start going to the meetings with her. It isn’t long before Robert gets a letter from Oscar. Oscar wants to see the Sakowitz books.
Robert’s answer to Oscar could be “Get in line.” He’s spending all his time making frantic phone calls to save the company from sinking. But nothing works. By August 1985, Robert is filing for Chapter 11. Time to reorganize, pull in. We see Sakowitz stores closing in Midland, Tulsa, Amarillo, and Dallas.
Lynn and Oscar aren’t exactly in mourning over the bankruptcy. By now, Lynn has rocketed into the social stratosphere, serving fried chicken to the jet set in Monaco, hosting the hoity-toity Bal de la Rose for her pal Princess Grace. While Robert is fighting for his life, Lynn is having one of her big birthday parties in Cap-Ferrat. A lot of foreshadowing here. This party’s got an Indian theme—India Indian, not American Indian. Lynn wears a turban, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, with a glittering emerald clasp. And who’s that behind the Aga Kahn? It’s Oscar, in a white shirt and white pants. Focus on that gold lamé sash. What’s hanging on it? An Indian dagger. Bobby, look out!
But Bobby doesn’t see it. He’s too busy—and not just with the store. One night, he hits a charity benefit and runs into his nephew Steve and Steve’s date, 26-year-old Laura Howell Harris, who just happens to be the second girl of his dreams. She’s not from a rich family—she comes from Deer Park, a working-class suburb—so what happens next is like another fairy tale.
The next day, Robert calls Steve: “Are you dating her seriously?” Steve: “No, she’s just a real good friend.” Robert: “Do you mind if I take her out?” Steve: “No.” The next thing you know, Robert and Laura Sakowitz are moving into a $1.2 million mansion on River Oaks Boulevard, just a few blocks down from Lynn and Oscar.
There’s only one problem: Oscar can count. He figures if Robert can afford a $1.2 million mansion on River Oaks Boulevard, Robert should have been able to pay him the $1.2 million outstanding on that loan. Uh-uh, Robert says, that’s corporate debt. (Flashback: Oscar is saying, “The good deals always fall in Robert’s pocket … ”)
By now, Oscar has also seen the bankruptcy papers, where Robert did take a salary cut from $200,000 to $120,000—but had the company pay for all kinds of “reasonable and necessary business expenses,” including “domestic help,” “landscape maintenance,” and “travel” for Laura. You see Oscar’s face in close-up here, and you know what he is going to do. Lynn’s voice is protesting in the background, but Oscar is going to get his money back or else. Flash-forward to Robert, on the witness stand. Berg says to him, “The business is gone. When you think of your father, do you feel you betrayed him?” Robert’s answer: “No.” And you know what? He probably believes it too.
THE GUNFIGHTER AND THE SHERIFF
Open in the courtroom. Douglas is on the stand. This is a big moment—Douglas’ chance to prove that he’s the straight arrow going up against his big bad uncle and, more important, that he’s acting on his own. He’s not just a stand-in for his big bad dad. How did Douglas get into this case? The answer lies back in time. “I guess I had several surrogate fathers,” he says on the stand.
Cut to 1987. Lynn has had it. Robert’s pulling her one way, and Oscar’s pulling her another. Her own mother has taken Robert’s side, so Lynn has come up with a plan. She’s going to give her share of Bernard’s inheritance to her sons early—like now—and put Douglas, the eldest and a lawyer, in charge. He can go to those shareholders’ meetings, he can report to Oscar, he can decide if Robert has cleaned out the cookie jar. There they are, in this Texas-size villa in Cap-Ferrat; mother and son hug, but this is serious. Lynn tells Douglas the deal. He’s a smart kid, so naturally, he’s worried that it’s gonna cost him. “Let me think about it,” he says.
But every son wants to please his mother, right? Douglas bites, and pretty soon Robert is welcoming him to the company, which looks to have been saved, thanks to a pending merger. But then Douglas starts talking to Tom McDade—Oscar’s lawyer—and Sakowitz creditors. Next thing, Robert’s staring down the barrel of a lawsuit: Douglas Wyatt v. Robert Sakowitz. Robert’s nephew is suing him for $8.5 million in damages, accusing him of fraud, self-dealing, and violation of fiduciary responsibilities. This isn’t Oscar’s kid for nothing: On behalf of his brothers, he wants everything—the profits from Robert’s oil deal, his home on River Oaks Boulevard, the contents of his wine cellar, even his high-priced art collection.
After this, there’s total family breakdown. Even though Ann blew Oscar off a long time ago (she caught him at a restaurant with another woman, among other things), she has stayed tight with her grandsons. (One time she chewed out Douglas for eating with Oscar and his girlfriend—flashback to the scene where Douglas promises not to do it again.) Now, though, Ann stops talking to her grandsons too and cuts them out of her will. Lynn is back in the middle, especially when Oscar and Douglas make Ann help pay the store’s creditors by giving back her $100,000 annual death benefit.
There’s one chance for the family to piece itself back together. In 1990, after Sakowitz has closed for good, Robert gets Oscar off his back by paying him half a million plus a share of those secret sewer rights (Oscar, of course, had filed just another little-bitty lawsuit to get what he wanted). Oscar even starts to think Robert isn’t such a lightweight. He reminds Berg in a deposition that Robert “dunked his creditors for $24 million and remains well-to-do.” But Douglas won’t quit. On principle, he says.
That’s what he says, but there’s a lot of history here. His real father ended up going to jail for murdering a French student on an LSD trip to hell. Then he died mysteriously. Uncle Robert stood in briefly, until Oscar signed the adoption papers. You wonder if all that coming and going wasn’t rough on the kid. Maybe he wants to prove he’s as bad as his Oscar. Or maybe there’s an even weirder reason.
Flashback a little bit. Douglas makes friends with this commercial real estate broker named Roger Hall. Looks like a fullback, but like Douglas, he’s into Big Questions. The two start jogging around Memorial Park, talking about God. Douglas tells Roger about a Manhattan guru who runs something called Eternal Values. One of his pitches is that wearing big gems—not just any big gems, only those purchased from External Values—will ward off evil. Grandma Ann knows better—she has read the March 1990 issue of Vanity Fair, where she found out that Eternal Values is really an anti-Semitic, woman-hating cult whose leader claims to be from another planet. The jewels are—you guessed it—a scam. But Roger is loyal to Douglas, so he shells out $44,000 for some magic rocks of his own. Then he gets suspicious, goes to a jeweler, and gets them appraised. Whoa, Douglas! Turns out they aren’t worth anywhere close to what Big Roger paid.
Looking for a lawyer of his own, Roger takes this news to Robert Sakowitz, who in turn, takes it to his lawyer, David Berg. Mr. Perry Mason, of course, knows just what to do with the info: Long before the trial starts—you can hear Douglas’ denials on voice-over—Berg spreads the word that Robert is being sued by a coconut who thinks his family feud is the reincarnation of an earlier shoot-out, in which Robert was an evil gunfighter and Oscar was a sheriff. Grandma Ann was a saloonkeeper. (I’m not kidding, Mr. S, it’s all in the depositions.) Douglas even got his mom involved: Lynn wore a $70,000 Eternal Values voodoo ring to her deposition.
So, see, there’s lots to choose from here: Did Douglas keep suing to make a point to his dad or to his guru, who later dies of AIDS? Or maybe he thinks his dad is gonna cut him off if he thinks his son is wacko. Maybe he needs the money for the cult. Then again, maybe it is just principle, like he says.
Flash-forward to the courtroom. Berg’s got Douglas in a corner. Did he ever offer to help out at the store? Did he ever check the books with the Sakowitz corporate accountant? As Douglas answers no to every question and the scene fades out, you start to wonder. Maybe he could have spent a summer in the store’s shoe department. Maybe he should have bought his jewelry at Sakowitz. Maybe his mother didn’t do him any favors by giving him her inheritance. Maybe there are easier ways to make people happy.
THE VERDICT IS IN
Open in the courtroom. It’s time for the show-stopping climax. Berg has called Ann Sakowitz to the stand. You can almost hear the nails going into Douglas’ coffin as she tells the jury why she used Lynn and Oscar’s Christmas gift of $20,000—the maximum gift allowed tax free—to pay her legal fees. “I felt they had already taken so much from me,” she says. “I wasn’t going to give them my conscience.” Then she has words for the Wyatts. “Families are not supposed to betray each other. Families are supposed to help each other. Familes are supposed to love each other.” Like, Lynn, have you forgotten who taught you to braid your hair?
But we see that the Wyatts have been busy with other things. The Duchess of York visited Tasajillo and gifted Lynn with a photo signed, “To my dearest and most special friend.” Steve and Fergie took a trip to Morocco with her kids and a camera. Oscar got to play the good guy: With John Connally in tow, he rescued around two dozen American hostages held by Saddam Hussein during the Persian Gulf hostilities. Soon after, the U.S. government dropped its investigation into whether Coastal violated the embargo against Iraq in order to continue supplying oil to its customers. But then Oscar blew it again when he gave a speech to the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce. He criticized America’s stand in the Persian Gulf and swore he wouldn’t allow his sons to become “white slaves of an Arab monarch.”
Back in the courtroom, Douglas and Andy Vickery seem to awaken from a dream. They finally realize that this is a trial, not a poetry reading. Cut to the shocked faces of the people in the courtroom—jurors, lawyers, reporters—when they call a surprise witness. Who’s the babe in the Bill Blass? You guessed it, it’s Lynn. Heading for the stand, she ignores her mother and brother. Okay, once and for all, no matter what David Berg or anybody else, i.e., Mom, says, this thing isn’t her fault. She didn’t start it by giving her sons their inheritance early. She was trying to make peace. Lynn: “I was a Sakowitz, I am a Sakowitz. Did I betray my father in any way?” Guess what? She’s got the same answer as brother Bob: “No.”
Still, you wonder. Maybe she cared more about Princess Grace and Mick Jagger than Sakowitz, Inc. Maybe Bernard sold her short, at just $1 million. And maybe Lynn made her choice a long time ago, when she told Oscar Wyatt, “I do.”
So it’s up to the jury now. Hours pass—four of ’em. Robert looks like the special guest star at his own funeral. Then the jury comes in. Close-up on the clasped hands of Robert and Laura as the verdict is read. Cut to a commerical—just kidding, Mr. S. It’s Robert 12, Wyatts zip. Robert weeps. He’s not a crook. It’s over.
Or is it? Dissolve to Armando’s, a Mexican restaurant in River Oaks. The owner, Armando Palacios, hovers near a table of revelers. He offers them free Armando’s T-shirts. As we get closer, we see the faces are familiar: Robert, Laura, David Berg, several jurors. Robert doesn’t look like king of the worrywarts anymore. He is a free man, free of Oscar. He can get back to making money, this time with a new investment called Cafe Lite, a new low-sodium, low-cholesterol, low-calorie restaurant.
But there is a problem. Pat Gregory, the judge, starts to worry. Maybe it’s about his rulings in the case; maybe it’s about Oscar, who has been known to punish a judge or two. Next thing you know, Gregory throws out the verdict on a technicality. Cut to Robert. You see his face, you know what he’s thinking: Oscar did this!
CANDY, COUNTS, AND CASINOS
Now, it really gets nuts. Berg and Robert think they’re stuck with a judge who is on Oscar’s team. They have to get rid of him, or they’re sunk. Enter Michelle Smith, a winsome but wily fashion writer who covered the trial for WWD. She also happens to be pals with Douglas Wyatt. Turns out, Michelle is also writing the judge’s memoirs, called (I swear) Candy, Counts, and Casinos, because Gregory presided over cases involving accused murderess Candace Mossler, jet-setter Baron Ricky di Portonova, and the Howard Hughes will dispute. (Michelle and Pat haven’t started writing exactly—they just have the title.) Aha! Berg files a motion asking the judge to step aside because he would profit by including the Sakowitz trial in his memoirs! Maybe Berg believes Michelle is a spy for Douglas, maybe he’s just desperate. Either way, his idea works—Gergory clears his name in a public hearing and then steps aside. But by now Berg’s got bigger problems. Douglas has hired a new lawyer: Tom McDade.
But the end of the trial is not the end of the Wyatts’ trials. A British rag gets hold of the photos of Steve and Fergie’s Morocco trip, and he gets blamed for the royal breakup. He issues a statement that he’s “saddened” but says his relationship with Sarah was “platonic.” The good news: A British tabloid describes Steve as “a cross between Bobby Ewing and the Incredible Hulk.”
Okay, time to wrap this up. Dissolve to Robert’s mansion, still on River Oaks Boulevard. He’s inside. Lovely Laura is still by his side. His face shows some strain, but life goes on. He still has his wine, he still has his masterpieces. There’s no For Sale sign in his front yard. Pan down the street to Allington. It’s dark. It’s quiet. Like it’s lying in wait.
Get it, Mr. S? This fall! Wyatt v. Sakowitz: The Sequel!