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Title Page
Title page

THE
DIVINE
RASCAL

The True Story of the Man who "Turned On" the World with LSD and the People Who Erased Him
created by:
Jeanne Heaton &
Vanessa Hollingshead
Logline
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 LOGLINE:

In 1959, when a down-and-out British writer desperate for fame and fortune arrives in New York City and 'trips' on an unknown drug called LSD, his experience is so profound that he goes on a mission to 'turn on' the world with it - but when his tragic past catches up with him, he becomes an easy target for the CIA, and the world 'turns' on him. 

Introduction
INTRODUCTION:

Based on his book, "The Man Who Turned on the World," THE DIVINE RASCAL is a dramatic and darkly funny TV series about my father, Michael Hollingshead, the man who gave Harvard professor Dr. Timothy Leary his very first hit of LSD and how, together, they launched the most significant 1960s counterculture revolution of our time.

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Michael hollingshead
Dr. Timothy
Leary

 IP: 
"The Man Who Turned On The World"
by Michael Hollingshead
Published 1973

©All Rights Reserved

Who Is He
  WHO IS HE?

With a glass of scotch in one hand and 5000 hits of LSD in the other, no one is more mysterious and unfathomable than THE DIVINE RASCAL, Michael Hollingshead.

A genius, a Zelig, a trickster, a guru, a conman, a writer, an artist, an alcoholic, a junky, a father, an ex-member of the British Air Force and the man without whom Timothy Leary and the psychedelic revolution never would have existed - Michael is all this and more.

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What is LSD?
WHAT IS LSD?
Why Me?
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WHY ME?
"My dad did so much LSD, psilocybin, blue-blotter, purple haze that we used to go on family trips together without ever leaving home. When I was five, he left an entire tray of acid-laced sugar cubes on the kitchen table. I ate all of them.
"I don't have childhood memories; I have flashbacks."
 
But now, what if, in those flashbacks, your inept father was also an advocate for drug use? And what if he advocated for drug use in a way that changed the world for the better?
In fact, what if, without him, the entire social, cultural, and political uprising of the 1960s never would have happened?

The complex relationship my father had with LSD, the remarkable people he "turned on" with it, and the impact they had on an entire generation have never been dramatized in a television series until now."  

Vanessa Hollingshead

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Why Now?
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WHY NOW?  

"To fathom hell or soar angelic, take a pinch of psychedelic." 

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With psychedelic-therapy centers opening all over the world, LSD is back in the zeitgeist and hipper than ever before.

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Today, psychiatrists are experimenting with LSD as a treatment for depression, PTSD, addiction, Alzheimer's, alcoholism, cancer, and opioid abuse. What was once considered a dangerous drug is now a promising mental health therapy.

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Dr. Timothy Leary

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Michael Hollingshead

Dr. Richard Alpert, Ram Dass

In fact, scientists have picked up researching psychedelics exactly where our main characters, Michael Hollingshead, Dr. Timothy Leary, and his assistant, Dr. Richard Alpert, left off 60 years ago - before the US government shut them down.

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Joaquin Phoenix

 as Leary

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Benedict Cumberbatch as Hollingshead

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Bill Skarsgård as Alpert

Set against the backdrop of a nation fractured by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the battle for equal rights, their world mirrors the divisions of hatred, racism, and the stripping away of women’s rights in our world today. 

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"The Divine Rascal" investigates the whole truth about LSD, but it is not a documentary. The show is a hard-hitting, compelling TV narrative that dramatizes how these Harvard academics dared to change the world with a single drug and risked everything to do it:

Vanessa 

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"I moved to the rooftop and all is CHAOS. Kaleidoscopic images surge powerfully in on me as I am seized by a fear of going insane. My body is strange. Numb. Lifeless. Am I dying? Is this it? I step to the rooftop's edge into some other land of unlikeliness when a sudden bolt of lightning splits me through. The primordial ooze from a childhood crushed by the tyranny of a monstrous and violent alcoholic father grabs me and threatens to throw me off the ledge. Then, as if on woven wings of stardust, a heavenly realm delivers me to a place where the "I" of "me" no longer exists. Born aloft, I am free. I am One with the Universe. One with the Creator. One with God. I am God." 

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A lifelong atheist, Michael's rooftop trip is so profound that he abandons his tired aim of writing the next great novel and replaces it with a new one: to "turn on" the world with LSD. But how?

Michaels First LSD Trip
Series Overview
OVERVIEW:

New York in the '60s

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Fleeing the oppressive classism of England and battling personal demons, the headstrong and penniless writer, Michael, arrives in New York City. 

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The Poetry Gods of Angst

Ginsberg, Burroughs, Kerouac & Michael

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He meets the femme fatale jazz pianist Sophie; they fall in love, she gets pregnant, and Vanessa is born.

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Sophie

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Natalie Portman

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We hard-left to Harvard University, where the avant-garde Michael, armed with his 5000 hits of LSD, transforms Leary's life forever. 

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Together, this unlikely duo conducts psychedelic experiments that shatter the foundations of psychology. 

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The newly fired Leary and the terminally unemployed Hollingshead land at the sprawling, infamous Millbrook Mansion in upstate New York, where research with LSD can now carry on with reckless abandon.

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A cross between a country club, a madhouse, a research center, a monastery, and a Fellini film set, Michael becomes known as the greatest trip guide of all time. 

Lennon & McCartney

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Andy Warhol &

Edie Sedgwick

Jefferson Airplane

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Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

McClure, Dylan & Ginsberg

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Michael

When he leaves a tray of acid-laced sugar cubes laying on the table, Vanessa eats them all.

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With her life on the line and knowing they're under constant surveillance, they make the agonizing decision not to take her to the hospital, or they all risk going to jail. 

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The Antagonists
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THE ANTAGONISTS
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G. Gordon Liddy, NY District Attorney 

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On a parallel track, DA G. Gordon Liddy's ruthless pursuit to put Leary in jail and criminalize LSD is as shameless as his extravagant mustache.

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George White, CIA

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Simultaneously, Michael is under the watchful eye of CIA agent George White, the sadistic leader of "Operation MK Ultra" - a government program torturing prostitutes, addicts, and black jazz musicians with inhumane doses of LSD.

The World
THE WORLD:

LSD blasts its way onto the 1950s postindustrial "Norman Rockwell" scene. It shatters America's puritanical view of the world and opens the curtains of the mind.

 

"With m y LSD, I will create the world's first bloodless revolution." Michael Hollingshead

                                                                                

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Set against the turbulent backdrop of racism, sexism, and the Vietnam War...

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Characters
MAIN CHARACTERS
Michael Hollingshead

MICHAEL HOLLINGSHEAD - THE DIVINE RASCAL

Michael emerges from a brutal childhood in the impoverished north of England, his memories forever stained by an alcoholic and violent father. Vowing to break the cycle, he dreams of becoming the kind, loving father he never had. However, the trauma from the beatings, the hatred, and his longing for his dad's approval combine to create one primal need: to be adored. A sinner and a saint, he’s the guy everyone can’t wait to get to the party and the one they can’t wait to leave. Women, drugs, and booze fill his God size hole for love until they stop working and he sabotages everything. Beneath his magnetic surface seethes the raging belief that; since his father is disposable, so is everyone else. When you fall under his spell, you risk losing your mind, your money, or possibly both. But the greatest tragedy of all is that the liberation he guides others to effortlessly find he never finds for himself again. He spends the rest of his life chasing that first euphoric roof-top trip to complete oblivion. 

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Before LSD

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After LSD

Timothy Leary

DR TIMOTHY LEARY - THE HIGH PRIEST

The alpha-male antithesis to Michael's flamboyant peacock, Tim is  Harvard's psychology professor that everyone wants to teach their class or take to bed. With his relentless womanizing and his promiscuity with men, his wife commits suicide, leaving him to raise their two kids on his own. Guilt-ridden, he throws himself even harder into his work with one overwhelming need: to scientifically prove that LSD can accomplish in twelve hours what it takes twelve years of psychotherapy to do. But with his need to be in the limelight and preaching to the youth of America to "turn on, tune in, and drop out," he goes from LSD’s "High Priest" to Nixon’s "Most Dangerous Man in America." When asked about how he feels about ruining an entire generation of 72 million people, he says, "Yeah man, but only a hundred thousand thanked me for it."

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Before LSD

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After LSD

Richard Alpert

DR. RICHARD ALPERT - BABA RAM DASS

Dr. Alpert is Leary’s right-hand man, until Michael shows up, that is. A respected Harvard psychology professor, he brings an unrequited love for Leary along with a ton of money to pay for their projects, one of which is Michael himself. Richard desperately wants to fit in, but how, when you’re a gay man in the ‘60s. His desire to win Leary's romantic love at any cost becomes his undoing. The first time Dick trips, instead of seeing God, he has a full-blown panic attack, and the chains of conformity are not removed for him. His search for permanent enlightenment takes him to India, where he transforms into the famous Guru, Baba Ram Dass and writes the famous best-selling book "Be Here Now."

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Before LSD

Before LSD

After LSD

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After LSD

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SOPHIE HOLLINGSHEAD - JAZZ PIANIST

Sophie, a trailblazing acclaimed jazz pianist in the smoky jazz joints of the West Village, is a vigilant activist who fiercely protects the Black musicians she collaborates with from the constant barrage of racism and violence. When she meets Michael, their passionate and erotic romance makes her feel more alive than she's ever been before. But like a moth to a flame, it burns too fast. When she gets pregnant, the responsibilities of being a mother, coupled with Michael's incessant infidelity and his chronic writer's block, begin to take their toll on her fiery spirit. Unable to conform to the traditional role of a 1960s housewife, she embarks on a path she never could have imagined.

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Before Michael

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After Michael

Sophie Hollingshead
Millbrook
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Vanessa's acid-laced orphan storyline appears in little snippets throughout to remind us of where her father's come from and what he's left behind.

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