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Fair & Balanced: A Play in One Act, and Other Short Works
by Brian Flemming 

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Fair Use Press

Second (May 3, 2004)

You can buy the full Adobe Reader e-book here on this page, but now you can also order a physical copy of the play-only version of Fair & Balanced right here from our friends at


Playwright Brian Flemming, who co-wrote the Off-Broadway smash hit Bat Boy: The Musical, penned this dark one-act comedy in which "Fair" and "Balanced" are prisoners held in an underground dungeon, and every night at 8 p.m. an imperious overseer named Bill O'Reilly comes down into the dungeon to torture them.

But tonight is a special night. Tonight Bill O'Reilly makes a mistake, and Fair and Balanced turn the tables on him. Now that their tormenter is at their mercy, the former prisoners force him to stand trial. But will Fair and Balanced do to Bill O'Reilly what he has done to them?

In answering this question with a resounding yes, Flemming gleefully crosses just about every line with regard to taste and decency, crafting Fair & Balanced in the theatrical traditions of commedia dell'arte and Le Théâtre du Grand Guignol. By turns profane, eloquent, shocking and touching—and always hilarious—Fair & Balanced may just slice, dice and chop its way into theater history and create a lasting comic villain out of Bill O’Reilly. Or what is left of him.

sample pages

Flemming plans to license the one-act comedy to as many theaters as wish to perform it. His hit Bat Boy: The Musical, which was termed "an instant classic" by the New York Post, is ranked among the top ten most-produced plays of the 2002-2003 season, according to American Theatre magazine.

But you can enjoy this darkly funny work before it comes to a theater near you. This Fair Use Press high-quality Adobe Reader® edition of Fair & Balanced includes the full script to the play, the sheet music to its one brief song ("Ampersand's Epiphany") as well as the following additional nonfiction works by Flemming, which, like Fair & Balanced, explore the effect of the right wing of U.S. politics on the nation's culture:

Photo essay: Pro-War Demonstrators: "Theoretically, We Should Be Able to Punch You in the Face"

This 35-page nonfiction photo essay is a revealing look at confrontations between pro-war demonstrators and anti-war demonstrators on Oscar night, March 23, 2003, outside the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. Using rhetorical techniques apparently inspired by Fox News and other fiery conservative news outlets, the fairly unbalanced pro-war demonstrators scream insults such as "You're a fucking faggot!," shout down all who disagree with them and carry signs reading, "Kill Them All" and "Without Us, You'd Be Eating Sand." Flemming was in the fray with the pro-warriors and documents his experience in words and pictures. The subtitle of the photo essay is based on a flyer that military-garbed pro-war demonstrators were handing out to anti-war demonstrators. The flyer read, simply, "Theoretically, we should be able to punch you in the face and get away with it." This photo essay is a rare insight into the street-level right-wing subculture, whose true face is rarely displayed in the mainstream media.

Essay: Dementia Nine-Eleven

Flemming, who wrote daily commentary throughout the Iraq war at, published this short essay the day after the statue of Saddam Hussein fell in Baghdad. It takes as its premise that the United States has been driven to insanity by the September 11 attacks and the artful manipulation of the Bush Administration and its propaganda wings, and from there compares the United States with the tragic characters Hamlet and Othello, who were also debilitated by madness and obsession.

Speech: Stump Speech

Flemming briefly ran for governor of California in July and August of 2003 with a platform—"If elected, I will resign"—that was intended to subvert the attempted recall of Governor Gray Davis. He wrote this stump speech but never had the opportunity to deliver it to an audience. (See "About the Author" below for details on Flemming's run for governor.)

Revised editions of Fair & Balanced are free to First Edition buyers: Purchase of this First Edition Fair & Balanced Adobe Reader book entitles the purchaser to free downloads of subsequent Fair Use Press e-book editions of the play.
Click here to see sample pages from Fair & Balanced.

Outside reviews and articles

All Facts and Opinions
Writer Natalie Davis on the story behind Fair & Balanced.

GreenCine Daily
"[Author Brian Flemming is] describing Fair & Balanced as 'vicious, profane, and written in the spirit of commedia dell'arte, which often mixes the scatological, the violent, the broadly comedic and the political.' Now aren't you, too, intrigued?"

Short mention by political blogger Atrios with a comments thread. Also, later, channeling Bill O'Reilly on Talk Like Bill O'Reilly Day: "Some third-rate hollywood hack has gone and put me in a play. You don't have the right to steal my identity, pal. This is nothing short of terrorism. Aren't we taking this whole first amendment business just a little bit too far?  First it was that damn internet where, would you believe it, anyone can just say anything they want to? And now these playwrights are following right along. I remember when plays were good family entertainment, and not this political sex-filled hogwash.  What's wrong with nice, simple, entertaining stories that the whole family can love? If they were good enough for Shakespeare, they should be good enough for this, whats-his-name, Flemming degenerate..." [more, with comments].

Article by Fair & Balanced author Brian Flemming in which he explains why he wrote the play.

Reader reviews

"That play made my night. I am stuck in a hotel on a consulting gig and was bored out of my mind till I read this. Now I can't stop laughing or get the image of [plot spoiler deleted] outta my mind!"

"Just read F&B and am laughing my fat ass off. The pro-war protestors thing was so scary I think I'll be having nightmares about it."

"This was a great premise that degraded into very graphic material in the climax (pardon the pun), rendering an interesting, funny and well written script completely unusable for my theater, even in our late-night sector."

"Downloaded it. Printed it. Read it. Thought about it. Loved it. Thought about it some more. Really loved it!"

About the author

Brian Flemming co-wrote (with Keythe Farley and composer Laurence O'Keefe) the off-Broadway hit Bat Boy: The Musical, which won two Richard Rodgers Awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Lucille Lortel Best Musical Award, the Outer Critics Circle Best Musical Off-Broadway Award, and eight Drama Desk nominations. Bat Boy is published by Dramatists Play Service, with a cast album on RCA/Victor, and is currently playing in regional productions throughout the United States.

Flemming has a parallel career as an independent filmmaker. He most recently wrote and directed the feature film Nothing So Strange, a faux documentary about the assassination of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, which won the 2002 New York Times Claiborne Pell Award for Original Vision at the Newport International Film Festival and has played at film festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe. Nothing So Strange will be released in theaters in Fall 2003.

Flemming recently ran for governor of California, with the simple platform, "If elected, I will resign." Covered by National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News, Flemming's candidacy was intended to put Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante effectively on the recall ballot at a time when no major Democrat was in the running. Flemming, a Democrat, terminated his candidacy when Bustamante himself entered the race at the last minute.

Flemming maintains a daily personal weblog.

Reviews of the author's prior work

About the stage play Bat Boy: The Musical:

"It's remarkable what intelligent wit can accomplish. A jaggedly imaginative mix of skewering humor and energetic glee."
--New York Times

"Smart, playful and funny. A giggling cult hit."
--The New Yorker

"Bat Boy soars. An instant classic."
--New York Post

"Wickedly funny."
--New York Daily News

"A tour de force. Immensely satisfying."
--USA Today

"The show is sick, twisted, over the top, and--if you like that sort of thing--possibly as entertaining as anything you've recently seen onstage."
--Boston Globe

"Bat Boy: The Musical easily ranks as one of the best shows of the year."
--Boston Herald

"A clamorous, thigh-smacking, groundbreaking musical."
--New Times L.A.

About the film Nothing So Strange:

"The film itself is more than just a novel premise, going off in myriad unexpected directions and setting something of a high bar for the mockumentary subgenre. It may be the ideal prototype film for the digital age."

"Nothing So Strange is pitch perfect. See this film."

"A brilliant, one-of-a-kind faux documentary."
--Boston Phoenix

"A genre-bending experience."
--Austin Chronicle

"Uncomfortably realistic."
--New York Post

--Seattle Times


"Eerily realistic."
--Drudge Report

"Is this art or junk?"
--Fox News Channel

"It is very disappointing that a movie maker would do something like this."
--Microsoft spokesman

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