Scene 1: Mark-To-Market Party, 1992
A party in a small office at Enron. Present are: Employees drinking champagne; Claudia Roe, a very attractive blonde woman of forty in a short skirt. She sticks close to the most powerful man in the room – Ken Lay, an easy, convivial man in his sixties, greeting and acknowledging every employee with practised southern hospitality; Andy Fastow, a nervy, lupine guy in his thirties, is circling with an unsettling grin.
Fastow is on the outskirts of the group of Employees, trying to ingratiate himself.
(to Roe)I loved your speech, by the way.
Employee 2 Really great speech.
Roe Oh, thank you so much.
Fastow Quite a party.
Employee I beg your pardon?
Lay How you doing. Good to see you.
Lay and Roe glide by this group, despite Fastow's outstretched hand.
(one eye on Lay)Just. It's great news. About mark-to-market.
Employee 2 Oh, the accounting system.
Employee We just came down for the champagne.
Employee 2 Tastes kind of sweet.
Roe Should we expect a speech from you, sir?
Lay No, Claudia, I don't think we need ourselves another speech right now. Informality. Colleagues enjoying themselves.
Fastow Look, even Ken Lay's here.
Fastow You think he plays golf?
Employee I don't know!
Lay magnanimously greets another couple of starstruck employees. He's like an avuncular politician.
Fastow Where's the guy who put this thing together?
Employee 2 What do you mean?
Fastow Jeff Skilling.
Employee No idea.
Fastow The mark-to-market guy.
Employee 2 Never heard of him.
Fastow Maybe he's not a big party guy.
Employee Maybe you'd get on(!)
Fastow Actually I always thought we would.
Lay Have I met the mark-to-market guy?
Roe Jeff Skilling. I don't know where he is.
Lay I've only got a half-hour here. Make sure I shake his hand.
Outside the party, Skilling straightens his suit, his hair. He looks like a bespectacled, overweight, balding accountant. He takes a deep breath.
He enters the party and finds himself a drink for confidence.
Fastow You can't get Lay away from Claws there. It's like she's his carer.
Employee You should go talk to him!
Fastow Yeah. You think I should?
Employee I think you should.
Fastow He's just a guy, I'm a guy.Yeah. This is how things happen!
Employee You go, girl(!)
(noticing Skilling)There he is.
Roe goes over to collect Skilling.
Employee 2 You're a son of a bitch.
Employee (Who is that guy?!)
Fastow strides over to introduce himself to Lay.
Roe Jeff, come over – Ken Lay.
Skilling 'Hi, how are you.'
Roe (sarcastic) 'Hi, how are you.' Ken Lay.
Fastow Hi there, Mr Lay.
Lay Hi there, you're not Jeff Skilling, / by any chance –
Fastow No sir, I wish I was, I'm Andy –
Lay Andy, Andy Fastow.
Fastow Yes sir!
Lay I make a point of knowing people, son.
Roe drags Skilling over to Lay.
Roe Ken –
Lay slaps Skilling on the back.
Lay Here's the guy! Jeffrey 'mark-to-market' Skilling. You know Claudia. Our star abroad.
Skilling I believe I may have seen her in Vogue.
Roe That was cropped from a profile in Forbes.
Skilling I'm surprised you find the time.
Roe I'm surprised you read Vogue.
Lay One of the fifty most powerful women, wasn't it?
Roe I don't recall.
Skilling Most powerful women?
Roe Number fourteen.
Lay That's the party I'd like to be at (!)
Skilling I remember. There was a great bit on Oprah and her dogs.
Roe We were talking mark-to-market.
Skilling I think one of her dogs was at number twelve.
Fastow I just wanted to say congratulations – mark-to-market, much more appropriate, much more transparent. Exactly the right thing.
Skilling Thanks. Are you –
Fastow Sorry. Andy, Andy Fastow, you hired me –
Roe This new accounting system, Jeff, you think it's worth celebrating?
Skilling You're not familiar with mark-to-market?
Roe I'm not an accountant.
Lay You settled for fourteenth most powerful woman in the world.
Fastow Mark-to-market's the accounting system for all the big investment banks / on Wall Street.
Roe Yes. But we are a gas and oil company.
Fastow No, no, you see –
Skilling We're an energy company. When you say 'gas and oil' people think … trapped wind and Arabs.
Lay (gesturing to staff) I've been explaining mark-to-market but people get all tied up in knots.
Lay In what sense?
Skilling There are people at this party who don't understand the idea?
Fastow Mark-to-market lets us show the future / profits. / Hugely liberating –
Lay / We know.
Skilling / I know. A group of people have worked their asses off to get the SEC to understand and approve this –
Roe And it's very much appreciated.
Skilling Everyone gets mark-to-market here, right?
Fastow exhales and glances at the group of employees who had teased him.
Fastow I've talked to some people, I don't know …
Skilling I've got slides I can bring down.
Skilling It doesn't kill you? Everyone standing around celebrating their ignorance –
Roe It's not a celebration of ignorance, Jeff, it's a party.
Skilling These people are getting paid.
He takes it upon himself to clink his glass to get everyone's attention. It's a surprise. Any speech would be deemed to be Lay's job.
Skilling Hi. Hi. Everybody. For those who don't know, I'm the reason you're here. I said I would only join this company if we started to use mark-to-market. What does that mean? Anybody? Well, it's a way for us to realise the profits we're gonna make now. If you have an idea, if you sign a deal, say that we're gonna provide someone with a supply of champagne for the next few years at a set price, every month whatever – Then that definite future income can be valued, at market prices today, and written down as earnings the moment the deal is signed. We don't have to wait for the grapes to be grown and squashedand … however the hell you make champagne. The market will recognise your idea and your profit in that moment. And the company will pay you for it. If you come up with something brilliant – you know, life is so short. If you have a moment of genius, that will be rewarded now. No one should be able to kick back in your job years from now and take all the credit for the idea you had.
Fastow They'll have to have their own ideas.
Skilling Right. This guy gets it. Any questions? Anyone not understand? OK, well. Have a party.
Skilling turns and walks back to Lay, Roe and Fastow.
Roe Nicely done
Skilling downs his drink.
Skilling I should have brought the fucking slides.
We see projections of the joys and stability of the 1990s.
Bill Clinton, the break-up of the Soviet Union, Microsoft, the Internet and the rise of the home computer and Intel, Friends, Nelson Mandela's election, images of Arnie in Terminator 2.
An Employee comes forward to speak to us.
Employee 2 (to us) The nineties. It's a time of little conflict internationally, the fastest growing economy there has ever been. And the fashions are pretty good too. There's a new administration; a president who plays the saxophone. He's a Democrat, but he understands the South.It feels – genuinely – like the most exciting time to be doing business in the history of the world. There's a feeling that the people who are gonna change things aren't in parliaments or palaces, but in corporate boardrooms all over the United States of America.