NYC politician William M. “Boss” Tweed loots the city treasury for millions until exposed by the upstart New York Times and immigrant cartoonist Thomas Nast. Political drama/strong contemporary relevance. Heavy non-comic animation and graphics. Professional Coverage: “RECOMMEND” – Dave Trottier (Author, “The Screenwriter’s Bible”)

“RECOMMEND” Dave Trottier (Author, The Screenwriter’s Bible)

SUPER: "Most of this stuff actually happened."

SUPER: "A lot of it is still happening today."

William M. “Boss” Tweed is a dynamic Tammany Hall politician who controls most of NYC’s expenditures. Tweed – 50s, 6’0”, 300 lbs. – is assisted in his thievery by the “Tweed Ring” – a group of chummy “film character” politicians who operate on a grand scale: • Tweed “owns” the judiciary, police, all elected officials. • He controls the printing and counting of all election ballots. • Tweed initiates grandiose building projects but marks up estimates 35 to 50 percent • He supervises the infamous “Tweed Courthouse” construction -- $7 million dollars over budget. • He demands bribes to arrange financing for the Brooklyn Bridge. • Tweed buys a hotel, put his son in charge, makes suppliers stay there. Tweed’s thievery is illustrated in delightful non-comic animated sequences which… • Depict how bearded men vote, trim their beard, vote again, shave completely, vote a third time, etc. • Describe how the Tweed Ring “buys” New York City’s Home Rule legislation, • Illustrate Tweed’s “Money Machine” which processes fraudulent invoices.

Things are going well for Tweed until the fledgling New York Times investigates city corruption. They expose the city’s bogus expenditures and fraudulent bond sales to foreign investors. Meanwhile, Harper’s Weekly unleashes Thomas Nast – a wickedly gifted German immigrant cartoonist who produces devastating caricatures of Tweed and his organization. Tweed fights back; he appoints a Blue Ribbon commission headed by financier John Jacob Astor. The committee’s report is equally fraudulent; it generates more derision and ridicule of the Tweed ring.

Adding to Tweed’s troubles is the July 12, 1871 “Orange Day Riot” in New York City which kills 68 citizens and state militiamen. Tweed, unable to control his Tammany Irish supporters is largely blamed for the riot. The riot is depicted in animation.

Then, the Times publishes “The Secret Accounts” – a complete dossier of Tweed’s corruption obtained from a disgruntled Sheriff and an honest accountant. The Times article – reprinted in a pamphlet “How New York City Is Governed” – sells 500,000 copies! An additional version is printed in “auf Deutsch” for NYC’s then dominant German population.

The Tweed Ring collapses. Tweed is arrested; the others flee to Europe. Tweed agrees to “tell all” in exchange for immunity and freedom. After his testimony the government reneges on its promise; Tweed is sent back to prison.

In an elaborate maneuver (animated), Tweed escapes to Spain via Cuba. There he is recognized by a Thomas Nast cartoon; arrested and shipped back to the USA. He dies in prison during a hallucinatory sequence where he sees future New York benefiting from the many improvements and institutions he created, albeit by corruption.

Written by:
Author Bio:
Jim Saunders is a New York City-based professional writer, playwright, optioned screenplay writer and multiple contest winner. He has many years’ experience writing stage presentations, corporate films and multimedia projects; also a director and occasional actor.


Jim specializes in screenplays based on historical true events (including musicals), bio/pics and/or disasters. In alphabetical order:

“BOJANGLES, EUBIE AND BERT!” Three black musical legends of the past – Bert Williams, Eubie Blake and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson – relive their show business success in spite of racism and theatrical bigotry.

Show More

Contest Results:
New York Screenplay (First Place) [2019]
Pitch Now (Finalist) [2019]
Fade In (Semifinalist) [2019]