Thursday, January 24, 2008

Update.

Apparently there have been a few things going on besides my attempt to protect scripts from the rain that's becoming normal in LA as I take them from one mailroom to another.

First, Heath Ledger's death. How incredibly sad. This Slate article is the best piece I've seen about him. If you're wondering what's going to happen to the films he was working on, try Variety.

Second, the WGA and AMPTP are negotiating again. Hurray! There seems to be a sense that a deal will be made and the strike will end soon, maybe even in a couple weeks. What is most interesting for us TV writers, though, is how the networks are going to proceed with pilot season. NBC is suggesting they might only shoot a couple pilots a year from now on, shifting to a process more like the cable networks. On any account, there will be changes everywhere - and possibly forever, not just for the 2008-2009 season:

ABC trims development slate (Hollwood Reporter)





I saw 27 Dresses. I enjoyed it, evaluating it in as a pure romcom guilty pleasure. But thinking about the writing, it did bother me a little that the protagonist was completely inactive for most of the movie. She just let everyone walk all over her and let things happen to her...but that was the point. She had to realize that she was doing this and take control of her life to get her happy ending. So does it work anyway? I think maybe.



Breaking Bad premiered on AMC, being the network's second original series (the first being the wonderful Mad Men). I didn't catch it, but I'm DVRing it tonight - and be assured it is being replayed a few times. By the way, MSN has a great TV listings guide.


Eli Stone premieres on ABC Jan 31, and I'm looking forward to it (despite my usual diatribe about how we need to move away from writing all medical, law & cop shows). It seems that it will be a show that takes on some very interesting and relevant issues, such as the pharmaceutical culture in this country. Check out this New York Times article, which discusses the issues of the show, as well as the fact that big pharm companies spent $138 million dollars advertising on ABC last year. I loved this detail: "Representatives of all three companies expressed dismay about the series, of which they said they were unaware until called by a reporter. " Eek.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

What the fuck does that get you?

In my "you know you're so Hollywood when" list, I wrote that I often force myself to go out when I would rather sit on my couch and watch Entourage because you never know when a good networking opportunity might present itself. AHA! It happened last night. I went to Barney's in Pasadena. (Who knew Pasadena had a Barney's? And that it is cooler than the WeHo one? And that Pasadena has a nice little nightlife scene at all?) I was there with a dozen or so IC alumni (we really gotta stop traveling in scary drunken packs) and my friend ran into an old coworker from the HBO comedy festival who now is a writer-producer for a successful cable network's on-air promos. And it just so happens that my friend's friend's friend is a screenwriter who's had three of his screenplays optioned and is just getting into that I-get-paid-to-write part of his career. He also happened to be a very nice chap who shared some advice from his screenwriting mentor whose last movie made hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide:

You can write clever dialogue all you want, but at the end of every scene you need to ask yourself, WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT GET YOU? You must always push yourself to be efficient and structural, and never let yourself sit back and be impressed with your clever characters and dialogue. We've heard this advice in other ways: for instance, a good comedy writer must always be about to throw out his/her best joke. But it's just so emphatic this way. You wrote a scene. Now what the fuck does it get you?

New friends, writing advice and a free drink. Sometimes it's good to make yourself socialize.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's Back!


If you're one of those people who stopped watching Friday Night Lights because it got depressing and outrageous in season two, you can come back. The last two episodes were fantastic - they returned to FNL's original MO of using small plots and events that mean a great deal to the characters. I'm hoping the rest of the season continues this way.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Just Kidding

Weds - the department head tells me to talk to the agent
Thurs - I talk to the agent
Fri - they tell me I've got the desk
Mon - I train
Tues - they tell me the current assistant wants the desk back

Ugh. I'm not going to get into all the details, but I'm back in the mailroom. I guess it's not that big of a deal because I'm in the same place I was last week at this time, but it's disappointing. I had kind of psyched myself up for it...I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the end of my agency stint. And now I'm back in the basement, no light, no tunnel.

Sometimes Hollywood just wears away at you.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

JANUARY 2009 HERE I COME

I am probably the only person in Hollywood who wants the strike to continue for at least a few more weeks. Ahh, don't try to put a curse on me or send me anthrax just yet - it's because I finally got a desk at the agency, and I'd like to get in and get comfortable before the strike ends and the phone rings off the hook and assistants get back to normal 13 hour days.

It's kind of a complicated story. Everyone keeps saying congratulations, which is kind of strange since no one else wanted the desk. I'm in the TV Lit dept, which I wanted, but the agent is kind of notorious for being tough and has gone through a lot of assistants lately. So I'm probably crazy for throwing myself into it. But it's a strike time and you have to take your opportunities where they come...and I have already put 3 months into the agency without getting desk experience so it was time to move up. I'm also going to make $100/week more (almost enough to pay all my bills!)

My new boss expects a year commitment. So I will be counting down to next January, when I can get the hell out and go roll calls for someone nice at a production company or studio.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sometimes even the desert floods.

First, the strike. Then days of nonstop rain. (Hydroplaning? In LA? Weird.) And today I spent hours watching political coverage on CNN.

Surely the apocalypse is near.

In the meantime, there's a new show on the horizon to criticize.


Tonight ABC did a special preview (I don't really get this, since they showed the entire pilot) of Cashmere Mafia - basically a new Sex & the City. It's the story of four sexy, successful New York women and their attempts to balance relationships, careers, motherhood, etc. The pilot was written and directed by two men, which I find a bit odd, but maybe it's a good thing, the idea that stories about women aren't just by and for women anymore. It's really slick and fast-paced, and I liked the chemistry between the women. But it seems to be another show that tries to be a funny drama and ends up being neither that funny nor dramatic. Also, some of the actors are clearly faking American accents and it kinda gets to me. CM has some potential to discuss the divides between men and women in the workplace and relationships, if it doesn't spend too much time showing ECUs of shiny stilettos.

NBC's Lipstick Jungle sounds like the same show - we'll have to see how it compares.

Annd - did anyone catch the new Friday Night Lights? (SPOILER ALERT.) I'm conflicted. Starting the episode off with a tornado could have resulted in a really melodramatic show, and I'm kind of impressed that they took it in a totally different direction and moved past the storm so quickly that the ep became more about its unique effect, in this case, another team sharing the Panthers' locker room and field. However, team rivalry has been explored on FNL before, and I didn't think this ep did it much differently. Coach Taylor is the bigger man, the Panthers are the more respectful team but will retailiate when provoked, blah blah blah. We know. Additionally, Tami and her sister seem to have the same argument every time they're together, and it's getting old. The one highlight was Tyra and Landry: As frustrating as it is that life isn't perfect for them now, I like the theme that's explored: it's easy to pin all your problems on one thing, imagining that life would be perfect if it were fixed (for them, the murder) - but it never really works out that way. I also liked Julie's drunkenness and Riggins' sudden protective instinct (and grrr on Coach Taylor totally misinterpreting).

Altogether, though, the episode felt kind of tired, and I wonder if there weren't many opportunities missed by making the tornado miss Dillon. Sometimes a big event episode can be great, and push the characters to their limits - like last season's Desperate Housewives with the shooting at the grocery store.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolute.

I'm back from my trip to Buffalo and NYC, which was lovely. I am kind of relieved to be back in LA, a place where it can be 70 degrees in the middle of the winter. I guess it's starting to be home. Weird. Good. Weird. I'm not relieved to be going back to work, though. A lot of people were not thinking past the new year in terms of the strike...everyone was saying, "we're all ok for now, but after the new year, it'll be a different story." So now it is the new year, and we won't be distracted by giant gift baskets showing up at every moment. Does that means layoffs are coming? Is it possible for the lit dept to get any slower?

I know that New Year's resolutions are stupid and impractical and all that, but I am always drawn to them. I guess I like the idea of a blank slate, a chance to be that person you've always wanted to be. That person with the perfect body who flosses daily and eats lots of vegetables and reads impressive books and accomplishes oh so much. I know myself, though, so I am only going to make one resolution: to work on my writing every day. It can be research or an outline or a scene, it doesn't matter - bu I need to do SOME kind of work every day. I think this idea may have started at a Nightmare Before Christmas party I went to a few weeks ago. A friend of mine tends to go through a few stages of drunkenness...first, there's his loud hatred of everything, where he'll say all those things you think but refrain from saying in public. He also has a phase of doling out admiration and compliments, a phase of sentimentality and a final glassy-eyed phase in which he throws himself at most women in the room, saying things like "I just like pale chicks" and "you gotta get rid of that boyfriend so we can finally be together." A character, he is. Anyway, somewhere in the admiration phase he told me, "I'm a writer who talks about writing and you're a writer who writes." And I thought to myself, am I? Yeah, I have a pilot, a crap feature and two entirely obsolete specs...but is that really enough? I need to keep writing - because a lot of other people are, because this business is hard enough for people who aren't lazy procrastinators, and because I know that once you stop writing, get too into your job or anything else, you might give up and never go back. And I don't want that to be me.

So I am going to write every day.