Complications Ensue: The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty TV and Screenwriting Blog



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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Interesting plaint in Salon by a black woman wondering why Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers seduce all ethnicities but black. Why are black women sexually invisible to all but black men? Is it because they're perceived as ass-kickers and men don't really want that?

Good food for thought. Back when I lived in LA I it seemed to me that there were lots of couples where the guy was Caucasian and the girl was Asian, but the reverse was passing rare. I supposed that, stereotypically, Asian women are brought up to be deferential, which some guys like, while Caucasian women might not be much interested in being bossed around, which traditionally raised Japanese guys, for example, might assume as their role. I wonder if anyone's dared gather statistics on this sort of thing.

Blackness does seem to have moved beyond a racial issue into a cultural issue, where it seems likely to stay for a while. No legit scientist would claim that there's such a thing as a black "race" -- most American Blacks have a lot of European DNA, and to a lesser extent vice versa -- but it would be hard to disagree that there's an African-American culture. And cultures have ways of reinforcing their borders.

Like every good liberal, I look for ethnic roles in stuff I write. Not particularly for Black and Latino roles because up here the ethnicities in play are the French Canadians and the First Peoples. If a series or a script I've written feels too lily-white because of bad mental habits, I'll do a diversity pass. There's no reason the movies can't front a better ethnic world than the one we live in. That's how people get used to it. I'm reminded of the story that Nichelle Nichols was going to quit Star Trek after the first season, and Martin Luther King asked her not to -- and that Whoopi Goldberg tells how she saw Trek for the first time and ran around shouting, "everybody, there's a black lady on television and she ain't no maid!" The world of TV and the movies is so much worse in many ways -- there are almost no functional families, and there are probably more fictional serial killers than there are in the real world in total -- there's no reason it can't be better. And if that means every single judge on screen has to be black, that's okay too.

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Lisa and Jesse Anne drove over the border today, turned right round, and drove back into Canada today so they could immigrate. They are now landed! Jesse Anne has health care effective immediately, and Lisa can get a job.

We were watching the miniseries on Pierre Elliot Trudeau, listening to his speech on the Just Society, and realizing why he's still so lionized: he's largely responsible for the Canada we were so grateful to immigrate into, a socially progressive country where the government unapologetically supports culture and society in many ways that would be considered socialism in the US. In spite of the centrifugal forces and in particular the separatists, Canada fundamentally works in ways that the US does not work.

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend who will not be able to read a screenplay of mine if she gets a certain job with the government, because of conflicts of interest. This combination of government and honesty is, I think, particularly Canadian. You certainly would be hard pressed to find it anywhere else, except possibly Scandinavia...

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I'm dealing with some holes in plot logic that can't really be fixed without serious changes in the story, and they're not worth it. Boring stuff like what cops have jurisdiction where. So I'm going to just fudge it. It's a comedy. If I address these issues it will just raise more issues and open a can of worms. If the audience cares about jurisdictional issues, then we've lost them anyway.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Came home to find that I got the Screenwriting Assistance Program again this year, for my occult thriller. Whee-ha! Now I know what I'm doing after I finish this rewrite...

...and after I finish Medieval...

...if Exposure doesn't go.

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Charlie Jade will be premiering on our A-Channel group of stations as of Saturday, September 3 at 10pm. ...
This from Diane K. Boehme of CHUM, who ought to know.

A-channel is, I think, broadcast (NewVR in TO, NewVI in Victoria, A-Channel in Ottawa, Windsor and London), so if you don't get Space, now you will be able to watch CJ in those fine cities without having to rip it.

In other news, checking out the Space Channel forums, it was kinda neat that viewers picked up on why ep. 16 is called "The Shortening of the Way." Unfortunately some Bad Things happened to the ep after it left the writer's room, about which I shall say no more unless you get me drunk first.

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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Only 10 pages. It's been 20 a day for the past 3 days. But for some reason these scenes were harder. Oddly, it's not the completely new pages that take up the most time. If my outline is good I can bat those scenes out. And of course it's not the scenes that just need a dialog tweak. It's where there's something not completely working in the old draft that can however be salvaged with loving tenderness. That's what takes the most time.

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Terry Rossio is blogging from the set of Pirates of the Caribbean 2/3, which I assume is both 2 and 3, not "Pirates of the Carribbean Two-Thirds."

Thanks for the link to Fourth Time.

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If you lost track of Charlie Jade, tonight at 9 pm on Space there's a recap episode that will explain it all for ya... and if you miss that one, it's airing again at 7 pm on Space on Saturday. If you did lose track, check it out, because ep. 17, which is airing at 8 pm on Saturday, is pretty freakin' cool, and so are the last 3 of the season.

For the record, my favorite eps are: 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, and 20. We parachuted in for ep. 9 (that's where you start to see our names on the eps), but we didn't really get our feet on the ground till 12, which incidentally is where the utterly smashing Rolanda Marais comes into the series as Blues Paddock. 17 is where we finally grokked the coolness of Bob's vision, aka drank the Kool-Aid...

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Paul Krugman has a nice op-ed piece on a Toyota plant that moved from Alabama to Ontario because (a) didn't have to give Canadians health benefits and (b) Canadians don't need to be taught using "pictorials" i.e. they can read.

See, investing in your society does pay...

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Yikes. When I delete a word in the middle of a line, sometimes the whole line's formatting changes. This is scary and tedious to fix.

My copy of Screenwriter is looking awfully attractive...

UPDATE: I went back to FD6, since I don't trust FD7 any more. That didn't fix the screwed-up formatting. So I copied the whole script into a new file. Wouldn't you know that scrambled the formatting up even worse? Which suggested that yes, the file may have been corrupted and was just waiting to blow up. So I got to spend the morning reformatting. That's real, real helpful when you're trying to do a crash feature rewrite in under ten days.

UPDATE 2: I talked with tech support at Final Draft. The problem seems to be that the macros FD uses to format text got screwed up. Beth at tech support blamed it on errant Word macros embedded in the text. I don't know how these would have got into the file, but I didn't originate the file, after all. I also don't know why FD doesn't strip these out when you paste into FD; that seems like asking for trouble.

Her suggestion was to export the file to text, then re-import, thus losing all my revision marks and scene numbers. Hell, if I want to do that, I may as well go to Screenwriter at the same time, huh?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Here's a helpful little idea from a Lebanese blogger, suggesting Arabs put a box on their sites saying they're not for terrorist. The comments that follow are interesting. Some people approve. Others think that Arabs shouldn't have to apologize for terrorism because they "have nothing to do with it" and it "stigmatizes" them to apologize. Needless to say, I find that a weak argument. First of all, it's the terrorism that stigmatizes them. Apologizing might clean up their image a bit. Second, when people are murdering innocents in your name, it kinda behooves you to say, "Hey, whoa, there, Jack, I don't really appreciate what you're up to, there." Kind of, you know, the way many Americans demonstrate against the Iraq War and others of us tried to fire the guy responsible for it...

I know some readers wish I'd stick to the screenwriting stuff, but screenwriting is all about words and images standing for big ideas, so I consider it on topic. (Anyway, it's still a free country, and it's my blog.)

Via Martine.

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Has anyone else noticed various glitches in Final Draft 7? Such as:

-- sometimes you can put accents in, sometimes you can't;
--entire screen going blank and needing to be refreshed;
--if you have two CHARACTER elements, e.g. DAVID and DAVID AND MARTIN, Smartype will always try to insert the longer one, regardless which one is more common.
--if your cursor is in the middle of a CHARACTER, PARENTHETICAL or TRANSITION element, hitting return won't split the line. It won't do anything at all.
--if you delete a scene using the "delete" key, the scene number will attach to the last line of the previous scene.
--if you cut and paste dual dialog, all your formatting will go to hell in a handbasket and you'll have to reformat the entire script.

On the whole my biggest problem is the program was dreadfully slow in Tiger.

But now I'm having very weird and scary bugs where if I delete a word in the middle of a line, the formatting changes. Yikes. I may have to learn Screenwriter after all.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Doesn't quite have the ring of "help me help you" now does it. But if you're up for a little email campaign -- hopefully a large email campaign, actually -- to get GF back on the air, read this post.

And then John can hire the guy as his assistant, and all will be right with the world.

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"Years ago" [said Steven Bochco] "Norman Lear said to me: 'Don't think that because an audience is angry at you that they hate what you're doing. Don't be afraid of that, and don't feel like you have to make nice with everybody. If the audience is angry, it's because you've engaged them in some fundamental way.'"

From "Licking and Salting War's Open Wounds" by Allison Hope Weiner, in today's NY Times.

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Cecily Ross has a helpful piece in Saturday's Globe and Mail about how (a) Charlie Jade has been wayyyy too freakin' murky but (b) the recap episode coming up Thursday at 9pm on Space, "Can of Worms," clarifies it all for ya.

I should point out also that eps. 17-20, coming after the recap episode, are pretty cool tv. They are the episodes we wrote after we finally figured out what Bob was trying to get from us.

Enjoy!

And kudos to DMc for pushing the idea of the recap episode in the first place.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

We should have guessed it. She spends ten hours a day at a French day care center. She spends weekends and a few hours a night on weekdays with us. We were kinda worried she wasn't learning English that fast. But we visited our downstairs neighbors, who had guests, and Jesse got along just fine with their francophone daughters. Turns out she hasn't been saying "I got?," she's been saying "encore?"

Which is a little disconcerting, but a relief at the same time (she's much further along than we'd thought, only in French), and come to think of it, kinda cool.

Now how do I get the Teletubbies song out of my head?

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

I was watching Firefly on disc. Is it just me, or do the acts sometimes just go flying off in an entirely new direction from the previous act?

I've watched maybe half the episodes, and I have no idea what the template is. No idea what a "typical" Firefly episode is. No idea what the flavors of the acts are.

That's good and I also see why that made it harder to get an audience. It's good because you really don't know what's coming. Even on Buffy you could figure out where the episode had to go. There were surprises (he killed Jenny Calendar!!!!) but the act structure was fairly normal.

That means the story is more involving. You can't complete the story in your head. You really have to pay attention.

(Oh, yeah, and the dialog and editing are awesomely great.)

It also means that the audience has no idea what they're going to get. Very hard to get an audience that way. They know when they tune into Law and Order that in the first two acts the cops are going to catch someone, and then in the second two acts the DA's are going to put them away. They can just let the legalese wash over them like a warm bath. With the Joss, you don't have a clue what's coming.

I'm glad he's got a movie coming up. I wonder if he'll get a show after that? It's a much more ambitious show than Angel or Buffy, I think. Experimental and challenging. Can't wait for September.

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Some very cool people have been kind enough to let me ask them a few questions over the phone about their experience and craft TV writing. I'd like to get a few more interviews before I have to turn the ms in on the 23rd of September.

Have I interviewed you yet? If you're a credited TV writer of any kind of show - drama, comedy, animation, reality -- I'd like to ask you, oh, about ten-twelve arcane questions about your writing craft. Interested? Email me at crafty <--la di da, let's confuse the spam bots--> at craftyscreenwriting.com.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Actually, Assistant/Atlas just was fired -- and his blog saved him from a vindictive boss!

Whee!

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The rule used to be, don't write anything to your lover that you are not willing to have show up in divorce court.

Now with Google and blogs, you have to assume anything you say to almost anyone with a keyboard will show up where you least want it to.

So be super careful. The Why Television Sucks lady clearly ran into a rough patch about her blog. I had to delete my entire first blog because it pissed the wrong people off. The Assistant/Atlas guy is thiiiiiiis close to being fired -- that is, he's in no trouble now, but it just takes one wrong person to read the thing and he is so fired... and he's in a job where it's semi-awkward to get a new job if you're working, but seriously hard to get a new job if you're not working. And now David Koepp has put his foot in it.

It's a brave new world.

Information *wants* to be free.

The flip side is really cool stuff can escape onto Bittorrent, and everyone can find their own little furry friend if that's what they're into.

But still -- if you're at all articulate, you have to assume that your secret identity will be cracked, just because it's fun to crack a secret identity. And whatever trouble you can get into, you will.

And that, folks, is why I'm not writing about the show I'm working on now... but the issues it makes me think of will eventually surface, in a general way.

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Watching NX last night I was noticing that the feisty love interest who fights with Joel is named Maggie.

Of course she is. Maggie is the go-to name for the feisty love interest. Call a character Maggie and we practically know she's feisty. Maddy, ditto. Maggie's the cat on the hot tin roof.

And the roguish hero is Nick or Jack.

It does not distinguish your script to use Nick or Maggie. But it does allow your reader to do less brain work. Which, depending on your reader, can be helpful. And once the piece gets on screen, it barely matters at all. I can never remember the names of the characters stars play in mainstream shows. Fantasy, sure, 'cause the names are far out. But cop movies? I only know that Will Smith's character is Mike Foley because it comes up in a funny piece of dialog Martin Lawrence's character has when he tries to get his mouth around being Like Mike. I have no idea what Martin Lawrence's character is called.

And I do like the name Maggie. I just automatically like any character called Maggie. Dunno why.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Can't find my copy of Tiger. Why didn't I make copies of my brand spanking new system disk? Oh, right, no dvd burner.

I've got to reinstall system on Lisa's computer, and Panther just isn't the same.

How did I ever manage on my 512e? (Everyone who can remember what that is: I hope you're getting semi-annual examinations, y'know, down there.)

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Really good comment by Dave Fogerson in this post, detailing the evolution of Project Greenlight, in case you're still interested...

Me, I gotta watch The Last Boy Scout. Research.

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Philip Morton is a working feature writer with a Steven Seagal credit and many, many uncredited rewrites that you or I would have been lucky to get, e.g. Fantastic Four. He's got some cool posts, including this one about following the energy in a rewrite meeting.

Blogger Warren Leonard turned me on to Two Adverbs which looks cool -- it's run by a guy who, I think, reads for ICM. You have to sign up, which is irritating as all get out, but it's his blog, after all. Warren has tracked down some other interesting links, too.

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David Koepp apparently has been going around saying that War of the Worlds is a parable for the US invading Iraq, with the aliens playing the US, and Tom and Dakota playing Iraqis.

As Scooby Doo would say: "rrrr-rrr???"

This must be why they don't encourage screenwriters to come to the press junket. We say all sorts of crap to impress our friends. Personally I have trouble when I can think of two things to say, one of which is true, one of which sounds clever. But then, I don't write hundred million dollar movies. Most people who do have the sense to keep their damn mouths shut.

Especially when the movie is "about" big alien monsters attacking Earth with the intention of using human beings as fertilizer (or so I read).

Hmmm ... I wonder how well Scientology goes down in Falluja?

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Watched the first two eps of Northern Exposure last night, and they knocked my socks off. Naked Josh has been compared to NX before, and I see why -- similar main character, but also the sense of place and the comic dramatic tone.

NX surprised me because it seems to prefigure some of the big shows on cable now. It has a looser sense of story than most shows did then. Joel, the main character, is involved with various things going on in the town. Sometimes they connect, sometimes they don't. The show feels free to take a moment here and there to introduce us to members of the town without Joel's point of view.

The shows felt to me as if they had a sort of '70's Altman-esque feel. The characters were distinct but introduced themselves in mostly low key ways. The only one who begins as a cliche, the town landowner/booster/redneck/big man, immediately begins to deconstruct himself -- he's looking for love, it turns out, towards the end of the pilot.

Like Gilmore Girls, the show doesn't always go for the button or the big act out. (I'd love to one day ask Amy Sherman-Palladino what she looks for in an out.)

I think I'm going to watch the rest of that DVD...

I'm liking Rescue Me, too. But bear in mind, if you're trying to understand four act structure, loosey-goosey shows on cable may not be the best place to start. It's hard to tell exactly how those shows work. For a beginner, might be better to watch basic procedural shows like Medium or old Buffy's to see how act outs work.

UPDATE: Warren asks "where have all the warm hearted dramadies gone?" Dude! I created one!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The new Serenity trailer is up. And wow. The first trailer was a little sucky and I was worried. Cool graphics, bad rhythms. This one feels like the real deal. I am so there.

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Is anyone else having trouble putting accented characters into scripts using Final Draft 7 in OS 10.4? Or is it just me?

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My editor at Holt, the brilliant and talented Flora Esterley, writes: "Just wanted to pass along that at Holt's concept meeting this morning there were several in-house raves about CRAFTY SCREENWRITING and lots of anticipation about CRAFTY TV WRITING..."

Always good to know your publishers are excited about the book... so am I. I think it'll be a fun read and useful. Of course it's mostly about TV writing, but there'll be some stuff there for all screenwriters... just as I think Crafty Screenwriting has some stuff that's useful to anyone in the story telling trades. (Which include politics, by the way.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My editor at Holt read my manuscript over the weekend and rather liked it. Looks like we'll be going with a June pub date instead of Fall... which means I have to turn the thing in on September 23 rather than February 2006.

What's missing are sample pages of animation, sitcom and reality scripts. If anyone has written such scripts for real shows, and can get permission for me to reproduce a couple of (properly credited) pages of them for the sake of demonstrating correct formatting, please let me know.

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"Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is dada, and will not tolerate a rival."

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Lisa suggests that the increasing popularity of art photography has to do with so many people having digital cameras and camera phones now -- which means more people taking pictures. To really appreciate how much art goes into a photograph, it helps to try to take photos. It's not as easy as it looks.

To really appreciate drawing, it helps to try it. I have never taken dance, and ballet leaves me cold. But Lisa, who took ballet lessons back in the day, loves it.

A corrolary is that as a writer, it helps to have dabbled in the related arts. I learned a lot about writing by taking acting classes, and editing classes, and directing classes. It helps you with different perspectives on what you're doing, as well as showing you what you can and can't ask for from the actors and the camera.

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Heavy, high-pitched creative meeting today, and I am exhausted. Amazing how much a creative discussion can take out of you. Came home, sighed at the baby, barked at my wife ... I hope tomorrow is a better day. For now, I have a headache.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

We watched Seven or as I like to think of it, Happy Happy Joy Joy.

See, now, this is an example of how scripts will out. The story is that Andrew Kevin Walker, then working at Tower Records in New York, sent the script not to an agent but to a writer: David Koepp. (Actually to his assistant, who then got Koepp to read it. Always be supernice to assistants.) Koepp read it and called back to say that yes, he was going to send it on to his agent, and would Walker please get psychiatric help.

I wonder what the Project Greenlight people would have thought of it. But then, the movie couldn't be done for a million bucks. Too much special effects makeup.

The movie is interesting for the rules it breaks. (Great movies are often more interesting for the rules they break than for the ones they follow.) The cops accomplish almost nothing. They successfully decode the messages the serial killer intended for them to decode. The one break they get is a massive plothole: they find the guy by his library card, based on the books he would have read. As if for every serial killer reading Thomas Aquinas and Dante, there aren't ten English grad students and five thousand goths. As if the guy wouldn't actually own those books. But it's not really about the investigation, is it? It's about the cops and how they react to the horror they confront as cops. It's not really a mystery story. The killer turns himself in, for heaven's sake. It's a drama.

There's some interesting stuff about Andrew Kevin Walker and his reaction to the rewrites on 8mm here.

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I still haven't managed to get out of the house to see Mad Hot Ballroom. Sorry, JR. The wife wants to wait for video.

Javier Grillo-Marxuach trashes War of the Worlds so effectively I might not even see it on video now. Oh well.

What I really want to watch is Battlestar Galactica but the benighted Space Channel isn't re-running it like SF is. Though so much went on in post production on Charlie Jade that it's practically like watching a new science fiction show. You mean Charlie did tell Blues the whole truth about the Alphaverse in ep. 15? Damn!

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

I watched the first episode of Project Greenlight (episode 1.01). It was, I dunno, kinda creepy to me. Why? Lemme think.

The whole premise of Project Greenlight is to give people a chance to direct a picture without going through the long hard slog that almost everyone has to go through in Hollywood -- unless they're born into it, went to school with people who were born into it, or are preternaturally sexy and charming. They write a movie that can be made for a million bucks. Shoot a bio video. Shoot one of the scenes in their script. Your fellow writers grade your script -- that gets ten thousand scripts down to 250. Industry pros judge the bio videos -- that gets you down to ten people. Then it's up to Ben and Matt and Miramax.

The weird thing about Project Greenlight is that, contrary to the "you have to know someone" rap, there are ways into the biz. First of all, you don't need a sale to get an agent. You need a hook to get an agent to read your script. You have a great script, you'll get an agent. The reason most people can't get an agent without knowing anybody is they don't have a great script.

(Arguably, it is very hard to write a great script without working in the biz. But it is not that hard to work in the biz. You just have to put up with a huge amount of crap for low wages, and be really dedicated. My first job was with a real screamer. Fortunately I'm arrogant enough that I never took the screaming much to heart. I figured it was, y'know, his problem.)

What Project Greenlight is about is a great script that can be shot for one million dollars (insert pinkie into mouth). It is extremely hard to write a good million dollar script. Unless you're going the genre route, which is not going to win you any prizes from your fellow would-be writers, you're in the land of cheapass comedy (Clerks) and people-talking-in-rooms drama.

Again, if you had a hysterically funny comedy script that can be shot for a million dollars, you can get it set up in about two seconds. And land yourself a gig on a sitcom in the next two seconds. It is very, very hard to be hysterically funny on paper.

That leaves people-talking-in-rooms drama. Which is not usually what Hollywood is looking for. But there are fleets of independent producers looking for a drama that will attract talent for less than their usual whopping fee. When I was a development executive, Lord knows I would have read any script that came my way if it (a) had a hook and (b) could be made for a million bucks. Many actors won't go below their quote, but just as many successful actors divide their careers between big things-go-boom movies and roles they can shine in ... because they really do want to act, and because agents and producers and casting directors watch small budget dramas to see who can act without a gun in their hand. If you have a name actor, you can finance a million dollar picture. Half a name, even.

So what niche is Project Greenlight trying to fill, exactly? Are the odds any better in Project Greenlight than sending query letters to agents?

I can tell what dream Project Greenlight is selling. The contestants are people who mostly aren't in Hollyweird already. They have day jobs. They write their screenplays at night, in Middle America. They have kids. Project Greenlight could jump them past all the assistants and receptionists and messengers beavering away in LA trying to make their own break. Project Greenlight is the Big Lucky Break. Don't spend ten years in LA until you can walk the red carpet. Walk it now.

Exciting. Moving. It makes great television. But I'm sort of tempted to quote the French military attaché watching the Charge of the Light Brigade: "C'est magnifique. Mais ce n'est pas la guerre."

Hollywood is not really about a newcomer getting to direct their first script. It's about people honing their craft. Robert Rodriguez was making one cheapass short after another before he made El Mariachi. Just read his book, Rebel Without a Crew. Spielberg's short Amblin' made a big noise, but he'd been making super-8 movies since he was 8.

The guy I felt was onto something wasn't the winner -- I haven't seen that part yet, though I read that the movie he made wasn't specifically too amazing -- but the guy whose script Miramax was interested in. Whether he sells it or not, he'll get to hone his craft.

Hollywood is about a newbie director getting to direct her fifth produced script -- after she's seen what other directors did to her first four scripts... or it's about a not-so-newbie getting to direct his first feature-length movie based on the five hundredth script he's read, which he managed to option, after doing ten or twenty shorts, some of which won awards. Woody Allen was a tv writer, then an actor, then a director. Billy Wilder was a writer first, then a director. You have to be crafted at one thing before you can jump to doing two things.

Most people can't do two things well, anyway. I wouldn't hire me to direct anything. One of these days I may write a million-dollar movie, and you can bet I'll insist on directing, 'cause hell, I went to film school, and I've directed five or six shorts, but who knows if the results will be any good. It would certainly be a better movie with someone else directing... and I haven't even written the script yet! The script I care about most, I want my buddy Erik Canuel to direct. I know story. He's got an eye.

Directing is not something you can do right out of the box. You can write on your own. Very hard to direct on your own. None of the Project Greenlight writers seem to have directed anything before. So they're practically guaranteed to fail in the director's chair.

And that's fine. But what's creepy about Project Greenlight is the fanfare. These people are given the red carpet before they've really earned it. When Kevin Smith got the fanfare for Clerks he'd earned it and he was ready. But what's creepy isn't the likelihood of losing. It's the consequences of losing. When you get the fanfare and you've earned it, and then fail, you can always fall back on whatever got you there. If you're an actor or writer directing your first movie, you can always go back to acting or directing. If you're a commercial director you can go back to commercials. To bring these folks to LA and then send them back to their day jobs at K-Mart, for Pete's sake, seems kinda cruel.

But hell. That's showbiz, Punky. Right?

UPDATE: Moviequill, I agree about the break. My problem is it's a fake break. No one's going to hire these people to direct. It would be a better contest if you took the directing out. Have people vote on each other's scripts and the winning script gets shot by, say Jonathan Demme. I think that would be a better contest.

UPDATE: Really great comment by Dave Fogerson below, breaking down the details of the show.

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Watched 48 Hrs., which is harder and less funny than I remember. Looking back on it there's a scary/angry side to Eddie Murphy that I don't remember seeing at the time.

On the other hand, the movie isn't slow. Beverly Hills Cop seems slow now, because Murphy didn't have anyone to play off. Nick Nolte's Cates is a tough, grim drinker who never gives up his point of view. He's never played for comedy, which gives Murphy a strong point of view to mess with. Results: a movie that holds up.

Funny to watch movies from the '80's. Rotary phones, pay phones, and affordable San Francisco real estate...

Gotta go -- the Pikapie has just noticed the dust motes dancing in the sunset. She has the most wonderful expression in her eyes -- she is marvelling.

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You can get your GF ringtone here.

Now if I can just figure out how to upload it to my Sony Ericsson z500...

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Since the garderie was open late tonight (imagine!) we took a stroll through our neighborhood, past what turned out to be the International Reggae Festival, and then up to St. Denis, where there was the Just for Games festival, run by the Just For Laughs festival -- all sorts of games you could play, in the street, plus free Molière. Then we had a nice Greek dinner and strolled back down St. Denis where some naked people in body paint were wheeling a giant pinwheel down the street while sound-and-lights people projected stuff on the buildings... then carried the sleeping baby home through the usual summer crowds in our Old Montreal neighborhood, past place Jacques Cartier, where more street performers were at it...

It's a good place.

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Lisa had a hankering to watch Blow Up again, so we watched it over the past two nights...

It's still an amazing movie. Unlikable, self-involved hero, really irritating villainess (if that's what she is), and yet it managed once again to involve us in mysteries -- what happened in that park? And what's going on with Thomas? If you want to see an art film that works, Antonioni's your man. (L'Avventura's pretty amazing too.)

And, of course, if you want to see fabulous Swinging London, Yardbirds and all...

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US interrogators at Gitmo have apparently used a humiliation technique that includes wrapping the captive in an Israeli flag. Did anyone check this with the State Department? Quite aside from the likelihood that this will strengthen their jihadist feelings... the Arab in the street generally blames the US for backing Israel at their expense, while the US claims to be a fair dealer. While friends of the US can probably distinguish a reckless psychological interrogation technique from a political statement, that's not what it's going to look like in Cairo or Tehran.

This is going to sound self-important, but maybe State and the Pentagon should keep a couple of, uh, writers around, to remind them how the audience is going to perceive the symbols they're throwing around.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I worked with a director a little while back developing a rewrite pitch for Telefilm. I thought we had a pretty good pitch for them. But it turns out he's going to rework his original idea into something entirely different.

I sort of thought I hadn't nailed what he was looking for, because he kept asking me to re-explain what I'd come up with, and his producer wasn't entirely on board. At the same time I think the pitch I wrote up was a good one and writeable and the sort of thing I can write the hell out of. I'm not sure I could write up what he wants in his heart of hearts -- I'm pretty sure I couldn't figure out how to make it into a movie you could actually get financed. Maybe someone else can.

It's hard, the writer/director dance. On the one hand you have to listen really carefully to what the director wants, because in movies it's his show. (In TV it's your show.) If you follow what's said but miss what's unsaid you won't satisfy.

On the other hand they're paying you -- he hired you -- to deliver a good script. So you can't just agree with everything said and unsaid, you wouldn't be doing your job...

Nothing to do with what I'm up to right now, though, where we're all on the same page, as far as I can tell, and things are going swimmingly...

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This is a screenwriting blog. But you can't write screenplays if you're not part of the world.

Today, a suicide bomber in a truck blew up some US soldiers as they were handing out sweets to Iraqi children, killing most of the kids and one of the soldiers. I'm having a very hard time believing that the Prophet Mohammed would have been okay with that. For one thing, he thought highly of charity.

The big silence I'm hearing is all the Muslim world demonstrating in anger against the suicide bombers in Iraq. I'm not hearing an imam issuing a fatwa condemning the murderers to death. Not even in London are the Muslims taking to the streets to shame the killers in their community.

When there were anti-Muslim racist attacks in Paris, there were huge demonstrations against racism. When the KKK comes out to rally in the US, they have to be protected by police because of the ten times larger anti-demonstrations. The community says: we do not agree with you, we do not hate like you, you are alone in this.

If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. When people reacted to the bombings by smashing windows in mosques, Tony Blair came out to censure it. Ditto in the US: George Bush made it plain after 9/11 that anyone going after Muslims in general was out of line. Where's the outrage in the Muslim community?

Stand up, people. Stand up and be counted. Because your silence allows the murderers to think they're giving voice to your community; and the rest of us start to wonder if they are.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Is Rove being hung out to dry? The White House is pointedly not saying anything in support.
"Did Karl Rove commit a crime?'' a reporter asked McClellan.

''This is a question relating to an ongoing investigation,'' McClellan replied.
Yeah, that's not going to be good enough. In Québec we say, understating, "Je ne lui donnerais pas absolution sans confession": "I wouldn't give him absolution without confession."

Rove, meanwhile, is continuing with the Clintonian evasions:
''I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name,'' Rove said last year.
That's true. He leaked the phrase "Joseph Wilson's wife." I guess it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

I'm shelling out for a new cell phone. About time I had polyphonic ringtones and a camera I carry everywhere, like everyone else. Now I just need someone to send the photos to.

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Just watched episodes 12 and 14 of Charlie Jade, episodes which I, let us say, had quite a hand in. And watching stuff you wrote, well-acted, well-directed? Never gets old. I actually got chills down my spine.

It's nice to see your name on the screen, and writing is always more fun than working, but there's really little to compare with hearing your words and seeing your stories unfold and knowing it's all going out there on, you should pardon the expression, the global frequency. Love, sex, parenthood and war ... but nothing else I can think of.

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Lisa just put up two pieces of art on the same small wall -- a charcoal drawing and a monoprint -- and though they're jammed together they work. She says she learned how to do it from writing her book.

I've learned almost as much writing Crafty TV and this blog as I have writing TV, because I had to crystallize some of the knowledge I already had.

If you want to learn something, write a book about it...!

Which means we clearly need to write a book about decorating, because we bought a goddamn beautiful Mission oak table (allegedly Stickley, but no plaque), and we can't figure out where the hell it goes in the loft... it's too big to go next to things and not big enough to go in the middle of things all by itself.

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

With some help from the WGA, 12 reality show writers are suing the company that overworked them. One so-called "assistant story editor" was making $800 a week working 84 hours... which adds up to $7.41 an hour if you factor in legally required overtime and double time.

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Every Sunday, people gather on Mount Royal to play drums ("tam-tams"). Other people gather to duke it out with duct tape versions of medieval swords and armor. (Montreal is the only city I know of with six medieval stores, three of which are a chain.)

This time, a third group of people dressed up as zombies and, unannounced, attacked the duct tape knights... who defended themselves ably...

Lord, I love Montreal.

Courtesy of Ni Vu Ni Connu.

[UPDATE: I am trying to start a pillow fight...

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According to Paul Guyot, the president of News Corp told him, "By this decade's end the only free television will be reality, news and some sports. Everything else will be subscription in one form or another."

I can dig it.

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This is a funny town for showbiz. People don't schmooze much. They have their own lives outside of showbiz. This makes showbiz here much less stressful, but also much less intense. You don't live in the kind of whirl of deals and ideas and work that makes LA worth all the tribulations.

A couple of years ago I organized a Writers v. Directors Softball Game, an idea stolen from the famous annual Writers v. Artists softball game in East Hampton. We did it again last year. This year, the directors didn't get a team together. I threw the game open to people in the biz. Very little response. You'd think you could find 18 people in showbiz who'd want to play softball on a lovely Sunday in July in Montreal, but either people were out of town on vacation, or moving, or shooting, or they just didn't get around to RSVP'ing. (Montrealers are terrible at RSVP'ing. It requires too much commitment.)

In LA, people would at worst get the invitation and think, "Damn it, another thing I have to go to. Oh well. At least it's softball."

So, I pulled the plug. No game tomorrow.

Fortunately it's a dreary rainy weekend. People probably wouldn't have come anyway. Montrealers are real wusses about the weather. They don't come out in Winter -- it's too cold. They don't come out in the rain -- too wet. When it's lovely outside they do flood the streets.

I like weather. The 14 years I lived in LA, I always missed weather. Quakes and riots are a small consolation, but I never lived in the hills, so I missed the mudslides and wildfires. I'm glad to be back where the maple leaves turn colors.

Now ... out to brunch! In the rain!

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Watched Bad Boys 2 as, um, research for the buddy cop comedy I may be writing. Then tried to watch Beverly Hills Cop. Man, that stuff is slow. If you recut it for today's audience it would be about an hour long, I think. When did movies get slow? The movies from the '40's aren't slow. Movies from the '30's certainly aren't slow.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Chatted with JR about the future of TV among other things. The broadcast/advertising model won't work because everyone can TiVo past the ads. The fancy solution is subscription TV: I pay four bits an ep for a clean download of Season Five of Firefly -- and iTunes has proven that if the price is low enough, people will pay to get stuff cleanly and easily that they could pirate messily for free. You can use eBook-style encryption to make it harder to pirate them, and then flood the torrents with crap versions, to make pirating more hassle than it's worth.

The low tech solution is more product placement. You can skip the ads on 24, but you can't skip watching the Ford cars everyone drives in. You may see more products woven into plots.

I wouldn't invest in Blockbuster, in other words. But the content providers should continue to be a good bet, and, in the interim, Netflix...

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Adobe is no longer supporting eBooks. This is unfortunate. I had hoped to send a few digital review copies of Crafty TV Writing to a few friends, but I don't want a digital copy of my book floating around the Net and winding up on Bittorrent. With Adobe ebooks, you can sell or give away a digital copy of the book that can only be read on one computer, and neither printed nor passed along. Dammit, that functionality is gone.

Any of you tech boys know a good, cheap program that will do that?

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I'm up for a crash rewrite gig -- they start prepping on Monday, which ironically is the day I'm supposed to meet the star/writer, producer/writer and director to talk about how to approach a rewrite which, ideally, would also be done on Monday.

I hope I can get together with at least some of these good folks before the meeting, because jumping into a meeting without prior info, where everyone may possibly not be on the same page, not knowing exactly how much time they have for me to do the job in, where some of the people in the room have done drafts of the script -- I think the US Army has a term for it, and it rhymes with "fuster cluck."

It's the sort of script that has many good things going for it but needs focus, and choices, fast. And, lots of screenwriting craft.

Should be fun though. If, indeed, I'm their guy, and this is not an audition...

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

This is going to seem callous, but the jailing of Judith Miller for not revealing her sources made me angrier than the London bombings.

The bombings left me angry, but cold. I hate those guys. They hate us. We're in a war with them. They murdered at least 37 people today. I'm not sure modern society will ever be free of lunatics who mistake Islam/Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism/Buddhism for an excuse to murder people. There are just too many people, and modern explosives are so devastating.

But Judith Miller... when a reporter from the Times is jailed, that strikes at the heart of a free society in a way that angry Islamists could never do. Jefferson once wrote that he'd rather have newspapers without a government than a government without newspapers. He was exaggerating to make his point, but a society in which everyone's scared to blow the whistle when their bosses commit crimes -- and the Republicans who outed Valerie Plame were committing treason -- is a scary society on its way towards despotism. Without Deep Throat, Nixon would never have paid the price for the Watergate break-ins. Would Mark Felt have gone to the Washington Post if Woodward and Bernstein could have been compelled by a court to reveal his identity?

Meanwhile, our leaders raise the terror level, and put cops on the platforms, as if that's going to protect anyone. The next attack will not come by plane. It won't come necessarily by train. The likely target everyone's been talking about is cargo containers. But our fearless leaders have done almost nothing to stop terrorists from packing a standard shipping container with something horrible and shipping it into New York harbor.

I can think of some much more effective ways to terrorize North America, but I'm not going to blog them. They're just too damn easy, and terrifying.

I'm not scared of the terrorists. The IRA killed lots of people but never fundamentally changed British society, or even got the Brits out of Northern Ireland. But I am really scared about the political climate in the US. We are losing our freedoms, and slightly more than half the country thinks it's part of the war on terror.

When our leaders use the terrorists as an excuse to grab more power, terrorism wins.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

For ye fans of the Hacker Jargon File (and who isn't, really?), here is the Encyclopedia Dramatica, a sort of Internet Jargon File. For those of us who actually like to read dictionaries...

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I spent the morning sending off checks to various worthy charities, such as the City of Montreal Parking Department, the City of Montreal School Tax Department, and Canada Revenue. Then I spent the afternoon rescuing data from Lisa's poor sad Titanium and trying to install OS 10.4. I'm chasing a Heisenbug: attempts to determine the nature of the bug alter the nature of the bug. I'm guessing that there was corruption on a system file somewhere on the hard disk, causing a clicking sound as the read head tried to chase files off the edge of the disk. Now that I've upgraded to OS 10.4, the clicking sound is gone, but so are all the user accounts. And I have the congenital obsession all hackers have (I do have a degree in Comp Sci) that you're not allowed to quit and erase the hard drive until all other options have been tried. And, honestly, Apple gives you so many ways to attack the problem... the latest, and neatest, being "Target Disk Mode," which allows you to use your defective computer (or any other computer) as a dumb hard disk and get data off it without booting up its system. Sounds great, right? But it seems to correlate with the disappearance of the user accounts, possibly because the computer accessing it is running OS 10.2.8...

First rule of hackage: It's All Voodoo.

Gee, this would be fun if I were getting paid to do it...

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I chatted by email with Stephen Greenfield of Write Bros. (One perk for authors: you get tech support from the company president!) I was happy to hear they're going to overhaul the program, and it'll look and act much more like proper OSX software. There will be a View menu, though it's not clear if you'll be able to ignore page breaks on screen.

Many of my issues are really documentation issues, i.e. if you want to put a parenthesis into dialog, you can do it with "control-paren". But that was sort of my point. You shouldn't have to read the manual to use the program; it should just make sense.

When I get the new Screenwriter beta I'll report how it compares with 4.8.

They're still working on importing from FD properly...

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Which screenwriting program do you use? If you've tried more than
one, which do you prefer? If you're a professional, which program
seems the most common? Please let me know.

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Monday, July 04, 2005

This page has a rundown on most of the screenwriting programs around, including formats for use with word processors...

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Here are some writer-y things happening in my home town:

Tom Bauer's Montreal Screenwriters e-Group

Gryphon Writer's Group: The Gryphon Tea Shop, 5968 Monkland Avenue, N.D.G. (Villa Maria Metro, #103 or #162 bus direction west on Monkland, get off at Royal Avenue.) For more details, please telephone: 514-485-737

Invisible Cities Network

ELAN: The English Language Arts Network (ELAN) is a meeting place for Quebec artists (of all disciplines) who use English as their first language. ELAN celebrates and promotes that part of our identity that is rooted in the English language. ELAN also provides a forum to make common cause with the French-speaking community and our francophone colleagues by bringing together English-language artists from all disciplines and all parts of the province to forge new alliances, build new audiences and seek new sources of support. Quebec artists are invited to list their names/bios on the ELAN DIrectory.

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Interesting Times article on how the settlers probably absorbed Iroquois notions of democracy through representative government restrained by constitution. Sure, they knew John Locke and had the Athenian example. But the constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy was as concerned with what government couldn't do as what it could -- and that's the killer app of US democracy. It is all but impossible to get all three houses of government on the same side, and that provides -- or "used to provide," I should say -- some protection against the "tyranny of the majority."

I watched three different fireworks last night, all from a beach in East Hampton -- we could see the Devon Yacht Club's fireworks up close, and Sag Harbor's, and Montauk's. Kind of cool to see everyone's fireworks all along the seaboard. It would have been cooler if I wasn't thinking of how much the question at the end of the Star Spangled Banner has really become a question: does that banner still wave over the land of the free and the home of the brave?

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

While Final Draft has more of a Mac "look and feel," and therefore seems more intuitive, Screenwriter has immensely more options. For example, when you print a PDF in Final Draft, it uses the Mac OS to print the PDF as a snapshot of the script. That's good: it will look like the script you would have printed out. However, Movie Magic Screenwriter goes further. It turns each slugline into a bookmark, and if you like, it turns script notes in Screenwriter into notes in PDF, so that they don't print out, but they do appear when you view the script in Acrobat Reader. In other words, Final Draft is taking the easy way out, and Screenwriter is using the full power of the PDF format.

Throughout Screenwriter, you find similar options that don't exist in Final Draft 6. (I don't have FD 7.) You can cheat pagination. You can change one character's name throughout the script. You can watermark.

On the other hand there are some annoying features. To start dialog with a parenthesis (e.g. if you're indicating foreign language dialog) or indeed to put a parenthesis anywhere in dialog, you have to trick the program. You can't lock scene numbers easily in an outline. I don't see how to get AA scenes even in a locked script. I don't see how you can suppress page breaks on screen.

The issue seems to be a glitchy but intuitive program, FD, vs. a robust but idiosyncratic program, Screenwriter.

I'm frustrated. I really wanted to like the new program.

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People seem to think that Alberto Gonzales will be Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court. For my part, that's not a bad thing. Bush was never going to nominate an "out" middle of the roader. So the choice seems to be right wing political freaks, and cronies.

The nice thing about Bush nominating a crony is that no one knows what he actually thinks. He himself may not know. He's been Bush's lawyer for a long time, crafting whatever advocacy Bush seems to want. Once he gets on the Court, his career is at its pinnacle. There's nowhere to go up from there. There's nothing anyone can give him. He can't be fired. He can do whatever he feels like.

Supreme Court justices are not famous for gratitude to the presidents who nominated them. They can be political -- the right wingers grabbed the 2000 election for their guy -- but out of conviction, not because they have to be.

That's when people find out what they really stand for. Gonzales may be right wing. He might be a pro-business Main Street Republican. Fifteen years down the line he may be a liberal. Who knows?

Always nice to see the enemy splintering. Like the gays-in-the-military thing, it's a natural wedge issue. It's between the right wing fanatics and the President's loyalists -- and the people who are loyal to Bush do seem to put loyalty above all else.

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

When I met Elvis, he had a million dollars worth of potential. Now, he's got a million dollars.
Col. Tom Parker, Elvis's manager

Why Television Sucks blogs about choosing between the money show and the fun show. She feels her agents manipulated her into the show she'd make the most money on, not the show where she'd do her best work.

It's not surprising. Her agents get 10% of her take, but they don't get 10% of her creative joy in doing good work. So they want her to make the most money.

It's tough choosing which direction to take. This year I've been concentrating on pitching shows, which means I'm not beating the bushes for staffing jobs. In the long run, getting my own show on the air will be more lucrative and more creatively rewarding if I succeed before I go broke. On the other hand I've learned a lot any time I've worked for someone else; and you build up your credentials. You have to weigh everything.

Agents don't care about any of this stuff, so watch out. If your career goes to the next level, they may lose you to another level of agent. They will generally not tell you to sacrifice money for your future.

Remember, they work for you. Make your own choices...

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Ray Kurzweil makes an interesting argument that we are the most
technologically advanced society in our universe. Progress moves
exponentially. Therefore, between a society at our stage of
development, and one advanced enough to contact us, isn't a matter of
millions of years. It's a matter of decades. And contact moves at the
speed of light. (He actually claims that sufficiently advanced
societies -- by which he means the machine/biological hive mind he
expects us to reach in thirty years or so -- will figure out how to
move matter at near-light speeds, too. That seems unlikely now, but
it's the essence of the singularity concept that things that seem
unlikely now will become true in appallingly short amounts of time.)
Therefore if we are not receiving signals from advanced cultures, it
means that (a) we are not within the light-cone of any advanced
cultures, that is, we are so far from any advanced cultures that
light from them has not had time to reach us, (b) there are no such
advanced cultures, we're it, baby or (c) they're not talking to us.

I like this argument; though I credit (c) more than he does. We've
learned a lot about not interfering with primitive cultures. It tends
to destroy them, or at least, tends to destroy what is unique about
them. It's not hard to imagine that any sufficiently advanced culture
-- or the Federation of Planets -- knows about us, is observing us in
a myriad ways undetectable by our equipment, and is waiting for us to
find our own way off planet before they talk to us. They may also be
waiting for us to grow up and stop murdering each other. When Gandhi
was asked what he thought of Western civilization, he said, "I think
it would be an excellent idea."

Possibility (d) of course is that sufficiently advanced cultures
develop advanced ways of destroying themselves. A Walkman filled with
plastic explosive blew up an airliner. What if the Columbine boys had
been able to fabricate a black hole? Or airborne Ebola? Will we get
sane before we can kill ourselves off? Or will we get too clever for
our own good before we get sane?

It's hard to imagine that we're the only game in town. But that's
partly because it's so frightening. Wouldn't we all like Ricky to
come home and straighten everything out?

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Friday, July 01, 2005

Q. So basically...can a LOST spec involve an "Artz" as the A story?
Bumping up a secondary character to the A story is one way to pitch a LOST spec, I guess. You'd have to make what's happening with that character not only urgent to himself but also urgent to the main players. Because what you're showing in a spec is not how original you are, but how original you can be within the template of the show. You're showing that you can write the Skipper and Mary Anne and-- oh, sorry, wrong show. The most important thing is that it feel like a bonafide episode of the show.

If you look at the show, some apparently minor characters have got their own episodes, on their way to being more important. Hurley didn't seem like he was crucial to the plot until "his" episode. Then he became more central. So the template does allow you to promote minor characters.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this? LOST seems like a particularly awkward show to spec, yet it's a popular spec, I'm told. Has anyone written a LOST spec?

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I sometimes think I took up writing so my penchant for acquiring useless knowledge could justify itself. I once read Ernle Bradford's terrific book on the siege of Malta by the Turks in, if memory serves, 1565. A year later I was in a development guy's office on the Warner Bros lot, and he mentioned a project they were doing on the siege of Malta.

I said, "By the Turks? In 1565?"

The other day at the Dragon Dormant medieval camping event I was able to answer a question that had been nagging at me for some time. The musketeer at Jamestown, VA, told me a properly trained soldier in "his" time could get off one musket shot in half a minute. One of the medieval archers told me he could fire 8 shots in the same amount of time.

Why did anyone shift to muskets? Arrows poke holes in people just as well. And you can fire more of them. Sure, they require a tad more training. A musket is more complicated but requires less strength and less skill. But if I had a platoon of King George's finest bearing down on me with bayonets, my longbowmen could mow them down.

Same question with crossbows. Crossbows are slower. But a clothyard arrow can punch through any amount of armor you can realistically wear. So why go to crossbows.

The answer seems to be muzzle velocity. You or I can reasonably handle a 40 lb. bow. (That's the force required to draw it back fully.) A 40 lb. bow fires an arrow at 180 feet per second. A really strong archer could use an 80 to 120 lb bow. But his range was on the order of 200 yards. Not aiming. That's firing for effect, artillery style, in the general direction of a massed enemy, hoping your arrow hits someone or other.

A light crossbow you can draw with both hands, cock, and then load and fire. That means a normal person can use a 100 lb. crossbow. That fires a bolt at 360 feet per second. Now you've got almost twice the range. (Drag increases exponentially, so doubling the pull doesn't double the range.) Also, accuracy goes up because the trigger, not your fingers, releases the string.

A musket fires semi-accurately at only 100 yards. But it has a muzzle velocity of 1300 fps. A troop of soldiers with muskets firing for effect, artillery-style, can hit their enemy at 700 yards, I am told. Which means that my archers will get shredded before they can ever get close enough.

This is a much more convincing explanation than previous ones I'd heard, e.g. it's easier to train people to fire a musket than to hit anything with a bow. Though I'm not sure the "class" explanation is wrong. In military simulations, archers tend to decimate mounted knights, just as they did at Agincourt, especially if the archers are protected by pikemen. They're cheaper, too. But the rich guys running the show were mounted knights, and they didn't trust or like archers much. Probably bothered them that a commoner with a bow could knock them off their horse from 50 yards if he ever decided to. So they decided bows were unsporting, and kept up the cavalry charges up through 1898. Folly never goes out of style.

Anyway, that's the sort of question that nags at me when the writing is going well.

Boy, this is a great job.

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