Last month, I had the great good fortune to have been included in the Roadmap Writers Screenwriters Intensive Program. For those of you who don’t know Roadmap Writers they are an organization dedicated to providing film and television writers the tools to chart their own success.  This is from their website:

Our goal is to equip screenwriters with the tools and training needed to take their projects to the next level.    

My introduction to them was by chance. I was randomly searching for screenwriters networking groups one day and came across the Coletta Preacely-Garcia Diversity Initiative. Hel-lo, what’s this? Despite the talk of inclusion especially during the 2017 award season there is still a dearth of minority representation behind the camera and on the page so many organizations reach out to under-represented artists and I, for one, am grateful. Roadmap Writers Initiative award is one month’s free participation in their Screenwriting Intensive Program (a value of $300 which is well worth the price if you have the funds and can commit).

I should mention many (most?) of the writers live outside the LA area. This is a nationwide hook-up; using Zoom and Skype you can participate from anywhere.

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originalWhen John Krasinski read the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards, an audible gasp went through the room.  Not because Idris Elba (“Beasts of No Nation”) and Will Smith (“Concussion”) missed the cut but because the only African-American representation on the night seems be host Chris Rock.  Audible. Gasp. Really?  An organization that began its history pandering to a society that celebrated negative stereotyping (“The Birth of a Nation”) and racial/cultural segregation (um– everything) is holding its annual, “Let’s give ourselves prizes for a job well done and televise it because the little people want to see how we enjoy being fabulous” party and didn’t invite the colored folks.  The little gold statues go to the popular kids and the rest of us are just noticing the popular kids are white?  Again, I ask – really?  Well, duh.

So now the powers that be — and by powers I mean black people with big mouths like Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee, Tyrese Gibson and that shrinking violet, Rev. Al Sharpton are asking black actors to not participate in the Academy Awards in protest.

Boycott the Oscars, are they kidding?  The problem does not lie with the Academy Awards but with the studios and production companies who are not thinking about diversity.  There are four factors studio and production executives consider when greenlighting a picture: 1) Popularity  2) Comfort  3) Money  4) Gratitude

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Never has the phrase “I laughed so hard I peed myself” been more literal than when I told my very good friend Consuelo Mackintosh we would go to Coachella and tell people we were 29.  Maybe after a couple of shots and film noir filters with blue-infused backlight we could pass for thirty-something, but anywhere south of that… bwahhaahaa.  Clean up on aisle five.  The inspiration for my brainstorm isn’t my obsession with Hozier, but the new half hour comedy on TV Land, Younger, about a divorced 40-year-old mom pretending to be 26.  Sing it, sister!

Created by Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) Younger stars Tony Award winner Sutton Foster (“Bunheads”), Hilary Duff and the always great Debi Mazer.  As one hella broad to another, much love, Ms. Mazer.  The premise is simple, Foster plays Liza, a former book editor who left the work force for marriage and family now in need of a job after the divorce only her skill set puts her at entry-level.  No one’s hiring a 40-year-old emerging editor. Tell me about it.  The usual hijinks ensue. This kind of comedy fare writes itself, complete with the romance between Liza and the younger guy.  In real life we often skip the romance and get straight to the sex. But since this is TV Land we must see our heroine awkwardly dive into her new younger self as if stepping into a piping hot bath.  She yelps and struggles before finding her way.

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Last month I planned to apply to the HBO Access Writing Fellowship.  I was very excited about it, too.  I registered with Withoutabox (the place you can submit to festivals and contests) and I requested an e-mail notification scheduled for when the submissions were open.  Yes, I read the fine print saying they would only accept the first 1000 submissions beginning Wed. 3/4/2015 at 9 am PST/ 12 pm EST – check.  No day job that day so I set my alarm for 9 am and actually woke up.  Halfway there, right?

No e-mail notice from Withoutabox — okay, whatever.  I went to the site and at 9:08 am I was not allowed accessed.  They were not accepting submissions.  Fine.  I tweaked my submission materials.  I took a little too long because I am a jackass and when I went back to the submission page it was over.  Done.  No thank you, we’ve reached our cap.  WTF????  I don’t know when the cap was reached, and I checked several times, but the last time I checked it was 12:41 pm.

My bad.  Shame on me.  I take full responsibility for not hovering over my screen until I could submit, but really, this is what the state of Diversity Fellowship has come to?  Having us circle this Withoutabox site like sharks after chum just to get our work to be the fastest to pile on?  I can’t be the only one who thinks a 3 1/2 hour submission window is shockingly snobbish.  Is HBO even taking themselves seriously?

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