Quick

The 70th annual Emmy awards were last night hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update co-hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost (with handoffs to seemingly the entire SNL current cast and alumni). I thought it was a snooze overall, notwithstanding the proposal Glenn Weiss (winner for best directing: Variety/Special for the Oscars broadcast) made to his now fiancée– congratulations.  Another highlight was Hannah Gadsby – don’t know much about the Australian comedienne or why she was there, but boy, am I glad she woke me up.

Dirty

A show about TV for TV fans produced by SNL grand master Lorne Michaels should have been funnier and could have been more entertaining.  I don’t mind it being an elongated late night sketch performed by a well-seasoned troupe.  I do mind the constant droning about diversity and lack thereof and assuming people of color (POC) need to stick with the stereotypes. To be honest, I’m on the fence about “Reparation Emmys.” And Donald Glover in whiteface, um– ew? Regina King — all hail– is a queen who definitely deserves her accolades, but c’mon, she won for a race-based story.  The true test of diversity is not in the nomination, victory or even production of racially charged stories — it is the hiring of people who are talented regardless of their race, gender, religion, age, sexual identity, etc.  A rich black woman won an award for played an aggrieved black woman.  Alert the media.  Let her play the lead in the feminist western Godless then I’d be impressed.  To that end– Sandra Oh’s nomination and Thandie Newton’s win prove my point.  Any POC victorious in a role that could have gone to a white person is successful diversity.

Rant

Part of the problem are the stereotypes attributed to POC. And one of those stereotypes was on full display last night.  It is upsetting in general that many uninformed and narrow-minded people see African-Americans as uneducated, ghetto-raised and ignorant.  The current president has set back the country’s cultural progress by at least two generations in encouraging these attitudes. So it is incumbent upon those in the public eye to present the best and brightest of us and show that those who have the stereotypes are the ignorant ones.  Well, when Angela Bassett (yes, Angela-fucking-Bassett) botched Rachel Brosnahan’s name on her Best Actress in a Comedy for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, not only did she neither correct nor apologize for the error, her co-presenter Tiffany Haddish laughed, thus making it worse.  For crying out loud, this is Ms. Brosnahan’s big moment, how dare you ruin it by mangling her name then laughing about it.  Disgraceful!  And fuel for the likes of Roseanne Barr who sees us as apes anyway.  Now thanks to you ladies we are apes who can’t be taught to read.

Then there was Chrissy (Why is she famous again?) Tiegen and her husband John Legend (oh yeah, him).  Two of the thirstiest drinkers in the Hollywood trough.  While I understand your pride at your husband’s accomplishments mentioning his EGOT status was not classy, Chrissy.  This is the Emmys – the award ceremony for excellence in television programming, leave the reality show B-list celebrity conduct on E!’s red carpet.  Then he botched the pronunciation of Merritt Wever’s last name.  “Weaver” not “Wevver.”  Yes, I get on first glance it’s an easy error, but still an unforced one.  Do you know how many people would love to present on that stage?  These presenters have been nominees themselves and should realize the significance of winning in someone’s life. Give them the courtesy of learning how to pronounce their goddamn name!  Tiegen and Legend seem spoiled and feckless to me anyway, so again, my point– if you are trying to dispel a stereotype of feckless, take the time (literally five minutes to read the names and ask for pronunciation) to do due diligence.  It’s a matter of courtesy and respect.

I am horrified that educated African-Americans are considered unicorns.  Look at how the birthers tried to say President Obama couldn’t possibly be American.  Look at how educated and articulate he is– he must be foreign.  Please, all POC who are celebrities, know that it is not enough to get the job.  You must move the ball forward and represent for all of us who do not have the platform to show our intellect and talent.  You have to do it for us.   The lesson last night is don’t take anything for granted, not even your reading skills.

 

Murder on the Orient Express has been one of my favorite Agatha Christie stories ever since I read the short story “Murder in the Calais Coach” as a kid. Sidney Lumet’s 1974 feature starring Albert Finney with Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman (who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for this) and Sir John Gielgud was so tonally perfect it scares the crap out of me every time I see it.

I ignore the TV versions. CBS’s rancid waste of time with Alfred Molina and Meredith Baxter and the ITV effort as part of Agatha Christie’s Poirot series where Jessica Chastain’s secretary was the mastermind. Blasphemy. Although I will shout out David Suchet. Best. Poirot. Ever.

Still, I was excited when the 2017 remake directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as the world’s greatest detective Hercule Poirot came out last fall. Then I saw it. And was disappointed. This month it is all over HBO and with the ability to watch it more closely… I am still disappointed. Despite all of the things I love– the diversity within the storytelling, the cast, the cinematography, it’s a sumptuous travelogue. And Branagh’s Poirot – that mustache is everything. However, there are some things that I t need to be understood and corrected before another mistake is made.

Memo to Mr. Branagh:  You don’t assemble an all-star cast and forget to let them shine. Now that a semi-sequel is a go, I hope your Death on the Nile is as successful as your train trip. By all means open it up, but still– don’t deviate from the theme or plot, especially if it changes the tone.

Screenwriter Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049) updated this version by opening it up visually and changing the focus from the all-star suspects to the detective. That’s where they lost me.

This is a murder-mystery not an action thriller. Claustrophobia is required to maintain the chills and thrills. The Lumet version stays mostly on the train and is grandiose and boxed-in without feeling stuffy or over-stuffed. The actors have fun with their characters bordering on camp without going full-blown farce.

SPOILERS ahead in case you don’t know the plot.

Here the filmmakers create an isolated Eastern European mountain atmosphere. Why? No idea. This is the freaking Orient Express. The granddaddy of luxury train travel in its day. And still has the romance and intrigue of something exciting about to happen. For the love of God, don’t get off the train. The entire plot takes place on the train. Sure, keep your stunning amber sunsets and icy mountain passes, but this movie should be cramped, atmospheric and moody. The audience should feel uncomfortable, not like they could make snow angels under shooting stars.

This update includes a change in theme. The American justice of trial by jury in the Lumet version is replaced by biblical justice of moral vs. right. Green opens his screenplay introducing Poirot in Jerusalem at the wailing wall with religious leaders from three big faiths as suspects. He couldn’t have hit us over the head any harder. Poirot literally steps in horse shit twice to symbolize his need to reach a balance of the two.

Green also added contemporary action scenes in an atmospheric mystery. That feels wrong. In 1935 Hercule Poirot only need his little grey cells and an innocent suspect as muscle. In 2017 Poirot carries a gun. I can only assume because Branagh wants to stress how virile and macho he is. Look, he can chase a suspect along dangerous train tracks. Listen, he had a girlfriend who haunts his memory. Why not just pose in a Calvin Klein underwear add and get it out of your system? Leave Poirot alone. He is perfect as written.

Memo to Mr. Branagh: (Sir? Has he been knighted yet?) the hairy beast resting spectacularly on your upper lip is the star. Keep that, but please, for the love of God, let us know all the characters, not just you and see all the clues to give us a chance to solve the mystery. Do not short change any of the suspects for your egocentric need to indulge the detective. We get it. He’s Poirot. He’s a one-of-a-kind genius.

Can you name any of the characters in this movie? Other than Poirot? Think about it. I’ll wait. Michelle Pfeiffer. What was her character? Are you sure? She was the American looking for a rich husband. Johnny Depp. Hmm. Yeah, what can be said about his acting? His recent characters appear as doppelgängers for his personal life. Which is a nice way of saying he’s become a cartoon and it is difficult to take his characterization of the villainous Ratchett seriously.

Monsieur Poirot’s playing up his OCD never has the fun that both Finney and Peter Ustinov’s (in Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun) immodest geniuses had and takes away from developing the other characters. If Branagh had instructed his actors to kick up the camp a notch then they all would have been in sync. Pfeiffer and Josh Gad, bless them, seemed to get the need to be sassy or droll as the scene permits. The others seem self-serious, or too deferential to Poirot. All of this would have been taken care of had the focus been on the suspects as Mrs. Christie intended. In this version, the stunning cast has nothing to do but occupy space.

We watch mysteries not only to see the detective solve the case, but to participate in solving it with him. This remake took that away from us. We watch the detective rather than join him on the ride. For example, when the body is discovered it is an overhead catwalk shot – are you kidding? This is the big ticket – the murder. I don’t want to see the tops of heads or a bloody sheet from a bird’s eye. Get that camera in there and give me a close-up on the blood-drained face and rigor mortis.

The information we are given is spoon fed as if the filmmakers don’t trust us to solve the murder so we never even get to try. As an emerging screenwriter, I look for the inner and outer story. Here, it’s the morality of murder and finding out who killed Johnny Depp, err– Ratchett. In order to do that the audience needs context. The backstory at the beginning gets the audience involved.

This is something the 1974 film understood very well. The Armstrong kidnapping information. Opening with the immediate consequences of the event then cutting to six years later gives the audience a foundation. When Finney learns Anthony Perkins’ father was the D.A. In the case you think – oh, he could have done it. Then when you learn Wendy Hiller was the child’s godmother, you think – oh, she could have done it. And so one. It gives one pause. And hairs raise as each piece of the puzzle falls in place. That is the spine of the story – not Poirot’s greatness.

One of the fails of Mr. Branagh’s version is the inability to relate to any of the suspects. Because we know nothing of the Armstrong kidnapping there is no way we can even guess their true motives. Not fair, sir. In this version, the context is not up front, but after the body is discovered. That is Poirot telling us, rather than the audience actively participating. We have no way of knowing anything related to the inner story– so it seems to come from nowhere.

Obviously Branagh and Green didn’t trust the source material and added a modern element of keeping the lead character involved. Poirot missed the opportunity to work on the murdered child case and has always regretted not receiving a letter from the child’s father earlier. The insinuation is if Poirot had worked on this case there would be no murder on the orient express because Ratchett would have been found sooner. Heavy sigh. The audience needs information that informs the plot. Poirot is not part of that context.

Mysteries are puzzles to be solved by the audience as well as the detective. Said detective is our representative on the case. He is not one of the puzzle pieces. He does not keep the puzzle to himself and dole out information as he sees fit. So when all the information comes at once from Poirot’s personal involvement. Oh and everyone on board has a connection? There is no mystery to solve. There is no puzzle because there are no coincidences. SPOILER ALERT*** They all did it because they are all connected.

The ending is truly troublesome. Branagh and Green hit us over the head again with a religious metaphor assembling the suspects at a long table arranged like DaVinci’s “The Last Supper”– with Pfeiffer as Jesus. For his Poirot it all comes down to “Thou shalt not kill” because the audience is not smart enough to handle the intricacies of revenge.

“You tell your lies and you think no one will know. But two people will know. Your God and Hercule Poirot.” Murder in all forms is wrong, check. But are these characters akin to Jesus and the apostles? Really, Ken? His revelation is less about how all of the suspects are working together and more about Christian morality, going so far as allowing them to confess. As in “Confession is good for the soul.”

In the 1974 film, the suspects allow Poirot to tell the story but never give it up. They are people with whom we identify as humans. They worked their morality to allow themselves to commit this crime, but Lumet has enough respect for them, Poirot and the audience to not make them say their guilt aloud. By the time Michelle Pfeiffer’s Christ-in-a-Marcel-wave-wig goes off on her “I did it. Punish me not them” rant, I’ve changed the channel.

Memo the Kenneth Branagh – it’s only a movie, darling. Solving the case is enough. Poirot does not need to be related to the past history that leads to the crime. I have no doubt you will do your next Agatha Christie ensemble justice but with Ordeal by Innocence coming out this year Christie stories are big business. For the gravy train to continue, Poirot needs to solve the case and the audience needs to feel like his silent partners. Give us the puzzle pieces to help put it together. Remember, it’s our box office dollars that keep you in mustache wax.

Girl power is getting a boost this award season with three major female-driven films. Dee Rees, Greta Gerwig and Patty Jenkins may not have crashed through the glass ceiling but they have certainly added some major cracks to a played out metaphor.

Dee Rees with Mary J. Blige

Yes, of course I am happy to see talented women thrive in the film industry. It is fantastic these wonderful films were made by wonderful directors who are wonderful women, but is it really the start of a flood of girl on girl films or are they token representation from a besieged white male establishment wanting to show progress so everyone will shut the hell up for a while?

Mudbound, Lady Bird and Wonder Women are additional proof that women directors are equal to their male counterparts in the storytelling task. And they made a shit ton of money (which is what matters most). I am jealous of their success. There, I’ve said it. And while I would never begrudge anyone earning their place at the table, I want my shot, too. My beef is that opportunities don’t come to everyone, no matter how talented, deserving or earned their inclusion may be.

Patty Jenkins with Gal Gadot

Women at the top are often called Queen Bees (sorry, Beyoncé  fans – she didn’t invent the term) because once they rule the hive there is no room for another female in command. It may be unfair to judge all women in a position to mentor or assist those coming up the ladder as being less than enthusiastic, but let’s face it – it’s true. It may be something as simple as highly sought after hardworking women are so hardworking they don’t have the time to donate to lower level women. Maybe they are not secure in their ranking and need to keep working to keep up with the fellas. Or, most disturbing, they relish their position as the only gal on the game and keep any competition off the field. *See Omarosa  and the kerfuffle over her White House career.

So what to we do?

Lower down the ladder of success the opportunities for us to rise are not about earning a seat at the table they are about making life easier for someone higher up. Can you or your project make them money? Can you give a company positive publicity or a higher Q score? If so, then you are in. That is all it takes, my worker bees.

Forget about the sisterhood, there ain’t no such thing. It is nice to see big fish like Ava DuVernay or Shonda Rhimes talk to young women and girls about boosting each other but, come on now, you know in reality survival is every person for themselves. That is true equality. There is no special treatment for anyone. All that matters is if you can earn your place with a project that makes money. Once we get that through our heads we can get to the business of moving forward.

Fact #1

Is it is harder if you are a non-white male. Once we accept that as truth we can focus on selling ourselves as who we are with the stories we tell. Developing a relationship-connection-acquaintance with someone who respects your work goes a long way. People want to work with who they know. It is important to nurture even a fleeting email relationship with someone in a position to help to improve the chances of a project moving forward. If you got to ask JJ Abrams a question during a Q & A once, then see Star Trek it couldn’t hurt to drop him a line saying how much you loved the movie. Create a bond.

Fact #2

No one, repeat: NO ONE, will help you or mentor you out of their own good will unless there is something in it for them. You may get lucky and find a successful mentor who gives you her time, encouragement and/or use of her contacts for nothing up front. Savor that and be prepared to pay her on the back-end with points, credit or a straight payment. If you use gender, age, race or sexual identity to get up the ladder, I would suggest to nurture a genuine relationship with someone with whom you have something in common. They know what you want and are not fooled by the obvious flattery. Take the time and be real which will pay off in the end. Any butt-kisser can establish a career, however how long will that friendship last? There is an old saying, “Be nice to people going up the ladder because they are the people who will be nice to you as you’re going down.”

Fact #3

Minority women over 40 have some amazing stories to tell but need to work harder to get them heard. This is about sex and perception. What is attractive to the establishment? I submit that a confident 25-year-old with hot pants and a shitty script will get more meetings that a worn down 50-year-old with the female Rocky. So women, after you are sure your script kicks ass, take a look in the mirror and make sure you are someone no one is embarrassed to be seen having lunch with. Sexism aside, we are dealing with people who go with their gut and their crotch when opening a checkbook. As vile as that is, we need to be mindful of it. Besides, if your script is great it will find a home– eventually, as long as you keep working hard and never give up.

Greta Gerwig

I am off to see Lady Bird at my multiplex now. Not because I’m supporting the sisterhood but because I’ve heard it is a fabulous film that deserves to be seen. There is room for all of us as women in film in whatever capacity. We need to keep pushing for equal time, but remember when rising up the ladder you are selling to a person who wants to work with you and make money off your project. Don’t assume because she’s a woman she’s going to help and don’t give her an excuse to say, “No.”

I had a meeting this past week for staffing. Yes, yes good for me in the general sense, but after over a decade I’m still staff level so what the fuck happened to my career? But I digress. My manager informed me she was going to NYC for upfronts again. Really? Is it May already? I had forgotten all about upfronts. A reminder for anyone else who has forgotten, television upfronts are the yearly to-do networks make showcasing their new and returning fall programming to advertisers hoping to get them to throw their commercial bucks their way. It’s a crap shoot, after all who knows how the fickle television audience will commit their viewing time. Back in the day – say 2010, this was the biggest fucking deal. There were gala events with top billed actors and balloons and champagne to woo the buyers. Pilots were picked up to series with an eight to ten episode commitment. Writers rooms were opened and the frenzy to get staffed was chaotic and electric.

Not so much now. Oh, there is still chaos and frenzy, but the electricity has given over to apathy. After all, network and basic cable viewership has been in a steady decline since DVR, VOD and streaming options have increased. An argument can even be made that devices have made the TV itself as an appliance obsolete (gasp!)

See, when network TV was the only game in town programs were “appointment viewing.” Audiences scheduled their activities on the coach for the Thursday night NBC line-up of Friends, Seinfeld, Will & Grace and Law & Order and the TGIF family sitcom juggernaut on ABC.  This may explain why Will & Grace is coming back and why the TGIF line-up was similarly updated (Fuller House and Girl Meets World.  Really? Yes, really.)

Pay cable’s frequent multiple repeats, changed the game. The Sopranos? – Fageddaboudit. That’s appointment viewing in the millennium – watch once, then tune in three hours later and five more times during the week in case you missed something. The habit passed on to basic cable with Sunday nights on AMC. Mad Men was written into appointment books, and don’t lie, I know it’s not just me.

Networks couldn’t keep up. Pay cable and web streaming don’t really do the advertiser thing. In today’s terms, the binge is the thing. I admit guilt but no shame in watching eight hours of Orange is the New Black on my iPad while flying and changing planes then capping it off with another three hours of Game of Thrones on my phone. On. My. Phone. Thank you, HBO Go.

Okay, Gayle, what does that have to do with upfronts for the emerging screenwriter, you ask? Well, advertisers are spending their money differently on TV, to include streaming and watching across multiple devices. So that means networks are ordering fewer episodes per season. The original twelve order with a back nine at mid-season is a dinosaur. Fewer episodes means fewer writers. Fewer writers means less money to hire down the list. That means the staff writer is an after thought. Not good for us.

As emerging writers in television we must be aware of how drastically the game has changed. We can no longer rely on our representation to get meetings with show runners unless a) our representation represents the showrunner or b) we are the contact to the showrunner. Most staff writers are people they already know. That’s part of the package.

I know, I hadn’t expected this to turn so dark, but that is our reality. Emerging TV writers – network, network, network. The more people who know who you are and what you do, the better chance to get the meeting in today’s year-round TV cycle.

It is a Golden Age of Television. That means more opportunities, but those opportunities are not coming to us, we must create our own. Network and basic cable upfronts are a very nice week of parties and enthusiasm for those involved, but for those of us still seeking a way into the room they really do not matter. Not a lick. Write a great pilot. And a back-up great pilot. Then get it to someone who knows a showrunner-level writer. That is the best (and unfortunately may be the only) way to score that staff writer job.

 

My little friend Dave–  is a producer on a network television series. Dave is smart and confident and has earned every break he ever got on his own – with some assistance from the nimble telephone skills of a well-connected agent, but he’s an outstanding writer who is fantastic in the room.    Now he’s in escrow on his first house –  in the Hollywood Hills, and just bought a new BMW.  All well deserved.  Not to mention his most recent girlfriend was a television actress on a long-running cable series that ended a few seasons ago.  Dave— is living the life and I couldn’t be happier for him.  No, truly.  No shade, not hate, just happiness that someone who put in the work, got something back. That is the ideal TV writing relationship.  You give a little, you get a lot.  You and your beloved walking hand in hand down the garden path.  All is love.  When it’s good, it’s Jess and Nick in a cooler on New Girl.  Oh, but when it’s bad… Carrie cheats on Aidan then doesn’t marry him when he takes her back.  WTF Sex & the City?

A bad relationship involves more than the simple act of lying.  It’s Game of Thrones-style abuse, treachery and betrayal to the core of your marrow.   And a good cry doesn’t wash the pain away.

Television writing is my bad relationship.  For my little friend Dave– he watched some episodes, read some scripts and liked what he saw.  He took it out a few times and discovered it liked him back.  So began their romance.  One meeting led to another. Then meeting the show runner for a staff position which is sort of like meeting the parents.  Can this person sit down to dinner with us every week?  If the answer is yes, sweet– you’re in. If not, then it’s time to break up.  After a few tries, you find the right show, or make the right connection.  And someone pops the question:  Will you write for us?  The ring of the telephone call from your agent with the offer is better than a diamond.

Read More →

Sunday, September 18, 2016. I had come home at about 8 pm and when I walked in the door I found at least two dozen dead fruit flies on the floor below my front window. The window was open, but there is no hole in the screen. So where did the flies come from and why are they dead?  It was seriously some American Horror Story A+ level freaky shit.  I was so focused on that I forgot to even turn the television on.  After I triple bleached and disinfected my home, I took a nuclear grade Silkwood shower to bleach and disinfect myself.  Finally, I had calmed down enough to settle into the last moments of prime time.  Turning on the TV I saw one of my new favorite actors, Rami Malek from Mr. Robot making an acceptance speech and I realized this is the Emmys, and it was almost over.  Oops.  I missed it.  Then I thought, “What else is on?”  As a viewer, fair enough, but as an emerging television writer, to not care about the TV industry’s big do is so wrong, right?

TV by the numbers cites the viewership for the 68th annual prime time Emmy Awards at 11.3 million.  Down from last year’s 11.7 million and a far cry from 2013’s 17.6 million (I think host  Neil Patrick Harris had a lot to do with that one).  So I am not the only viewer with my finger on the remote.  The reasons are way too obvi – #1 Football.  Who cares about rich celebrities and talented creative types in fancy dress when the Packers are playing the Vikings?  #2 It’s the Emmys.  The night where the TV academy salutes its brightest shiny objects while the rest of us stretch out on the sofa contemplating returning to our underpaid, overworked jobs.  It has no value for a viewer not invested in the nominees.  Sure, we love Julia Louis-Dreyfus and are happy to see her win (again) for HBO’s fabulous and funny VEEP but she is not really the President and cannot really improve our lot in life with a witty and heartfelt acceptance speech.  The “celebrities, they have families just like us” trope doesn’t cut it when you have to fight with the unemployment office for your check.

Read More →

tv-627876_1280Welcome to the digital revolution. Yeah, I know we have been in the digital revolution for some time. Cable and satellite TV have been overthrown by the likes of Roku and AppleTV. Only half of the people I know still have a land line telephone. You know you’re old when your child refuses to believe telephones use to have wires that plugged into the wall. “That’s what those plugs are for, baby.” But the major gut busting change is streaming movies and television shows on all of your devices: TV, computer, tablet, mobile… Think of it. No longer do we have to rush home for appointment viewing. We can watch the latest Game of Thrones episode in line at the DMV. In America, our forefathers and mothers fought world wars and domestic terror for the right to vote for our elected representatives, to marry the person of our choice, and to skip commercials. No, I’m not crying, I just have something in my eye. Read More →

Marcel Proust

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust

Wow, what a difference a year makes.  It has been one year since I began this blog.  Everything I wrote on day one in the Welcome post is still true.  With one exception– I am extremely grateful for the support, friendship and love I have received in surviving the long journey to storm Castle Hollywood.  Today I want to take time to express my gratitude…

My number one cheerleader and fan, Juan, thank you for having my back, man.

Jonathan Rhys-Witherspoon, Consuelo Mackintosh, Wilhemina, my little friend Dave, thanks for being guinea pigs.

Lisa, Mercy, Elizabeth, Carol, Joanne, thanks for my birthday brunch with the girls.

Vanessa, Michelle R., Michelle C., Sandra, Tyesha, Ellie, catch you later.

Shawn, Pilar, Lee, thanks for the great mentorship.

And everyone who reads any of my posts, THANK YOU for your time and indulgence.

Emerging is hard, but it sure is a lot easier and much more fun with people around you to share the experience.

0410161516d0410161516c0410161516a

 

0410161516

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special thanks to St. Jude, who truly is the patron on the hopeful, for looking out for Guinevere. And me, too.

reptile-642970__180.png_LOGOPlease indulge me.  I’m taking this week off for a rant.

I define “Emerging Screenwriter” as someone who has developed their work to a professional level and is ready to be noticed.

My mate Jonathan Rhys-Witherspoon, my little friend Dave, and  I are all emerging screenwriters.  We’ve been writing for years.  We have a ton of peers through contests and workshops and writers groups.  We’ve done film school, taught screenwriting classes and have had our work produced in small doses. Yet, we still have day jobs to pay the bills.  We have done the work, folks.  We just need the luck it takes to be noticed.

That is an emerging screenwriter.  Someone who has sharpened their skills and honed their talent.  All that’s missing is getting the right script into the right hands.  It’s about that unknown element of right time/right place and who knows you.  How do we create that?

I started this blog because of that confusion.  I wanted to show beginning writers how to survive.  I want to share my experiences in the trenches and give options (and opinions) on how to make it while struggling.  How not to give up.  It’s frustrating being mistaken for a beginner.  My ego, my problem, but I have done a lot as a writer.  Maybe I don’t have the career I had hoped, but I haven’t (and won’t) give up.   Let me make this clear, emerging writers are not household names working on studio productions.  But we sure as shit know what we’re doing.

Read More →

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

Read More →