Monday, April 30, 2007

Everything Old Is New Again?

There was a new pilot shot last month for The CW (directed by Kevin Smith) entitled 'Reaper'. Here's the overview from Cinematical:
Kevin Smith Directing Satanic Television Pilot

Primarily known as a writer, director, and occasional star of motion pictures, Smith will direct the pilot episode of The Reaper for the CW Network. The show is about a 21-year old slacker named Sam Oliver, who finds out that around the time of his birth, his parents sold his soul to the devil. Personally, I'm hoping this kid has his therapist on speed-dial. To repay the debt, Oliver must become a bounty hunter for Satan and track down souls that have escaped from hell.

The story -- which reminds me a bit of the short-lived 1998-1999 TV series 'Brimstone'-- was written by Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters. The pilot will shoot for two weeks in Vancouver beginning March 12.

Hmmmm... speaking of shooting in Vancouver, 'Reaper' sounds an awful lot like 'The Collector' - a CHUM series from a couple years ago:
The Collector

Centuries ago, Morgan Pym made a deal with Satan: his soul, in exchange for 10 years with his one true love. After she died, Morgan - desperate to avoid an eternity in hell - agreed to become a Collector, charged with collecting souls from those who'd made deals with Satan. Morgan works the Vancouver area, and his deal with the devil includes one additional clause: Morgan is allowed 48 hours with each client to try and redeem them before they are condemned to hell...

Okay, not identical...but similar, no? However, in an interview with Smith he: "...describes the series as “less 'Brimstone' or 'Dead Like Me' (as some have suggested) and more 'Shaun of the Dead' than anything else. A. The script is funny, and B. I’ve always been curious about trying my hand at directing something I didn’t write. Never had an interest in doing that on the big screen, but 'Reaper' presented an excellent opportunity to give it a go in a smaller, yet, ironically, far larger, pond.”

Funny, huh...well, that would definitely set it apart from 'The Collector' - but still...

Smith just blogged yesterday a little bit about the experience...
God, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to blog - and I mean really blog, not just pimp a SModcast (episode 11 of which is available later today). Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Spent almost a month up in Vancouver, working on the “Reaper” pilot for the CW. Apparently, the show turned out well, and is testing great. The network seems to really dig it, so there’s an excellent chance you’ll be able to peep the show in the fall.

Was weird, but interesting, shooting someone else’s script. I feel I did a pretty good job (elevating, not simply executing), but ultimately, it’s not for me. I’m a writer, first and foremost; that’s where my heart lies. Still, it was a worthwhile exercise to take (and about the only exercise I’ve done in a year), and all seem happy with the results...

What do you bet this replaces 'Smallville' to be paired with 'Supernatural'...we shall see...but must be nice to consider the privilege of directing a pilot a 'worthwhile exercise'.


Few And Far Between...

...decent posts (whatever that means) these days - finding it difficult to come up with anything inspiring to write about. So the Monday playoff pool update begins with a question: are the shooters just sucking this year or are the goaltenders really that good?

I can't believe how low scoring these playoff games have been...weren't the new rule changes supposed to open things ups and make for more offence?

Ah, for the good old days...

And I'll say it outloud - the Sabres are good but they are lucky lucky lucky to be up a game on the Rangers.

Anyway, Cunningham continues to ride his 'blind luck' wave, but Foster is making a move...

1. Bill Cunningham........90
2. Michael Foster..........80
3. Micah Reid...............78
4. Larry Raskin.............76
4. Dave Moses...............76
6. Will Dixon.................75
7. Jim Henshaw.............74
8. John Whaley.............72
9. Mark Farrell.............68
10. Denis McGrath.........67
11. Mark Askwith...........65
12. Juniper...................64

Continue to check for updates HERE - the pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley

Friday, April 27, 2007

What Kind Of Idiot Do You See At Taco Bell At One In The Morning?

A great rant can be Friday Fun...and Stewie ripping his babysitter's boyfriend a new one is about as good as they come.

Because it makes me smile...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Drive (He Said) Running On Fumes

I'd started working up a post last week about Tim Minears new series, 'Drive', and the post title above was the one I was working from since the show wasn't really doing it for me. Fortunately, I didn't get too far into it because the series was yanked by Fox this week.

So instead of analyzing why it worked (or didn't work), let's play a game of 'spot the punny' in this following announcement of the shows demise...a marvelously over-the-top rendition of 'Variety speak'.

'Drive' runs out of gas
Fox parks drama after four episodes

Fox is pulling 'Drive' from its lineup after the drama got disappointing ratings in first four outings. Fox has impounded "Drive," steering the show off the network highway after four episodes.

Despite decent reviews, "Drive" quickly stalled, averaging just a 2.3 rating and 6 share among adults 18-49, and 5.6 million viewers overall. Monday night's "Drive" didn't help matters, coming in fifth place for the hour (1.5/5) and driving "24" to record lows, dropping Fox to fourth for the night.

Having shoved a Denver boot on "Drive," Fox has now gassed up "House" repeats in the Monday 8 p.m. slot. Net is still mulling whether to burn off the last two remaining segs of "Drive" on air, or stream the final segs online.

Fox revved up six segs of "Drive," which revolved around a group of people forced to take part in an illegal cross-country race. Nathan Fillion stars.

That deserves some kind of prize...seriously.

Variety speak makes me smile.

p.s. Hockey pool update over at Jim's place.

p.p.s. Happy birthday twins...from daddy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Maple Leaf List Reminder...

For Denis, doing my blogger duty and reprinting a slightly edited version of his original post on DeadThingsOnSticks:

FROM the moment I heard about it, I was fascinated by the concept of The Blacklist. No, not the 1950's purge of screenwriters with supposed communist sympathies. This blacklist was more about the cool side of black -- more black ipod than black mark.

Each year, ninety Hollywood executives are polled and asked to mention their favorite scripts of the past twelve months. Although the organizers make it clear that the list does not represent the best only favorites, it is difficult to separate the two in a town where subjectivity rules.The fact that one of the most hated terms in Hollywood writer lore has been repurposed to shine a klieg light on talent, is, for me, the proof that the great thing about America is that everything finally does come around. But in Hollywood, looking for great new material is the norm.

Okay, there's nothing normal about it, but you know what I mean.

Indulge me here with a bit of personal history. For a little while, a period of say about a year, when I wasn't getting work, I was a reader for one of the Canadian networks. In that time, I read a bunch of pretty bad, undercooked scripts and did reader's reports. Several of the undercooked scripts I read were subsequently made into a few undercooked movies and MOW's. But there is this one script which haunted me.It haunts me still. I loved this script. I know the writer who wrote it, and he's a successful Canadian TV writer. He's worked on many big budget one-hour Canadian dramas.

But this script... it was a Canadian story about Canadian themes that nevertheless would have total universal appeal. It's about a forgotten icon and time in Canadian Cultural history. It's about Canada's place in the world, but in the same way that The Full Monty was about British de-industrialization. It covers similar ground to a novel that was a breakout hit a few years ago, and which won the Pulitzer Prize. This story, though...this story was true.

Damnit, I wish, I wish I could see that movie.

But the network passed. And as far as I know, (I've never talked with the writer about this), the project's dead. I wonder....are there more out there? Let's find out.

Announcing the First Maple Leaf List.

Here's how this will work. Accounting for Canada's smaller population and less vibrant industry, the thesis is nevertheless that there are excellent projects out there that for whatever reason, were passed over and not made. The hope is that we can discover some of these forgotten gems and maybe shine a little light on them.

What sort of project is eligible for the Maple Leaf List? The project can be any feature screenplay, 1/2 hour comedy/drama television series (based on pilot episode), 1 hr television series (based on pilot episode) or animated series (based on bible & sample script.) The project must have been under paid option to a production company or network in Canada in the last five years. (So, anything from Calendar year 2002 on.)

What sort of projects are not eligible? Spec scripts of any kind. Stage plays. Documentaries. Projects that were written on spec and never received any option money/development funding. This is not a search for new writing talent. This is a search for passed-over projects. Projects by people who are not Canadian Citizens or Landed Immigrants residing in one of Canada's 10 provinces and 3 Territories as are also ineligible.

Who can nominate a project? Theoretically, I'm going to leave the ability to nominate a project open to anyone, with this proviso: You cannot nominate your own work. I also state here that I will, as the organizer of this little game, recuse my own work from consideration. In practice, I will give special attention to any project that is submitted by a Development Executive, Network Executive, or Agent. If you feel a piece of work has been criminally underattended, here's your chance. ONLY ONE PROJECT MAY BE SUBMITTED PER PERSON.

What do I need to do to nominate a project for the Maple Leaf List?

You may submit an ADOBE PDF of the script in question to MAPLELEAFLIST@GMAIL.COM. Dead Tree Scripts (paper) will not be accepted, as I have neither space to store them nor help to organize them. The PDF of the script should not contain identifying features such as the writer's name, on the document itself. Along with the script, a separate document should be submitted with the following information (which will be kept completely confidential:)

1) Nominator's name and position/occupation/relationship to script
2) Project's development history (dates of development/option)
3) Project's current status
4) Synopsis/description (200 words or less, including genre & length)
5) Impact Statement: why you think this project has been unjustly passed over. (300 word max)
6) Author's declaration: contact information from the author

Please note that projects that do not contain these elements (or any script that identifies the writer by name) cannot be considered for the Maple Leaf List.

How will the list be determined?After the submission deadline, a shortlist will be prepared by me. Then scripts will be forwarded to a selection of confidential judges who will be asked to pick their #1, #2, and #3 choices for inclusion on the list. The judges decisions will be collected and averaged out, and the list will be determined from that.

Since this is new and unknown, I have no idea how many projects will be received, therefore I cannot currently speculate on the number of judges, or in fact, the number of projects that will appear on the list. Because the projects will be of different types and genres, the list will not be ranked hierarchically.

The deadline will be May 18th, 2007, at Midnight. Results will be announced June 10, 2007, on this blog -- just as the Banff TV Festival Gets Underway.

What do I win? Absolutely nothing but bragging rights. Okay, and if you are in and around Toronto or anywhere else I happen to be and pin me down, I will buy you a drink and an Appetizer of your choice. All listers will also be profiled on this blog (unless they choose not to be.)

Are there diamonds in the rough? Let's see. Let's see. My guess is, any notable scripts will not shamelessly deploy the icons of Canadiana as I have here. But who knows? Maybe somewhere out there is a script about a maple syrup guzzling beaver who chomps back bacon while prepping for his role in the big hockey game.

You just never, ever, ever know.

Agents and Managers and Development and Network Execs should be rummaging around their closets for those diamonds and getting them to McGrath.

Shine On You Crazy...

South Park Ramps It Up (And Parks It)

One of the joys of Youtube and various websites that offer up seasons of old TV episodes to view is that you can catch up on series you may not have paid attention to in the past. For me, South Park is one of those series (hangs head in shame).

Yeah, I know. Where have I been living.

But the reality is our lives and brains have only so much time or energy for so many shows at a time, and thus some just get lost in the VCR/PVR shuffle. I don't think I'd ever watched more than five minutes of a South Park episode over the past ten years or however long its been on the air...and when I did, it just didn't click, hit, spark...whatever term you want to use. This even after I went to the 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut' movie way back in 2000 and laughed my ass off.

But a couple months ago I found myself watching the 'Make Love Not Warcraft' episode from last season, and was thoroughly entertained. Not only was it funny, laden with razor-sharp wit and biting satire of the online gaming phenom, it was a really solid story - with a very clever beginning, middle, and end.

Seriously. Who knew?

I've since enjoyed a couple episodes a night either in reruns on various latenight networks, or on the Internet tubes. And there's been some classics...most memorably 'The Return of the Fellowship of the Ring to the Two Towers' and 'The Passion of the Jew'. And more recently 'D'Yikes', a terrific riff/spoof of '300' featuring a battle between the ladies of Club Les Bos and the Persians, a group threatening to take over the bar and 'redecorate'.

A clip to illustrate...

Politically incorrect...yes. Offensive...perhaps. But let me say this - to camera ramp up and down in an animated show damn near measures up to the genius of the animated 'bloopers' put under the end credits of Pixars 'A Bugs Life'.


Tip of the hat to South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone...glad I finally found ya.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sudden Death Tonight...

It comes down to a Game 7 tonight for Dallas and Vancouver....the outcome will decide the fate of a lot of poolies. Otherwise, big logjam in the middle, Cunningham continues to trip along to success, and if Henshaw didn't have Turco in goal, he'd be so far out of it. But I digress...

The current standings....

1 Bill Cunningham.......69
2 Jim Henshaw............65
3 Will Dixon................62
4 Dave Moses...............59
5 Micah Reid................58
6 Mark Farrell.............55
6 John Whaley.............55
6 Larry Raskin............55
9 Michael Foster.........51
10 Denis McGrath........49
11 Juniper..................43
12 Mark Askwith.........42

Again, go HERE to check standings...the pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley

Game on and on and on...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Catch Up Tag...

I've been tagged a few times recently, but have avoided doing them as long as possible without being insulting....mostly because everyone knows pretty much everything about me and I really don't have many goals (work more often and live longer are two that are really out of my control). And as Woody Allen said: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve immortality through not dying."

But in an effort to be compliant yet efficient, I'm going to try to combine Five Things Nobody Knows About Me with Five Goals I Have.

1) wear different clothes - I tend to purchase a couple of changes of clothing, and then wear them until they're completely worn out. It doesn't really bother me much - the fact I don't really excrete any body odor is probably a factor - but I'm sure it must annoy others close to me. And having one of the kids recently state: "Yer wearing that shirt again?" shall be taken as a sign.

2) get rougher hands - I have incredibly soft hands (or so I've been told), mostly because I haven't done a hard days work since painting houses and digging up patios for a landscaping company in my late teens/early 20's. I've heard rough hands are a turn on so the quest is on for callouses...

3) lift more weights - I have an incredible aversion to working out...though am plenty happy to take a stroll somewhere, or walk a golf course, or join a pickup game of basketball or baseball - but only if there's a clear objective (get somewhere, shoot a good score, win the game). Exercise for the sake of exercise is not part of my makeup...but shall look at it like an experiment and see what happens. Maybe I'll get some callouses out of it all...

4) smile more often - I have a relatively serious disposition, and it takes something really uniquely funny to make me laugh. it's nothing personal, that's just me...but also know the value of 'a smile' (especially for children) and need to produce happy faces more often, even if just for show.

5) travel further away - I've been all over North America, but I've never traveled overseas....haven't really been interested in it to be quite honest. But as I get older and time whisks by, I've been feeling an urge to go check out the U.K. or Europe or Australia. I know, not very adventurous....but one step at a time.

I don't 'tag', but take a swing should you feel compelled.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

No Fun...

...can still be fun, even Saturday/Sunday Fun, if it's a song performed by Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

That's the original version of the tune, from the bands 1969 debut lp, 'The Stooges'. And for the die-hards, here's a faster studio version the group recently recorded, or an insane live version from a couple years ago.

"Well c'mon! Well c'mon! Well c'mon! Well cum on!"

It's my firm belief that most of us who create with words or pictures (write and/or direct) all secretly wanted to be actors...or rock stars.

I know I did.

A quick trip down memory lane. I played piano and guitar when I was growing up. Not particularly well, but passable....not embarrassing. And through high school and early university, different configurations of five of us would get together in a friends basement to jam...and write and record songs. You see, our friend's older brother had sound-proofed half the space and purchased a reel to reel 4 track recorder. Now I know a lot of you have no idea what I'm talking about so here's a pic... might find one gathering dust in your parents crawlspace beside their old stereo turntable.

Our 'studio' was stocked with several microphones and a bass guitar and acoustic guitar, plus a variety of percussion instruments (bongos, maracas, tambourines, etc.). I provided two electric guitars with an amp and a small electric piano. Another friend put together a five piece drum kit.

We were the stereotypical garage band.

Over the next half a decade or so, we went by several monikers, including The Spinal Chords (pre-Spinal Tap) and The No Sisters Band (guess what, none of us had any sisters!). And we filled reels and reels of tape. Unfortunately, our basement studio friend eventually went 'mohawk' and started collaborating with a dark and twisted soul who was really into Joy Division and Public Image Limited. I was always more of a new wave, mainstream pop dude, but still asked if I could join their outfit. The truth came out in our parting conversation...he told me I was 'too rock and roll' for them (but apparently my bass-playing younger brother wasn't).

I remember feeling crushed at the time. How did I turn out so 'uncool'?

So my best friend/drummer and I pooled our cash and bought a Tascam multi-track cassette Portastudio. We took over a sound-proofed room at the university drama department and with our fav singer and two new musicians, set about recording a half dozen songs with dreams of getting it released as an EP. The 'released' part never happened, but the tunes did get finished. And if I should ever get around to transferring them to digital from metal cassette master, they might just find their way onto this blog.

We'd usually lay down the majority of the songs live on two of the tracks, and then overlay either vocals or lead guitar on the other two tracks. It was pretty basic stuff, nothing to scream and shout about. But a lot of fun to produce.

And when the writing and recording was done, we jammed and played 'No Fun', '96 Tears', 'Gloria', and 'Hang On Sloopy'; 'Wild Thing' and Louie Louie'; and let's not forget 'Rock n' Roll', 'Sweet Jane', and 'Waiting for the Man' (The Velvet Underground); plus anything by The New York Dolls or Lou Reed or Bob Dylan and Neil Young ('specially those long jammers like 'Cowgirls in the Sand' and 'Down By The River').

And it goes without saying, MC5's 'Kick Out The Jams'.

Why these particular songs? Well, I could say because of what they represented or the passion and energy they possessed or how the songs spoke to us, but the reality was...they were easy to play.

Minimalist and raw, simple and to the point...they were three or four minute bursts of energy that captured the energy and excitement of youth and manifest themselves into rock n'roll songs. And we could play them.

"No fun to be alone
Walking by myself."

Therein was the fun...and the moral of the story. We were making music... together. Not necessarily beautiful music, but music nevertheless. And unless you're a multitalent like the Artist Now Known Again As Prince, it takes several musicians and their instruments working as a cohesive unit to write and/or perform a song. It ended up being a great training ground for grasping the concept of necessary collaboration that's needed to create film or television.

Of course, any remembrance of garage rock wouldn't be replete without a tip of a hat to the mother lode that is known as Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era...

For the uninitiated, THIS collection was the stuff that brought rock and roll out of its wasteland in the mid-60s...and spawned the 70's movement we came to know and love as 'punk rock'.

Do garage bands exist today? I'm sure they must (see The Hold Steady or Arctic Monkeys), but I'm getting old and most likely out of touch. Still, I often wonder what cover tunes the garage bands of today play as staples...what's their 'inspiration'? As much as I'm fond of the 'Nuggets' era, part of me hopes we've moved forward and it's not the same songs anymore.

For another post, I'll explain why I dig Dig! - the rock documentary from a couple years ago that followed the rise to and/or fall from stardom with retro West Coast psychedelic bands The Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre.

No fun? Fun!

SONG&ARTIST? - "Ask me, baby, why I'm sad
You been out all night, know you been bad
Don't tell me different, know it's a lie
Come kill me, honey, see how I cry."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Let's Hug It Out, B*tch

In commemoration of a new season of Entourage..."I will choke you out with a strap on!"....Friday Fun is ├╝beragent Ari Gold's greatest hits (definitely NSFW).

These snippets are fantastic examples of how a series/script with a decent but not mind-blowing premise can be sold as long as you've got at least one memorable character with some really wicked dialogue.

Because he makes me smile...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two-Handers, Dirty Singles, And Half Apples....

When you first walk onto the floor of a film set, your ears will be assailed by a barrage of unique jargon and turns of phrase. And if you do ever get the opportunity to watch and observe, take advantage of your perch to listen...and learn.

It could save you a lot of embarrassment down the road.

First, there are many names for shots: a dolly shot (also known as a moving shot or if following two actors conversing, a 'walk and talk'); zoom shot (also known as squeezing or feathering in); a high and wide shot (also known as the 'big and funny'); a low and tight shot (also known as 'up their noses' or 'an X Files shot'); a medium shot (also known as a waister or 'cowboys'); and a loose close up (also known as a single or 2 T's or 'tits up')...

There are obviously many more but for the purpose of this post we'll stop there.

Here's an example of a single...

...and a 'dirty single'.

A dirty single (also known as an 'over the shoulder') is when your shot focused on a character but the edge of frame is 'dirtied' by the back of the other actor.

When I walked onto my first real location to direct with an actual experienced crew and 1st A.D. (First Assistant Director) at my side, it was trial by fire. I'd made some student and short films, but had very little professional set experience. I nervously described to the crew what shots I had in mind, but sensed I wasn't communicating them very well. People were staring back at me, blankly. I looked to the 1st A.D. for help.

He stepped up and loudly announced something like: "Alright everyone, listen up. We're looking this way. First up we got a two-hander here at the desk with a little move into a dirty single...since it's free maybe squeeze off one more in tighter...then roundy roundy and get complimentaries on the other side with a quick pop on the computer after the talent goes for lunch. Two set ups...five shots...and we're done."

And then he turned to me and nodded. I feigned a smile but was thinking....what the hell did he just say? What the hell are we supposed to be doing? And why is everyone else nodding like they understood him?

The crew began to work and I quietly pulled the 1st A.D. aside to ask for a translation.

As he explained it, when you have a scene with just a couple of characters, it's generally described as a two-hander. If it's on a dolly, it's moving...and from what he'd heard me describe, it sounded like the shot moved from a wider establishing angle to an over the shoulder of one of the characters - in effect, becoming a dirty single. While we're there and the angle is already lit (and therefore free), we should zoom in tighter and cover scene again. Then we tear down the lights and dolly track and move around (roundy roundy) behind the character we focused on in the first set up, and shoot 'complimentary' sizes on the other character. Lastly, I wanted a closeup of info on the computer screen on the desk, so we'd get a quick insert (pop) on that once we'd finished with the talent (actors). Simple, eh?


I remember telling a girlfriend about the scene I was shooting the next day wherein "...I had to get a two-hander with some dirty singles." She thought I was making porn, perhaps even performing in it myself.

There are also many names for things: flags (black cloth in a rectangular frame used to block or shape light); C-stands (flexible stands that hold flags); HMI's (lights that use an arc lamp rather than an incandescent bulb); a peewee (a small 'doorway' dolly); marks (spots on the floor where actors need to stand); and apple boxes (boxes of varying sizes used for leveling, propping, and mounting)...

Again, that's just the tip of the iceberg (here's an excellent Film Industry Terms Dictionary should you wish to know more), but again, for the the purpose of this post...

Here's what apple boxes look like and how they are labeled. Full apple, half apple, quarter apple, and a pancake (1/8 apple).

You probably can see where this is heading, but I forge onward.

Right after I graduated film school, I moved to Toronto just to hang out for a while. After a few weeks, I went around to all the commercial houses and dropped off a resume looking to get some P.A. (production assistant) work. And a few days later I was hired onto a big car ad. It was a three day prep and three day shoot. I think it paid $50.00 a day.

As a P.A., you are at the bottom of the food chain. You are first in and last to leave. In prep you're a helper and a gopher - you photocopy and distribute paperwork, get coffees and lunches, go pick stuff up... I'd been in Toronto less than a month and was asked to drive from Adelaide and Church up to an equipment house in North York to pick up some camera lenses or something. I grabbed a map and left the office. It was my first time driving in the 'big' city. According to the map, Yonge Street seemed to be the straightest cleanest route, so off I went.

Now anyone who knows Toronto knows Yonge St. is like the longest street in the world. And they know about the Don Valley Parkway. I did not. Over an HOUR later I finally arrived, and found two angry messages waiting for me (this was a pre-cell phone world) from the PM (Production Manager) wanting to know 'where the hell I was' and 'to pick up lunch for everyone at a deli back down on Front Street, pronto!'

Welcome to P.A. Land.

Anyway, first day of production arrives. We all travel up to a rural area around Orangeville to begin shooting. I felt kind of beat up after my stint in the office and was determined to make a good impression and become an asset rather than a liability.

I pushed my way into the circle gathered around the Director, who was also the DOP (Director of Photography), as the first shot was discussed. It was a drive by of the 'hero' or picture vehicle on a country road. They were talking about 'looking this way' or 'looking that way'...then they decided upon one but wanted the shot to be low to the ground so I heard the Director call for 'two half apples and a pancake.'

Not needing to be told twice, I turned and raced over to the craft service (food and snack) table. Without hesitation I asked the cook if there were any pancakes left over from breakfast as I grabbed an apple from the fruit basket and promptly cut it in half. The cook was still staring at me confused when I asked her again for a pancake. I made an exasperated sound and turned to run back to the camera.

The crew was still gathered around as I pushed my way through to the Director and proudly held out my sliced pomme: "Here you go, sir. Two half apples, just like you asked for."

You could've heard a pin drop.

Then the Production Manager (my nemesis from the office) finally starts to snigger: "Geez...he thought you meant real apples...oh my friggin' god."

As it slowly dawned on everyone else, they started to laugh, and point, and laugh some more.

I spent the next two days out in a field raking up bags of leaves to spread on a road for the car to drive through and send them sexily flying into the air.

I never P.A.'d again in my life...not so much from being unable to live down the humiliation, but because it showed me that if I wanted to write and direct television, picking up lunches or raking leaves wasn't the highway to that destination...or my highway at any rate.

So I went to work at a video store.

But I never forgot what a half apple was.

SONG&ARTIST? - " Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
Sometimes you bend sometimes you stand
Sometimes you turn your back to the wind..."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pearl's PISSED!

When stuff goes down like it did today at Virginia Tech, I just feel ill. And then seeing the news channels scramble to fill the day with 'interviews' and 'testimonials' (just leave them alone!) or trying to lay blame (if I hear another 'caster wonder "why the campus wasn't locked down earlier?") it makes me wanna puke.

Three words...tougher gun control.

So watch Will Ferrell trying to stall paying rent to his little 'landlord'... cuz even though it's kind of silly and a one-note joke, today it made me smile (a little).

Thanx NY Bro...

Ducks Mighty While Flames Fizzle...

Here's the latest playoff hockey pool update...Henshaw and I will take turns posting the standings a couple of times each week, so as to provide a venue for trash talk to ensue.

1. - Jim Henshaw.........30
2. - Denis McGrath......27
2. - Bill Cunningham....27
2. - Will Dixon............27
2. - Mark Farrell........ 27
2. - Dave Moses..........27
2. - Micah Reid............27
8. - Larry Raskin.........25
9. - Juniper...............23
10. - Michael Foster.....22
11. - John Whaley.........16
11. - Mark Askwith.......16

All I can say is...that's one serious second place log jam, with Turco's shutout the only thing keeping Jim out in front.

But it's still early...waaaay early.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hope I Was Able To Help....

Someone just found this site after asking for 'creative ways to masturbate' - in fact, Uninflected was at the top of the list.

Insert 'joke' here...

Friday, April 13, 2007

(CSI) NY Is History?.

I've been following with interest this developing story over the past couple weeks, and am personally glad to see Mark Dillon at Playback write something up on it.

Effectively, the WGC took to task Canada's History Channel airing of the contemporary forensic crime series, CSI: New York. Led by Exec Director Maureen Parker, the guild's contention was that the show didn't comply with History Channel's conditions of licence mandate, and they forwarded their concerns to the CRTC.

The (CSI:NY) program follows forensic detective Mac Taylor and his team as they solve crimes in The Big Apple, and Parker questioned how it fits into History's stated mandate to provide docs, movies, minis and programs that "embrace both current events and past history, with a special emphasis on documentary and dramatic programs related to Canada's past."

Surprisingly, the CRTC agreed with the missive, and forwarded it on to the network owner, Alliance Atlantis Communications.

The CRTC passed the letter over to AAC, requesting that the caster respond. AAC did so, and its defense is a doozy. It argued that the show did in fact fit within History's mandate, since "CSI: NY is based on New York-specific situations and locations, set in the city that became synonymous with one of history's most significant and notorious events, 9/11."


Short strokes: CRTC took exception and requested AAC take immediate steps to correct the situation. And AAC responded that they stand by their argument.

Oh right, one other thing...Alliance Atlantis Communications owns History Channel. And they own half of the CSI franchaise. Make sense now?

Okay, there's nothing new going on here. Over the past several years (in Canada and the U.S.), as more and more smaller networks have been swallowed up by much larger media conglomerates, we've all seen shows (generally owned by the same companies that own/produce the programming) end up airing across several different networks. The fact that it is AAC here in Canada makes it a bitter pill to swallow.

To some in the industry, the Alliance Atlantis story leaves a bad taste, the company having been built up in part as a domestic prodco with public funding aplenty. The margins just weren't good enough producing Canuck films and TV shows, so the media giant abandoned that game to focus instead on its lucrative broadcast business and its stake in the American-produced CSI shows.

And, of course, AAC still owns half of the CSI franchise, so it is only natural that it would like to fill its channels with the shows, as it has done with the original CSI series on Showcase, Action and Diva.

Mandate adherence aside, what this practice effectively does is take away a lot of timeslots for new or original programming. And with broadcasters now demanding (and getting) worldwide rights for all programming they commission, it allows them to play it across several platforms and networks (generally also owned by them) without any compensation coming back to the producer who came up with and made the product to begin with. Sneaky...but again, not new.

And let's face it, this is only the tip of the iceberg. I've often wondered how CSI: Vegas and CSI: Miami constituted edgy groundbreaking boundary-pushing television to justify it airing on Canada's Showcase network. Or even how Street Legal, Law And Order, and Without A Trace qualifies as innovative and relevant arts and cultural programming in order to air on the Bravo network here in Canada.

We've all been muttering about the sorry state of Canadian television (specifically drama) for a while now. And there does seem to be a consensus, in the creative/blogging community at any rate, that nips and tucks and tweaks won't cut it. Some big things need to change, perhaps even break. We need the CRTC to step up to the plate here... (Denis McGrath outlined a very reasonable plan of attack not long ago) and one of the first steps in getting more new and original Canuck programs on the air is to have timeslots for them to play in. Removing a lot of these 'inappropriate' (depending on the network) programs could be a step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see is if the CRTC stands by its decision. If they do, it won't be over...I think it'll just be beginning.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Let The Trash Talk Commence!

Dave Moses: Uhm. Sorry. I'm just wondering... Where is the trash-talking going on? I just wanted to trash-talk some of the guys.

Is Dix here?

Oh hi, Dix.

Yeah. Uhm. Hey, Mr. Last Place! How's it going down there?

That's all for now.

I won't make a habit of this (especially if I remain in the basement), but you can go HERE to check the current standings for the inaugural Infamous Writers Playoff Pool. The pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley

1 Micah Reid 10
1 Larry Raskin 10
3 Denis McGrath 9
4 Dave Moses 7
4 Michael Foster 7
6 Mark Farrell 6
7 Jim Henshaw 5
7 John Whaley 5
7 Juniper 5
7 Bill Cunningham 5
11 Mark Askwith 2
12 Will Dixon 1

I know it's only after one day, but still....yeeesh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

That's What She Said!

Okay...time for some subliminal's five inches but it's thick... yay, hockey pool underway...who wants some manmeat...seriously need something new to do...I want you to ride me as hard as you can...since I finished up some work stuff this, that is really hard...and the University class is all done...tomorrow I'm going to be in an intense six hour foursome with three other, now what?!

I hope this left you satisfied and smiling.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool (Redux)...

Only a day and a half left to enter the first annual blogger/writer/whatever playoff pool.

Come on's just for fun. Even if you don't really care, just pick twelve names and see what happens. Again...

You join "The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool" by sending an email to Jim Henshaw at with "POOL PICKS" in the subject line.

In your email, list the 10 skaters and 2 Goalies who make up your team. It needs to arrive by 6:00 PM EST Wednesday night (April 11/07).

And for even more info on how to make your picks, I direct you to this little video now playing over on the TSN Broadband site.

And I'd be curious to find out whether our friends south of the border can access this site/video. I wonder because I experienced some aggravation last week trying to watch the live streaming video coverage of Amen Corner at the Masters golf tourney. This wonderful coverage was shown last year on, and was even on last Thursday during the first round of the tournament. But come Friday morning, when I logged on, I was greeted by the message: 'This coverage is only available to residents of the United States.'

I sputtered and spat and gnashed and spat some more. And after sending several angry emails and getting nowhere, I eventually found the stream on the TSN website. But only on Friday. It wasn't available Saturday or Sunday via the net here in Canada.

Now I'm sure most of you are thinking "Golf, meh." --- but for us diehards, it was heartbreaking.... heartbreaking, I tell you.

Playoff hockey pool. Sign up!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool...


The Stanley Cup Playoffs, the greatest spectacle and the toughest trophy to win in all of professional sport!

This is where we separate the men from the boys, the wheat from the chaff, the real heroes from the wannabes and poseurs. This is where those with hockey smarts and the courage of their convictions can also shine. Because next to getting stitched up on the bench and playing with a broken leg, the most venerable tradition in the quest for the Stanley Cup is the "Hockey Pool"!


Jim Henshaw and I have been in hockey pools at least as long as we've known each other. No matter where we are or what we're doing, we have honored our on-ice warriors season after season by picking who we feel are the best among them and putting a little money on their sweaty asses.

I remember the two of us ending up in LA one season with the Leafs (our beloved team) making a run for the Cup. Hockey wasn't on TV down there back then (and seldom if ever even now) and the playoff games could only be had with access to an ANIK-B satellite. We drove all over LA until we found a bar called "Yankee Doodle's" in Santa Monica that could rotate its rooftop dish to access that particular Deathstar.

But the owner didn't want to upset his regulars, who came in to watch pansy sports like basketball and baseball (I can't diss golf) while sipping their light beers and wine coolers, so we made him a deal. In return for NHL access on the big screen in a basement back room, we'd drag in all the ex-pat hockey fans we could find and not only eat him out of chicken wings, but put to use every case of Molson's and Moosehead he had languishing in the fridge.

By the time we were done, we had up to 40 rabid hockey fans there every night cheering so loud, the guys on the Golf Channel were having to speak in a normal voice to be heard.

This season, being thousands of miles apart and with most of the people with whom we regularly communicate passing through our blogs, we cooked up this little plan to hold our hockey pool online.


You join "The Infamous Writer's Hockey Pool" by sending an email to Jim Henshaw at with "POOL PICKS" in the subject line.

It needs to arrive between 6:00pm EST Sunday (today)and 6:00 PM EST Wednesday night (April 11/07). The Playoffs begin an hour or so later.

The First Round Matchups:

Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa
Minnesota vs. Anaheim
Dallas vs. Vancouver
San Jose vs. Nashville

NY Islanders vs. Buffalo
Tampa Bay vs. New Jersey
NY Rangers vs. Atlanta
Calgary vs. Detroit

In your email, list the 10 skaters and 2 Goalies who make up your team. They can be members of any of the 16 teams competing in the opening round.

The scoring is as follows:

For every goal or assist scored by your skater you earn 1 point.
Every time your goalie wins you also earn a point and seven points each time he earns a shutout. (Shutouts in Stanley Cup play are rare and skaters will always earn more points than a Goalie, but this is a way of evening things up.)

The 12 players you choose are yours for the entire tournament. As the teams your players represent fall by the wayside, they cease earning you points, but their totals remain a part of your totals. In the end, the poolie with the most points wins.

Jim will post your team online. From then on, you can check your progress by going HERE.
The pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley.

Once you're inside, you'll see all the information on the poolies and their teams. You'll also receive a weekly email update of the pool standings, which either Jim or I will post for all the world to see on our blogs.

See -- easy and fun! The only thing missing is the chance to share the beer and wings and make fun of each other's choices.

Go to Jim's blog for some helpful tips and links to some stats sites.

And what do you win? Well, since gambling is technically illegal, and the entrants are going to come from a lot of disparate currencies that have trouble competing with the Mighty Canadian Dollar, we've decided that your entrance fee must be something either related to your career or a sports souvenir you've gathered along the way. Once the winner is decided, all entrants must ship he or she a DVD of a film they made, an autographed script, their Bobby Orr lunchbox or even that old Honus Wagner baseball card that's just gathering dust in grandpa's desk.

I'm contributing an autographed copy of my first 'Are You Afraid of the Dark?' episode (either written by or directed by, I haven't decided yet. Jim's contributing his "talking" Paul Henderson Hockey card which features Foster Hewitt making the call of the "Goal of the 20th Century" as well as an autographed copy of the final episode of "Friday the 13th" (which is probably worth a small fortune or at least five bucks on eBay).

There are no other restrictions to participating. Just join up, pick your players and set aside your victory swag.

Looking forward to playing with with you! Game on!!!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

'Allo Cleveland...


Friday Fun from This Is Spinal Tap...the band gets Lost!

Because it makes me smile...

Also must point out that the Amex commercial currently on air uses the song 'Gimme Some Money'...a song created and performed by a fictitious 60's band The Thamesmen (before they changed their name to Spinal Tap), for the documentary about the faux heavy metal band Spinal Tap.

Pretty bizarre if you think about it.

Happy Easter weekend y'all.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

She Tastes Like Trouble...

...with an attitude to boot!

Does that line even make sense?

"Grindhouse" – noun – A downtown movie theater - in disrepair since its glory days as a movie palace of the '30s and '40s - known for "grinding out" non-stop double-bill programs of B-movies.

This weekend, a film opens bearing the same name...from Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this one. It's being presented under the guise of two 70's-like exploitation flicks. But they're loaded with real movie stars and cool-looking explosions and special it probably cost some serious coin, something the movies didn't have that supposedly inspired our two indie rebels with a cause.

Furthermore, the intermission has several faux trailers directed by such celeb directors as Rob Zombie. But this article states that parts of these trailers were so graphic that they ran the risk of garnishing the picture a NC-17 rating. Much trimming ensued...again, something the exploitation movies this film supposedly celebrates wouldn't have worried about.

So what have we got here? A celebration or tribute to a long lost era of rock n' roll movie making? Or a big-time wank job? Because if my memory serves me correctly...these films way back when may have been entertaining, but primarily because they were 'so bad they're good.'

Anyway, here's a long version of the trailer for the two films:

We know Cunningham will be there will bells on...what about the rest of us?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monday Bloody Monday...

Yesterday was 'cut the fat' day as several TV series bit the dust, outlined in this Variety article. Notables included Six Degrees, Wedding Bells (I LOVED this show!), and Black Donnelly's. No real surprises but I feel a bit for several friends who'd made Donnelly's required viewing. Not discounting DMc's slash and burn, but this variation on Brotherhood and/or Sopranos (sans the language and skin of course) never had a chance. It was running on a network known these days for The Apprentice, Deal or No Deal, Law and Order forever, and some Thursday Night comedies.

Like I said, it never had a chance - even with Olivia Wilde.

Perhaps you can't fault NBC for trying, but viewers today know where to go for their dark gritty family drama...Showtime, HBO, F/X ('Rescue Me', 'The Riches'), etc.. And they go there with confidence because those are networks that will allow a drama to grow and evolve and eventually find an audience. So viewers who 'commit' can count on getting in at least a seasons worth of shows.

These same friends had fallen for Six Degrees and Studio 60 as well (and had high hopes for 60's return). Now they feel burned, betrayed.

What's replacing Six Degrees? Repeats of 'Wife Swap'. Sigh. And what's replacing Donnelly's? Bigger sigh.

What's bad for "Donnellys" is good for "Crashers," however. NBC is slotting "The Real Wedding Crashers" in a primo slot behind "Heroes".

Skein, a cross between "Punk'd" and "Beauty and the Geek," will bow Monday, April 23, at 10 p.m. It will follow the premiere episode of the third installment in the first season of "Heroes." There had been talk that "Crashers" would air Sunday nights. But Peacock execs liked early episodes of the show and decided it deserved to get a crack at the post-"Heroes" timeslot.

Another reality show...crashing real that sounds like making fun of people or having laughs at others expense will be its bread and butter. Much like so many of these 'reality' shows. And that really really pains me. There's a 'mean-spiritedness' at the core of so many of these programs that I ultimately find unhealthy. But that's just me.

So I grumbled and muttered, but then I got to thinking...maybe this isn't the end of the world. Perhaps this is, in fact, the future of the major networks. Hit dramas and comedies are fewer and farther between. Procedurials have run their course for the most part. So I see lots more reality shows and game shows and newsmagazines interspersed with the occasional comedy or high concept prime time soap/drama/actioner. And viewers who want headier, more challenging fare can travel over to the cable or pay nets.

Would that be so bad?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

It's Masters Week...

I realize for most of you, golf is kinda 'meh'...but for those of us who play the game, there is nothing like the Masters. Indulge me.

Four days. 72 holes. An elite field of players. The Masters is the Superbowl or World Series of golf. Yes there are four other majors over the course of a golf season (US Open, British Open, PGA Championship)...but the Masters tournament takes the cake.

Rae's Creek. Amen Corner. The Green Jacket. To a golf fan, these words hold the same meaning and allure and mystique as baseball's Green Monster to baseball or hockey's Maple Leaf Gardens.

Part of it is the time of year...early usually marks the end of another winter for those of us who live in northern climes, and signals the beginning of another season of playing the game. But more significantly, it's because they play it at the same course - Augusta National in Georgia. You've grown up seeing these same holes every even know the slope and break of the greens, almost as if you've played there yourself. The other majors move around...and while Pebble Beach or Pinehurst or St. Andrews have hosted these majors enough times for you to remember some of the holes, it's just not ingrained in the same way.

They say the Masters doesn't begin until the final nine holes on Sunday. No truer words have been spoken. Here are some of my fav memories of the back nine at Augusta.

"Yes sirrrr!"

The first, as for most fans of the game, was in 1986 when Seve Ballesteros and Greg Norman faltered while a 46 year-old Jack Nicklaus burned through the final holes on Sunday to win his 6th green jacket. I watched it with a best friend (and my main golfing partner-in-crime) in his family room - it was as good as television can get. And when Nicklaus almost holed out his tee shot on the par three 16th hole, my friend scrambled across the room yelling at the ball on the TV to... 'Get in! Get in! Get in!!!'

It didn't, but his putt for birdie did. As did his putt for birdie on 17. And his forty foot try on the last hole stopped inches short. But par was all he needed to couldn't have scripted it any better.

Sadly, my friend passed away suddenly from a heart attack a few years ago. That Masters moment was my favourite memory of him and our time together.

"O' Canada!"

Jump forward many years to 2003. Three of us were gathered together to watch on Sunday as Canadian Mike Weir was in contention. We were the remaining three of a foursome that used to play all the time when growing know, before lives and wives and kids and work took priority. Weir is a small-statured lefty who doesn't hit it as far as a lot of today's bombers, but he's consistent and had a hot putter that week. He needed to sink a six footer on the 18th green to tie Len Mattice and get into a playoff. I couldn't watch. But he made it, and then won the tournament on the first extra hole. A Canuck won the Masters, and I teared up. I've never felt so proud or patriotic or whatever you want to call it as I did that day (probably have to go back the Henderson goal in the '72 Canada/Russia hockey series to find an equal).

"In your life...have you seen anything like that!"

The final memory is from the current phenom of the game, Tiger Woods. To watch Woods hit a golf ball is nothing short of miraculous. We see these guys smack it around on TV, but it doesn't do any justice to their skill and ability. Five years ago, I stood behind Woods and watched him hit practice balls on the range for an hour and was simply in awe. The height and distance of his ball flight...his remarkable accuracy...his touch and feel around the greens - it was something to behold.

Anyway, two years ago he was grinding it out against Chris DiMarco when they reached the 16th hole. And then he hit this shot:

The chip heard around the world, one that led to Tiger's fourth Masters title. For anyone else I would say he was just lucky or it was a fluke...but not Woods. He is that good. Nevertheless I still jumped up off the couch and yelled in amazement.

Live sports is one of the few entertainment choices left that can do that to me. If you've been working in TV/movies for a long time, it gets harder and harder to be surprised. You tend to watch with an analytical eye...figuring it out as it goes... guessing who did it or how the plot is going to turn or twist. But a live sporting event is being written as we watch. The outcome is not foretold. And as the story unfolds, we can hope or wish but we cannot know with absolute certainty how it will end...until it's over.

This uncertainty can create some very intense emotional responses. Tears. Screams. Gasps. Cheers. But at least these responses aren't via orchestrated manipulation. They're Honest. Real. Visceral. Pure.

Pure entertainment.

The Masters can do it for me. What does it for you?