Thursday, January 31, 2008

He Sold Sanctuary

Tip of the hat to old pal Damian Kindler for the sale of his hi-def supernatural/sci-fi series Sanctuary to the SCI-FI Channel, and the order for a 13 episode season.

More details on the deal HERE.

And interview with Damian back when it all began to hit the internets HERE.

Congrats all round, but the sale raises some interesting questions. The series was originally designed to be web-based and fan/pay-per-webisode driven, but the two hours worth of material produced and streamed thus far look more to have served as some form of back door pilot.

Will try to find out more from the Kindler as to how it will proceed now, but wonder if the series has gone from an innovative groundbreaking Web venture to just another cable TV show. And how will the fans that subscribed to and supported the venture thus far react?
Well sold?

Or sell out?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why Hart Writes...

There's been a nice series of short essays posted at 'Why We Write' by a good cross section of mostly prominent WGA film/TV writers where they try to explain...erm, why they write.

This week, old pal and friend of the blog Hart Hanson (Bones, Judging Amy) weighed in. His entire piece is a delight, but for me, this passage in particular stood out:

Early on I was determined to spend my life in serious-minded literary writing. As a result, I write a murder show for network television. For the Fox network.

I don’t need my imaginary therapist to figure out that one — genuine artistes are willing to forego health, love, underarm hygiene, financial security, family, and fun-on-the-weekends to pursue their art and I was never booked to be that guy. I want my wife to like me and I like clean teeth. Besides, one of my first rejections from a literary magazine said, “We found much to admire in your piece, especially the punctuation.”


Read between the lines, pal. Nobody ever praised Thomas Mann or Saul Bellow for their punctuation.

Besides, genuine artists don’t pander to an audience and I always envision you out there … you and your friends along with an extra smattering of acerbic celebrities, historical figures, the Nobel Committee, Stephen Fry, my idiot cousin’s idiot husband, courtesans, my entire high school, and maybe Jimmy Page in the last row.

The truth is my main qualification for being a writer is that I am a whiz bang typist. I burn up the keys, baby! I will kick your ass typing. I learned on a Remington unmarked manual typewriter so you sit me down in front of an ergonomic keyboard, well, I’m faster than all those girl celebutards I refuse to differentiate between but you know to whom I’m referring; they have issues with underwear.

But all of the above answers the question, “How I Came to Write” which is different from “Why I Write”.

I write because I’m totally confused by the world. I never know what’s going on. I absolutely never know what absolutely anything absolutely means. I ask and the good-hearted, intelligent souls around me do their best to explain but I don’t get it. I don’t get quiddity or science or religion or psychology or why we laugh when people fall down or why people come together or why we drift apart. I don’t understand my friends or my enemies and I definitely don’t understand time or gravity or mob mentality or Crocs or botox or why people take some other people seriously when they so very, very obviously should not be taken seriously.

Writing is a way for me to organize the chaos around me. I can corral bits of the sloppy world into a clean white area measuring 8 ½ x 11 inches, where it is apprehensible. Then actors and directors and the DP and the crew all explain it back to me on 35 millimeter opaque celluloid squares twenty four times per second and sometimes — rarely, but sometimes — I go “Oh!” and I don’t wish I were a physicist or a great guitar player or a blimp pilot because for those few fleeting seconds, I understand some small facet of some small thing.

And that’s why I write.


Set em up with the funny...then knock 'em down yet win them over with the emotional and heartfelt --- vintage Hanson...(I know...handjobs all round)

Find Hart's essay and many other wonderful musings on this thing we do....HERE.


Friday, January 18, 2008

Bemused, Confused, And Amused...

Okay okay...I'll get back in the saddle soon...sheesh. Snarky comments and emails from expectant readers...let an old man take a breather, 'kay?

But in the meantime, I'm admit I'm a little confused.

Did The...erm...I mean 'A' Daily Show and the Col-bert Report sign some kind of interim contract or waiver or something? Because while the first few shows after returning to the airwaves reflected their scribes being on strike (looser...more guests...fewer 'bits'), this week both programs seem more or less same as they ever were. Sure, we don't have Colbert's 'The Word', but with sketches and reporter field reports and moments of 'zen', it sure feels written.

What's up with that?

And some Friday Fun...just to remind us all what the WGA writers are up against (or what they're missing), the great Tony Shalhoub as movie producer Ben Geisler giving the gears to John Turturro in the Coen Brothers classic Barton Fink...

"Writers come and go...but we always need Indians. "


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Love/Hate Relationship

I like tee-vee. It's a silly, misguided, and frivolous creature most of the time, but still the animal I love the most.

And as much as I can appease myself with all there is to enjoy of late, writer's strike and all (Dexter Cycle 2, Jeckyl, Life, South Park cycle 10, A Daily Show & Colbert Report, The Border, and Burn Notice, now available in Canada on Super Channel!), there are times when tee-vee makes me want to throw up in my American Idol.

Don't get me wrong...I know why Idol is a monster hit. I 'get' it. I just don't like it.


Always-quirky audition episodes kick off Season 7 of American Idol

With days to go before the premiere of American Idol, fans are smacking their lips in anticipation of the most humourous -- and often humiliating -- first episodes of the show, the auditions.

Commercials already airing for Season 7, which begins Tuesday, January 15 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV, have given the show's massive and ravenous audience a sneak peak into the over-the-top drama of a few unsuccessful competitors.

From insisting they sound like "Mariah Houston" to having backstage freak-outs at the camera, the show is looking as juicy as ever!

And I especially don't like Idol when it launches with the audition episodes.

You know, the ones where they touch on the lucky few that somehow made it through the gauntlet of singalongs and pre-interviews and callbacks and profiling (trust me, how good they can sing is so far down on the list - the show is looking for 'types' and 'characters'), but dwell on the auditioners who croak and squeak their way through a tune only to suffer insults from the panel of 'experts' sitting there with their giant Slurpee cups of Coke.

Millions upon millions of people tune in to laugh at the shortcomings and failures of others. It's the cornerstone of most reality TV programming, and it's just wrong.

And sooooo mean-spirited.

But it gets worse. The recent promo blitz on CTV goes one step further, presenting social and cultural stereotypes being ridiculed and humiliated. The overweight pseudo-diva black woman....the overtly gay interior decorator salsa man... I mean, C'MON!

What was once ads for genuine fame seekers tripping over their own voices is now promo after promo of what are clearly plants, I'm even betting actors, pretending to be wannabe's so they can sing badly, act ignorant, and storm out of the room in a rage.

And millions smack their lips in anticipation.

That's when I hate tee-vee.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Turn It Up

So The Daily Show and Colbert Report return to the airwaves tonight...without writers.


Not sure what to make of that but will still tune in to see what my current late night comedy heroes have to say.

And in lieu of a real post, we've all seen memes and threads about your fave music to write to or work to...but what's the song when you hear in the car that you have to turn up LOUD, or if at home, dance madly around the office?

A song that lights you up.

Not that I love the cocaine...just the groove. (in case anyone was wondering)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

That's Serious Radio Contest Winner Money...

SNL's Fred Armisen as (fake) studio head Roger A Trevanti, who has a message for the striking WGA writers...

Because it makes me smile.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Oh No The Driving Snow...

I can vouch for this great winter driving tale from Henshaw....because he called me shortly after the two trucks jackknifed around him. And he recounted his adventure to me pretty much word for word as he tells it on his blog. He called me because, well, we're pals, but also because he was on his way to Vegas and the NATPE convention before going on to Los Angeles, if I remember correctly. See, he was going to check out some going-ons for me at NATPE and report back.

But perhaps that's too much info.

At any rate, a fantastic story from Jim...anyone who's lived for any length of time in winter climes has one like it. Mine was much less exciting. It was during a winter drive through the Rockies for a week long golf trip in Vancouver...but I had the easy shift, then crawled in the back seat and slept for 4 hours as my two buddies navigated a monster blizzard that sprang up out of nowhere. I woke up when we finally crawled into Revelstoke and pulled up to a motel. And I would've thought nothing happened were it not for the ten inches of snow that was now on the roads and their pale faces and stressed out voices as they tossed back beers and described how many times we nearly slid off the highway with hundred foot drops on either side.

Ulp. What you don't know can't hurt you I suppose.

But I can say that next golf trip, we flew.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Way To Go Dave!

The late night talk shows returned in full force last new HD PVR got a serious workout. Some programs had their writers (thanks to Letterman's company Worldwide Pants), other shows, not so much.

Letterman (with a beard!) led the charge with a no holds barred but still business-as-usual program, followed up by Craig Ferguson's all-WGA all-written no guest-fest. At the same time on different networks, shows without their staff writers also hit the airwaves. The Tonight Show with Leno seemed 'same as it ever was' (not sure if that's a good thing or a scary thing)...Jimmy Kimmel used restraint and stayed at his desk - kudos...and Conan O'Brien just kinda...erm, sucked. Not sure if it was on purpose to make a statement, or if O'Brien really really needs his writers. I'm choosing to believe the former for now.

Nikki Finke has the full story HERE.

Still, a big tip of the hat to David Letterman and his company for negotiating an interim contract with the only takes one to stand up to the man before others will start to follow suit.

Way to go Dave!