Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Holding Pattern

First Denis takes an extended hiatus (I'm still in mourning...going through the 5 stages of grief - I think I'm still in denial) and now I'm finding myself having to continue a reduced posting period on the blog as I sort through some stuff and figure out what I'm doing next.

But in meantime, enjoy some of the best commercial of the past year HERE....I still like the Canal + and Old Spice ones the best.

"And that's how I ended up here."

Enjoy your summer!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Calling All WGC Members!

RYERSON UNIVERSITY is in the middle of a very worthy survey -- the first ever -- of Canadian screenwriters. This is a major research project designed to--

"...gather information on the demographic makeup, careers and opinions of Canadian screenwriters. While such studies are regularly undertaken by U.S. Writers Guilds, this survey is the first of its kind in Canada. Results of the survey should provide valuable insight into current working conditions for screenwriters in Canada."

If you are a WGC member go now and participate. It can be accessed directly HERE or by signing into the Members Section of the Writers Guild of Canada Site HERE. It's a worthwhile project and takes no time at all.

Friday, June 18, 2010

All The Animals Come Out At Night...

...someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets.

Okay. Not very Friday funny, but kinda suits my mood these days...and Taxi Driver still can be fun in a twisted sort of way.

Because it makes me smile...about the days when films were movies, and movies were films.

Monday, June 14, 2010

NOT Banffing

Feels a little strange not being at the Banff Television Festival this week...first time in seven years. But with kids graduating it couldn't be helped, not to mention it's become more and more difficult of late to justify the cost of attendance. Not that it isn't always great to schmooze and reconnect or connect with old/new movers and shakers and colleagues, but at some point in the not too distant past Banff went from being a festival where deals could be struck to now being a place where finished deals are announced. Thus you could end up having a lot of network meetings that were valuable in terms of making contacts but ultimately resulted in hearing something like: "That sounds interesting, but we aren't really looking at anything right now because...we just made all our development and programming decisions. Wanna get a drink?" And even though the creative and showrunner panels are entertaining and informative, I don't know if I could stomach another "television is dead digital convergence new media is the future we just don't know how to monetize yet" forum right now....the *same* message they've been preaching in panels and forums there for the past 5 years.

Plus I was getting a little tired of all the strange looks when I'd gush about the good ol days when the festival was held down at the Banff Park Lodge and a trip up to The Springs was 'special'! Anyone? "crickets"

I kinda kicked off this blog four years ago with posts from Banff...read them HERE if you are looking for a little trip down memory lane. They actually mostly read like a collection of Twitter tweets, which is today where you can get your fill of what's happening in the Rundle Lounge or the Van Horne Ballroom - hashtag #banff2010.

Oh well. Wish I was there but I'm not. Good times and best of luck to all the delegates...just don't get elked.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Walty McFly

New look for the blog. Not. Sure. If. I. Like.

Breaking Bad killed last month with a dark twisted bottle show episode entitled "The Fly". And some youtuber kills with this promo for the same 'Fly' episode...but laughtracked as if it was an ABC comedy sitcom. Friday funny!

Because it makes me smile.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Two Sides Of Glee

I get the Glee love, but I don't really get "Glee". It is so fraught with dramatic storytelling problems and repetitive plots that I can't seem to forgive its shortcomings as easy as most people. Plus so many of the songs feel like a dated setlist on karaoke night. So it doesn't really work for me. Or it doesn't work for me on any sort of level beyond a few fun moments per episode, and so far the moments haven't been greater than the whole. And this has been frustrating because I like to understand why a show works for audiences, even if I don't really like the show.

MacLean's Jaime Weinman tweet discussed this last night after I read via The A.V. Club Todd VanDerWerff's review of the Glee season finale HERE wherein Todd ultimately gave the episode and series a thumbs up even though half the review was pointing out all the problems with it. And though I grasped Todd's further assertion that the show really just wants to make you 'feel', Jaime came through today with an excellent post that explained it in terms I could relate to (not that I don't want to or can't feel, but the whole has to track for me in order to do so effectively - comedy and making me laugh is a different fish kettle) and perhaps even coined the phrase 'scattershot' drama.

I’d compare Glee to shows like Family Guy and (on a higher level) 30 Rock, which are from the school of “scattershot comedy.” The basic idea behind that kind of show is to do a comedy with all the boring parts cut out and filled in with more jokes. They’ll barrel through the exposition, conflict, resolution stuff as fast as they possibly can, and make sure that a new joke is coming at us every few seconds. This means certain dramatic/structural values don’t get serviced (plus most of the characters become tiresome freaks). But it also means that there’s something new and entertaining all the time, and we don’t have to sit through dry set-ups in the hope that they’ll pay off with something funny later on.

What Glee is doing is taking that approach, familiar enough in pure comedy, and applying it to episodes that are twice as long, and include elements of scattershot drama. That is, it’s giving us the big juicy dramatic scenes without all the usual build-up, just as other shows (including Glee itself) give us rapid-fire jokes. I guess this isn’t a completely unfamiliar approach; you can also find it in daytime soaps, where the writers are often trying to avoid doing a scene that doesn’t have some big hook to it. But a soap opera scene will often start small and build to the big dramatic moment at the end. Glee doesn’t have time for that, because it’s doing three different shows at once and the scenes are very short. So whatever type of scene they’re doing will start big and end even bigger.

Go read the rest HERE, and thanks Jaime. I still might not understand why viewers are so forgiving, but I better understand what Glee is doing and why.

And on another Glee-related note, check out this interesting piece by Christina Mulligan at the Balkinization site discussing the issue of copyright.

The absence of any mention of copyright law in Glee illustrates a painful tension in American culture. While copyright holders assert that copyright violators are “stealing” their “property,” people everywhere are remixing and recreating artistic works for the very same reasons the Glee kids do — to learn about themselves, to become better musicians, to build relationships with friends, and to pay homage to the artists who came before them. Glee’s protagonists — and the writers who created them — see so little wrong with this behavior that the word ‘copyright’ is never even uttered.

In these days where copyright seems to be on every one's brain, it raises some very interesting points. Read the rest HERE.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The 'Room'

"Sometimes there's a table that everyone sits around, sometimes just a room with comfy chairs and sofas. Sometimes it's in the showrunner's office. Sometimes it's in a clean-and-corporate setting, sometimes it's peeling paint and a window propped open with a book. Personally, I don't care as long as there is enough corkboard space." - Jane Espenson

"If the writers room doesn't work, the show doesn't work. If the show doesn't work, hundreds of people are out of jobs. And that is, at least in my writers room, evermost in our minds — that we are the people who lay the track for the train." - John Rogers

"One of the rules I put in my writers room was Don't Break Anything You Can't Fix. Which is to say, if you don't like an idea I don't want to hear from you unless you can clearly articulate why you don't think it's any good and unless you have something to counter-pitch." - Javier Grillo-Marxuach

"There are two things that a writers room can't live without: caffeine and toys. Caffeine is vital, as you're working yourself into a state of mental exhaustion every day. By about 3:00 in the afternoon, you're ready for a nap. Having toys around the office is an important reminder that the room is supposed to be playful. It helps keeps things light, fun, and imaginative." - Amy Berg

"A safe comfortable place for to think, laugh, cry, gnash, mourn, sulk, joke, mull, curse, spitball, create, destroy, and ultimately break story with others." - Will Dixon

Okay, I'm actually not included in the roundtable with several talented and respected TV writers interviewed by Marc Bernardin for io9, but hey, it's my blog - just throwing in my two cents...nevertheless you can read the above and way many more tasty nuggets of crafty goodness from this most excellent group discussion about the TV writers room and how it runs HERE.

Stocking Up Pays Off...

...stocking up on Blackhawk players that is, as evidenced by Barry Kiefl's meteoric rise from back in the back to take over the lead in the Infamous Writers Hockey Pool with only two games left in the Stanley Cup final. Talk about an all or nothing strategy paying off!

Nice one Barry.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Food For Thought

Watch this video (yes it's a Hellmann's ad, but stick with me here...it's worth it) and every time you hear the words fruits or vegetables or produce, try replacing with the words 'American films' or 'American TV shows'.

And then think about our anemic English language feature film biz and woefully small scripted TV show output when they talk about us in Canada losing our ability to produce the foods we eat.

"Are cheap imports really worth it?"

Kinda makes you think, don't it.

Choose Canadian. But you have to look for it. You have to ask for it. You have to want it, and start filling your bag with it.

H/T Stephen Hall

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Homegrown TV Scorecard

The major private Canadian TV networks announced their fall schedules this week, and here are the results as far as homegrown prime time scripted fare goes:

GLOBAL - 1 new series, SHATTERED, on Fridays at 9pm. Um...yeah. Oh yeah, and I think a reality show on Sunday evenings (ICE PILOTS is Canadian, right?). See and weep HERE. Read and weep HERE.

ROGERS/CITYtv - Um...0 new series? although there will be repeats of MURDOCH MYSTERIES on Sundays at 10pm with word of some new eps later in the year. Oh yeah, there are some Canadian animated and reality series on Friday and Saturday evenings. Read and weep HERE.

CTV/'A' - 1 new series, if you can call International co-pro THE BORGIAS homegrown (like the CBC's THE TUDORS it counts, barely). But at least CTV had some scripted series to renew and that they did: HICCUPS, DAN FOR MAYOR, THE LISTENER, THE BRIDGE, and FLASHPOINT all got picked up again, so good on them for that. Read the details HERE.

And then there is the CBC, who announced their new schedule last week, but half hour MEN WITH BROOMS on Mondays at 8:30 is the only new scripted series pickup airing in the fall (INSECURITY was also greenlit) as the pubcaster also primarily renewed existing series HEARTLAND, LITTLE MOSQUE, REPUBLIC OF DOYLE, THE TUDORS, and BEING ERICA. Get the deets HERE.

So there you go...a lot of 'nothing or a little or a stick with what we got already' and not a lot of 'new' - only 2.5 hours by my count. But nobody should be very surprised about that anymore...until the CRTC rules change regarding how much scripted Cancon has to be produced and aired in prime time, Canadian viewers will only ever get the bare minimum required.