What Ever Happened to Penelope Spheeris?

Anybody out there remember Penelope Spheeris? She was the intellectual director’s intellectual director. Cool, hip, tougher than tough.

A 70’s punk film movement pioneer, Ms. Spheeris (we wouldn’t dare pretend to be on a first name basis with a woman we feel great admiration for while also finding her – well, we find her terrifying, to be honest) directed the smash hit Wayne’s World in 1992, had her way with whatever properties she wanted after that, ands then vanished from Hollywood’s grace after the flop film Senseless in 1998.

Here’s how it went down:

Wayne’s World director Penelope Spheeris on leaving Hollywood behind: “They can blow me”
by Katie Rife

Harvey Weinstein and his ilk expected this woman to play nice? WTF?

Pioneering punk film director Penelope Spheeris ran out of fucks to give a long time ago—around the time she started getting script notes from Harvey Weinstein, as she recalls. There’s visible disgust on her face recalling the disrespect the Weinsteins showed her on the set of her 1998 movie Senseless, which would end up being her last studio film after a successful—if unexpected—run as a comedy director that began with the smash hit Wayne’s World in 1992. Senseless was a flop, and “as a woman, when you do a movie that doesn’t do well, then you’re done. You’re in director jail,” she says.

Although Spheeris insists that she’s happier now that she’s (mostly) out of the movie business, it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened if she’d been able to get the second (and third, and fourth) chances so often granted to her male peers. Born the daughter of a sideshow strongman, Spheeris spent her early years traveling America with her parents’ carnival, giving her an affection for outcasts that would stay with her for the rest of her life. After putting herself through UCLA film school waiting tables, Spheeris started Rock ’N’ Reel, the first production company in Los Angeles to specialize in music videos, in 1974. That led to The Decline Of Western Civilization (1981), a vivid, visceral document of the late ’70s L.A. punk scene featuring interviews and performances with bands like Black Flag, X, and Fear. That documentary eventually became a trilogy, which has shaped Spheeris’ life both professionally (she was offered Wayne’s World on the strength of 1988’s The Decline Of Western Civilization II: The Metal Years) and personally (she met her partner of 21 years, Sin, while filming the gutter punk documentary Decline III in 1998).

The A.V. Club met Spheeris in Los Angeles in the green room of a club as The Decline Of Western Civilization screened for a packed audience downstairs as part of the Red Bull Music Festival Los Angeles and its Center Channel series. The interview followed a revealing Q&A in which Spheeris described building a cage for her cameraman so his equipment wouldn’t get broken in the middle of a violent slam-dancing pit, and traced the serendipitous origins of the documentaries’ famous shtick of interviewing rock stars as they cook breakfast (“I’m no cheap bitch, I brought the mint jelly,” she says). Unfiltered and highly opinionated, she’s everything you’d ever want the woman behind classics of teen alienation like Suburbia to be, and a trailblazer for future generations of women both in punk and in filmmaking….

Read it all at AVCLUB.COM

Agent From Gersh Gives Advice on How to Work in Entertainement

For those of you who’ve never met an actual talent agent, here’s what you’ve got to look forward to:

And you thought those fictional agents you’ve seen on various shows and in films were exaggerations, right?

15 Screenwriting Lessons People Learn TOO LATE

This is it, kids – your chance to become the leader of the pack.

Click on, keyboard-wielding soldiers:

From Film Courage

Want to Score a Fellowship to TheOffice?

by TVWriter™ Press Service

Attention, TVWriter™ visitors. Here’s a peek into the kind of email we love to receive…because of the way it can benefit YOU:

Hi there,

I’m Jordan, and I help run theOFFICE, a quiet, communal workspace in Santa Monica. We’ve just launched our 2019 Fellowship where we award one up-and-coming writer a FREE 6-Month Premium Membership to our space. It’s completely free for writers to enter. I thought this could be a great opportunity for your community.

theOFFICE is one of the country’s premiere coworking spaces, serving writers for over 15 years. Current and past members include J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, Clark Gregg, Matthew Carnahan, Jen Celotta, Victoria Strouse and a whole host of others. With this fellowship, we’re able to open up the space to an up-and-coming writer who might not yet be able to afford a membership. This is the 6th year we’ve offered this.

If you’re looking for a great writing space in the L.A. area, TheOffice definitely should be on your list. And right now, for the seventh straight year, you have a chance to get your space absolutely free for six months. Here’s how:

You send us a sample of your best piece of writing along with a short email explaining why this fellowship is right for you. Our judges select a winner who will receive 6 months of free 24/7* access to the space. This is equivalent to a Premium Membership, the highest level of membership we offer, worth upwards of $2700. Winner gets their own door code to access the space even when staff isn’t here. You want to write at 2AM on a Wednesday night? The space is yours. You also get all the other perks of membership including unlimited coffee/tea, a locker for storage, Wifi, ergonomic Aeron workstations and all the peace and quiet you need to get the job done.

This year’s fellowship starts May 1st and runs through October 31st, 2019. It is completely free to enter. The winner will be announced the last week of April. Open to all up-and-coming writers who are looking to kick their productivity into overdrive. Think of this as your own writer’s retreat right here in the city!

We love the sound of this situation. If you do too, the place for more info is HERE.

The Perils, Pitfalls, and Cool Stuff That Come with Living in L.A.

Life in L.A. may not be a cabaret, but it IS a studio tour

LB’S NOTE: Speaking of where I live now that I’m, erm, sort of retired, here’s another perspective on the city where I abided for about 30 years (with, I admit, a few breaks in places like Santa Fe, NM and – God help me – Orlando, FLA.

by Larry Brody

Throughout my career, one of the most asked questions, usually uttered in a voice so filled with resentment and contempt that makes me want to pull out the AK I don’t (and never will) have and start blasting always has been:

“If I want to write for film or television, do I have to live in L.A.?”

And my answer, with the sweetest smile and mildest tone of voice I can muster, always has been

“Yep.”

After which, complete with gasps and looks of anguish the response always has been:

“Ohmigod! No! NO! NO!!!”

Followed most of the time by the questioner taking quick look around for the nearest exit and then, as though propelled by the biggest booster rocket in the U.S. or Chinese or Tesla – excuse me – SpaceX storehouse a run for that very door.

I’ve lived with this for years. But why? What’s the reason for all this hoohah? Why the horror at not being able to write, say, The Good Place, from Iowa City or Oshkosh? I mean, c’mon, what’s the problem?

Maybe we can figure it out by first going through the reason for my answer. Instead of smacking our collective head against the wall in dismay, let’s just ask another question:

“Why? Why do screen and TV writers have to live in L.A.?”

This is a legitimate line of inquiry, to be sure, and there are all kinds of legitimate answers. It boils down to the fact that L.A. is a company town and even now, with the rise of online platforms of all kinds and sizes, showbiz still is the company. If you want to work here, then you have to live here. This is where you make the friends and contacts who will help you make your career.

Simple, no? So why does that seem so horrific to the wannabes at the writers conferences? Why do they react so violently? What do they have against moving to L.A.? Is it the uprooting? Is it the city? Is it the fact that they’ve always had the idea that as writers they are above and beyond the shmoozing engaged in by mere mortal men?

Hey, friends, shmoozing’s the name of the game – just about every game. Let’s face it. No matter what our job titles, we’re all salesmen, selling ourselves. If you want to live the life of the hermit writer, if your heart goes pitter-patter at the thought of staying all alone in your attic ala Emily Dickinson, then TV and screenwriting ain’t for you.

A poem, after all, is an end in itself. Ditto a short story, a novel…anything written to be read. But scripts are written to be performed. Scripts don’t exist all alone. They’re the foundation of a production involving one Acme Ton O’People. So you have to be the kind of person who can stand all those people, who can get along with producers and directors and crew members and even…shudder…actors.

More than get along. To succeed in showbiz you have to actively like all those folks. In fact, it goes further than that. In my experience, the writers who succeed in television and on screen do so because they love the whole package. They don’t merely want to be writers, they WANT TO BE IN SHOWBIZ. They love the whole lifestyle.

The writers who make it are the men and women who grew up as the most frantic of fans. While they were living in Dubuque their bodies tingled at the very words, “Sunset Boulevard,” and “Hollywood and Vine.”

They’re the men and women who read every entertainment column in every local newspaper and magazine, who dreamed of the day their pictures would be in “People” and their privacy invaded on Access Hollywood.

They’re the men and women who love driving down the freeway and looking at the car beside them and seeing that it’s driven by Denzel Washington. The men and women who think that Denzel should be just as thrilled to turn and see them.

The writers who make it love the sun and the surf and the smog, the bikinis and the beautiful people. To them, plastic surgery is a sign of success.

They think a day without a meeting is a day that never was, and the first thing they do when they get a deal is pop for the down payment on a new Porsche. When they get another deal they buy a house in the hills, with a black bottom swimming pool and a coke dealer living next door.

They look at the blacked-out windows of a passing limo and wonder who’s inside and pray to God On High that someday soon others will wonder the same thing as their limos roll by.

They know that regardless of how overpriced and under-tasty the food may be there’s no better restaurant in the world than whichever one is today’s darling. Because they’re there to see who else is there, and to feel fuzzy all over because across from them a middle-aged guy is saying, “Option…” and behind them a bare midriffed babe is saying, “Gross receipts.”

The writers who make it are the men and women who live for the day that their names will be in the gossip columns and they’ll be interviewed on the red carpet at every premiere. They’ll do anything for the time when they can make an Oscar or Emmy acceptance speech, and wave and say, “Thanks, Ma.” They are driven by demons that demand fame and fortune and won’t take anything else. They need more than a blank page to fill, they need glamor and glitz.

Need it.

Need it.

NEED!

Showbiz life is harsh. The Money Gods are impatient, and the rivalry is intense. What makes all the long nights of work and the kissing up worthwhile is the Hollywood Lifestyle, because thatÕs the drug the successful ones crave.

Believe me, I’ve been there, I know. Wives, kids, love, loyalty…those things don’t mean a thing next to getting that great showrunner job.

So, to all of you who keep asking me, “Do I have to live in L.A.?” I say the real question should be:

“Why would you want it any other way?”


If you’re reading this, you probably already know who Larry Brody is. If you need to know more, a good place to start would be HERE. Or HERE. This post is an adaptation of an article on one of TVWriter™’s very own Writers’ Bulletins Resource Pages, which are laid out for all to see, free of charge and/or obligation, HERE.

Seeya in L.A.!