LB: I Miss Gore Vidal Already

by Larry Brody

Celebrated author, playwright Gore Vidal dies at 86 – by Hillel Italie and Andrew Dalton, The Associated Press

Author, playwright, politician and commentator Gore Vidal, whose vast and sharpened range of published works and public remarks were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, died Tuesday at age 86 in Los Angeles.

Some of my personal favorite Gore Vidal quotes that have no relevance to politics or culture:

  • A narcissist is someone better looking than you are
  • Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.
  • The more money an American accumulates, the less interesting he becomes
  • Read more about Gore

LB: Rod Serling on Censorship…and Sponsors

by Larry Brody

My writing hero talked to Mike Wallace back in 1959, and Rod wasn’t exactly a happy camper:

Thanks, Robin!

The Most Popular TVWriter™ Status Update on Facebook

by Larry Brody

We all know that Facebook keeps an enormous amount of information on all of its users.

One of the bits FB collects is how many viewers any given status update has, and there’s even a way to find out. (No, I don’t know how to do it deliberately. I just know that whenever I go to the TVWriter™ FB page – or whatever they call those things now – it tells me how many people saw each post…and then, for purposes of comparison, I assume, it tells me how many people have seen what it says is, “your most popular post.”

For months, that “most popular post” has been something called: “Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters?” Inasmuch as this is one of the most informative and helpful showbiz articles ever to appear on the web and I put it on the Facebook page before TVWriter™ existed in its current equally on-the-money, helpful blog form, it seems to me only fitting that I post it here and now, so it can get even more exposure and help more hopefuls understand the Showbiz Game:

Polone: Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters? – by Gavin Polone

…Aspiring and established scriptwriters likely fantasize about a high-powered exec or producer personally discovering their genius after a cold read and calling their agents, demanding a meeting. And those dreamers might be distressed to know just how much of their fate — when it comes to getting a staff writing gig on a TV show, a feature-film assignment, or the possible sale of their spec script — is in the hands of inexperienced low-level executives, assistants, and even interns.

I started as an agent 25 years ago, and I remember sitting in the Monday morning staff meeting where we would talk about all of the scripts we had read over the weekend. A huge pile of scripts in front of you was a red badge of courage, and I felt superior to agents with smaller piles. (Nobody has paper piles any longer, as everyone reads on iPads and Kindles.) Back then, I would routinely plow through up to about 1,200 pages’ worth of sitcom, TV drama, and feature scripts over a weekend. While I might not have read them super-thoroughly, I didn’t skim them either, devoting 45 minutes to an hour to each feature. It was exhausting and life-killing. Today, I read a fraction of the material I used to and none of my peers do much more.

Here’s the short list of what I do read: For a project I’ve sold into development at a film studio or television network, I will read and usually write notes on each new draft; if the changes made to that script were small, I will only read the pages that have been changed…But other than that, scripts submitted to me as possible development projects are given to my development executive and our assistants, who write a synopsis and critique on each…

[I]f you are one of those hoping to break into scriptwriting and are disillusioned that your prospects may rest in the hands of someone just out of school and with little experience, I’d say two things:

(1) Fear not, since, in my experience, truly good writing always finds its way to the decision-makers because the young people who are reading the scripts are more like the audience than those of us they assist. We do listen to these early readers, knowing that in some ways the opinion of an assistant or intern has even more validity than our own.

And (2) No, there isn’t a chance in hell that I’ll read your fucking script, so don’t ask.

The details, many of which I’ve excluded for reasons of space, are what really make this article. So I definitely suggest you read it all. I’d also like to point out, as one of the commenters on the original article does, that while this is the way things are done these days that doesn’t make it the best possible one. It’s simply the reality we live with…for now.

Tell Us Again – Why is This Called BEAUTY AND THE BEAST?

Whatever happened to truth in advertising?

‘Beauty and the Beast’ EPs Defend Handsome Lead, Tout Linda Hamilton Approval – by Michael O’Connell

Technically rebooting the 1987 series, the CW drama’s creative team try to explain the lack of beastliness and draw comparisons to “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Meeting with reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, the team behind the CW’s Beauty and the Beast reboot had to answer to one very big question: Where’s the beast?

Jay Ryan, who plays Vincent Keller/Beast, is rarely seen in the pilot sporting anything more offensive than a scar on his right cheek. EPs Sherri Cooperand Jennifer Levin chalked it up to going for something more subtle.

“Most of the beasts in our lives don’t look like actual beasts,” said Cooper. “He’s a ticking time bomb.”

Ryan offered a more understandable explanation — albeit one that prompted another line of questioning.

“It’s actually more like the Jekyll and Hyde, like two people,” said Ryan. “The beast is more like a serial killer and Vince is trying to suppress him. You don’t get a lot of that in the pilot, but there will be more of that as the series goes.”

So why Beauty and the Beast and not Jekyll and Hyde? Cooper and Levin were very big fans of the 1987 original starring Linda Hamilton and a grizzly Ron Perlman. Those two characters, names and all, motivated for the reboot.

Read it all

Sorry, EPs, but we’re calling “Bullshit!” No matter how you try to spin it, this ain’t BEAUTY AND THE BEAST or DOCTOR JEKYLL. Your title(s) and your P.R. are insulting in the extreme. Here’s hoping your writing is more than just a tad more believable.

Or, as our ole buddy the Toothless Mountain Man might say, “That boy sure is purty. Beast or no beast, I’m a’gonna make him squeal like a pig.”

Doomed Film of the Day: ROBOT AND FRANK

We could just as easily headlined this: “What? You Thought Movie Marketing Mavens Knew What They Were Doing?” Because let’s face it, no matter how good this film about the deepening buddy relationship between a man suffering from Alzheimer’s and his robot caregiver may be – and the trailer below makes it look pretty darn cute – who in their right mind ,i.e., one that doesn’t suffer from Alzheimer’s, wants to see a film about someone who does?

Especially one starring Frank Langella, who may be the darling of New York film critics (or so we seem to recall – our own memories may not be all that swell), but who, let’s face it, isn’t about to bring anybody’s seat into a theater. Co-star Susan Sarandon isn’t going to help either because we don’t care how free-spirited she’s shown herself to be over the years, there’s just too many years there…although our grandfather’s might dig her, who knows?

We would say that we hope this movie was inexpensive to make, but after seeing what we’ve seen we’re sure that it was. Just as we’re sure that when the premise is stolen and modified it’ll become a moderate TV success on a network like FX. (Note to screenwriter Christopher Ford: Get your TV version going now!)