Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #38 – “The Power”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

by Larry Brody

Anyone who thinks words don’t have power doesn’t understand human beings.

This morning I drove into Paradise to the Appliance Shop. The glass on our oven door had cracked, and Billy from Abilene had ordered another. When I arrived to pick it up the door was locked. I knocked, and Billy let me in.

“Sorry,” he said. “We’re kinda unorganized today.”

“You’re unorganized,” Burl Jr. said, coming out of the back room carrying a big suitcase. “I’m just fine.”

I like Burl Jr. He’s 21 years old and has been Billy’s assistant forever. He’s quiet with most people, a terrific guitarist, and as smart as they come. His father’s a small farmer, but Burl Jr. knows so much about electronics that he was offered a top paying job before his college graduation ceremony was over

“He turned down the job,” Billy said. “He’s leaving town!”

“I thought you just got back from a trip,” I said to Burl Jr.

“He went to Virginia with Ashley, his girlfriend,” Billy from Abilene said. “They were announcing their engagement. Ha!”

Burl Jr. looked embarrassed. “He doesn’t get it. Nobody gets it.”

“Gets what?” I said.

Burl Jr. took a deep breath. “Ashley and I drove to Bristol, where her grandmother lives. Everything went fine till we stopped at a restaurant. The Golden Corral.

“There was this waitress. Her name tag said she was Brittany, and she’s the most gorgeous girl I ever saw. A tiny little thing with long, dark hair and this shy smile…”

Burl Jr.’s eyes glazed over. “I was a total doofus. Could hardly give my order. All I could do was stare.

“Ashley asked how Brittany liked her job. Brittany said she liked talking to people from all over the country. Especially when they told her about where they lived because she’d never been anywhere. Never left Bristol. Not even for a day.

“By the time we finished lunch we pretty much knew her life story. She’s nineteen. She dropped out of high school because she was pregnant. She never married the father. And she and her daughter live with Brittany’s parents. She doesn’t like it there.

“The whole time Brittany was talking,” said Burl Jr., “she was looking at me. I was scared to death of meeting her eyes, but couldn’t turn away. Ever had that happen with a woman?”

“Yes,” I said. “When I first saw Gwen. I called it love.”

Burl Jr. nodded. “I left a $20 tip, and while Ashley and I were getting into the car Brittany came running out to the parking lot with my $20 bill saying, ‘Sir! You made a mistake! You left me too much!’

“I said that’s what I wanted her to have. So she could leave Bristol someday.

She looked like she was gonna cry, and she leaned toward me like—well, like she was going to kiss me. But instead she ran back inside.

“Ashley didn’t talk to me the whole rest of the day. We’ve been home two days, and she’s barely talking to me now. Me, I’m still thinking about Brittany. Maybe I’m crazy, but I can’t let that be all there is of her in my life.

“Soon as my car’s packed up I’m bee-lining it back to Bristol. I’m going straight to the Golden Corral. And the way my life’s going to be is, either I’m going to stay in that town with her and her little girl forever, or I’m going to bring them here to be with me till I die.”

Burl Jr. carried his suitcase from the shop to his car. I stayed with him. All I could say was, “Are you sure—absolutely certain—this is the right thing?”

Burl Jr. put his suitcase into the trunk. “I know it’s right,” he said. “Because the man I respect more than anyone else in the world told me this is what I’ve got to do.”

“Your dad told you that?”

“No, sir,” said Burl Jr. “The man who one day about a year ago wrote this down and stuck it to my chest while I was talking about what I wanted in my future.”

Burl Jr. dug a crumpled purple stick-it from his pants pocket. Placed it in my hand. “I’ve been walking around with this ever since.”

I looked down at the note.

“Don’t you dare not go for your dream,” it said. And it was signed:

“Larry B.”

Words. Choose them carefully. They’ve got real power.

The WGA vs. The Alliance of Talent Agents: Another Side of the Story

Some TVWriter™ visitors have not-so-casually mentioned that they think we’ve been one-sided in our recent reports about the current disagreement between writers and their agencies. And, upon reflection, we definitely see their point.

There is, of course, another side to the story. In fact, there are many of them, we’re sure. Here’s a cogent review of the situation, written by a WGA member who wants to remain anonymous at this time:

via Deadline.Com

I’ve been a member of the WGA for twenty years. For the last ten, I’ve been fortunate to work consistently and successfully in both features and television.

In 2007, I found myself staffed for the first time since 2003. At the time, I was represented by a boutique agency and a very nice man who had no ability whatsoever to advance my career or find me jobs. I couldn’t argue with his responsiveness, the quality of his notes or his reputation around town; little of this redounded to my financial benefit.

Long story short… I was back after four years in the wilderness. I’d been taking out loans from my parents and other family members to make ends meet and stay in this business. I’d sold my house to live off the profits (long since exhausted), done a little consulting work in a completely different field, was blessed with the opportunity to write a freelance or two of a show I’d formerly staffed on, and sold a script at a bargain price. It never got made.

Do not cry for me.

When the new show came along, it was a life-changing event – a chance to rebuild my career. My financial house wasn’t in order, but by god there was hope. Getting staffed saved my ass. I got a brand new agent out of the deal, too. One phone call later, I went from boutique to WME.

Everything was looking GREAT.

Now, go back and look at the date. (Go ahead, I’ll wait). Do you see what it says? 2007. The strike. On the ballot, I didn’t vote “no.” I circled “no” and then wrote the word “fuck” as many times as I could fit on the paper around “no” with little arrows pointing from each expletive to my vote so there would be no ambiguity in the parsing of it.

You all know what happened next.

Overnight, untold millions upon millions of dollars of writer wealth were destroyed. Bye bye, overalls. Bye bye, shows that employed writers. Bye bye, two-step deals in features. Bye bye a LOT of things. But by god, at least when it was all over we brought the studios to heel and forced them to pay us enough money from digital streaming that some of us could afford a cup of coffee roughly every three months. High five everybody.

Although I hurt… my job survived. I got a full second season, then a full season on my next gig. Since the strike, I’ve written movies you’ve heard of and worked on a bunch more. I’ve consulted on great shows and met great people, made some friends for life and taken care of my family. (2007: no children, two dogs. 2009: one child, two dogs. 2015: 3 children, one dog. Write that down… there’s a test later.)

In no small part, this is thanks to my agents.

My bona fides: In the last year, I took a showrunner gig on an animated series. I insisted the show operate under WGA jurisdiction and lo and behold… it’s WGA, not IATSE. The guild now has two new members who enjoy the protections of the MBA. They also get the sweet membership card, the screeners, and all the free coffee they can drink at guild functions.

I’ve served on roughly fifteen (probably more) feature credit arbitration committees. The stat keeps coming back to me because they know I’m a sucker for a free Kit Kat bar and I have no sales resistance. Every year, I participate in the WGF Veterans weekend. I hired one of those vets as an assistant and helped him find representation. Once in a while, I pay my dues on time. Hell, I think I might have finally figured out how to use the web portal.

I’m telling you all of this because I need you to understand where I’m coming from when I make the following statement about the current unpleasantness between the WGA and ATA:

What. The. Actual. Fuck….

Read it all at DEADLINE.COM


Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – March 25, 2019

Happy Monday everybody!

Hope you’ve had a great weekend. It’s time now for TVWriter™’s latest look at our most popular blog posts and resource pages during the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

How To Write The Perfect TV Series Review To Captivate Your Readers

‘The Following’ Season 4 was Cancelled by Fox Because the TV Series Became a Victim of Lazy Writing!

Writing the Dreaded Outline


PEOPLE’S PILOT 2018 Writing Contest

Indie Video: Robin Nystrom has Polished his Art to a High Sheen in New Series, ‘Tracy Buckles’

8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2018 Finalists!

How to Write a Script for an Animated Show

Empty Promises: My experience submitting scripts to Amazon Studios

Big thanks to everybody for helping us have another terrific week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

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

A Positive Look at Reboots

The obviously superior human being known as Siskoid shares his thoughts on the usually obviously inferior works of creativity known as reboots. And comes up with an interesting and, to us anyway, genuinely new perspective:

by Siskoid

So I was perusing the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics series, kicked off by Joss Whedon himself, and positing what happened after the cult series ran its course. It’s got the Scoobies running an international group of 500 slayers, Giles working with Faith, the military investigating the hole in the ground that used to be Sunnyvale, villains both old and new, and Dawn turning into a giant and a centaur due to… unprotected sex with a demon? Let’s just say it throws you into the deep end from issue one and goes from there.

Continuing celebrated franchises in comics form isn’t unique to Buffy, plenty of movies and television series have spun off into comics to tell interstitial stories and to continue the sagas. Star Wars is an early example, as are Star Trek and Doctor Who, but early examples don’t have the same function Buffy Season 8 does. First, those are franchises that have kept going, putting in doubt the canonicity of any comics (or other media) material, but more importantly, they were crafted at a time when there was no way to easily revisit your beloved franchise. No VCRs or DVDs, no streaming services, no Internet, even movie theaters were simpler and had fewer screens (NOTHING ever stayed more than a week in my local cinema in the 80s)… Even straight adaptations of the material become worthwhile because that’s the only way you can re-experience the material ON DEMAND. Yes, television shows might be syndicated and run an episode (not of your choosing) every week night, but you’re really at the mercy of local stations, and your favorite show might drop off the schedule completely. Movies are even harder to come by.

In this day and age, the world is very different, so the comics continuation really isn’t the only game in town. While older series might have been content with stories that didn’t rock the boat, could be ignored wholesale, and never permanently changed anything about the setting or characters (and regretted it when they did, just look at the convolutions of Movie-era Trek comics), “Series Eights” today want you to think they ARE canon, appointment reading for true fans, and with no further televised material in our future, the actual continuation of the saga you followed for what might be 7 years. There are still interstitial series (Doctor Who, Trek, etc. have comics that fill in holes, but the continuations are still expected to hit our screens), but comics companies now go out of their way to develop material for series that are over (or were cancelled before their time) with the series creators themselves. The name alone tells you this is OFFICIAL and part of the auteur’s VISION.

Sure, a series creator could decide to push for a movie continuation or a sequel series, but those are BIG projects that don’t often pan out. They cost money, and take a lot of time….