LB: Watch Closely – New Paradigm Shaping Up

by Larry Brody

Or, as Teal’c used to say: “Fascinating.”

Penguin’s Author Solutions Signs First-Look Deal with Thruline Entertainment – by Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: U.S. Self-publishing firm Author Solutions, which was recently acquired by Penguin Group’s parent for $116 million, has closed a first-look partnership with management/production company Thruline Entertainment. Under the pact, Thruline and its production division Tagline (Psych) will have first crack at all coverages, treatments, and screenplays developed though ASI’s Book-to-Screen and Hollywood Trailer services with an eye at turning them into feature film or television projects.

ASI and Thruline are already working on two adaptations via Author Solutions’ million-dollar development fund: the teen-thriller Hide and Seek, adapted by screenwriter John Swetnam (Evidence), is being shopped, and horror novella Hush is in the process of being adapted by screenwriter Ben Ketai (30 Days of Night: Dark Days). Additionally, Tagline is already developing a television series based on a title that came through the ASI pipeline: Searching for Sassy by author Alyson Mead.

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To get the full benefit of the article above, it helps to know a little something about Author Solutions, so take a look.

Oh, wait, I typed too fast. It was Spock who said, “Fascinating.” Teal’c said, “Indeed.”

Or to quote Maynard G. Krebs on a series older than either STAR TREK or STARGATE: SGI (but without “Star” in its title): “Cool, daddy.”

The breadth of my TV knowledge appalls amazes me

“Veteran” Comedy Writer Gets Series Go-Ahead from Nick At Night

There’s something about the word “veteran” that just gets the blood flowing, you know? Even though, in showbiz, it’s probably a euphemism for “really, really, really old.”

So we’re glad to report that there’s no sign of age discrimination at Nick.

Nick At Nite Comedy Pilot ‘Wendell & Vinnie’ Picked Up To Series With 20-Episode Order – by Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVENick at Nite is going 2-for-2 with its original pilots. I’ve learned that the Nickelodeon nighttime channel has picked up comedy pilot Wendell And Vinnie starring Jerry Trainor to series. Nick at Nite has ordered 20 episodes from the project, written by comedy veteran Jay Kogen (Frasier) and executive produced by Aaron Kaplan (Terra Nova). Wendell And Vinnie is Nick at Nite’s second comedy pilot. The first, the Scott Baio-starring Daddy’s Homereceived a 20-episode orderback in March.

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Did you see that video? Jay Kogen looks pretty darn good for his age.

Supernatural Season Two Finale – Recap and Review


**This episode originally aired in May 2007. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

 “I couldn’t have done it without your pathetic, self loathing, self destructive desire to sacrifice yourself for your family.” – Azazel

After two seasons of chasing down the Yellow Eyed Demon, our ghost hunting heroes get a final showdown with their arch nemesis Azazel and all hell breaks loose, literally.

But before Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) can unleash their righteous vengeance, they have to deal with the small issue of Sam being dead. In the first half of the two part finale “All Hell Breaks Loose”, Sam is killed by a rival psychic in a demon sponsored battle to the death. With Sam down, his opponent Jake Tally (Aldis Hodge) is named the winner and is recruited to help Azazel find and open the gate to hell.

Dean is inconsolable and refuses to accept his brother’s death. Luckily for him, in the world of Supernatural being dead is only a minor inconvenience. Nothing a little deal with the devil can’t fix. Dean summons an old demon pal and offers his life for Sam’s. The demon agrees and gives him one year before coming to collect. And with that Sam is back in the game.

The two track down Azazel’s man Jake to an old cemetery where the gate to Hell is opened and the demons of the underworld rise up in all their smoky glory. The ghostbuster crew kill Jake and try to close the door but Azazel shows up and opens a can of whoop ass on Sam and Dean. But just as he is about to finish the job, our old friend John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) spirits his way out of hell and wrastles Azazel down to the ground. Dean grabs the Colt and kills the Yellow Eyed Demon bringing a close to the biggest story arc of the series so far. John gives the boys a nice nod of approval and wisps off to spy on women changing or whatever it is spirits do. And season three is set up nice and proper with an army of demons on the loose and a ghost fighting duo ready to take them on.

So what can I say about Supernatural. This was a good episode, but I keep running into the same problem with this show. The overall story arcs are fairly interesting, and there are strong episodes to be found. But so much of this show is ghost of the week filler. Not necessarily bad, but very “meh” which is sometimes worse. Perhaps season three will pick things up a bit. After all there is a demon army out there and a ticking clock on Dean’s soul. Let’s hope they take advantage.

Season 2

Thinking Man Rating: 8 Thumbs Up

Season 2 Finale

Thinking Man Rating: 13 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**

LB: Peter Bogdanovich Regrets…

by Larry Brody

Bogdanovich & Boris Karloff back when Bogdanovich began his ascent

…Just about everything he’s ever done, judging from some quotes I saw yesterday. But then, it often seems to me that showbiz brings out two character traits in most of the people who “make it:” Self-aggrandizement as they hit it big. And self-pity as the big gets smaller.

On his blog, Screenwriting From Iowa, which you all should read, btw, Scott W. Smith has two very interesting posts. The first is called The Making of Peter Bogdanovich,in which Smith gives us the following timeline:

1) Born in Kingston, New York in 1939 & raised in Manhattan.
2) His father took him to see silent films at revival house theaters in New York City. (Developed an early appreciate of visual storytelling.)
3) “At the age of 10 I remember my favorite films were She Wore a Yellow RibbonRed River, and The Ghost Goes West.”
4) “I started keeping a card file of everything I saw from the age of twelve, twelve and a half.” (He did that for 18 years and had between 5,000—6,000 cards.)
6) At age 15 he got his first job with a professional theater company in Traverse City, Michigan. “That was a great experience, we did 10 plays in 10 weeks.”)
7) At age 16 started studying acting with Stella Adler. (Continued for 4 years.)
8) At age 19 he got the rights to a Clifford Odets play and took 9 months raising $15,000. to direct The Big Knife. (The play was not a financial success.)
9) When he was 20 he met New York Times film critics Andrew Sarris and Eugene Archer. “They would come over to my apartment in Manhattan and talk movies into the wee hours. I learned a great deal from both of them.”
10) Started writing about plays and films for newspapers to earn some money.”It was a way of getting on screening lists and seeing movies for nothing. And getting books and seeing plays for nothing. It was totally motivated by not wanting to spend my own money because I didn’t have any.”
11) At 24, he did a retrospect on Orson Welles at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for $50.
12) Started writing freelance articles on film for Esquire magazine.
13) Had his second theatrical flop in New York and moved to LA with his wifePolly Platt to try to get into the movies.
14) “A little less than a year after we’d gotten to Hollywood I met Roger Corman by accident…he said, ‘you’re a writer, I read your stuff in Esquire. Would you like to write a movie?’ Yeah, I’d like to write a movie.”
15) He did a rewrite on one of Corman’s scripts for $300 and no credit. “The Wild Angels (1966) as it was known as— it was the most successful film of [Corman’s] career.”
16) Bogdanovich also found most of the locations and shot second unit on The Wild Angels. And suggested Peter Fonda for the lead.
17) Just before turning 30 he directed and co-wrote a feature film for Corman called Targets starring Boris Karloff.
18) His next film was The Last Picture Show (1971) which he directed, edited and co-wrote. It was nominated for 8 Academy Awards and comparisons were made between a young Bogdanovich and Orson Welles after he made Citizen Kane.

These were Bogdanovich’s good years, obviously. His rise in terms of craft, art, fame, and fortune. His ecstasy. It didn’t happen overnight, and it gives everyone who’s struggling to make it the thing they (I suppose it would be more honest to say “we”) need most of all: Hope. (Well, actually we all think we need money, no? But certain things are hopeless…sigh.)

Smith’s second post on the director, The Breaking of Peter Bogdanovich, takes us past this point in his subject’s life, to what clearly is (sorry, kids) the agony, and includes the following remarks from a director who once, metaphorically at least, “owned” the town:

“If you’re not hot in Los Angeles, it’s a very lonely town…It’s a lonely town even if you are hot.”

“I’m not bitter. I ask for it myself. Success is very hard. Nobody prepares you for it. You think you’re infallible. You pretend you know more than you do. Pride goeth before the fall.”

”[Hollywood’s] an easy place to get fooled. There are no real seasons and you’re not aware of time going. Orson had this line: ‘The terrible thing about LA is that you sit down when you’re 25 and when you stand up you’re 62.’ He was not wrong.”

Whatever Peter Bogdanovich’s personal problems – and brain chemistry and hard luck – it’s clear here that he forgot to follow one of the basic precepts of the Biz, which, according to our LB, our boss, LB first heard from Bogdanovich’s early mentor, Roger Corman:

“If the phone stopped ringing for Orson Welles, you can bet that one day it’ll stop ringing for you.”

We all have regrets about our lives, and most of the time we know what we should do in various situations even though we don’t do it. We’re all going to screw up, or get screwed, one way or another, but the most important thing I’ve learned is not to lose hope. Mock it by calling it “magical thinking” if you must. But without hope we have nothing but the frustrations of the present (no matter who we are, damn it, just ask Buddha or Kafka, et al), and what all humans need to get through their eternally current darkness is the bright beauty that says, regardless of whether or not some people construe it as a lie: “Tomorrow can be better. We just have to try.”

How do I reconcile my hope with my regrets? It’s simple. I’m shallow. I think of something Colonel Tom Parker is reported to have said:

“Why should I be nice on the way up? Elvis is never coming down.”

And I dream and I plan and I work because I find genuine joy in the illuminating act of doing all you can to make the impossible tomorrow real today.

Uh-oh, maybe that’s just me and my brain chemistry.

Hope not.

LB: Dictation, Not Siri, is the Bane of Writers

by Larry Brody

Just ran across this at The Atlantic.Com and it did something that becomes more difficult each day. It made me think and, better yet considering my chosen, much-loved profession, it made me write:

Siri, Take This Down: Will Voice Control Shape Our Writing? – by Robert Rosenberger

Do our writing means change our written ends?

In the future, you will talk to your computer. Voice, the predominant mode of human-to-human communication, has been migrating to silicon for more than a decade and is now poised to hit the mainstream.

Already, voice interfaces have become commonplace in the telephone customer-service industry, have long been of assistance to the blind, and are increasingly used by doctors for transcribing patient information. Even your less-tech-savvy relatives may have seen, for example, the recent profileof Nuance Communications in the New York Times. Nuance is the big fish in the small pond of dictation programming development, and the force behind Dragon, the highly-regarded though still expensive dictation-software package, as well as Siri, the iPhone 4S personal-assistant application, and the Ford “Sync” system’s voice-command interface.  Google’s concept video for “Project Glass” includes voice-to-text translation.

So it seems as though our voices may some day displace our keyboards and mice as the primary means through which we manipulate our computing devices. But while to command by voice is one thing, to write by voice is another, and the question remains whether — or how — this shift in technology will shape the words we “pen.”

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The question asked here is a good one, and the story of the evolution of writing instruments from pens to mobile phones is worth reading.

But I can answer the question without going into history, culture, technology, or philosophy because during my career as a writer, producer, and occasionally editor I’ve used, or worked with other writers, who’ve used every writing mode possible. And because of that I’ve become pretty good at spotting what most writers are using to get their words out because there definitely is a difference in the writing.

Writers who write on yellow pads and give the result to an assistant to type usually are satisfied with the first phrasing/dialog that comes to mind…because erasing or crossing out or otherwise changing what’s there on the pad is so inconvenient. The result is that, in the case of a television script, their officially delivered first drafts are not nearly as clever or polished as they could be.

Writers who write with typewriters tend to be more careful, but they still end up accepting less original language…usually in the second half of the script, when they’ve gotten tired of all the retyping and given up revising anything but a word or two at a time.

Writers who write with computers – and screenplay formatting software – are most apt to have everything looking perfect, giving the reader the sense of, “Oh boy! A script!” and their work tends to be tighter and more thought out than anyone else’s because making changes is so easy.

As for Siri, well, I don’t think we’re there yet, but “Dragon Naturally Speaking has been around for almost two decades, and it’s always easy to spot those who use it or a similar program: Line after line of alphabet soup AKA typo city, even in the most carefully proofread drafts.

Of course, speech recognition software isn’t the only way for writers to work without having to actually write down the words. Dictation has been with us since the first scribe, and while I don’t want to comment on the literary merits of, say, the Bible, or medieval illuminated manuscripts, I can say without qualification that in my experience the award for “Least Carefully Thought Out and Disjointed Teleplay” goes to the writers who thrill to the sound of their own voices as they yak, yak, yak their scripts to death. This is the crowd that weaves in and out of story, scene, character, and dialog without ever realizing their work has totally lost whatever focus it began with.

And it’s even worse if the writer has any condition even vaguely resembling ADHD.

My advice: Stay away from dictation in all its forms. Ditto writing by hand (or thumb). If you want to write something worthwhile the very least you should do is: