Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #29 – It’s All About the Audience

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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

Reader feedback beats executive notes any day of the week.

In my previous life I was a television writer and producer. Over thirty plus years I wrote hundreds of episodes of television shows, including Hawaii Five-0, The Fall Guy, Walker Texas Ranger, Diagnosis Murder and Star Trek: Voyager. And for better or worse, that’s just for starters.

Although the shows differed, one element stayed the same. Network executives never were satisfied with hiring writers and actors and directors and letting them do their thing. All any of us wanted to do was put on a show for the public. But the business structure of television forced us to play to satisfy corporate needs and, as we say here in Paradise, pay the audience “no never mind.”

Because of this, it’s with great pleasure that I observe that this column, Live! From Paradise!, has been appearing for six months now, and during that time there’s been no editorial meddling. No company demands. No “notes” ordering changes.

Have I missed executive intervention?

Does a lion returned to the wild miss the zoo?

I’m on my own here. If all goes well, the success is mine. If the column ends up in a Port-A-Potty the failure is mine too. Whatever the credit, or the blame, it comes to me because I’m the one who’s earned it. And, best of all I really do get both credit and blame, praise and criticism, suggestions and questions, from the folks who really count.

You.

Instead of an executive telling me, “Our focus group says you should say this. My boss says you should stay away from that…and whatever you do don’t write about Chet the Unhandyman anymore,” I hear directly from readers who e-mail me or recognize me from my picture and come over to talk while I’m out and about. And ain’t none of you shy about what you like and what you don’t.

Since communicating with you is the reason I write, getting your communication right back at me is…well, how about the P Word? “Paradise.”

Buck the Ex-Navy Seal put it into perspective on our way to the hardware store today. The purpose of our mission was to drop off my lawn tractor for fixing, and I was in a funk.

Buck said, “They should’ve told you these things are for golf courses, not mountain clearings. Next week I’ll be over at your place with my bush hog.”

Then he asked how the rest of life was treating me. Specifically, he wanted to know about this column. “The paper’s paying you, right? So they must be happy. And the readers like what you’re doing too, don’t they?”

“Not always, Buck. I get some pretty tough messages once in awhile.”

“That’s good! That’s great!”

My funk was still weighing on me. “Doesn’t always feel that great. Especially when people take what I write personally and think I’m insulting their hometown, or even them. Which isn’t the case because ‘Paradise’ isn’t a real town, it’s a composite of many towns, from all over, and each neighbor I mention is actually many different people I’ve encountered in my life. With my own imagination tossed to boot.”

“You’re not looking at it right,” Buck said. “Everything you write is real, even if it’s not exactly true. I may be a combination of this old boy and that one and the other fellow over there, but to anyone who reads this I’m Buck the Ex-Navy Seal, alive and kicking right here and now.

“And,” he went on, “anybody who takes the time to talk to you is doing it because what you’ve said means something to them. Maybe it’s made them happy. Maybe it’s got them mad. Either way, you’ve done what you set out to. You’ve put something into their lives that wasn’t there before. And it’s something they know is of value, or else they’d just blow you off.”

I hadn’t thought about it that way before. Executives are paid to impose their perspectives, but readers have no reason to respond unless what they’ve read has meaning for them. Having an effect on people—that’s what TV and newspapers and films and everything else we call “media” should be all about.

So my thanks to all of you for saying “Hi” at WalMart, and e-mailing me your thoughts, pro or con. As long as you keep reading I’ll keep writing.

How else will I be able to get Buck to bush hog my yard?

Cartoon: ‘Sledding’

With this one simply named comic strip, Grant Snider, our all-time fave poet/philosopher/cartoonist/orthodontist, proves himself to be the very opposite of Camus’ Sisyphus as he goes all-out and gives us not merely a metaphor for the act of, say, writing, but a wonderful lesson in living the most enjoyable of lives:

 The Shape of Ideas Sketchbook by Grant Snider features new illustrations, comics on drawing and creativity, and many blank pages for your own ideas, doodles, and observations. Order it from Abrams or wherever you get your books.

While you’re at it, you can find more of Grant’s extraordinary perception of human creativity at Incidental Comics, HERE

Buy Grant’s wonderful book, The Shape of Ideas, HERE

Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – Jan 21, 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 of the week ending yesterday. They are:

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!

How to Write a Script for an Animated Show

Empty Promises: My experience submitting scripts to Amazon Studios

TV Writers: How To Navigate Staffing Season

And our most visited permanent resource pages of the week are:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2018 Writing Contest

The Outline/Story

Big thanks to everybody for making this the beginning of another great year at TVWriter™ . Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Punisher Creator Gerry Conway on Netflix’s ‘THE PUNISHER’ & a Few Other Things

When Gerry Conway speaks, even on other websites, we at TVWriter™ listen. Because not only is he a “minor comics icon,” (in Gerry’s own words), he’s one of Larry Brody’s closest friends, plus a frequent contributor to TVWriter™ and, of course, a force to be reckoned with in ye olde television industry as well.

Last week Gerry talked to SyfyWire about Netflix’s version of one of his major comics creations, the Punisher. Here’s the result:

by Dana Forsythe

The infamous “Death of Gwen Stacy” scene written by Gerry Conway

Boasting dozens of writing credits for both DC and Marvel, Gerry Conway helped shape the Bronze Age of comic books with stories like “The Night Gwen Stacy Died,” the original Clone Saga, the creation of the Punisher, and his run on the Justice League. He’s written almost every superhero from BatmanSupermanWonder Woman and Flash to Spider-ManDaredevilThorHulk, and Iron Manand amassed countless writing credits for his work in TV, movies and books.

He’s been able to be so prolific in part because he got such an early start. Conway sold his first stories to DC and then Marvel when he was just 16 years old. Over his 50-year career as a comic book writer, Conway co-created handfuls of characters including Power Girl, Killer Croc, Firestorm and Jason Todd for DC and Dracula, Tarantula, and Mockingbird and more for Marvel. Still active today, Conway most recently penned a What If? issue with Flash Thompson as Spider-Man.

Ahead of the Season 2 premiere of Marvel’s The Punisher on Netflix, Conway spoke to SYFY WIRE about the Punisher and prevalence of the skull symbol, how working at Marvel and DC felt like going to college, why he thinks universe-changing events are destroying the comic book industry, and, of course, killing Gwen Stacy.

What are your thoughts on Amazing Spider-Man #121 so many years later? I know you got a lot of heat for it when it happened but how do you look back on killing Gwen Stacy? What do you think of her return as Spider-Gwen?

I’m really proud of my work on that issue — and the work of Gil Kane and John Romita. We had no idea that story would end up having the legacy it’s had, but even at the time I was conscious of wanting to drive home what I believed was the core theme of Marvel’s approach to superhero storytelling: that being a superhero doesn’t make you immune to tragedy, that superpowers don’t make you infallible, and that real life doesn’t always produce happy endings.

Unfortunately, Gwen’s death also inspired some terrible stories, including the “girl-in-a-refrigerator” trope women in comics rightfully decry. I’d like to think that our approach to Gwen’s death wasn’t a cheap shot to create sympathy for our male hero, especially because I tried to use that tragedy more as a motivation for the emotional growth of the woman who would become the most significant female in Peter Parker’s life, Mary Jane Watson….

Read it all at syfy.com

The 20 Most Popular Books Ever Written

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This infographic shows the top selling books of all time. Outsell these babies and you definitely will have proven yourself!

More cool infograph-type stuff is here

“Professional Editors. Affordable rates” are also on the very same site. Worth checking out!