I’ve often said that succeeding in this business is 33% talent, 33% luck, 33% connections, and 1% miscellaneous, but the truth is that behind the talent and the luck and the connections and the miscellaneous are the gatekeepers, the holders of the keys to the enchanted city. They are the people who take the time from their busy schedules to read your stuff and recognize your potential. The people who roll the dice on and gave you a shot, allowing you your big breaks into the fields of animation, live action teen comedy, crappy action-dramas, and, ultimately the wonderful world of Stargate. Without them, who knows what kind of bizarre and potentially life-threatening vocations I may have had to undertake in order to make ends meet: mercenary soldier, human guinea pig for advanced scientific research, high school history teacher. And so, I dedicate this blog entry to those who helped me get my foot in the door. A big thank you to –
Thomas LaPierre of then Crayon Animation who was one of only two people to respond to the hundred or so query letters I sent out one Summer in search of a job as a script reader. “We don’t have jobs for script readers,”he informed me, “but we’re always looking for animation writers.” I studied plenty of animation scripts, read the various show bibles that were sent my way, wrote my very first sample script (an episode that was eventually produced for The Busy World of Richard Scarry, titled “Patrick Pig Learns to Talk”) and, through Thomas’s help, started my professional career as a freelance animation writer.
In time, Crayon Animation became Cinar Animation, and I went from being a freelance animation writer to an in-house Manager of Animation Development thanks to then Vice President of Animation Production Cassandra Schafhausen. She liked my writing enough to offer me a staff position in development and, over the course of the next few years, helped me hone my craft as I developed shows, wrote pilots, and story-edited animated series. From there…
Thanks to my Seinfeld spec, the feature script Paul and I had written over the course of one Summer, and the support of producers Michael Klinghoffer, Judy Spencer, and Alan Silberberg, Paul and I made the leap from animation to live action, enjoying two memorable years on the teen sitcom Student Bodies.
Our next leap was in most part due to the persistence of our Canadian agent, Carl Liberman, who got our work out there, got it recognized, and landed us gigs on a couple of one hour dramas that proved, if not entirely forgettable, at least a wonderful stepping stone to –
Stargate SG-1. The big thank you’s here go out to Brad Wright and Robert Cooper who not only invited us to pitch and eventually contracted us to write our very first Stargate script (a little episode called Scorched Earth), but found us not-annoying-enough to bring on as full-time members of the writing staff, demonstrating incredible in showing us the ropes and allowing us to grow not only as writers, but as producers as well.
So a big thanks to all of the above. To Thomas LaPierre who is still writing (but has yet to send me that damn one hour sample script I’ve been bugging him for) and who I try to see whenever I’m in Montreal in order to say hi and pay him his customary tribute (a bottle of Scotch). To Cassandra Schafhausen who is still developing children’s programming and with whom I exchanged emails just the other month. To Michael, Judy, and Alan who I’ve lost touch with since our Student Bodies days and hope are keeping well and successful. To my Canadian agent Carl who still reps us in Canada (while the magnificent Robb Rothman handles us south of the border). And to Brad and Robert who continue to support Paul and I in our first year as series show runners, through 11th hour set construction crises, last minute scheduling conflicts, and the milestone 75th episode musical.
Also, at the behest of a buddy from Montreal, I joined facebook last weekend. I was reluctant at first, not at all interested in being deluged by long-forgotten acquaintances from my past, but decided to go ahead anyway, moving forward with the understanding that I would only use it as a means of getting back in touch with my old friends. I was in such a rush when I signed up that I whipped through the Profile section. Assuming it requested my gender, I selected the appropriate entry. It was only today that I realized it hadn’t asked me my gender, but for my interests. So, for the past five days, anyone who had looked me up would have found the following profile setting: Joseph Mallozzi. Interested in: Men. I’m sure Fondy would’ve been more surprised than anyone.
And finally, a big, big, BIG thank you to Lorr54 who sent us a whack of mouth-meltingly divine homemade truffles bursting with the flavors of 62% Scharffen Berger dark chocolate, heavy cream, vanilla, and Godiva liqueur. Forget what I said earlier about dedicating this blog to all of the people who got me to where I am today. This blog is dedicated to Lorr54 and her heavenly truffles.
Today’s pics: That whack o’ truffles, enjoying the truffles, a wraith who likes to look his best, a big thumbs up on today’s lunch of spicy chicken salad and sweet sweeeeet human life force,
Lotsa mail –
Anonymous #1 writes: “What is the one must read website that you seem to visit most frequently?”
Answer: Honestly? My own.
Anonymous #2 writes: “Do you konw if any of the SG-1 actors will be going to Comic Con this year to promote the two movies?”
Answer: At present, I’m not sure who will be joining us from the SG-1 contingent.
Michelle writes: “How have the read-throughs worked out in terms of reducing on-set script change requests? Aside from being shown up by the producers acting-wise :), are the actors finding the reads useful? How about the writers?”
Answer: The read-throughs have been useful. They’ve allowed the actors to pinpoint any script concerns early enough for the writers to address them. They’ve also given the writers the opportunity to hear their words spoken aloud in the event they want to dialogue changes prior to shooting.
Anonymous #3 writes: “ Have you ever tried reindeer meat?”
Answer: Yup. My wife loves venison.
Anonymous #4 writes: “With all the top executive shuffling at Uni lately, as a producer, are you concerned how that may affect programming decisions at SciFi Channel?”
Aclarar writes: “I thought you, from all people, will know what a cliche is.”
Answer: I do. And yet I get the feeling you don’t. Even though you provide some stock examples amidst your righteous indignation, you never do get around to actually pointing out what cliché I offered that provoked your cretinous rant. I said “the audience in Mexico […] demonstrated their displeasure with their northern neighbors by lustily booing Miss U.S.A.”. How is that a cliché? Have you seen a lot of beauty pageant audiences in Mexico voicing their displeasure with certain countries by booing their representatives? Does it happen a lot? So much so that you consider it a cliché? Or are you simply taking offense at the assumption that the audience’s reaction was a puzzling attempt at political commentary? Would you feel better assuming that rather than being misguided, the audience members were simply jerks, booing because: a) the poor girl fell and that, presumably, is a good enough reason to belittle someone, or b) she had the audacity not to know any Spanish (the nerve of her!). Please, feel free to offer an excuse for their boorish behavior. I’d love to hear your take on how they were grossly misinterpreted.
Luis Jr. writes: “Does Ivan Bartok have a Blog site??”
Answer: He used to have a blog on Gateworld. I believe he still does.
Breeze writes: “Joe is your job always as exciting as you put it?”
Answer: My job is exciting? Are you sure you’ve been reading the right blog?
Zabadoo writes: “1.)If Atlantis gets cancelled, do you think it will go on with movies like SG-1 is getting? 2.)How about a trilogy of movies in the theater that combine Atlantis and SG-1 into three huge movies? 3.)In the episode Prototype, was Khalek ever planned to be a major villain?”
Answers: 1) Cancelled? So pessimistic! We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it – hopefully in another five years or so. 2) Sounds good. 3) Nope.
Anonymous #5 writes: “I was curious what your thoughts are on organic foods.”
Answer: I try to eat organic whenever possible.
Jafacakes writes: “When you review your meals, do you take notes during the meals as well as photos or you do it all from memory?”
Answer: I usually snap a picture of the menu to remind me.
Jafacakes also writes: “In a few blogs ago you mention Blindness, as it is not a widely know author how did you come across his book – recomendation or impulse buying? Would you be interested in it’s sequell(of sorts) Seeing?”
Answer: Blindness was recommended to me by our Playback Supervisor Krista McLean. I have a good hundred or so books to get through (just finished Parable of the Talents) so I’m afraid I won’t be getting around to the sequel anytime soon. P.S. Thanks again for the chocolate.
Hannah writes: “Did you intend to have Daniel and Vala interact so much when Claudia Black first came on, or did it just develop from seeing their chemistry? Combination?”
Answer: A little of both. The intent was always there, but the obvious chemistry between the two made writing for them all that much more interesting.
Anonymous #6 writes: “A couple of days ago, you mentioned yet ANOTHER possible first name for Major Lorne. Hadn’t it been decided it was Evan, or was that changed?”
Answer: I mentioned this in the writers’ room and no one can remember ever having ever given him the name Evan. Is this the stuff of legend or is it based on fact and if it is based on fact, please direct me to the episode in which he was so christened.