February 19, 2019: It’s like I don’t even know you!

Guys, please.  THIS –

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is, quite frankly, nothing short of mind-boggling.  You mean to tell me that 82% of you would eat an apple pie without ice cream?  Some (no doubt online trolls) even went so far as to suggest they would actually top it with cheddar cheese instead!

Today, I was at the production offices for two important meetings –

MEETING THE FIRST – Casting!

We got together and reviewed all of our first round selects, narrowing down our choices for the call-backs.  We’ll do one final review of all seven roles tomorrow after which I’ll send our casting agent our choices – along with a suggestion that we get on the phone with each candidate to let them know what worked for us the first time, what didn’t, and what we’re looking for in the second round.

MEETING THE SECOND – Schedule!

Hmmmm.  We would appear to be a couple of days long which will require us to make a few trims – and maybe the odd deep cut.  Our days are already pretty chock o’ block so we need to find opportunities to help make them more manageable.  That can involve anything from reducing the number of characters in a scene (the more characters, the more time is spent getting coverage) to losing scenes outright (I know, I know.  It’s all gold and we wouldn’t have plotted and written them if they weren’t, but you’ve got to make the tough decisions – and also give fans fun extras like “deleted scenes” that never made it to camera).

MEETING THE THIRD – The set walk-thru!

Construction has begun and already the structures are taking shape.  We’ve got five weeks to build, paint, finish, and dress before we start principal photography March…what was it?  25th?  Of course once the sets are up, it’ll be smoooooooth sailing!

Meanwhile, delivered…

The overview and general four issue breakdown for the opening arc of my proposed comic book series.  Epic far-future, ship-based SF with plenty of action, adventure, exploration, a colorful crew of characters and an underlying sense of humor.

The revised outline for my (formerly titled) Untitled Awesome Project.  It’s New and Improved with 50% more op and 100% more heist!

The revised pitch for that other series with a reworked pilot breakdown that included the addition of flamethrowers, collapsing walls, gross mismanagement of temporal stasis fields, and the consumption of a shockingly underripe banana.

I look forward to the feedback!

February 18, 2019: We finally did it!

Akemi has been hinting about it for years now – on the heels of straight out asking me on several occasions.  I considered making the commitment but, inevitably, always changed my mind, anxious at the very thought of saying yes and the foreboding hurdles of going through with it.  Then, sometime late last year, she stopped hinting.  I assume she must have given up hope.  Which made me feel a little sad.  And a little guilty.  So when Valentine’s Day rolled around this year, I decided to take the plunge.

Yes.  I told my mother last night.  And now, you are all the first to know.  Yes, congratulations are in order.  Yesterday,  Akemi and I…

Attended a pottery class.

She’s been dying to do it since what feels like forever and, while I’m happy to make sacrifices for love, the thought of two 3 hour craft sessions never failed to trigger a deep-seeded panic in me.  But I bit the bullet and signed us up and yesterday, we did it.  We learned how to manipulate wet clay on that spinning table.  And make cups and bowl like kids trying Play-Doh for the first time.  I had my heart set on an ashtray or birdhouse, but I suppose I have to start small.  Yes, smaller than an ashtray.

Akemi was, admittedly, better at it.  Also, much, much, MUCH more interested.  I worked that wheel until my back ached and the sides of my hands burned, finally producing a quasi matcha bowl that, in retrospect, probably could pass for an ashtray.  I set it aside at the front of the room, proudly signed by name, then glanced up at the clock, assuming I had time to clean up, take a few photos, and call it a day.  3:45!!!!  Only an hour and fifteen minutes had passed!  I still had another two hours to go!

My pottery class pictorial –

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Akemi, rarin’ to go!

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Yours truly, less rarin’.

P.S. The denim apron wasn’t mine.  But the clay-spattered jeans and sweater are!

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Akemi making a good first impression.

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Please.  Eyes on your own pottery wheel.  No copying!

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Two of Akemi’s ten creations.  She apparently felt sorry for me on account of my overall ineptness and slowed down.

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The Master at work!

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Her bowl work.

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And my masterpiece: “Alphonse the Bugbear”.

And we get to do it all over again next Sunday!

February 16, 2019: A Perfect Storm of Stumbling Blocks!

One of the reasons I like to multi-task projects is the amount of work I actually get done jumping from one to the next.  You may think it counter-intuitive, that you’d be better of focusing wholly on one thing, but I find that, invariably, there will come a point where you end up hitting the creative wall on something.  When that happens, I find that switching off and onto something else for awhile allows me to recharge and eventually return to the original project with fresh eyes and a fresh head.  Usually.  Of course the worst case scenario is if you hit a perfect storm of multiple creative impasses.  Suddenly, it doesn’t matter which file you open, re-read and reconsider.  There’s nowhere to go.

Which, frustratingly, is where I find myself today.  Individually, these tasks feel manageable but together they seem insurmountable.

My creative to-do list:

Orchestrate a clever four-person heist that highlights the individual strengths of each character in an entertaining, efficient, and humorous way.

Ground a sci-fi macguffin to a home location.

Rethink and reshape a pilot overview into more of a single character-driven narrative that is captivating, surprising, and studded with humor.

Come up with something clever the aforementioned character does at episode’s end to turn the tables on his unique enemy.

Re-read and track all character and story arcs through nine episodes, then craft a brilliant season finale in which all dovetail in and pay off in satisfactory fashion.

Find an amazing artist for that comic book project.

February 15, 2019: Artifice!

Check out these A.I.-generated anime characters…

Now check out these A.I.-generated people by refreshing this page: https://thispersondoesnotexist.com

Now check out the Jennifer Lawrence – Steve Buscemi hybrid accepting at a Golden Globe presser:

 

A brief overview of deep fakes:

 

And it’s not just video but audio as well…

 

Deep fakes and the technology behind it…

 

Spotting a deep fake (for now).  It’s all in the blinking!

February 14, 2019: Valentine’s Day stuff – but not really.

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Oooh, check it out.  Matcha chocolate from Japan!  Not from me to Akemi.  Or from Akemi to me.  But from a friend who caught my blog post lamenting my inability to source these amazing chocolates and, while in Tokyo, brought me back this huge stash.  The bars are fantastic as is the sampling kit with matcha percentages ranging from a North American level 1.2% to a super intense 29.1%! Thanks to Matcha Mama for the score!

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But to celebrate Valentine’s Day, Akemi baked me this blueberry pie AND picked up a pint of premium vanilla ice cream to accompany it.  I, in turn, bought her a cilantro-less tofu banh mi for lunch.  Romantic, no?

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This arrived in the mail today.  No, not from Akemi to me but from me to myself.  Still, bonus points to Akemi for identifying the Legion of Super-Heroes emblem.  A girl after my own heart!

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What’s that word?  It’s sort of means overwhelmed at the prospect of facing something really daunting?  Hello, thesaurus?

So.  Got the notes to the outline for my (formerly) Untitled Awesome Project.  Here are the results of our Yes/No survey…

Alien slang?  Maybe.   (Let’s wait for the script)

Diner Distress?  Maybe.  (Let’s wait for the script)

Alien Antagonist?  Yes and No.  (Changes required)

Visceral Jelly?  Sadly, no.

High Tea in the Garden?  Maybe.  (Let’s wait for the script)

The Big Dance Number?  No.  (Which may force me to change the placeholder title to Untitled Good Project)

Anyway, some fairly significant notes that will require a restructuring of the outline – and a fair amount of thought.

I’ve been so busy researching and writing that I’ve fallen behind on my reading. 13 books sit in my digital “LOANS” shelf among them: Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe, What Came Before the Big Bang: Cycles of Time, and The Legion of Regrettable Villains.  I have three weeks to get through them.  Wondering if an impromptu trip to L.A. to pitch the BIG project will make me MORE or LESS likely to get through them?

 

 

February 13, 2019: Week’s Best Comic Book Covers!

These were my favorites…

1

Amazing Spider-Man #15 (cover art by Paolo Rivera)

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Criminal #2 (cover art by Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips)

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Gideon Falls #11 (cover art by Moritat, Mico Suayan)

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House of Whispers #6 (cover art by Sean A. Murray, Maika Sozo)

1

Immortal Hulk vol. 2: The Green Door (cover art by Alex Ross)

1

Infinity Wars (cover art by Mike Deodato Jr.)

1

Infinity Warps: Two-In-One (cover art by Humberto Ramos)

1

Justice League Dark #8 (cover art by Brad Anderson, Raul Fernandez, Alvaro Martinez)

1

Marvel Tales: Black Widow #1 (cover art by Jen Bartel)

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The Punisher #8 (cover art by Greg Smallwood)

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Titans #8 (cover art by Blond, Mico Suayan)

And you?

 

February 12, 2019: On the project front!

Well, it would seem to be true.  The road to Hell IS paved with good intentions!  Man, what the hell was I thinking?

So- busy, busy, busy!

I am working on the third take of Take #1 of that COLOSSAL project.  We have streaked through Phase #1 and are now streaking towards Phase #2.  And what, pray tell, is Phase #3?  Well, if all goes according to plan, it’s a green light, a dynamic writers’ room, and smooooooooooooth sailing!  I’ve spent the better part of the last week researching the source material on this one and it has truly been a blast.  Still, I will be absolutely crushed if we don’t land this.

I delivered the outline for the pilot of my (formerly) Untitled Awesome Project on Thursday, four days ahead of schedule.  No word yet on what the six person High Council thought.  I expect a response by week’s end.  Hopefully.  There is also talk of a second script.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Let’s stick the landing on the outline, turn around that first draft in record time, make sure everyone’s happy, then start thinking about what fate awaits our intrepid heroes in Episode 2.

With my hands full on these other projects (and the original author also juggling various projects of his own), we’ve had to call in the the big gun on this horror novel adaptation – none other than my former writing partner Paul.  He is reading the book as I write this and, I’m sure, already coming up with a plethora of creepy and unnerving ideas.

That comic book adaptation has…stalled.  It’s been an odd collaboration insofar as I’ve put together a series overview complete but have not received much in the way of input. The option is still in play so I’m hoping we get the go-ahead for a pilot – which will go a long ways towards landing a series order.  Failing that, I think it’s going to be a tough task.

And this other show is rolling along, gathering up speed like a runaway locomotive headed downhill.  Today, we sat down with the Art Department and our VFX Supervisor. Then, tonight, I spent much of dinner reviewing the auditions for all seven of our series regulars.  A lot of really good candidates.  Honestly?  Many more than I had expected.  And more coming our way tomorrow!

Another phone call about the comic book project later this week.  I’ve revised the overview and have a pretty good sense of how those first four issues will break down.  Next topic of conversation: artists!

Hey, whatever happened to that small town horror series?  Last I heard, they were putting the finishing touches on a sizzle reel to accompany the overview.

Also, hey, whatever happened to that near future series I developed for that network that was delivered way back in – Holy Crap!  I just checked and realized – September!  SEPTEMBER??!  SEPTEMBER without so much as a “Please hold to maintain your pilot script priority”.

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Actual footage of that pilot script and series overview being filed away for future network review.

I’m exhausted and ready for bed.  So that I can lie here for the next two hours and flesh out the pilot for that COLOSSAL project.

Carmen

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Incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of the wonderful Carmen Argenziano, an actor whose career spanned fifty years and included roles in Godfather II, The Rockford Files, L.A. Law, Melrose Place, C.S.I. NY, and many, many, many more.  Of course, to most visitors to this blog, he will be forever fondly remembered for his compassionate portrayal of Jacob Carter, Samantha Carter’s father in Stargate: SG-1.  Jacob was a likable character – warm, thoughtful, and kind – and this was in large part due to the fact the actor playing him was all of those three.  Yes, Carmen was playing a role, but his character in many ways mirrored Carmen himself who was infallibly engaging, good-natured, and incredibly charming behind the scenes.  He always had a way of putting you at ease and, once you started talking, it was as if you’d known him for years.

After Stargate wrapped and we all went our separate ways, on to new productions and new opportunities, I was always heartened to see Carmen still busy as ever: in a surprisingly delightful guest arc on House, as an atypical heavy in the sun and sand of Hawaii Five-O, playing doctors, cops, lawyers, judges, and priests (Plenty of priests!).  His imdb page lists three recently completed short films and two films in post-production   in addition to, sadly, two more films in prep and another just announced.  Whereas many performers see their opportunities wane with time, Carmen remained busy and in demand, a still vibrant force, which makes his passing all the more shocking and heartbreaking.

https://www.gateworld.net/news/2019/02/carmen-argenziano-1943-2019/

 

February 10, 2019: Suji Sunday!

The many faces of Suji…

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Relaxed.

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Intrigued.

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Hungry.

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Suspicious.

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Hey, look over there!

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Her “I’ll have a treat now, thanks” look.

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When I left for Montreal the other day, she chased me down the hallway.  Pictured above,  Akemi scooping her up by the elevators.

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Lounge-wear.

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Guest starring Lulu – pictured here, a little drugged-out and kind of miffed after her recent visit to the vet.

February 9, 2019: The Results Are In!

I’m back home and perusing the results of Thursday’s poll(s) which asked you to weigh in on which element of my outline for my (formerly) Untitled Awesome Project would make it to first draft.

A resounding YES to alien slang!

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Drad!  One of the things I loved about Farscape was the show’s replete glossary of slang terms – a grand loopy sci-fi tradition I hope to continue in this new series.  And most of you agree!

“Diner Distress” gets the edge…

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I know, I know.  How can you pass judgement on a scene you know nothing about it – aside from the fact that it is presumably in a diner where one of our characters experiences some form of distress?  Well, all I can say is that every time I’ve pitched the scene, it has never failed to elicit laughter.  Akemi was saddened at the mere thought of not seeing this scene on screen  – so hopefully, the majority is right and it does make the cut.

Yes, to aliens!  Of course.

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What would a great sci-fi series be without aliens?  Clearly, you’re all onboard with extra-terrestrials – but the real question being asked is whether these particular aliens in the outline will get the go-ahead.  Some resistance off the top but here’s hoping you’re right.

Saying yes to the jelly!

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One scene in particular stands out as perhaps…perhaps a little too visceral in its jelliness – but it certainly sets the stakes.  I could have self-censored at the outline stage but the sequence is too great to miss out on.  At this point, it’s go big or go home!

Love for tea and the great outdoors.

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Without giving too much away, this scene is tonally reminiscent of some of Dark Matter’s most memorable family scenes.  As Ivon said after reading it: “Pulls at the heart strings.”.

No faith in dance.

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Say it aint so.  The majority is unconvinced by the carefully choreographed, crucial climactic dance number that caps the pilot.  But, in all fairness, I bet the same people would have voted no to a hot chocolate-sipping alien.  If it survives, I guarantee this will be the show’s most referenced – and rewatched – sequence.

Answers this week!

On several fronts!

 

February 8, 2019: Birthday Surprise!

Since I’m now only one hour from my hometown of Montreal (maybe 2 hours door to door), I decided to hop on a flight and surprise mom for her 85th birthday.

Yes, the plan was to go for smoked meat but our go-to spot, Smoke Meat Pete, was mysteriously closed so we had to settle for sushi instead.  Or what passes for sushi in Montreal.  Then, after a relaxing afternoon, it was time for dinner – and another surprise compliments of her two dozen co-workers (Yes, at 85, mom still goes in to work three days a week!):

Check out some of the family photos…

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Mom can’t help but point out that my attitude towards taking photos hasn’t changed much over the years.

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Subtext = Santa: I’m a serial killer.  Me: Santa’s a serial killer.

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Mom during her Hip hop phase.

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Taken the last time I was in town.

Tomorrow, it’s back home to Toronto where responsibilities await!

Annnnnnnd scene! And outline.

Well, I just delivered the outline for my (previously) Untitled Awesome Project.  At a robust 24 pages (roughly double my usual outline page count), it’s chock full o’ story details, fun character beats, twists, turns, surprises, and a sprinkling of gags.  Either they’ll love it or – they’ll have me committed immediately after they finish reading it.

OR it’s very possible that they’ll have a few bumps.  Hopefully not – or not too many – but I have to admit that certain elements in this script fall under the categories of ambitious, provocative, or downright insane.

So, as I await feedback, why don’t we all try to predict what the response will be to some of the pilot’s more “out there” aspects.

What will survive to see first draft?

Answers next week!

Hopefully.

February 6, 2019: Week’s Best Comic Book Covers!

These were my favorites…

1

Archie 1941 #5 (cover art by Peter Krause)

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Asgardians of the Galaxy #6 (cover art by Jamal Campbell)

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Conan the Barbarian #3 (cover art by Esad Ribic)

1

Conquest vol. 1: Icelandia (cover art by Živorad Radivojević)

1

Die #3 (cover art by Stephanie Hans)

1

Immortal Hulk #13 (cover art by Alex Ross)

1

Infinity Gauntlet: Deluxe Edition (cover art by George Perez)

1

Vortex: Collected Edition (cover art by Tim Bradstreet)

1

Old Man Quill #1 (cover art by John Tyler Christopher)

1

Robotech #17 (cover art by Jeff Spokes)

1

Tony Stark: Iron Man #8 (cover art by Alexander Lozano)

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Wasted Space #6 (cover art by Hayden Sherman)

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X-23 #9 (cover art by Ashley Witter)

Whew!

Which were your faves?

February 5, 2019: The Projects Update!

Well, how delightful.  A new project has landed on my plate, this one an original comic book series I pitched a little while ago.  It’s a far-future space opera in a similar vein to Dark Matter – a tech-fueled, character-driven adventure series with an undercurrent of humor.  Today I presented by broad stroke vision for the story to my editor who had some great suggestions – a tweak in the motivation of one of the central players as well as a slight revision that will see the series-defining twist occur at the end of the first issue.  We also talked tone, themes, and artists.  We reconvene sometime next week when I’ll present him with a revised overview and rough breakdown of the first story arc.

Prep is revving up on the production I’m showrunning.  Ian Brock and the Art Department are fine-tuning those set designs while, today, we discussed the show’s varied wardrobe demands.  Discussions still ongoing on certain departments.   Casting, however, is full-go.  Meanwhile, the scripts for episodes 105 and 106 were sent out for broadcaster review this morning.  Episodes 107 and 108 are currently being revised.  Awaiting notes on that 109 outline before sending the writer to first draft.  As for Episode 110, our season one finale…I’m holding off.  Ideally, I’d like to have all the scripts more or less production ready by the time we go to camera in late March, but I do recall the Dark Matter season one finale benefiting from a little insight into the show’s onscreen chemistry – something we won’t know about until we start seeing some cuts.

I’ve set aside the first draft of my (formerly) Untitled Awesome Project pilot script (and 24 page outline) so I can come back at it with fresh eyes tomorrow.  Ivon will be sending me notes tonight.  His initial take: “wacky but really funny”.

That big BIG BIIIIIIIIG pitch is presently being revised on the heels of some requested changes by The Powers That Be.  Their input was great and, as I told my partner on this one, the new take “addresses their concerns and, more importantly, incorporates their suggestions in a way that makes for a more focused, character-complex narrative”.  If we get the green light on this one, I’ll have some major reading research ahead of me.

Finally – sadly – those Dark Matter rumblings I reported on a couple of months ago have grown silent once again.  I had a conversation with a representative of a group with very deep pockets who had expressed interest in saving the show – and, really, COULD have saved the show had he been able to reach the right people when the series was first cancelled (And by right people, I mean me. Honestly, how hard am I to find online?).  They were interested in teaming on another project that, to be honest, while not my cup of tea, I would have happily worked on as a means of  establishing the foundation for potential bigger projects (And by bigger projects, I mean a Dark Matter revival).  Of course, in this business, nothing goes according to plan.  Strategies shifted.  Now, I’m working on these projects and they’re, I suspect, heading down the slippery slope of extended development hell.  It’s a rite of passage!