April 22, 2018: Everybody wants to work with you!

Congratulations.  You’ve just wrapped up your very first round of Hollywood meet-and-greets, sit-downs with production and broadcast executives all over town, and if there is one indisputable fact you can take away from the glorious experience it’s this: Everyone wants to work with you!

It’s true!  They said as much in their unbridled enthusiasm for you, your work, and your pitch for that zombie legal series.  They said it in their spirited suggestion that you would be perfect for some of the projects they have in development.  They said it insofar as they actually said: “We want to work with you!” and maybe even: “We want to be in the [insert your full name here] business!”.

So, in all fairness, you can be forgiven for actually believing it – you poor, deluded fool.

You go home, excitedly debrief with your agent/manager/friend/cute barista who never gets your name right (but you read somewhere that they do it on purpose to engender social media buzz, so you don’t take offense), then lie awake that night considering your mountainous prospects.  Damn, you’re going to be busy.  You might want to consider rescheduling that trip to Sugarloaf.

Or maybe not because, in truth, you’re not going to be that much busier.  On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being significantly less busy and 10 being much, MUCH busier, you’re at about a “No idea because you misplaced your scale but you’re not that surprised because that’s the way your week’s been going.”

Oh, sure.  You sent out those scripts, followed up with some emails, polite at first, then friendly and, eventually, lighthearted and humorous like a comedian’s Thursday afternoon shift at a palliative care unit.  In some cases, you may grow despondent and ask your agent to follow up for you.  This, more often than not, yields, not a response, but the addition of a whole other layer of unresponsiveness.

But in some instances, you DO receive a response.  And, in case you were curious, these are their hidden meanings:

Unfortunately, we’re already developing something similar. (Translation: I can’t be bothered to read your script as my time is better spent attending meaningless meetings).

I kicked it upstairs.  I’ll let you know when I hear anything. (Translation: I can’t be bothered to read your script, so I’m going to string things along in the hopes that you either give up and stop pursuing the matter or one of us dies).

I kicked it upstairs.  Unfortunately, they passed.  (Translation: They can’t be bothered to read your script either as their time is better spent attending meaningless meetings).

It’s not for us. (Translation: Your script was so poor and unintentionally hilarious that we held an impromptu read-thru in the lunch room.  Our new temp, Hazel, played the part of the jaguar).

It’s too similar to [established series]. (Translation: It’s too similar to the show we have in development that is a carbon copy of [established series].)

No one’s buying anthologies. (Translation: No one’s buying anthologies).

But before you pack up your laptop, dog-eared copy of Syd Field’s Screenplay, and that stack of color-coded index cards on which you’ve assiduously tracked the emotional arcs of every one of your main characters, hold up.  All hope is not lost, only a lot of your time and a small piece of your sanity, because this is just the reality of the business.  People will tell you they want to work with you because they honestly DO want to work with you – eventually, should you prove successful down the line working with someone else first.  No one wants to burn bridges.  Rather, they simply wish to invite you to cross at a later date and then sneak away under cover of darkness so that, upon your return, you discover the toll booth unmanned. It’s not a no. It’s an enthusiastic YES – somewhere in the not too distant future.

Over time, and repeated visits, you will get to know these people, form relationships with them and, should fortune smile upon you, actually work with them. Maybe you’ll develop a show for them that won’t go anywhere, or come up with a take for an adaptation that will ultimately go to some other writer.  The possibilities are truly endless.  So don’t despair and don’t give up!

But do throw away those index cards with the detailed emotional arcs.  Seriously.

October 1, 2012: The Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes! Cookie Monster reviews The Incredibles!

Me know, me know.  You expecting monster to say dis movie be SUPER.  Or mebbe INCREDIBLE!  But me not so obvious.  No, monster more unprediktable den Lindsay Lohan at one of Oscar de Grouch’s Hobo Hoedowns.  What me WILL say is dat monster pleasantly surprized by how much me enjoy dis movie considering it be written by Big Bird’s cuzin, Brad.  After all, creative writing not exaktly run in de family, someting you would know if you happened to read Big Bird’s poetry collection, Remembrance of Things Passed (in which he reflekt in rhyme on stuff he ate de previous day).

Movie begin wit our hero, Mr. Incredible, as he try to fight crime while trying to shake pesky sidekick who want to hang wit him.  Remind monster of Elmo dat time we go on fake bachelor party for Grover who pretend his bride run off wit best man so he can get sympathy lap dances.  Remember dat night?  We had to check Elmo at door of strip club and, later, when go to pick him up, turn out someone already claim him and we left wit some guy’s fluffy crimson foulard instead?  Good times, good times.

Anyway, Mr. Incredible lose de sidekick – but also lose his job becuz he cause too much collateral damage.  And so, he enter superhero relocation program…

Years later, we find Mr. Incredible and he now settled down, married Elastagirl and have tree kids: Dash, Violet, and Jak-Jak.  He spend days at insurance company, working for crabby boss.  BUT at night, he get together wit best friend, Frozone, and fight crime – even tho he not supposed.  (Shhhh.  Pleaze don’t tell.).

The Incredibles be a great family film dat offer terrific life lesson for kids like importance of family values, honesty is best policy, and sometime it okay to be de shit out of your boss if he be a complete asshole.  Which Mr. Incredible do – and get fired.  🙁

He so ashamed he not tell wife.  Instead, he take job fighting robot on remote island.  However, it turn out remote island robot fighting job be not quite what it appear (Always de case.  Monster learn dis de hard way last summer).  Mr. Incredible captured on island by inventor of robot, supervillain Syndrome who turn out to be…annoying sidekick from earlier in movie!  Dis be another important lesson: Always be nice to weaker people becuz, someday, dey could be supervillains…or in charge of cleaning out your bed pans after horrific clown car crash.

Fortunately, Elastagirl not very trusting of husband and track down his whereabouts.  Wit help of Dash and Violet, she crash island.  Fantastic action sekwences ensue!

Turn out Syndrome have master plan to unleash super robot on city, den sweep in and save de dey.  But he only half successful.  Unleashing go okay but sweeping in and saving part need a lot of work.

Luckily, Mr. Incredible and family, wit help of Frozone, chip in and save de day, destroy robot, defeat Syndrome, and save baby Jak-Jak.

Lots to like about dis movie.  It fast paced, fun, very funny, and clever. It poke fun at superheroes by celebrating de genre instead of belittling it.  Aktion sekwences are eye-popping and very entertaining.  And, most importantly at end of day, dis movie have a lot of heart.

And esophagus, liver, and even some spleen.

Verdikt: Dis movie be fantabulous!

Rating: 9.5 chocolate chippee cookies!

June 14, 2012: Familiar territory! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! Hot Zone! Sanctuary!

The other day, I was back in familiar territory, at The Bridge Studios, the former home of Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe, present home of Once Upon A Time, and Brightlight Pictures the company producing the SF miniseries Paul and I are writing.  I dropped by to get notes on the script, toss around some ideas for the second draft, and pick up a book that was sent to my old office.  It was nice to see some familiar faces, like Bill the security guard –

Halt! Who goes there?!

 And the gang in Admin –

– who were wondering when we’d be coming back.  Well, soon.  Hopefully.

I suppose it’s only appropriate that the visit to my old stomping ground coincides with my little trip down memory lane, reflecting back on Stargate: Atlantis’s first season.

HOT ZONE (113)

Following three wide open, all-out, kick-ass episodes, we shift gears to something a little more…self-contained.  When members of the science team investigating unexplored sections of the city fall victim to a frightening contagion, Atlantis enacts security protocols, placing itself under lockdown.  It’s another great episode for McKay that lays the groundwork for future stories – first and foremost the introduction of the Asurans, the mysterious creators of the nano-virus, but also Rodney’s sister Jeannie (who will end up making a few guest appearances in the coming seasons).

Again, what really stands out for me in this episode is less the threat faced than the reactions of our heroes – specifically, John Sheppard.  In the opening two-parter, it is suggested that he’s a bit of a rebel, a loose cannon who has problems with authority.  In later episodes he shows great courage and determination in the face of danger and yet, at the same time, also demonstrates a frustratingly cavalier attitude toward his commander, Weir.  In Underground, he goes over her head by making defacto deals with the Genii.  And in this episode, he openly challenges her authority by ordering Sgt. Bates to disregard her orders. Ultimately, Sheppard gets his way and his actions end up making an already bad situation worse when his intervention allows the nano virus to spread to the mess hall and endanger the lives of everyone there. In the end, he puts HIS life on the line and his heroic actions save the day, but he is surprisingly unrepentant in his post-plague discussion with Weir.

WEIR: But you are not the one who decides what is and what is not a military situation. Now, both General O’Neill and Colonel Sumner warned me that you don’t respect the proper chain of command.

SHEPPARD: Well, sometimes I see a situation a little different than …

WEIR: No. Listen to me, John. Now, you endangered yourself and the lives of many others.

SHEPPARD: Because I thought it was the best course of action to take — and, by the way, I saved your ass.

WEIR: I know you did — but you have to trust me.

SHEPPARD: I do!

WEIR: Do you?

Sheppard is let off the hook (more or less) because he saves the day, but how different would his conversation with Weir have been had any of the individuals in that mess hall died?    Should the legitimacy of one’s actions be contingent on their results?  Please discuss.

SANCTUARY (114)

Hmmmm.

Hmmmmmmmmm.

My least favorite episode of the show’s five year run, probably the franchise’s seventeen season run.  The story plods along at an unnervingly leisurely pace and the characters act – well – surprisingly out of character.  Gone is the adorably curmudgeony McKay we’ve grown to know over the first half of the season, replaced by a miserable, humorless imposter.  Our charming anti-hero, Sheppard, meanwhile, is transformed into a lovestruck schoolboy, picnicking on Atlantis and making the moves on a woman he barely knows.  And when McKay calls him on it, Sheppard responds by almost throwing down with him.  Dude, this is Rodney.  Remember Rodney?  The guy who saved your life two episodes back?  The bulk of the episode is dedicated to entertaining the mysterious Chaya while McKay attempts to figure her out.  Eventually, he learns the truth in a reveal that is at once strange and underwhelming.  “Yep, I’m an Ancient.”  (Cue shoulder shrug).    “Let’s have cosmic intercourse.”

The episode is bookended by action sequences that, while exciting, don’t really make a whole lot of sense upon closer scrutiny.  Why was the jumper attacked by darts in the opening? There was mention of a possible hive ship nearby but we never see it.  And why is the planet attacked again at the end?  Is it merely an enormous coincidence that the wraith just happened upon Proculus during the events of this episode (and while Chaya was away?)?  Or have the wraith been demonstrating staggering patience by staking out the planet for generations, just waiting for an opportunity to strike?

Things bounce back in a BIG way in the next episode, Carl Binder’s brilliant Before I Sleep.

A reminder to cast your vote for your favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win some signed scripts.  To ensure a fairer distribution of votes, I’ll be picking a random voter from the winning mid-season two-parter AND a random voter from one of the other nominated two-parters.

Polls close next Tuesday night!

June 10, 2012: Misery! Comic Con! Days of Stargate Past – Atlantis! Poisoning the Well and Underground!

You!  You dirty bird. You killed Atlantis Misery!

Last night, Akemi and I watched Misery.  It was her first time, my…what is it now…twelfth?  It’s my favorite Stephen King movie and last night’s screening further cemented it as one of my top ten favorite films of all time. Brilliant performances, a tightly plotted script, and some of the most excruciatingly suspenseful sequences ever committed to celluloid.  Nowadays, most horror movies are simply excuses for extended visceral sequences that, after awhile, border on the cartoonish in order to satiate the appetite of an increasingly jaded audience.  Misery, in comparison, makes masterful use of the “the build”, crafting unnerving, edge-of-your seat sequences that build in intensity, leaving the audience wondering what…when…where?  And when the answer comes, it’s horrific and, best of all, unexpected.  The race back to the room from the kitchen search, the vengeance denied by the hallway hesitation, the startled late night awakening to the looming beside visitor, the frustration of the spilled wine, the shocking shotgun blast, and the hobbling.  Oh, the hobbling.  We only really catch a glimpse of it, a fraction of a second when Annie swings her hammer and connects, but it’s damn effective.  And I would argue that seeing her heft up the hammer and swing for the other foot, even though we don’t see it connect this time, is even more disturbing.  The sequence is so unsettling that it has remained with me after so many other far gorier moments in horror filmdom have faded.  Just a perfect movie.

This is just some of the action you’ll miss if you don’t come seem me at Comic Con.

Thanks to everyone who has weighed in with their concerns regarding my planned trip to Comic Con.  Fear not, I won’t be sleeping on the streets of San Diego.  Dark Horse Comic’s New Events and Community Manager, the super-lovely Kari Yadro, has assured me she’ll be able to swing my accommodations.  Whether it’s staying at the hotel that Dark Horse has already booked or napping in Kari’s winnebago while she’s working, I think I’m covered.

Returning to my ruminations on Stargate: Atantis’s first season…

POISONING THE WELL (107)

This was my favorite episode since the two-hour opener.  It offered a difficult moral and ethical dilemma with no easy answers and a wonderful emotional arc in Carson Beckett’s working relationship with Perna, the Hoffan scientist.  I like my endings like I like my chocolate, bittersweet, so the conclusion to this one really resonated with me. The episode also delivers one of the most unwieldy, difficult to deliver lines in Stargate history with “One hundred percent cellular penetration in all five test inoculations”!  Try saying that five times fast.

The captive wraith gets a name, Steve, only to die before we get a chance to know him.  C’est la vie.  Given the circumstances and his push to experiment on the prisoner, I found Sheppard’s “We’re gonna help you” assurance as Steve succumbs to the effects of the Hoffan drug altogether bizarre.  If anyone would have adopted this conciliatory stance, it should have been civilian Commander Weir and yet even she sees the logic in Sheppard’s arguments, acceding to his demands for experimentation.  When he first mentions it, she brings up the Geneva Convention to which Sheppard counters that if the wraith were at the Geneva Convention, they would have no doubt fed on the other participants.  Good point.  Ultimately, this enemy is not one that can be reasoned with.  Short of discovering a way for them to gain sustenance without feeding on humans (and we’ll come to that later in the series’ run), it’s kill or be killed.

There are, of course, those pro-wraithers who point out that the wraith’s actions are dictated by survival instincts.  They’re not evil. And, while that may seem true (although the obvious joy they take in torturing their prey suggests otherwise), I would point out that the Atlantis expedition and the rest of the humans in the Pegasus galaxy are simply fighting back, the result of their own survival instincts.

UNDERGROUND (108)

Given the fact the wraith target technologically advanced societies, it would make sense that certain civilizations would seek to disguise their accomplishments from the enemy.  Enter the Genii.  I liked them as a wildcard, a military society that could prove both friend and foe, depending on the circumstances.  I also liked the continued clash between the civilian and military approaches on Atlantis, something we touch on in the previous episode but really comes to the fore here in the discussions between Weir and Sheppard.  Again, Sheppard  makes sense and Weir inevitably acquiesces to his game plan on the strength of his argument, but what is particularly interesting about this ethical clash is not the debate itself but the fact that Sheppard makes a unilateral decision on dealing with the Genii BEFORE discussing it with his defacto Commander.  Not once, but twice!

Later in the episode, the Atlantis team comes clean about the wraith and warns the Genii that they were awakned as a result of their failed rescue op and subsequent murder of a queen.  Well, yes and no. Certainly yes in their minds but one could make a very strong argument that the wraith would have been awakened regardless, not because of Sheppard’s actions on the failed rescue op, but because of the information the queen draws out of Sumner: the existence of Earth and the billions of humans just waiting to be fed upon.  Of course, Sheppard wasn’t privy to the conversation and has no way of knowing that, while he may blame himself for the wraith’s early awakening, it’s likely that the wraith would have awakened anyway.

Cookie Monster would like to remind everyone that our Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes tomorrow.  Monster will be offering up his thoughts on Batman Forever, so make sure you watch it so that you can provide an informed opinion on his review.

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular Debra.