Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And Now...

...A cat riding a Roomba.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cardboard Supports Nothing

I had a conversation recently with an executive about supporting characters (happily, this discussion came in the course of my starting on a pilot for them, after selling a pitch). An example he gave of a well-realized supporting character was Christian Slater's father in HEATHERS.

Now, it's been years since I watched the movie, but I remembered instantly who he was talking about. Don't you? Christian Slater's dad was single, rugged, damaged, and scary as fuck. You get exactly how his son got to be the way he is. I forget his specific role in the plot (Christian gets the explosives from him?), but I remember the shape of the character distinctly.

That's in a movie. Think how much more important regular cast and supporting characters are on a TV show, where you see these people week after week. Two of my favorite supporting characters on TV right now are on the same show, TRUE BLOOD. I like the main characters of Sookie and Bill well enough, but in the Southern Gothic by way of Twin Peaks world of Bon Temps, Lafayette and Amy stand out for me. They're both fully-fleshed characters, full of interesting, authentic character details.

Lafayette is gay, tough, a drug dealer and hustler who's tender and protective of his friends and can cook as well as he can lay asphalt for the parish. Also, he's funny and likable as hell. Jason's girlfriend Amy is a nightmare and I hate her, but she's a fantastic character. Earthy and hippy-dippy as only the entitled and overeducated can be, she's also completely merciless when it comes to vampires. She's a vegan and volunteers, but her compassion does not cover vamps, who she reasons are not alive and therefore undeserving of the same empathy you'd extend to, say, a trout. Amy's moral compass is absolute and she sees no contradiction in her behavior. And she's scary as fuck too.

It helps that Lafayette and Amy have things to do in TRUE BLOOD that are integral to the show's main stories; nothing's sadder than supporting characters getting relegated to B stories unstrung from a show's main plot or theme because the writers didn't know what to do with them.

Supporting characters need to do just what the name suggests: support the leads, the show, story, theme. And for that, they need three dimensions.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Time was, Halloween wasn't about dressing like whatever superhero/-villain was popular that summer (guys) or as Slutty Cat/Nurse/Freddy Krueger (girls). Then again, some options are far, far worse. And sick. And five kinds of wrong.

(I think I need to put bleach in my eyes now.)

I love Halloween -- candy! Dress-up! Spooky stories!-- but haven't had much call to dress up in recent years. Growing up a book- and movies-obsessed kid with a mom who's a skilled and imaginative (not to mention patient) seamstress led to amazing costumes, which in retrospect were a little odd. What seven year old girl wants to be a Can Can Dancer? At least it made a change from the procession of fairies, princesses, and fairy princesses that I also went as for much of my kidhood.

But probably my childhood favorite was a Wonder Woman costume made of swimsuit material that then had a second life the following summer as a bathing suit. Dad made me the tiara and bracelets out of cardboard covered with gold contact paper. It was teh awesomez.

As an adult I went through a pretentious, too-clever phase that included going as the Stock Crash of 1929, which consisted of a black flapper dress accessorized with a 20's-style headpiece and boa made from the stock pages from the newspaper. A friend and I went as Death and Destruction one year in college, costumes that were utterly indistinguishable from our normal goth-girl outfits except for more makeup and temporary hair dye. I went once as Crazy Jane from Grant Morrison's run of Doom Patrol, and you get warm comic book fuzzies from me if you know what the hell I'm even talking about.

Halloween usually sneaks up on me, so I don't really plan like I did when I was a kid. I have a lot of vintage clothing, so I can usually pull together a Rosie the Riveter or Random Swingdancer pretty easily. I also still have my stage makeup box from my theater days so I can do Undead Swingdancer or Rosie the Riveter with the Plague. An easy and comfortable costume one year was Suburban Vampire Victim: pajamas, robe, hair in curlers-- and dead-white makeup with bloody neck punctures.

What's your favorite Halloween costume? Past or present, worn or seen, doesn't matter.

And if you say creepy full-body Papa Bear suit, I am SO calling the police.

EDIT: Fixed the Krueger spelling...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Nikki Finke is reporting that Lionsgate is shopping around for a showrunner to replace Matthew Weiner on MAD MEN. Lordy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

If a Sexy Vampire Can't Survive, No One Can

Appropriately enough for Halloween week, the CBS Friday 9pm Death Slot has claimed another victim: the network's yanked THE EX LIST from the schedule.

Let the MOONLIGHT fan I-told-you-so's begin.

EDIT: Just to clarify, I'm sad when any show gets canceled. So much time and sweat and vision goes into everything you see on TV -- yes, really -- and add that to the straight-up economic and psychological suckiness of getting laid off, and it's happy times for no one.

My comments are more about the vagaries of this season and the mysterious and often harsh alchemy of network programming. There's nothing to say that MOONLIGHT would've fared any better.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fall TV Ups and Downs

The Live Feed has compiled a list of the fall shows with the biggest gains and losses in viewership so far:


1. CW SUPERNATURAL 1.2 to 1.7 = 42%
2. CBS CRIMINAL MINDS 3.5 to 4.7 = 34%
3. CBS HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER 3.3 to 4.0 = 21%
4. CBS CSI: MIAMI 4.6 to 5.2 = 13%
5. CBS NCIS 3.2 to 3.6 = 13%
6. CBS TWO AND A HALF MEN 4.8 to 5.3 = 10%
7. CBS CSI: NY 3.7 to 4.0 = 8%
8. CW GOSSIP GIRL 1.6 to 1.7 = 6%
9. CW ONE TREE HILL 1.6 to 1.7 = 6%
10. FOX AMERICAN DAD 3.1 to 3.2 = 3%


1. ABC PUSHING DAISIES 4.4 to 2.0 = -55%
2. FOX TERMINATOR 4.2 to 2.4 = -43%
3. FOX DON'T FORGET THE LYRICS 2.9 to 1.7 = -41%
4. CBS WITHOUT A TRACE 4.7 to 2.8 = -40%
5. CBS OLD CHRISTINE 3.2 to 2.1 = -34%
6. ABC DIRTY SEXY MONEY 3.6 to 2.4 = -33%
7. CW AMERICA'S TOP MODEL 2.5 to 1.7 = -32%
8. FOX SMARTER THAN 5TH GRADER 2.5 to 1.7 = -32%
9. NBC HEROES 7.3 to 5.0 = -32%
10. NBC MY NAME IS EARL 3.8 to 2.7 = -29%

Not sure if there are any trends to be discerned there -- although I am happy to see reality shows taking a tumble -- but time will tell.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Circle of Life, TV-Style

Turn on the TV and you'll see MOONLIGHT recycled all over the place.

COLD CASE's premiere on Sunday featured a double shot of MOONLIGHT guest stars, the chancellor of Hearst College from "Sonata" and Mick's WWII buddy Ray from "What's Left Behind."

Doing better yet are the smug promoter from "Black Crystal" and the doomed starlet from "Click," who have guest arcs as Jimmy Barrett and "new girl" Jane respectively on MAD MEN.

And what should I see on the CHUCK premiere tonight, in the Chinese restaurant where Chuck has his first date with Sarah, but the cut-out wood screens from Mick's apartment. The actual screens-- both shows are from Warner Bros.

Sigh. Well, at least we're green...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

Has died. He left quite a legacy, in his films and public works.

In his memory, watch one of his movies with a bag of Newman's Own cookies, why dontcha? Or eat fifty eggs. Your call.

Friday, September 26, 2008

No Rest for the Wicked

With delight, I see DEXTER on my TiVo's to-do list for Sunday, September 28! The hardest working serial killer in showbiz is back!

Now I just hope that they don't kill my spec by going down the same story roads I did...

EDIT: Crap. Just saw in a blurb in Entertainment Weekly that they did/are going to. Probably on Sunday. Gah.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Recalculating... Recalculating...

If you've ever used one of those GPS devices like the Garmin, you know recalculating. This is what the GPS lady voice (my parents call her Mrs. Garmin, which I love) says when you veer from the path she's plotted for you, say because you encounter traffic or know a better route yourself.

The voice recording for "Recalculating..." has this hilarious (to me, anyway), faint tinge of disappointment mixed with resignation, as if Mrs. Garmin's thinking, "Okay, pal. I tried. You win." Ultimately she's gotta suck it up and recalculate a new route, because, after all, you're the one driving the fucking car.

Tomorrow will mark the 5 month anniversary of my last paid day as a writer on MOONLIGHT. The show got its walking papers from CBS a few weeks later. It's been a busy summer full of good meetings and pep talks with Los Agentes and El Managero, but as of today I'm still unstaffed. You know how you keep hearing that it's tough out there right now? It's tough out there.

In an effort to cheer me up, the Boyfriend said to me recently, "Right now you're doing pretty much every kind of writing you can do, except being on the staff of a TV show."

He meant this as a good thing.

And it is. Here's what I've been working on during my summer "vacation":

  • Spec feature
  • Spec graphic novel
  • Story areas for 12 episodes to accompany my spec pilot
  • Pitch for an hourlong TV show
  • Pitch for a half-hour single-camera TV show
  • Pitch for a direct to DVD movie
  • Prep for a young adult novel

    And that's not even counting game design consulting gigs and truly nutty stuff. Monday I sent one of my plays to a local theater that has a new works staged reading series. Today I mailed a short story to my college alumni magazine's annual fiction contest. Then, on a whim, I sent it to The New Yorker too. Why the hell not?

    Back to the list. Apart from the first two, these opportunities are for real companies, and could lead to real jobs with real money attached. Of course, most if not all will fall through despite my work on them to date, because this is the real world. In a grumpier moment earlier this week, I was feeling like that girl in high school who all the guys wanted to grope behind the bleachers but wouldn't ask to prom.

    I may not get asked to Hollywood prom for any of that stuff, but it won't be for lack of trying. And I'm still working to get staffed on a show, maybe for midseason, maybe next spring. In the meantime I'm enjoying the chance to stretch creatively and keep my writing muscles exercised.

    Enough about me. What does this mean for you?

    If you're getting thwarted on your main path, try something else. Recalculate.

    At a number of events this summer I met all kinds of talented writers, many of whom unfortunately are also "between projects" or "working on their own stuff," code for being out of work. Everybody, working or not, has stressed the importance of diversifying.

    Writers write. Shoot that short film and put it on YouTube. Write that play. Take that class in writing comic books. You may know where you want to go, but be open to trying a new way to get there. Isn't that better than being stuck in traffic?

    Sure, there may be some disappointment. Get through that and the resignation so you can blaze a new trail to your goal. Because you're the one driving the fucking car.
  • Friday, September 19, 2008


    It's Talk Like a Pirate Day, matey!

    Be sure to get your Arrr on. 'Cause, you know, why not.

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Frakkin' Cool

    The cast and crew of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA received a gorgeous coffee table-style memory book at the series wrap party, and Cinemaspy has posted a peek inside.

    Friday, September 05, 2008

    Once More, With Avatars

    Not sure how I missed this, but earlier this week in his keynote at the Virtual Worlds Conference right here in LA, Jon Landau announced the development by Multiverse of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer MMO. Also in development is an "interactive learning experience" based on James Cameron's Titanic footage, while a Firefly MMO has been postponed.

    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Adds! We Got Adds!

    Adds, in MMO-speak, are additional enemies that attack you when you're already fighting.

    I'm still plowing through summer TV, battling recorded episodes of THE CLOSER, BURN NOTICE, PROJECT RUNWAY, even MAD MEN, and here come the fall's fresh new premieres, sneaking onto the TiVo through their season passes that I recorded and forgot about weeks, even months ago.


    Where's that AoE/DoT when I need it?

    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Sublime Primetime Coming 9/17

    A heads-up that Sublime Primetime, the Writers Guild Foundation's annual Emmy nominee event, is two weeks away, Wednesday Sept. 17 at 7:30pm at the WGA Theater in Beverly Hills.

    The guests so far include:

    Kirk Ellis, JOHN ADAMS
    Bryan Fuller, PUSHING DAISIES
    Danny Strong, RECOUNT
    Matthew Weiner & Robin Veith, MAD MEN

    ...with Emmy and Humanitas winner Larry Wilmore (THE OFFICE, THE BERNIE MAC SHOW) moderating. All that plus dessert and wine included! It typically sells out, so get your tickets soon.

    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Why TV?

    BooM over at Wannabetvwriter is asking the telescribosphere why they write for TV. A worthy question!

    I came to TV writing with a background in playwriting and designing videogames. I'm currently working on a comic book and a feature. Creating fictional worlds is what drives me, and happily, bizarrely, is something people have paid me to do (sometimes), when I would readily pay them to do it if I had the dosh.

    A quick digression from the Why to When. One of the games I worked on, MAJESTIC for Electronic Arts, was episodic. We had a writers room, just like a TV show. We even got canceled after 4 episodes, just like a TV show.

    One of the game writers was a talented woman who had worked on BEVERLY HILLS 90210 and MELROSE PLACE as well as movies and numerous interactive projects before and since. She became a mentor and a good friend, and encouraged me to think about TV writing should I ever find myself in LA.

    As it happens, a later game job brought me to LA. I started writing TV scripts, sent one to the Warner Bros. TV Drama Writers Workshop, got in, and got staffed. I'm so grateful to the people who took a chance on me. It still feels unreal.

    Back to the Why.

    Stories come in all shapes and sizes, and it so happens that a lot of the richest storytelling can happen in TV, when you live with characters week after week and experience how they evolve and surprise over time.

    There's something very intimate and compelling about how these stories unfold in your home. I was in tears during the season 1 finale of MAD MEN. Is it any wonder that fandom emerges around TV shows the way it rarely does for movies?

    A key element to TV writing is its collaborative nature, unlike writing a novel or poetry. I love the mix of cooperative and individual creation that takes place on a TV staff, everyone working through ideas to craft the best story possible, then the writer going off and writing the script.

    And, it's a shitload of hard, mentally exhausting work, but really really really fun.

    The below can consider themselves tagged, although I doubt more than a couple even read my blog:

    Alex Epstein

    Shawna Benson
    Ken Levine
    Jane Espenson
    And... BooM! What? She didn't say no tagbacks.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Does Shonda Know?

    This has been bugging me for a while. You know the title card for PRIVATE PRACTICE? This one?

    The image itself annoys me, because I think a successful series spun off from a massively successful one deserves better than a 20-minute Photoshop collage of an improbably toned female torso and clip art of a Santa Monica beach.

    But that little building above the belly button? That's not a lifeguard station or a café or a quaint shack where you can rent rollerblades, although there are plenty of all of those along the bike path.

    That little building is a public restroom. An oft-used one.

    And last week while I was out running along that very path, some Parks and Rec employees were by the outdoor shower, above Miss Torso's bony right hip, baffled about what to do with the half-naked person passed out drunk in the sand.

    At least, I hope he was drunk.

    And he wasn't naked on his top half.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Next Stop, Cylons

    Scientists in Britain have created a robot controlled by a brain of cultured neurons:
    “The robot’s biological brain is made up of cultured neurons which are placed onto a multi electrode array (MEA). The MEA is a dish with approximately 60 electrodes which pick up the electrical signals generated by the cells. This is then used to drive the movement of the robot. Every time the robot nears an object, signals are directed to stimulate the brain by means of the electrodes. In response, the brain’s output is used to drive the wheels of the robot, left and right, so that it moves around in an attempt to avoid hitting objects. The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer, its sole means of control is from its own brain.”

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    A Title Perhaps Too Apt

    Electronic Arts is partnering with the For Dummies series to develop games that... teach you to play games. Poker, Sudoku, Solitaire, "brain-training" games.

    Isn't a game that teaches you to play poker, um, poker?

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Alex O'Loughlin Sits in a Conference Room

    Hi Moonlighters! Firstly, thanks so very much for your kind comments and your support throughout the life (undeath?) of the show.

    Secondly, I felt bad for y'all cruising by my blog for what was really not that exciting a post yesterday, so... Here's a picture of the cast at the table read for MOONLIGHT's finale episode, "Sonata"! Click the pic to see a bigger version.

    Check out the glamorous world of making television:

    From left to right: David Blue (Logan), Jacob Vargas (Guillermo), Jason Dohring (Josef), Alex O'Loughlin (Mick!), Sophia Myles (Beth!), Robert Scott (Assistant Director), and Fred Toye (Director. He also directed "Fever" and "Out of the Past").

    Don't they look, um, riveted?

    I'm out of frame with the other half of Fred Toye, along with Ethan Erwin (my co-writer on the episode), executive producer Gabrielle Stanton, co-producer Jill Blotevogel, and our executives from CBS, WBTV, and Silver Pictures.

    Big thanks to Jill who had the foresight to snap the photo with her iPhone. I was way too nervous to even think about something sensible like documenting the occasion.

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Well, At Least They're Still Talking About It

    From a post on The Hollywood Reporter's TV blog, deconstructing the stated fave TV shows of Obama and McCain:
    Among media portrayals of U.S. presidents, McCain adds he admired President Palmer from Fox’s “24.” Not only is “24” considered an appropriately cool show, but Palmer was a winning portrayal of a tough, conservative African American president. It's a crafty choice on McCain's part, like putting the race card through a paper shredder. (For bonus points, McCain should try chastising CBS for canceling "Moonlight"; he could instantly shore up his weaker demos among women by a few million votes).
    Emphasis mine. Ahem.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Comic-Con 2008 Wrap Show: Zap! Pow! Ham!

    Barbecue, anyone?

    Back from San Diego! Since this was our first Comic-Con, we learned a few things.

    1) If you want to attend Thursday sessions, arrive Wednesday night.

    Like many others, I was stuck in that hellish traffic around Camp Pendleton, due to the Ham Truck Explosion, which The Boyfriend and I agree would be an excellent Rock Band band name but which sucks as a road hazard.

    Now of course you can't plan for crazy, newsmaking accidents, but in the future I'll look at Thursday as a real day rather than a travel one and get into town earlier.

    So I arrived too late and/or too enervated and annoyed to make it to any of the sessions I wanted to go to, so I just did a quick recon of the neighborhood and hung out at the hotel until The Boyfriend arrived in the evening.

    Who ya gonna call?2) You can in fact book a hotel room at the last minute.

    We stayed in Old Town, which worked out fine thanks to the handy San Diego Trolley, and I booked that through the Comic-Con site only a few weeks ago. A friend called last Monday, which is when the companies release the extra rooms they've booked, and got a room at the Marriott right next door.

    Old Town bonus: No lack of yummy Mexican food. And margaritas!

    Slave girl back in 5 mins.3) There are two Convention Center trolley stops. The second one, Gaslamp, is closer to Hall H. Save yourself the walk. You'll need your energy.

    After getting our badges Friday morning -- Professional registration = shorter line, happily -- we went straight to Hall H. We arrived about an hour before the WATCHMEN panel and I figured we'd have no chance of getting in, but we did!

    And it was awesome.

    Cool new footage they screened twice, Zack Snyder and the whole cast, Dave Gibbons too. The Q&A was hilarious, and apparently curated for color: first question came from a guy dressed as Batman. Second? The Joker. There was also a pair of twins who tag-team-asked their question, and a Rorshach.

    And we each got a ticket for a WATCHMEN t-shirt! Swag!
    Archie the owl-ship from WATCHMEN
    4) Swag associated with a Hall H event disappears fast.

    Which we learned when we went to get our shirts.

    After WATCHMEN, we went straight to the Entertainment Weekly Showrunners panel, featuring Josh Schwartz, Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, Bryan Fuller, and Josh Friedman. It was very entertaining, as you might expect from such an accomplished and visionary and funny group, although kinda LOST-centric, especially the Q&A. No bigs, though -- the panelists made jokes out of the situation, and everyone on the panel was having their own session later in the con anyway.

    Archie interiorSo we didn't flock to the floor right after the WATCHMEN panel, and they were all out of t-shirts.

    All three of the booths with the shirts. Out.

    We got to one booth just in time to see the last two shirts given out to people right in front of us.

    I was in a really bad mood after that.

    But we kept our tickets.Jedi and friends

    5) Swag gets resupplied over the day.

    Never say die! We wandered back to the WB booth later and saw WATCHMEN tickets and t-shirts changing hands. Sweet! So, all ended well.

    (Of course, those same precious shirts were probably getting handed out willy-nilly on Sunday, no tickets required, so the exhibitors wouldn't have to ship them back.)

    We spent most of the rest of Friday checking out the floor. On our way out to dump swag at the hotel and freshen up before dinner, we ran into my bosses from MOONLIGHT, who were on the writing for genre TV panel that night. I was glad to have the chance to catch up with them there because...Ironmonger from IRONMAN

    6) If you arrive at a popular panel late, or even right on time, forget about it. It's full and they won't let you in.

    So, bah. Coming back from Old Town we were late to the genre writing panel, and couldn't get in. We couldn't even get into panels that hadn't started yet, because they were already full. So we people-watched for a bit before getting dinner.

    And we got plus-oned into the DC party! It was loud, not too crowded. People emerging from the VIP area had tote bags with stuff in them, but we had to content ourselves with drinkable swag in the form of specialty cocktails named after DC characters. I had a vodka and Red Bull-- erm, I mean a "Booster Gold."Dexter collectibles and show props

    7) Get your floor time in as early as possible. And not on Saturday, if you can help it.

    Mob scene. MOB SCENE. We made a final pass through before meeting friends for lunch, but were glad we'd seen most everything on Friday. Thursday would've been better yet.

    Saturday is clearly better spent in panels, and we did catch Mike Mignola and the HELLBOY team (The Boyfriend is a fan from way back).

    Then we picked up the car and our luggage back in Old Town and hit the road, which was happily free of incinerated meat products. That means we missed the Masquerade, which was Saturday night, along with a bunch of other panels. Next time we'll leave on Sunday, I think.Luke... *I* am your backpack!

    8) Miss something? If it's relevant to Hollywood or is big news in comics, it's probably online.

    After getting home Saturday evening I glutted myself on Web coverage of the missed panels, including DEXTER, BSG, Joss Whedon, and HEROES. Announcements from the big comics publishers and presos by the industry's heavy hitter creators also got liveblogged/recapped/etc.

    Whew! It was a ton of fun, and we're looking forward to next year. In the meantime, I have my own comic book to write.

    Oh, and while as noted we skipped the Masquerade, there's no reason I can't hand out a few costume awards of my own. The envelope, please!Stay on target!

    Best Costume, Male: Tie! A picture-perfect Davy "Squidbeard" Jones from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and a Borg-assimilated Klingon

    Best Costume, Female: An all-chixx0r squadron of Rebel pilots

    Most Desultory Costume: V FOR VENDETTA mask. Dude. Make an effort.

    Most Popular Costume: DARK KNIGHT Joker

    Zeitgeist Award: Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer (one with groupies!), alone or togetherIndiana Clones

    Best Use of Cardboard, Runner-Up: Weighted Companion Cube

    Best Use of Cardboard, Winner: Two guys dressed as TIE fighters, wings on arms

    Best Game-Inspired Costume: HALF-LIFE scientist, complete with lab coat, Black Mesa badge, and plush headcrab hat

    Least Effective Costume, Runner-Up: All the anime and Final Fantasy outfits, which only make sense if you're a devotee of those series and games

    Least Effective Costume, Winner: Anyone with a "Free Hugs" sign

    Guy Who Probably Regretted His Costume the Minute After He Put It On: Colossus, face and arms covered with silver paint, who was unable to put his arms down for fear of smearing

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008


    Speaking of comics, The Boyfriend and I are heading to Comic-Con tomorrow and Friday for that key annual gathering of the tribe, one of the most sacred seasons in the Geek Calendar.

    We may try to catch the WATCHMEN presentation on Friday, although something tells me we should already be in line for it. I'm hoping to get in a few TV panels, some comics industry stuff, and of course the lion's share of the time will be wandering around and people-watching.

    We've never been, so newbie tips are most welcome!


    I still find it fascinating, and kind of dark and funny, the TV terminology of "breaking" a story. It sounds so violent and painful. Which it sometimes is. Breaking -- outlining -- is the heavy lifting of writing, where the hand-waving ends, the holes emerge, and you have to figure out exactly what the hell it is you're going to write.

    And if a story doesn't work? Like a badly-set limb that's healed wrong, you re-break it. Ow.

    So, a broken story is a happy and good thing, despite the image it calls up -- to me anyway -- of a little baby bird flapping a busted wing, on the ground yards below the nest, with the alleycats circling.

    I've broken my comic book story, and it's a three-issue arc of 24 pages each after all. On paper, it works pretty well: I'd outlined the story originally in three acts, and as it turns out the content of each works out to 24 comic book pages.

    Each issue/act has its own beginning, middle, and end, of course. The end of the first issue is the revelation of my hero's calling, the second ends with a dark moment that steels his resolve to embrace that calling, and the third ends with a big ol' superhero fight, his team assembled, the Big Bad vanquished... and the introduction of a Bigger Bad to be fought another day.

    Everything slotting out so neatly in this phase means it may all go south once I start the actual script, of course, but I'm feeling pleased right now and excited to write.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    MAD MEN Marathon Today

    Tune into AMC all day today for martini-soaked season 1 goodness. Season 2 starts next Sunday, w00t!

    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Animated WATCHMEN on iTunes

    There's a new version of WATCHMEN being released episodically through iTunes, one that uses the original Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons/John Higgins art and text in a cool 2D/3D-papercraft-type animation.

    It's abridged a little, and the narrator is no Jim "Harry Potter audiobook god" Dale, but it's nifty seeing the book come to life.

    Sequential Tart

    In addition to some freelance game consulting gigs and the usual TV writer job-searching activities like going to general meetings and reading and watching pilots, I've started several new spec projects. I'm developing a couple new pilot ideas, and have begun a feature, and--

    I'm writing a comic book!

    I've read comics for years, but am a n00b at writing them. And I'm finding it a lot of fun, creatively challenging, and a fascinating formal exercise. For screenwriters who write lolloping 130-page movies and find the short length and rigid act structure of network TV too confining, tackling a comic book script would probably atomize their brains. Mine's getting there.

    Not only do you have a set length to work with, usually 24 pages (with some variance in either direction), but you have to consider conventions such as when you change locations or switch storylines (typically not in the middle of a page) and the tease-and-payoff from the last panel of one page to the first on the next.

    Unlike film or TV scripts, where the writer is not encouraged to get specific with angles and shots, comic book scripts often describe each panel in precise detail. Basically you end up with the text version of a storyboard.

    (I'm speaking here of what I understand the industry calls "full-script" style, as opposed to the "plot-first" or Marvel style, which is -- surprise -- used a lot at Marvel. The latter is more like a prose description of the entire page, with the panel contents and page layout largely left up to the artist. The writer then adds the dialogue once the artwork is complete.)

    Comic book scripts aren't meant to be read. Even more than TV and movie scripts, the comic book script is a work document, a specification delivered from the writer to the artist(s). Consequently they can be very hard to read, as I've learned. As I've also learned, there is no standard format for these scripts, although Movie Magic Screenwriter has a couple of comic book templates, one of which I'm using.

    Because I'm considering the script as a potential original sample for screenwriting jobs as well as something to be taken to publishers, I'm going to try for a more readable, TV-script style. We'll see how that goes!

    Story-wise, it's fun. There are no budget constraints. You can make the reader linger on a single moment by unfolding it over several panels, or blow the reader away with a full-page splash, the comic book's money shot. You can juxtapose disparate scenes in time and space or introduce a whole other style and story like TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER, the comic-within-a-comic in WATCHMEN. In all, it's a very intimate and evocative canvas on which to paint, something Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics discusses in detail (if you haven't read this book, you should. I've found that it comes up equally in discussions with writers and game designers.).

    All this freedom may in my case be a little too freeing. I've gotten my story broken, and find myself trying to cram 10 lbs. of story into a 5 lb. bag. Hence the squishy brain issue mentioned above.

    It's obvious that there's no way my story will fit into 24 comic book pages, but since it's a spec I have some flexibility. So as I tackle the page and panel breakdown I'm considering making it a double-size issue, a Part 1 and Part 2-type thing.

    Um. Maybe Part 3.

    Thursday, July 17, 2008

    Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for the iPhone

    Do want!

    There's a lot of skipping cutscenes at the start -- gameplay kicks in at about 2:40.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    E3 2008: The Big Three

    As is often the case, Penny Arcade has the truth of it.

    Although, as I noted yesterday, I don't think Microsoft's plan for the Xbox is scattershot and ill-focused, rather the casting of their usual large net. I.e. what's the market for a Windows PC?

    Nintendo's lineup was about 80% meh as far as I was concerned, but the PS3 is on the rise. They're gaining ground on the Xbox, outselling it in the first months of this year.

    Little Big Planet looks extremely polished and cool, and the use of the game to present normally snore-inducing sales figures both livened up Sony's preso and gave some insight into LBP's potential.

    Beyond that, Sony presented very little for the non-core in terms of games, but their media store looks impressive, featuring TV and movie downloads from a power-hitting set of partners like Warner Bros., Disney, and Fox, videos users can port onto their PSPs.

    DC Universe Online, SOE's new MMO, City of Heroes/City of Villains. It was hard to tell from the presented footage what the gameplay will be like, whether you inhabit DC Universe characters in instanced game spaces, or play your own created heroes a la CoH alongside the marquee names, or both.

    And Home continues to be underwhelming and late to the party-- it may be out this year, maybe. It's odd to me that Sony went realistic rather than stylized with Home, like the Wii's Miis and the new Xbox avatars. Especially since WoW and its heightened, accessible look is kicking their own Everquest 2's photorealistic ass.

    I Can Haz Snooz?

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    Xbox Rampant

    You can almost still hear the echoed wailings from attendees at Microsoft's E3 press conference yesterday:

    "A cuddly new interface for the Xbox? Living-room social games?"

    "A cute multicolored dingus of a controller that looks like it was designed by Playskool?"

    "Avatars, for the love of Master Chief?! They're totally copying the Wii!"

    Of course they are. They're Microsoft. That's, well, what they do, duplicating other companies' breakthroughs and bringing them to the mass market. Aaaaand it's worked out pretty well for them so far, with some exceptions (I'm looking at you, Zune).

    So, fine. They're copycats. That being said, Microsoft's Xbox 360 plan for the year is really smart. They've got the core gamers with their solid lineup of franchises like Gears of War, Resident Evil, Fallout, and Fable. The players of these games are what the industry is starting to call "primary gamers," the person in the household who plays a given console the most.

    The fact that Microsoft devoted about half their time yesterday to the "innovations" noted above means that they get the potential for the market of "secondary gamers," other people in the household who play the console but not as much as the primary gamer. These folks are likely to play casual games like those found on Xbox Live Arcade, party games like Rock Band, and "family game night" type titles like Scene It.

    The type of person, in other words, who might buy a Wii, and who probably doesn't think of him- or herself as a gamer, definitely not someone who's going to gib the neighbors in a lively Call of Duty 4 matchup.

    Hell, with Microsoft's shiny new media partnerships like NBC Universal and Netflix, you don't even have to be a gamer at all for the Xbox to have value-- you can download TV and movies on the thing.

    All of which, incidentally, are selling points when Timmy or Susie Primary Gamer is lobbying Mom and Dad to buy a console.

    Oh, and the Portal sequel will be on the Xbox.

    Shit. I may actually have to buy one now.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    DR. HORRIBLE Starts Next Week

    Wondering what Joss Whedon was doing during the strike when he wasn't picketing at Fox? Here's a sneak peek:

    Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

    The "supervillain musical" airs in three parts next week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, with all three parts disappearing like a ninja with a smoke bomb on midnight Sunday 7/20.

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    Hautboys Off

    Come later this month with the return of MAD MEN, BURN NOTICE, THE CLOSER, etc., summer TV will get started in earnest, but I've already been enjoying IN PLAIN SIGHT.

    A character-driven procedural with a generally lighter tone a la its USA network-mates BURN NOTICE and MONK, SIGHT stars Mary McCormack as Mary Shannon, a marshal for the Federal Witness Protection Program who has a crunchy shell of suffer-no-fools snark hiding her soft sentimental center.

    One recent episode had a fantastic final beat, a great example of leaving offstage stuff that just isn't the show.

    (*SPOILERS AHOY* if you haven't seen the episode guest starring the fabulous Missi Pyle as a grifter... )

    The episode involves missing diamonds and the scary smugglers searching for same. The final showdown happens in a stable, Mary and her partner Marshall vs. the scary smugglers. Mary spooks a horse to cause a diversion and they take down Smuggler #1, while Smuggler #2 mounts the horse and gallops off bareback with the diamonds.

    Cut to Mary and Marshall wrapping up the case outside the stable, cops everywhere, with Smuggler #1 escorted into a black-and-white in the background.

    But what about the other smuggler? The diamonds? Hell, the horse for that matter? Wait for it...
    MARSHALL, looking offscreen: How cool is that?

    Detective "Bobby D" Dershowitz, with whom Mary has a contentious professional relationship with a side of flirty sparks, rides through frame on the horse, diamonds in hand, towing a lassoed Smuggler #2 behind him.

    BOBBY D: 'Sup, y'all.

    MARY, annoyed: Where did he get a lasso?
    Love that.

    This isn't a show about Mary chasing down a diamond smuggler on a horse, so why not skip it? Sure, there's a bit of hand-waving in the logistics, but Mary's line hangs a lantern on it, so the scene plays. It's funny, wraps up the plot's loose ends without belaboring them, and most importantly illustrates how amazingly cool Bobby D is.

    And as if that wasn't enough good stuff, earlier in the same episode, Marshall scolds Mary for throwing food at him. "These are my mambo pants," he complains.


    Thursday, June 19, 2008

    Wanna Live In An ARG?

    These New Yorkers do.

    Of course, the game designer in me immediately started thinking about ways this could've been done to allow replayability.

    Maybe consider the apartment's game elements as platform rather than content, which would give the family the ability to develop their own games. Kids love devising their own ciphers and stories as much as experiencing them, after all.

    Say the apartment's codes and hiding places were configurable and content-agnostic: designers could create and hide their own clues that would redirect to other locations in a whole new sequence of puzzles. You'd still run out of unique clue locations fairly quickly, but at least you'd get more play out of your hella expensive live-in game.

    Oh, and the story's already been optioned for the movie treatment by J. J. Abrams.

    Saturday, May 31, 2008


    My friend Amanda and I went to a late afternoon matinee of SEX AND THE CITY yesterday. The place was PACKED, almost wholly with groups of girlfriends, many in SatC t-shirts -- where in the hell did they even get those? -- taking pictures of themselves like they were at Disneyland or a birthday party. I overheard one woman say, "This is like the female STAR WARS."

    Now, I take issue with that -- I know plenty of cool chicks for whom STAR WARS is the female STAR WARS -- which pretty much sets the stage for what followed.

    While we've both seen and enjoyed SatC episodes from time to time, Amanda and I are not uberfans. Imagine sardonic, gothy Emily the Strange all grown up and her redheaded, bespectacled twin, and you've got a more or less accurate picture. We are not, shall we say, the target audience.

    The movie was an acceptable enough diversion, a fairy tale in pretty much every way, complete with a 5-minute montage of couture wedding gown p0rn. I'm a big sentimental romantic at heart, so the movie pushed those buttons -- yes, I teared up a few times. Shut up . -- but I wanted it to be funnier. More emotionally authentic. Smarter. Basically, more like the choice moments from the series.

    There's a horny little dog, who gets three separate shots of it humping something inappropriate. Jokes are funnier in threes! Lame jokes are more tiresome in threes!

    (And really? A humping dog? Hackneyed and unfunny. What is this, a Rob Schneider movie? All I could imagine is that was put in there for the occasional straight guy, boyfriend, or husband who found themselves watching the movie.)

    So we chuckled a few times, and I got my romantic's happy ending, but the rest of the audience was ECSTATIC. Applauding when each major character appeared. Squealing along with the characters when something momentous happened. Gasping when the bombshells fell. When we left, the theater's bar (yes, it's one of those LA movie theaters with a bar) was teeming with ladies downing cosmos. We went for sushi afterwards and found more of them making the best of it with some kind of pink sake concotions.

    As I muttered to Amanda, amazed, as we waited in the line at the women's restroom (not a problem after IRON MAN), "What planet did we land on?"

    SatC is going to do gonzo business, which I'm genuinely happy about. Sure, it's part of a hugely popular and lucrative franchise, but it shows that women can open a movie, and that women can drive serious bank at the box office. Maybe more movies in that voice and that speak to that audience will get greenlit.

    Now that would be Big.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Con Brio

    This past weekend here in Los Angeles was MoonlightCon. A fan-organized event, the three days of panels, presentations, tours, and events drew over 200 attendees from all over the country and the world, including Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands.

    And did I mention the fans put the whole thing on?

    I came by the Friday evening meet-n-greet, along with EP Harry Werksman, who shared the sizzle reel from the season 2 pitch and dropped some tantalizing hints about what the plans for season 2 were.

    Yes, I'm afraid "were," not "are" -- I've heard nothing about a pickup for MOONLIGHT, and we're quickly approaching the no-go point in terms of actor and writer availability, with the sets already struck. A miracle could prove me wrong, of course, and I'd be happy to be so proved, but we are in miracle country on this. Harry did say that the DVD set is being planned, with probably a fall release. Yay!

    Saturday I was joined for the writers' panel by Ethan Erwin, who co-wrote the finale with me, and Jill Blotevogel, who wrote many of the season's best-loved episodes. We arrived early, in time to catch the end of a very interesting and well-researched presentation on character archetypes embodied by MOONLIGHT characters, illustrated with video examples: Beth as the Gorgon vs. Amazon, Mick as the Gladiator vs. Messiah. Props to Cinemama on a great preso, which as I told her, made us writers sound smarter than we are. :)

    The panel was fun, if a little daunting initially in the formality -- I'm much better talking to people one-on-one, not from some crazy raised dais like declaiming from the mount. We talked about our respective backgrounds and the episodes we wrote, and then turned to audience Q and A, with many insightful and articulate questions from the floor.

    Thanks to everyone involved for making us all feel so welcome. As writers, we don't get out much and get a warm reception like that even less! We should be so lucky that all the projects we work on spark such passion and community.

    It was an amazing event. Huge congratulations to Lisa "Leeser" Gerry of Moonlightline and all the organizers.

    Friday, May 16, 2008

    MOONLIGHT Tonight, 9p.m. on CBS!

    A shameless plug for MOONLIGHT (alas, probably my last) -- the episode I co-wrote is on tonight at 9p.m. on CBS. That means right now, Eastern and Central time, so please do tune in!

    The episode was written as a finale for the season, not the series, and you'll see where and how the difference matters. But I think the episode ends in a good enough place for those seeking closure.

    More tidbits about the episode to follow!

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Still Alive

    Two months since the last post? Really? Blort. And no, I've not been off playing GTA4 this whole time (but it may be the last nudge I need to finally break down and get a next-gen system...).

    Anyway, I just wanted to surface and check in. A lot's been going on:
    1. I co-wrote my first MOONLIGHT episode
    2. Went through production on same
    3. Took an amazing trip to Japan with The Boyfriend
    4. Returned home in time for MOONLIGHT to get cancelled
    All the above are worth several posts, which I'll most likely get to sooner than I got to this one since I'll have some free time courtesy of #4. And while unemployment is actually a pretty good cure for jet lag, I can't say I recommend it.

    Writing, production, and post on my episode was an incredible experience, but I'll wait until after the episode airs -- tomorrow, Friday, May 16 at 9p.m. on CBS! -- to get into details, for the spoiler-sensitive.

    As a quick tease, here's a production snapshot, from behind the camera crane. The smear in the paramedic's uniform on the left is Claudia Black!

    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Oh Danny Bork Bork Bork

    By way of Boing Boing comes this classic Muppet take on Danny Boy. Beaker's sweet sweet tenor (?) as he reaches that high note is a ting o' beauty, don'tcha 'no.

    That show holds up surprisingly well!

    Friday, March 14, 2008

    Specs of Wisdom

    Pretty much anyone who reads my feeble musings here is already reading John Rogers' terrif blog Kung Fu Monkey (check it out over on the sidebar), but I wanted to pass along to TV writer-types that he's got a particular useful post up now containing pearls o' advice garnered from staffing his new TNT show LEVERAGE.

    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    132 Miles to a Deal

    132 miles is how far I walked during the 2007-2008 WGA strike. I did guesstimate for the days when I didn't yet have a pedometer, including the rallies which typically were lighter walking-wise.

    If I'd gone in one direction instead of in circles, I could've walked to these places:

    Palm Springs
    San Diego (almost)
    Catalina Island and back, if I brought my flippers

    And Warner Bros. was one of the walking-light gates. WGA brothers and sisters elsewhere walked much farther. If I'd been at Fox the whole time, I could've walked to, say, Fresno. But who'd want to?

    Tuesday, February 19, 2008

    Strike Pants, Come Home -- All Is Forgiven

    Wonder what the WGA picket lost and found box contains? Wonder no more!

    Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Emotional Baggage

    "So, what's in that magic bag of yours?"

    I got that question last week from Deric, a fellow picketer and WB stalwart. The bag in question is a small, bright orange nylon Mossimo backpack with numerous zippered pockets. I bought it years ago, I think at a Ross Dress for Less. This bag was attached to me like a limpet for the last 14 weeks.

    Orange? Backpack? Obviously, I very early gave up trying to be remotely fashionable on the picket line. When you're walking in circles for hours, comfort is key.

    I did try bringing a cute backpack-style purse to carry my strike essentials for a while, but found it was too small, particularly when I needed to stow an outer layer like a sweatshirt or jacket. An experiment with a shoulder bag one day about killed my back, with the weight so unevenly distributed.

    So, enter the Magic Bag. It's done good service for me in the past: I've used it as a daypack while prowling both Mayan ruins in the jungles of Belize and the eardrum-crushingly loud caverns of E3. Packing for a strike, I learned, has a lot in common with both.

    Here's what was in Kira's Magic Bag:

  • Keys
  • Cellphone
  • Wallet - A lighter wallet than my "main" one, with less stuff in it.
  • Makeup bag - A girl goes through a lot of lip gloss during your average picket shift.
  • Brush - Unnecessary. My hair spent the last 3 1/2 months in one or more ponytails, under a baseball cap.
  • Scarf, gloves, ballcap - If I wasn't wearing them.
  • Sunglasses - Same
  • Two energy bars - Because you can't always count on StrikeSnacks...
  • Bottle of water
  • Cough drops - Chanting (early in the strike) and chatting over the honks (later) takes it toll.
  • Pocket pack of Kleenex - Between allergies, the cold, and a cold, I went through a couple of these.
  • Hand lotion - Brisk, dry SoCal air and wind = dry hands.
  • Sunscreen
  • Advil
  • Earplugs - For the Weeks o' Jackhammering.
  • Travel pack of toilet paper - Don't laugh. I needed this before Warner Bros. started super-stocking the bathrooms at Gate 2.
  • Packet of hand wipes
  • Spare hair elastics - For the aforementioned ponytails, or for cinching up a too-big strike t-shirt.
  • iPod - Didn't actually use this much. Occasionally at Fox.
  • Small notebook, pens - For notes, and exchanging contact info.
  • Folding umbrella - During that rainy spell, otherwise it stayed in the car.
  • My Warner Bros. ID - Not really sure why I brought this. As a totem, maybe, for luck?

    As you may've guessed, I was a Girl Scout. Why prepare when you can over-prepare? Sure, you snicker now, but when our plane goes down in the outback, you'll want to be on my team.

    The orange backpack worked out great, but I hope that this was its one and only strike. Now, the Magic Bag's unpacked and put away, dreaming of future hikes or videogame trade shows.
  • Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    It's Over

    The strike's over, with a 92.5% majority, according to the WGA E-Bulletin I just received.

    Another Vote

    Like a baby stoat! Just returned from casting my yes ballot at the WGA Theater to lift the restraining order, i.e. end the strike. The place was crawling with media and the mood was excited and relieved, much like Saturday's membership meeting.

    Variety's article on that meeting, by the way, may well have been their one bit of accurate reporting during the entire strike, which in the magazine proper (not the Scribe Vibe blog so much) was characterized by appallingly biased anti-Guild coverage. The membership did indeed give the WGA leadership, the Negotiating Committee, and the deal a positive response.

    The deal is good/good enough, and I'll be voting yes on that too. Not perfect, but it wasn't going to be. At the meeting David Young walked through the terms point by point, noting what we got and how we got there, both the gains and the hold-your-nose concessions. Very straightforward, and I appreciated that. I believe the leadership when they say that they pushed as far as they could on the "bitter pills" without blowing up the deal.

    And there are bitter pills. The change of contract expiration to May kneecaps the ability to make another strike a credible threat, although I don't think anyone's in any hurry to strike again. Reality and animation are still out in the cold, and cable TV is still underpaid compared to network. The 17-24 day window sucks. I know from my years in online how fast content relevance decays there. But the long-tail phenomenon is a real thing, which could mitigate that. Regardless, all that's not enough for me to vote down the deal thinking we can get better. Important jurisdictional gains were made, and we know the areas we'll want to improve come the next negotiation.

    So, what happens next, provided the ayes carry the day? The town takes stock. John August had an apt analogy on his blog: in a small way it's like how after a disaster returning residents are allowed back to their houses to find what's still standing.

    It's still not officially over, and I for one will wait to celebrate until the word comes down, but all signs point to the town heading back to work, as early as tomorrow.

    Friday, February 08, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 14


    Monday - People were talking about this weekend's hot rumors of a deal being in place, but with some skepticism. Everyone's cautious after the last nasty bait-and-switch from the AMPTP before the holidays, and by the way, THERE IS NO OFFICIAL NEWS YET. Everyone's getting emailed by friends and family, understandably excited that the strike may be over, everyone having seen the same non-news stories that appeared in the New York and LA Times and got picked up by CNN and the wire services. Talk about irresponsible reporting. There's. NO. NEWS. YET. No sources who can be named, no official comment from either party. It's a story that integrity-challenged reporter Templeton from this season of THE WIRE would write. In other news, I was cold. I dressed completely wrong, without a layer to compensate for the wind whistling down Olive. Reasonable showing today, everyone staying strong and wanting to give a good showing as we were exhorted to by phone calls from Larry Gelbart, whose voicemail I've kept on my machine, I confess. It's Larry freaking Gelbart!

    StrikeSnacks: Doughnuts from two different bakeries

    Pedometer: 2.6mi

    Tuesday - Happy Mardi Gras and Super Duper Tuesday! Went to Fox today after voting. Gorgeous sunny SoCal day, with something of a festive vibe in the air. I'd brought an armful of red Mardi Gras beads, and the gate captains had brought beads as well, so we were all decked out. As far as I can tell no one flashed anything, no Writers Gone Wild here. No hurricanes of the atmospheric or bibulous variety either, but there were theme treats (see below). Fair amount of election talk, naturally, and we were visited by a couple of local politicians, state senators I think. WGA VP David Weiss and another Board member dropped by to give an update -- in short, progress toward a deal is being made but there is no language yet and negotiations are still going on -- and answer questions. The next few days and the weekend's informational meeting with the membership should be very interesting, with all kinds of scenarios possible.

    StrikeSnacks: Some homemade cookies which I didn't try; some pro cookies shaped like flipflops which I did. And Mardi Gras KING CAKES from a MOONLIGHT fan in New Orleans, and fantastic pizzas underwritten by more MOONLIGHT fans. What show has the best fans? I think you know.

    Pedometer: 5.4mi, but I'm pretty sure I cancelled that out with the pizza and king cake.

    Wednesday - Fun day. The three hours zoomed right by. It was "Spooky Wednesday" at WB, featuring writers from MOONLIGHT, SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, SUPERNATURAL, and others. Really big and enthusiastic turnout (gratz again, Priya!). Chatted with two writing teams both starting horror pilots and caught up with mah peeps from mah show. Everyone's at Disney tomorrow, and while we still don't know when the strike will end, there's a chance we may not see our buddies on the line on Monday, so there was exchanging of emails, etc. Here's hoping we see each other on the lot. Soon. After we're back at work.

    StrikeSnacks: Croissants, danish, doughnuts

    Pedometer: 1.3mi

    Thursday - Everyone was at Disney today, which has enough gates that the crowd was able to spread out. I was one of the first there, a little before 8am, and left a bit after 11 at which time the lot was swarming with Guild and SAG members. A beautiful day, with kind of a festive, "last day of school" vibe, although cautious optimism was definitely the predominant voiced opinion. Emails were exchanged, calls made to cell phones to save the numbers, vague plans made for lunches in the commissary when we're all back at work. Which hopefully will be soon, behind a fair deal. Saturday will be very interesting.

    StrikeSnacks: The strike classic, doughnuts. Also, a coffee truck supplied by an anonymous donor. Thanks for the latte, Anonymous!

    Pedometer: 2.7mi

    Tuesday, February 05, 2008


    Pretty exciting times, not leastly for California, which stands to make a difference this primary. Participatory democracy only works if you, y'know, participate, so vote! Like a baby stoat!

    Sunday, February 03, 2008

    A Note About Strike Notes

    I'm behind again on posting these, but hope to catch up during the Giants vs. the Cheaters game. I'm changing the post dates to reflect the week they're about, not the day I'm posting them (today), just FYI, so you'll need to scroll down here or in your newsreader.

    I'll try to be better about posting these in a more timely fashion. With luck, this won't be an issue for much longer. We'll see what the week brings! Until then, see you on the line.

    Friday, February 01, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 13


    Monday - @ Fox today for WGA/SAG solidarity day. Took the first morning shift, guessing (correctly) that it'd be a mob scene and hard to park later. When I left, incoming picketers were already following people in the parking lot, trolling for a space. The turnout's solid, but there's not as many people here as I'd expect. But hey, it's early. Maybe all the actors are hungover from the SAG awards last night.

    StrikeSnacks: Some homemade cookies. Not much of a showing given that the WGA and SAG were all being directed to Fox today, but maybe the treats came later. Got excited seeing a guy with two bags of Sprinkles cupcakes, but turns out he just left them at the guard shack presumably for delivery to someone inside. Sigh. I heart Sprinkles.

    Pedometer: 5.3mi

    Tuesday - Back at WB. Chilly today, although of course we have nothing to complain about compared to our compatriots in New York. Did more standing around and chatting while holding a picket sign than actual walking.

    StrikeSnacks: Doughnuts. Also someone brought by $5 Taco Bell gift certificates from an anonymous donor.

    Pedometer: 1.3mi

    Wednesday - Cold again today, although it got warmer and very nice despite the windiness. One big gust blew a blast of that nasty water from the Fox fountain at us. Or maybe Peter Chernin has a button that does that.

    StrikeSnacks: Homemade cookies

    Pedometer: 5.7mi. Yeah, baby!

    Thursday - Another Teaching Thursday, this time multi-camera comedy day, although some single camera-ers came too. It was warm and sunny for the participants, who included writers from SAMANTHA WHO? and BIG BANG THEORY, Jay Kogen (FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS), and EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND creator Phil Rosenthal. Chatted with a couple of newcomers to LA who were lamenting their timing. This too shall pass, folks.

    StrikeSnacks: When it rains (not literally today, happily), it pours! Doughnuts courtesy of Priya, the Teaching Thursday organizer, plus pizza from Fans4Writers -- delivered by Nia Vardalos -- and another visit from the Tropical Smoothie Cafe lady.

    Pedometer: 2.0mi

    So begins month four of the strike...

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Spooky Wednesday Next Week at Warner Bros.

    The Thursday 9am-12pm picketing shift @ WB has been transmogrified into Teaching Thursdays, where writers from various genres of TV make themselves available for question-answering and general chatting. The events so far have been really fun and successful -- congrats to the organizers, Priya and Jennifer!

    Today was sitcoms, last week was medical dramas.

    Next week? -- note that it's WEDNESDAY not Thursday due to another WGA event -- spooooky shows, including mine. Come by and say hey! Or boo. Or don't come at all if the strike is over by then. Heh.

    Teaching Thursdays at Warner Bros.

    Writers of various genres join us each Thursday, making themselves available to discuss story, structure and everything in between to aspiring writers. All you have to do is come out and pick up a sign!

    Warning: This Teaching Thursday might scare you to death! It's SPOOKY THURSDAY! Not sure you're witty enough to write Sam and Dean Winchester's dialogue? The writers from "Supernatural" can help! Want to know how to raise the stakes for a Vampire detective? Writers from "Moonlight" know! Worried that your spouse may be a cyborg? The writers from "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" probably won't be able to help (but they will be on hand for your other brilliant questions!). Yes, writers from these shows (plus a few surprise guests!) will be there to answers these questions and more...

    The usual disclaimers:

    If you're a writer for a genre drama (or have been one) and want to show up, please know:

    No one will solicit you to read their brilliant spec script. No one will ask for your phone number or email address. No one will expect anything of you other than your ability to answer some story/structure/dialogue questions.

    If you're an aspiring writer who wants to take advantage of getting some truly great advice from the folks who have lived, eaten, breathed it:

    Definitely join us -- all you need to do is pick up a sign! What you should not do: solicit the writers to read your brilliant spec script. Do not ask for phone numbers or email addresses. Do expect brilliance, because that's what you'll get!

    SPOOKY WEDNES(THURS)DAY: Wednesday February 6th, 9 AM-12 PM, Warner Bros Gate 2. Note, WEDNESDAY!

    See you there!

    As always, hoping that the writers get a fair deal...

    Suggestions, questions and concerns can be directed to Priya at

    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    Yo Quiero Fair Deal

    This has got to be the weirdest strike-topical thing I've heard of yet.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 12


    Tuesday - Everyone was at Paramount today for a MLK Jr. theme event. A miscalculation about traffic got me there late for my shift, but there was a massive turnout including news crews. I definitely wasn't missed. The idea for today's picket was that we march around the entire studio, in homage to the civil rights marches. An interesting idea in theory, but Paramount backs up against a bunch of other businesses so we end up walking past (and therefore appear to picket) a strip mall, a school, a string of car repair shops, and Hollywood Forever cemetery. A new plan emerges for doubling back once we reach non-Paramounty environs.

    StrikeSnacks: None beyond the usual WGA-supplied nom noms that I could see.

    Pedometer: Left it in the car again! Guessing about 2mi.

    Wednesday - Felt under the weather today, so I stayed home.

    Thursday - Bleah, feeling better but the cold, rainy weather doesn't help. I'm dressed for it in waterproof jacket and pants, which keep me dry even though I look like Stupid McSqueakypants. Today was the very successful kickoff of a new event at WB organized by gate 2 regulars Priya and Jennifer, called Teaching Thursdays. On the 9am-12pm shift, writers from different genres of shows make themselves available for questions and chatting. Today was medical drama day, featuring writers from GREY'S ANATOMY and ER. Carol Flint came. Very cool.

    StrikeSnacks: Pizza, doughnuts from two different bakeries, bucket o' Red Vines. Yowza!

    Pedometer: 2.2mi

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008


    I've been catching up on my gaming during the strike, although it's a little tough to do that when you're trying to keep the ol' personal burn rate down.

    I did spring for Portal on Steam (not The Orange Box), and add me to the long list of people who think it's fantastic.

    It's got an intuitive, elegant game mechanic presented in one of the best learning curves I've seen in a game. Not to mention choice environmental puzzles, pitch-black funny writing, and hardly any friction getting in the way of a satisfying play experience. You can save anywhere, the lethal areas and objects are impossible to miss, and apart from those you're largely indestructible. No fussy hit points to manage or first-aid powerups to hunt down. Just sweet, sweet gaming goodness.

    Oh, and as the cherry on the cake, the best. End. Credits. EVAR.

    Portal. Buy it. Play it. Then watch this.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 11


    Monday - Everyone was directed to Warner Bros. today in solidarity with the employees who'd just been notified of upcoming layoffs. Huge turnout, including Jon Cryer. The WB regulars got a smile out of n00bs to the line who did things like forget to push the button at the crosswalk. Custom picket signs had been created for the day, including ones noting the astronomical salaries of top WB honchos. There were also two big signs: "1000+ FIRED BECAUSE WARNER WON'T DEAL" and "Which group are you in? STRIKING WRITERS = NOT GETTING PAID - STUDIO EMPLOYEES = NOT GETTING PAID - STUDIO CEOS = GETTING PAID."

    StrikeSnacks: A SAG member brought around boxes of doughnuts, and there was random stuff like a box of cookies and a lone carton of Ferrero-Rocher candies. Best of all, a coffee truck (read, free lattes etc.) courtesy of Kathy McCormick (CROSSING JORDAN, THE PRACTICE). Thank you, Kathy!

    Pedometer: 2.5mi

    Tuesday - Quieter today with the WB numbers back to normal. A pleasant sunny day, perfect for picketing 'n' chatting, including congratulating the SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES writers on their debut. Great numbers for a great show, which everyone was glad to see.

    StrikeSnacks: Nada. Back to normal WB life. Bye bye coffee truck!

    Pedometer: 2.4mi

    Wednesday - A spindly Brit bicycled past with a snarled, "Get back to work, you wankers!" Brave words from a guy in yellow spandex. Got introduced to a new game today, one that's actually the same as a Web-based one I produced back at Yahoo. The first person names an actor, then the next person names a movie that actor was in. The next person names another actor who was in that movie, the next person names another actor, and so on until someone gets stuck, and goes out. You can challenge the person before you, so you need to know at least two movies and two actors for everything you say. Fun and challenging. Drew a blank trying to drag Josh Hartnett's name out of my brain. But who hasn't?

    StrikeSnacks: Doughnuts from picketer Pam

    Pedometer: 2.1mi

    Thursday - @ Fox today. I got there at about 7:45am for an 8am shift, and there was no one there. Did I miss the memo? No picketing today? Some rally somewhere? No, just me forgetting that the crack o' dawn shift at Fox had been eliminated, with 8am now being the first of the day. By the time I got the car turned around for a second pass to check, the van was there unloading. Whew! Uneventful picket, listened to music most of the time.

    StrikeSnacks: Finally brought something myself, clementines. Also there were little packets of nuts and dried fruit.

    Pedometer: 5.2mi. Might start going to Fox a little more often for the workout...

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 10


    Monday - Good turnout as the WB crew returns after the holidays. No rain, although it threatened. I'm wearing my new red jacket and red scarf. They make me feel cozy and provide some psychic-solidarity protection when one asshat drives past flipping us off with both hands. A golden lab puppy arrives with its new owners for a few turns about the line. So, so cute.

    StrikeSnacks: A banner day. Pizza from Fans4Writers! And the Tropical Smoothie Cafe lady was back again! It's like Week 2 all over again!

    Pedometer: 2.8mi

    Tuesday - Not much to report. Still meeting new people, even folks I've seen around since Week 1. It's never too late to introduce yourself or strike up (har) a new conversation.

    StrikeSnacks: Box of Whole Foods muffins brought by, I think, two folks from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Or, as The Boyfriend and I call it, the Bleaf. The box was divided into little compartments, with a muffin in each one. It's like they were in muffin prison.

    Pedometer: 2.7mi

    Wednesday - Quiet today. Fair bit more anti-us yelling, probably in light of WB's handing out notices of pending layoffs. A fair bit of discussion on For Your Consideration screeners: who'd seen what, who hadn't received what, what people thought of what, which movies we wanted but weren't sent. This is my first year as a full WGA member, and the screener thing is excellent. Like Christmas all over again.

    StrikeSnacks: A box of Drake's Devil Dogs, of unknown origin.

    Pedometer: Left it in the car. Felt like a normal/light day, guessing 2.5mi.

    Thursday - @ Fox today. Really strong showing! It turns out that's normal here, about 50-100 picketers the whole time I was there. Cold today, I'm wearing like 5 layers. More positive response from drivers passing by than at WB this week. Had fun with post-holiday catching up with peeps from my show and other friends. Did some walking with the iPod. Pretty high-powered picket line they have there @ Fox. Spotted Paul Haggis, for one. I wish I knew what more writers looked like.

    StrikeSnacks: Bagels, clementines, and a big cake from MOONLIGHT fans, congratulating us on the PCA win. Thanks, Moonlighters! They ordered pizza too, but I clocked out before it arrived.

    Pedometer: 5.7mi. You do get a workout at Fox!

    WGA Strike FAQ

    From the HuffPo, as concise, on point, and funny a treatment of the issues at hand as you're likely to see.

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    And Then the Cat Scratched Her

    Murder unscripted, featuring... a homicidal killer! Gasp!

    The People Chose!

    MOONLIGHT won the People's Choice Award for Best New Drama last night!

    Thanks to everyone who voted, especially the army of Moonlighters out there. This award is all due to you fans; we truly appreciate the support.

    Saturday, January 05, 2008

    Une Opening Weekend en Enfer

    Teh awesomez.

    Makes me wonder what Shepard Fairey, Banksy, et al think about their style being appropriate by marketing flacks.

    THE WIRE Returns Sunday

    Get that season pass now!

    Friday, January 04, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 9


    Not much to report here personally for this week. There was picketing at NBC as Jay Leno went back on the air, and some non-picketing informational actions, but me? I spent the remainder of the holidays recovering from a nasty cold. Happy New Year! Let's make a deal folks, and all get back to work.

    Wednesday, January 02, 2008

    Strike Notes: Week 8


    Hope everyone is having as merry and peaceful a holiday as can be. For me, Christmas is about the people you spend it with and who you're thinking about even if they're far away, not about what's under the tree.

    That being said, Santa brought me a soft red scarf, a water-resistant red jacket, and fleece-lined red Crocs to keep me cozy on the line as we head into the New Year.

    Santa may look like management, but he's labor through and through.

    Strike Notes: Week 7


    Monday - Light turnout at WB as we wind down for the holidays. Today included a "Studio-a-Thon," where a moving throng of picketers visited all the Burbank studios: NBC, Disney, WB, Universal. I thought about going but figured regular turnout at the gate would be a little sparse and needing warm bodies, which it was and did. Sounds like the hike was fun, though.

    StrikeSnacks: The Tropical Smoothie Cafe lady was back! Also, more raisins from Preferred Artists. Or perhaps they were the same ones from before.

    Pedometer: 3.2mi

    This evening was WGA meeting for the whole membership, the last before the holidays. Again, a good thing for the leadership to do, providing a forum for updates and Q&A. They answered every single question anyone had, and a goodly number of members stayed to the bitter end. Apart from the obvious, the AMPTP having walked away from the table, it wasn't so bitter-- a lot of positive initiatives are underway.

    StrikeSnacks: Coffee, cider, tea, cookies and other treats

    Tuesday - Today I went on my first location picket, outside the shoot of a Vince Vaugh/Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy in a Venice store. Lots of chanting, including custom ones ("Hey Vince! This is your fight too!" and "If you loop it, it looks stupid!"). We get two lines going, one in front of the store and one behind, and rally a lot of honks of support. We stay there a good three hours, even when it starts to rain. We thank the crew and other unions, and yell a parting "See you tomorrow!"

    StrikeSnacks: None, but apparently Stroh's was offering free eats to picketers. Go Stroh's!

    Pedometer: Unknown. I left it in the car. Would guess about 2.5mi

    ...and that's it for the holidays.

    Strike Notes: Week 6


    Monday -Tried the 2pm-5pm shift for a change. Brr, cold! Miscalculated on layers. Saw a bunch of new faces on this shift, as well as familiar ones from my class of the Warner Bros. TV Writers Workshop. We end the day heading back to gates 2/3 for a good showing behind the Channel 4 newsguy.

    StrikeSnacks: Smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe. A little too cold today to fully appreciate them, but they were tasty! Doughnuts, box of trail mix bars

    Pedometer: 3.4mi

    Tuesday - Back to my usual WB shift of 8-11am. I believe today was Bring an Actor to Picket Day, although the SAG support has been so terrific that pretty much every day counts in that regard. However, the sightings today were choice, including Garret Dillahunt (NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, DEADWOOD, JOHN FROM CINCINNATI) and swoonworthy Peter Krause (DIRTY SEXY MONEY, SIX FEET UNDER). Keen-eyed Kay also spotted Victor Garber stopped at the light, and we got him to smile and honk. It was teh awesomez. Jack Bristow gave us honks of support from his Prius! Guest picketers also included the Pink Hat Brigade, women sci fi writers who've been visiting different picket lines each week.

    StrikeSnacks: Nothing beyond the usual WGA-supplied noshes.

    Pedometer: 2.7mi

    Wednesday - @ Fox today, ready for the 8am-cold-to-11am-sun with multiple layers. Started off at the Truck gate and met some great people courtesy of my friend Karine including showrunners Barbara Hall and Anne Kenney. There was a fender bender between one honking-in-support car and another-- did we cause that? Oops. Moved with a small contingent to the Galaxy gate, which was unstaffed. Finished my tour with the big line at the main gate, where I saw Matt Groening again. Also, saw Joss Whedon in the parking lot, on his way in for the 11am shift. Squee!

    StrikeSnacks: Nothing beyond the usual here either. Welcome to Week 6 of the strike, folks.

    Pedometer: 4.9mi

    Thursday - Jeebus, it's been chilly. It's all about the LAYERS, people! Tried out a new parking spot courtesy of friend and WBTV Writers Workshop classmate Jim, another magic spot where you don't have to move every two hours but a mere block from the main gate. It's so sweet (and the spots so limited) that I'm undecided on whether to tell anyone else about it. Picketed and chatted awhile with some awesome MOONLIGHT fans. We also had another visit from a NegComm member, who gave updates and answered questions. This kind of info-sharing and support from the leadership has been very welcome; it's so important to keep this communication going.

    StrikeSnacks: Bagels and cream cheese from aforementioned Moonlighters!

    Pedometer: 2.0mi

    Friday - No official picketing today, but I do drive to Burbank for a location picket, only to get an email and voicemail that it was cancelled at the last minute (thanks, BooM, sorry I was surly!). Will try again at the next opportunity...

    Tuesday, January 01, 2008

    Happy New Year!

    Hope y'all had a great holiday. I'm WAY behind on strike notes, and hope to get to those tomorrow.

    In the meantime, a couple of lolcat wishes for 2008: