Thursday, January 24, 2008

Same Time Next Year

Like that 1978 Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn movie, my affair with the Nicholl Fellowship may very well be nothing more than a permanent annual fling that isn't really meant to amount to anything but is there to provide something delightful once a year for the rest of my capable life.

Who knows. Last year, my dink letter couldn't have come at a worse time and yet, how cool is it that we now have Brett's experiences to learn from should any of us follow in his -- whatever it is he wears on those big feet of his?

With no job right now, you'd think I'd be obsessing over the Nicholl again. Nope. Did that already. Time well wasted studying my weaknesses and trying to become a better screenwriter. This past few months, I've just been reading screenplays and watching movies.

As for the Nicholl, I may polish an old screenplay or two or finish up one or two I'm working on and I may not enter at all. I don't really don't know. Whatever happens, happens. Doris and Peter knew in Same Time Next Year that somebody would always be waiting for them at that quaint little inn on the coast in California. I don't know if there is a Nicholl waiting or me or not. Nobody does. But it's always there to work toward. I guess that's something.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Caught in the Act

I think she had a candle burning and a Barry White CD playing.

No shame.

Lucy defied medicine when she got pregnant at four months old. I adopted her from a local animal shelter and thought I had a few months to get her spayed.


Even at nine years old, she's still -- uh -- flexible. Don't be too unkind. She's just really missin' this guy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Screenwriting Nominations 2008

Okay, so you know you wanna be a screenwriter when you scroll past everything else and go right to the Oscar nominations for best adaptation and best original screenplay which, I might point out, are at the VERY BOTTOM of the page at after sound mixing, sound editing, and visual effects. Interesting. Writers are listed after the award for best make-up.

Atonement - Christopher Hampton
Away From Her - Sarah Polley
No Country For Old Men - Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson

Juno - Diablo Cody
Lars and the Real Girl - Nancy Oliver
Michael Clayton - Tony Gilroy
Ratattouille - Screenplay by Brad Bird. Story by Jan Pinkava, Jim Capobianco, Brad Bird
The Savages - Tamara Jenkins

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teeny Tiny Hollywood

Just when you think the industry is so big that you'll never get your foot in the door, somebody posts something to remind you that it's not so big after all. Well done, Pamela. I laughed for eight whole minutes. I'd have laughed longer but that's how long it took for my one and only Hollywood friend to text me that she had just read the funniest post about Jimmy Kimmel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Watched Pot

So things over at United Hollywood may be somewhat quiet for awhile while we wait to see if the first signs of negotiation bubbles will amount to anything. Here's hoping the pot boils over.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Pen Behind the Lines

Ran across an excellent strike related editorial article today quite by chance and this paragraph screamed at me:
"While there are a handful of exceptions where actors ad lib and improvise lines, for the most part, all of our favorite lines from American television and cinema, lines we often repeat to friends, re-use to express our own thoughts, re-tell to make others laugh, were written by guild writers. And we have no idea who they are. Often, we even credit the actor with the lines they said, for they're who we see saying them. We never see the writer say them, or even write them. We'll say, "It's like Johnny Depp said in that one movie…" And we'll mean, of course, that it's like what Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio wrote in that one movie."
Kudos, Matt Petryni, wherever in Oregon you are, and shame on anyone who thinks you have to be in Hollywood to get it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Leave Tony Romo Alone!

Funny stuff. Stores sold out of those pink jerseys after Jessica Simpson showed up at Texas Stadium in one. I'm thinking this guy should have worn a bra.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Keep Breathing

"I want to change the world. Instead, I sleep."

Almost everyone I know dealt with some kind of monumental challenge in 2007 -- deaths in the family, unemployment, kids on drugs, miscarriages, marital problems, natural disasters and economic issues -- it just goes on and on. Coasting is not an option for most people but who would want to live that kind of beige life anyway?

Every day that we walk this earth is a day wasted if a portion of it isn't spent trying to make it better for somebody who walks behind or beside us. Sometimes though, there's just nothing we can do except remind each other to get up in the morning and keep going.

So, here's my New Year's wish for you. Whatever you want, make it happen. When your dreams feel like they're vanishing into thin air, inhale.

(This is the only video I could find with this version of the song - close you eyes and listen.)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Best Film Fade Outs Ever

The Chicago Tribune recently solicted reader input regarding what makes a great film ending. I usually shun lists like this because any statistician knows you can make numbers say whatever you what depending on how you manipulate the demographics. But this list got my attention. We writers crave memorable endings and while some may, now and again, purposely end on a "huh?" moment, I never have. So I was quick to skim the list and see what Chicago thinks is a great movie ending.

(Spoiler alert, by the way, but seriously, you've seen these movies .)

"All the President's Men" (1976): President Nixon resigns. No kidding?

"Animal House" (1978): Freeze frame on characters explaining what happened to them. Unique approach in 1978. Everyone does it now.

"Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969): Blaze of glory.

"Fargo" (1996): My painting of a duck is going to be on a three cent stamp.

"Ferris Bueller's Day Off" (1986): Rooney on the school bus with the brats he despises.

"Kelly's Heroes" (1970): "De Gaulle! De Gaulle!"

"Limbo" (1999): Is the plane coming to save them or kill them?

"Mister Roberts" (1955): Palm tree overboard!!

"Nine Queens" (2000): Awwww. It's not all a con after all.

"North by Northwest" (1959): Train. Tunnel. Enough said.

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975): Beware of broken glass.

"Picnic" (1955): Kim Novac following the train.

"The Professional" (1994): Boom!

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981): Hiding the ark in plain view.

"Reservoir Dogs" (1992): Nobody left.

"The Searchers" (1956): Just walk away, John. Just walk away.

"Silence of the Lambs" (1991): Serial killer on the beach.

"The Sixth Sense" (1999): If a boy is talking to YOU and says, "I see dead people", don't renew your health insurance.

"Some Like It Hot" (1959): Nobody's perfect. Ain't it the truth?

"Son of Paleface" (1952): Bob Hope riding off in the sunset in his jeep mimicking Roy Rogers on Trigger.

"Stalag 17" (1953): Wait. The dead guy is who?

"A Star is Born" (1937, 1954): The widow speaks.

"To Catch a Thief" (1955): The mother will love it here.

"The Wizard of Oz" (1939): There's no place like home.

"You've Got Mail" (1998): "Don't cry, Shopgirl." Wait. How is this on the list?

Okay, so those are Chicago's favorite movie endings.

What are yours?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

That Sound You Hear is My Head Exploding

So late night returned to television and I'm not even going to pretend I understand why Letterman and Worldwide Pants can negotiate an individual deal with the WGA while networks force the other late night shows back on the air without their writers.

Too much for my amateur brain.

My humble concern: If Leno's show falls short of expectations compared to Letterman (who now has writers), it might be an indication that producers need to scurry on back to the table. But could the reverse not be claimed by the AMPTP as well? Leno is a talented and creative guy who isn't going to purposely do lame monologues. Could reasonably successful Leno shows without writers encourage AMPTP to sit on their wallets longer? And, I'm confused about Conan as I thought he was a WGA member bound by the "thou shalt not write" rule?

If you hear a loud sound and then a splat . . .

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Strike TV Coming Soon

First of all, you must be a member of WGA. Secondly, this is not a clearinghouse for old material. It's only new stuff. Alrighty. Now we're all clear on the fact that this has absolutely nothing to do with me other than my desire to promote and express support for something that benefits my working screenwriter friends and perhaps affects future Guild members everywhere.

For details, check out United Hollywood or click here.