Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hawaii 5-0 and Daniel Dae Kim

Even though I said I didn't want anymore cop shows, I'm enjoying the hell out of Hawaii 5-0. I think it's because although technically I guess it's a drama, it doesn't feel super serious and fake like so many similar shows. The characters seem real, not scripted, which since they're scripted is pretty good.

And okay, Grace Park is ridiculously beautiful. And thin.

And that guy who played a sleazy asshole manager on Entourage gets to be a good dad here.

And the lead is a good lookin fella.

But the real joy of this is seeing Daniel Dae Kim looking cool. I knew he was cool back when he was on Angel as an evil lawyer who eventually got zombiefied and then shot in the head. Or was he axed in the head? I don't remember, but Gunn gave him a headwound so he wouldn't become a zombie, even though he was evil and made life a literal Hell for the team.

The point is, he was so evil and cool on that show, and now he's good and cool. He drives a motorcycle and he gets to use his real deepish type voice. And because of the shape of his forehead he always looks like he's raising his eyebrows in disbelief, as if all the white folk around him are going about this whole thing all wrong and he has all the answers.

And that is why I will continue to watch Hawaii 5-0, despite the fact that they wasted an opportunity with James Marsters. But they made up for it with Daniel Dae Kim's badassery.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You got to have friends

Last night after going around and around with my script outline so many times I completely lost focus. I couldn't figure out whether I was coming or going or whether or not my idea was any good at all or just another generic piece of crap idea.

I emailed a friend of mine, told him about the notes I already got and the ways I was throwing them around, and then we got on chat and he talked me through it. Like deactivating a bomb over the phone.

By the end of the conversation, I not only had a new direction, but I had a new title and new confidence. Once he thought of the title he refused to let me not change it, to the point where he may track me down and shoot me if I don't. In fact, his title suggestion is so good I'm not going to post it here until I'm done with the script. For now it stays The First Hit: Most Generic Title Ever.

The beautiful part was that besides the title, everything was there in my head. I just needed someone to help me find it.

Everybody needs that one friend who knows how to steer you in the right direction when you're wandering in the wilderness.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Floating in a sea of possible angles

I had this idea that was pretty cool so I started writing up an outline, then I read Horrible Bosses, which has a lot of similarities to my script, so I changed the location from work to somewhere else, which necessitated some changes in the overall story as well.

In the process, I created a whole new protagonist. I went from Emma Stone to - well, not Emma Stone anymore, anyway. Someone more wide-eyed and innocent.

I love the concept and the character I've now created, but I've spent two weeks trying to make this work to no great effect. I finally threw up my hands and asked for help, and so far the help has been helpful. Helpful help.

Whenever you ask for help on a story, everybody always has these directions they'd take it based on things they like, so one of the great tricks of taking suggestions on the idea is to know what's just someone's personal preference and what's the true direction you want to take.

And I think that in order to do that, you have to be open to anything. I always go into getting notes of this kind hoping someone will say one thing that will send me off in the right direction, but sometimes it doesn't happen that way. Sometimes what they say is that the idea you had needs a complete revolution and that the one element of your story you KNEW was right, was, in fact, not right at all.

So I've started toying with some of the ideas I've been given today. Part of me says "NO! That's not the story you want to tell!" and the other part of me says "But this might be an even COOLER story!" and another part of me says "You're a fucking hack and nobody wants to read your stupid story anyway!" and then another part of me thinks "Explosions is the answer. More explosions," and then another part of me just stares at my hair in wonderment of how fantastic it looks when I use that expensive conditioner.

At some point I really hope this all clicks into place, but for now I'm just floating, looking for the glue to hold the puzzle together.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

House of Secrets

As part of a project at work I needed to get comic books for the kids to look at in class. It's a whole artistic thing I'm doing.

I don't know that much about comic books, but last time I went to House of Secrets in Burbank they were super nice so I went back there, and I just want to give those guys another shout-out. I'm not the first: Bitter Script Reader gave them love once, too.

When I walked in they were busy and there was a small crew doing an interview, but both employees stopped to help me find what I was looking for. In fact, the girl - I wish I got her name - spent 20 minutes combing through boxes or a stack of cheap comics that fit my criteria. She was downright ecstatic at the challenge. After I chose my stack of titles, the boss gave me a discount on them since, as he put it, I'm "doing the Lord's work" in my ghetto school.

I've been there twice now, and they never minded that I don't know much about comics. They relished it. In fact, they thought it was terrific since maybe this project might get kids interested in reading comics.

I felt it appropriate to show them a little love here today.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A lesson from Raising Hope

I like to catch the pilots every season, so I just watched Raising Hope.
First of all, I love Garret Dillahunt. I love his voice, I love his clever redneck personality, I love his bone structure, I love that he can whip in and out of comedy and drama at the drop of a hat.

Now that that's out of the way, watching this show felt like swimming in floaties.

These people are supposed to be poor white trash rednecks.  I did not believe for one goddamn second that anyone ever involved in this show actually spent any time in a white trash home. Poor people are depressing; the only show that ever made that shit funny was Roseanne, and that's only because those people were so horrible you laughed at how glad you were that you weren't them. And no, Married With Children doesn't count because that was a fantasy white trash home.

Anyway, on this show they say some white trashy things, but they do it with complete enunciation and verb agreement and their clothes are clean.

I'm all for defying stereotypes, but first you have to embrace them. There's a moment on this show where the white trash dad and the white trash mom share a moment where you get that they love each other. They've been together since high school, but they seem to be a perfect match. Now, this would be a nice twist on the stereotype except it's not surprising in the least since these people don't really seem all that white trashy.

And while we're at it, speaking with a Southern accent does not automatically make you white trash. And fuck off with the assumption that it does.
Is it wrong to hope that show gets canceled so Garret Dillahunt can spend more time doing things I like? That seems wrong, but still kind of correct.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Editing reality shows must be fun sometimes

Sometimes I love imagining the fun the editors and writers on reality shows must have assembling their cuts. Like whoever puts together Bridezillas must just have a blast watching the crazy these bitches embrace.

So I want to give credit where it's due. On this week's Ultimate Fighter I saw one of my favorite edits. The bad boy with the bleached hair and the pack-a-day habit spent his time in the van talking shit about his opponent, one Bruce Leroy. Now Bruce is a little crazy, but in that way that never hurts anyone because he's so nice. He dresses like Bruce Lee. I'll bet if you asked him enough questions you'd find out that he thinks he was Bruce Lee in his past life.

So the bad boy, Jeffrey I think, sits in the van talking soooo much shit about how he's going to make Bruce Leroy want to go home, he's gonna beat him so bad in his stupid gi and he's gonna show him what a real fight is and he's so badass and yadda yadda I'm the bad boy and I'm gonna fuck this weird kid up and send him home to mamma because he's such a loser and whatever.

Then they cut to Bruce Leroy in the other van in his black gi as he quietly points out the window and says "Look, a hummingbird."

That's one of those moments where I imagine the editor in his bay just gleeing with delight when he realized what he had.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Zombie badwagon

I wrote my zombie script after World War Z came out, but before Zombieland. I wrote it to be a writing sample, because it requires a huge budget, and at the time nobody was making zombie movies with huge budgets except Resident Evil, and Resident Evil doesn't count because it's a video game.

I'm not saying I invented zombies, just that I wrote big budget zombies when nobody was writing big budget zombies. Except the guys from Zombieland, I guess. They probably thought up that script before I wrote mine. But whatever, I still wrote my first draft before I even knew about that script.

So anyway I wrote Not Dead Yet and it got me the attention it was supposed to. Some cool industry people read it, or at least got the opportunity to read it. Two of the people who could have done something with it may never have cracked it open, or if they did I never heard about it. But anyway, it made the rounds and got me a little attention. So I thought that was pretty good for a big budget zombie movie.

Then came Zombieland. And then Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and now Boyscouts vs Zombies and Zombies Vs Gladiators are making the rounds, and despite wanting to read those things, I also have been annoyed that I made my script have too high a budget even for big budget movies.

I was riding this wave before there was a damn wave. Which makes me think that although I am happy to have a great writing sample, I wish I had made a great writing sample that also could double as something I could sell.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Somebody got there first

I had this idea, see, about a woman who fantasizes about killing her boss, because I figured everybody can relate to that and it would be a big hit, except I'm a little late. Horrible Bosses, a comedy about three buddies who decide to band together to murder their despicable bosses, is already slated for production.

I just read it and yeah, there's a lot of overlap. So back to the drawing board.

I love the original idea, but at some point I got stuck on it taking place at work because of the aforementioned thinking about killing the boss as being relatable. But the story doesn't have to take place at work because there are plenty of other people we fantasize about killing during the day.

So I've decided not to scrap my script, but to use this as an opportunity to get really creative. I went for the obvious - cube farm frustration and an irritating boss, but this is actually going to force me to come up with a scenario that hasn't been done.

It happens to everybody eventually.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Son of a bitch

There is a new untitled comedy making the rounds that will apparently star Kevin James as a teacher who moonlights as an MMA fighter to pay for classroom supplies.

I have spent the last 8 years trying to figure out the right way to make an action star out of a teacher. I also happen to LOVE MMA. It's the only sport I give a shit about.

A teacher who fights in MMA matches to pay for classroom supplies. Dammit to hell. Why the hell didn't I think of that?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best Week Ever

This is one of the most fun times of the year. I just ran through the TV listing for next week, just picking off all the pilots I want to add to my schedule. I try to watch all the pilots so I can decide which ones will become regular viewing. It's always fun to watch this year's crop of world building. I''m excited about Hawaii 5-O the most, I think.

Plus Ultimate Fighter is back, so it's kind of the best week ever. My money's on the tough guy who talks trash about the other guys.

What pilots are you excited about?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What are you reading?

So as it turns out, work is a lot of work. I miss vacation but I have to say that so far this batch of kids is fantastic. Some of them even know what a stanza is already. So yay.

I'm working on a new script but first I have to read the screenplay for Horrible Bosses to make sure I don't overlap that too much with one of my projects. The Manager always reminds me of this. One of her regular questions to me is "What are you reading?" I get the impression that she has dealt with a ton of new writers who never read anything. I make sure I can always tell her the latest scripts I've read and which ones I liked.

Last week I was getting ready for the start of school, but I still had time to read the remake of The Thing and 127 Hours. This week even though I'm starting back to work I'm still going to make sure I have time to read Horrible Bosses and another script I've been eager to read.

As much as I like Carson's Scriptshadow site, reading his reviews is no replacement for reading the scripts themselves.

What have you read lately? What did you think of it?

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm too tired to think of a title

Today was the first day of school in LAUSD and I wore uncomfortable shoes because I'm trying this new sophisticated look thing, all a direct result of watching What Not To Wear at 9am while eating cereal almost every weekday of my vacation. Actually they are very comfortable shoes for traversing through the airport, but not for standing on your feet for eight hours and walking all over a high school campus. I don't want anyone to think I'm talking shit about my awesome Clarks.

Anyway, my feet hurt and I'm exhausted, more exhausted than I've been in a long time. But I feel it is necessary to share this, in case you haven't seen it yet. It's delightfully poignant:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cops, lawyers, doctors

I decided not to go to the CBS premiere party tonight because I don't want to sit through The Defenders and Mike and Molly to get to Shit My Dad Says, especially since I have no idea if Shatner showed or not. Did Shatner show?

Anyhow, I don't know what Mike and Molly is, although I can assume from the title that it's probably cutesy and will annoy me, but I know I don't want to watch The Defenders. I love Jerry O'Connell, don't get me wrong, but I am sick to death of shows about lawyers. Comedies, dramas, procedurals, whatever. Unless somehow they make a show about lawyers in space, I'm probably not going to watch it. And to be fair, Farscape already did an episode about space lawyers so that field has been plowed.

I also don't want to watch anymore shows about hospitals. And probably not cops either. There are a bazillion different interesting jobs out there, just ask Mike Rowe. Do we really need another show about doctors, lawyers or cops? It's a bit uncreative, I think. Of course doctors, lawyers and cops all have daily cases to solve, stories that lend themselves to procedural stuff. But if you meet people and talk to them, you'll hear all kinds of interesting ideas for stories that don't revolve around a hospital or a court room.

Or at the very least, set that shit in space.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Outsourced and The Event

So, first of all, TV obsessed people, if you're going to a party with an open bar please do us all a favor and at the very least take three goddamn seconds to brush your hair.

Now with that out of the way, NBC night at the Paley Center opened with Outsourced.

I expected unfunny, possibly racist stereotyped silliness, and I got a genuinely funny, clever pilot. I liked it very much, to my great surprise.

Then we watched The Event. Eh. I was hoping for something there, but I felt like it was trying to be the next Lost instead of embracing what it was. I was frequently confused because we kept leaping back and forth in time for no real reason and with no real pattern. At one point we sat with President Blair Underwood in an office, then we flashed back directly to a scene with him in his office talking to one of the same people. How the hell am I supposed to keep that shit straight in an episode with eighty thousand other completely unnecessary flashbacks? They added very little to the story, and served mostly to confuse and annoy me. There was what could have been a cool Hitchcock moment where a character's life is thrown upside down, but just felt like a lot of similar scenes we've seen in the past. All that said, the mystery is just enough to get me to watch episode 2. I will watch, but if this shit doesn't clean up I'm out.

Then Chase came on, and even though we wanted to watch Undercovers, we didn't want to watch it enough to sit through another show about a female law enforcement officer with straight blond hair, especially since there was no Q&A.

And that was NBC.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Paleyfest time

It's premiere party time at the Paley Center again. Last year I went to the NBC party, where I discovered Community, last season's best comedy - I don't care what the Emmys say.

This time got tickets for Thursday's event, also NBC, because I want to check out The Undercovers. The Event is also screening, and Outsourced and Chase. Naturally it looks like they're saving The Undercovers for last to make sure I stay until the end. Last year I bolted when the Mercy pilot finally bored me and my friend half to death, but this year I'm going to have to sit through everything, good or bad.

Then I'm hitting up Friday for CBS and Shit My Dad Says. There's some other stuff screening, but I'm just going for the Shatner. If you haven't read his autobiography, I encourage you to look into it. He's brutally honest and hilarious.

Anyway, the Paley premiere parties are very cool events, so if you can still get tickets I highly recommend it. And if you're headed out Thursday of Friday, keep a lookout and say hi.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Why Alien 3 sucks

Aliens came on the other day. I think Bill Paxton should be in every movie ever.

I was thinking about Newt and Ripley and how much it sucked that you watched her work so hard and almost die and sacrifice everybody to save Newt, when the kid dies offscreen in the first few minutes of the third movie.

What the fuck were they thinking with that? "Hey, you know what will make people really love our movie? Let's kill off the almost potential love interest and the cute kid everyone rooted for all through the last movie right there at the beginning, and let's do without even showing it. Let's just tell everybody they died for no real reason whatsoever, right in the first few minutes so everyone is sad and annoyed right off the bat."

You can't open your story by pointlessly killing the cute kid I spent a whole movie rooting for. You just can't. I don't care what else happens in your story.

Friday, September 03, 2010


I'm having a pity party day again. I wrote like eight different posts for today and deleted them all because I sounded like a whiny bitch.

So I'll say one thing, and then I'm turning it over to you guys. I love Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. LOVE. You'd think a show about girls choosing a wedding dress would be boring, but it is not at all. I'm going to miss my daily fix when I go back to work next week. To be honest, though, I have an unnatural affinity for all wedding shows. Yes, me, girl who likes explosions and fist fights, I also LOVE wedding shows. I have layers. Girly, aggressive layers.

And that's my confession today. Now it's your turn. I've been growing over the past yearish, and some of you still lurk around and don't say hi. So say hi. Enough about me, let's talk about you. Who are you? What do you write? Do you love shows about weddings? Say hi. Even if you're like Oh, she doesn't mean me. Oh fuck yes I mean you. Say hi. It will make me feel like less of a vulnerable whiny bitch.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Please stand by

Know why the California education system is in the toilet? Because we're all too buried in paperwork and taking stupid pointless classes to do our jobs.

I might be about to lose my job because I forgot to cross a goddamn T somewhere in 2005.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


I was driving to an appointment today listening to the radio - I still listen to the radio even though I have a CD player - and that one Kid Rock song came on. You know the song that uses the tune from "Werewolves of London" and "Sweet Home Alabama"? Every single time it comes on I think it's going to be "Werewolves of London" and then I'm all disappointed when it's not.

It reminds me of way back when Puffy first sampled "Every Breath You Take" for his B.I.G. tribute and every single time that song came on you thought it was going to be "Every Breath You Take" and you'd be all like "Aw, son of a bitch" when it turned out to be that lame Puffy song. That used to really piss me off.

When this happens, all I think about is how much I'd rather be listening to that other, better song.

I get that sometimes with screenplays too. We all love movies or we wouldn't be here, so sometimes it's really tempting to use an homage to your favorite movie in your script. I read a script once that used actual lines of dialogue from Scarface, and every so often I'll read a script where the characters spend pages of dialogue talking about movies they like or don't like. Kevin Smith got away with it because his characters were interesting, but that isn't a good idea for most new writers.

When I read a script that reminds me of another movie I love, I begin to think about how good that movie was, and all that does is make me wish I was watching that movie instead of reading this crappy screenplay.

You don't want anyone to think about better movies while they're reading yours.