On her majesty's secret service

As a TV writer / TV fanatic, I hold the facts about dozens (hundreds) of characters in my head all at one time. I was pretty surprised to discover that it qualifies me to become the next James Bond.


This post is about TV writing (sort of)

Excellent friend and wonderful musician Chris T-T sent me a link to Aaron Sorkin's idea of how a conversation between Obama and Bartlet might go. He's got the Bartlet character down cold, but Obama's voice could use a little work...

Here's a snippet, but go read the whole thing.

OBAMA I don’t mean your marriage, sir. I mean how did you get America on your side?

BARTLET There again, I didn’t have to be president of America, I just had to be president of the people who watched “The West Wing.”

OBAMA That would make it easier.

BARTLET You’d do very well on NBC. Thursday nights in the old “ER” time slot with “30 Rock” as your lead-in, you’d get seven, seven-five in the demo with a 20, 22 share — you’d be selling $450,000 minutes.

OBAMA What the hell does that mean?

BARTLET TV talk. I thought you’d be interested.

OBAMA I’m not. They pivoted off the argument that I was inexperienced to the criticism that I’m — wait for it — the Messiah, who, by the way, was a community organizer. When I speak I try to lead with inspiration and aptitude. How is that a liability?

BARTLET Because the idea of American exceptionalism doesn’t extend to Americans being exceptional. If you excelled academically and are able to casually use 690 SAT words then you might as well have the press shoot video of you giving the finger to the Statue of Liberty while the Dixie Chicks sing the University of the Taliban fight song. The people who want English to be the official language of the United States are uncomfortable with their leaders being fluent in it.


I just voted

I just cast my vote for the federal election.

No, not *that* federal election. The Canadian one, which I bet a lot of you didn't even know is happening. In Canada, things happen quickly. The feds call an election and then about 7.67 minutes later, there's a new Prime Minister. Or at least, I hope there will be a new Prime Minister, because the current one is  a total douche is really not my cup of tea. 
If you're a Canadian, read McGrath or Dixon or Golick for more about the Canadian candidates and how they will affect your life as an artist.

If you're American, I think you know who's running already. Just get out there and vote, and get others to vote, and drive your neighbor to the polling stations, and... the future of the world is in your hands. Don't drop it.


Paris Hilton is totally ready to lead

She can't act, she can't sing, she can't drive. But her energy policy kicks ass.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die


Why TV?

Jumping onto the meme-wagon when the train has already left the port... Josh tagged me a while back.

Why do I want to write TV?

TV writing seems like such an obvious choice for me now that the real answer at this point is "Why would I want to do anything else?" So it's hard to believe that it was less than two years ago that I had never even considered writing TV. I'd barely considered the idea that writing TV was a job that actual people did. I mean, I was aware that Jane Espenson and Joss Whedon and Aaron Sorkin were people - but they seemed more like otherworldly creatures that were sent to Earth to create fictional friends for my weekly play dates. 

So yeah, I was aware that people wrote TV in the same way I'm aware that people walk on the moon and explore the Arctic via dogsled and live in huts in the jungles of Brazil... it's just not something you'd actually consider doing yourself (though I have always wanted to become an Arctic explorer).

Then you up and move to LA because it's so sunny there and the food is great and it's near the ocean and you have a life crisis and wonder what the hell you're going to do to pay the bills while still fulfilling your creative aspirations and avoiding the nine-to-five slog through drudgery that so many people experience and you realize you've always been a writer and you decide to write...

...a movie.

Yup. Hands up. How many of you wrote a movie (or tried to) before you ever realized you should be in TV?

I did. I studied up on structure and story and character development and wrote a god-awful semi-autobiographical romantic comedy about what happens when a rock star falls in love with you. At least I finished it. Though I'm not sure in this case that was a good thing.

At some point (I wish I could remember when) there was some sort of epiphany. I realized I didn't know the names of any movie writers -- only TV writers. My shelves were full of TV shows on DVD. When our Netflix movies came in the mail, I never wanted to watch them, because there was always a new show on our DVR for me to watch. I loved TV. I didn't give a crap about movies. What the hell was I doing?

So I ditched my "How to write a box office smash" books and went to the library where I found Alex Epstein's Crafty TV Writing. I reread every post of Jane Espenson's blog. I watched every episode of Grey's Anatomy and then I wrote a spec. 

It felt good. Really good. But I still had to gather courage to tell my Mom what my new career path was going to be.

I was expecting dead silence from her end of the phone, quickly followed by the now familiar, "I always thought you'd be a great lawyer." The silence came, but then, slowly, thoughtfully, she said "I can really see you doing that. That's perfect for you." 

Woohoo! A Mom-approved career choice that I am passionate about.

Why would I want to do anything else?

Everyone I know in LA has already been tagged with this, so, my Canadian cousins, it's your turn.


This is a music blog, right?

I know I'm supposed to be posting about writing, but my favorite band in the world*, Calexico, released their new album, Carried to Dust, yesterday. 

It's perfect music for writing atmospheric moody scenes. Here's a little taste. 

*Calexico and Wilco have been in a dead heat for the title of Jane's Fav Band In The World for years. Calexico are currently in the lead mainly because of the excessive use of guitar wankery on Wilco's Sky Blue Sky.  

Songs should be 3.5 minutes long.
Guitar solos should not.


I'm still alive

I have a lot to blog about, like how I sat next to Chris Fedak to watch the season premiere of Chuck, and how real-life annoyances and irritations can make for excellent dramatic fodder, and how sunning by the pool in a five-star hotel in Santa Barbara doesn't really help productivity...

...but I don't have time for any of it. So I'll just share this treasure trove of BBC scripts that I found today instead. Now we can all learn to write in English.