Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How much does money mean to you?


If someone gave you ten million bucks, would you quit writing?

I personally don't think I would and I bet most writers wouldn't quit either.

I mean, I'd be set for life and I'd be able to pay more attention to writing scripts.

But what if someone gave you 500 million dollars on one condition - that you could never write again?

I know the question is absurd - but let's speculate. How many writers would quit?

I'd think that almost everyone would take the money and run.

Would I do the same?

I mean, I'm not sure I really care about being rich. Money doesn't necessarily buy happiness.

In many ways I think that writing scripts is the best thing that has happened to me - the best thing that could ever happen. 

So I mean...

But what if you could save the world by never writing again?

Tough call.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Writing about personal stuff.

I can't really give myself credit for coming up with this topic. I got it from Sheldon Bull's blog where he wrote about 'personal stories' a week or two ago.

So, the question is, should you write about stuff that's happened to you? Are these things, events, problems or whatever they might be, worth telling?

Sheldon on his blog pointed out that he used to write scripts about his personal issues and that those scripts never really went anywhere. Pretty quickly he though understood that there are other ways to make it so he decided to try sitcoms instead - which turned out to be a good decision.

When it comes to me, I can't really say that I'm a fan of writing about myself. I don't see much entertainment in things that have happened to me or in things that have been done to me. I don't see how my personal problems would be important enough so that I would have to write about those.

In many ways I think personal issues in the script are usually the weakest part of it. This is because you're too attached to your feelings and you're not able to see the forest for the trees. That is that you're not able to distance you from yourself.

For example on Girls, by far the least interesting stuff is about Lena Dunham's obsessive compulsive disorder. Every time you see her ocd on screen, it just doesn't fit in at all. It's not well written, the exposition is bad and there's way too much emphasis on it.

Another good example comes from the same show, from Judd Apatow that is. I don't know where he got the idea to write about his Hollywood problems in 'this is 40'. It was simply stupid and boring. Just like with Funny People, he was probably the only guy on the planet who thought the movie was worth making.

Or how about Leonard's awkward mother monologues on the Big Bang Theory. Man, does the showrunner have issues or what. It's just embarrassing to see these out of nowhere moments every now and then. It's too obviously personal stuff - and not interesting.

There are exceptions of course - and not surprisingly David Kelley is probably the best example with Ally Mcbeal. She was clearly his alter ego and yet for some reason he managed to pull it off. The personal stuff was entertaining and relatable at the same time.

I guess that's at least partly because he made the character a woman instead of making her a man. This had to help. Another thing was of course that he had something real to say, which is rather rare in today's world.

But in any case, when it comes to writing, I don't think scripts should be that much about you or yourself. In the end what matters more is that it's about us all.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Mornings - getting much, much better.

When I reviewed the pilot episode of Monday Mornings, I wrote that the show was too much about death and not enough about life.  I wasn't sure I would keep watching the series.

Nevertheless, since there aren't really that many good shows on air nowadays, I decided to give it another chance. This was a David Kelley show after all.

Thankfully, the second episode was much better. Instead of being depressing, I felt it was life-affirming - unlike the pilot. I found myself really liking the storyline about the girl who wanted to die with dignity instead of going through a high-risk surgery.

'Deux Ex Machina" was a really good episode but at the same time I kinda thought we had seen the best already. The actress who played the girl was so phenomenal. The scenes with her and Alfred Molina were that captivating.  I didn't think we would be able to see stuff as good again.

Fortunately two episodes later it turned out that I was wrong. Because a week ago aired 'The Legend and The Fall" with Hal Holbrook - as the veteran surgeon who was getting too old. This episode was even better than the second one.

In many ways it was incredible to see an 87 year old  'own' like Holbrook did here. The minute you recognized him as the actor behind the surgeon's mask, you had the feeling that this was likely going to be something special.

Just like on the second episode with the young girl, the scenes with Molina and Holbrook were spellbinding. It was so fascinating to watch and try to guess if there was something wrong with the old guy and whether he was still in shape to perform operations.

In the end, not only was this episode dramatic - the final scene was chilling to say the least - but it was also very funny. Ving Rhames gave me the biggest laughs in months and the cold open also had a Kelleyish twist that probably made you laugh too.
So, anyway, based on the first five episodes, if you appreciate quality writing and acting, I think Monday Mornings is a clear winner. Whether the show gets renewed, well, that's of course another story.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Celebrity Apprentice 2013 - and justice for all?

When I heard about the cast list for this year's Celebrity Apprentice, I thought it was a some kind of a internet joke and that they wouldn't make another series. Not with these contestants at least - and there's no way they would call it an 'all-stars' season.

Well, it turned out that this joke wasn't just a joke, they actually did a new series with these celebrities. What's worse, it really is supposed to be an 'all-stars' season.

I think it's pretty safe to say that most people who had seen Gary Busey, Dennis Rodman and Omarosa, didn't want to see them again. We already saw enough and what they did on the show wasn't something that you could be proud of. They shouldn't have been brought back.

I mean, Celebrity Apprentice is supposed to be about doing good things for people in need. It's supposed to be about the contestants gathering money for their personal charities, which is admirable. Yet for some reason the producers in charge of the show don't seem to think that is enough.

Why not? It should be enough. Everyone loves charities and a lot of people are interested in knowing a little bit more about famous people. This is such a winning concept and nevertheless the producers want to ruin it - by trying to provide additional 'entertainment value' through freaks like Omarosa and co.

This is not something that I want to see. I want to see a fair competition where everyone who's good enough has an actual chance of winning. I want to see an uplifting show that has to do with honor and dignity, and respect.

What I don't want to see are the train wrecks who get exemptions week after week even when they contribute close to nothing to their tasks. I hate seeing their stupid bickering when there's no reason for that.

I especially hate seeing contestants getting fired for no good reason at all. So this season I can't believe what I saw.  Bret Michaels was fired for no reason at all. It was like the dumbest thing I've ever seen on tv. "You won before - you shouldn't have come back - you're fired".

I can't believe it.