Sunday, December 29, 2013

'Reclaiming Parkland' by James DiEugenio.

If you have read this blog before, you might know that I myself am a pretty huge assassination buff. I've read and own dozens of books about the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King jr.  (I've also written a two part Boston Legal spec about the JFK assassination)

So, probably the best book that I managed to read this year is James DiEugenio's wonderful 'Reclaiming Parkland. If you're interested in knowing the truth about the JFK assassination and knowing how the world (including Hollywood) works, then this book is a must read.

The book consists of three parts: 1) why Vincent Bugliosi's Oswald-did-it book 'Reclaiming History' is a massive fraud, 2) Why Tom Hanks and co. nevertheless bought in to it, and 3) who calls the shots in Hollywood and how the mainstream media operates.

DiEugenio's book is really good at demolishing the nonsense about how Oswald supposedly killed JFK. I've read a lot of good books about the case, but his book is one of the best in showing us, point by point, how Oswald was framed, how the cover-up happened and who were the people behind it.

DiEugenio manages to tell us how preposterous the official story is. It simply couldn't have happened the way the 'government' says it happened. There had to be more than one assassin involved.

When it comes Oswald being the one responsible for the assassination, the eyewitnesses to the shooting didn't think it was him who was on the sixth floor window of the Texas school book depository.

Among other things is also the fact that this alleged feat that Oswald supposedly did, was so difficult that even the best snipers in the world couldn't duplicate it. They had to use stationary targets and multiple attempts before one of them lucked out.

For just about every rational person, knowing these facts alone would make you think that the official story probably can't be true. Yet, the former prosecutor Bugliosi ridicules anyone who might think otherwise. He spends 2600+ (!) pages misleading the gullible readers. "We know that Oswald did it, because Oswald did it". Uh, oh.

Unfortunately, [in part II of the book] one of the those guys that was so easily mislead, is indeed the great actor, Tom Hanks. DiEugenio does an exceptionally good job at giving us background information on him. What kind of a person Hanks is behind his average Joe image?

Why would Hanks actually believe in the lone gunman theory and go as far as to actually purchase the rights to Bugliosi's book? How can he be as historically challenged as it appears? He's supposed to be the good guy here.

This is what makes the second part of the book so fascinating to read. Why do guys like Tom Hanks (and Steven Spielberg) get so many things wrong in their productions? Why are they such fans of the late plagiarist-fraud-historian Stephen Ambrose (and a lone gunman apologist).

One of the answers to this in the book is that all these guys are willfully ignorant when it comes to History. A lot more they care about believing in the American dream. They also want to be part of the gang, which too many times is detrimental when it comes to justice and truth.

This criticism of Hanks and co. continues in the third part of the book in which DiEugenio discusses the new Hollywood and its intelligence community ties. There's a lot of good stuff again to be found. Like for example how the CIA is in charge of a lot of the movie productions nowadays.

Guys like CIA's Chase Brandon have been rigging the game for years. If they don't like the scripts, they won't cooperate. They'll do everything in their power to make sure that the script in question won't be produced.

There's just no way that you would be able to make a movie like Oliver Stone's JFK today. That's why, for example, there's no chance that David Talbot's 'Brothers' is going to be adapted in today's climate. All we get is soapish nonsense fiction, like the miniseries 'Kennedys' . 

In any case, as I wrote on my blog before, I made the obvious prediction that  Hanks and co wouldn't produce the miniseries about the assassination. There was no way they would be able to stretch it to like 10 episodes without completely reinventing the character of Lee Harvey Oswald. It was something that couldn't be done.

Instead, what happened is that Tom Hanks eventually produced the movie Parkland. As one might have expected, the movie didn't hit its target and is already forgotten. Nobody gave a damn about it, because the movie didn't tell it like it is. Oswald did it - not only is it boring but it's also fiction. 

Nevertheless, when it came to the actual anniversary of the case, the mainstream media and its sycophants did their best to lie about this whole thing. Yet, most people still didn't buy it. They won't because the truth is that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was simply a coup d'etat.

So if you give a damn and want to know the truth, James DiEugenio's 'Reclaiming Parkland' is a wonderful read and a great addition to your book collection. I think it's up there with Sylvia Meagher's 'Accessories After The Fact'.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recapping what I did this year.

One of the reasons that I have this blog is because I believe in sharing. I believe that as a writer and as a person I have a responsibility to share stuff as much as possible with other people. At least I think that's how it's supposed to go.

This year I have managed to be a bit more active when it comes to updating this blog. I've tried my best to be real, honest and truthful about different kinds of things. I hope there's some value in what I have written here. I hope there's something that you and me both can learn from.

When it came to writing scripts this year, I managed to write only one spec, 'What would Brian Boitano do?' for Modern Family. Yet, considering the circumstances, I'm okay with that. There's not that much out there to spec anyway.

Nevertheless, this spec - my ninth television spec in total - really means a lot to me. Before writing it, I kinda thought that I wouldn't be able to write anymore, that I wouldn't care and that I would be done. But I managed to come back with at least one more spec.

I know it's not a perfect script, but I think it's better than what the writers on the show are capable of doing at the moment. It's a bit more real I think and being real is probably my biggest strength as a writer.

Even though it's just a spec that is never going to be produced, I'm pretty lucky that I got the idea of doing an episode about the figure skater Boitano. Here's a person so full of class and talent that you can't really expect to know a better person than him. (especially considering what he did yesterday)

There are other reasons too why I like the latest script. I think all three storylines are pretty solid. I like that finally someone was able to write a decent storyline involving Luke, Haley and Alex. Also, it was a good thing to have a bit more of Jay/Phil together.

Considering the Boitano storyline, when Julie Bowen (Claire) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Mitchell) were asked like a month ago what was their favorite moment on the show, they said it was the figure skating thing from the first season. So I guess I probably did something right here.

I hope the script has soul, substance and entertainment in it. I tried my best, probably did some mistakes but I think I managed to read the characters really, really well.

Other than that, yes, the script is in a competition at the moment, but I don't really expect anything. Even if I do manage to win, would it make any difference? But I guess I had to try one more time.

Anyway, when it comes to updating this blog next year, I'll try to write as 'much' as I wrote this year. There aren't really that many blogs out there about tv writing, so I guess it's up to me write something and not just tweet and give links to books that mostly suck.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let others read your scripts.

One of the most important things about screenwriting is that once you have written your script, at some point you have to let others read it and evaluate it.

Yes, you ask if others, your friends or colleagues want to read - and then send them the script on an e-mail. After that you wait for their feedback.

This, of course, for a lot of people is much harder to do than you might think. It's not easy to let others judge what you have written, especially if you have worked on the script so hard.

It's not fun to think about the idea, that your friends, or whoever the readers are, wouldn't like your script. It's not an uplifting prospect to think that what you wrote isn't really that good.

Nevertheless, even though it might be difficult to let others read your script, you should give them a chance, so that together you can make the script hopefully a bit better.

For me it hasn't been that easy to let others read my stuff. I did let my friends read my first six scripts  (Boston Legal, The Big Bang Theory), but once I started writing Modern Family specs, for some reason I didn't give them a chance to read.

This of course was not a good decision in any way. Even though it was emotionally easier for me to not let my friends review the scripts, there was really no other upside to it. I had nothing to win and everything to lose.

If there's one thing that you can take to the bank, it is that you're going to make mistakes. No matter how big or small they turn out to be, you're going to make them and you might not figure them out on your own.

For example, I make a lot of typos - and no matter how many times I read the script, I can't find them all. My latest script for example has a really silly typo in the end. How was I not able to notice that before I sent it to a competition?

Of course, typos are not the only kinds of mistakes that I tend to make. When you deal with three or four different storylines, it's very easy not to get the pacing right. You might get too married to some of your ideas so you don't know that there's a better way to do it too.

I mean, had I given my friends my second Modern Family spec to read, there's a good chance that they would have come up with a way to make it better- especially considering that I rushed it and didn't pay attention to it enough.

Or with my latest script that's now in a competition, perhaps they would have said that, 'hey, let's move that Boitano's "yes" a bit or let's write some additional lines. You never know. At least I won't.

In the end, it's me who's going to make that script good or bad, great or awful. At the same time, it's not a bad idea to give others a chance to read and a chance to make some suggestions too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

More thoughts on The Big Bang Theory.

I haven't written on this blog about The Big Bang Theory in a long time, so I think it's time weigh in again. I'm going to write at least one more time about this show that I used to like a lot.

I don't think I reviewed the sixth season of the show, which in my opinion was probably its worst. It was just terrible to be honest. It wasn't funny and felt in many ways cheap.

This seventh season hasn't really been any better. I haven't seen an episode yet that I could recommend to my friends who gave up watching this show a long time ago.

Nevertheless, recently I've also been curious what others have been thinking about this show. I have read a lot of critiques written by fans. I wanted to see how they saw this show and felt about its progression (or regression).

So, I read a lot of stuff and good points were made about what made the show good. I also read about why the quality started to decline. Certainly I'm not the only person who figured out what's the problem and what went wrong.

One of the best comments I read was how during the first two seasons the show used to be somewhat original. It used to be 'innocent' in a way and that was something that attracted a lot of people to become regular watchers of the show.

I think this 'innocence' thing was a genuinely good assessment of how the show used to be. The characters were likable, they were underdogs and they were excited about doing their own thing - science and geek stuff.

Naturally these qualities were something that I found attractive too. I too felt that the show was made for people like me. Finally someone understood that there's this other way to live your life and that you don't have to apologize for being who you are.

This all was rather rare when you look at what television has to offer us in general. A lot of the stuff out there is so out of touch with reality that you can't help but to turn off the tv as quickly as possible.

Anyway, that was the good part. The other thing that the couch critics understood well, was when the show got worse and why. A lot of good reasons were given. Such as: the characters getting unlikable, the relationship stuff and 'reinventing' the series that destroyed the show.

Indeed, already during the first episode of the third season the characters started to become a bit more unlikable. Leonard betrayed Sheldon and that was supposed to be somehow funny. In a way the show jumped the shark there, if you were honest to yourself.

Of course a lot of people gave the 'it started to suck when it became a show about relationships' answer. Even though some people fervently disagree with this, it's nevertheless the truth. 'It was funny until the girls showed up'.

Sheldon getting a clone version of himself in Amy Farrah Fowler, Howard getting married to Bernadette, the complete lack of chemistry between Leonard and Penny and Raj getting the short end of the stick all the time. It just didn't make much sense.

Futhermore, it was just an awful decision to give those three girls individual scenes. They were not interesting. There was no point to change the point of view of the and to retool the show. The Big Bang Theory simply became a huge mess.

Youthful innocence was gone, their excitement about nerd stuff faded away, storylines became contrived and non-existent, believing in your own things wasn't important anymore. The show and the characters sold out to the 'supposed' masses.

It's really unfortunate that this all happened to the show. Too many mistakes were made and no one in charge seemed to be interested. Even today, the denial seems to be there. Going back to basics seems to be completely out of the question.

It's just too bad, because The Big Bang Theory is one of those shows that could have been something really special. I guess it even was during the first two seasons.  Today, on the other hand, not so much.

One can only wonder what could and would have happened if they had had better writers and a more talented showrunner in charge. What if, indeed.

Monday, December 2, 2013

How to come up with story ideas?

I'm probably not the only one who keeps wondering how people get ideas for their scripts. How do people come up with storylines that hopefully also make some sense?

Now, I can only speak for myself - and there's absolutely no guarantee that my ideas are great - but I think there are at least certain things that I get right.

One of the most important things that you can learn about coming up with ideas is that most of the time you don't come up with them, unless you write or talk about them first. 

So, write or talk. It's almost never a bad idea to express your thoughts. If you're a writer, writing is almost always the right thing to do. 

I mean, update your blog (if you have one), write on someone else's blog, comment on message boards or forums - as far as I see it, it's all good.  As long as you write, you might get some ideas.

Talk to people about writing. Talk to your family, talk to your friends. Annoy them with your plans, tell them that you're going to do something soon (even when you aren't).

Do this because you never know what's going to happen - how one thing can lead to another. You tell someone that you're thinking of writing something.. and the next thing you know you're actually doing it.

Of course, getting started with your idea and your script only gets you so far. Just because you started doesn't mean that you have it figured out. Ideas aren't always good ideas.

When I start writing, I'll usually notice that my so called ideas won't automatically translate into decent storylines.  Many times when I have an 'idea', it's just a scene or a couple of moments or something like that. 

One way or the other I have to find a way to make it work. Maybe I have to rethink the whole thing and perhaps I have to make it about something else too. In any case I have to get more ideas.

But that's okay. As long as I'm writing, I'll keep getting ideas. As long as I keep getting ideas, there's a good chance that some of them are going to be pretty decent. 

At some point, if you keep writing, those ideas turn into storylines and eventually those storylines turn into a finished script - based on your ideas.