Monday, November 26, 2007

NBC gives full season order to "Chuck" and "Life"

No word yet on the fates of "The Bionic Woman" and "Journeyman".

Link: Hollywood Reporter

I'm pleased that both of these shows are being picked up, since I'm still watching and enjoying them.

Watch List will be updated...

Get yer writer's strike news here

There's a good Facebook group for people who want to keep up with strike news.

Check out Facebook's Writers' Strike News Central group and join it if you are on facebook.

Also, a shout out to for being awesome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

The original Adam Sandler Thanksgiving Song.

"As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

For the adult viewers (very R rated):

...and for everyone else. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tim Minear on Geekerati Special Episode Friday!

The Geekerati crew (of which I am a part) will be doing a special show to discuss the fan support for the WGA strike. Tim Minear will be with us to talk about the strike, Fans4Writers.Com, his shows and whatever else we can pry out of him.

Friday at 7 PM Pacific / 10 PM Eastern. Call in with your questions!!

Link: Geekerati Radio Show.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Rob Long has a blog

Rob Long, who has commentary on NPR's "Martini Shot", is a contributor to National Review, and has been a successful (and sometimes unsuccessful) sitcom writer has a blog about the strike.

If you want even more information about the strike, you can play or download the Geekerati interview with writer/producer Rob Long below.

P.S. You can always click on the post title to link to referenced sites.

Wading into the Red Sea

Look, I don't talk about it much, because to do so puts me at risk of vilification, but I'm not a liberal. I'm even right of center, though on many issues, you'd know I was not part of the evangelical right wing. But here's the thing. We, as writers, need to engage this vast population of conservatives to help get the message out. Republicans tend to be anti-union, pro-big business, but they are also about questioning and repudiating patent unfairness (hey, if you disagree with this, don't bother to tell me why, I don't want this to degenerate into a political discussion, necessarily). So, it occurred to me, that no one is making this case to the red staters and really getting the Average Joe Republican on our side. I found that a very widely read conservative blog had a lot of misinformation about the strike, so I responded in the comments in a very civil tone to try to correct some of the misinformation. If I got anything wrong, please correct me and I'll go amend my post on that blog, because the last thing I want to do is spread more misinformation.

Anyway, if any of you think you could possibly engage the right-wingers in a civil tone without hatred or spittle, you can use my approach as a guide. It's important to get these people on our side, as they are the ones who will be fervent supporters. Also remember, the union is not made up of 100% Democrats. There are conservatives in your midst who adamantly support the strike. I think there's a way to bring both sides together on this issue.

Here's my comment on the Captain's Quarters blog:

I'm dismayed that so many people lack understanding of the issues involved. I am a conservative living in Hollywood, an aspiring TV writer, and believe me, I'm no union lover. But, consider the following:

* Not every writer sells work every year. Yes, there is the MBA (Minimum Basic Agreement) for works sold to studios, and many writers make more than the MBA on a screenplay sale, but often that screenplay is the result of a year or more in writing. The contracted minimum for a screenplay today is between $53,000 and $99,000. TV writers, who often only write one or two scripts in a season, can make up to $30,000 for an hour long episode (story and teleplay). Because staff writers are on salary, this is often counted against their salary. Meaning, that in order to make more than $50,000 a year, you'd have to write at least 2 TV scripts in full. Usually the only people making more than the minimums are the head writer (showrunner) who is also a producer and a handful of the exec-producer or co-producers.

* If a songwriter sells a song or a novelist publishes a book, should they not be compensated based on the sales of those works? TV and Film residuals are no different than the royalties other writers receive for their published works.

* Many TV shows today do not get re-run. 'LOST' episodes don't re-run well, and so the network has decided to run the episodes consecutively with no repeats. Without a repeated episode TV writers are not compensated as they used to be.

* Recording a program on a VCR is NOT like downloading or streaming on the internet. The networks sell the broadcast programs for advertising. Those advertising dollars are then used to pay the writers, actors, directors. The studios are selling advertising on streaming video and are selling shows directly to consumers on platforms such as iTunes. The writers receive NO COMPENSATION from these methods of sale. In short, the studios are keeping all of the profits from these distribution methods and are not paying writers at all. Nick Counter, the lead negotiator for the studios stated at the end of the contract talks that shows streamed online or available through paid download services were considered "promotional" and therefore not subject to the residual formulas for DVD, and they do not know how profitable the internet will be for them. By the studios own talking points to their shareholders, however, they sing a different tune.

* The $200,000 average is a misleading indicator of most writers. There are 12,000 Writers Guild members (and I'm not one of them), The MEAN income of a guild member is $4,000 a year. Yes, that means there is a very large distribution. There are the A-list writers who make a lot of money, there are writers making the minimum, and there are writers who aren't getting paid at all because they sold nothing in that calendar year.

* You may not watch a lot of scripted television today, but consider that the DVD formula applies to older shows you may watch and enjoy. 4 cents for every DVD sold. And that's for films. TV is an even more convoluted formula. Ken Levine, a writer on MASH and other shows, stated the following on his blog: "The producers say we already receive royalties from DVD sales. There are no less than fifteen box sets of TV series with my scripts in them. I haven’t received a dime. I have gotten $0.19 from American Airlines for showing eight of my episodes on maybe 10,000 flights."

Sorry for the long post, but this isn't a Dem vs. Republican issue. And it isn't a 'big evil corporations' issue, as some would frame it. The business model is changing, and what you are seeing is an industry that is grasping desperately at the remains of the old way of business. As far as the new way go, they fear making a deal with talent to share the wealth, because of uncertainty as to how much wealth they will have. The writers are looking at this form a standpoint of "Won't Be Fooled Again." In 1985 the studios pleaded with the unions that they didn't know how much money was to be made from home VIDEO. They promised that if the guilds agreed to a lower residual rate on video, they would 'make good' on it at some point in the future. 20 years later, the writers, actors and directors are still waiting.

I hope I did right by us. Again, I think it's important to get people on both sides of the political discussion engaged in this debate.

UPDATE: My comment got moved into its own post on the site and there were about 45 comments on it. I'm feeling like I actually made a dent and got some conservatives to think. I did see some solid support and those on the fence. There's still work to do.

Part of convincing people is to acknowledge that the world is changing, and that we are well aware of it. As writers, we want to take advantage of the new opportunities available to us in the online space, but we also don't want the studios to become a barrier to that by not paying us fairly for work needed to be performed.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Late Show Writers start a Strike Blog

Or an "interwebblognetwebblog".

Link: Late Show Writers On Strike.

Joss Whedon in a video about the WGA strike

The first salvo in the new internet TV revolution?

A story that was reported over the weekend, but doesn't seem to have picked up much traction in the TV blogosphere. Here's the thing. If Google is partnering with Simon Fuller to create programming, it means Google is changing it's business model. It's not content to be in the distribution business only. They want to get into the content creation business.

A quote from the article: "News of the collaboration will prompt speculation that Google's plans for the TV market include generating original content and competing with major broadcasters."

And another very significant quote: "Earlier this month, it emerged that Google's advertising revenues had overtaken those of ITV1, Britain's biggest commercial TV channel."

Think about that -- it probably isn't at American network advertising revenues, but one could reasonably speculate that it's only a matter of time.

Goodbye, studio system. Your demise is imminent.

Link: Google turns to X Factor's Fuller for push into TV -- The Observer

A better list of the production status of tv shows

As always, The Futon Critic to the rescue!

(Thanks to commenters for additional information -- you guys rule!)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Status of shows

I got this list from the current thread at The Artful Writer.

30 ROCK * Shooting #210 through November 9th. * No additional scripts have been written.

BIG BANG THEORY * Production shut down.

CAPTAIN, THE * Shooting #102 November 8th ­ 14th. * Have scripts for #103 and #104 (production will conclude 11/30).

CARPOOLERS * Production shut down 11/16

CAVEMEN * Shooting #113 November 7th ­ 13th. * No additional scripts had been ordered.

COLD CASE * Production shut down 11/16

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES * Production shut down.

DIRT * Prepping #206 for a November 20th ­ 30th shoot. * Script written for #207 (only).

DIRTY SEXY MONEY * Shooting #111 November 8th ­ 19th. * Prepping #112 next week. Shoots o/a 11/21. * There are other scripts written but it¹s unclear if production will continue.

ELI STONE * Prepping #111 now which shoots ~ 11/15­11/26. * Not clear if there¹s another script that¹s been written.

GHOST WHISPERER * Shooting #312 November 12th ­ 21st. * No additional scripts written.

GREEK * Shooting #1018 starting November 15th. * No additional scripts (20 episode order) written.

HEROES * Production shut down 11/9.

K-VILLE * Shot #110 October 28th ­ November 8th. * No update.

MEDIUM * Prepping 069-09 for a shoot November 15th ­ 28th. * No additional scripts have been written.

NUMBERS * Prepping #412 for a shoot November 19th ­ 30th. * No additional scripts have been written

OCTOBER ROAD * Shooting #210 November 9th ­ 21st. * Have scripts through #213

OFFICE, THE * Production shut down.

OLD CHRISTINE * Production shut down.

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT * Canceled production on #210 (was meant to shoot 11/7-11/13) * No additional scripts written * Production shut down.

SAMANTHA WHO * Production shut down 11/12

SWINGTOWN * Shooting episode #103 11/9­11/21. * No additional scripts written.

Ĺ’TIL DEATH * Episode #212 completes production on November 9th. * No answer at casting office

TWO AND A HALF MEN * Production shut down.

UGLY BETTY * Shooting ³Odor in the Court² 11/9 ­ 11/20 * Prepping ³A Thousand Words Before Friday² next week, starts o/a 11/21. * No additional scripts available after that.

WITHOUT A TRACE * Production shut down 11/22.

New WGA Strike Videos

Click the blog title to add the "wgaamerica" channel to your Youtube subscriptions. Then you too can keep track of all the new videos posted by the WGA!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

24 premiere postponed.

A major casualty of the strike. Several sources are reporting that Fox has decided not to premiere 24 on January 13, as originally planned.

No new premiere date is forthcoming, due to the strike.

From my visit to the line today

A few photos from the main Disney gate. There was a show of force of major showrunners in the TV biz with press. At least 100 to 140 people (second number including press) at the main gate today.

Joss Whedon.

EVENING UPDATE: Looked through my photos again, and found one that caught Joss's sign in the corner!

Showrunners wore hats (United Showrunners) and carried signs with the name of their show. I'm sure that was to help the poor press.

One of the best signs today -- Carlton Cuse, showrunner for LOST. "Do you want to know what the island is??" (Damon Lindelof is on the left, Cuse is on the right)

Hey, Sonny this one's for you! (Clarification: Josh Schwartz, creator of THE O.C., CHUCK and GOSSIP GIRL)

Writers at the gate.

ETA: Hi Whedonesque and Fuselage visitors! Sorry I didn't have more pictures of our fave genre heroes. I'll try to get more in the future.

Some additional comments: I would have loved to talk to Joss or Cuse/Lindelof or Josh Schwartz, but press was swarming all over these guys. I'd say the event was a success to put faces to shows. The signs were a great idea to not only identify a showrunner and their show, but also to really drive home how many shows were impacted. You can see a few in this picture, but believe me when I tell you there were at least 40 shows represented (I didn't do a full count) at this gate today.

4:30 PM UPDATE -- This video hit Youtube. It's Damon Lindelof and Marc Cherry at the Disney lot today talking about why they are striking.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rob Long on Geekerati tonight

Sitcom writer, author, and columnist (and host of NPR's "Martini Shot") Rob Long will be on the radio show I co-host with Christian Johnson and Bill Cunningham called Geekerati (yes, that's a lot of hyperlinks).

The show airs live at 7 PM Pacific / 10 PM Eastern. Podcast is available after the live call-in show. Rob will be discussing the WGA strike and the future of content distribution with the Geekerati crew. Should be interesting.

The WGA Writer's Strike Explained

Having trouble explaining the issues the WGA is striking over? Maybe don't understand them yourself? Well, here come some explanations...

In videos! Watch these:

"Why We Fight"

And this one, interviewing WGA "strike captains" on why they are involved with the strike.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Some weird music inspires writing meme

So somehow I got tagged with this meme by Rhys at Great Boobs and Tubes (best name for a blog EVAH). Being the kind of person who does not walk away from a glove smacked in my face, I pick up my revolver to fire out the following volley.

UPDATE: Joel reminded me that I forgot to quote the original meme. So here it is:

Find a song that inspires you to write something, whether it gives you an idea for a script or just puts you into a better frame of mind. AND/OR (don't you love choices) peek into the lyrics and find a stanza that sums up the theme of whatever script you're working on. It's quite uncanny how the two circumstances go together.

If possible, post a video of the song to really get people into the mood. (Yep, I'm aware of the irony of using Internet clips during the pissing contest. I like irony as much as bitchiness.)

I am currently inspired by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, a rockin' bluesy band from Vermont (?) who will in fact be playing the Henry Fonda Music Box theater on November 8 (but I'm a bit miffed that they are "supporting" Gov't Mule, when I got to see them headline and rule the Troubadour a few months back).

Anyway, their second album, "Nothing But the Water" was a breakthrough for them as a band, and now they are gaining momentum with their new album "This is Somewhere".

The title song from "Nothing but the Water" is of specific inspiration to me right now for the pilot I'm working on. In fact, the opening lyrics of that song hold particular special meaning (due to the structure of the song there is NBTW part one and NBTW part two -- i'm speaking of part one, though both parts are in the video below)

Here's the resonant verse:

I have seen
What Man can do
When the evil lives inside of you
Many are the weak
And the strong are few
But with the water
We'll start anew.

So won't you take me down to the levee
Take me down to the stream
Take me down to the water
We're gonna wash our souls clean

Take me down to the river
Take me down to the lake
Yes, we'll all go together
We're gonna do it for the good Lord's sake

As for who I'm tagging...let's see... I call out Fun Joel, Josh, Brett, Julie and Michael.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Looking for Radio Show guests

I'm considering the idea of a special edition of "TV Junkie" to discuss the strike. While I know a bit, I think it would be beneficial to get someone on who really knows what's up, perhaps even some WGA members.

Blogtalkradio is a great medium for getting out the message -- and if I get any "name" guests, I can get featured placement on the main page for the show, helping to generate a larger audience. A lot of the audience is made up of bloggers, who can help influence public opinion about the strike.

If you or anyone you know would be interested in participating in this show, please email me ASAP at the address to the right or comment here.

Please feel free to advertise this around other blogs -- I really want to get something together for later tonight or tomorrow afternoon. Once the live show ends, it becomes a podcast, available to all. We can also have a live chat room going during the show and as it is a live show, we can have people call in to ask questions.

UPDATE: The show will be at my regularly scheduled day (but one hour later) on Sunday at 5 PM. If you can call in, even for 10 or 15 minutes, I'd appreciate it. And hey, if there are non-WGA people who feel they have a grasp on what is up with the strike, enough to discuss it on air, drop me a line. I'm also looking for guests for upcoming shows, not just this one...(free publicity, people -- hint, hint)

Writing while the WGA pickets...

So, I'm contemplating my own future during the strike. Mystery project which had just gotten some MAJOR MOJO is now in limbo as we wait it out. There will be no joy in Mudville, and certainly no selling.

So, off I go to contemplate other projects. There is of course the new spec pilot I'm writing, which I will continue to crank on. Then there's the graphic novel I'm seriously considering. Oh, and I'm thinking of trying out another pilot as a longish narrative story first, just to help figure out the beats. And then there's the web series.

I'm very much looking forward to getting the web series off the ground as I think it's a cool idea and unlike most series which seem to be talking heads, this one might actually be interesting to some people. But here's my question of the day...

...if you were to watch a web series, what is the longest an episode could be before you'd get distracted/bored/stop and need to watch the rest of it later? My thought is 5 minutes is about the most someone will take in a sitting. But maybe it's less, maybe it's more. I know pacing and the goodness of the material accounts for a lot and can help the time fly by. But I'm interested in any other opinions.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

On the Outside Looking In on the WGA Strike

No article links. The contract expired almost 12 hours ago. In another 7, there will be the big meeting at the convention center to give the membership of the WGA the skinny on the negotiations and the strike. The strike is all but certain. The only detail seems to be when it will be called.

My money is on Monday. Give everyone tomorrow to clean out their desks and get their affairs in order. Then call the strike tomorrow night to start Monday. I could be wrong, but it feels logical to me (and who starts a strike on a Friday??)

What does it mean for us, the aspiring? We can't sell to WGA signatory companies if we want to have a chance in hell of joining the Guild. In '88 I hear there was some kind of amnesty, but I'm doubting that happens this time. The stakes are too high, and to forgive a bunch of scabs doesn't appear to be in the cards.

So what do we do? We keep writing our scripts, honing our craft, meeting in our writing groups, and we keep aspiring. We find other ways to get noticed that doesn't violate the strike -- work for non-sigs, go online, write a graphic novel, a book -- whatever it takes. When the strike ends, the flood will burst through and we will need to be ready to fight harder to get seen. I don't know if agents/managers will be looking for people, since we can't make them money from the sigs, which is their bread and butter. Still, I suppose it doesn't hurt to get some relationships started and nurtured for the time when we need them to blossom.

What do we do? We keep writing. And watching. And waiting. I'll be in support of our brethern. I've never been a huge advocate of unions, but there's something egregiously wrong with how writers are painted as greedy SOB's when they get treated worse than anyone and paid (in 99.5% of cases) worse than anyone involved with a film. TV is worse for residuals than film and looks to get worse if the studios don't pony up some dough for downloads above the approximately 4 to 5 cents per DVD rate writers receive today (or don't receive at all, depending on who's paying).

I'll do my best to post links to stories about the strike, but still -- the best place to read the news is Craig Mazin's site and Nikki Finke's blog. For the union viewpoint check out United Hollywood.

And of course you can always read the official press releases from the AMPTP and the WGA. Avoid the trades as they seem to be skewing to a pro-producer bias (gee, I wonder why -- they only depend on studio DEALS to report for their livelihoods).

The Master Returns to TV - UPDATE

I saw the story late last night while looking for any news about the pending writer's strike. But, I couldn't believe it well enough to post a link. Now, here it is, daylight and the story is still there.

Joss Whedon is coming home.

Some will complain that he's working on a show for Fox (a show killer if ever there was one). Some might even complain about the subject matter or Dushku. To me, none of this matters. What matters is we're getting our Joss back.

And if this series works, I COULD WRITE FOR JOSS WHEDON.

Yes, a pipe dream. But a girl's got to dream big...

UPDATE: News just got stupid ridiculously good. TIM MINEAR'S ON BOARD. Christmas came early this year!! Now I could (potentially) write for Joss AND Tim.