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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Happy Leap Day! 30 Rock and a Show Bible — By Jack

Happy February 29th every one. (Aka Leap Day!) And on this day of once every 4 year days I am proud to announce I have submitted my first TV spce script to a TV competition! Script Pipeline is $45 to submit so I hope to hell they’re legitimate.   I basically spent the last two hours combing through my 30 Rock script for typos. I read it once last night and just now twice. If you’ve ever read this blog before, you’ll probably notice an overabundance of them.  So I had to read the damn thing in hyper sensitive mode. It sucked and my eyes hurt.

When you’re writing you’re tearing through the script, as fast as you can. You don’t have time for proper grammar or spelling! Think of a writer as a badass cop in a car chase. Yea, knows how to drive, he’s the best. But he’s going to have to run a few stops signs, maybe brush up against a car or two while he’s pulling that 180 emergency break trick. But you know what? He just saved a school bus full of children with puppies (it was bring your puppy to show-and-tell day) from a psycho bomber. I think that gives him a pass. That’s what a writer is like. Editors are for cleaning up the wreckage.

Anyway, in addition writing my pilot script (my current project) I have to write what is known as…

The Show Bible

The show bible is a sales document designed to attract investors to my pilot. It also works a sort of play book for all ideas, characters, tie-ins, concepts, format, style, and about anything else you can think of. Once a show gets sold, the show bible becomes a very proprietary item. If it gets in the wrong hands, people get fired, and money gets lost.

Parts of the show bible:

1) Over view. A 1-2 page pitch, general plot, theme, etc.
2) Characters: Primary (characters that carry plot lines,)
Secondary(characters appearing in every episode, but don’t carry plot lines,
Reoccurring (characters that show up often,)
Occasional (characters that show up not too infrequently,)
Special Characters (characters that might show up given the nature of your show, i.e. Brian Williams on 30 Rock.)
Descriptions of each and how they compliment each other.
3) Time and Place
Time is more important in a period piece. Description need to be as specific as you need for your show. So The Wire needed to describe the despair on the streets of Baltimore. Gossip Girls needed to describe the glits and glamour of the Upper East Side. It is important to describe things that are not obvious.
4) Format and Style
Is it a multi camera comedy? Is it a single camera drama? Is it fast-paced? What’s the visual tone and style?
5) 1-2 page synopsis of the pilot episode.
6) Ancillary ideas
This is a big one. You can sell your show on this idea alone (almost.) What marketing tie-in deals can your show produce?
Can there be a Happy Meal Toy for your show? A ride at Six Flags? Mad Men has a Banana Republic clothing line. Glee loses money on each episode, but then make much more back by selling the songs on iTunes the next day. They’ve even started selling the Castle novels!
7) Demographic Breakdown
Who will watch it and why?
I’ve been told this one is actually worth skipping. The only thing that matters is if you can prove white males age 25-45
will watch your show.
8) Future Episode Ideas
Long lines of new episodes to show where your idea can go.
It’s best to do them in the number of episodes the network will order the show. (i.e. initial order of 6, or 13 for a half
season)

And those are the secrets of the Show Bible format. Now to get to work.

 

–Jack Out

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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in By Jack, Writing

 

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The Wheel of Romance — By Mack

When it rains it pours, what’s old is new again,  two steps forward one step back, back to square one, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, there’s someone out there for you, I wasn’t looking for love, you can’t hurry love, and my personal favorite; I thought love was only just for fairy tales. These are all lovely cliches we’ve heard from friends or in songs time and again. Some of it true, some of it designed to keep us going. I may not know much about love or the inner monologue of the opposite sex, but the one thing I don’t know is that it all happens in cycles.

And after an extended time on the top of the wheel, 12 o’clock has become 6.  It wasn’t more than two weeks ago that I was messaging/texting/OkCupiding/dating 4 girls. Now 4 is a bit much for me. I’m not looking to be juggling 4 different women, but occurrences happen and you have to take opportunity when it presents itself. So over the next few posts I’ll go into detail about the rise and fall of the wheel.

The culperates are as follows.

  • The Addict
  • The New York Post
  • Sports Girl
  • Quantum_Entropy
But I’ll give you one story today.
***THIS STORY CONTAINS EXPLICIT MATERIAL***
                       Consider yourself warned
***THIS STORY CONTAINS EXPLICIT MATERIAL***

I met the Addict on OkCupid.  She seemed cool enough. Liked South Park, enjoys a good whiskey from time to time and is studying Psychology.  A girl with a drive for something is important. But we made plans to meet up and she cancelled a few times. Excuses like, I got home from work and took a nap, slept longer than I meant to, raised a bit of a red flag. My guard was up, but no reason not to meet her.

Eventually we built up enough comfort via text, and I called her a few times, and we set a date. There’s a cool wine bar on the east side that a good classy/fun first date. La Cava is the place. At first glance, her body type was a little bigger than what I’m used to (not fat but definitely pear-shaped.) But she had a pretty face and talking to her was easy and interesting. There was definitely something non-verbal going on.

As we got to chat more (around drink number 3) we started to get a little more personal. We both revealed we were into some fetish/kinky stuff. Her interests definitely complimented mine.  Then she revealed she had some “bootie calls” relationships going on. I’m cool with that. If guys can do it, why can’t women. But at this point I’m thinking this is a girl I’d like as more than just a “bootie call.” By then we were making out in the bar (being THAT couple) and decided it was time to head out.

We stumbled back to her place (on 50 something and York) and I’m wondering how she has a place there. Trust fund maybe? We’re in her bedroom and she gets a phone call. Suddenly she’s like, “You have to go.” And I’m like, “Uh…why?”

Her, “I didn’t think you’d end up back here tonight, so I got another guy coming over and he’ll be here in like 5 minutes.”
Me,”You’re seriously doing this to me?
Her, “I know. I’m sorry, what are you doing tomorrow night?”
Me, “Wait, why did you bring me back here if there was another guy coming over?”
Her, “I don’t know, he cancelled on me, but now he’s coming over.”
Me, “So let me know, if a guy did this to you, would you EVER talk to him again?”
Her, “I know. But I do like you!”

At this point she grabs my hand and is putting it down her pants. I pull my hand away. She starts rubbing her ass against my leg. All of a sudden that “pear shape” goes from sexy to repulsive. I just want to get out of there.

Her, “I’m a sex addict. I’m sorry. Will you hang out tomorrow?”

I leave.

Okay so the story wasn’t quite as explicit as I made it out to be. I cut out some details, but you get the idea.  I wandered around the streets of New York pretty much a wreck. In retrospect, I was able to see what it for what it was, a girl who is really into sex had too good of a backup plan. But in the moment, drunk, mega blue balls, and having  just been kicked out of a bedroom, I took it personally.  I felt like the thing that garbage had rejected.  I was a mix of lividly angry and broken to my core.  When you get in that head space, all you want to do is tear yourself down. And that’s pretty much what I did the whole way home.

Next: The New York Post girl (or maybe I’ll do the Sports Girl Virgin.)

-Big Mack Attack.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2012 in By Mack, Dating

 

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Evil Vs Chaos: Meditations on Character — by Jack

As I’ve been writing my pilot, I’ve been wishy-washy on nailing down the aspects of my characters.  Character development has always been a scary word for me. When I used to act and it came to building my character, I always felt I never did enough. Not enough back story, I didn’t like to pick out their favorite foods, and creating memories…ugh! I even hated coming up with physicality.  I was always more focused on the script and what the character wanted, ’cause that’s all I was really ever taught in school.

Now as I’ve been writing I’ve let the story come out and the characters present themselves naturally. But for the sake of making my show bible (a document that fully encompasses characters, plot lines, back story, concept, etc) I really need to nail down the characters.

Furthermore TV lives on characters.  TV is formulaic, predictable, and repetitive. What we keep coming back for are the characters. Even reality TV is about our connection with the contestants. So now that I have my challenge, how do I accomplish it?

Well today I’ve been pondering Alignment.

“Alignment is a categorization of the ethical and moral perspective of people, creatures, and societies.”
Thanks Wikipedia! Essentially is your character good or evil? But extended to another dimension:  chaotic vs lawful.  Lawful means you follow the rules of the society in power while chaotic means you want to tear down that society. The grid looks like this…

So as you can see someone can follow the rules of society and can be evil, Lawful Evil. Darth Vader, Stringer Bell, The Capital in the Hunger Games. Meanwhile Chaotic Good would see a character that hates the rules of society and wants to tear it down, but is morally strong.  Rorschach, Malcolm Reynolds, Princess Leia. And from the chart there is a third category in both, Neutral (with respect to moral and societal alignments.) A neutrally societal character doesn’t let the rules of the world around them influence their behavior. Neutral good characters? Wolverine, Han Solo. Neutral evil? the Aliens from Alien, Boba Fett.

It is interesting to ponder what these character alignments are saying when we get behind them. When we identify with a chaotic character, does it imply that we feel disenfranchised by own system or society? Chaotic alignment embodies the rebel.

Is there a place for the Lawful Hero? Who wants to root for the guy supporting the establishment? When was the last time anyone was nuts over Superman?  But maybe there’s something about fighting for something bigger than yourself, (ideologies?)  even when others around your don’t understand it (John Locke, Professor Xavier.)

And how does a Neutral Good protagonist speak to us? They’re lost. They don’t trust the system, because they either don’t have the courage to tear it down or are too apathetic to care. Or maybe just only answer to themselves. Some would argue that Wolverine was chaotic, but I think he’s neutral.  At his happiest, he’s in a log cabin in Canada, chopping wood, and being left alone. But he’s not really torn between sides.

So what alignments do you most enjoy?

–Jack Out.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in By Jack, Writing

 

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Ira Glass, why do you hurt me so?! — By Jill

One of the magical and awesome things about living in New York is that you’re going to run across celebrities. And when you work in a restaurant of good reputation, there’s a decent chance you’re going to be waiting on them.  In my short year here I’ve run into or seen/served at the restaurant; Steve Martin, John Goodman, Bono, Scott Adsit, Anthony Michael Hall, Daniel Day-Lewis (three times, the last of which he was dining with Steven Spielberg,) Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from LOST and Person of Interest,) and Sharon Stone (not as high maintenance as you’d think.)

And the novelty was nice, but I honestly got sick of it pretty fast. Great, there’s a big shot who doesn’t want to be bothered in the first place, why should I piss myself with excitement? I don’t want to wait on them because of all the extra attention I’m going have to give to make sure everything’s perfect. And I can’t blow them off like I would another high maintenance customer. Actually the very idea of celebrity kinda pisses me off.  So when one of the other servers run up, squeeling with joy, exclaiming “OMG! so-and-so celebrity is on table 42! ” I just role my eyes and continue getting my drinks for the guests I do care about. It’s even worse when another guest recognizes the celebrity and then starts probing me with questions about them. “No, I don’t know what they’re eating.” “No, they don’t come in at a usual time on a usual day.” “For fuck’s sake, I don’t have time to take your picture and angle it so they’re in the back ground.”

So imagine my surprise when this man tapped me on the shoulder asking for the bathroom…

Now most of you probably won’t recognize a radio celebrity. Especially not a National Public Radio one.  But this is Ira Glass host of my favorite thing ever This American Life. At least I was pretty sure it was Ira Glass. I’m used to seeing pictures of him looking like this…

…clean shaven, scrawny, short Jewish man. The man who had tapped me on the shoulder was tall, at least like 6 feet, and he had a beard (like the top pic.) Also my associations with him aren’t visual, they’re from his distinguished voice. Oh and he’s one of my personal heroes. If you’re not familiar with This American Life. Scroll up and click on the link and start listening to it right now. There. I made another link so you don’t even have to scroll up. It’s a documentary style NPR show about very personal stories of Americans (and sometimes not Americans) and their lives. It  has stories of love, living during a recession, there was one about a teenager that hit accidentally a girl with his car (but she might have committed suicide) and all the guilt he has to carry with his life. The episode “The Giant Pool of Money” explains how the housing crisis happened but in a very accessible and entertaining way. And they did it in May of ’08. That’s MONTHS before the recession happened.  If you can’t stand radio, there’s a Showtime version of if they did 2 seasons of. The show has changed my life.  The point is I was pretty sure it was him, but not 100%. And while all this is hitting me and I’m still trying to figure out if it’s him or not, he’s waiting for me to tell him where the restroom is.

Finally I snap out of my trance and tell him to follow me (I never do that, I usually say, “It’s down the hall and to the right.”) I immediately run to my friend Alice who I got addicted to TAL, and I can barely speak. “What the fuck is wrong with you, Jill?” And I’m all like, “I think Ira Glass is here.” To which she shrugs and says, “Oh. Cool.” Blasphemy. I hope she moves away to Los Angeles.

I spent the next hour or so  periodically walking by the table intently listening to his voice trying to make 90% surety, 100%. TAL is Chicago public radio. Why would he be in New York? On vacation? But last weeks episode was new. And so is this week’s. Maybe TAL is done from New York after all.  I begged the server to let me clear his table when they were done.  Finally when the check was down. The credit card would tell all. When Tony snatchs up the check, I was right behind him. And there it was in embossed silver. IRA GLASS.

Now restaurant policy is that you never approach celebrities in any personal capacity. I feel it appropriate. But to just go up to the guy and say. “Sir, you do amazing work and it has changed my life. Thank you and don’t stop.” What would be the harm in that? But at the same time, he’s with his kids and his wife, and he’s probably pretty busy. He doesn’t need some nutty girl badgering him. Fuck it. I decide this is probably the only time I will ever see him. He’s not just some celebrity…he’s created something that touches me on a personal level and he does it every week.

The plan. Wait for him to get up from the table, as he exits say “Have a good day.” He will look up and say “Thank you.” As he smiles and waves, I’ll say “Excuse me, Mr. Glass…” and the rest will follow. Short, sweet, done.

But then Alice flags me down. She’s got this 7 top that ordered a bunch of cocktails (at lunch there’s no bartender, so we have to make them ourselves) and they are demanding to order food despite the fact that she’s making the drinks they just ordered. “But Alice…Ira!” Then I shut up and go to the table. I look over my shoulder. Ira’s still sitting. I’ve got time. The 7 top starts asking me all these stupid questions. “What type of rice is in the risotto?” “Where’s the salmon from?” “Can I substitute the spinach for a side of pasta?” “What’s your favorite thing on the menu?” Ira’s getting up.  Fuck. I start bullshitting the table. Making up answers left and right. Finally they actually start ordering. I get it and Ira’s behind me on his iPhone.

I spin around and blurt out a “Have a nice day.”

He doesn’t even look up from his iPhone.

My heart is beating like crazy.

I take a few steps parallel to him and try again. ” I hope you enjoyed everything…”

Nothing. My hero walks out the door.

I go over to Alice. “Here’s the order. Position 3 has a gluten allergy.”

 
 

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