Monday, June 30, 2008

Emmys! Early! Sort of!

So the finalists for Emmy nominations were released/leaked a few days ago:

Top 10 Comedy Series Finalists

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Family Guy
Flight of the Conchords
The Office
Pushing Daisies
30 Rock
Two and a Half Men
Ugly Betty

Top 10 Drama Series Finalists

Boston Legal
Friday Night Lights
Grey's Anatomy
Mad Men
The Tudors
The Wire

Unfortunately I don't watch some of these shows, so here's my updated list that I feel I can reasonably choose from:

Josh's Comedy Series Finalists

Flight of the Conchords
The Office
Pushing Daisies
30 Rock
Ugly Betty

Josh's Drama Series Finalists

Grey's Anatomy
Mad Men
The Wire

Coincidentally--or maybe not--most of the shows I cut out I wouldn't have chosen anyway. How can I say that without watching the shows? I just can; get over it.
(Apologies to Friday Night Lights, House and Curb...though from what I hear this wasn't the greatest season for FNL.)

From the Josh List, here are my Emmy Nominees:

The Office
Pushing Daisies
30 Rock
Ugly Betty

Three of these were guaranteed spots: Pushing Daisies, The Office and 30 Rock. They always make me laugh, and I'm often in awe of how creative they are. Ugly Betty fell from grace a bit this season, but I'm still enamored enough with it to say that it deserves a spot here, and I'll keep watching next year in the hopes that it returns to its former glory.

Entourage won the battle of the cable shows simply by being good enough and charming enough--kind of like Vinny Chase, in a way, despite the show's efforts to showcase him as some kind of amazing talent.

I removed Weeds because the third season, while funny, did a lot of things that irritated me too, not the least of which was going completely off the rails. Perhaps in the final accounting of the show I'll feel better about it, but right now...

Flight of the Conchords is very much a victim of me not having seen very many episodes, but the fact that I find it to be an uneven show didn't help.

Mad Men
The Wire

Most of the shows on this list are no brainers for me. I've made my love for Dexter's second season quite clear, and The Wire is never far short of brilliant. Damages is a creepy, always twisting show that made up for a slow mid-season with a great finale that made the plot twist in on itself yet again. Well worth it. Mad Men doesn't exactly make me excited to watch, but I also can't turn it off, and it's an exceedingly well-made show.

Which meant that it was down to Lost or Grey's Anatomy. This may seem like an easy choice, but I actually like the light-hearted charms of Grey's when the writers and actors are really on their game. Really what sealed it in Lost's favor was just that I felt they got more things right more of the time. This is a show that has reinvented itself, and for the most part it didn't miss a beat. The best thing I can say about it is: four seasons in, I'm still along for the ride.

There you have it, folks. And don't get used to this every day posting thing--the bosses got trapped in Miami today, so it's a freebie, but tomorrow is right back to the 7a-9p grind. Woo!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Breaking Down (and Building Up) Chuck (8)

So, umm, the weekly Chuck spec posts have become...well...monthly. Or maybe even bi-monthly. For now.

What? You're going to complain?!

Well, you try to write two spec scripts, plan a wedding, help your mom move from 2000 miles away, find an apartment for yourself, keep up with your writing class, keep up with your writers' group (yes, that really means two writers' groups because I read and critique scripts for class), develop a kickass webcomic and be a writer's assistant/director's assistant/script coordinator on a movie that's being written, storyboarded, recorded and going into production concurrently. Yes, in the last few weeks I've had the pleasure of learning a lot of things that T stands for (like "terrific," "nice," and "happy to be here"), shook hands with two SNLers, chuckled at the thought of researching a role with Bunnies (the naked kind), and heard a one-time Corleone's answer to "What's the dumbest question you've ever been asked?" but balls are being dropped, people. Balls are being dropped.

And the first ball, unfortunately, seems to be this blog. I'd like to promise that things will get back to normal soon, but there's a little thing called a potential SAG strike looming and everyone's trying to do everything before the sky falls. Which, interestingly enough, it does on occasion.

But Chuck.

When last we left our heroes they were on this page that I'm not too interested in writing a lot about right now. Peruse the A-story beat by beat at your leisure. Today we've got the

B-story Beats

Sarah & Casey try to catch Super Spy; can't agree on plan.

Super Spy escapes because S&C don't work together; pissed, they blame each other.

Per their superiors, since Super Spy saw them, new agents put on case.

S&C must lay low, stick together at all times.

Since they still need to watch Chuck, Sarah will stay at Casey's; neither one thrilled.

New agents arrive, take S&C's intel, tease them.

S&C go to Casey's after work, discuss frustration over not being able to spy.

Casey can't take it; sneaks out to go after Super Spy himself.

Sarah suspects Casey, secretly follows.

Stops him by knocking him out w/ dartgun.

When Casey wakes in his apartment, he's pissed.

S&C argue, then have knock-down drag-out fight.

Fight ends when one of the new agents bursts in – he's dying.

Brings info re: jamming device and locator beacon – Chuck's in danger.

They go to check in on Chuck; he's already gone.

S&C track Chuck with GPS on his car; arrive at warehouse.

See Super Spy holding gun on Chuck and create plan on the fly.

Implement plan by working together; capture Super Spy and save Chuck.

Totally worth the wait, right? Hopefully the next post won't take so long to get to you. Especially since, you know, the script is done. :)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I will not say blogiversary, I will not say blogiversary...

(Note: Feel free to sing along, but please substitute "year" for "years." Thank you.)

Exactly a year ago (give or take a few hours), a very bored assistant researched some famous quotes, found something he thought he could use as a title, and foisted upon the world yet another writing blog, which if you haven't yet guessed is the one you're currently reading despite the poorly structured run-on sentence that I'm too lazy to fix.

I started this blog (as the above sentence implies) because I had gobs of downtime at my last job, wanted to connect in some way with other writers and because Jul and I were in a bit of a lull in our writing life, having just completed two specs and a pilot in the span of 8 or 9 months (give or take) and having yet to decide what should be next. In short, I was bored and needed an outlet.

It's been an incredible year. After dribbling out a few early posts about contests and spec scripts, something actually interesting happened: a writer's assistant position opened up at my company and I applied. You super-lucky people got to follow my trials and tribulations as I interviewed, got the job, then tried to figure out what the hell I was supposed to do. At least every once in a while you followed them... One of my new blog-year resolutions is that I intend to post more about my job as a writer's assistant and the feature animation project I'm currently working on. The trick, obviously, is doing that without violating any NDAs or in general pissing off people I don't want to piss off. Still, I promise that I'll try, Emily.

While this was going on, there was Comic-Con (awesome lines!), super-fun waiting for contest results (hint: we didn't win any), and a decided lack of writing for us as we outlined what I still think would have been a great Dexter spec only to watch as the show did our B-story idea better over the course of the first few episodes and we never quite found something great to put in its place.

Then there was this little thing you might have heard of called the WGA strike. Or maybe not, since most of the major media outlets didn't give it much airtime. I tried to show my support and walk the line when I could (typically during free lunch hours or the very rare morning where I woke up super-early and shuffled around Fox until I had to go to work), but I know many, MANY people who did a lot more than I.

Around this time, Jul started writing for Pink Raygun and then became part owner in the website, which is freaking awesome. It's already led to her getting to interview Jane, among others, and some exciting opportunities for both of us, a few of which will hopefully shortly see the light of day. Expect to see lots of Comic-Con coverage from us in about a month; and if you're there and see us walking around in our Pink Raygun shirts, say hi.

But while we had some interesting stuff going on, our writing lives were still pretty dead.

I finally convinced Jul that we should take some UCLA Extension TV writing courses, so we signed up for those in January. Then a great group of mostly blogging writers led by a different Jane (but just as awesome in her own way:) contacted Jul and I about joining a writer's group and we eagerly agreed.

Suddenly we went from writing nothing to trying to divide time between our still somewhat lame duck Dexter spec and TWO spec outlines we were writing for class. And then Jul was given a ginormous (yeah, I said it) project at work and had to bail out of the group. And then... Well, just suffice it to say that the last six months or so have been some of the busiest in our lives, writing or otherwise. All good stuff, just...busy.

Which leads me to the last few months on this blog. Sorry about those, Constant Readers. Life intruded, as it tends to do. And unfortunately I don't see it getting any better for a while, but I'm going to try to post more regularly on a variety of things.

Now, because this is getting rather long, enjoy some of my most popular posts from the last year according to Google Analytics, which knows all:

1. I Almost Killed Joss Whedon! or Bravery I Do Not Have
2. Breaking Down Dexter
3. Joss Whedon Trips Small Child...and other TALES FROM THE CON
4. "You start out thinking you're the hero, but then..."
5. Breaking Down (and Building Up) Chuck - note: start at the bottom.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Diversity in your spec?

In the comments on my last post, reader Joseph asked:

How much diversity should their be in your spec? If any? Consider that's what these fellowships want?

Hmm. Interesting. To my knowledge -- and I didn't trudge through the fine print on each program's website, so don't hold me to this -- none of the fellowship programs ask for your spec to be "diverse." Whatever that means.

What they do say is that they are looking to "discover new voices and employ culturally and ethnically diverse writers." (Actually, Disney/ABC says this, but I think it holds for the other programs as well.) So rather than demanding that your writing handle themes of diversity, they want to see that you yourself are "diverse." Again: whatever that means.

But let's put aside for a second what the programs demand -- might it not help you to get into a program whose mission statement specifically calls for diversity if your writing sample reflects this?

I definitely think it couldn't hurt. Especially if, like many of us, none of the usual criteria for being "diverse" apply to you. Seems like it could be a nice (and hopefully subtle) way for Mr. Whitey McWhiteypants to answer that diversity question without reaching for something like... "Uh...I grew up poor/a Catholic in a Baptist neighborhood/with three nipples."

Though, to be fair, three nipples can be tough to overcome. Not that I would know -- I grew up poor, so my family could barely afford two nipples.

If you do decide to "diversify" your spec, please don't take my words as a reason to rebuild your entire story from the ground up and include a Caucasian Muslim and an African Shintoist -- unless, you know, you're writing a spec where somehow those two fit in nicely. Still, having "diversity" in your spec might be something to think about if you either haven't begun writing yet or have a spec with a mild "diverse" theme that could be pumped up a bit.

Or I could be wrong and something like this could backfire and offend. Who knows?

Either way, you're still going to have to write those super-fun essays about what makes you a beautiful and unique snowflake who loves TV more than breathing and will fundamentally change the medium with your brilliance.

Speaking of which...better get cracking on that...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Brotherhood and Fellowship are not as good as fellowships and dating

I totally wasn't intending a real comparison at first, but it's a totally unrelated way. While entertaining, the Showtime show Brotherhood -- and even Fellowship of the Ring -- are not as good (for writers) as the various fellowships offered around town.

As such, here are the due dates for at least a few of them for you to keep in mind as you polish your specs for contest season. (Better hurry - Jul and I just finished first drafts of both Chuck and Pushing Daisies!)

CBS Diversity Institute Writing Program
- due June 1st - DEADLINE PASSED

NBC/Universal Writers on the Verge Program - due June 30th

FOX Diversity Writing Program
- due July 3rd

Disney/ABC Writing Fellowship
- due August 8th

A great source for a list of writing contests organized into helpful categories (feature scripts, TV scripts, contests for prod cos and agencies) and by due date is MovieBytes.

Amanda has also written fairly extensively about contests in several recent posts.

I'm sure there are many others out there, so feel free to post in comments and I'll try to check back in and update this post.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Excuses for not posting

Number 1: Chuck


Chuck stands outside of the apartment complex, impatiently
looking around and checking the time.

Morgan drives up.

Did you steal a car?

What? No. I borrowed Lester's.

Chuck gives him a look.

Well, okay, I'm using "borrow"
loosely, but it's his fault for
leaving his keys out.

What do we even need a second car

Morgan reaches down next to him in the car and offers Chuck a
walkie-talkie. Chuck just looks confused.

This is how they do it in all the
cop movies. Hello?! I drive up
ahead and park. You follow Awesome.
When Awesome gets close to my
location, you let me know via
walkie-talkie, and then I start to
follow. That way Awesome won't
notice anyone following him,
because it will be two different

If we don't know where Awesome will
go, how do we know he'll pass by
the place where you parked?

You just don't get it! At least try
the walkie-talkie.

Morgan tosses Chuck the walk-talkie. Chuck rolls his eyes and
walks toward his car.


Morgan drives a ways ahead and speaks into the walkie-talkie.

See, isn't this great? We're
already covering more area.


Chuck also speaks into the walkie-talkie.

This is the dumbest idea ever.

As Chuck speaks, Captain Awesome exits the apartment. Chuck
ducks down to avoid being seen.

The condor has left the building.

I know, I know, just follow him.

Chuck waits until Awesome gets in his car and leaves, then
jumps into his Nerd Herd Mobile and follows.


(to himself)
Oh, god! What if he sees me?

Morgan pulls out ahead of Awesome nearly causing an accident.



Chuck's eyes go wide.

Morgan, what are you doing?!

I've got to be in front. Otherwise
he'll see me. I know what I'm

(to himself)
This was a mistake.

Chuck shakes his head as he drives behind Awesome's car.

Number 2: Pushing Daisies

EMERSON sits in a booth and reads the menu. Olive stands next
to the table, tapping her foot impatiently. She keeps looking
over at Ned, who we can see through the windows on the
kitchen doors baking happily with Chuck in the kitchen.

(to Emerson)
You know, the food comes faster if
I know what the order is.

The order is to let me take my

Unfortunately, you're not just
taking your time, you're taking my
time, too. And those people in the
next booth --

She indicates an IMPATIENT COUPLE glaring at Emerson.

-- you're also taking their time.
And, while we're on the subject,
it's partially your fault that
Chuck's here, and I'm forced to see
her and Ned making time.

Emerson puts down the menu.

Fine. Raspberry Rhubarb Crunch.
Light on the crunch.

All our raspberries went bad.

Check again.

He shoves the menu at her. Olive rolls her eyes and walks
away. Emerson shoots a fake smile at the Impatient Couple.

Emerson Cod did not believe in
fate. Or rather, he believed that,
like the colorful holsters he
knitted for his guns, he could make
his own fate. In fact, he believed
it so much that he became a private
eye to prove it.