Friday, April 24, 2009

Break It Down - The Tower pilot

The Tower, you say, what's that? Well, my friends, it's a pilot from Cold Case creator Meredith Stiehm about newspaper reporters. It was written and shot last year, but has yet to air. And since I've heard nothing about it, I'm guessing it probably never will. Which is a shame, because it's well-written and intriguing, if not something that knocked my socks off. But anyway, you know the drill by now. I read, I dissect so that I'll learn something, I post for you to enjoy.

Thus far (that I can remember) I've done breakdowns on Harper's Island, Kings, Castle, Grey's, Gossip Girl, Chuck, Dexter and very possibly a few more that are here... somewhere. Wanna read them? Look for "Break It Down" WAAAAY down on the right side under LABELS and then click it. It's like Staples' EASY button, only real and not as easy.

Now for The Tower.

Episode 101 - Pilot

Short Description

Two newspaper reporters, each with their own demons, try to break real news stories in an age of rampant cutbacks and tabloidism.

Story Threads

A-story - Mayor Investigation
B-story - Olivia and the groom
C-story - William Valentine's murder
D-story - Olivia's problem
E-story - Zoe Cafritz

Lots of overlap and long scenes servicing multiple stories.

Length and Breakdown

Teaser - 8 pages, 7 scenes
Act I - 7 pages, 4 scenes
Act II - 19 pages, 9 scenes
Act III - 9 pages, 5 scenes
Act IV - 16 pages, 8 scenes

(Only 4 acts and a teaser? Hello, old friend, been awhile since I've seen your kind...)

33 scenes in 59 pages, but a lot of those scenes are servicing 2, 3, even 4 stories at a time. And I barely noticed the LOOONG second and fourth act while reading, but... man.

The scenes are organized as follows:

A-story - Mayor Investigation (11 beats/scenes)
B-story - Olivia and the groom (11 beats/scenes)
C-story - William Valentine's murder (14 beats/scenes)
D-story - Olivia's problem (9 beats/scenes)
E-story - Zoe Cafritz (6 beats/scenes)

As you can might surmise, I didn't bother to organize for importance, just labeled each new thread as it appeared. The C- and A-stories would likely switch places if we were doing this for real, since the C-story really seems like it will be the season arc. Everything else I'm more or less comfortable with.

Teaser - A, B, A, B, A, B, C
Act I - A/D, C, C, B
Act II - D/C, B/A/D, B/E, C, B/A, C, E, C, D/B
Act III - D, C/D/E, C/E/A, B/D, C
Act IV - C, E/B, C, C/D/A, A/E/D/B, E, A, C/A

(Note: where beats include a / mark, this means that the scene has elements of both stories. When this happens, I'm listing the beats in the order that they occur in the scene. In the scene/beat count above, every appearance of A, B, C and so on is counted as one full beat rather than a half, even if there is a slash mark.)

51 story beats. In 33 scenes. Efficiency or overcrowding?

(Shrug) It worked for me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The first rule of the Magic Castle is: Do not talk about the Magic Castle

Yeah, I went for the clam.

Tonight, because we know people who know people who know people, Jul and I are headed to the ultra-exclusive Magic Castle in Hollywood with some friends. How exclusive? Check out their page of rules for guests to get in:

Before you come to the Magic Castle, we would like you to know about our club rules:

  • The Magic Castle is a private club. You must be a member or have a guest card from a member. You must have your guest card with you when you arrive at the Magic Castle!
  • Dress Code is STRICTLY ENFORCED and NO ONE UNDER 21 is admitted. Photo ID is required.

  • NO ONE UNDER 21 will be admitted to the club at any time except for Sunday Brunch.

  • Please be sure that every member of your party has a legal picture ID (drivers license or State issued ID card) with them.

The Magic Castle has a strict dress code for evening guests:

  • Men must be in coat and tie (standard or bow tie)
  • Exceptions to the "tie rule" are: turtlenecks, bolo ties, ascots, jeweled collars, ruffled collars and banded collars.
  • Military Dress, ethnic and/or religious attire will also be allowed.
  • No zippered jackets, outdoor jackets, polo shirts, t-shirts, denim (or colored denim), shorts, sandals, flip flops, sneakers or sneaker-like shoes are allowed.
  • Leather jackets (with buttons) and leather pants are allowed.
  • No casual attire will be allowed. Think business attire!


  • Women must be in a dress, cocktail dress, elegant skirt & blouse combination, pant suit with a matching jacket (think business suit), or evening pant suit ensemble.
  • Military Dress, ethnic and/or religious attire will also be allowed.
  • No outdoor or zippered jackets, polo shirts, denim (or colored denim), Capri pants, shorts, skorts, flip flops, sneakers or sneaker-like shoes are allowed.
  • No casual or inappropriate attire will be allowed. Think elegant attire!

Dresscode for Friday Lunch, Saturday & Sunday Brunch:

Men, Women & Children

  • Think "Smart Casual"!
  • No shorts, tank tops, sandals, or flip flops are allowed.
  • No inappropriate attire will be allowed.

If you have any questions about the dress code, please call the Castle before you make your visit. Guests who do not meet the dress code or minimum age requirement will not be admitted to the club.

Of course, the fact that we're getting in should tell you that it's not that exclusive, but that post isn't nearly as interesting.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cop Rock from Cincinnati - A Joss Interview

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune has a great interview up right now with Whedon. I love this snippet:

...there is no such thing as a track record. You toil and you toil and you argue and argue and you tear your hair out and go nuts and eventually you either retire, go mad or become powerful enough to make your own show. You say, 'I am going to show them how it's done!' And that's when you make 'Cop Rock From Cincinnati.'

For the record, Joss, even you could not make me watch Cop Rock from Cincinnati... Okay, okay, maybe you could...

Here's the rest of the story.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Michael Patrick Sullivan Is My Master(mind) Now

Because last night I watched his awesome one-act, Mastermind, at the cool and cozy Black Box Theatre in Santa Monica.

And I do mean awesome. With a twisty "am-I-a-supervillain?" story and rapid-fire dialogue that plays like a strange, cool marriage between Joss Whedon and Aaron Sorkin (which would have actually been legal here not too long ago), Sullivan's play is equal parts tense and funny, with wit and creativity to spare.

Luckily, his cast is more than up to the task. J. Claude Deering plays J.D., the man who might have been arch-villain Mastermind (amnesia, you see -- nasty business) with droll charm that masks the horror and guilt he feels about his possible previous identity. Deering is ably matched by the talents of Katharine Brandt as Liz, his reporter girlfriend who has a history with Mastermind and just wants to get the hell out of Dodge. (Not the real Dodge, mind you, but, you know...)

Why does she want out? Well, because the play begins with a recorded message from Mastermind letting the people know that there may or may not be a bomb planted somewhere in the city and it may or may not go off before midnight that night. Which is in about twenty-something minutes. Something -- either in that message or the research he's been doing -- convinces J.D. that he's Mastermind. Or he was. Maybe. But if there's even a chance that he used to be Mastermind and could save people from the bomb by remembering, he feels like he has to try. Liz, isn't so keen on the possibility of exploding, but very reluctantly agrees to tell him about her run-ins with Mastermind to see if it jogs his memory.

To say any more would spoil it, but suffice it to say that Mastermind is an exciting, surprising, laugh-out-loud way to spend an hour.

Now here's the bad news: it was a one-night-only engagement. So what's the point of writing a review of something you can't even see anymore? Well, because maybe, just maybe you can. Buh-wha?

I know Michael's keen to put the show on again. If you're interested in seeing it, harass him -- you've got the link to his website above. Call Black Box in Santa Monica and say you heard about this great play and want them to run it again. Do... something. You're kind of in the same predicament as J.D. You don't know if trying is really going to help, but you damn well know that not trying isn't going to help anything.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

True Gibberish

See, this is what happens when I try to branch out.

Last night Jul and I attended the True Blood panel at Paleyfest. You know, the one that was supposed to happen about five months ago and got canceled and rescheduled and then re-rescheduled. Yeah.

So I thought I'd actually use my Twitter account and attempt a whole live update thing while I was there... The results are on the right side of the page, though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what I said.

Hey. Wait. Perhaps through the magic of saved SENT messages in my phone... Yes. Got it.

Wow. Things that seem important while you're texting are decidedly less so in the light of day. Ah well.

Here's a cleaned up version of what I wrote:

First, they showed a clip reel from season 1 that had the audience laughing and cheering. Then the screen went dark for a few seconds and a new clip started playing from season 2 -- which apparently begins airing in June! Who knew? In the clip, Sookie, Bill, and the female vamp he sired (don't remember her name) are arguing in a car. Apparently Sookie did something for the female vamp that Bill felt put all of them in danger, and possibly some other people. Also, she undermined his authority as sire, which is a big no-no. Bill keeps yelling at Sookie until she finally gets out of the car and does the whole "fine, I'll walk home" routine. The sired vamp tells Bill that Sookie wants him to follow her and apologize, but he gets pouty and refuses. Cut to Sookie walking down an empty road and starting to get nervous because she keeps hearing things. Things which turn out to be a weird-looking horned demon thing that chases her and rakes her back with giant, nasty claws... and then the screen went to black and more cheering ensued.

After the cheering finally died down, they introduced the cast (really; almost everyone was there) and Alan Ball and did the usual Q&A stuff. What do you like most? What do you dislike most? Blahblahblah.

Some random tidbits that I did find interesting:

Ryan Kwanten, who I'd never seen in anything before this, is a really smart, well-spoken Aussie -- a far cry from the dumb-but-lovable (and very, very horny) Jason he plays. He also said he sees Jason as the redneck Casanova, and all the oxymoronity that implies.

When asked his favorite scene, Sam Trammell, who plays bar owner Sam Merlotte, gave his least favorite one: running naked through the woods in tan-colored jazz shoes.

Anna Paquin seemed shocked (and a bit offended) that so many people were worried about where all the dirt went... in, you know, that one scene. Apparently it never crossed her mind or became even a bit of a problem in the hours it took them to film it, though she did admit that perhaps things would have been different if she and Stephen Moyer were as... natural as their characters are in the scene.

Overall I'm as engaged as I ever was by this series. It's an enjoyable romp that's meant to be over-the-top and silly, but still (I think) manages to deal with interesting issues from time to time. Inasmuch as season 1 followed the story of the first Sookie Stackhouse book -- with sometimes large embellishments and fleshing-out of characters -- it looks like season 2 will largely follow the second book.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sci-Friday: Take 9 (the final take...)

Happy Holiday.

Looks like this is it, kids. No one's holding out hope for Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Dollhouse -- after an initial episode 6 uptick in ratings -- has slid downward the last few weeks. I'd cheer if even one of them got picked up for another season, but I have to be honest... seeing them go won't make me as sad as I wish it would. Maybe it just wasn't meant to be?

Tonight's episodes:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

(Auto) Pilot: A review of the Harper's Island pilot script

On Pink Raygun. Yup, I'm too lazy to copy and paste.

Monday, April 6, 2009

TV Writers Meetup... in a half hour!

So, this is totally last minute, but it's been a busy day, so get over it:

Reminder from: tvwriters Yahoo! Group

West-side Meet-up
Monday April 6, 2009
5:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Location: 9546 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA

Come talk writing while enjoying $3 bottles/well drinks or $5 drafts/premium drinks. The food's excellent as well- hope to see all you creatives there!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sci-Friday - Take 8

Unforeseen circumstances kept us from watching anything last weekend, so... What did you think? (I won't be reading responses until I watch the episodes, but don't let that stop you.)

For tonight: