Will the price of gas affect what studios pay for spec scripts?

I had this  email exchange today:

I am wondering how much of an affect does the current state of the country will have on Holly Wood when it comes to buying scripts?

I replied:

Not to be dense, but I don’t understand your question. Do you mean the
economy? The war in Iraq? The hurricane in New Orleans? And what do you
mean by affect? The kinds of stories Hollywood will or won’t buy? The
money they are paying for specs?

He replied:

I apologize for not being specific. I was talking about everything you
mentioned including the high gas prices.  Will these events have an
affect on the number of scripts Hollywood will purchase for this year?
Will they have an affect on the purchasing price for the scripts they
do buy?

I replied:

That is such a broad question, I couldn’t possibly answer it. I have no idea if all the events in the world today — economic, political and social — will affect the number of scripts Hollywood buys or what they pay for them.  But I want to be helpful, so  here’s some advice: Don’t write a script about a private eye who can communicate with plants. I think a story like that wouldn’t do well no matter what is happening in the world today.

WGA Election

I spent a few hours today reading through the campaign statements, the non-candidate statements and all the email spam I’ve been getting from both slates…and I voted.

This was a difficult election for me. I wasn’t moved by either slate. I am moved by a profound disappointment in the way the Guild has been run in the last few years (while, at the same time, I personally know and respect many of the officers/board members). As it turned out, my votes were more or less split between the two slates. Here is how I voted:

President: Patric Verrone.
This was the hardest decision to make. I have serious reservations about both candidates. Neither one strikes me as someone strong enough, and charismatic enough, to reinvigorate our Guild.  I wish there was a third choice.  But I finally chose Patric Verrone. Even though I am not sold on his "organize, organize, organize" platform, and am stunned that he voted in favor of honoring Victoria Riskin, he has impressed me in the past with his intelligence, energy, and dedication to writers.  I admire Ted Elliott as writer but he has failed to inspire me with any kind of vision for his presidency.

Vice-President: David Weiss. I’m a big admirer of Carl Gottlieb. He’s smart, experienced, and cares deeply about our Guild. I have voted for him time and time again… too many times, perhaps. Even so, I was ready to vote for him again until I read his rebuttal of Weiss’ statement — which basically trashed Weiss for not being active in Guild affairs. Frankly, at this point, I think not having a long record of Guild service means more than being deeply entrenched in Guild affairs (and I’m speaking as someone who has served on numerous WGA committees and even ran for the Board once). I don’t agree with a lot of Weiss’ views — on the other hand, I’m impressed by his energy, his intelligence, his humor and his zeal. And I’m swayed by what worries Carl the most — that Weiss hasn’t been very involved in Guild politics. We need a fresh pov and new energy because our Guild is an ineffective  mess that only seems to really succeed lately at one thing — embarrassing itself and it’s members. I don’t have to agree with everything Weiss stands for (and I don’t)…but I admire his zeal and his obvious dedication to the betterment of all writers.

Secretary-Treasurer: Irma Kalish

For the Board:
Douglas Eboch
Scott Frank
Peter Lefcourt
Dan McDermott
Howard A. Rodman
Melissa Rosenberg

Dan Wilcox
and, as a wild card,
David S. Weiss. What he has going for him, at least in my view, is that he isn’t on either slate, he’s an experienced writer who represents an under-represented group (late night comedy writers), he’s angry, he’s fought for his fellow writers, and he hasn’t  served on any WGA committees. He’s also focused on the core issue with most writers: Getting the money we are owed for the work we have done.

So there you have it.

We’re Doing Little Movies

It’s the biggest cliches of the TV season. You hear it in almost every interview with a showrunner or a star (particularly movie stars who have moved to TV) hyping their new show:

"This show is like a movie every week."

Or the popular variations:

"We’re doing little movies."

"The entire season is like a 22-episode movie."

"We’re bringing feature film production values, feature film writing, and feature film acting to the TV screen every week."

I wonder how many times we’ll hear it this season ( I’ve already read it in four interviews today, hence the rant). Just once, I’d like to hear them say "We’re doing a really good TV series." What’s so damn impressive about comparing TV to movies? The fact is, what’s on TV these days is a hell of a lot better than what’s in theatres. I’d like to see the cliche turn… and to start hearing feature directors and stars saying:

"This movie is like an entire season of a TV series crammed into 97 minutes."

Inside THE INSIDE

Theinsiderachel4There’s a fascinating interview with writer Tim Minear at IFMagazine.com  about the development, production, and demise of the short-lived Fox series THE INSIDE (I’ve talked about the series here before). The  show was cursed from the get-go —  two entire pilots for the series were shot and scrapped before they finally got one that worked (maybe that should have been a hint).

"I got a call from the studio the day we were in prep for the second episode and
they had seen the cut, which by the way I don’t think turned out so well, and
said “I really loved the script, why do I not like this.” So I said “give me a
couple million dollars and I’ll go reshoot it myself” and that’s what we did. We
pushed production, started over again, we recast one of the main characters, and
sort of reworked the sets. We had 12 or 14 days of dress rehearsal and I got to
see all the things that didn’t work and had a very short time to rectify those
things. So we went back and reshot most of the pilot, so there really are two
versions of that pilot, not just the 21 JUMP STREET one, that’s a third version
of a different pilot that exists…

…The problem was, if it had only been the Tim Minear/Howard Gordon version of THE
INSIDE that we had to reshoot large parts of the pilot for, that would have been
one thing. But we had already come in redesigning, reconfiguring and trying to
salvage something else called THE INSIDE that they already spent a year on with
the same actress."

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the television business.

Mystery Lovers Corner

I got a spam email the other day from Dawn Doodle of  Mystery Lovers Corner, an amateurish website that, for a one-time fee of $35, will list your bio and  one of your books.

You don’t want readers to wonder why your books aren’t here.

Lots of categories to classify your books.

We had our Grand Opening 5/27/05, and since then we‚ve had over 1700 hits to the website.  More authors are joining daily.  Currently over 60 have joined, including Carolyn Hart, Joanne Fluke, Robin Hathaway, and Lyn Hamilton.

We also have a Featured Author each month.  They answer interview questions and are featured on an additional page for no additional cost.  In the future, we may increase the number of Featured Authors each month to give more authors the extra exposure

I don’t see how paying for "exposure" on this amateurishly-designed, no-prestige, low-traffic site is much of a promotional opportunity — not to brag, but I get more hits here per day than they’ve had in five months. A blank page could probably get more hits (especially if you put the word breasts in the text somewhere).  Her low traffic and sloppy design simply aren’t worth the thirty five bucks.

In my opinion, you’re much better off spending the money on a five month subscription
to Typepad ($4.95-a-month, first month free) and starting your own blog. It will
look a lot better than her site, it will focus only on YOU, and you’ll probably
get as much (if not more) traffic than you would on her obscure corner of
cyberspace.