Day of the Living Dead

Today I was so jet-lagged that I felt like I was sleep walking around Munich. I know I looked like the undead. But I fortified myself with some tea and chocolate at Kafer before the big pitch and it went well. Between the sugar, caffeine and adreniline, I've managed to stay alert from mid-afternoon until right about now (8:30 pm on Thursday night). We had a post-pitch discussion over dinner and then on my way back to the hotel I treated myself to a Kopenhagener pastry for a job well done. I am going to go to bed as soon as I finish typing this post.  Tomorrow morning I have a breakfast meeting with my friends at Hofmann & Voges Productions and then it's back to L.A.   All in all, I think it was  a very productive  five days that I hope to build upon in the coming weeks.

Hot Dogging

Greetings from Munich. I arrived here on Tuesday night from London, where it was rainy and gray, to weather that felt more like Southern California than Germany. I guzzled Diet Coke on the flight so that I wouldn't fall asleep when I met my friends Daniela & David Tully for drinks at 9 p.m.  Daniela is a top executive at ProSeiben, a major German network, and her American husband David is a screenwriter. It was great to see them again and to get caught up on the state of the German TV market (which is lousy, just like everywhere else).

The next morning I awoke to a beautiful day…clear blue skies, warm weather. It was the nicest weather I've ever had in Munich and I took full advantage of it, walking all over the city and discovering it anew.  The best part was sitting in the Viktualienmarkt, eating a delicious hotdog and butter streusel, sipping Diet Coke, and enjoying the scenery.

I got back to the hotel in mid-afternoon for meetings with my friends at Action Concept, the studio I am working with over here. I ended the day with a nice long dinner at an outside table at an old Bavarian restaurant with Heiko Schmidt, the terrific line producer I worked with on FAST TRACK. I was in bed by midnight…but I awoke at 3:30 in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep. So I got up around 4, called home, answered some emails, and studied my notes for my meetings.

Now it's 7 a.m. I have been up for three-and-a-half hours already, and my meetings start with breakfast at 9. The most important meeting is at 3, when I will have to pitch three projects to a potential international coproduction partner. I hope I don't fall asleep in middle of it.

Tomorrow morning I head back to L.A….and hope to do some serious plotting for my next  MONK book on the plane. On Monday I start jury duty.

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…

I am off to Europe  in a few minutes for two and a half days in London and two and a half days in Munich. In London, I'll spend Easter Monday with actor Shaun Prendergast and his family (Shaun was one of the stars of my film FAST TRACK). On Tuesday,  I'll be meeting my UK agent for the first time face-to-face for breakfast and then he's got meetings set up for me with some studios. Then I am jetting off to Munich, where I will be joining my good friends at Action Concept to pitch some projects to broadcasters. It's going to be a whirlwind week but I am really looking forward to it.  It's been a year since I've been to Europe but it feels like much longer, especially after spending so many months working there in 2006 & 2007. 

In Flight

I traveled home from Germany today. I woke up at 4:15 am to make a 6:30 flight out of Munich. At the airport security checkpoint, there are posters and videos alerting you to restrictions on liquids, etc. in carry-on baggage. A young couple went through with two overnight bags loaded with cosmetics, scissors, etc and couldn’t understand why security wouldn’t let them through.On the flight from Munich to Dusseldorf,  where I was catching a connecting flight to the U.S., the businessman who was sitting next to me to me grabbed his crotch at take-off and again at landing. I dont know what he was protecting himself from. In Dusseldorf,  the couple in front of me in the security line had bought a ton of drinks and cosmetics at the terminal gift shop. I warned them that they couldn’t bring their purchases on the plane, but they insisted that since it was bought at the airport, it was okay. I showed them the signs, and they still argued with me. So I shut up. They were shocked and infuriated when security made them throw it all out.  I just smiled and went on my way.

On the flight home, I caught up on five episodes of HEROES and the last few BOSTON LEGALS of the season on my iPod. I think that HEROES is getting too twisty for their own good…to the point that it has become ludicrous and maddening…not to mention nearly impossible to follow. I still have two more episodes to watch and I will have seen the whole season. But it seems to me the show started out with a lot of promise and hasn’t delivered on it.

Back in May, BOSTON LEGAL did yet another episodes where the lawyers are held hostage…this time the bad guy was the troubled son of a murder victim wants revenge from Denny Crane (William Shatner) for getting the accused killer acquited forty-some years ago. But what made this tired plot special was that David Kelley cleverly incorporated footage from the original, black-and-white pilot of THE DEFENDERS, which co-starred a very young William Shatner as a lawyer. Kelley used the old footage as flashbacks of a younger Denny Crane defending the killer. I had to admire the episode as a TV geek, a pilot nut, and as someone who has done much the same thing (using reruns of MANNIX as flashbacks for a new Mannix story on DIAGNOSIS MURDER). I’m surprised the episode didn’t get some attention…or did it?

I see that last week TWO AND A HALF MEN was the highest rated show on television. What has happened to America while I was gone!?

I have been up for over 24 hours now…I want to try to stay awake until 8 or 9 pm. So if this post is riddled with typos and incoherent thought, now you know why.

Munich

I am sitting in my hotel room in Munich, getting ready to go out for some network meetings. I won’t bore you with all  the details from my travels, except to say it was great to see the cast of FAST TRACK in Berlin again and that it was hell being in London for a day during the subway strike (though  I managed to run into someone I know amidst the crowd on Oxford Street…what are the odds of that!?).  The weather has been rainy and miserable here and I haven’t managed to conquer my jet-lag. I seem to be tired all the time. I have a 6:45 am flight home tomorrow and am looking to getting some sleep, seeing some sunshine, and making more headway on my MONK novel.

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TV Writing 101: The All Important Drive Up

We’d just delivered our script on a long-running cop show. The star called us into his trailer for his notes.

“I read your script,” he said. “There wasn’t a single drive up.”

“What’s a drive up?” I asked.

He stared at me. “How can you call yourself a professional writer and not know what a drive up is? It’s the scene where I drive up, get out of my car, and walk to the door of wherever I’m going.”

“Oh,” I replied, relieved. “We didn’t put any of those in on purpose. We like to start a scene in the middle, after you’ve arrived, after all the introductions. The viewers all know who you are and how you got there.”

“How?”

“What do you mean?”

“How can they be certain how I got there?” he asked.

“I’m sure they’ll assume you drove,” I said.

“But which car did I drive? What color is it? Is it a cool car or a lame car?” he said. “The drive-ups are important. People love to see me drive up. It’s what’s made this show a hit.”

He then turned to the first scene of the show. “Great scene,” he said. “Powerful stuff.” He tore the page out of his script. “But I can do all of this with a look.”

He then went to the next scene and tore two pages from it. “I can do this with a look, too.”

It didn’t take us long to figure out why he really liked the drive-ups so much…and why the drama of most scenes was best conveyed with a look rather than a word. No dialogue to learn.