The Oscars

There was a big article by Patrick Goldstein in yesterday’s LA Times talking about how viewership for the Oscars has dwindled over the years.

The hissing you hear is the air going out of the Oscars’ balloon. The
usual aura of Academy Award anticipation dissipated weeks ago. Wherever
I went last week, the talk was about how bad the ratings would be.

He put the blame on the fragmentation of the viewing audience — distracted by 500 satelite channels, iPods, DVDs, xboxes, the Internet, even books —  and on the poor quality of theatrical movies lately. I have a more radical view. People have stopped watching the Oscars because it’s an incredibly dull show with virtually no entertainment value…even when fast-forwarding through most of it (thank the Lord for Tivo).

The opening skit was fun and it went downhill from there. That said, it was nice to see so many "TV faces" among the winners and nominees. I’m sure Paul Haggis, when he was writing WALKER TEXAS RANGER and DUE SOUTH, never imagined he’d be getting an Oscar for best picture…or that Dan Futterman, while toiling as an actor on JUDGING AMY, envisioned being nominated for an Academy Award for his first screenplay.

CRASH getting best picture was certainly a surprise… as was best song going to "It’s Hard for a Pimp" instead of the safe, middle-of-the-road, crowd-pleaser sung by the robot that vaguely resembled Dolly Parton (Dustin Hoffman looked more like Dolly Parton).

I’ll stop there. If you really want to low-down, check out Ken Levine’s hilarious Oscar wrap-up:

Leave it to a writer to show up in jeans.

Running from The Walk

I’ve been too busy to post as often as usual…preparing for a pitch meeting (it went well), preparing for a meeting for a possible writer/producer gig (it also went well), and I’ve been working hard on MR. MONK AND THE BLUE FLU (going well as well…and I’ve now broken my personal record for using the word "well" in a single paragraph).  I’m also a judge in a short story contest and been reading hundreds of submissions. Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of justifying yet another rerun post from my blogging past…

This is a true story.

I was in  the offices of a major movie producer who had just read  my book THE WALK
and wanted to talk about a possible screen version. The story is about
a TV producer who is stuck in downtown Los Angeles when a major
earthquake decimates the city and has to walk back home to the suburbs.

The executive loved the book, the human drama, and the action-adventure elements. He only had a few thoughts and concerns.

“Does the guy have to be a TV producer?” he asked.

was prepared for that question. I knew the character might be “too
inside,” meaning too much a part of the entertainment industry, to
connect with a wider audience.

“No,” I said, “Of course not. We can give him a different profession.”

“How about if the TV producer was a team of cheerleaders instead?” the executive asked.

I laughed, thinking he was joking. He wasn’t. But he wasn’t done with me yet.

“And what if the earthquake was a tidal wave?”

The book remains unfilmed.

Oh no, my dream job was a fake

From the Writer’s Guild of Canada:

It has come to our attention that several members have received an
email from a Japanese company – the Hashimoto Group – soliciting film and TV
scripts with the purported intention of production.  Please be advised that this is not a
legitimate proposal and is in fact a scam.  We recommend that you do not respond to
the email.

Please see
for further information.

I think Lori Prokop should contact Saito Komatsu of the Hashimoto Group about investing in Book Millionaire.


Offending the Morons

No, I’m not talking about the Colonial Fan Force again. This is a true story that I’ve told here before (so this is like a blog rerun — only I don’t get any residuals).

I was working on Murphy’s Law,
a light-hearted detective series starring George Segal as an insurance
investigator when I got this call from the network censor with notes on
our script:

“You’ve got one of your characters calling another character a moron,” the censor said.

“Yeah, so?”

“You can’t do that,” he said. “We’ve approved ‘dolt,’‘dummy’ or ‘dink,’ as acceptable alternatives.”

“What’s wrong with calling somebody a moron?”

“You’ll offend all the morons in the audience,” he said.

I thought he was joking.

He wasn’t.

So I said, “Don’t worry, all the morons in the audience are watching Hunter.’”

Three months later, Murphy’s Law was cancelled… and I got a job on Hunter

Back Under the Wing

TV Geek alert: Variety reports that a slew of former WEST WING actors are reprising their roles as the series heads towards its finale. Among the actors returning for segments are Rob Lowe, Mary Louise Parker, Timothy Busfield, Gary Cole, Annabeth Gish, Tim Matheson, Marlee Matlin, Anna Deavere Smith and Emily Proctor as "Ainsley Hayes."