The Only Golden Globes the Public Cares About Belong to Pamela Anderson

I love Nikki Finke. In her report on the AMPTP’s inept PR efforts, she writes:

The organization trotted out the respected David L. Wolper to put his name on a Variety
letter comparing the WGA’s "boycott" of the Golden Globes and Oscars to
America’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. (This is
uncomfortably reminiscent of the time Miramax secretly penned an
endorsement of its Gangs of New York director Martin Scorsese
and attributed it to filmmaker Robert Wise. I’m sorry to say this,
because Wolper has always been lovely to me, but his article is
crapola. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The writers didn’t
even picket Brentwood.

Welcome to My Life

Tess Gerritsen perfectly captures my life in her blog today:

Night before last, I woke up in a sweat.  I couldn’t get back to
sleep because I was having an anxiety attack about my next book.  Oh,
it’s nothing new — I have these from time to time, and sometimes I’ll
lie awake for hours, mulling over what’s wrong with my plot, whether
I’ll be able to fix it, whether I’ll meet my deadline.  When I finally
do fall asleep, that anxiety follows me in the form of dreams.  Mine
usually involve showing up at school for a test and suddenly realizing:
I FORGOT TO ATTEND ANY CLASSES!  But I know what those dreams are
really all about: how the writing is going.

No matter where I am or what else I may be doing, this job is never far from my mind.

[…]I can be sitting on a beach on vacation, yet I’ll never really relax
because I know that there’s a half-written novel waiting on my desk and
I have only a few months to finish it.  I can’t remember the last time
I really, truly let go of the job.

She’s writing about herself, but she could just as easily be writing about me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel the pressure of a book or script deadline or spent my "free time" thinking about a story I was working on or a plot I was supposed to come up with.  When I wake up at 3:30 am with jet-lag, the thoughts that keep me from getting back to sleep always involve a plot point or anxiety about meeting a deadline. I’m not complaining, far from it. It’s just nice to know that I’m not alone.

A Good Word on the Strike

My friend Gregg Hurwitz, author of THE CRIME WRITER, sums up my feelings on the strike better than I can.  He’s also better looking than me:

Coming to Hollywood as an author, I was amazed at the benefits and
infrastructure provided to me as a screenwriter. Health care. Pension.
Residuals. Minimums. There’s not a day I’ve worked in L.A. that I’m not
grateful for these benefits—benefits that provide for my family and
that allow me to continue to do my job. These benefits were won by the
sweat and courage of men and women who had much more to lose and who
took greater risks than those before us now. These benefits were won by
the sacrifices others made for future generations, for me.

membership, this year, cannot dissipate those gains. We cannot cave in
to an unfair deal that writers decades from now will be saddled with.
This is a watershed contract. Future writers will look back to this
year, to this contract, to us, every day as they live with what our
resolve and respect for writing yielded. They can look back on us with
the same gratitude we look back on those who came before us. Or they
can look back with disappointment.

We’d be well served to remember that this contract isn’t just for us.

Dishing on Disher

Perry Middlemiss clued me in to this interview with Garry Disher, the author of the Wyatt novels. I’m a huge fan of the Wyatt books, which I read in one week after novelist Scott Phillips made me buy them all when we were browsing in a bookstore together. Although there are six Wyatt novels and they read like one, big continuous story, so you really must read them in order…if you can find them. They have been out-of-print for years.

Wyatt is an Australian version of Donald Westlake’s Parker, which was Disher’s inspiration. Disher says:

Yes, Wyatt was inspired by the 1960s
Parker novels of Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark). I’ve
acknowledged this several times in interviews. In fact, I think we
crime writers build on the traditions and authors who have come before
us — not copying or stealing, but adapting and building on. I liked the
cool, focussed, meticulous air of Parker, and I liked the
crime-from-the-inside nature of the books, and started with that kind
of character and approach when I set out to write crime fiction (I’d
already had “literary” novels and stories published). I didn’t want to
create another kind of private eye or cop, it had been done before. I
know I write about a cop in the Challis novels, but they differ from
other types of cop novels in several senses: a regional rather than a
city setting; a main cop, but also an ensemble cast of other cops; a
main crime, but also several minor crimes; the public, workplace and
private lives of the characters; an interest in the sociology of a

[…]we never learn much about him (and nor should
we), but I think he’s a more rounded and complex character that Parker.
Also, the Wyatt novels are longer than, and structured differently
from, the Parker novels. Ultimately, Wyatt and his capers are
inventions, my inventions, not mere copies. Yes, they’re a tribute, and
I had fun with the Parker model, but I worked hard at the writing and
ensured they succeeded on their own terms.

The best news in the interview is that Disher is finally working on a new Wyatt novel after a long foray into police procedurals (with the Inspector Challis novels). I can’t wait.

Unsold Animated LOST IN SPACE Pilot from 1973

Hanna-Barbera made this unsold, Saturday-morning pilot back in the early 1970s, perhaps hoping to capitalize on the success of the animated STAR TREK. Supposedly, Fred Freiberger…the writer/producer responsible for the awful third season of STAR TREK and the loathed second season of SPACE 1999, had a hand in this “reimagining” of LOST IN SPACE. The only cast member from the original series who participated was Jonathan Harris, reprising his role as Dr. Smith (now a Biology professor!).

Money Shot

Me_and_christaI ran into Scribe-award winning author Christa Faust on the picket line yesterday. Her book MONEY SHOT just came out this week and is already getting lots of positive buzz. I forgot to thank her again for talking up tie-ins, and her Scribe Award, in her
Dec. 3rd Publishers Weekly interview:

"The award itself is a wonderfully cheesy golden star that sits in a
place of honor beside my desk with other bits of writer’s mojo like my
letter from Richard Prather and a small statue of the Blessed Virgin
dressed as a Dominatrix.

Some people look down their noses at media tie-in work and
think of tie-in writers as a bunch of soulless hacks just out to make a
buck. I love tie-in work and have infinitely more respect for
hard-working writers like Lee Goldberg and Max Allan Collins than I do
for self-styled literary geniuses who are still sitting in
mom’s basement polishing their unpublished masterpiece. It was a hell
of an honor to be recognized by my fellow tie-in writers. They really
understand how tough the job can be."

Crime Scene Picket

I just got back from picketing in the rain with hundreds of myPc170278
fellow TV crime writers and the casts of their hits shows outside the headquarters of the AMPTP, which we wrapped in crime scene tape. It was a terrific event that once again demonstrated how amazingly unified and determined the Guild is. The AMPTP has greatly underestimated our dedication to our cause. It was also great to see so many supporters from SAG and the DGA, as well as novelists like Michael Connelly from the Pc170285
Mystery Writers of America and Christa Faust from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Celebs included the stars of NUMBERS, CSI, THE UNIT, RENO 911, BONES, and DEXTER and showrunners like Carlton Cuse (LOST), Shawn Ryan (THE SHIELD), Rene Balcer (LAW AND ORDER) and Naren Shankar (CSI). And there were mobs of reporters there as well, so I’m sure we got a lot of press out of the event.Rabkin_and_robert_patrick
(Photos 1. The AMPTP wrapped in crime scene tape. 2. Me and Michael Connelly. 3. CSI’s Marg Helgenberger and Rene Balcer read the indictment against the AMPTP. 4. William Rabkin and Robert Patrick from THE UNIT.Pc170281 5. Striking Writers and actor Keith Carradine listen to speakers.)

Fannish Rights

"We envision a future in which all fannish works are recognized as legal and transformative and are accepted as a legitimate creative activity. We are proactive and innovative in protecting and defending our work from commercial exploitation and legal challenge. We preserve our fannish economy, values, and creative expression by protecting and nurturing our fellow fans, our work, our commentary, our history, and our identity while providing the broadest possible access to fannish activity for all fans."

That, my friends, is the mission statement of the Organization for Transformative Works, a new organization that hopes to legitimize fanfiction. I kid you not. When I first saw the site, I thought it was an elaborate practical joke, like But it isn’t. The movers and shakers behind this effort include Naomi Novik, a fanficcer turned acclaimed fantasy novelist, and Dr. Robin Reid, the Texas A&MUniversity professor best known for writing fiction about real people like Viggo Mortenson having sex with other male actors.

They steal the creative work of others and then have the balls to say they want to "defend their work from commercial exploitation."  Their hypocrisy is staggering…and apparently boundless. One of their "missions" is "establishing a legal defense project and forming alliances to defend fanworks from legal challenge." (I wonder if they will also form an alliance with the group that polices plagiarism of  fanfic by other fanficcers) Novik writes on author John Scalzi’s blog:

"We just want to enjoy our hobby and our communities, and to share our creative work, without the constant threat hanging overhead that an overzealous lawyer at some corporation will start sending out cease-and-desist notices, relying not on legal merit, but on the disproportionate weight of money on their side."

With that kind of reasoning, I’m surprised they haven’t recruited Lori Jareo to lead their organization. 

While their staggering hypocrisy might be lost on the majority of fanficcers, the foolhardy nature of this effort isn’t. For years, studios, publishers, authors and other rights holds have largely turned a blind eye to the blatant copyright infringement that is Fanfiction as long as fanficcers haven’t tried to profit from it. Or, as John Scalzi puts it:

"To the extent that fandom currently does what it does, it does it because of the benign neglect or tolerance of the copyright holders of the works the fans are working with.

Now many fanficcers seem justifiably concerned that the OTW’s efforts to claim ownership of their copyright-infringing works could end this fragile détente. Elfwreck writes on Scalzi’s blog:

"Sooner or later a copyright owner is going to issue a DMCA notice to a fan, a fan is going to run to OTW (or alternately, OTW will offer its services), and an expensive legal suit will be on and if the case is of sufficient profile, then other copyright owners, alerted to the existence of a group who says they can in fact no longer control their copyrights from people who claim to be fans, will start giving the fannish community quite a bit more attention, and probably not of the good kind…"

Scalzi envisions it happening like this:

"If and when a fan, told by, say, NBC Universal to take down her Battlestar Galactica fanfic, decides to make the legal argument that her work is transformative and fair use, […] and the fan shows up in court with the assistance of an umbrella group dedicated to the proposition that all fan work is legal and transformative, I suspect the era of benign neglect or tolerance of fan activity will be at a sudden and pronounced end. Because now the fans are saying, why, yes, this really does belong to us, and corporations who have invested millions in and can reap billions from their projects will quite naturally see this as a threat. From there it’s all DMCA notices and entire fan sites going down."

The OTW claims that "fannish work," an umbrella term for fanfiction and the "Real People Slash" that Dr. Reid gets off on and even such fetish fanfic as  "DUE SOUTH Masturbation" stories, is "transformative" rather than "derivative," that it is a unique and important expression of feminism, and therefore should be legally protected. John Scalzi observes:

"OTW’s claim, however, appears predicated on a fairly expansive idea of what "transformative" means under the law, and also that all fanwork is transformative, apparently by the mere nature of being fanwork. OTW is perfectly in its rights to make such a claim, but they are fairly significant claims, and I don’t imagine that OTW’s interpretation of the law would go unopposed if it were presented in a court of law."

[…]I suspect that a judge asked to consider a possibly infringing works’ "fannishness" as a relevant criterion for evaluation will toss that out early, chosing instead to look at what the law actually requires."

One fanficcer offered this comment on Scalzi’s blog:

"I’m not going to stop [writing fanfiction] either way, so I’d like to see the rules set on fandom’s terms, even if it is a segment of fandom that I and others don’t wholly agree with. There’s a risk in founding OTW at all, of course– it scares me to think of what unintended consequences might arise due to the whole thing. But there’s also a risk in sitting on one’s hands and doing nothing. If this history ends up being rewritten by victors that are not part of fandom, I’d at least like to know I didn’t stand still and do nothing while they were at it."

I want to see the day OTW legally challenges J.K. Rowling’s right to prevent people from disseminating stories about Snape and Voldemort gang-banging Harry Potter and Ron. Or the day the OTW fights for Robin Reid’s right to create and distribute stories about Sean Bean having sex withViggo Mortenson. Because when that day comes, instead of legitimizing fanfiction, they will kill it…not only in a court of law but in the court of public opinion.