Random Thoughts

My wife likes that show on HGTV where people look for a house to buy. But the show has gone dramatically downscale. The buyers on the show these days have no money to spend, no taste, and are wowed by any house that can’t be hitched to the back of a pick-up. I saw an episode where a couple went ga-ga over a house that was surrounded by a chain-link fence, was next door to a vacant lot full of garbage, and had ceilings so low, they had to walk through the whole place like Quasimodo. The host of the show called the house "lovely" and a "dream home."

I really liked NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. The small parts were as brilliantly cast as the leads.  Now I want to read the book…and then watch the movie again to study how the adaptation was done.

After watching a bunch of episodes of KITCHEN NIGHTMARES  on BBC America, I won’t eat at a restaurant anymore unless they will let me go into the kitchen, check it for cleanliness, and scream obscenities at the chef. It seems like the only way to guarantee a safe and tasty meal.

I watched the original 3:10 TO YUMA, which was a great movie, took a break for a couple of hours, and then watched the remake. Everything about the remake was bigger, though not necessarily better. In the original, the stagecoach driver has a rifle…in the remake, it’s a Gatling gun. In the original, the hero goes up against six or seven guys in the finale…in the remake, it’s more like 50. I’m surprised they didn’t re-title the movie 6:20 TO YUMA.

I haven’t watched ER in three or four years. I tuned in this week for the much-hyped return of Gloria Reuben and because a friend of mine was guest-starring, too. My friend was great…but when did ER become TRAPPER JOHN MD?

The WGA is on strike. Jay Leno is a WGA member. He wrote for his show.  It’s open-and-shut. I don’t understand the controversy or see any gray area here. Yes, he’s a nice guy and paid the salaries of his staff while the show was off-the-air…but now he is scabbing and the Guild is right to go after him for it. He broke the rules. He should be treated like any other writer who writes for a struck company during the walk-out.

I finally got around to watching BORAT. It was the funniest movie I have seen in years. I think my favorite bit was the dinner party. The deleted scenes were hilarious, too, especially the one at the dog pound.

I got an unsolicited email from a complete stranger who has written a novel and wanted me to ghostwrite a re-write because, and I quote, "I am not a writer." I wrote back and said I wasn’t a ghostwriter and that I wasn’t interested in rewriting his book. He wrote back and asked how someone who isn’t a writer can write a book if writers won’t help him? I suggested that he take a writing class and become a writer himself. He wrote back that he doesn’t have the time because he has a real job.

14 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. While Leno pretty clearly broke the rules (although Finke’s reporting suggests that he may, repeat may, have reasonably thought that he’d gotten a waiver, or that he was permitted to write for himself), I’d hesitate to go after him; he’s influential, widely reputed to be a true stand-up guy, and has stood by his crew and the writers during the strike. He’s earned some latitude, and it would likely not be wise to alienate him.
    OTOH, I’m not a writer. I don’t know what the effect would be of not going after him on the rest of the Guild.

  2. I can tell you right now that the adaptation of “No Country for Old Men” is about as faithful a transition from novel to screen as I’ve ever seen. What was especially effective was the way the Coen Brothers retained the lean, spare dialog from the movie, and allowed movies to do what they do best: tell the story through pictures. There’s less dialog in this movie than any I’ve seen in ages, none of it wasted, but the long stretches of quiet moments and revelatory landscapes do as much as all of McCarthy’s prose did in the book.

  3. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on Cormac McCarthy’s style of little to no punctuation. His other choices are brilliant, but a newcomer could never get away with that these days.

  4. Richard: Leno may not need big name actors. It looks like politicians looking for softball questions can always count on Leno.
    Greg, NOT going after Leno becuase he’s a big shot would be a PR disaster for the guild.
    I was disappointed in his decision, too. What exactly can the WGA do to him?

  5. Dusty,
    I was just thinking the same thing – politicians and reality show participants and athletes will be on all the time. Maybe people should turn off the tube and start reading again!

  6. He doesn’t have time to take a class because he has a real job. How does he think “real” writers became writers. Because they worked at it every spare moment they could find.

  7. Regarding “The WGA is on strike. Jay Leno is a WGA member. He wrote for his show. It’s open-and-shut.”
    It isn’t open & shut .. it seems quite clear that Leno is **NOT** breaking the WGA rules.
    The WGA constitution is quite detailed on what their rules can, and can’t cover.
    For example, they can’t stop a member such as Leno writing blog entries and articles for newspapers, because the WGA doesn’t cover that kind of writing. These are things that can be done without breaking the rules because the WGA constitution is clear that it simply doesn’t cover that type of writing.
    To quote the WGA agreement, there is also another type of writing that isn’t covered:
    “.. material written by the person who delivers it on the air unless such person has written material for delivery by another person as well as by himself/herself on that particular program”
    (See Article 1.A.5)
    There are more disclaimers, but it seems pretty clear that the WGA’s own rules (that were voted on by the membership) don’t prevent any person (member or otherwise) going on TV and presenting their own material.
    As long as Jay Leno doesn’t write lines for anyone else on the show, he is allowed to write his own material (even during a strike).
    If the WGA doesn’t like that, they can rewrite the rules, and put the new rules to a vote. But until then, it seems clear.

  8. That’s interesting about Leno, Mark. I thought it seemed odd that he was getting cited before.
    What about writing novels if you’re a WGA member – is that covered as an exception as well?

  9. I haven’t seen “No Country for Old Men.” But I sure have heard about it. And this made me wonder about, in comparison, mysteries vying for the Edgar Awards. Here’s a short list of all the contests “No Country” won before the Academy Awards. There’s the: New York Film Critics Circle, Boston Film Critics, Toronto Film Critics, Phoenix Film Critics, San Diego Film Critics, Oklahoma Film Critics, National Board of Review, Washington D.C. Film critics, Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics, Florida Film Critics, Las Vegas Film Critics, Southeastern Film Critics, Film Comment Critics’ Poll, Chicago Film Critics, Detroit Film Critics Society, St. Louis Film Critics, Utah Film Critics, and the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. These total 18, and this is the short list. In all, and counting, “No Country” has appeared on over 250 top ten lists. These include Time magazine, Rolling Stone, USA Today, The Miami Herald, Variety and AP to name a few. Oh. And the Golden Globes.
    This kind of buzz, that builds, is obviously a great thing films have going for them.
    What about the Edgars? Fans and critics read the books and should be able to vote for their choices, I would argue, in a series of escalating contests. Imagine a writer winning a city-wide contest. Then a state-wide contest. Then a regional contest. Then a national contest. Then an international contest. Wow. And all the way along, there are galas and parties and buzz and controversy building excitement.
    It seems to me that the Producers of the films are the ones who make the effort to get all these film contests going. It seems that Writers should do the same with the Edgars, or some other award to be created. A Canadian writer, Jane Urquhart, won the French Award for Best International Novel, I think it was called, and she received the instant attention of readers around the world. Does the White House or the Congress do the same for us?
    Anyway, I’m sure glad that “No Country” is having some success. It is creating, maybe, a blueprint for others to follow.


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