The Blue Cat Screenplay Competition: An Interview With Gordy Hoffman


November 15th, Midnight PST will be the final deadline for the 2015 Blue Cat Screenplay Competition. I’m very delighted that due to some last-minute scheduling, the founder and judge of Blue Cat, screenwriter, director and teacher Gordy Hoffman kindly took time out to tell us about what this very trusted screenwriting contests. Blue Cat is in its sixteenth year and has helped launched numerous writing careers, including “Rodham” screenwriter Young Il Kim and “Prisoners” co-writer Aaron Guzikowski among many others.


Gordy has been a huge asset to aspiring screenwriters since he launched Blue Cat and you’ll hear why as shares some of his great insights here. Every script that enters Blue Cat gets written feedback. Gordy tells us how writers should handle and address that feedback. Gordy also tells us what a writer should be concentrating on before they enter any contest. The good news, it’s all about the writing and not marketplace dictates. If you’re an aspiring or amateur screenwriter, inside or outside LA, looking for a door to get into the business, contests like Blue Cat are a great way. Find out why here and Enjoy!


Here’s how you can enter Blue Cat:

Blue Cat is on Youtube here. Screenwriters, listen and watch these interviews, they’re just a wealth of insight:

You can follow Gordy Hoffman on twitter here:


And Blue Cat here:


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Halloween Special: An Interview With Rick Dominicus

All Hallow’s Eve is upon us soon and if you’re like me, you want to watch, rewatch or discover some horror movies this week.  To that end, I’m very excited that Rick Dominicus sat down with me this week to discuss that very subject. Rick’s been working in Hollywood for over 14 years now as a librarian, archivist and assistant editor for hit shows like “WWE Legends House,” “The League” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” An assistant editor does not get the editor their coffee and dry cleaning. The job of an AE is actually managing and organizing enormous volumes digital media making it efficiently accessible.

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When he’s not making editors lives easy, Rick is making his own life and his friends’ life easier with a vast collection of movies from all over the world. Rick puts the word “cinephile” to shame and he kindly took time from his hectic workload on the reality show staple “Shark Tank” to give us a detailed guide on both iconic and hidden gem horror movies. Films from Europe, the far east and from various generations are discussed. And in the end, we transition from horror to horrifying as we delve into movies that challenge the bravest viewers from whatever time of year. A great listen for anyone looking to discover movies off the beaten paths:

You can find  Rick on Twitter here:


For more on Rob Zombie’s Directors Cut for Halloween II:

For more on the films of Ti West:

For more on the films of The Soska Sisters:

I Saw The Devil Trailer:

Night Of The Creeps Trailer:

The Exorcist Trailer:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Dead Squad: An Interview With Stephen Scaia

On episode 16 of the Express, I finally welcome one of my oldest and closest friends, writer Stephen Scaia. Along with his writing partner Matthew Federman, you’ve seen Stephen’s writing and producing credits in the shows “Judging Amy”, “Jericho”, “Warehouse 13” and “Human Target.” He’s also co-written the feature-film adaptations of “Y: the Last Man” and “Ghost Recon” coming soon a to a theatre near you. These guys know how to tackle big set-piece action stories without forgetting about the core of what makes those stories great – the characters.

Steve Solo

Stephen offers a unique perspective in this interview as he and Matthew recently adapted the graphic novel “Pax Romana” and this month released their “Dead Squad”, their own original comic book. “Dead Squad” is a part-action, part-horror, all-existential story about a group of soldiers who are surprised to find themselves alive after being killed on a mission. Stephen tells us the different challenges between adapting existing material and creating something completely new across different mediums. We also get into some character analysis for some of your favorite movies which offers great insight on how to get to the root of the characters you’re writing.

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Stephen has been a great friend and guide to me as a writer. You’ll find out why in this interview which offers great advice for aspiring writers but also some practical nuts-and-bolts reminders for seasoned vets. And it’s Austin Film Festival week so of course we touch on that as well. Enjoy…

For more on Dead Squad:

Here’s another interview with Stephen along with his writing partner Matthew Federman

For more great insights from Stephen, check out his twitter:


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


See You At The Driskill: A Look At The Austin Film Festival


Sorry it’s been a while with a written blog dear reader but I’ve been too busy interviewing industry professionals for your listening pleasure. Thanks again to everyone who’s listened, shared and spread the word about the podcast. It’s very much appreciated and as long as people are tuning in, I’m going to keep recording.

The next two week’s shows are scheduled despite the fact that I’ll be taking a trip to the most liberal part of the Lone Star state for arguably the best festival for screenwriters in the country. How liberal is Austin? There are streets where it’s legal for women to be topless in public. For real. I think you can figure out how I found that out.

Don’t get excited, this blog isn’t about public displays of bosom. Get excited, this blog is about the Austin Film Festival. Now, it’s not meant to be a foolproof guide and I don’t claim to know everything about the festival. I should also point out this blog is not authorized or under the auspices by the AFF, it’s just me talking about it. Last year, I was fortunate enough to place 2 of my scripts into the Second Round of the 2013 Festival and it was an amazing, even career-changing experience. It was also the Festival that validated me as a writer and industry professional in ways I didn’t realize.

The AFF opened my eyes to new ways of looking at writing. This blog and podcast are actually the direct result from a panel with “You’re The Worst” (GREAT show) showrunner and writer extraordinaire Stephen Falk. I met some people whom I like, admire and look forward to years of friendship with. I got to shake hands with some great writers who wrote some of my favorite movies. I even get a tutorial on Westerns from this gentleman:


With the festival coming up next week, I figured this was a good time to share some do’s & don’ts I learned from my experiences last year.  Take all this with a grain of salt but I dare say these are some pertinent suggestions from myself and others.


The Festival can actually start before you get to Austin. Last year for me it started on the plane as my slumber was awakened by folks in neighboring seats talking about the movies they were showing at the Festival. An hour of friendly conversation later, business cards were exchanged and the networking was underway – 35,000 above Arizona.

Don’t accost people in the airport of course but chances are you’re flying with fellow festival goers. And they’re probably just as scared and nervous of the festival as you are. After all, we wouldn’t be writers if we were great with people. If the opportunity presents itself to talk to folks, take it. The filmmakers I spoke to on the plane (unless they read this) have no idea how much they put me at ease. It was a relief to meet folks who were excited, friendly and nice while still in the air. My nervousness about the festival went way down.

(More on those films at the bottom of the page. They’re great, check ’em out)


Speaking of nerves, if you’re a 2nd Rounder or above, the spotlight is a bit on you. You’re now a recognized writer and hopefully at the festival you’ll meet that one agent or manager who can open all of Hollywood’s doors for you to finally make it as a professional screenwriter. Only one problem – that person doesn’t exist. There is no agent or manager who can magically do that. Sorry. Keep reading though and keep writing because there’s actually better (if slower) solutions.

Ed Solomon, the screenwriter of “Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, “Men In Black” among many others, brought this home in the very first panel I went to. He was at the very first AFF and reminded us all it’s not about finding the agent who will help you leapfrog above everyone else. It’s actually about meeting everyone else, working with them, making connections with other creative people to ultimately improve your craft and become the hot commodity that all the managers and agents chase. I can’t remember his exact words but he was almost like a football coach telling us how to play the game right and smart as opposed to just rushing the field, trying to kill the other team.

As screenwriters, we’re in competition for jobs and work sure, but we’re all in it together. We’re all on the same team.


Talk to everyone. Everyone. Every. One. Talk to directors. Talk to filmmakers. Talk to writers who write the same stuff. Talk to writers who write different stuff. Talk to writers who’ve written 30 scripts. Talk to writers who’ve not even finished their first screenplay. Make sure you say Thank You to the staff who are working tirelessly to make this happen and love movies as much as we do. Talk to everyone. 

No, that magic agent isn’t there. Probably isn’t there 😉 But that long lost writing soulmate might be. The Paul Schrader to your Martin Scorsese. The Larry David to your Jerry Seinfeld. The Stone Cold Steve Austin to your Vince McMahon may be standing next to you in line.  Talk to them.

If you talk to someone and you don’t like each other or it’s awkward, who cares? Wasn’t meant to be. Move on.

For many folks outside of LA, it’s hard to find other writers or people who understand the life & struggles of screenwriter. The AFF is your chance to be in the room with like minded people. Talk to them.

I collected something like 160 business cards last year. For real. I counted. I handed out well over 250. Again, I counted. You’re not going to stay in touch with everyone. Just the way it is. And not everyone is going to stay in touch with you. Life happens. (Stupid life) But you will strike up real connections and friendships the wider net you cast.

I’ve probably stayed in touch with about two dozen or so people from last year’s AFF. Over the past year, they’ve been friends and colleagues and we’ve helped each other stay sane in the good fight of screenwriting. This year, we’ve already get plans to reunite and catch up at some of the events.


One of the bad news about Austin is there’s a fair amount of lines. Lines to get into the big panels with the wicked famous guests, lines to get into the movies, lines at the BBQ. Lines. Lines. Lines.

Here’s the good news. Lines are a great place to meet people. Some of the best conversations I had last year were in lines. No one likes lines. Everyone’s exhausted. Everyone is a writer. Ice is broken. Get talking. About your favorite movies, about your favorite scripts, about your favorite BBQ joint you’ve found. If the person you try talking to is unreceptive. No worries. There are THOUSANDS of other writers to meet and connect with. But lines in Austin are not an annoyance, they are an opportunity.


My friend and colleague Stephen Scaia used this line to describe the festival to me. He won the festival overall a few years back and on next week’s show talks about how that launched his career.

What does this mean? Be yourself, be cool and comfortable but remember you are trying to make a good impression. I have a T-shirt collection that is such that I could wear a different T-Shirt every day of the year. I only wore T’s on my travel days. The rest of the time, button downs and suits. In other words, what I would wear to a meeting or interview.

In some ways the festival is one giant meeting. Yes, it’s wicked fun but it’s also intensive. For screenwriters, the AFF is like graduate writing programme crammed into a weekend. You’re doing panels, taking notes, sitting under the learning tree all day long. (Some days, yeah no lunch – eat later or bring a granola bar to munch on during lines.)  You’re going to be getting schooled by award-winning screenwriters, directors and producers. The very best in our field is going to be at the front of the room telling us what’s what. Dress accordingly.


Promote yourself. It’s OK. Doesn’t mean you should walk around handing out your script but it’s OK to tell people that you are in fact not just a writer, but a good one. We get so self-conscious about our writing, don’t we? It’s actually easier for us to promote other writers as opposed to ourselves sometimes. Pretend you are another writer. Be confident in the work you are doing. You are telling a story. People out there want to hear it.

AFF validated me more than I can say. You will hear professional writers talk about the same problems you face when writing. Listen to their process and how to solve some of those problems. Sure, they may be running shows on TV and may have written 50 movies. But in Austin, they’re not on the mountaintop. They’re side by side with you and they’re there to tell you to “Keep Writing.”

Chances are as you listen to them describe their struggles and problems, they will be sending you the message that you are in fact, doing it right.


Don’t hog all the questions during one of the roundtables. At the roundtables, you may only get 20 minutes with one of the industry pro’s. Don’t do all the talking so that no one else gets in. I had to block some guy last year who asked like 20 questions and  kept cutting off someone else who had only 1.

Don’t hog all the time with one of the big celebrities. There’s a fair amount of accessibility at the AFF. Some of the celebrities are happy to talk to everyone. But don’t hog all their time and not let anyone else in. It’s rude, it’s ugly and it’s unprofessional. Here’s the other thing. If you really are truly making a connection with that celebrity and they want to work with you and hire you, that’s all the more reason to get out of the way. You’ll get to talk to them all year. Some of us may only get a few minutes at the BBQ or in the bar. It’s a lot more impressive to be gracious and generous than snobby and inconsiderate.

Unfortunately, even at the best events with great people, it happens. Don’t be that guy.


DO IT!  Oh my God. Sooooo Good.  There’s a sampling from a ton of Austin restaurants. So yeah, you get to walk around talking movies with folks while professional chefs shove lobster mac & cheese, smoked salmon and authentic Texas BBQ at you.

Honestly, I can’t imagine going to AFF and not going to this event. And fortunately, the actual festival starts in earnest at noon the next day so don’t worry, have another glass of wine.


We’re all adults and I’m not trying to lecture. There’s a lot of meeting, chatting, networking that happens at the parties and in the bars. And if you’re like me, you like a glass of beer. By all means, imbibe but bear in mind this is still a professional event. Share a beer with your favorite writer. Don’t get frat house drunk and puke on his shoes. Don’t be remembered for all the wrong reasons. A few people last year got the wrong kind of drunk at a few of the parties. Trust me, people notice. Have some beers. Don’t have all of them.





Last year I met some folks who wrote two dozen screenplays. I also met some folks who either hadn’t finished their script or felt their script wasn’t ready for the festival. I actually admired those folks more because they’re taking the time to sit under the learning tree and are striving for excellence.

Some people, though, don’t agree. Megan’s scripts weren’t in the festival last year but she came with me for the experience and the education. Yes, we did run into a few folks who actually looked down on her for assuming she didn’t place. That’s not cool. Festivals are subjective and not the only way one’s writing is endorsed or noticed.

We ran into a guy who ignored Megan but would only talk to me because I was a second rounder. Then a few minutes later he met a finalist and completely ignored me. I consider this “Wrong Festival Etiquette 101.”

Because here’s the thing – this year, Megan is a twice 2nd Rounder. We both have won various contests this past year. And for AFF this year, I’m going with Megan for the experience and education. Just another writer there to enjoy myself. But I know I will bump into at least one person who will think I’m not a qualified writer.


You’ll meet a lot of filmmakers. You probably won’t be able to go to the all of their movies which sucks but there’s only so many hours in the day. But GO. Make sure you see some of the films there. Yes, there’s marquee premieres but with all due respect to the big guns, there’s some real gems in the various competitions. Great stories that studios or more commercial production companies can’t/won’t tell. Also, if you’re thinking of making a short or an independent feature someday, definitely make the time to hit at least movie a night. Take notes at the Q & A. Put the Q in Q & A. Talk to the filmmakers and learn from their mistakes and ingenuity.

And quite frankly, screenwriters, even if you’re not going to direct one day – talking to directors only helps us to look at our scripts in new and inventive ways.


Don’t let any of the above mentioned don’ts affect your good time. Last year I flew back to LA thinking “There was my career before Austin and then there’s my career after Austin.”  What’s happened to me since?

-Completed Three Pilots in the past year.

-One of those pilots won The Chicago Screenplay Contest and The Hollywood Screenplay Contest.

-That same pilot also has ratings of  7,8 & 8 on The Black List. I got an email saying I’m in the top 5%. 

-Also finished a feature script from scratch.

-Launched this blog & podcast.

-The networking skills I learned tripled my contacts.

-Those same networking skills have led to consultation employment in that field.

-I remain unsigned but as I write to you my work is with several management companies with meetings scheduled for the next few weeks.

So, yeah, the Austin Film Festival was very very good for me and if you’ve not entered a script yet, I highly recommend making it the best you possibly can, enter it into the festival and save up for the trip. Because I believe immersing yourself into a weekend with some of the very best screenwriters and filmmakers is worth going whether you place or not. 

And of course, you might want to walk up the street to Gordoughs:



Keep your eyes, ears and mind open. Take in all the knowledge from the pros. Learn from people who write different stuff from you. Use everything you see and hear to arm yourself for coming year as you keep writing, keep producing and keep fighting the good fight.

If you are at AFF and would like to meet, I’ll be in the Driskill bar. You can’t miss me, I’ll be the guy with the pens.

For more on the AFF Experience, check out my interview with Mike Sundy:

Thanks to the filmmakers I met on the plane. Check out their great movies:


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Aspects Of Entertainment: An Interview With Ron Greenfield

This week on the Handsome Timmy D Express I am privileged to welcome Ron Greenfield, one of the most experienced and distinguished guests to appear so far.  Ron started his career as a film graphic artist, producing and designing trailers for  such critical and commercial hits like Star Trek, Arthur, Reds,  Raiders Of The Lost Ark and Victor, Victoria.  He then switched direction and went to work for CBS/Fox, as the Creative Director, when home entertainment was first beginning to make an impact as he created the campaigns that kept an entire generation of kids on pins and needles, promoting the Star Wars trilogy when they were first introduced on videocassette.


In Los Angeles, Ron served as the Senior Director of Creative Services for the legendary Republic Pictures. From there he went onto become an award winning Vice President (Marketing and Creative Services) for the well-known, Hollywood icon, Aaron Spelling (Charlie’s Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place).   He also worked as Chief Marketing Officer for the firm of Software Magic, where he helped develop gaming concepts with Electronic Arts, Atari, Activision, Dreamworks Interactive, Mattel, and Lucas Arts.

Aspects Banner Logo

Today Ron endeavors to share his knowledge and experience with people learning their way in this business. His website,, as well as his two books are invaluable reads to anyone wanting to understand the in’s and out’s of the entertainment industry. Perspectives on Entertainment, is available on and there is a FREE DOWNLOAD of his other book, A Sneak Peek Behind The Curtain of the Entertainment Industry, on his website.

A Sneak Peak Behind the Curtain Second Draft Version 3

I was delighted that Ron took time out from his busy schedule to talk with me about the creative life and how that works in conjunction with the business side of Hollywood.  Ron brings a lot of wisdom to this interview and I’m sure you’ll enjoy our talk, as I did:

Ron’s fantastic website Aspects of Entertainment can be found here:

Ron’s Book Perspectives Of Entertainment is available here:

The Hollywood Journal article by Ron about working with Sidney Lumet:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Santagate: An Interview With Mike Sundy

On Episode 14, I sit down with fellow screenwriter Mike Sundy. I met Mike last year through mutual friends at the world famous Austin Film Festival. The AFF is one of, if not the very best, festival for screenwriters. Mike tells how he used being a finalist in the AFF to improve his skills in both writing and networking. I’m happy to report Mike joins us fresh on the heels of optioning his AFF Finalist script – “Santagate.”


In addition to screenwriting, Mike has also written a children’s book and works as a Digital Asset Administrator for bay-area based animation studio Pixar (yes, that Pixar.) During this interview, Mike provides some invaluable, practical advice for how to honestly evaluate your own scripts in order to improve them with each draft. He also gives a great methodology for finding trusted readers and we both share our experiences on how to best utilize the fantastic Austin Film Festival. I hope you enjoy…

For Mike’s fantastic new children’s book:

For more musings on writing from Mike check out his highly recommended blog:

For more on the Austin Film Festival:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Hello From South Africa: An Interview With Rizelle Januk

In the most multicultural episode of the Express yet, I’m proud to be joined by actress, model and director Rizelle Januk. Rizelle is of Indian descent and joins us all the way from the nation of South Africa. I didn’t know a whole lot about Indian culture or South Africa so this episode turned out to be a real education for me. And despite the geographical distances Rizelle offers insight that will be useful to anyone on the outside of Hollywood who dreams of getting inside one day.


Rizelle talks about the challenges of chasing her dreams while living in a region that doesn’t have many opportunities. And what opportunities do arise, many casting people don’t know where to fit her because of her mixed heritage. However, Rizelle is not taking “no” for an answer and has created her own opportunities in several international independent films. She also highlights how to use social media for networking and how to capitalize on any kind of break, such as being a finalist for Miss Earth in 2010.

In order to make the time difference work, I had to stay up a bit late and Rizelle had to get up a bit early so please pardon any tiredness you may hear.  Overall, this is a great message about following your dreams, no matter what the restrictions. I hope you enjoy…


Rizelle’s Acting Reel Can Be Seen Here:

Rizelle has more on her Youtube Channel:

The Girl Makes Indie Homepage:

You can also find Rizelle on Twitter:


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Drink Tank: An Interview With Christopher J Garcia

This week on the Handsome Timmy D Express, I am thrilled to welcome to the show one of the most unique individuals whom I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, Christopher J Garcia. Chris is the curator the Computer History Museum in the beautiful bay area city of Mountain View. He’s also a writer, filmmaker and a Hugo-Award winning editor of a the acclaimed fanzine, The Drink Tank. (For real, check out his acceptance speech below, it’s amazing – heart-warming and honest)


One of Chris’ many projects when he’s not sleeping at all is the Silicon Valley Science Fiction Short Film Festival. Chris goes into a great detail about what makes this Festival special and why he’s so passionate about it. He also gives a great look into the independent film scene from a distribution perspective and how the recent changes in the industry could mean great news for low-to-no budget filmmakers. And it’s shocking how little he and I, two lifelong wrestling fans, actually talk wrestling. But we do sidestep into the universe of Dune for a bit. I hope you’ll enjoy:

For more on The Silicon Valley Science Fiction Short Film Festival:

Rock The Block: The Story Of The Cactus Club:

You can find more Chris’ work on his youtube channel:

The Computer History Museum:

Chris’ famous Hugo Awards Speech:

And his Award winning fanzine:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Writing When Hired: An Interview With Stephen J Llorens

Alright, let’s get into some nuts and bolts screenwriting stuff. My guest for episode 11 is Stephen J Llorens who joins us fresh off the heels of his very first job as a screenwriter for hire. That’s a bit different than selling a spec as you’ll hear. Stephen will tell us how he got hired and gives a rundown on exactly how to be professional screenwriter when trying to meld his vision with the notes of his employers. It’s a tricky tight rope that screenwriters have been walking for decades and Stephen offers us some great insights on how to take those steps.

SJL Headshot

Stephen and I also compare notes on how to tackle writing amidst a busy life. Stephen is the proud father of two very young children so if a parent with a toddler & infant can find the time to finish a script, the rest of us have no excuse. And if that’s not enough, we also found some time to further explore some of the diversity issues that challenge minority writers in 2014. Stephen & I haven’t spoken in a while so we were excited to catch up. As a result this week’s show runs a little long but I don’t think you guys will mind. Enjoy:

For more on the films made by The Asylum:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


The Story So Far: Episodes 1-10


It has a been a whirlwind journey for me since I launched the Express. I went back and forth about this venture because I knew it would require a lot of commitment which would take away from fictional writing and day jobs. But I’m a writer and expressing myself is what I do so I made that commitment and happy to report zero regrets with that decision so far. Incorporating other creative talents into the podcasting element of this blog has been possibly one of the best things I’ve done since joining the entertainment business 11 years ago this very month.

Over the past 6 weeks, I excited and humbled by the talents I’ve been able to wrangle onto the Express. A diversity of occupations, I felt, was vital to give this little venture any credibility. Along the way, we’ve explored the challenges facing women writers, compared writing styles between the US & UK and even managed to pay tribute to recently departed icons. I’ve also been able to pair up with the fantastic Dan & Travis show on iTunes and have joined them on the wonderful Chronic Rift network. I’m overjoyed with the results so far and quite frankly, am very pleasantly surprised at how quickly this little venture has grown.

I’m just a one man operation self-promoting on social media but I am exploring some exciting promotional options to help spread the word. I’m excited about the listenership numbers (47 countries have either read or tuned in) but based on all the positive feedback I’ve received I’m going to do my best to keep building the audience. To that end, I continue to ask: If you enjoy what you’re reading and hearing on the Express, please don’t be shy about posting on facebook, twitter, pinterest, twiter, google+, wherever and yes, twitter is probably the best promotional tool we have right now. We live in a time of saturated media so we all have to promote the things we enjoy so they get noticed.

Thank you very much especially to Megan Karasch, Tim Bannock, Mark Askren, Arnold T Blumberg, Shannan Leigh Reeve & Chelese Belmont of Beleeve Entertainment and Dan & Travis for their extra efforts in shouting the word about the Express far and wide.

If this is the first post your reading, welcome, I hope you enjoy!  Below are the first 10 episodes of the Handsome Timmy D Express which explores various aspects of the creative life and screenwriting and the entertainment business from various corners of the entertainment business:

EPISODE 1 – World-renowned DJ Matt The Cat takes us through the world of radio – and soul music:


EPISODE 2 – Award winning screenwriter Megan Karasch gives a guide to self-publishing and writing sitcom pilots:


EPISODE 3 – Director & Digital Media Producer Mike Doto on what a director does &  the ever-changing digital landscape:


EPISODE 4 – Awesome podcasters Dan & Travis one what podcasting actually is all about:


EPISODE 5 – Independent film producers Beleeve Entertainment on following your vision & their movie Penumbra:


EPISODE 6 – Director of Television Research Brian Veys tells us how TV Ratings work:


EPISODE 7 – Writer Joseph Lidster on writing about & with depression as well as some Torchwood & Dark Shadows:


EPISODE 8 – Publicist AJ Feuerman on image management & brand-building:


EPISODE 9 – College Professor & Author Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg on the mythology of zombies and comic books:


EPISODE 10 – Stand-up Comedian Talia Harari remembers Joan Rivers & talks about the challenges facing women in comedy:


And it’s just the beginning, Episode 11 will be posted tomorrow (and it’s wicked good) and I’ve got some great guests lined up throughout the fall and winter. The Handsome Timmy D Express goes onward…

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Remembering Joan Rivers: An Interview With Talia Harari

Quick-note: WordPress has assured me that the audio issues from last week have been fixed, but if you do have any problems playing the interview, post a comment & I will immediately address it. Thank you for bearing with me & I hope you enjoy the episode.

Time for Episode 10 of the Handsome Timmy D Express and this week I welcome Talia Harari who’s worn many hats in the world of reality television. However, this week we talk mostly about her experience in the world of comedy as she’s been doing stand-up in the Los Angeles area for 4 years now.


Talia takes us step by step through the process of coming up with material and the terrifying last few moments before walking on stage to make strangers laugh. She tells us about the rush of making a crowd laugh and those terrible nights when they don’t. And we revisit the topic of challenges facing women in comedy – and entertainment in general.

Talia Joan

Also, Talia goes into great detail about working on set with Joan Rivers who recently passed making the world a lot less funny. This episode, I think, serves as a fitting tribute to a comedy icon especially because this contains some very not safe for work language so put the kids to bed, it’s time for Talia Harari on the Handsome Timmy D Express…

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


No Apologies: Why I Love The New England Patriots


I expect to get more heat and hate mail over this blog than any I’ve previously posted. By far.

I like the game of American football. In fact, it’s my favorite sport. I don’t watch college football. Sometimes I’ll tune into a game on a lazy Saturday afternoon. I like watching the USC-UCLA game along with 90% of the viewing audience in Los Angeles County (even though we’re not a football town somehow.) But I do watch the NFL. I enjoy fantasy football and thanks to Peyton Manning and the risky pickup of Vernon Davis while he was still out, I’m glad to report I won my fantasy league last year. I get to drink out of a grail-like cup that says “PIMP” in sparkly letters. (I’ve already warned my fellow fantasy competitors that if one of them wins, there maybe a residue flavor of scotch in said Pimp cup.)

All that’s fine – except for one rather important detail. My favorite team is the New England Patriots. The most hated team – possibly – in all of sports.

To lay down some context, I’ve had many a fierce debate with fellow wrestling fans. In the wide and varied world of Doctor Who, I certainly have had differing tastes with other fans who are close friends of mine. Hell, when I told an unnamed writer of the show why Sylvester McCoy was my all-time favorite. He was flabbergasted; I explained myself. He said “That all makes sense! I shall have to rewatch some of his stories.”  However, I avoid the forums of these and other topics at all costs because, as I will explore in another blog soon – endless debate about subjective topics on the internet is an extraordinarily effective way to waste time.

But never in any other of my interests and passions, be it writing, be it film, be it POLITICS, have I received more venom than I have for being a Patriots fan. Now, I’m not talking about harmless teasing or things like that. I remember in Vegas one time as I left an elevator some guys saw my hat and called out “Pats suck.”  Frat boys drunk at the pool, who cares?  No, I’m talking about deeper disrespect I’ve run into.

One time at bar, a guy said to me after a game, “I cannot shake your hand. You’re a Patriots fan.” Okaaaay. On more than one occasion, “I cannot like you. You’re a Patriots fan.” Some of these people are kidding. I can assure you, dear reader, some of them are not. Whatever good qualities I have as a human being are negated by my liking the Patriots in the eyes of some.

Someone not that long ago yelled at me, demanding I admit that Brady was not that good as a Quarterback because I dared to defend some of his overthrowing in last year’s AFC Title game against the Broncos. (Overthrowing a receiver to avoid an interception is not an unusual play during a game.) “Admit it! Admit he sucked in that game!” No. No, I won’t. In fact, I won’t admit Tom Brady sucks in any game. Why should I?

Of all the sins I’ve committed in my life, wearing a flying Elvis and cheering on Tom Brady seems to be one of the most unforgivable.

The New England Patriots have become the villains of football. It’s as if they beat up Johnny Unitas with baseball bats and spray painted “nWo” on his back. They’re the Master aging David Tennant to small, old man. They’re Darth Vader cutting off Luke Skywalker’s hand. They’re the Four Horsemen beating up Dusty Rhodes. The Patriots defense may as well be comprised of Severus Snape, The Trinity Killer, Roman Grant, Walter White, Mickey Donovan and Joffrey Baratheon. They’re the Cobra Kai:


What malfeasance did they manufacture for such malice?

Like any Patriots fan, I want to tell you they didn’t do anything but I’m gonna try to be objective here.

Much of it has to do with Spygate.  The infamous videotaping scandal that has plagued the Patriots since the fall of 2007. Everybody’s heard the story. Head Coach and indefatigable public curmudgeon but private nice guy Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick stole defensive signals and then he was able to decipher defenses for Tom Brady to pick apart. Even though really, the Patriots and Belichick were punished for videotaping the signals – and the commissioner believed they were lying during the investigation. The fines were relatively small for multi-millionaires – though I’m sure it’s annoying to have to write those checks. And the team was docked draft picks. As NFL punishments go, it was actually pretty strict.

But there’s a funny thing about this. It’s not illegal to steal signals. It’s not. If I figure out your signals by hook or by crook, all’s fair according to the NFL rulebook. It’s just you can’t videotape and archive them. A great article on this topic from the New York Times:

The Times piece doesn’t completely exonerate the Patriots. But Bill Cowher does. Mr. Cowher was the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost to the Patriots in several hard fought playoff games. Mr. Cowher watched Super Bowl dreams dashed by Handsome Number 12 and Coach Belichick.  So what does he have to say about the videotapes?  He thinks the Patriots are the greatest team of the 2000’s:

So whenever someone wants to call the Patriots cheaters, I will always ask for a resume of head coaching NFL games that is more experienced than Bill Cowher’s.

That’s the thing, though. Bill Cowher’s a pro. He knows and understands just what it takes to go into winning an NFL game. A lot of fans think they know. Maybe some do. But the working hours of an NFL Coach are usually something like in the office between 5 and 6 AM then back home between 10 PM and Midnight. Something tells me, if it was that easy, these guys would be working from home more.

“But Tim, how come the Patriots LOST two Super Bowls since SpyGate?” (SIGH) In 2006, Peyton Manning and the Colts launched the biggest comeback in NFL playoff history to eliminate the Patriots. In the second half of the game, after being down 21-3, Peyton carved up a formidable Patriots defense. After the game, Coach Belichick figured that he was never going to be able to defend Peyton Manning. He needed to concentrate on a high powered offense that could outscore Peyton Manning as the NFL became more and more of a Quarterback league. So in the offseason, how you doing Wes Welker and Randy Moss? Under more scrutiny than any other NFL team in history, the Patriots high octane offense took them to 18 wins in a row. Lifelong LA Kings fan Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football called the team’s gameplay “High art.” So what happened in the Super Bowl? The Giants defense shut them down. And in a rematch a few years later. It seems defense still wins Championships. Some will argue that Peyton Manning’s 2013 Denver Broncos offense was even better than the Pats 2007 murderers row. And they got eviscerated by the Seattle Seahawks defense in the NFL’s version of Wrestlemania. Coach Belichick has been rebuilding the Pats D the past 2 seasons and is going all-in with one of the greatest defensive players of this century in Darrelle Revis. (Granted, if Brady connects with Welker two years ago against the Giants, they‘d have won but it looks like the NFL teams are striving for a formula of strong regular season offense, strong post-season defense).

So if Bill Cowher can let it go and is so confident about the Patriots not cheating – why aren’t so many fans? Because the Pats were hated long before SpyGate. But that scandal gave people are reason to say “A-ha! They’re not so good after all.”

The Patriots won 3 Super Bowls. In 2 of them, they were underdogs. Against the Rams they were impossible underdogs. Even after they won, I was told by many a football aficionado “The Patriots are not supposed to win Super Bowls.”

They upset the balance. They rocked the boat. They bucked the system. Imagine if this year, Dennis Allen coaches the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory. The football world will not cheer the underdog. They’ll be in stunned silence. (And many still hate their previous owner despite him being on the other side of the ground.)

When the Patriots kept winning I just kept hearing, “I’m sick of your team.” Maybe Cowboys fans went through this in the 80’s. I don’t know, I was too concerned with what was going to happen when the Mega-Powers exploded to watch football back then.

After years and years of losing, Boston fans were overjoyed at seeing their once lovable loser Patriots as World Champions. God forbid, they enjoyed and reveled in this moment. Many accused the Boston fans of being too cocky or arrogant about their team winning. I’m being totally honest here – I’ve seen sports fans as arrogant, cocky and full of their shit as any Patriots fan. For what teams? All of them. Every fucking sport. Every sports fan when their team is winning is kind of a dick. It’s one of the perks of cheering for a winning team.

(And to those who said they called the Patriots a great team or dynasty as being premature, um, Patriots are always predicted to make the playoffs. Like always. Sorry, but not sorry.)

One time during the 2007 run, I saw another Patriots fan in Ralph’s. We both had on Patriots T-Shirts so we were able to recognize each other. I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. But for five minutes, right there in front of the four for a dollar ramen, we talked about how awesome it was to see Tom Brady outplay defenses with “North By North-Wes” Welker and Randy “This Stone Collects No” Moss. I’ll never forget, I said to him, “Everyone hates us this year.” He leaned in close and said, “Fuck ‘em.”

I can’t really blame him. It feels like us against the world. If everywhere you go all you hear is, “you suck and you’re cheaters and you’re a bad person for liking this team,” it makes you more than a little hard.  And it also doesn’t help that Football is a world that demands credentials.

I somewhat followed the Patriots during the Parcells and Bledsoe era in the late 90’s. I picked up Boston sports during my time there. I worked in a sporting goods store, I made friends with many locals, I was friends with people at other schools. Sports was what it should always be – a unifying topic that people can talk about to break the ice, shoot the breeze, get to know each other. But the deeper I got, the more unfriendly it got.

The football world is absolutely the one I’ve received the coldest reception in. Doctor Who? I’ve gotten hugs from writers, producers – and Doctors.  Wrestling? I ended up working there. I was welcomed into the ring when I trained as ref by seasoned pros. I worked for several WWE reality shows and was told by several major superstars, “You should have worked in the wrestling business.”  Screenwriting? Every single writer and producer with more experience and success than I has given me one message – “Keep writing, you’re good.” Football? “Papers please.”

OK, I’m late to the game but I’ve been watching football for over 15 years now. I’ve had to explain to people I watch games with how this tackle opened a running lane or how a wide receiver was able to outsmart the defense to get wide open. I’ve correctly called plays and sequences. But I’ve still got people in my life who say, “Well, you’ve not been watching football THAT long.” So fucking what? I was a wrestling encyclopedia within 4 years of fandom. I’ve been told “You don’t know anything about football” because I liked a certain announcer on ESPN. After this long, I know how many downs a team gets. Some asshole on twitter told me “LOL, maybe you shouldn’t watch football” because I objected to how Richie Incognito treated Jonathan Martin during their recent scandal. OK, and I guess pussies like Tom Jackson, Mike Ditka, Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson should stop watching football as well.

I’ve read, studied and listened to people who know a lot more about football than I do. These are the most basic tenets of learning about a subject but they seem to carry little weight to many who follow the pigskin from one side of the field to the other.

One of the ugliest examples of this was actually when the Pats went 16-0 in the regular season in 2007.  I was at the airport, wearing a Pats baseball cap, waiting to board a flight back to LA. A woman walks up to me, Washington fan, said Congratulations on the Pats accomplishment. That was nice of her. She asked me how long I’ve been watching. I told her my interest started with the Parcells era but she cut me off with “So you’re not a real fan.” “Excuse me?” I asked more incredulous than mad. “Real fans grow up on a team, not pick them up later once they start winning.” I nodded and turned away ending the conversation. It was Christmastime so I decided not to reply with “well, you’re a real cunt.”

Seriously, who the hell is anyone else to judge one’s fandom or level of interest? I’m cheering interceptions so loudly the cat has to leave the room, I’m cheering touchdowns like The Ultimate Warrior charging Randy Savage at Wrestlemania VII, I’m laughing at all of Bill Belichick’s humorless jokes, “Of course we game-planned for him. He’s best defensive player in the league.” FUCK YEAH, YOU TELL ‘EM COACH! But this fucking asshole who knows me all of 20 seconds is going to tell me I’m not a real fan because I had the temerity to watch Doctor Who on Sundays in my youth instead of football. Not the sports world’s best ambassador.

Of course, I am answering my own question a bit here. Sal Paolantonio made a good point once when he said, “Baseball is America’s pastime, Football is America’s passion.”

It’s a wonderful game filled with strategy and overcoming direct, attacking adversity to achieve a goal. Football, to me, is the perfect metaphor of the struggle for greatness. You heard me say in a recent post that a recent screenwriting defeat for me was akin to having the game winning touchdown in my hands but then it hit the grass right between my fingers. We get so caught up in the struggle that the game becomes a downright religious experience.  Of course, this isn’t true just for football fans. Every sports fan feels this about their game or games.

It’s fun to get caught up in the passion but like a lot of religious endeavors, a misguided righteousness sets in about good and evil. And like many religious extremists, many of us choose to see the fans and rival teams as evil. Fights break out. A rationalized prejudice sets in against the opposing teams colors. Men are hit over the head with bricks in parking lots. My God.

The Patriots thanks to a major scandal, not knowing their place and an unsmiling coach are now seen as evil. 

The New Orleans Saints had a bounty program to injure opponents. And I mean, INJURE opponents. Audiotape of orders to break 49ers Running Back Frank Gore’s neck were released to the public. I’ve had people try to argue that SpyGate was worse. Yup, stealing signals is worse than intentionally trying to end a man’s career with paralysis.  Rationalization knows no limits.

Maybe I’m not a true football fan because I don’t have that hatred toward other teams. If the Patriots are my “God” well, I haven’t found a devil.  Of course, I hate the Jets. I hate the team. But only when they’re on the field. Rex Ryan saved his job last year but taking one of the worst lineups he had and coached them to a decent 8-8 record. He was on his second rookie quarterback and third offensive coordinator. He was the coach most likely to get fired in September 2013. But he survived. Can I honestly not respect that? I’d be damn happy to shake Rex Ryan’s hand if I ever met him. I mean, I’ll still boo the fuck out of his team. But only during the game. I can’t be that mad at the Jets. They’re just doing their job – trying to win the game. Just like my Pats.

Side-note: A few years ago, I almost worked on a show with Bart “Anyone Can Be Beat” Scott. Goddamn, I hated him after that playoff game. If I ended up working with Mr. Scott I have NO DOUBT that not only I would be able to work with him, I’d probably like him – and hell, we’d maybe even have a laugh about the whole because at the end of the day, despite the intensity the point of a game is fun. I’m actually sorry I didn’t get that chance. It’d be a good story. I owe you a cold one, Bart Scott.

I also know quite a lot of Jets fans. I don’t hate them. Quite the opposite. I like them a great deal. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve met a Jets fan I don’t like. I’m gonna hate them because they like a rival team, one many of them grew up on? How ridiculous is that?

The Pittsburgh Steelers. I can’t even hate them that much. Bill Cowher’s comments helped with that. But also when the day comes that Bill Belichick hangs up his hoodie, I’d love to see Mike Tomlin in Foxborough. Probably won’t happen but still, a Super Bowl winning coach who’s guided his team through their own scandals and survived some ups and downs. And the Steelers presented WWE icon Bruno Sammartino with an honorary Steelers Jersey with the number 1. I cannot in clear conscience hate the Steelers. One of the best, toughest opponents for the Pats. Always great games, a great rivalry.

And as I said, Goddamn Peyton Manning practically won my fantasy league last year single-handedly. One week, injured Victor Cruz and underutilized Emmanuel Sanders were my starting receivers to put that in perspective. I booed Peyton Manning as much as any heel wrestler in my day. But I’ll tell you this, when he announced his comeback with the Broncos, I was terrified he was going to destroy his neck. Peyton Manning killed some Patriots’ Super Bowl dreams. But that doesn’t mean I want to see the man paralyzed. Peyton deserves to ride off in the sunset, waving to a standing ovation. He’s one of the best quarterbacks ever and deserves respect from every football fan – whatever their qualifications.

I don’t know – maybe because I’ve seen how ugly some of the hatred in the football world is, it makes me try to not hate another team that much. Even though hating another team is easier than hating all the other things to hate about football.

I know a few folks who have said, “I morally just cannot watch football.”  I don’t have an argument for them. This blog was almost about how I wasn’t sure I could watch football this year. Everyone saw the news, Josh Gordon several marijuana offenses, 1 year suspension. Ray Rice beats his girlfriend into unconsciousness, suspended 2 games.

To his credit, Commissioner Roger Goddell changed the domestic violence rules to rightfully stiff penalties and admitted like a real leader should do, that he got it wrong and is trying to make it right. Will Ray Rice be grandfathered into this new punishment? Nope. Goodell did the right thing but somehow DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA avoided much of the heat, even though they’ve fought hard to protect players accused of domestic violence and much worse.

Football is a violent game. It’s a violent world. I don’t believe that excuses it from being an out-of-control, savage one. No team is safe from scandal. Michael Vick ran dog-fighting. Ben Roethlisberger has sexual assault accusations in his past. The list is actually depressingly long. Three days after the stiff penalties for domestic violence, 49er Ray McDonald was arrested for that very crime. To his credit 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has said that if it’s clear McDonald is guilty, he’ll no longer be 49er.

The number of arrests amongst NFL and College Football players dwarf those in other sports:

Drunk driving, vehicular homicides, domestic violence, spitting drinks in women’s faces, battery, shooting themselves in the leg wearing sweat pants to a night club – what the hell are these people doing off the field?

Even the Patriots had to deal with Aaron Hernandez who’s now accused of multiple gangland-style murders. The Patriots cut Hernandez before he was even charged (NFLPA still fighting for practice bonuses) but still, I’ve got people saying to me “Yours is the team with the murderer.”

(deep breath)

Yup, we cut him at the first sign of trouble and we’re the team with the murderer.

Maybe it’s just easier to hate the Patriots and before us, the Raiders and Jerry Jones, than it is to confront the dark underbelly at the heart of America’s passion. I’m not saying it is, I don’t know. I do know that much of this, incidents like Richie Incognito and Aaron Hernandez and Ray Rice gave me pause about watching football again this year. A month ago, I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to tune in. For reals. Hell, even Wes Welker just got suspended for banned substances.

But then I watched the Patriots – Carolina preseason game. Good/bad, right/wrong. I’m just being honest. Seeing Bill Belichick on the sideline with his brow so furrowed, you could stick a pen between the folds, seeing Tom Brady throwing a 30 yard touchdown to Shane Wol-Vereen. And now Jimmy “Don’t Call Me Janeane” Garoppolo is bringing his own handsome spin to the Quarterback position. As I watched the game and the Patriots play really well (preseason I know) I can’t help it dear reader. All the scandals and arrests and all the ugly shit went away. My Pats were playing and kicking ass and it was good. 

So yes, I am going to watch football. The change in the domestic violence policy is great step forward. There’s a lot more to be done to fix the game. Hopefully, the arrests and character flaws will lower to a point where some of my friends who object to football will someday say “This game is great, I get why you liked it so much.” But there’s one thing that won’t change.

And that’s my love of the Pats. Because no one has presented me with a good argument for why I shouldn’t like them. We stole signals but we’ve not tried to kill guys on the field. We’ve had scandals but have done our best to cut the bad apples. Bill Belichick is a jerk you say? Find me any uber-successful individual who’s not described as jerk at times and I’ll tell you you’re not looking close enough. Like I said elsewhere, achievement forgives most sin.

And for the hell of it, here’s a picture of Tom Brady:


The Patriots are my team. They’re my corner of Boston that I’ve taken with me to Los Angeles and will be with me wherever I go. They’re my memories of Cleveland Circle, Kenmore Square and the Green Line. Being in Foxborough Stadium a few years against the Jets was magic. I knew no one around me but for 3 hours we were all old friends. Oh and I saw Pats fans & Jets fans have some very friendly conversations. I was waiting for “Ebony And Ivory” to break out with them during tailgating but no such luck.

So people can keep booing, I ain’t gonna stop cheering. Waiting for me to say the Patriots are cheaters? Grab a magazine, it’s gonna be a long wait. Want me to admit when the Patriots have a bad game or totally fuck it up? That’s for the announcers. As a fan, I owe no such contrition. I owe no apology to anyone out there who doesn’t like the Patriots or the fact that I like the Patriots. Anyone can cheer for whatever sports team they like whenever they like. Rules are for classrooms and the workplace. Fandom is a place for passionate enthusiasm, whatever the origin.

And here’s the best part, even though everyone’s booing – they want to be in the nWo. They want to be The Master. They want to be Darth Vader. They want to be a Horseman. They want to be Severus Snape, The Trinity Killer, Roman Grant, Walter White, Mickey Donovan and Joffrey Baratheon. (OK, maybe not Joffrey) And most – if not every – NFL player wants to be Patriot. 

“Would I play for Coach Belichick? Yes. What football player wouldn’t?” – former Baltimore Raven and future Hall Of Famer Ed Reed.

They all hate that flying Elvis until they wear it. They all want to wear the nWo T-shirt. They all want to win.


For the fellow Patriots fans reading this, without any further ado, I give you your 2014 New England Patriots:

Tom “Tom Brady” Brady

Vince McMahon Wilfork

Dan Connelly’s Drug Store

Sebastian What’s In Your Wallet? Vollmer

The Jet Killer Rob Ninkovich

Stephen The Big Gostkowski

Darrelle And Back Revis

Ryan Wendell Pierce

Matthew And Starring Mario Lopez As Slater

He Went To Jerod Mayo

If Calvin Johnson Is Megatron, Then Julian Edelman is Galvatron

Kyle Copley, Next Stop Arrington

Danny The Amendola Of Rock & Rolla

Devin The People’s McCourty

Brandon LaFell Which Is French For The Fell

Patrick Everybody Wang Chung Tonight

Kenbrellichick Thompkins

Nate The Unknown Solder

Michael Doctor Hoomanawanui

Crossing Jordan Devey (it was Boston show, remember)

Devilin’ James Develin

Marcus Cannons Roar

Shane Wol-Vereen

Joe Versus The Vellano

Stevan Ridley’s Believe It Or Not

From Jacked Central, Rob Gronkowski

Sean Connery As Darius Fleming’s James Bond

Nate Go Ahead And Call Him Lil Ebner, I Dare You

Tavon Never Off Wilson

Josh Will Put On The De Kline

Chandler “There’s A Quarterback Under Your Shoe, Mister” Jones

Don “Tell Us Everything You Know About The Dolphins” Jones

Chris No Relation To Don Or Chandler Jones

Dont’a Officer Moses Hightower

Referee Bill Alfonzo Dennard

Malcolm The Butler Did It

Brandon Fortune Favors The Bolden

Ryan Allen Not Adams

Logan’s Run Ryan

Zach Moore Than A Feeling

Damon Puts The Harmon In Harmony

Aaron On The Side Of Caution Dobson

Michael President James Buchanan

James White Bulger

Cameron “Mad That Darius Got The James Bond Name First” Fleming

Danny Breakin Aiken Hearts

Jamie Collins

Bryan Stork From Ork

Dominique Things Don’t Come Easly

Jimmy Don’t Call Me Janeane Garoppolo

Sealver Approval Siliga

Tim Davis Wright OK, OK, OK…How about –

Tim Never Wrong, Always Wright

Brian All The Cool Guys Are Tyms

OK, fine – Brian There Are Some Who Call Me…Tyms

I’d give Bill Belichick a nickname but these can sometimes change from week to week and Coach Belichick can’t even think about next week’s nickname right now.




Doctor Of The Dead: An Interview With Dr. Arnold T Blumberg

I’ll be posting a written blog tomorrow but I’m delighted to be posting my third interview in a row. This is a real informative interview with a gentleman who wears many hats. Dr. Arnold T Blumberg is a college professor, a writer, a podcaster and a publisher. Arnold’s expertise lies within the genres of horror, science fiction and comic books. You may have seen Arnold on nationwide news shows and documentaries as his expertise in all things zombies is often sought out in the media. In fact, he’s such as an expert, he teaches very popular college courses on zombies and comic books amongst other pop culture subjects. Though as you’ll hear, those classes are not pop culture trivia cake walks. Arnold instructs people on how not to be passive viewers and to understand the themes of the media they enjoy.

Arnold T Blumberg

Arnold is an experienced podcasting host of not one, not two but three different podcasts exploring many aspects of pop culture. It’s fairer to say that Arnold was my co-host this week not my guest. Here, he gives a fascinating overview of zombie mythology in the context of American history as well as the universality of comic book stories and of course, we talk about Doctor Who. I’m happy to say I learned a lot about these topics and I hope you will as well.  Enjoy:

For more of Arnold’s podcasting adventures, you can find him below:

The G2V Podcast:

G2V YouTube Channel:

Doctor Of The Dead Homepage

Who’s Talking Homepage

Arnold on twitter:

I’d post to Zombiemania – but a new edition is coming soon so we’re gonna plug it then.

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Confessions Of A Blogging Publicist: An Interview With AJ Feuerman

A day late but not a dollar short. A very interesting Episode 8 is on deck.  This week I welcome publicist AJ Feuerman. AJ’s experience in public relations runs a wide spectrum of many projects of varying media platforms. She’s done work for artists such as Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones and The Who. As well as for TV shows like Glee, Homeland and Burn Notice. She’s also done PR for the feature films Rampart, Puncture and Trespass (but she is not biased against movies with more than one word in their title.)


In this episode, we discuss the challenges of image management for huge big budget projects as well as branding yourself in the internet age. We also break the fourth wall a little bit talking about the world of blogging in the ever-changing digital landscape. And an avid Whovian, AJ and I discuss the brand new season of Doctor Who with the brand new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, I hope you enjoy.

Quick-note: There were a few moments were lost internet connection during the interviews so you may hear some edit points where I cleaned those up. It should not effect any listening enjoyment.

You can find AJ on the internet here:

Unfortunately we couldn’t find the Vanity Fair article referenced in the podcast but AJ sent these along:,,1045856,00.html

And a little bit of Doctor Who fun:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Writing With A Dark Shadow: An Interview With Joseph Lidster

Before Doctor Who returned in 2005 to become the huge global phenom it is today, a company called Big Finish got the license to produce first-run, full-cast audio dramas. And I’m happy to report they are still going strong to this day. Many of the stories were as good as any Doctor Who on TV (before or since) and several authors in particular stood out from the crowd in taking the good Doctor to brave, new frontiers. One of those authors was Joseph Lidster and I’m very excited that he’s my guest on today’s episode.


Joseph’s story “Master” which was part of the Doctor Who’s 40th anniversary villains trilogy in 2003 was a gothic murder mystery that unabashedly explored the nature of good and evil within one’s soul. I hated Joseph Lidster when I first heard this play because I thought it was simply brilliant. I remain inspired by the piece’s clear cut characters and unapologetic tackling of difficult themes.

  DW7C_161              DW7C_71          dsa21thecrimsonpearl_cover_large

When Doctor Who did return, the credit “Written By Joseph Lidster” found it’s way to our screens on the highly popular spin-off series’ Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, where Joseph continued to take the lead characters on dark – and often humorous – explorations of their nightmares and their fears. Joseph has since written for the TV show Wizards and Aliens which was produced by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford. Also for Big Finish, Joseph has written for and produced their licensed line of Dark Shadows audio plays. He’s currently working on a new mini-series for the line coming soon called “Bloodlust.” 

With the shadow of Robin Williams’ suicide still cast, this is an open and honest discussion about writing about and with clinical depression. Joseph and I swam in some deep waters here which I feel are very beneficial to the overall conversation as we try to expand our understanding of depression and mental illness.  I hope you enjoy:

The Big Finish plays we talked about are available here:

For more on Bloodlust, coming soon:—bloodlust

-Big Finish produces several ranges of fantastic audio plays. Check them out here:

 Joseph Lidster can be found on the internet here:

The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


Follow Your Bliss: 38 Things I’ve Learned

I turned 38 last week.  Like most new ages, it doesn’t feel very different from the previous one. Not at first anyway. But 38, almost 40. Preventing accidents, I’m approaching a theoretical halftime.  And many a blogger and writer has made a list of the 38 things they’ve learned in their near 4 decades on the planet Earth. I’ve found many of those lists interesting and informative, so I’m gonna share 38 life lessons.  These are not meant to be absolute truths, but after learning some of these the hard way, I can vouch for their authenticity.

Oh and the last one just might be the meaning of life.

1- People who are very successful often talk about gratitude. People who are very unsuccessful often talk about blame.

2- Sometimes you have to take the heat. On the chin, like an adult and live with it.

3- I find weeks to be a better measurement of productivity than days. You will have bad days but those are quickly forgotten about if it’s been a good week.

4- Jealousy is the most misinformed and destructive emotion.

5- Grammar is the artist’s enemy.

6- Achievement forgives most if not all sin.

7- Don’t be mad at the young. One’s age and inexperience are truly things that can only be solved by time, no matter how much older people want them to hurry and grow up already.

8- There were no good old days. Older and previous generations have fucked the world up so much and so many times, they’ve got a lot of balls to tell the next generation how to do things.

9- Equality is a no brainer. Treat those who are different the way you’d like to be treated.

10- No one is waiting to hand you an opportunity. People will help you, but they don’t know who’s worth investing their time in so you have to ask. Be gracious should you receive their help.

11- Embarrassment is a choice.

12- One of my proudest accomplishments has been the elimination of boredom. We all have the sum of human knowledge in our pockets. No one should ever be bored.

13- Telling people to “wake up” is not a great way to get them to open their minds. Not a conversation starter.

14- It’s better to have a pet.

15- Don’t be the person that smells. The marketplace is filled with fragrances and scents. Regular grooming is not too much for society to ask.

16- Apologies, when you think about them, don’t amount to much.

17- The reasons why some people like you are sometimes are the very same reasons other people dislike you. Always listen to the people who like you. People who dislike you are irrelevant to any of your decision making.

18- Be part of the solution, not the problem.  Everyone knows and can see what the problems are.  Not everyone knows how to offer and implement solutions.

19- If you don’t like how something is being done, you just may have to do it better yourself.

20- Clichéd but true: “Woulda, coulda, shoulda” hold no weight.

21- It’s always better to look forward than back. Nostalgia is nice but it can be a trap. Today’s events are tomorrow’s nostalgia, so enjoy them while they’re here.

22- People making fun of you is not a valid reason to stop doing something.

23- There is such a thing as luck. Especially when it’s accompanied by hard work, perseverance and determination.

24- The response to success and failure is the same: do better. Never stop trying to improve.

25- Old wrestling proverb that’s true: “When everybody looks good, everybody looks good.” Even in a hyper-competitive environment, “Every man for himself” doesn’t do anyone any good.

26- Speaking of looking good: there’s no avoiding that physical attraction plays a part in a successful relationship. But that doesn’t mean said physical attraction is based upon what society defines it as.

27- Spend time with positive people who believe in you. Never spend any time with people who do not contribute to your self-esteem. Avoid at all costs the negative people who don’t want you to take the plunge because they’re afraid to jump.

28- “Why do you feel the need to say that?” is a question that answers itself. Especially for writers. We only feel the need to say things.

29- No one has the right to tell anyone else to “shut up.” No one man’s voice is more important than another’s.

30- “Doctor Who” may be one of the great metaphors for life. If you lined up the 18 year old version, the 25 year old version and the 38 year old version of me, you’d see three distinctly different people, but all the same man. I bet that’d be true for you as well.

31- I’m always stunned when I hear others or myself saying “Things never change.” The world changes radically and drastically all the time. Domestic violence, racial discrimination and even the absence of seatbelts were all once social norms.

32- Many very miserable, unhappy people have a lot of money.

33- People care very much what other people think of them.

34- Talent begets talent. Spending time with people more talented than you will only help make you more talented.

35- There is no justifiable provocation for abuse or cruelty.

36- When in doubt, be kind.

37- Adulthood is a myth. We may be older and wiser in some respects but we’re all just bumbling through, trying not to trip over the furniture and get a grip on our own individual pain.

38- Joseph Campbell is absolutely right. This philosophy, I believe, will solve many, if not all of a person’s uncertainty and stresses about life. Seriously, I can’t even begin to tell you how many of my problems disappeared when I finally understood and lived by this philosophy:  “Follow your bliss. If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


The Crazy Ones


Writers write things when tragedy happens. And as a member of the entertainment industry, how can I not share thoughts after the sudden and shocking suicide of Robin Williams?

As tributes go, just look on your facebook. It’s accurate to say that everyone’s social media is packed with personal favorite quotes, scenes and memories of Robin Williams who reached truly iconic status. Everyone from the local cab driver to Rowdy Roddy Piper to President Obama expressed deep sadness online at the loss. Even ISIS took a break from their attempted genocide to mourn Robin Williams.

To us, Robin Williams was more than an actor or comedian. He was part of the very fabric of our pop culture. He was a real-life wind-up toy never slowing down. He was a lovable alien and not just because of his Mork from Ork character. He was the same as us but different. It seemed like there was no possible embarrassment for his outrageous antics and while some of his movies weren’t always successful, he always was. Somehow Robin Williams was indefatigable, unstoppable, tireless. The world without Robin Williams – did anyone ever contemplate such a thing?

But he wasn’t those things. Not really. He was a human being. So many who have worked with him have expressed the memory of his endless kindness. But beneath that kindness was a vast mystery and that mystery is one we, as a people, are just scratching the surface of.

In the wake of Mr. Williams death, something extraordinary and courageous has happened. Social media feeds are now also being filled with people’s own battles with “mental illness.” I’ve seen blogs, facebook posts and even short but profound tweets in which people are opening up about this, the most misunderstood battle of the human experience. Battles, wars even, with depression, bipolar disorder, suicidal tendencies, you name it, think of whatever mental ailment and I guarantee you know not someone – but MANY people who’ve battled it.

And in addition to the many people you know, maybe you yourself are one caught in such a torment. Yet, with such a universality of cases, one thing many of those caught in the throes of this illness feel is a desperate sense of loneliness.

I wrote “mental illness” in quotes because as term it’s incredibly inadequate. The wide ranging scope of mental illnesses out there is hard to fathom but we shove them all under a catch-all umbrella thinking that explains everything. Imagine walking into a restaurant and when the server asks what you’d like to drink, you answer “Liquid.” THAT’S how we as a society treat “mental illness.” God almighty, talk about lunacy.

Yesterday was a very emotional day for me because I learned some things about quite a few people that I did not know. That I would not even suspect in a million years. We’re all talented at hiding our deepest shame from the world at large, aren’t we?

Now again, privacy forbids name-dropping, those people will tell their stories to those they want to share with, but I believe I can say I’ve had several close friends battle with deep mental illness before. In some cases, I hope I was able to help. I’m ashamed to say that I know of mutual friends who didn’t take these battles with mental illness seriously. I can’t point fingers, though, I’m guilty of the same with others I wasn’t very close to.

But yesterday’s public outpouring, which was almost confessional, from so many about their mental illnesses really brought home something I’ve wondered about casually for a long time and am now more convinced than ever.

We are all crazy.

And I don’t mean that in a bad, judgmental way. I mean that in the “it’s time to come to terms with who the crazy people are” way. THEY are actually US.

Do you know how many different mental illnesses there are? 300 and counting.

Do you know how many people suffer from a mental illness? 61 million a year, 14 million permanently.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg:

It’s time to admit, we know nothing about this stuff but make critical judgments and engage in, sometimes very cruel, behaviors armed with that complete lack of knowledge. Except for our own personal experiences, of course. Because if you can look in the mirror and say you’ve never experienced some sort of mental imbalance, some sort of emotional instability, some sort of destructive irrationality – sorry, but you’re lying to yourself and you will never convince me otherwise.

My deep confession? Well, it’s hard but I’ve shunned the mentally ill for much of my life. Unfortunately – and in some cases tragically – I or people I love have been harmed greatly by some people’s mental illness. The specifics of these events are not for me to share, dear reader. We’ve got to keep somethings private on the internet.

Because of those events, I must confess to stigmatizing people unfairly. It was wrong. It’s shameful. It’s something I have to change, because that viewpoint doesn’t fit in today’s society. Not anymore. Now, that doesn’t mean I can completely forgive those who inflicted the harm I’m referring to. I’m not sure I believe that mental illness constitutes a get-out-of-jail free card for some. But that  also doesn’t mean I should hold their actions against those who suffer from something completely different.

Goddammit, mental illness, the more I type the term, the more inadequate it becomes.

So what can we do?

I’m not a medical professional, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a sociologist. I’m not a escapologist or any other kind of -gist. I’m just a guy with a keyboard who strings some words together to offer to whoever’s reading what I think is some reasonable food for thought. These are by no means the cure-alls, but I’m not one to accept the notion, “There’s nothing we can do to change things.” (Seriously, how does anyone have this worldview? If this was true, I’d be drawing a deer on a cave wall instead of writing this.)

However, if anyone tries to tell me social pressures have nothing to do with these conditions, I’m not even going to listen to their argument. That’s as ridiculous as saying there’s no climate change.

How we treat each others has an enormous influence our individual self-esteems and our collective self-worth. “I don’t care what other people think.” Yeah, you know who really believes that? Psychopaths and sociopaths (also both forms of mental illness by the by.)

I’m not advocating the elimination of joking around and making fun of each other’s foibles, but I think there a certain attitudes and preconceived notions that need to change.

Suicide is NOT a coward’s way out – Fox News’ Shepard Smith (one of the reasonable voices over there) lashed out against Robin Williams calling him a coward. After a barrage of outrage against him, he’s had to apologize and rightfully so. “It’s cowardly,” “It’s selfish,” “It’s weak.” These are the things we say about people who are in such anguish the only recourse they can comprehend is the ending of their own life. It’s not 1994 anymore. It is not accurate, appropriate or in anyway acceptable to call suicide the coward’s way out. It also helps bring no further understanding to the anguish, guilt and hopelessness that bring people to their own destruction. If all we do is sneer at someone’s prison, we’ll never find the key to help get these people out.

“You have issues” – We need to stop saying this to people. We ALL have fucking issues. Standing in higher judgement over someone over this is possibly the most hypocritical thing to do. There is something somewhere in your past that is informing your judgment in an unhealthy way. Guaranteed, as I write this, that last statement is true.

“Get over it” – We need to stop commanding people to do this too. We’ve all heard and said this about people and their various frustrations.  Sure, they do need to get over it. But if it was easy to just get over it, every therapist would be flat broke and there’d be no self-help section in the local bookstore I hope you still have. Think about your worst heartbreak, firing, broken friendship, betrayal. Think about what you had to do to come peace with that event and carry on living healthily. Now, think how absurd it is to judge others for not finishing that journey yet. My God, the temerity of someone to be emotional confused – how dare they? 

“You’re oversensitive.” – I’ve gotten this one a lot. Maybe this is my big confessional. I’m very emotional. I’ve been known to shed a tear over great movies and favorite TV shows quite frankly. The last episode of Blake’s 7, forget about it. (I seriously don’t know if I can watch An Adventure In Time And Space again.) When someone says something that hurts my feelings and I bring it up, “God, you’re oversensitive” is many a response. (Though mind you, I’ve seen the same people get just as sensitive if not more so when THEIR feelings are hurt) But fine, I’m oversensitive. My question is so what? So fucking what? I’ve been call this a lot but I’ve never been given a valid reason why this is any bad thing.

(And maybe I’m being too conciliatory here. I put my words out there across the big bad internet, inviting scorn and criticism from all corners of the globe. Not bad for someone so sensitive.)

But the point is – are we really taking people’s feelings into enough consideration? Isn’t that what consideration means? Is it really truly so hard to go through life being careful not to hurt each other’s feelings? The words we say to other people are not forgotten the next day, they will stick with that person for months, maybe even years or decades. There’s a lot of hurt feelings I’ve inflicted I wish I could take back. Best I can do though, is try not to hurt anyone going forward.

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” A nice schoolyard saying but total bullshit. Words gut people’s self-worth. Words break people’s hearts. Words ruin people’s lives.

Words are like the ocean, if you don’t respect them, then a lot of harm will be done.

Should we tell people on the receiving end of cruelty to suck it up, or maybe would should tell other people to stop doing savage shit like this:

End The Stigma – This is another one I’m guilty of. Very guilty of. I’ve turned my back to some knowing that I’m not qualified to help. But is that really good enough a reason? Some people, of course, have closed themselves off to help and may be impossible to reach. But is that reason not to try? I know lots of folks who have been through therapy, rehab and hardcore psychoanalysis. They don’t deserve our scorn. They don’t deserve our pity. They don’t deserve anyone looking down their nose at them. They deserve our respect. They deserve our admiration. They recognized a serious problem and had the Goddamn guts to say “I will not live like this and I need help to get better.” They deserve a standing ovation from the rest of us. Because the rest of us may need their advice when we say “I will not live like this and I need help to get better.”

I saw also on some threads that the phrase “demons” is no longer an acceptable term for mental illness. I actually think it’s a good metaphor but if dropping that saying helps in the long run, so be it. We’ve all got to open to new understandings on this front.

Quick side-note: I’ve had many a heated and informed debate with people about gun control. Many people on the pro-gun side have pointed to mental illness as the real issue behind the now-weekly-almost-daily shootings. (1 dead, 2 injured just now in Santa Ana, CA) I’m all ears. Whatever we can do to keep guns out of the hands of those who are not in a sound state of mental health, let’s do it. (That is a form of gun control but shh, don’t tell gun rights folks)

We don’t follow our bliss. It’s stunning to me. We jump headfirst into a rat race which brings us lots of things. Ephemera like houses, cars, fancy clothes, and all that. Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things. I would like to have a jacuzzi and closet full of expensive suits like I was Ric Flair. Why not? But they are all byproducts of happiness, not the cause of it. When you ask people what really truly makes them happy, what gives them a bliss-state, they’re going to say a lot of things, but if they’re honest it won’t be any physical item that’s the source of their contentment. Paychecks give you security. Status gives you a table by the window. Nice things gives you jealous neighbors. Happiness is a much more difficult pursuit to define. Some of us (ahem) have made a enormous material and financial sacrifices to follow that happiness. Some of us walk a different path than everyone else’s rat-race. That is not crazy, that is not sick, that is deserving of no harsh judgement. Just the opposite. Happiness is the goal, not the nice house on the hill. 

Something’s got to change. We all have to open our minds to new ways of thinking, new ways of understanding, new ways of helping. Because when a man who lived in one of the most beautiful and serene parts of the country, when a man who rose to become one of the very best at his chosen profession, when a man who had more money than he could spend, when a man who overcame powerful addictions, when a man who had a loving family, when a man who made everyone on the planet laugh (not sure that’s an exaggeration) – when he finds himself in a place of agonizing hopelessness, we’re all doing something wrong.

It’s been a long time since this person walked the Earth, but we still haven’t learned his greatest lesson:


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


The Ratings Game: An Interview With Brian Veys

Quick Note: As you guys have figured out by now, these interviews are not recorded live. This week’s episode was recorded before yesterday’s still-stunning and all-too tragic news of Robin Williams’ sudden passing. I want to assure you that had we recorded after 4 PM yesterday, we would absolutely have touched upon Mr William’s career, especially his recent sitcom The Crazy Ones which would have fit into our discussion perfectly.  A great many words have been written about Mr. Williams’ death. I daresay everyone’s personal favorite joke, TV show or movie is the finest tribute anyone can write. And if not, then this one is:

This week’s interview is about all sorts of good stuff in the world of TV. My guest is none other than Brian Veys, the Director of Worldwide Television Research at MGM Studios. And by research, I don’t mean looking stuff up on wikipedia. Television research is the collection and analysis of ratings. With viewing figures coming in from a historically varied number of sources, that research is becoming more complicated every year.

BV Headshot

Brian and I discuss the nuts and bolts of ratings analysis and how it’s not the be-all-end-all of whether a show stays on the air. We also discuss the ever changing landscape of media delivery platforms, how social media influences ratings (if at all) and Brian puts me on the hot seat to talk about the increased savvy of today’s viewing audience. This is a fascinating look at ratings analysis, something I didn’t know a lot about, and a real informed glimpse at how TV decision making works:


The Handsome Timmy D Express is proud to be a part of:

The Dan & Travis Show Podcast: An Awesome Thing


The Chronic Rift: A series of podcasts that attempt to “find the culture in pop culture.”


The One Unbreakable Rule Of Screenwriting

Computer for blog

Quick Note: I was going to blog this week about the plagiarism allegations against “True Detective.” But quite frankly, the allegations are so baseless, so ridiculous and so without merit, I did not want to give said accusers and their site even one more hit. I will explore the topic of idea “borrowing” at a later date.  Besides Mr Paul J Garth repudiates the allegations thoroughly here:

On and off over the next few weeks, months and dare I say years, I’d like to visit some of the “rules” of screenwriting. Many an aspiring screenwriter has an inbox filled with material from various websites, webinars and publications promising the secret to “writing a feature script in 10 weeks” or “the most important elements of a TV pilot.”  Some of this material is very useful and worthwhile.  Some of this material, quite frankly, is snake-oil, especially when people talk about the r-word: rules.

It’s not really accurate to say the film and TV writing has no rules. Act lengths are established in TV by commercial sales so that of course influences the shape and flow of the drama. Movies, while commercial free, are given a set time limit to maximize number of screenings and not exhaust the human attention span. So yes, there are rules, formats, structures and limitations the writer finds themselves facing in the media arts.

But there’s much debate over the rules of screenwriting. You’ll find many a list of rules on the internet. Head over to our pals at google and type in “Rules Of Screenwriting” and you’ll find several credible websites listing very sensible and worthwhile “rules” of screenwriting. Your local bookstore, should you be so lucky to still have one of those, will be happy to sell you any number of books on screenwriting rules from a wide variety of well-established sources.

But the fact is, many screenwriting rules are often up for debate. Some rules I quite like, as they’re not really rules but mileposts to guide a writer along the natural flow of a story. There’s reasons why movies and TV shows flow in a certain order, the most important of which is the viewer likes it that way. Some rules I don’t buy into at all, such as “start late, leave early.” I’ve seen way too many great scenes in movies that start early and leave late. Recently, the screenwriting internet world was cleft in twain by the vociferous debate about whether or not it’s acceptable to type in “We See” in a screenplay. (For the record, I’m in the “it’s OK to use We See” camp.)

So really, when someone says “these are the hard-and-fast rules of screenwriting” I suggest to any screenwriter to take them with a grain of salt.

I’ve had many a meeting with professional writers, directors and independent film producers. Like, real, proper meetings about the development of projects and making a movie or TV show. Rules very rarely come-up. Format? Sure. Structure? Absolutely. But no one credible has ever said, “don’t do this, do do that.”  (I have heard that from uncredible sources. Yes, I know that’s not a word, but I’m a screenwriter, I can just make shit up. It’s awesome.)

Speaking of credibility, I’m not a repped screenwriter so why should you listen to me? I placed in several festivals last year, including being a twice second rounder in the Austin Film Festival. This year, I continue to place and recently won the Chicago Screenplay Contest in the TV Drama Pilot category. I’ve been producing television for 11 years and I’m currently attached to several independent producers. Those are my bona fides and whether or not they’re enough to make you listen to me is completely up to you. If you stop reading now and never visit my blog again, no hard feelings, enjoy the rest of the internet.

But that’s the point of this, really. A lot of information and advice and rules that are bombarding many of today’s aspiring screenwriters can be dismissed as so much ephemera. The most important things screenwriters need to listen to is whatever will help them finish their script. The rest goes on the compost heap. Including my own blog. If the words I write are helpful, great! If what I’m writing isn’t helpful to you, my apologies and I wish you well on your writing adventures. For reals.

I will argue that, formatting and structure aside, there’s a whole world of valuable information out there but only one unbreakable rule. Ready? Here it is:

You have to actually write a screenplay.

You have to write it down. Write the thing down. On paper and everything. At least 85/90 pages.

Any mistakes you make are nothing to fear. Get the structure wrong? Head to your local pharmacy and pick up a pack of index cards for a few bucks. Get the format wrong? Lots of guides online to help you realign the plot points and act breaks. And there’s always that stack of books about “rules” on your nightstand to help you because those rules are mostly about structure and not really how to tell a story that will move millions of people.

Or the worst possible scenario: the thing totally sucks. Look, a lot if not ALL first drafts totally suck. We screenwriters will sometimes think that first draft is objectively brilliant since it was the culmination of many years of research and hard work, but the reader doesn’t care about that. If it’s “meh” they will tell you “meh.” (Or to put it another way, when was the last time you walked out of the movie theatre after watching a movie you absolutely hated and said “Yeah, but the crew worked real hard.” Because they did. The worst movie you ever saw had a crew that busted their collective ass. But the viewer doesn’t care if the movie doesn’t entertain or move them.)

Now, yes, you will hear stories of pitches, concepts and ideas selling in the room. In fact, the idea and the pitch are vital. So if you don’t have a script but sell an idea to Paramount for 80 million, good for you – you still have write the script (or else, Paramount’s gonna renege on that 80 million. Or just buy the idea and split the 80 million amongst other writers who will be able to brag at the rooftop bars “Yeah, I wrote that. It was hard.”)

And in this day and age, when Hollywood is being bombarded by more aspiring screenwriters than ever before (especially if one goes by the increased submissions in prestigious festivals such as Nicholl Fellowship and the Austin Film Festival) do you really want to take a chance on having JUST a brilliant idea? 

Especially, because here’s another bit of buzz-kill.

Anyone in LA who tells people they work in the movies will be inundated “I’ve got a great idea for a movie!” You have a brilliant idea. Wow. That’s great. Guess what? I’ve got like 50. And I’m on the low end of brilliant ideas compared to some of the writers I know. For every one script a screenwriter sells, he or she may have 20 screenplays, equally brilliant but rejected, collecting dust in a hard drive before they can be taken around town again after the execs who rejected them have been fired. Brilliant ideas are just not enough to differentiate yourself around town, not anymore. (Besides, we’re screenwriters, we CONSTANTLY have brilliant ideas. Telling a screenwriter you have a great idea for a movie is like meeting Tom Brady and saying “hey, I can throw a football in my backyard.”)

I’m a grizzled veteran of a wide spectrum of reality shows. I’ve had to bite my tongue at many a BBQ and dinner party when someone quips, “X and Y are so funny together. They should put them into a reality show.” No, no they really shouldn’t. One little example of cuteness or wit over tapas makes for a fine first date. That’s not quite enough to invest millions of dollars and man-hours into a series that’s designed to build a large, fiercely loyal audience that a network can sell advertising to.

But what if someone really well and truly DOES have a brilliant idea for a movie that can revolutionize the entertainment world?  GREAT! I’m all for it.

You still have to write it down.

If it’s that brilliant, that mind-blowingly-light-up-a-cigarette-orgasmic, if it’s really going to justify a studio head putting a down payment on a Ferrari then writing it down into a script should be a piece of cake, right?

But you see something happens when we put our brilliant ideas on paper. The brilliance somehow disappears. What makes it special becomes more elusive. The old “it sounds so much better in my head” monster rears his head.

And that’s OK. It’s fine when that happens. In fact, it’s normal. “All first drafts are shit” said Hemingway so don’t panic. Keep writing. 

The art of writing is using words to translate and communicate experiences to a reader eliciting an emotional response. It doesn’t happen the first time or even the tenth time. But it can be done. And only if you write it down.

Once you write it down, you can reshape and remold and transform it until the images you see in your head that get you so excited are there on the page in a way that someone who’s never met you will see those very same images when they read it.

I’m repeating an old topic here, but it’s why I bristle whenever I hear “writing is rewriting.” Yes, you can write crap and make it shine in subsequent rewrites but you can’t get to that crucial stage without writing it down first.

I used to think everyone was capable of writing stories since we all expresses ourselves and our stories in one form or another over the course of the day. It feels painfully naive to write that, but after seeing too many empty notebooks, I understand now that nope, not everyone can write.

In fact, not a lot of people can write. The only way to find out if you can or not is in fact to write. And if you can’t, maybe you can learn how and become a great writer, but you have to start by writing.

Before the agony of realizing it’s not that good and needs a ton of reworking. Before the agony of dipping into the reservoir of human misery to pull out jealousy, embarrassment and sins that all contribute to interpersonal conflict. Before the sealing yourself off from the world to spend more time with imaginary people over real ones…before all that, it has to start with putting down one word, then another and another.

Unfortunately, I know many aspiring writers who are actually stopped by much of the material and snake-oil that’s meant to help them. I’ve heard people say “I’m not supposed to start writing yet because of [INSERT SOME BULLSHIT]” or “I haven’t done enough reading so I can’t start writing yet according to [THIS ASSHOLE] I read on a writing forum.”

Sometimes otherwise talented writers will psyche themselves out with “the studio doesn’t make movies like that today” or “why would anyone want to watch a TV show I would write.” This attitude always perplexed me. Yes, the studios may completely pass on your script – just like the pretty girl or boy at the dance said no, but don’t worry they’re not actually in cahoots with studio heads. Studios are CONSTANTLY looking for new writers, new ideas, new scripts because they don’t know that your script that you think no one will like won’t make them a billion dollars.

Aspiring screenwriters go through hell and back to get meetings with executives and production companies. I’m sometimes envious of those people who are so convinced that the answer will be “no.” What are other secrets are they not telling us?

I should amend that statement. Aspiring screenwriters – who truly believe in their work – go through hell and back to get meetings with executives and production companies. Ever watch a movie and think “How in the hell did anyone buy that script?” The writer knew how to sell it. The writer believed in it so much that not selling it wasn’t an option.

If you believe that much in your idea. If you believe that your idea can change Hollywood or entertain millions or even just find an audience and move people, then write it down.

There’s no rule about when or why to start writing. There’s no one way, no one right way or any wrong way to get the words onto the page. If you need to write out of order, do it. If you have to have a long, exhaustive outline before opening your screenplay software the first, time, more power to you. If you have to jog around the block 4 times counterclockwise before you can start writing – get jogging.

If you’ve started the screenplay and are stuck, go back to square one. “The only writing that happens is in your screenplay software, outlining and treatments are not writing.” Another bullshit rule. If you can’t get past page 30 or page 40, something is amiss with your characters and the paths their choosing. Revisit the treatment, draw out their goals and obstacles that are standing in their way. Head back to the index card aisle and buy some notebooks to write out who these people are and why they’re doing what they’re doing. (It’s back to school season so you may luck out on a sale.)

Just write it down. It’s the only rule that if you break, you have no story and no script.

Write your story down. Write down why you were possessed to tell it. Write down how it moved it you action. Write down how it speaks from your soul. Write down good stuff, bad stuff. Good scenes, bad scenes. Strange dialogue, good dialogue, stilted forced dialogue. Write down whatever comes into your head. Are you ready to tackle and reshape the story with open honesty that will bring out the truth of your characters? You’ll only find out if you write it down.

Write it down. Because someone, somewhere, is waiting to read it.


Penumbra: An Interview With Beleeve Entertainment

First of all, I want to thank everyone who shared the female Ghostbusters article. We’ll save the world one movie at a time. And again, if you like something I’m posting do not be afraid to share and spread the word. I don’t have millions to promote this little venture so every RT, facebook share really does help. Thanks so much! Also, my apologies again for the audio cutout in Episode 4. This issue has now been resolved and the show sounds better than ever.

On to Episode 5, I’m delighted to welcome Chelese Belmont and Shannan Leigh Reeve. They’re the founders of Beleeve Entertainment and this interview ties in perfectly with yesterday’s theme of women making their mark in today’s Hollywood. Chelese and Shannan are currently campaigning on indiegogo to finish their new feature “Penumbra” which takes an honest and unapologetic look at the struggles of addiction from several sides.


“Penumbra” tells the story of Erin Jacobs, a gifted artist who’s harboring a destructive cocaine addiction. She has a run-in with a police officer Valerie, who has a past scarred by her own addiction. Erin struggles to find sobriety but Valerie shows us how hard sobriety is to maintain.

CBheadshot                                Shannan8x10

Shannan and Chelese are two women who wear many hats on a movie set and they’re trailblazing their way across the indie scene making the movies they believe should be made. They’re setting a tremendous example to all of us who want to make films but are sometimes intimidated by the complexity of the studio system. The work they’re doing reminds us that if you truly want to achieve something, there’s really nothing stopping you. This a great conversation about believing in yourself and making your own path, especially in the face of glass ceilings and preconceived notions. I’m really proud that they took time out of their busy schedule to appear on my podcast:

For more on “Penumbra”, check out the links below. And again, if you can’t donate money, please share these links on social media. This is an important and universal story that will speak to a lot of people’s lives. Spreading the word will help this movie find those people:

The indiegogo campaign:

The Penumbra film website:

For more on Beleeve Entertainment:


Her Name Is Mary Ann Evans: Why The World Is Ready For Female Ghostbusters


If you look up the book Silas Marner, you’ll find it was written by George Eliot. Most people know the story. I remember it was taught in my English class and it was revealed that the author, a woman (GASP), used a male pseudonym because women authors in the 1860’s were not taken seriously.

Unfortunately, today, in 2014, the case is true – in some circles – that women authors along with women screenwriters and directors are still not taken seriously.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the dearth of women writers and directors on television. This is an all-too striking graphic that’s been going around public and private conversations in the business:

Women Stats

There’s a lot to talk about and explore with this issue. I’m not going to claim to solve it by any means but the purpose of this week’s entry is to be an on-the-record-for-the-world-to-see look at how perceptions in the business need to be changed.

“Perception is reality” epitomizes the entertainment industry. That shone with bizarrely outdated clarity over the weekend as several columns by respected industry journalists were written questioning and/or downright objecting to the idea of a Ghostbuster sequel or reboot (it’s still deep, deep in development) with an all female cast. People asking “is the world ready for an all-female Ghostbusters?” may indeed be asking if female leads can carry a complicated nuanced comedy.

Let’s see, after:


The Heat

I Love Lucy

9 To 5

Sex And The City

The Golden Girls


Hot In Cleveland

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

The Mary Tyler Moore Show


Outrageous Fortune

The New Adventures Of The Old Christine


It’s Complicated

Legally Blonde

Charlie’s Angels

Big Business

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

How To Marry A Millionaire

One Day At A Time

Pitch Perfect

Ally McBeal

Mean Girls


Desperately Seeking Susan

Happy Endings

It’s A Living

Miss Congeniality


Sister Act

Working Girl

Miss Congeniality 2

Sister Act 2

Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion

The Amy Schumer Show

The Phyllis Diller Show

The Mindy Project

Playing House

Parks And Recreation

30 Rock

and the critically acclaimed, award-winning show about Girls dating that’s called GIRLS.

Yeah, after all those, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, yes, the world is ready for an all-female Ghostbusters. “But Tim in some of those examples you cite it’s different because the women are are not playing, you know, beer-drinking men like Ghostbusters.” In other words, it’s OK for women to play girly-girl action heroes like Charlie’s Angels, but not macho heroes like the Ghostbusters which is kind of ridiculous on a ton of levels. Apparently there’s an intrinsic maleness to Ghostbusters that I missed on the first 250 times I’ve watched it. They were bumbling academics, not the Expendables. (Oh and the Expendebelles is in development. By Kirsten Smith and Karen McCullah, two wicked talented writers who should give you hope it’s gonna be pretty fun and wicked good.)

And is that really a defense these columnists want to take? Women should not be cast in MALE roles. They can’t be cast in roles where they kick ass, knock down doors, shoot some guns, blow up some buildings, shoot off some smart alec on-liners. And God forbid, capture ghosts in a humorous way? Is that really what those who question an all-female Ghostbusters want to hang their hat on? Have the people objecting to the all-female Ghostbusters not seen The Hunger Games because while I’ve not read all the books or seen all the movies I’m under the impression Katniss Everdeen can kick a lot of ass.

(Some have pointed to Peter Venkman’s chauvinism as the charm of his character, completely missing the point. Venkman could only win the heart of the one woman he loved when he dropped all the chauvinistic bullshit and became BIGGER GASP the nice guy who helped out by researching the origins of Zuul and Gozer. Oh and when the chauvinism returned between Ghostbusters 1 & 2, what did the woman of his dreams do? Dumped him.)

Imagine Kristen Wiig as Venkman, Amy Poehler as Stanz, Tina Fey as Egon, Wanda Sykes as Zeddmore and throw in Bradley Cooper as the man of Venkman’s dreams plagued by demons in the fridge. Hell, throw Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in there as the mayor.  Seriously, imagine her demanding the Ghostbusters be brought to her office to save the city. Awe-fucking-some. Directed by Paul Fieg. As an updated love letter to the original Ghostbusters. (We might even get a “Yes, your honor, this woman has no clitoris” joke. Fuck yeah!)

As my friend Gabe O’Connor would say “I want to see that now.  Now. Now. Now.”  Though, of course, maybe it would fall short. Maybe it would be far inferior.  Maybe it would be fail miserably. But we’ve all seen and heard much worse ideas. And as we all know, you can’t be successful if you’re afraid of failure (see previous blog posts – and tell your friends.)

The world is ready for female Ghostbusters.  The world is ready for female action heroes.  The world is ready for female writers and directors.

And you don’t have to take my word for it.  Did you see “Lucy” the new film by Luc Besson starring Scarlet Johansson in the eponymous role? Well, A LOT of people did. $80 million in 2 weeks worth. In fact, she outdrew action movie mainstay and former USWA Tag Team Champion The Rock in his new film “Hercules.”

And this past weekend? Chances are you saw and loved “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” Don’t worry Part 2 is well on-track (probably farther along in development than Ghostbusters 3 quite frankly).  $94 million opening weekend, oh let’s just call it a $100 million coming out party. And what makes Guardians special besides it’s awesomeness?  Guardians is the first Marvel movie to be written by a woman. Congrats to Nicole Perlman who broke a barrier this weekend and had a whole nation of men, women, comic book fans and non-comic book reading movie goers chant “This-Is-Awesome-(Clap-Clap-ClapClapClap).”

This summer may indeed be the turning point. It may not. The idea that an all-female Ghostbusters is a bad idea in the minds of some shows there’s a long way to go. One of the authors of such a piece backtracked, saying on twitter he was just objecting to remakes in general, though his piece in Deadline cited the all-female Odd Couple as an example of a bad idea remake. It’s almost like the idea of an female cast is a gimmick. But would anyone say that about an all-male cast? Imagine someone walking out of Glengarry Glen Ross and saying “I just didn’t care for the gimmickry of an all-male cast.”

What I think is happening in some circles – not all, I want to be very clear about that one – is that women, gays, African-Americans and all manner of minorities are being marginalized to one side. So let’s say you’re a studio and you hire an accomplished female director to direct a big tent pole movie. But that director turns out to be awful, a nightmare to work with who suffers from borderline incompetence.  The response from some people will be “That’s the last time I’m hiring a woman director.” Which is the wrong response. The right response is “That’s the last time I’m hiring THAT director.” Because the next 10 women directors that one works with may be great but are being denied the chance unfairly – and we in turn, are denied their talents.

Some folks really do need to learn that women are just like men. They come in all shapes and sizes with a wide variety talents, aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses.

Hollywood is a place that LOVES to pigeonhole. In fact, Hollywood doesn’t really function unless everyone is seen in their tiny little compartments. Screenwriters know this all too well. “Wait, you wrote a comedy – how can you write a horror movie?” “You write dramas, you can’t write comedies” and so it goes. Good/bad, right/wrong.

Many aspiring writers think that having a wide ranging portfolio is the best thing to show an agent or production company. In fact, every credible agent and producer I know has told me and other writers to have as non-diverse a portfolio as possible. They need to know what category to put you in so that you can be identified and in turn, hired.

I imagine (and have heard) that many women writers get shoved into the rom-com or chick-lit box. We may be getting denied many a great action, sci-fi or horror movie or TV show because those authors are being told “You wrote a psychological thriller? No, no, no, how about a true love piece.” (For the record, this is not a knock on rom-coms or chick-lit. I wrote a rom-com myself, based on Megan’s first novel – and it will make you laugh & cry promise. I’m just saying, maybe not every women writer is only interested in those things.)

Where this gets Hollywood into trouble – or where this perception is fallible – is, that’s not at all how the audience works. “What kind of music do you listen to?” is asked on a million first dates. The answer is usually the same, “I listen to everything.” The audience, ESPECIALLY in 2014, is not putting things in tiny little categories.

At the Austin Film Festival this past year there was a panel with Jenji Kohan and Callie Khouri called “The Heroine’s Journey.” They quickly dispelled the thesis by saying that the Heroine’s Journey is the same as the Hero’s Journey. Good characters are good characters, they said several times. They want to tell good, compelling stories first and foremost.

It occurred to me as I listened to these two brilliant writers not only how much I liked their work but how on paper that must confuse some people in Hollywood. I’m a late 30’s white male who grew up on a steady diet of pro-wrestling, science-fiction and the Transformers. On paper, it makes no sense that Orange Is The New Black would be one of my favorite shows of all time. I listen to heavy metal, I love football and I don’t mind shooting darts at a bar over some tall beers. Thelma & Louise is another favorite of mine, I could watch it several times every year.

(And no, I don’t think it’s anti-male as some suggested when it came out. Thanks Republicans. SPOILER ALERT: Louise shoots a rapist in a parking lot. I have no sympathy for him.)

I’m 0% Hispanic – I was riveted by every second of American Me. I’m 0% African American – Boyz N The Hood is amazing. I’m 0% Jewish (well, a little more than that I guess thanks to 5 passovers with my Jewish lady caller) but still, need I be Jewish to weep at the power of Schindler’s List?

Hollywood, in some circles, seeks universality from the product it sells, yet in some corners, finds that same universality an almost baffling business practice.

Now, I keep saying some circles because I’ve worked for and alongside some very talented women at all levels of the business, literally from PA’s to Executives. I’ve been taught, mentored and developed by women, some of whom are the best in the business. I recently worked on a show with two male editors and one female editor – all super talented, all of us got along great and worked really well together. If gender was an issue there, I certainly don’t remember any instances.

Monty Python famously said they couldn’t write women. I believe they could if they were active today. I believe they had trouble writing 1970’s women and the expected types of the day, so to speak. But gender roles are changing in our society. I know of several stay-at-home dads who’ve said to me, “What a racket, men have no idea what they’ve been missing going to work everyday.” I’m guilty of that too. Writing during the day, going grocery shopping, changing the litter box, cooking & doing the dishes. I’m in Heaven. My Grandfather’s generation would fall out of its chair to hear that, but that’s the new reality. And why shouldn’t we embrace it? For some outdated nonsense like “a man’s role is the breadwinner, a women’s role is the kitchen.” Fuck that. Much to the chagrin of the far right, our society just doesn’t work that way anymore. And I’ll argue for the better.

It’s high time Hollywood didn’t work that way anymore either. Whatever the pigeon-holing, or just blatant chauvinism or sexism that “women can’t write this” or “women can’t direct that” has to change. Because as my love of Orange Is The New Black and Thelma And Louise will attest to – we’re all missing out on good shows and great stories when segments of the population are left out of the room.

The audience is changing with the times faster than maybe even Hollywood can keep track of. $100 million weekend, if anyone objected to a woman writing Guardians Of The Galaxy, their voice was drowned out like Homer Simpson objecting to the Flaming Moes. And quite frankly, I think the only argument I’m going to get from friends on Facebook about this blog is going to be about my Ghostbusters recasting choices – and not because they’re women.

There are circles in Hollywood changing with society. I know several male Hollywood execs who I promise you are trying to change the tide. There are also more women exec’s, women producers and women showrunners than ever before. If the tide isn’t turning yet, the stage is certainly being set. It is happening, conversations are happening but, of course, there needs to be more.

The fact is though, people are not just going to change their minds. I mentioned recently on the podcast with Megan that comedy legend Jerry Lewis STILL doesn’t think women are that funny. Show him the list I showed above and he’ll probably remain unconvinced. (One has no reason to believe he’s been exposed to that material and those talents.) And he’s categorically wrong. I love & respect the great Jerry Lewis, but Tina Fey & Amy Poehler could read the phone book and it would be HYSTERICAL. (They would also make an excellent female Odd Couple, Deadline.)

I don’t believe the perception is going to be changed that easily. The reality has to be changed thus forcing the perception to change. And many women are changing the reality by not accepting this perception. Many women are forming their own production companies, making the movies others won’t allow them to make and many more are still pounding on the doors demanding a fair shot. The Hunger Games, Lucy and Guardians Of The Galaxy give me some hope they’ll get it.

In fact, whenever the question is, can women play this or can women write that or can women direct that – quite frankly the answer in 2014 has to be yes. Or to put in another way, “Ray, when someone asks if women can play the Ghostbusters you say YES.”

“But Tim, maybe there just aren’t that many women writers and directors?”  That question does get thrown around more than you might think and it’s more than a little laughable. I recently went to a Writers Guild Foundation event, did some networking during breaks between Q&A’s and it didn’t even occur to me until I got home – every business card I collected was from a woman writer.

Also, in my own household, my girlfriend is a writer.  Actually, she’s not just a writer, she’s a damn good one. She could be staffed right now, this minute. She won the Fresh Voices competition this past year and has placed in other contests to back up that accolade if you don’t believe me. It annoys me, yes, as the overprotective boyfriend, that she will face barriers and walls in the business that her male counterparts will not have to face.

I can’t completely knock those barriers down but hell, I can throw out another plug for her books, which are available here:

And then there’s Chicks Who Script That’s Chicks not Chick.  Lauren Schacher, Maggie Levin and Emily Blake exemplify much of my argument as they are women writers outside the “type” who could easily be staffed on a wide variety of shows or could write as equally wide a variety of movies. I highly recommend checking out their podcast and giving them a follow on twitter. Emily Blake also knows a thing or two about Doctor Who so she’s Aces in my book (no pun intended.)

They recently had on their podcast Stephanie Folsom who wrote “1969: A Space Odyssey Or How Kubrick Learned To Stop Worrying And Land On The Moon” which was chosen as the first script to be presented live by The Black List and it absolutely deserved that honor:

And speaking of women taking over roles, about 10 million viewers on CBS watch a female Watson. There’s going to be a female Doctor one day in Doctor Who. It’s all but guaranteed. Fortunately, my friend Tara O’Shea and whole slew of talented women writers have made sure that moment has been prepared for. A great collection about fandom and how fandom isn’t always the demographic you think it is:

There’s a lot of women writers out there. There’s a lot of women industry pros out there. A website that highlights many of them is and an incomparable colleague of mine, Etta Devine, has written some columns on independent production that offer invaluable advice for anyone who wants to figure out how to get your story on film:

Etta’s in post-production of the second feature she’s doing with her longtime partner, the also super talented Gabriel Diani. While I’m plugging stuff, here’s a preview of that new movie that’s going to be awesome, original and funny (That’s right Gabe & Etta are also comedians and would be both make great Ghostbusters. In fact, they had to deal with some dastardly spirits in their brilliant first movie “The Selling”.)

While talking about women writers, I feel like I would be doing this piece a great disservice if I didn’t mention Amanda Pendolino’s blog. It is essential reading, reminders and great advice for all screenwriters, whatever their level – or gender. Bookmark it and read it once a week, it will absolutely keep you sane – and teach you how to be a pro:

One of the other women who I’d like to mention who’s certainly changed her perception is Morgan Fairchild. An iconic figure of blond blue-eyed Hollywood beauty. What do you think Ms. Fairchild tweets about these days? If you said latest politics, international news and climate change awareness, you’d be right. “But she’s just an actress who was on Falcon Crest.” Well, yes and she’s also an intelligent person interested in the world around her. Following her on twitter is a great way to stay informed about current events from numerous news sources (and she was in a lot more than Falcon Crest):

And I’m sure some of this will come up in the interview I’ll be posting tomorrow with Chelese Belmont and Shannan Leigh Reeve, a female director/producer team shooting a movie right now:

There are A TON more women I could list here – and several of  whom I hope to have as guests on the blogcast soon.

I’ll probably revisit this topic more over the next few months. The business is changing rapidly and, who knows, maybe the next spotlight will see a lot more progress made. Maybe next summer, half of the comic book movies will be written by minorities. Maybe TV production will see a huge spike in women directors being hired. Maybe I’ll be in a writer’s room – and I’ll be the only guy. I should be so lucky, right? Kidding, Megan, kidding.

But hopefully more progress will be made and women screenwriters won’t have to write George Eliot on their title page to get noticed or hired.

Because wouldn’t it be nice if George Eliot became a footnote to the story and someday someone will say, “Wait, who wrote Silas Marner? George something, isn’t it, not wait, it was Eliot right?” And the answer will be “No, her name is Mary Ann Evans.”

George Eliot


Programming Update

Hello Dear Readers & Listeners,

Just wanted to check in about some exciting developments with the old HTD Express.

First, a little bad news.  Unfortunately, there was a fair amount of Skype cutout on the Dan & Travis interview toward the end there.  I don’t think it took away from the overall enjoyment of the show as I’ve gotten some nice feedback, but it’s more than I would like.  So this weekend I will be looking into some upgrades to minimize that as best I can.  Bear with me, I’m a one man show making it up as a I go along but I want this to be as well-done as possible.

Speaking of feedback, I’ve gotten some great compliments from some of you and I’m very grateful and humbled to hear them. Comments are always welcome (name-calling is not) but a few folks have asked me in private, “Mind if I comment” or “Do you mind if I share this.” Let me put it on the record: It is very OK with me if you share this blog.  This isn’t being produced for money or anything, just collecting positive and productive insight about screenwriting and the entertainment biz.  This meant for public consumption to help people who are stuck at the typewriter and spread useful info in this age of plenty of misinformation on the internet.  Please feel free to share any blog you’d like on facebook, twitter, bulletin boards, pinterest or foursquare if that even works.   Thanks very much. Together, we can save the internet.

Moving on to some good, dare I say, GREAT news.  I’m excited to announce that starting tomorrow the Handsome Timmy D Express audio segments will be streaming on The Chronic Rift network!  For those who are unfamiliar, the Chronic Rift is one of the premiere, if not THE premiere network of podcasts covering pop culture. The people who participate in their podcastsis Who’s Who of creative talent suchDr. Arnold T Blumberg, Scott Alan Woodard, Keith RA DeCandido, Paul K Bisson and Bill Meeks just to name few:

Check out some of the shows they got:

How do they make the Walking Dead? Find out in this episode of Doctor Of The Dead:

Cinemafantisque interview Sharknado 2’s Dante Palminteri:

and of course, they have a really awesome show in The Dan & Travis Show:

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Lots of great shows on there and I’m delighted my interviews will be found there as well.

Speaking of  the interviews, got some really exciting folks lined up including but not limited to, other screenwriters on the festival circuit, a creative executive, a researcher and even a college professor.  Next week, I’m scheduled to interview a Director/Producer team who blazing their own way through the business and we’ll be talking about the world of independent film, crowdfunding and their heartfelt drama which is dealing with the battles of addiction.  Oh and they’re women so we’re also going to talk about breaking perceptions and glass ceilings that women unfairly face.  Their movie looks great & check out their indiegogo fund here:

Work commitments permitting, I’m going to do my best to schedule things going forward with a written blog on Monday and Audio Post on Tuesday.  I know people are reading and listening by their own timetables but still I’ve noticed some stability to posting helps traffic so there you have it.

If you’re an industry pro whom I know, please don’t feel slighted I haven’t ask you to be on the show yet. There’s scheduling issues and a method to my programming/recording but there’s no one I’m not avoiding anyone. Trust me, if I’ve worked with you over the past 10 years, I want to interview you.  Most of you. 60% at least.  (There’s a lot of dicks out there)

If you’re an industry pro or have a project/film/script whom I don’t know and you’d like to talk about it on the Express here, shoot me an email at and we’ll see what we can figure out.  This whole project is about getting a myriad of viewpoints and insights about the creative process so I’d love to hear from you.

And to recap, I’m thrilled with the interview numbers so far, but just in case you’ve not heard the shows yet here’s a quick recap.

Episode 1: An interview with Matt The Cat, world-renowned Radio DJ:

Episode 2: An interview with Megan Karasch, novelist and award winning screenwriter:

Episode 3: An interview with Mike Doto, director and digital media producer:

Episode 4: An interview with Dan & Travis, podcasters and masters of pure hilarity:

Thanks again everyone for reading, listening and sharing.  Be well and all the best…




Radio Genius: An Interview With Dan & Travis

Want to open this week by saying thanks so much to everyone who read and shared the Open Letter To William Shatner and George Takei.  I don’t know if it’s reached their eyes but the post was spread far and wide by the ever faithful science fiction community and I’m very grateful to those who enjoyed it and spread the word.  Thanks so much, guys!

Time for a new episode of the Handsome Timmy D Express.  I’ve known Dan & Travis for almost 20 years now and they’ve been making the funny for just as long.

Dan&Travis Logo

They’ve produced radio talk shows over several generations of the ever changing media landscape. On this episode, they share with us how they design their shows, how they’ve adapted to the changing times and offer some good screenwriting reminders/advice even though they’re a non-screenwriting source.

The Dan & Travis podcast is an awesome listen featuring hilarious but thought-provoking looks at the news, pop culture and the hardest trivia game on the planet (for reals, it’s terrifying)  And I’m not just saying that because they’ve let me piggy back on their stream as a sister-show and feature me as a guest debunking conspiracy theories and such.  A great fun listen on both good days and bad, it can found on the links below and is featured on the prestigious Chronic Rift podcasting network.  Sit back, relax and enjoy some radio genius.

To listen to the Dan & Travis show, click below:

You can find Dan & Travis on twitter:

And on facebook:

For more on the Chronic Rift Network (which features an exciting announcement about this blog as well!):

Thanks for listening everybody and don’t be shy about sharing if you’re enjoying the programming. Cheers!


An Open Letter To William Shatner And George Takei: Please Stop

Dear Mr. Shatner and Mr. Takei,

I’ve never had the privilege of meeting you gentlemen either in professional situations in the entertainment industry or at the many of Star Trek conventions you’ve headlined. I would consider it a privilege if one day I got the opportunity to shake your hands and say “Thank You” for the many years of entertainment you’ve provided me and millions upon millions of people around the world.  And it is with the utmost respect that I make this impassioned plea:

Please Stop.

Stop fighting. Stop feuding. Stop publicly calling each other names. Stop recounting the stories of difficulties on the set. Stop throwing more gasoline onto a fire that should have long burnt out.

You may be saying “But Tim, this is really none of your business. Our feud is our business, not for you to tell us how to conduct” and well, fair enough.  Except of course, you are public figures who’ve taken an on-set personality conflict and made it the subject for numerous public interviews, Q&A’s and books.

Things had quieted down for a long time.  I was heartened to see George Takei appear on the William Shatner roast in 2006.  They exchanged insults as is the custom of a roast, all in and good fun. They even exchanged a hug!  But then came the wedding-invite-gate of 2008.  I’ve read some of the articles covering this particular breakdown and my head spins.  Mr. Shatner felt slighted by not being invited but Mr. Takei and his husband (Congrats by the way, guys) insist they did invite Mr. Shatner. I think, I’m honestly not sure.

It’s a dizzying conflict to be sure.  I’ve looked up a lot of articles and videos covering it this morning.  One can easily find in a google search “Takei just wants peace from Shatner” and conversely “Shatner just wants peace with Takei.”  One reads these excerpts hoping against these two television (not science fiction, but television) icons will finally bury the hatchet.

But recently, Mr. Takei appeared on Bill Maher and said this:

Why The Wrap thought this was headline worthy is beyond me. Mr. Takei has documented his dislike of Mr. Shatner in his autobiography, on the Howard Stern show, in numerous media interviews and God knows how many conventions.  To the best of my knowledge, and I could be wrong but Mr. Shatner has yet to respond this particular barb.  (Though I’ve seen some say that Takei’s comments on Bill Maher are a response to comments in about recent Takei in a recent Shatner book and Oh My God are you realizing what I’m typing, does this read anywhere near as ridiculous as it feels to be typing it?)

Of course, entertainment is filled with epic feuds:

-Pink Floyd fans have long taken side and debated about who was right – Roger Waters or David Gilmour in one of rock’s most acrimonious split.

-Vince McMahon had blistering public feuds with Bruno Sammartino, The Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart.  Like real-life feuds not wrestling feuds.

-Recently, the Sunday night cartoon landscape saw harsh words exchanged between Family Guy and the Simpsons.

And  Star Trek, it’s got William Shatner vs George Takei.

To be honest, I’m not unsympathetic – to both of you.

Mr. Takei – I’m so very sorry you felt disrespected and slighted by Mr. Shatner while shooting Star Trek.  I’m very sorry that he’s the kind of person that you just don’t like and probably will never like.  It’s the entertainment business.  I don’t have to tell you the bottomless egos involved.  At the same time, one can’t help but also feel like, “William Shatner was the lead in the show. He had the most lines, the most scenes.  He was under the most pressure.”  It’s not a complete defense but I can understand why Mr. Shatner did not always go out of his way to talk to the other cast and crew.  (Compared to some stories I’ve seen and heard from leads in the business, Mr. Shatner doesn’t sound remotely the worst in this category.)

Mr. Shatner – You’ve been blasted by most of the Enterprise crew.  Leonard Nimoy is your staunchest defender and possibly in part because he could relate the most the amount of work you had to do and pressure you were under.  I’m sorry that you’ve been judged so harshly by your shipmates.  I don’t think the public forum is necessarily the place to air these grievances. Someone should have pulled you aside and talked to you face to face. Maybe they did and you didn’t listen. You probably could’ve been nicer and more cordial to your costars but as sins like this go, I certainly can’t point fingers.

But let’s also take a look at Mr. Shatner and Mr. Takei away from Star Trek.  When it comes to reinventing themselves in the internet age, it’s hard to find two better examples.  Except for maybe Weird Al.  (Thanks again everyone for reading last week’s blog on him. Very overwhelmed)

George Takei has embraced the internet in not just spreading goofy jokes and Memes.  He’s become an inspiring champion for gay rights and equality in general.  Sometimes he does it with great gravitas:

Sometimes he does it, tongue firmly in cheek:

And Mr. Takei’s best work of his career may be happening right now on stage with the powerful play about Japanese internment camps in the play “Allegiance.”  If you get the chance, do not hesitate to see this production:

Bravo, Mr. Takei!  Anyone who wants to sum up your career as Mr. Sulu is doing you a great disservice. You’ve taken the platform that Star Trek gave you and used it spotlight stories of injustice and human courage. And you’ve become role model, not only for gay people, but for anyone who feel themselves crushed by the weight of intolerance.

The William Shatner of today has so reinvented himself that when I watch the original Star Trek series, it’s hard for me to believe it’s the same man playing Captain Kirk.  Sure, there are stories of Mr. Shatner being a jerk on set.  If you google “Stars who were jerks on set” you’ll find that Mr. Shatner is in excellent company.  As in most stars.  Everyone cracks under the pressure sometime.  Remember Christian Bale’s rant on the Terminator: Salvation set.  Roy Scheider didn’t seem like a prince in some of that Jaws behind the scenes footage.  I still get in debates with friends over who was right, Lily Tomlin or David O’Russell.  And of course us Doctor Who fans have many a William Hartnell and Tom Baker story recounted at conventions.

Sure there’s those stories.  But there’s also the stories of a William Shatner who had to live out of his truck for years because he was typecast for work and had to give what money he did have – and rightfully so – toward feeding his children.  There’s William Shatner who’s written dozens of books, fiction and non-fiction (including the must read Star Trek Memories series, as honest a look at film production as I’ve read). There’s the William Shatner who’s constantly tweeting with his fans, recently the poor souls stuck in line for Hall H this past weekend at Comic-Con.   There’s the William Shatner who made not just one but several comebacks which included leads in TV shows in the 1980’s (TJ Hooker) and the 2000’s (Boston Legal).  For a guy with (unfounded) reputation for overacting, he stole Boston Legal as a show and has a couple of Emmys to prove it.

He’s also a master Equestrian and has brought a spotlight to aiding horses, even establishing the annual Celebrity Horse Show.  And through his association with Star Trek has given more time and money to charities such as Habitat For Humanity and American Cancer Society so one can’t exactly question his generosity.

And Patrick Stewart likes him, so I mean, really, how bad could William Shatner be?

And if that doesn’t convince you, just take a minute and watch William Shatner steal the show, the entire show, at the AFI salute to George Lucas:

So what happens when Bill Maher has George Takei on to talk about gay rights?  “George Takei explains why he can’t stand William Shatner.”

“But it’s the media overblowing one small part of the interview”  Don’t give them that small part.  Don’t say anything bad, untoward, mean, spiteful, sliteful and do your best to be mindful. This stuff can overshadow all the wonderful, wonderful work you both do.

I mean, you guys are both in your 70’s – can you really NOT make up?  Do you want exit stage left with feelings of resentment and bitterness still in your souls about something that happened in the late 60’s?  Patrick Troughton was The Doctor when you guys were making Star Trek for crying out loud.

And let’s revisit those other feuds:

-Roger Waters and David Gilmour may never record together but they’ve mended fences for both charity and peace of mind:

-Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart and The Ultimate Warrior are all in Vince McMahon’s WWE Hall Of Fame.

-And Family Guy & The Simpsons?:

If I had my wishes or a bunch of money, I’d hire you guys to do a two-hander, either a play or one-off TV special. Force you guys to sit in a room and work together, battle it out, yell, scream but ultimately work together toward the greater good of putting on a good show with a greater respect and understanding of each other.  But I don’t have the money and it looks like you guys don’t have the will so it’ll probably never happen.  (Hell, I would take you guys performing Comfortably Numb.  Maybe we can do it at David Gilmour’s house, he can fight with Roger Waters over he’s a better grillmaster. I’m kidding. Maybe.)

You guys are heroes to countless people.  You are bigger and better than this.  If the grand finale of this isn’t a peaceful resolution, then please let each other be.  You’re both doing fantastic, wonderful work with long, wonderful careers behind you. You’re both doing selfless, generous work that’s important to charities, to the helpless and the voiceless.  You may not ever like each other – or be able to forgive pass transgressions.  But you guys are both awesome. You should be awesome together. But if really can’t, I think the best thing for each of your souls would be if you looked across the stage, exchanged a nod and raised a glass.

At the very least, you each deserve that.



Brazen Moves: An Interview With Mike Doto

Thanks to everyone who read my Weird Al post. It was a quick observation I made last week when talking with Megan about his new strategy and next thing I know, it’s my most read blog EVER.  If you’re enjoying the blog, feel free to shoot out some shares on facebook or twitter.  Comments, feedbacks, high-fives and shares are always welcome.

Continuing with the interviews and this week we’re turning to seasoned member of the Director’s Team.  Mike Doto is a gentleman who’s worn many creative hats in the entertainment business, climbing the ranks from a Stage PA to Assistant Director but he didn’t stop there.  He’s also directed two critically acclaimed shorts and is currently the Digital Media Producer for TVLand’s “Hot In Cleveland” starring a true cast of legends in Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and the iconic Betty White.


In this episode Mike offers some great practical insight that could serve as a guide to newcomers to the business or great reminders to vets.  We also discuss how directors are finding new creative opportunities thanks to the new frontier of digital media on the internet:

For more on Hot In Cleveland’s digital media, check it out here:


You can check out Mike’s Films here (and I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible, great stuff)

Peace starring Kurtwood Smith and Nancy Lenehan:

The Legacy which won Best Comics Oriented Film from San Diego Comic-Con:

And you can find Mike on the internet at:

Thanks again for reading and listening!


Dare To Be Current: What Every Screenwriter Can Learn From Weird Al Yankovic

“I am deathly afraid of being the old guy who talks about the 8 Track cassette or the fax machine or the mimeograph.”

-Paul Heyman on The Stone Cold Steve Austin Show April 2014.

I can remember watching the “Eat It” video for the first time as a kid. I believe I was laughing so hard I was literally, not figuratively, hitting the floor. It was 1984, and Michael Jackson’s ubiquity in pop culture was firmly cemented so when Weird Al Yankovic’s parody reached MTV airwaves, it was cheered for by the masses like he was Hulk Hogan heading to the ring to vanquish the Iron Sheik.

Having a smash hit like “Eat It” or his album “Weird Al In 3-D” on its own would be a hell of an accomplishment. But Mr. Yankovic has been nominated for 11 Grammy’s and owns 4. He’s also has a collection of 4 gold records and 6 platinum. He was valedictorian in high school, studied to be an architect and can really play the accordion.

He’s sold tens of millions of albums. He’s an accomplished music video director (and not just for his own stuff, he’s directed Ben Folds, The Presidents Of The United States Of America and The Black Crowes). He’s movie “UHF” was released during a golden movie summer of 1989 and is an underrated cult classic. (It’s considered a box office flop, but when I saw it, the theatre was packed and loved it)  By the time I saw “Eat It”, Weird Al was already well established on the music scene thanks to his parody “Another One Rides The Bus” and being a fixture for Dr. Demento. And if that’s not enough, when the Autobots reunite and celebrate with the Junkeons in the original Transformers Movie, it’s Weird Al’s “Dare To Be Stupid” that they dance to.

His parodies are not dirty or vulgar. And Mr Yankovic doesn’t skewer artists behind their back. He seeks out permission and is man enough to back off when they say “no” (depriving the world of his “Live And Let Die” parody “Chicken Pot Pie” but we persevere). He’s overcome deep personal tragedy and infuriatingly, looks much younger now in his mid-fifties than many other people do in their 30’s (maybe there’s something to vegetarianism being anti-aging after all.)

Most admirably, Weird Al looks forward not back. His parodies while timeless in some ways, are always current for today’s audiences whenever today might be.  In other words, you don’t ever have to have heard “Eat It” to laugh your ass off to “Smells Like Nirvana.” He also understands the internet and how to use it:

Weird Al

So what does all this have to do with screenwriting?

One of my biggest pet peeves is the “They’ll never let you make that today.” It comes up in numerous conversations about movies and the industry. At a film festival last year, I overheard several people I deeply admire talk about “Dog Day Afternoon” (5 out of 5 stars, see it now) would never get made today – at least not by a major studio. And you know something, they’re right. No major studio would make “Dog Day Afternoon” today. But when “Dog Day Afternoon” was released in theatres, “Breaking Bad”, “Orange Is The New Black” and “Game Of Thrones” were not on the small-screen.

The business changes. Every day. The business is changing as I write this. And with all due respect, “Oh well, it’ll never happen” is absolutely the wrong way to greet the ever changing landscape. An artist has two choices 1) Pack it up and go home 2) Navigate the changes in the business.

It’s a scary thing to write scripts that are completely different/unique from what’s being released.  When I saw “Godzilla” a few weeks ago, there were about 8-10 trailers. Each one was either a comic book movie or a disaster flick. I’m someone who likes to write intimate dramas about people dealing with the ruination of their lives, so those trailers basically felt like one giant “NEXT” billboard in the face of my writing.

(Speaking of comic book movies, remember the 1990’s? When comic book movies were basically over-the-top jokes. James Cameron couldn’t even launch an X-Men movie back then. “They’ll never let you make that” is NOT a permanent diagnosis.)  

But then I take a look at the lineup on FX, AMC, HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Starz and some nights, A&E. Hours upon hours of dramas about a myriad of characters who’ve ruined their lives, caught themselves in a tangled web and all kids of other stuff I love to write about. A giant billboard of “PLEASE COME IN” to my writing.

I’m a trained feature writer. The 90-100 page Three Act structure was always a natural to me and fitting stories within that structure, while not always easy, made sense to me. Compacting a story within 50 or so pages leaving room to continue next week was not so natural.  (And as I said in last week’s interview, I think sitcom’s 30 page format is terribly difficult. Bless the funny people, they work very hard)

But guess what? If TV is where I have to go to tell my stories, then sweating over the 4 act, 45 minute structure it is. My current portfolio features 2 pilots of life-wrecking drama and 2 features of varying budget because I’ve not given up on the drama feature. And with good reason.

Many of my colleagues have worked on films this past year that have dealt with issues such as an artist suffering post traumatic stress, quarterlife suicide and sexual identity in millenials. Despite reports of indie film being dead, I’ve seen it alive exploring brave new material. Granted, the commercial nature of indie film is still very in flux with the advent of VOD and the dust still needs to settle there but I’ve seen and heard of too many great movies to believe the axiom that powerful dramas are dead in cinema. They’re still there, how they’re delivered to you is certainly not the same as even 5 years ago. I’ve heard rave reviews of “Snow Piercer”, not heard many complaints about how they saw it.

Actually, the more I think about it – a man holds up a bank to get money for his lover’s sex operation…In 2014? Honestly, that story is more relevant and topical than ever.  Nope, I’m not convinced that no major studio would touch “Dog Day Afternoon.” Remake may be heading your way soon.

The business changes and one can’t sit there waiting for yesterday’s chances to emerge from tomorrow’s trends. One has to adapt and change to the marketplace while keeping their creative vision alive.

One of the very best examples of that is Weird Al Yankovic.

Is he sitting at home going “Oh well, Michael Jackson has died” or “there’s no way I can parody today’s music. It’s passed me by”? Is he sitting at home listening to hip hop going “I don’t understand this stuff”? Is he nostalgically watching the “Eat It” Video saying “They’ll never let me do this anymore”?

On his Behind The Music special, much credit was given to MTV for Weird Al’s success. And rightfully so. His videos were and are a huge part of the overall experience of his parodies.  But MTV doesn’t play videos anymore. In fact, there’s no mainstream outlet for music videos anymore. It seems most visual exposure for music these days is commercials.  So what did Weird Al do? Pack it up and go home saying “well, it was good run.”

Nope. Weird Al went to WORK.

Weird Al even manages to make Fox News watchable as he explains his new album’s marketing strategy of releasing a video a day:  

Is Weird Al a genius? Maybe he is. I don’t have an argument against. He’s certainly a very intelligent, very clever and very funny man. But much of his viral internet strategy comes from good old-fashioned, common sense. Keep the jokes current and get them in front of as many people as possible. Instead of lamenting the loss of MTV, Weird Al and his people probably looked at his internet numbers.

The viewership from his official YouTube Channel:

-Smells Like Nirvana: 10. 3 Million

-Eat It: 11.5 Million

-Perform This Way: 16.6 Million

-White & Nerdy: 86.7 Million. 86.7 MILLION VIEWS.  If that video played during the Super Bowl pre-show, it would have less eyeballs on it.

And from his new album:

-Word Crimes: 9.1 Million Views in one week.

(Side-note: Dr. Arnold T Blumberg, a friend of mine who’s a college professor has already added it to his syllabus. He’s also an expert on zombies and pop culture at large, but that’s another story for another time.)

Yup. Dropping videos on various platforms taking advantage of viral marketing has been a huge smash for Weird Al and the result looks like it will be his first number one album in his long and enviable career.

Of course, Weird Al’s exact strategy for releasing an album doesn’t directly apply to releasing new movies. But that’s not the lesson here.

The landscape changed. The roadmaps of 1984 look completely different from the roadmaps of 2014. But Weird Al is an artist who figured out how to read those new roadmaps without compromising the stories he wanted to tell.

If a screenwriter needs to adapt to a different screen, so be it. The demand for great stories is never ever ever going to go away no matter how much the delivery systems change. No writer should ever listen when they’re told the business has changed too much or those days are gone. Yes, those days are gone but that doesn’t mean one should be swept under the carpet with them.

“They don’t make musicals anymore,” Chicago, Glee, Smash, Rock Of Ages.

“They don’t make romantic comedies anymore,” The Fault In Our Stars, Begin Again, The Mindy Project 

And one of my favorites – “There’s just no way a show like Doctor Who would work in today’s pop culture.” That was mine, I actually said that in the late 90’s. Thank the Heavens I was so very wrong.

Because the trick is if a screenwriter or filmmaker can figure out how to read the ever changing roadmaps, they just might be able to find the people, the producers/directors/executives who will absolutely “let you make that today.”

Links to purchase Weird Al’s new album “Mandatory Fun” on his homepage. And if you’re not convinced to buy, the videos Mr Yankovic have posted on the internet will probably talk you into it:


Tales From A Twice Self-Published Author: An Interview With Megan Karasch

I’ll be doing more writing about writing this week or next, but I wanted to keep the Handsome Timmy D Express rolling with another blogcast. 

This week I welcome one of Hollywood’s most promising up and coming screenwriters. Megan Karasch has scored highly on the Black List website (as in 8 & 9 highly) and is the winner of the 2013 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition in the Half Hour TV Pilots category. She’s attracted plenty of attention for her work including from an independent producing team who are shopping a sitcom she developed for them.  

Meg Profile Pic

On this episode, Megan explores the up’s & down’s of self-publishing, how she finds time to write with a full-time job and the challenges facing women writers in today’s ever-changing industry landscape:

For More on Megan and her books, check out the links below:

Kindle E Book Cover

Megan’s Homepage:

Megan on Twitter:

And another interview about self-publishing and promotion:

The Unique Book Marketing Tactic that Convinced me to Buy, With Author Megan Karasch


From The Juke In The Back: An Interview With Matt The Cat

Let me open by thanking everyone for their kind words and feedback on the blog. Readership is growing at a steady but enthusiastic pace it seems and I couldn’t be more happy with where things are at after 8 weeks of launching, so cheers everyone. I’m so glad people are enjoying this!

I’ve been playing with this idea for a while of bringing in other industry pros to talk about the various forms/struggles/joys of the creative life. I’m going to try to line up an interview each week but scheduling may offer some challenges. I’ve got an extensive black book to dig into but am also happy to hear from & feature other aspiring screenwriters, filmmakers or whatnot who are either on the stage or trying to make their way to the stage who have thoughts to share.

This week, we start with someone who is truly excellent at what they decided to do. Matt The Cat is a renowned and acclaimed DJ with experience ranging high school radio to world-famous WERS at Emerson College all the way to his own prime-time show that ran nearly a decade on XM/Sirius. And he’s not stopped there. You’ll hear more about his adventures in the interview, but suffice to say he’s been entertaining a multitudinous and voluminous audience for over 2 decades.

Matt The Cat

I want to keep this blog about the creative challenges of writing (and screenwriting) in particular but already in this first interview I was very surprised (and pleasantly) so at how similar the creative aims of a DJ and a screenwriter actually are.  Hopefully more common ground and challenges will be found as the series progresses.

Now, quick disclaimer: this is sort-of accidental podcasting,  a warts and all conversation recorded over Skype, so a few words cut out here and there.  If more people keep tuning & reading, I’ll look into upgrading then.  Right now, for me, the content is the most important thing so bear with me if it doesn’t sound like a Podcast one production (because it’s not) but this is a great listen with some very poignant reminders from someone who’s excelled in their field.

Without any further ado, sit back, relax and grab a seat on The Handsome Timmy D Express with Matt The Cat:

For more on Matt The Cat, his career and the work he’s doing now to keep music history alive, check out the links below:

The Juke In The Back:

Matt The Cat’s homepage:

Matt The Cat’s official facebook:

Matt The Cat’s official twitter:

Matt The Cat’s XM/Sirius work:

Matt The Cat’s Youtube channel:

Thanks for listening & reading!




You Get One: What Happens When You DO Fail

I got some really nice feedback on my “Fear Of Failure” entry, so cheers all!   This week’s entry can be seen as a sequel to that little tome because since then well, old Handsome Timmy D had to seek out some of his own advice.  

I can’t get into too much detail for certain legal reasons (those terms & conditions on a contract aren’t there just for your health, you know) but let’s just say that there was an opportunity and there was a mistake in a script and said opportunity turned into rejection.  And there’s no one else I can blame for that mistake.  I made it.  It was my fault.  I could blame it on taking on too much, being overwhelmed or tired from various projects, but that’s all a cop-out.  I’m a freelance writer and producer.  I set my own schedule.  I made those decisions.  The mistake was mine and mine alone.

I failed.

So what do you do when you fail?  

Aspiring screenwriters are assaulted on many fronts by various platitudes and axioms that try to help take the sting out of the constant rejection that a writer faces.  What made this particular rejection sting was that it was possibly preventable.  This particular deal cost a lot of man hours and resources so for this to happen was nothing short of devastating.  And tweets of “just keep writing” or “every rejection is just another opportunity” don’t hold a lot of water when you watch all that time and work slip down the drain.  

Because here’s the thing – we can’t be afraid of failure.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt like a mother fucker when it happens. Peyton Manning didn’t whistle while he packed up his locker after losing to Seattle saying “oh well, there’s always next year.”  I don’t know Mr. Manning but I think it’s fair to say that when watching his Super Bowl aspirations be swallowed up by the Seattle Seahawks in resounding fashion, his millions of dollars, numerous accolades and countless records set didn’t amount to squat.  At least not in that moment.  The pain of current losing can far outweigh the joys of past success.

The entertainment industry is a minefield of constant rejections.  Even if I were to lucky enough to sell a show tomorrow, it would then go to development where there’s plenty of time for it to be shelved.  Even if we shoot the pilot, the network may not pick it up for series.  Even if we get to series, the audience may shit on it and it might be cancelled within a few episodes.  There’s MANY more failures in the industry than successes, which is one of the main reasons why so many smart, rational people say “fuck that” and walk away from the starting line.  

And no one is immune from the pain of failures.  Did you know Jack Nicholson is still mad about being passed over for The Graduate?  You think George Lucas, deep down inside, is OK about how unpopular the prequels are?  And of course, I stated in a previous blog that Michael Jordan knows exactly how many game-losing misses he’s had.

There’s so many stories and interviews where the pain and misery of the rejection is glossed over.  “We passed so-and-so and it got rejected by every studio in town before so-and-so picked it up.”  Yeah, you think those days were skipping through the fields with butterflies sitting on their shoulders?  Yes, it’s part of the business, but yes there’s a lot of pain being reconciled as well.  After every pass, there’s a lot of looking in the mirror before the next meeting.  Because each pass, no matter how “part of the business” it is, is a kick in the nuts.


You want to cry.  You want to throw things across the room.  You want to hate everyone else who is successful.  The pain of failure is overwhelming and I think, sometimes in our minds, it’s more powerful than the joys of victory.  

Here’s a philosophy that I subscribe to and it’s one I’ve gotten from other writers of varying success:

You Get One.

One hour, one day, one week…one month or one year, that’s a bit long.  But you get one.  You can’t bottle up that pain.  You can’t just swallow down the agony of defeat, painting on a fake smile while tears stream down your face. You can’t just tell yourself, “I’ll just keep rewriting and it’ll get better lalala”.  That sounds as hollow as “There’s always next year.”

So go ahead and hurt.  Feel the pain, feel the anger, don’t bottle it up.  You need to cry over it?  Do it.  Who cares?  Want to put someone’s face on a punching bag and punch it infinitely.  Go ahead! (I think my face has ended up on a few boxing bags, much to my great amusement)  Go ahead, feel the failure and HURT. 

But for only one.  You get to hurt for one hour, one day or even one week.  I know of more than one person who’s had to lock themselves away for week watching People’s Court & Price Is Right while cussing the rest of the world until their resolve is built back up.  

I took my one.  The shitstorm rolled into port on a Sunday night like a Deadliest Catch act break.  Monday was a wash.  I forced myself to do my DDP Yoga and that was my positive achievement of the day.  The rest of the day was filled with a steady diet of the couch, daytime TV and generally being envious of the cat who’s major stress of the day was getting more treats or fending off my attempts at cuddles.  I was emotionally exhausted and daresay, in some small way could relate to those game-winning loses athletes suffer from.  I had the game winning catch that would take us to the playoffs in my hands – and then it hit the ground.  I was staring at the ball on the grass while the other team showered in champagne. (Only, I don’t have the 24 million dollar contracts those guys have but again, in those moments, for guys that really care, there is no money in the world.)

That Monday I plummeted to sleep.  Tuesday, I woke up, pulled myself out of bed and I was back at it.  It was hard, but that was the moment when the platitudes and axioms had to be heeded.  I took my one.  The time for feeling sorry for myself had passed.  There was work to do, there were changes to make, there were new deals to be made.   By coincidence or maybe that’s just the way it is, sure enough on that Tuesday afternoon – another deal appeared on the horizon.  It’s almost as big an opportunity as the lost one.  It’s not signed, sealed or delivered by any stretch but the fight is back on.  48 hours after the first deal went south, new games were already being played.  It was next year.

I saw the producer I work with the most a few weeks later.  I told him about this deal going south and the mistake I made.  He smiled wide and patted me on the back, clinking my glass.  “If you’re gonna get in the ring, you gotta take some body blows,” he said.  It was akin to that moment in Goodfellas after Henry gets pinched for the first time, “you broke your cherry.”  

I had experienced one of my early major rejections, one of many that a writer will face over their career (the length of which is up to them). I took my body blows, I took the pain – and of course, I stayed in the ring.  Quite frankly, I don’t know how to be anywhere else.

He’s right.  These rejections and failures are part of the business.  If you want to play pro football, you’re going to lose some playoff games.  If you want to win the UFC title, you’re going to be punched in the face.  If you want to be a screenwriter in Hollywood, you will face countless rejections.

So any aspiring writers who are reading this, I hope this offers some small comfort or a helpful reminder when the shitstorm rolls into your port:  It’s OK to hurt when you don’t qualify for the festival or when you don’t get staffed or that producer passes on your project.  Feel the hurt for that one hour, one day or even one week.  But if you really well and truly want this, you’ll  take your one then get back at it.  Because if you don’t, there are plenty of people out there who will.


Haters Gonna Hate: Trolling The Trolls


The 27 favorites and 13 retweets all came from total strangers.  It seems I struck a welcome chord in today’s rough and tumble internet frontier.  This was the original post I was replying to:


For the record, I do not know Wil Wheaton.  I’ve never met him either through industry connections or at fan conventions.   He’s not endorsed me writing this blog and I do not speak for him in anycapacity whatsoever.  Unlike VictorWTF, I’m a fan of his work in Star Trek: The Next Generation (arguably the best US Science Fiction show ever) and especially his performance in “Stand By Me”. Mr. Wheaton and I both share a love of the LA Kings and Doctor Who. He’s done a tremendous job reinventing himself on-line and has the reputation of being an easy-going, fun-loving, all-around good guy.

He’s also an adult, a well-seasoned celebrity and certainly doesn’t need me sticking up for him or fighting his battles.  But still I had to say something on the twitter because there’s nothing quite as despicable and gutless as anonymous trolling, is there? And considering how folks responded to my tweet and some recent events, I figured this is a good time to investigate the modern phenomenon of anonymous internet bravery.

I’m kind of disappointed that the term troll has evolved to be used beyond the anonymous.  I remember (or maybe I misunderstood the term, I’m not 20 anymore) just a year or so ago when the trolls were only the cowards who hid behind aliases and fake photos.  Now trolling can be referring to even passing criticism of a celebrity or public figure.  I don’t think this is a good thing as I believe the cowards hiding behind keyboards deserve an exclusive epithet and “troll” more than fits.

Of course, irrational criticism of celebrities wasn’t born during the internet age but it seems like our online world has either shone a spotlight onto it or brought a lot of scum rising to the surface.  The fine folks at Jimmy Kimmel Live know how to make a joke out of it:

But take a look at some of those twitter handles.  Very few use a proper name and who knows if that’s even a real name.

The internet gives voice to the voiceless in many grand ways explored by both symbolic and practical activism.  But it also gives voice to the voiceless who have found no other way of expressing themselves productively.

Let me be very clear though, this blog is not meant as an indictment against online criticism.  This blog is an indictment of those who criticize without taking responsibility for their words and actions.  I like to debate and discuss a wide-range of topics on my twitter account (@handsometimmyd, go on, give a follow if you’re so inclined) but I have one policy: People can disagree with me all they want but anyone using a fake alias and/or doesn’t have a picture of a real person gets only one reply – and that’s usually to tell them they’re blocked.

(Now might be a good time to mention I will employ a similar policy on this blog. Disagreement, vehement or otherwise, is more than welcome in the comment section. Name-calling of myself or others will not be approved by this handsome devil.)

See, it’s hard to argue with someone in your real voice using your real face.  That requires the possibility of consequences.  It SUCKS being wrong, doesn’t it?  No one likes to be wrong, even fewer like to admit it.  But it happens to the best of us.  I’ve been wrong hundreds of times (back in 2002, I thought the Iraq War was a good idea until the WMDs were evidently not in existence.  I’ve gotten numerous technical details wrong. I’ve had to admit when I’ve written the wrong thing in a script or produced an episode of TV in the wrong direction. In 1996, I even thought the internet would be a fad soon to tire out.  Yup, I was wrong about all that shit.)  The sun still rises and sets of course. As much as it sucks to be wrong about stuff, it’s simply part of the human experience, much like failure that I’ve written about before.  But there’s something refreshing about writing about all that stuff openly – I can say (hell, I just put it in writing) that I’m man enough to admit that I’ve been wrong and not only that, learned quite a lot from those and other experiences of being “wrong.”

It’s funny but the older I get, which is each passing minute, the more I can admit I don’t know – and ironically, that makes me feel a lot smarter.

So everyone hates to be wrong.  If there’s anyone out there who likes it, I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting them.  But there’s more to it than that.  Hiding behind a keyboard and alias not only hides you from consequence – it hides you from hurt.  Maybe Victorhcj reveals everything about himself in his profile somewhere. I don’t know but I doubt it.  Because when you hide behind an alias you can say “YOU SUCK” all day long at people – and no one can say “YOU SUCK” back at you, not really.

Attacking people like this is engaging in a kind of modern day duel.  But it’s a duel that goes only one way.  The target gets all the rocks thrown at them, but the rocks that are thrown back are sent to the alias – not the true identity of the attacker.  That person can go about their day, feeling like they’ve accomplished something or giving themselves a false sense of superiority because they took it upon themselves to act like some of kind of digital Grover Norquist, thinking they speak for the rest of us.  In the example above, VictorPussyface speaks for “a significant amount of people” who hate Wil Wheaton because “he sucks.”  Whatever scientific method he used to take this survey and the exact statistical results of said survey, he elected not to post.

“But Tim, you’re calling Victor names and I may have seen you tweet John Boehner calling him an asshole once or twice. Isn’t that hypocritical of you? What’s the difference?”  I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all.  You see, I’m not hiding.  I’m Tim Davis.  My resume is available online at imdb and linkedin.  I appear regularly on a podcast.  My personal email is easy to find and my phone number is on my calling card which is all over town.

I got into a very fierce debate with John Cusack on twitter last year about the Edward Snowden gambit.  I didn’t troll him. I didn’t name-call him.  We just debated several points and I didn’t hide behind any alias.  He was debating with Tim Davis.  He knows my name & he knows my face.  I wasn’t some weird troll with a weirder name or a stupid picture.  In fact, I’m guessing Mr. Cusack engaged me in debate for so long BECAUSE I didn’t hide behind keyboard courage.  God knows, celebrities hear from countless nameless trolls every day, and as much as he disagreed with me, I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a hearty handshake from him one day over the whole affair.

And it’s not just celebrities.  I’m going to share three cases of anonymous trolling in my life.  They were some parts hurtful, borderline frightening and all equally pathetic.

The first occurred when I was in High School.  I was pranked called regularly by someone who instilled a fair amount of verbal abuse toward me.  They always used a different name when calling but never their real one.  It being small-town New Jersey, it wasn’t hard to figure out who it was.  I could tell you his name but it wouldn’t mean anything to you.  His main purpose was trying to goad me into a meeting or confrontation.  He told me to meet him at several points at certain times.  I took him up on none of these rendezvous figuring that physical harm was on the agenda and who needs that? We came close to calling the police but after hanging up on him so many times, he got bored and moved on to God knows what.  I don’t know where he is or what he’s up to.  And I don’t care.

The second occurred in 2004.  Remember Friendster?  Well, I was new to LA and someone set up a dummy account for the sole purpose of sending me one email.  The account was called “Cheez Whiz” and I doubt that appears on any birth certificate.  And there was no profile picture.  The gist of the email?  I was unwelcome in LA amongst my group of friends.  No one in LA liked me and also that despite my best efforts, I was ugly and bald.  This letter came at a particularly low period of time.  I was recently in a car accident and going through a very tough transition at work.  I hate to admit it, but this letter threw me for a loop.  I asked several of my friends what they thought of it and was given many numerous assurances that yes, I was indeed welcome in LA and that whoever sent the letter was the real asshole.  Really didn’t take that much to eventually figure out who it was that wrote that one either.  I’ve never confronted the person for 2 reasons 1) Deference to mutual friends.  I don’t want people to worry about inviting both of us to a party in case of drama 2) Is there really any point?  More on that later.

And you know what’s even more ironic, I was put in a position a few times to help this person out – and I did.  You know why?  Because I’m not the person they think I am – I’m a lot better person than they think I am.

The third instance I’m going to tell you about came up because of this blog.  Yup, I got my first piece of hate mail on my piece about guns “Just Another Day In America.”  It was from a dummy account under the name “Ed.” No picture, of course.  This person had this to say – and this is the one and only time I will allow abusive comments like this on the blog and it’s simply for context:

Knew this POS trust fund baby when he lived in Boston. Arrogant beyond belief. Especially for a guy with hair grown nearly down to the small of his back in order to compensate for his advanced male pattern baldness. (FYI: Everyone laughed about it behind your back.) So nice to know that back in those days you were screaming into your laundry basket when you weren’t being a condescending prick to anyone who wasn’t a woman, a racial minority, a homosexual, or uglier than you. Btw, how’s your talk show that you used to tell everyone you’d have?

I find the last part weird because the talk show I told everyone about was the podcast I’m part of now.  The Dan & Travis Show.  It’s awesome.  Check it out.  We did it in 2002 during the infancy of internet radio and we restarted it last year.  And it was very easy to find via google, so Ed can’t even do simple homework (always important when throwing stones).

(Side-note about the hairline thing: It’s low and crude to attack someone for something they have little-to-no control over. Ed, like Cheez-Whiz, sound like that goofy thug in “Roxanne” saying “big nose” because I can come with 20 better jokes off the top of my head easy.)

Ed here decided to attack me opening up about personal pain here.  Well, I’m a writer.  Every writer will have to be honest with themselves and write about their personal pain for all the world to see.  If he thinks this is detracting me from doing more opening up about personal pain, I have disappointing news for him.  In fact, I have A LOT of disappointing news for him in a bit.

So, you may be asking yourself – well shit, Tim, did you deserve this?  Ed from Boston says you were arrogant beyond belief.  Were you arrogant?  Were you an asshole?  Were you some kind of prick?  Did you say things that hurt people’s feelings?  Did you offend people, however accidentally?

Of course, I did.  I’m plenty guilty of things like that.  Like being wrong, it’s part of the human experience.  Anyone NOT full of piss & vinegar in their 20’s? (And if you weren’t, MAN did you miss out.)   Am I arrogant?  I think my confidence has slid to the arrogant/egotistic side at times. Sure, I’ll cop to that.  There’s always room for lessons in humility.  Am I an asshole?  Well, of course there have been many situations and conversations I wish I handled better but that’s certainly not unique to me.  We’ve all had those.  There are plenty of people in this world who don’t like me.  But here’s the interesting thing: many of the reasons some people don’t like me are the very reasons other people like me.  So what in the world did I do to make these people so upset that they had to sum up all of their false internet bravery to anonymously try to hurt my feelings.

Because trolling has one purpose and one purpose only: to hurt people.

Besides, any betterment I’ve received as a person has been face to face from real friends – not unsigned letters from gutless trolls.

Like I said, I know who two of these people are (sorry, “Ed’, for the life of me, I have no clue who you are).  And when I looked at their lives then looked at mine, I realized what I had done.  I wasn’t being trolled because I was an asshole sometimes.  I was being trolled from the very opposite reason.  Here’s my great sin:

I’m a happy and successful person.

(Yeah, OK, I’m a lot more outspoken and opinionated than some others which will of course lead to being targeted more – though I’m not sure how that justifies being trolled. Especially because I am an easy to find open book who is more than happy to talk about anything.)

But when I look at the totality of my life and accomplishments, I can see what makes these sad people so angry:

-My closest friends are truly golden human beings anyone reading this would be glad to know. I can’t begin to describe my luck when I think of the people I’m closest with.

-I’m in a healthy, long-term relationship with a successful, intelligent and beautiful woman with no low standards.  (It doesn’t hurt that I can cook too)

-I have 614 Facebook friends & believe it or not, I’m selective.  If I can’t see myself having lunch with you, I’m not approving the friend request.

-I have worked alongside, learned from and been instructional to some of the most talented people in my chosen profession.  My services have been requested by some of the best crews in Los Angeles.  My skills as a writer have been endorsed by movie producers, film festivals and other more-acclaimed writers. That is not only an honor, it’s a privilege.

-I have close to 800 twitter followers, not always folks I know but many acquired through networking as I transition from reality to scripted.

-I’m also blessed and fortunate to be able to say that I have friends and family who would put me up in the following cities; Seattle, Phoenix, Boston, Salem, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Gibbsboro, Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, and London.  I know this because they’ve told me “You have to visit us.”

-I say none of this with any kind of arrogance.  It may literally be impossible for me to truly express the gratitude I feel for the life I’m living.  And the same can be said for so many of the people I choose to spend my precious time with.  People who worked hard and smart to live the lives they want on the paths they’ve chosen.

-I’ve been successful in every profession I’ve endeavored on, from being promoted to the corporate office at City Sports to writing copy for Stone Cold Steve Austin.  I smile as I go about my day.  I dance in the shower.  I sing in the car.  When I set out into the world, I know that I’m in my own small way, helping.  I’ve followed my bliss.  Just like Wil Wheaton.  Just like countless other celebrities.  Just like countless other successful people who are not famous but are living happy lives as I type this.  Just like anyone who looks in the mirror and likes what they see.

And THAT’S what the trolls can’t stand.  When others are happy – and they’re not.  So instead of following their own bliss or doing what they can to make themselves either happier or at least on the way to happiness, it’s easier to try to tear down others.  Especially from behind an internet shield where they can hide their plentiful vulnerabilities, insecurities and hurts.

Because underneath every angry, hateful line a troll is writing, is one underlying thought:

“How dare you try to be happy when I’m not?”

For my past sins, anyone whom I owe an apology to has gotten it.  I will, however, never ever under any circumstances apologize for being successful or trying to be happy.  No one should ever apologize for that.

Because to take to a nameless, faceless identity to attack someone, God almighty.  That’s a bit more than just an asshole move.  It’s not merely pathetic or weak or gutless or petty.

It’s sick.

To be so consumed by hatred and anger and jealousy – whatever world these guys and other anonymous internet keyboard haters inhabit is a frightening and sad place.  I hope you, dear reader, and I never end up there.

So, Ed, Cheez-Whiz and every other internet troll hiding behind a keyboard: YES, I dare to be happy.  And I will continue to be happy.  I will continue to endeavor and bust my ass every day to further my career.  I will continue to improve my writing skills.  I will continue to try to be a better, more generous, more thoughtful, more considerate person.  I will continue to blog my thoughts and opinions under my real name Tim Davis (and my wrestling-bump earned nickname of Handsome Timmy D) for the world to see, read, enjoy and disagree with.

Over the past 15 years, I can think of about 6 or 7 people whom I truly despise. A handful of folks whom I find irredeemable in any way, folks whom I can say I truly HATE.  I think about them sometimes, my blood boils for a few minutes – and then I move on with my day.  I do my best to keep them in the rearview because that’s how I handle people I hate.  I have nothing to do with them.  No contact whatsoever, via social media or otherwise (again apart from mutual politeness for the benefit of our friends).  They become non-issues in my life aside from what the memory triggers.

I want to have a happy, successful and productive life.  I want to laugh and be giddy and over the top and goofy and silly and dance like there’s no tomorrow.  And no matter how bad a day, no matter how stressed or overwhelmed I get, no matter who vehemently I argue my points – I just don’t ever want to live a life where I hurt people.

I hadn’t thought of the prank caller in years, Cheez-Whiz I still see now and then but Ed’s hateful email brought them to the surface.  But return to the rearview they will where I’m sure they’ll be joined by more future anonymous trolls.

However, Ed did me an accidental favor.  I went onto social media outlets announcing that this dear old blog had received its first piece of hate mail.  The result?  The traffic on the blog Skyrocketed to see what the hubbub was about:


Funny, but it looks like a middle finger right at Ed, doesn’t it?  It was my most read day and almost served as a kind of coming out party for me as I’m restarting this blog and am still building my readership.  And that’s how I have to take that hate-mail just like how people should take every bit of anonymous trolling: Just another sign of success.


When you leave a comment on here, you have to give an email so with Ed’s trolling was an email address.  I don’t know if it was his real email address or not.  I wasn’t going to reply because it’s best not to fight on their terms, but because my traffic exploded, I couldn’t resist.  Just in case he hijacked someone else’s email, I hid the real name I found when I researched it.  But here’s the email I sent to him.  To the surprise of no one, there’s been no reply.

After all, there’s bravery quite like anonymous internet bravery:

Hello Ed or (name excised),
        You gave the name Ed to wordpress but when I researched your email, I found the name “(excised)”.  If you are neither of these people, then your email has been hijacked or erroneously used & I apologize for bothering you on this lovely Saturday.
        If I am addressing the person who commented on my blog, though, I must first Thank You Very Much for your interest and comments.  However, I have a policy of not allowing name-calling in the comments sections so I’m afraid I couldn’t approve your comment.
        I must Thank You again though because when I publicized your comment as my first piece of hate-mail (you must admit, it was on the hateful side) the traffic to my blog DOUBLED in an hour.  Today has been my highest traffic/read day so far so Thanks to your comment, you’ve been able to contribute to my growing digital popularity.  I’m new at this blogging thing so I appreciate all the help I can get.
        I have to correct you on one small detail, I am not associated with nor ever have been associated with any trust funds.  I earned every dollar I ever got, whether in retail or over the past 10 years as a Television Producer in which I contributed to shows which have entertained millions of people around the world.
        You claim to know me well, but for the life of me, I cannot remember you who are.  (No Eds or xx ring a bell, xx or otherwise)  Sorry, but try as I might, I’ve not lived in Boston or on the East Coast for over 12 years so forgive me for not recalling you out of the hundreds of people I knew & worked with during those years.
         I wish you all the best – and quite frankly, hope you find some peace in the world instead of anonymously attacking people you haven’t seen in over a decade.  Take Care.
May The Best Days Be Ahead… ————— 

Tim Davis 












Star Beasts: Taking A Look At The “Alien” Saga

alien poster

Just to be safe, this contains SPOILERS for every Alien movie ever made (& even some comics) so if you’ve not seen those, proceed with caution.

On many, if not most, lists of screenplays that are must-reads for screenwriters “Alien” invariably comes up.  But which draft?  The original “Star Beast” by Dan O’Bannon (Story by Dan O’Bannon & Ronald Shusett) or “Alien” by Walter Hill & David Giler?  Fear not, dear reader, I intrepidly read drafts from both parties then watched the final version of the film.  

“Alien” is a classic.  It’s hard to overstate its success, both commercially and creatively.  Obviously, I enjoyed this exercise very much and moved on to “Aliens” by James Cameron, so this week is all about some observations about the “Alien” Saga in general.  “Alien” was first released in 1979, before many of you were even born (I was a spritely 3, so no, didn’t see it during its original run). 

The thing that jumps out immediately to me about the “Alien” scripts (whatever drafts), is how unmarketable they’d be today.  In one of O’Bannon’s drafts he says that all the characters are interchangeable, to be played by men or women, with no physical descriptions and few behavior character keywords.  God almighty, Black List readers would have a heart attack and couldn’t type 0/10 fast enough.  And I wonder how it would do in the Script Notes “3 Page Challenge”.  I’m guessing not well.

Anyone up for some technobabble?  Both scripts are rife with plenty.

From O’Bannon:


From Giler & Hill:


I don’t think Giler & Hill even know what they’re talking about.

Structure?  Yikes:


Step on it, fellas!  Oh and the chestburster scene, page 91.  In those days, that meant minute 91.  The early drafts are a very slow burn (more on that in a bit).

And of course, one of the clunkiest lines of exposition still exists in the movie:  “I saw it. Yellow light for my eyes only.” But that’s a very minor quibble, though Tom Skerritt doesn’t seem very comfortable saying it.

So should today’s screenwriters read the rest of these scripts?  YES, immediately.  

What does make them work is their almost austerity-like sparsity of words.  This is from the final battle between Ripley and the Alien by Giler & Hill:


That is simply terrific.  Each line is a punch.  You can actually snap a rhythm to it (go ahead, the rest of the blog will be here when you’re done).  Simple, little jabs telling you not only that each word counts but also where to cut.  Each line is a shot, without having to describe camera angles.  Pretend you’ve never seen “Alien,” then read that sequence again.  Your mind will be instinctively directing and editing the scene based on the words, which at the end of the day, is the whole point of screenwriting. 

Not to be super clever or literary, not to impress anyone with your descriptive talents or audition as a director.  (Yes, I’ve been guilty of all of those).  It’s creating the movie with words so that when you read the script you can SEE the movie with instinctive ease.

O’Bannon was right not to dwell on character descriptions.  You learn who each person is from their words and actions.  You simply don’t need to know on page 2 (an all too common note these days).  And quite frankly, once the action starts, you kinda don’t care.  Is the Alien going to eat these people or not?  What would I do in their place?  Would I go back and save the cat?  (Unless you’re a psychopath, of course you would)

And the character stuff they get right, they get really right.  If only Ashe had listened to Ripley when it came quarantining Kane and the others, none of this would have happened.  She was the wisest one to see the danger and survives it at every turn. 

Despite the slow burn and slow start in both scripts, they get on with one job and one job only – telling you the movie.  Even though there are significant cuts to both scripts in the movie (did you spot that Ripley & Dallas are fucking? And what about Ashe & Lambert?  Does it work the same for androids?), there’s little wasted motion.  If there’s a word that’s not telling you the movie, you won’t read it because it has already been deleted.

It’s sounds like a such a simple reminder but it’s one every screenwriter, myself included, needs to hear.  Myself very much included.  Just when I think I can’t take out a single thing, I invariably reread a script of mine and find not a few, but maybe as much as 10-12 pages to cut – all based on too many words.  Tell the movie.  Anything else is extraneous and as my screenwriting teacher, Emerson’s own Kevin Miller, told us many times – command-D is a screenwriter’s best friend.  (I know he wasn’t the only person to say that, but he was great teacher so I’m giving him a shout-out)

One other thing about the slow burn and today’s marketplace – yes, both of these drafts were improved greatly by quicker pacing over subsequent drafts.  BUT I hate hate hate the phrase, “Start late, leave early.”  It oversimplifies a storytelling technique (again a top for another blog).  “Alien” is a great example why I cringe when I hear it:

If these movies were made in 2014, “Alien” would begin with the shuttle landing on the planet, a quick recap of why they’re sidetracked and by minute 10, Kane would be back in the ship with the face-hugger on him.  All of that reality, all of the establishment of normalcy, (the cups of coffee, discussion of bonuses, etc.) would be lost.  Look me in the eye and tell me the truncated version is a better movie.

So yes, screenwriters, whether you’ve not finished your first script or if you’ve written 50, the Alien drafts are must reads.  And interesting challenge, see what words you would add.  I’m betting zero to none.  (Does anyone really miss the fact that the crew does not regularly refer to the alien as an alien?)

But as good as these scripts are – I almost think Aliens is better.  Now, I think “Alien” is a better film overall, but Aliens is a pretty unimpeachable sequel.  What do you do with a nearly indestructible killing machine?  Throw a squad of bad-ass marines at it, of course.

And the tag-line: “This time, it’s war.”  (Geek swoon)

I’ve not always been the biggest fan of James Cameron.  I didn’t like how Ed Harris nearly drowned on The Abyss.  I didn’t like that he hung Jamie Lee Curtis out of a plane (even though he did as well).  Many on-set and industry tales of his overall jerk-ness turned me off to him.

And then I saw “Avatar.”  Yup, I loved it.  Every single minute (another slow burn).  And so did the whole sold-out New Year’s Day theatre I saw it in.  Avatar has been much lambasted by Internet literati who think that similarities between “Fern Gully” or “Dances With Wolves” are some kind of indictment.  Maybe it is in your mind too or maybe you just didn’t like it.  Fair enough, but that sort of story borrowing is as old as movies themselves – but we’ll save that for another blog.

(Quick side-note, the overall stories to “Alien” & “Jaws”?  Not a million miles apart)

But how did Mrs. Cameron’s baby boy react to becoming (again) Hollywood’s most hated director?  He set a record for deep sea diving to one of the most dangerous locations on Earth:

James Cameron is 100% certified bad-ass.  I’d be honored if I could one day shake his hand and just say “Well done, Jim”.  And one of those reasons is “Aliens” – both the movie and script.

Aliens is wordier than Alien, but dammit it works.  When Cameron goes long, it’s for real purpose, usually character driven:  Newt rolls her eyes as if to say “don’t pull that five-year-old shit on me, lady. I’m six.

Awesome.  Yes, literary, but still you can see the shot in your mind’s eye.  Cameron the writer is telling Cameron the director exactly what to say to his child actress to pull off the scene.

“Aliens” is also paced like a mother-fucker.  I found myself reading pages at time while holding down the scrollbar.  Cameron incorporates the best of “Alien” while ratcheting it up for the action-crazed 1980’s audiences.  The slow burn is there again but builds faster and faster.  Sure the Marines shoot off lots of guns but this is still at its heart a suspense thriller.  The guns are actually taken away and one could argue the most harrowing sequence is when Ripley and Newt are trapped with the face-huggers.

Camera angles are done through looks and expressions.  When “Ripley’s expression becomes sober” your mind’s eye will probably go to a tight close-up.  Atmosphere is established by the emotions the visuals are supposed to evoke, not just picture perfect description.  Cameron is admittedly dictatorial about production design so he knew he didn’t have to go crazy filling the script with the details he wanted on set blueprints.  All screenwriters should remember that one.  Scripts should give the production team emotional direction, not tell them exactly what and how they should be building things.

Possibly the most amazing thing pulled off by Cameron is his sleight of hand.  The script is filled with cool sci-fi shit, tons of technobabble about the various weaponry, and the word EXPLOSION sprinkled throughout.  But what is the script about?  A woman who gets a second chance at motherhood.  Underneath all the blood, guts and shredded hardware is a touching mother/daughter story – and it even has a wicked happy Disney ending (anyone mind that really?).  This ability to hide all the happy stuff under the things that producers worried about (the action pieces) is nothing short of brilliant – and at the same time, pragmatic. 

And my favorite favorite favorite thing about the entire “Aliens” script (and it’s STILL in the movie) is during the highest point of drama:


Fuck yeah!  One of the rare examples where a story doesn’t rely on the “we’re out of time” cliché.  And yes, Cameron underlines & boldfaces wherever he wants.  And I don’t blame him.

And as far as I’m concerned, that’s the end of the Alien Duology.  The stories continue in the highly recommended Dark Horse Comics world where Ripley, Hicks, Bishop and a grown-up Newt launch great new adventures fighting both the unstoppable aliens and the military/corporate forces that wish to control them:

But what about “Alien 3”?  “What about it?” says I.  Look, David Fincher is a master filmmaker.  “Zodiak” and “The Social Network” are masterpieces.  Fincher is in a class of his own, especially thanks to Se7en which continues to stun audiences today.  “Alien 3” is a beautifully made film.  But as a story…

It’s been well-documented in the “Alien” Quadrilogy boxed-set that well, no one really wanted to make “Alien 3” but it was a cash cow so a script about a monastery was commissioned eventually becoming a story about Ripley trapped in a prison but the prisoners had sort of taken a vow of spiritual celibacy something.  

The contracts for Newt and Hicks were not retained so their characters were killed off in a terrible narrative move.  Immediately the story suffers from taking an uncomfortable wide left, not dissimilar to the feeling of waiting for Steve Guttenberg to show up in “Police Academy 5”.  You just don’t WANT Newt and Hicks to be killed so the movie is already buzzkilled.  And what does Ripley do now that she’s so broken up that Newt died?  She bangs the Doctor.  Yeah, previously movie, she walked through an industrial alien hell to get the girl back.  Now, we’re supposed to believe she just “accepts” Newt’s death?  

Charles S. Dutton does a fine job playing Dillon (cool name).  Actually nothing wrong with the cast at all.  But when Dillon says he’s a murderer and rapist of women….ummmmm, why I am rooting for him again?  Because he’s human and the alien is an alien?  Um, sorry.  We don’t hate the shark in “Jaws” because it’s a shark.  We hate the shark in “Jaws” because it kills a little kid.  Yeah, OK, the alien uses either a dog or cow to come to life (depending on the draft you read) but not sure I shouldn’t root for the alien against the serial killers and rapists. 

Let’s put it another way:  Adam Lanza, the BTK Killer and Charles Manson vs the Alien.  Whose T-Shirt are you wearing to the fight?  I’m wearing the guy with two mouths who’s mother is a face-hugger.

Most offensive of all is the attempted rape of Ripley.  So in “Aliens,” this is a character who goes through hell and back to save Newt, confronting the entire alien menace and their Queen as an industrial superstructure melts and explodes around her – but that same character is overpowered by 3 prison skinheads and then needs help from Dillon to free herself?  “Oh, but she’s weakened by being pregnant with the Alien queen.”  I’m not buying it.  Andy Dufresne getting raped in prison?  I’ll buy that.  Ellen Ripley?  Not on your life.  She would skin any would-be attacker alive.  You wouldn’t do it to John McClane or Dirty Harry or any number of male action heroes (or at least they wouldn’t have needed rescuing).  It shouldn’t have been tried with Ripley.

“Alien: Resurrection?”  Has real merit.  The first hour is pretty bad-ass.  Aliens using their acid to get free.  The underwater fight.  A Ripley clone that’s part alien?  OK, pretty cool.  And the scene where she finds the clones that “didn’t work” – very powerful stuff.

But the whole hybrid monster thing.  I can’t help but find that all a bit sad.  They created this poor creature who must be put to death for the good of humanity or something.  Now, thematically, this is a call-back to the first movie which was filled with reproductive motif in which Giger designed the face-hugger after a vagina and the alien after a penis (even the computer is called Mother) but still, the movie just loses me at this point.  It’s not a selling point – “Want to go see Alien 4 where a Ripley clone has to kill an experimental monster who thinks she’s its mother?”  Do you want to see that?

It’s always easy to Monday Morning Quarterback after the fact but I can’t help but do that after revisiting the saga.  After revisiting the first two scripts, there’s only one natural story for Alien 3 if one follows the narrative at its most basic thread – the aliens come to Earth.  Sigourney Weaver didn’t like all the guns in “Aliens” (which influenced some of the creative on “Alien 3”) but that’s fine, she still could have used her wit, guile and cunning to find a way to save the Earth from aliens that somehow came back with her and her new family of Hicks, Newt & Bishop – who should absolutely have lived into “Alien 3.”  Whether they all lived until the end of the film is another story – and another source of drama.

What about “Alien Vs. Predator?”  I liked the first one.  Granted, I’ve only seen it once.  But I liked the action scenes, dug the Alien-Predator hybrid and incorporating Lance Henriksen as the original Weyland was a nice throwback – and also helped explain his heirs’ obsession with getting the creature. (I guess the first AVP is technically the first Alien prequel.)

“Alien Vs Predator: Requiem.”  Lots of fun action sequences but again muddled morality.  The Predator blows away a Sheriff – and then I’m supposed to root for him the rest of the movie?  There’s edgy and dangerous storytelling and then there’s stuff like that, which expects too much at times out of an audience.  Some people bought it, of course.  It turned me off to the rest of the film.  As did the small town melodrama which tried way too hard.  But I salute the filmmakers for trying to wrap honest story around the action set-pieces.

The AVP sagas: OK, fun, action movies.  But overall, I was disappointed.  A friend of mind indignantly said to me, “What did you expect, it’s ‘Alien vs Predator’?”  Exactly.  It’s “Aliens Vs Predator,” the two best sci-fi horror franchises of the past 30 years.  They should have been a lot more than OK, fun, action movies.  They should have been classics.

OK, only one left…

I don’t feel too bad about being critical of movies that are well over ten years old.  (I don’t think David Fincher would consider “Alien 3” his finest work)  But I thought long and hard about what to say about the other “Alien” film.  The film is still wet, relatively speaking.  I know people who worked on the film and I know people who know the people who made the creative decisions.  I don’t find it to be in good taste to be overly critical of fellow professionals’ work.  You may hate my scripts, dear reader.  I doubt it – but you might.  So who am I to rip apart a recent film?

That said, I don’t think I’m talking out of school when I say “Prometheus” wasn’t a successful picture.  I know of many people who left the theatre furious.  I was one of them.  Much as been written about the many problems with the piece.  For me, I’ll say this: I was never given a reason to buy-in to what I was seeing – and given plenty of reasons to check-out.

Side-Note: I never really liked the idea of the alien as a bio-engineered weapon.  I always felt that it being an animal, evolved in the harsh climates of space, was much more interesting.

At least we have a truly amazing trailer:

How does a disappointment like “Prometheus” happen?  Lots of reasons, probably best saved for another blog.  Was it the writer’s fault?  The director’s fault? The producers’ fault?  All of the above.  Was it just a (well-documented) troubled script development and then once they found a usable script, they thought “yes, we got it”?  Maybe.  When they replaced a puppet with a guy in a suit on “Howard The Duck,” they thought they solved all the problems.  I don’t want to point any specific fingers (though some involved certainly have publicly) because it’s hard in the world of movies to see the forest for the trees.  It happens.  It’ll probably happen to me and my colleagues one day.  We all work hard to prevent it and I’m sure everyone on the crew of “Prometheus” did as well.  But it gets us all sooner or later.

But revisiting “Alien” again, I couldn’t help but wonder – and maybe this will happen in one of the (gulp) “Prometheus” sequels – should not the last few minutes of “Prometheus” been something like this:

-The newly discovered aliens get away from the company, taken by a revived Engineer in one of their ships.  The ship ends up crashing landing on a planet designated LV-426.  What’s the company to do?  They want the aliens but that planet is waaaay out of the way and they don’t want to get their hands dirty.  Someone plucky, young executive (Carter Burke Sr?) discovers a freighter, the Nostromo has flightpath toward LV-426.

-Last scene: Dallas gets his crew together to take off on their journey.  The last minute, his regular science officer is replaced by Ashe.  The ship takes off. And the crew descends into hyper-sleep.

Where did I get that idea?  It’s all right there.  In the “Alien” scripts.


SPOILER ALERT – Or How I Learned To Block Spoilers And Love The Internet

In this golden age of television and comic book movies, the internet has presented a big problem: SPOILERS!!  Every so often, my Facebook page (and I’m guessing yours, too) explodes with a debate about the etiquette for what to say when, how to say it or if it should come with a warning.  Fortunately, though, like any internet problem, there’s a solution often found by spending a few minutes on a search engine.

Recently, a news site presented on-set pictures from an eagerly awaited sci-fi epic which featured a familiar spaceship possibly returning.  This really is no surprise as said familiar spaceship appeared in every other live-action chapter of this franchise but still many on the internet cried “SPOILER” so I thought this would be a good time to write some thoughts about the Spoiler pandemic, about what I’ve done and what you can do to protect yourself.  So read on – and I highly encourage you to spread the word about what you read here.  Not to promote my blog (but cheers anyway!) but to help save the internet.  Kidding, but kinda not.

****JUST TO BE SAFE: The following blog contains spoilers for Alien3, Watership Down and Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.  I can’t recommend the latter two enough, by the by.

To be clear, I HATE SPOILERS.  I think they ruin the fun and overall experience of a television program or movie or stage-play et al.  There was an article that went around recently called “Why Spoilers don’t actually matter.”  I never read it and won’t.  I’ve had enough things ruined for me to know that they do matter.

Full disclosure, dear reader: I do actively seek spoilers on one thing and that’s Doctor Who.  For whatever reason, maybe because I’m so close to it and want to be so informed about it, I don’t want to be left in the dark.  But I seek those out.  I find the key and unlock them.  I don’t broadcast them for all to hear.  (And I have made that mistake, so I’m not trying to talk about this from a high horse.  I have unintentionally spoiled things for people – and it’s a shit feeling)

There’s also the case of inaccurate spoilers.  I won’t go into the details of the infamous Red Wedding from Game Of Thrones – but the so-called spoilers I got were well inaccurate so some surprise was maintained there.  (Game Of Thrones deserves a shout-out, though.  I know the Red Wedding was coming in Season Three, but there were THREE different weddings being prepared and built up toward, so I’m watching going “Which one is gonna be the Red Wedding?” Confusion or extra info can be an interesting way to combat spoilers.  The folks did that during Star Trek II, when rumors of Spock’s demise leaked, they added the “Aren’t you dead line?” jokes from Kirk to Spock in the beginning to give the audience a false sense of security.  Brilliant!)

And of course, as a person in the industry, one hears spoilers from everyday conversations and scripts passed around.  I know more about next summer’s blockbusters than I’d like but that’s from the inside.  I would NEVER post such information online out of 1) professional courtesy 2) I don’t spoil it for people who want to see those pictures.  Because I know how much it sucks to have things spoiled.

I’ve had the following things, among many, spoiled for me:

-The ending of a season of Breaking Bad.

-The ending of Torchwood: Children of Earth

-A very specific death in Game Of Thrones.

-And Alien3.

Yup, Alien3.  (I don’t know how or care to know how to type the stupid squared thing)  Way back in 1991, I was reading Premiere magazine (remember that?) and in one of the first paragraphs about Alien3, the reporter described in detail how piping hot lead was being used to the destroy the Alien.  This was a few months before it came out.  No warning or anything.  The action climax of the duel with the monster right there for all to see.  

Suffice to say I was pissed and disappointed.  Granted, that’s not the sole reason why Alien3 sucks (a prison full of rapists, murderers & serial killers?  Um, OK, I’m rooting for the Alien.  And no one is raping Ripley.  No fucking way.  But more on the Alien sage next week, rest assured.)

Still I was incensed that some magazine author arbitrarily decided that THAT point was not salient enough to be protected so naive readers like me could be, I don’t know, surprised and caught up in the movie.  When I brought this episode up in film class a few years later, I was taken to task by my classmates.  “The ending of the film is the least important part,” I distinctly remember one of them yelling that at me.  We didn’t become friends.

This discussion rages on today on Facebook and twitter and all over the blogosphere.  I’ve always advocated that a “SPOILER ALERT” type warning should accompany ANY potential spoiler (see above).  I’m glad people are so excited about movies and TV they run to the internet to say “I can’t believe such-and-such just happened.”  I’ve been blessed to work on shows that make people that excited and am equally excited to work on more.  But I don’t think there’s any excuse to not give a “head’s up, I’m gonna talk about something you may not want to hear.”  In my mind, that’s never been (and still isn’t) difficult.

But not everyone (in fact, far from everyone) agrees with me.

“Spoiler Alerts don’t work,” argue some.  They always have for me.  I see spoiler alert, I scroll past.

“People who complain about spoilers are telling others they can’t talk about the shows they like,” I can sort of see how this is implied (not really, I’m being generous) but don’t see how a spoiler alert is equal to shut up.

“Just stay offline or off social media for a few days,”  Um, just not realistic in this day and age.  And we are coming closer and closer to a day when we will never be offline.  Good/Bad, Right/Wrong, it’s true.  

So what to do?  When we’re in a bar or at parties we show consideration.  You wouldn’t scream the ending of True Detective out loud in the middle of a room where people hadn’t seen it, would you?  (The fine gents at Script Notes left their TD segment on the end of a show with many warnings for anyone who hadn’t seen it.) You wouldn’t discuss the twist ending of a movie as you leave the theatre in front of the line of folks waiting to get in, would you?

People have a tremendous sense of etiquette and common courtesy – except for the internet, it seems.  Or at least, we haven’t reached universal accepted behavior there just yet.  (I just learned the phrase trolling can apply to any kind of critic online.  What the fuck is that?)

And like Fiver coming to that realization of a dog loose in the woods in Watership Down, I remembered something.  A conversation I had weeks ago.  A friend of mine of on Facebook commented that he didn’t want a bunch of sports comments in his feed (this may have been for the NFL playoffs, I don’t remember)  I recommended an app that blocked sports scores from social media.

After a recent debate about spoiler etiquette, I remembered this app and researched.  Not only did I find it, I found several.  And that’s probably the thing that shocked me the most about the various Spoiler debates I’d had.  We actually have the power to block Spoilers from our online life – and just not enough people know about it.  Long threads of “you do this,” “no, you do this” can be eliminated by any of links – freeing us up to watch more TV!

For the past month, I’ve been using The Chrome Unspoiler:

Effectiveness: I’d say about 95-98%  Simply install in your browser and type in what you don’t want spoiled.  It’s a good idea to include character names and keywords as well as the title.  That sounds like a pain but actually only takes a few seconds. News articles, blogs, social media are personally and selectively shielded so you don’t see anything you don’t want to see yet.  Not so ironically, Breaking Bad is the default.  Every spoiler blocked is presented with the option to show it.  You can turn as many options on and off as many times as you wish.  This has been a lifesaver.  

Now it’s not 100%, as I said.  One noticeable gap is that it won’t hide the Facebook trending column to the right, at least not yet, so be warned on that one.  And sometimes a headline will flash for a second or two before it’s blocked.

But the price-tag of “free” is hard to beat.

There’s also a version for Internet Explorer:

What about my phone?

Works for both iphone and Android.  Has great reviews from many users.


I haven’t found anything that’s as good as the Unspoiler.  It might be out there and if you find it please post a link in the comments section.  There is however, a comments blocker.  (And gosh, if some websites don’t desperately need that)

Safari?  I’ve not found one yet, but again if there’s a link I missed please post.

There’s also these articles on other ways of blocking out spoilers, but some of these seem a bit complicated so I’m sticking with the Unspoiler.  But hey, they may be perfect for you so check ‘em out:


So anyone mad about seeing the spaceship reveal from Star Wars, download one of these, install it and type in Star Wars – because those are only going to get worse between now and December 2015.

(And parents, these apps may be useful for parental control measures as well)

So the next time you’re on Facebook and you hear someone bitch about spoilers or someone bitching about someone bitching about spoilers – send them to these links or apps.  One of them will absolutely solve the problem.

We’re the on-demand generation.  We’re twisting media to our personal demands, regular programming schedules be damned.  (I JUST started Justified, for example)  We decide what and when we watch TV, movies or listen to music.  So if only follows that we’ll be exposed to spoilers – but only when we want.

If these links work for you, help spread the word. We can make the internet a nicer place to discuss things we disagree on.  And any other spoiler solutions are more than welcome in the comments section.  Thanks!


Just Another Day In America

Going to take a little departure from the normal routine of writing about writing. Another mass shooting occurred on Friday evening. Several college students were shot and killed for committing the sin of going out and enjoying themselves on a lovely California evening.

This one struck close to home because it was at my girlfriend’s alma mater, the University Of California, Santa Barbara. It even took place at the Sorority house she rushed.

When something awful and upsetting happens, I think most artists and writers will put pen to paper. In the hope of understanding and maybe even in some small way, helping. 

I’ve had a lot of conversations with people on both sides of this issue. And the fact that there are two sides to the issue makes me despondent because it’s an issue far more complicated and shouldn’t be restricted to a left/right issue (especially as many gun owners I know are fiercely blue liberal). I know some folks who want ALL guns banned completely. I know some folks who will not abide a single change to the gun laws.

It’s a hard deal because you bring up “gun control” and the gun lovers go into OVERDRIVE, forgetting about the fact that we have many forms of gun control in the country already. (Several thousand gun restrictions actually.)  

Just yesterday I brought up “mental illness” on my facebook page and got a lot of push-back from people who think that’s a cop-out. I get the point, because “mental illness” as a term casts far too wide a net. But anyone who commits a shooting rampage is just not mentally well.

Recently, the issue of misogyny is being brought up in how it relates to these shootings. I think the country absolutely needs a long, thorough and open discussion about how the genders treat each other and changing gender roles as our society changes and evolves. But I don’t believe misogyny led to the shootings. I believe severe and distorted mental health issues led to misogyny and the shootings.

Elliott Rodger talked about being rejected over and over again by women in his youtube videos (I am not reposting those here). At the risk of sounding crass, join the club, pal. I don’t think I’m familiar with any man who hasn’t been dissed by the hot girl. Or any girl who hasn’t been dissed by the hot guy. (George Clooney broke up with Stacy Keibler. Even the uber-beautiful cannot escape rejection)

The guys pulling the trigger are missing some very important tools to deal with the harsh realities of life. Rejection, agony, heartbreak, disappointment. These things are supposed to bring pain. They’re supposed to hurt. We are supposed to feel pain. Within us, we have various things (call them strength, hope, optimism, support etc) that help confront, overcome and deal with this pain.

“Adapt and overcome,” one of my favorite sayings.

And let’s be honest, most if not all of us have been pushed to that brink. I was a skinny kid who liked wrestling and Doctor Who in an era when either one of those was a scarlet letter. I was mercilessly bullied. My senior prom? I was watching Steve Williams vs Kenta Kobashi. At home. Sober. And unlaid. (Yeah, I asked someone. She was the girl of my 17 year old dreams, too. She said no. She was probably more into the Star Trek & Roller Derby guys)

Numerous authors have written about the mass shooting fantasy. The idea of disposing of our enemies is an appealing one that has manifested itself in many ways in our culture. Ever put a picture of someone you hate on a dartboard? Ever fantasized, even if just for a second, what it would be like to eliminate someone you truly hated or someone who truly wronged you? Next time you play the game, “Fuck, Marry, Kill” see how long it takes for you to answer the kill question.

But then there’s something else to consider. What about the kids I bullied? What about the kids I rejected who just wanted to be friends? What about the freshmen who I tormented? “But I was just having fun,” Yeah, that rationalization feels weak even as I type it.

This applies to rejection too. I know rejection. I know what it feels like to bury your face – as an adult – into a pillow and just scream the agony of loneliness. I remember burying my face into my laundry basket one time in Boston so I wouldn’t wake my roommates. I know the abyss of despair and hopelessness that is to be rejected by those that you love.

But what about those whom I rejected? What about the girls – good girls, bright, smart, pretty girls with huge smiles and naughty fun thoughts – whom I had sent to the abyss? They’re great sin was loving me, but I wasn’t interested so cast them aside I did. Sometimes I was gentle, sometimes I was clunky, sometimes I was rude. Do I deserve to be shot in the face? In the moment, I bet some of those girls would say yes before thinking better of it.

We can’t stand on the moral high ground of righteousness when it comes to rejection and heartbreak. Because while you’re screaming “What about me?” someone else is screaming that at you. They’re there, you may not realize it now, but they’re there.

So is that mental illness? Temporarily, I dare say, someone who’s recently heartbroken is as close to dangerous irrationality anyone can come to. But why do some cross over the edge to premeditated and voluminous homicide while the rest of us, wipe the tears, brush the dust off and carry on?

As usual when big, huge tragedies that challenge the very limits of our understanding come up, then many with platforms rush to easy answers. The Daily Beast has an article up about how Super Mario Brothers gives male nerds a sense of entitlement towards owning women. (Almost gave myself a concussion when my head hit the desk on that one) And Ann Hornaday got people to hear of her by blaming Seth Rogen & Judd Apatow movies:

I personally think Ms. Hornaday owes them and her readers a big apology. This nonsense makes me upset because it brings me back to the days when heavy metal was spuriously attacked for causing teen suicide. Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” in 1986, a song sung by the devil to kill our kids. Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” in 2013, a song sung by a family to sell the Honda Pilot mini-van.

And yes misogyny is real and needs to be addressed. Stopping Super Mario Brothers is a nice thought but it ain’t gonna help. Does today’s pop culture contribute to misogyny? Of course it does! There are many areas of criticism, but pop culture is not this all-powerful judge creating the rules of today’s society. If anything, it’s the other way around. This is a much better piece on the subject:

Blaming pop culture is always an easy answer because it’s something that we’re all exposed to and we all think we know a lot about. Pop culture defines a universal frame of reference but that doesn’t mean it’s got all the facts. (And NRA, you guys need a new spokesman. Wayne LaPierre blamed music videos after New Town. God almighty. If I had one question for Mr. LaPierre it would be, please name 5 music videos made since 2010.)

HG Wells wrote a book called “In The Days Of The Comet”. SPOILER ALERT (more on those next week). The protagonist is dumped by the woman he loves. He’s sent spiraling into a pit of depression. So what’s he do? He buys a gun and sets out to kill the woman who scorned him, her lover and himself. This book was written in 1906, long before any of today’s pop culture was a twinkle in anyone’s eye.

We’re talking about such deep-seeded pain and such unbearable anguish that the only solution is horror and murder that seems unthinkable. But it is thinkable. It’s happened.

So what do we do – how do we can people who are crossing over the brink from getting the guns?

Many people I know say ban all the guns. This makes some sense. Hold on, you gun-loving, NRA members, don’t stop reading now. “Gun massacres can’t happen without guns.” True! But massacres will not be avoided. Bombs will be made. Knives will be yielded. Knives are less lethal than bombs and despite what many gun advocates will tell you, bombs aren’t that easy to make. But maybe if we got rid of the guns, we’d see a lot more bombs. So then is the problem solved?

And there’s one reason why I can’t get behind the “get rid of the guns” argument: Someone says to me, “I own a gun to protect myself and my family.” 

I have not a single argument for them.

I do think, though, we need even more limitations on guns. Something interesting to me is that there’s a gun loving community that operates under strict gun control: The hunting community. Seriously, they do. Only it’s not called gun control. It’s called hunting regulations. Here are some examples:



What about gun-loving Texas? Guess what – they’ve got hunting rules too, with public safety in mind:

I don’t hunt, myself. I’d weep for days if I shot an animal but I have a lot of admiration for the hunting community. They believe in humane killing of an animal (that’s the sport aspect & Sarah Palin got crucified by hunters for being a cruel, reckless hunter on her show). They respect the firearms they use. And they abide by a lawful code of conduct to ensure the safety of both fellow hunters and non-hunters alike. Yes, dear reader, I’m sure you can find exceptions to these but generally speaking, there’s truth to what I’m saying about hunters.

And they exist, operate and hunt under the auspices of a certain kind of gun control. (Even if they don’t realize it.)

I don’t want to ban all guns, but the gun community is fighting EVERY step to improve this situation of violence in America. I should say this, the leaders of the gun community are fighting to improv the situation of violence in America. Joe The Plumber wrote a piece saying “dead kids don’t trump my Constitutional rights.”

Gun lovers, you really need new champions. Hell, many of the gun owners I know would make great spokespeople for the gun community.

But here’s the thing, as much as I don’t want to ban guns, there’s not a soul on the planet who can tell me that if you time travelled the framers of the Constitution to today and showed them the gun statics, showed them the school shootings and showed them the “dead kids” whom Joe The Plumber dismisses so easily, there’s no way that they would leave gun laws the way they are.

I interacted with someone on twitter who told me he advocated NO RESTRICTIONS on guns, meaning felons, serial killers, child molesters could all have access to guns. That is freedom in his mind.

Even hardcore Right Wing Zealot Antonin Scalia doesn’t believe the 2nd Amendment to be a catch-all for everyone to have any kind of gun they want:

And shhhhh don’t tell anyone but the NRA kinda believes in gun control too:

Besides, gun advocates argue that banning guns won’t solve the problem of dealing with the severe mental health problems that drive far too many to kill indiscriminately. And they’ve got a point, they won’t. Taking a gun away from a deer hunter feeding his family in Arkansas is not going to help a tortured kid in Seattle find the mental healthcare he needs to give him a chance to get better.

So what do we do?

I believe there’s more restrictions we can put on guns & gun shows that do not harm any one’s (even the detestable Joe The Plumber) 2nd Amendment rights. We can put a stop to things like this: That video is disturbing and I have a feeling even Wayne LaPierre may not be OK with those kinds of exchanges.

I’ve asked many gun advocates and I ask again here – how do we keep the dangerously mentally unstable from having access to firearms? I await an answer. I hope they come up with one. And I hope they realize the sooner we get one, the sooner others will stop asking for all guns.

But the discussion keeps getting pushed aside. The arguments on facebook that are happening now are an important look at misogyny. Again, yes, let’s talk about it. It will lead to more understanding and sensitivity and I’m all for that. Yay. But will it stop the shootings?

Are we prepared as a nation to have a clear, open and honest dialogue about mental health and all the repercussions that come with it? (Mainly that at one point in time or other in life, we’re ALL crazy to one degree or other) 

Or do we want to accept these events, these constant shootings, as something that happens?

I don’t know what the answer is. And quite frankly, anyone who tells you they do know should be taken with a grain of salt. This is maybe the most complicated issue our generation and society faces. This, quite frankly, might be our Cold War. No easy answers will fix with this but both sides, all sides, of the gun issue have to come together to fix it because people everywhere in America are dying for the simple reason that they’re engaging in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Everyone heard about the Santa Barbara shootings. But did you hear about the shootings in Myrtle Beach this past weekend? How about the 4 shot dead in New Orleans? The spate of gun violence that swept through New York City? Hear about those, no? Of course, not. They’re not national news. The Santa Barbara case was different. The shooter was the son of a successful AD who worked on The Hunger Games. Those other shootings?

Just another day in America.


The Fear Of Failure

My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure. – Abraham Lincoln

I’ve missed over 9,000 shots in my career…I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan.

“He never feared failure, and this is the only way you can be successful in life. I learned that from Dino.”

That last quote is from Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Dino he’s referring to is the flamboyant, controversial and highly successful film producer Dino De Laurentiis.  Schwarzenegger was speaking at the late Mr. De Laurentiis’s funeral in November of 2010 and this quote made the rounds in the media. The quote struck me as quite powerful – and still inspires me to this day.

Mr. Schwarzenegger and Mr. De Laurentiis are not lacking in detractors. Whatever your opinion of them, the idea of shedding the fear of failure is no less worthy just because they’re the source of this week’s subject. We live in a society that doesn’t just fear failure – but is petrified of it.

In the modern era of America, especially during the Reagan era, failure became the ultimate taboo.  Second place was the same as last place.  Moral victories were denounced and made fun of.  Somewhere along the way, it felt as if in some circles, to try and fail WAS worse than never trying at all.  Even one of my heroes, the musical genius Jerry Goldsmith, moments before he won the Oscar for “The Omen” has said in interviews that he almost walked out of the ceremony that night because he couldn’t take the rejection anymore.  

When I read the Schwarzenegger quote, it wasn’t that it was such an alien concept.  I had heard all the rationalizations before and knew they were true on some level, but none of them really struck a chord with me:

It actually rings a little hollow to say, “at least I tried.”  That always sounds like rationalization.  I worked on a boxing show years ago and sometimes the guy would say after losing a fight, “I lost but so-and-so didn’t beat me.”  I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at that.  “At least I tried” really is cold comfort.  When getting an honorable mention, you only see the line of winners in front of you – the line of losers behind you is irrelevant.

“The only way to learn is to fail,” well, that’s kind of weak sauce, too.  Who wants to learn?  The best way people learn is when they don’t realize they’re learning.  Just ask anyone who hated History class in high school but watches all those battle shows on History Channel or H2.  

We don’t want to learn, we want to WIN.  We want to be on top, we want to raise the heavyweight belt, bask in the adulation of our family and peers.  Everyone wants the victory but not everyone wants the achievement.  And of course as life goes on, the victory changes.  In college you want to be the king of the world, the superstar, the innovator.  In your 30’s, those same people may just want to a good parent, have a solvent job or even just stay sober another day.  Those victories are just as, if not more so, relevant than the grand ideals of our youth.

We talk tough about “winning”, never giving an inch, never coming in second, never even getting into a tie (remember, Rocky doesn’t win in “Rocky”)  But that’s actually the wrong take.  There’s no eliminating the concept of failure.  In fact, we shouldn’t eliminate it, we should embrace it.

The fear of failure is paralyzing.  There have been numerous adventures in my life that I abandoned or walked away from because of it.  I tried to start a small business about 10 years ago and a well-meaning family member said, “If it fails, don’t be discouraged.”  Just him saying that was the most discouraging thing possible.  See, in my younger mind, even considering failure was enough to poison the idea.  I didn’t realize then that failure was opportunity.  

Now, of course, some ventures should be abandoned out of pragmatism and practicality.  It’d be neat to start a real estate company tomorrow.  I have no means whatsoever to do so, so I’ll try something else.  But not out of fear.  Fear is the great crippler.  Fear is the demon in the middle of the night.  Fear is the ultimate enemy.

But to look at the fear of failure and respond with – “So what.”  To shed that fear with a “fuck you, I’m going anyway.”  THAT’S what the Schwarzenegger and De Laurentiis quote was saying “Fuck it!” and that’s why it struck me.  

I’m in the formative years of my writing career.  Sure, I’ve amassed lots of practical entertainment experience, but will my voices entertain the masses?  That question remains unanswered, dear reader.  I just may fail.  And so fucking what if I do?  Because here’s something else I learned about failure:

“The Consequences Of Failure and Success Are the Same.”  

That one’s from me!  I just googled it and can’t find that quote anywhere so boom, you can credit it to either Tim Davis or Handsome Timmy D if you want to post it in Facebook, I’ll leave it up to you. (Yes, dear reader, I’m sure many others have said something similar, I’m just being cute because I like ya)

Anyway, the consequences of failure and success are the same:  Do Better.  Like many an aspiring screenwriter, I’m not just relying on my connections to get noticed.  I used the festival circuit as well as services like The Black List and Inktip.  One of my scripts was very well-received and even named as a finalist by some of the festivals.  In some other festivals, it was downright rejected.  So what do I do with the script?  I continue to polish it.  Rewriting, restructuring, looking for any voice, clarity, drama, that I can squeeze out of it.  (“See Tim, writing is rewriting,” not quite, read my last blog)  

Let’s say I sell a script tomorrow, total success!!  Well, the day after, I have to start or improve another script.  I have to do better.  Let’s say ALL of my scripts get rejected by every agent and studio in town.  Then I have to wake up, start new scripts or improve the existing ones.  I have to do better.

Success and failure are not two linear opposite ends.  They’re constantly moving, ever-changing and fluid.  Success can be described as that single moment when you hold up the title belt at Wrestlemania.  But that single moment may just be another step on a longer journey, all the steps of which combine to become another definition of the word success.

Failure is not the absence of success.  Nor is it the elimination of success.  One step of failure does not prevent the next step of success.  My favorite football team is the Patriots of New England.  In the past 13 years, they’ve won three Super Bowls and lost two of them.  I can name 31 other NFL Football teams who want that resume.  What did Tom Brady do when he lost those two Super Bowls?  Got back to work.  Trained, practiced, worked with his coaches and team to get better the next season.  The same exact thing he did when won three Super Bowls.

There is no reason to fear failure because there is no consequence to it.  None.  

“But it hurts!” say some.

Losing hurts.  Failure hurts.  Being wrong hurts.  No one likes any of these things.  People think pro athletes don’t care about losing big games because they make so much money, but Kurt Warner will tell you that losing  to the Patriots in 2002 haunted him for years.  Think the Cubs are over Steve Bartman foul ball?  Michael Jordan knows off the top of his head the number of times he’s lost the game-winning shot.  (It’s 26, Michael Jordan said so)

But here’s the thing, life hurts.  Life is painful and miserable and disappointing and disillusioning.  Life makes us want to give up, throw it all in, drink our faces off and tell everyone to go fuck themselves.  There’s no avoiding the pain, the hurt, and the misery.  In my mind, it’s the best kind of pragmatism to use that pain and misery toward the goal of success  and happiness.

To go back for “Rocky” for a second, remember Rocky didn’t win.  Rocky doesn’t beat Apollo Creed.  Rocky doesn’t knock out Apollo Creed.  Rocky doesn’t win the Heavyweight Title.  Rocky doesn’t hold the heavyweight belt above his head at the end of the movie.  Rocky FAILED.

So why does the “no second place” testosterone fueled America love it so much?

Rocky endures the entire struggle of the fight.  Rocky is not afraid to fail.  And what does Rocky do in the subsequent movies?  

He does better.




Writing Is Rewriting. Sort Of.

Hello dear reader,

Your friendly neighborhood Handsome Timmy D here. Who I am, what I’m doing and where that name came from will all become abundantly clear as my blogging adventures continue. As will other salient details such as my favorite color, TV shows, why people taller than me make me nervous and that I have no fear of needles. I used to have a blog on the old Myspace (dating myself here) that was pretty well received for the most part and am glad to finally bring it back.  If you’re nice (and lucky) I will repost a few of those as well. The point is, it’s a big old internet community and I’m glad to offer some thoughts here and there that I hope you find interesting.

I’ve been working as a reality TV producer for 10 years. I sometimes apologize for damaging society/pop-culture, but I mean that jokingly. The entertainment industry is a massive multi-faceted juggernaut and reality TV is just one arm. I’m damn proud of the shows I’ve worked on, even if some of them aren’t things I’d watch, myself. Every show has an audience and that audience deserves hard work from every member of the crew, myself especially included.

But my real passion is writing. I wrote scripts in high school, studied film & screenwriting in college (Emerson – I’ll let you figure out the year) but was side-tracked in those endeavors by a few other careers before settling here in LA to pursue the ever elusive dream of making a living stringing words together in the hope someone responses, “hey, that’s pretty neat.” Despite many years experience, writing is a craft that requires constant mastery, ever slippery as we try to dig our pens in.

It’s difficult for anyone who doesn’t write stories on a regular basis to understand the challenges associated with what Norman Mailer called the “spooky art.” I won’t try to tell you it’s harder than anything else, but it’s harder than many people think. A lot of people think it’s just a whirlwind of fun all the time, others think that we sit at the computer and the genius pours out like light from a refrigerator left open, and some others think it’s just silliness; an unrealistic way to make a living. Even here in Hollywood, writing is seen by many circles as an annoyance, an necessary obstacle in the way of the real fun – making movies.
It’s a tricky thing to figure out, and I daresay most of us writers grapple with just figuring it out, and not feel crazy as we string words together, act our parts out loud and even get too emotionally involved in our characters’ all-too-fictitious lives. Now, I’m all for demystifying writing to a pragmatic level so that aspiring writers continue (or start) to put pens to paper. BUT there are some little quips out there that make me cringe a little bit and I feel I’m experienced enough to say why. “Start late, leave early”, “write what you know” and “writing is rewriting” are among the main culprits offered as words of comfort by writers & non-writers alike as reminders of what to do or how to do it. But they make me bristle in a sense because, at the risk of sounding too literal, they’re not only a little too simple – but also can obscure the real work. Sitting, anguishing over specific words, descriptions or endlessly tearing apart dialogue and character motivations, I’ve never once stopped and thought,”writing is rewriting, that’s it!”

Let’s concentrate on that one this week. “Writing is rewriting.” Of all the above axioms, this is the one the drives me the most nuts. I’ve had many many people say this to me, usually like it’s ground-breaking wisdom, and I just nod and smile, not wanting to offend. But saying writing is rewriting is like saying football is tackling. Tackling is an essential part of football. Every player gets tackled and every player at some point in time in his career will tackle – even guys like the kicker. But if you walk into a coach’s office and say, “Hey coach, don’t worry, football is tackling” you’ll be thrown out faster than Donald Sterling at a Wu-Tang Clan record release party.

OF COURSE you’ll rewrite what you wrote. Sometimes endlessly. Sometimes (usually) the beginning of a script is rewritten dozens of times within a single draft. There are countless options to be explored when crafting a story and those options should be diligently explored. And within those rewrites, many an answer and solution to the story’s problems will be found.

Now of course I understand, some people get frozen, fearful that if the next page isn’t perfect, they can’t proceed. And some people get so intimidated by the idea of writing, that writing even the first pages are too terrifying for them to attempt. I totally get that “writing is rewriting” can be a useful reminder to not be so hard on themselves and just get on with it. I’m not unsympathetic. And if you’re a writer sitting at the laptop or typewriter mumbling “writing is rewriting” as you power through your very first draft, more power to you. This blog is not meant as a buzzkill, just an attempt to dig deeper at some of these offhand comments and why they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Because it’s not unusual for some things not to be rewritten. I recently read various drafts of the movie “Alien” (if you’ve never seen Alien, go watch it RIGHT NOW). Over the course of those drafts, across several different writers, some of the dialogue never changed. Like not even a little bit (for example; “Hell of a defense mechanism. You don’t dare kill it”). Sequences like the face-hugger and acid blood also remained unchanged, if not tweaked here and there for details. If something works, it works. If you’re writing something that REALLY embodies the vision of the script and the story you want to tell – you are in fact, allowed to keep it. I’ve had some other writers say to me, “I feel guilty because I feel like I HAVE to rewrite it.” Why? If it works, it works.

That said, of course, if it doesn’t work, then it is the writer’s job to leave no stone unturned and go to any lengths rewriting to find what does work, what does embody the story, what does bring the characters to life, what does embody the vision and make the reader/viewer go “WOW.”

(***Side-Note: “Man, that line of dialogue was so great, I bet it went through 30 rewrites,” said no viewer ever)

Writing requires honesty and truth. Truth to the characters (Don Draper is not just joining the circus one day). Truth to the subject matter (imagine if some space aliens landed in the middle of The Wire – YIKES). Truth to themselves. Sometimes the meaning of the story changes over the course of the work; one sets out to write a divorce drama and ends up telling a story about how we blame others instead of ourselves. But a writer can stray too far from their vision, overcorrect and rewrite to the point where what they end up with is not at all something they know, recognize or worse – something they no longer believe.

A writer has to believe in their words and the worlds they create. If they don’t, then there’s not a soul on the planet who will, except maybe long-suffering parents. We believe Don Draper, Walter White, Han Solo and even Roger Rabbit (who’s partnered with a man shattered by alcoholism, don’t forget) because within those worlds, those characters have to live, breath and function as well as anyone on this plane of reality. Sometimes that believability is found within rewrites, absolutely. Sometimes that believability is sweated out in months of treatments and outlines. I’ve had experience with both scenarios. I highly highly highly recommend finding (or getting as close as possible to) the voices of your characters long before your first draft because finding it during rewrites is a really harsh way to lose sleep and regular eating habits. (But Tim, that voice may change again over constant rewrites & during production. Yup. That’s the process)

Writing is a painful search for that truth. Creating fictional conflict usually means tapping into the fathomless reservoir of conflict and pain we all are carrying around in our souls. I have openly wept while writing stories that feature domestic violence. Sounds pretentious, yeah, but it’s worth it if I want that conflict and pain to resonate with you, dear reader. Even writing something melodramatic and banal requires soul-searching. And most comedies, you’ll notice these days, feature their characters hitting rock-bottom. As a writer this means we must venture forth into very dark aspects of our memories, experience and life itself. And because we rewrite extensively, we get to do it over and over and over again.

Rewriting is a part of the process, it’s just one spoke in the wheel. And writing is not just rewriting because it neglects the first and most fundamental part of the process: Writing. Many mentors, professional writers and producers with whom I’ve had the privilege of discussing this subject always extoll the importance of writing and getting it done – a lot more than the process of rewriting. For reals. (A former agent once told me he guessed about 70% of aspiring screenwriters don’t actually write.) Put the pen to the paper, put the idea down. Make the story as real and honest as possible. Do not be afraid to face those things you fear most. Once the story is there and done, yes, then the work of shaping, crafting and polishing happens. But that can’t happen unless it’s down there in the first place.

And write it well!! The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect (in fact, it won’t be, they never are) and it might have even have a lot more problems than you’ll care to admit. But that’s no excuse not to give your all to every scene, every line and most importantly – the voice of every single character. The better your first draft, the farther along the road you’ll be, the stronger your vision will be – and you’ll understand what changes need to be made.

So yes, writing is rewriting. And hell of a lot more.