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.”



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:



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:


-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: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/zelda-williams-quits-twitter-robin_n_5674501.html

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: http://lisajakub.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/farewell-to-robin-williams-a-thank-you-note/

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:  http://www.weeklyweirdmonthly.com/the-human-thresher-davis-padgett-pizzolatto-and-plagiarism-by-paul-j-garth/

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  http://www.chickswhoscript.com/ 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 msinthebiz.com 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: http://www.chronicrift.com/node/4449

Cinemafantisque interview Sharknado 2’s Dante Palminteri: http://www.chronicrift.com/node/4451

and of course, they have a really awesome show in The Dan & Travis Show: http://www.chronicrift.com/node/4448

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 htd@handsometimmyd.com 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: https://handsometimmydexpress.com/2014/07/08/the-handsome-timmy-d-express-an-interview-with-matt-the-cat/

Episode 2: An interview with Megan Karasch, novelist and award winning screenwriter: https://handsometimmydexpress.com/2014/07/14/an-interview-with-megan-karasch/

Episode 3: An interview with Mike Doto, director and digital media producer: https://handsometimmydexpress.com/2014/07/23/brazen-moves-an-interview-with-mike-doto/

Episode 4: An interview with Dan & Travis, podcasters and masters of pure hilarity: https://handsometimmydexpress.com/2014/07/29/radio-genius-an-interview-with-dan-travis/

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!


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!


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!