A TV/Film Writer’s Lament

The wit and wisdom of David S. Simon (MAD ABOUT YOU, THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL-AIR, THE WAYANS BROTHERS, etc).

Did that sound snarky? It wasn’t intended that way. How can TVWriter™ help but love the man responsible for this spot on description of showbiz achievement: “Failure is just ‘sucksess.’”

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by David S. Simon

Here’s the plain, simple truth: most of us fail like unbroken clockwork most of the time. In fact you could say that the only thing that we succeed at with any regularity is failure.

Being a veteran TV/film writer I am often asked to lecture or adjunct teach at various colleges and here’s what I always tell my kids: think of the word nothing. The thing… about no… is it means nothing. And you know what? I think what I’m actually telling them is quite the opposite.

“No” usually arrives with the full impact of the worst possible insult and there is no Iron Dome to protect us from it. Trust me, that little rocket is going to find its target, which is always the soft, white underbelly of you.

It is often unexpected and for a while anyway, it is the stabbing knife that keeps on giving. It’s like living in the throes of an eviscerated romantic relationship: every minute, every second is a loud, resounding declaration that all of your existence just plain sucks. It is painful and cannot be eliminated by drugs or alcohol or food, no matter how hard we try.

In other words: we just have to live with it, like the worst kind of in-law possible, until one day it finally decides that it has annoyed you enough and it’s time to move on to the next target.

But what have we experienced? Here’s the thing kids: for the entire duration of it’s occupancy in our lives, we have joined forces with it and made things much, much worse for ourselves. We go way beyond the Stockholm syndrome until we in fact become the evil itself.

We usually fail at failure.

Read it all

Um, is showbiz failure in the air or something? Web seems to be full of it this week.

Interview with AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s Tim Minear

Some people think of him as FIREFLY’s Tim Minear, or even ANGEL’s Tim Minear. But that’s so…last decade!

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- You start your career as an assistant director, can you tell us about this period, and about cinema ?

Really I started out as a PA, or Production Assistant. Which meant I was the lowest form of life on a set. I never made it into being a real assistant director, though I did do stints as assistant director on some non union low budget productions.

- How did you get into the world of the screen writers for tv ? How the profession evolved ?

I wanted to write and direct movies. I made a short film and one of the actresses in it was married to a writers’ agent. He suggested I try writing television. It had never occurred to me before. One way you get into that is to pick an existing show and write a “spec” or sample of that show. I chose, of all things, to write a half hour sitcom. I did a spec script of Murphy Brown. I never did crack the half hour sitcom, which is just as well. I was meant for hour drama. Eventually I specced an episode of The X-Files, which was much more my speed. That sample got me my first job — first “real” job — on Lois and Clark, and eventually got me on The X-Files itself.

- How was your first meeting with Joss Whedon ? And what do you think of his evolution ?

My first meeting with Joss was a disaster. It is famously known that I pitched some Buffy ideas which he really liked, but he thought I was the angriest man he had ever met! I later learned that he told the others in the meeting that he could never envision working with me. David Greenwalt ended up hiring me for Angel and someone I won Joss over. I’m very proud of where Joss has taken himself, though not a bit surprised.

- From 1999 to 2010 you’ve evolved in the Whedonverse! Are you emerged unscathed from this crazy adventure ?

Not only unscathed, but working at Mutant Enemy is what shaped me more than anything else. Will always look fondly and gratefully at that time.

Read it all (It’s in French but an English translation starts about halfway down the page)

Jim Carrey on why we should never be afraid to fail

And if anybody’s an expert at failure it’s Jim

So here’s what happens when you ask a man about a subject he really knows

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wait, we’ll get it. Ahh…:

Jim Carrey’s had his professional ups and downs, and with them has come the kind of wisdom that all of us who are struggling against the odds to make something of ourselves should heed:

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Yeah, that’s the ticket! When you’re right, you’re right, Jim. And this TVWriter™ minion thinks that this time around you’ve got it nailed.

The WGAW Definitely Thinks Rupert Murdoch Should Stay the Hell Away from Time-Warner

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This email from the Writers Guild of America West to its members re a Rupert Murdoch buyout of Time-Warner should come as a surprise to absolutely no one:

From The New York Times: $80B Offer From Rupert Murdoch Puts Time-Warner In Play

If this headline scares you – and it should – then consider this a call to arms.

As writers, we face a landscape today that the founders of our Guild would hardly recognize. For decades, there were dozens of significant buyers in television and movies.

Then Federal limits on mergers disappeared. FCC regulations requiring independent production in television were repealed. And the result was industry-wide consolidation, networks and studios combining, and independent production disappearing.

Fewer movies being made. Fewer development deals. Smaller TV staffs. And lower quotes… because the industry was suddenly in the hands of only six – six! – conglomerates.

And the Writers Guild, without a voice in Washington to protest, was unable to save the business from strangling itself.

Now, those six conglomerates are threatening to swallow one another. Think of that. Between them, Fox and Time-Warner would control 40% of the industry’s writing jobs. What happens if more consolidation follows? What happens if one mega-company ends up devouring them all? The idea is almost too frightening to contemplate. But it’s also too possible to ignore.

That’s why the Guild has a PAC.

For the last several years, the WGAW has been increasingly active in Washington: fighting off mergers, championing Net Neutrality, and distinguishing itself as a voice of reason on all media issues.

But our PAC cannot exist without your support.

Giving to the Guild PAC is vital to your future. The checks you write to your favorite Senate candidates cannot influence policy. But a powerful PAC, supporting candidates in the name of the WGA, gives us a fighting chance in the war against the corporate madness that threatens us all.

The math of it is simple. The more candidates we can collectively support, the more influence we will have. Our Guild has already gained respect on Capitol Hill. Our position-papers are sought after and cited regularly on media issues.

Of course, conglomerates like Fox and Time-Warner have influence too – so much so that some writers believe even trying to combat them is futile. It isn’t. Take a look at these links of writers like Shawn Ryan and Guild President Chris Keyser testifying at recent Senate hearings. When our Guild speaks, Washington listens. But to make sure our voices are heard, we need power. Simply put, we need you.

This, then, is our call to arms. In the industry as it exists today, writers no longer have the luxury of staying out of politics. Rather, more than ever, we need a voice in them.

Please, please, support our PAC by contributing here. Your future depends on it. In Solidarity, Chris Keyser, Chip Johannessen, Billy Ray

TVWriter™ definitely is with the Guild on this cuz, well, hell, gang, if we didn’t already know that CBS’ Les Moonves was the devil, we’d be sure it was Rupert M.