Diana Vaccarelli Sees CHEF

by Diana Vaccarelli

chefI’m a foodie and love to eat. In spite of that, or maybe because, I had no expectations when I sat down to watch the film CHEF, written and directed by IRON MAN’s Jon Favreau.

Jon Favreau not only wrote and directed this film but also stars as Carl Casper, a highly regarded chef at a prestigious L.A. Restaurant, who quits his job to escape his controlling employer,. Finding himself in Miami, Carl teams up with his ex-wife, an old friend, and his son to open a food truck. As the truck takes to the road, Carl finds himself back at his roots.

As much as this film is about food it is more about family, with food the link between family members. Carl and the others have long been estranged, and toiling on the truck not only returns Carl to his roots, reminding him of why he loved being a chef in the first place, it also brings father and son back together.

The cast of CHEF is stellar. In addition to Favreau, we are treated to John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Sofia Vergara, Oliver Platt, Amy Sedaris, and even Robert Downey Jr.

But it isn’t Jon Favreau’s contacts list that makes this film so enjoyable. It’s the script he has given the actors to work with. Favreau has written a screenplay filled with fully formed characters and witty and fun dialogue as well as with dramatic elements, an amalgam that I found a very pleasant surprise. I enjoyed how the story returned the protagonist to his roots so he could heal and grow, and how Favreau used food and its preparation as the way for Carl and his son to reconnect. This too was a surprise.

All in all, I simply hadn’t expected this kind of storytelling from the man who wrote and directed IRON MAN. It is great to see Favreau return to his independent film roots and be so thoroughly at home – and in control.

If you enjoy feeling a strong tug at your heartstrings, CHEF is for you.

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/31/14

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Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Patricia Cornwell (the mystery fiction biggie) is writing an untitled CBS pilot about “a brilliant, unorthodox detective who works for San Diego’s Major Crimes Unit where demons from her past come back to haunt her.” (“Unorthodox,” yeah, right. What would be unorthodox would be if she actually did things by the book and led a normal life. On TV, that’s edgy.)
  • The selfsame Martin Gero (L.A. COMPLEX) is developing a new CW series called THE PHOENIX PROJECT, about young, hip, sexy, and beautiful vigilantes saving their neighborhood. (I added the “young, hip, sexy, and beautiful” part cuz I knows me my CW. And I’m thinking it’s gonna take genuine beauty to save this baby from its home on the D.C. Comics Network. Well, that’s pretty much what The CW has become, no?)
  • Rene Balcer (he used to be a big deal showrunner back in the day when LAW & ORDER ruled TV) is writing the pilot for a CBS series based on the James Patterson novel, The Thomas Berryman Number. Now this is what muncharito calls a perfect match: An ancient writer adapts an ancient book by another ancient writer for a network known to be watched only by folks the age of my ancient parents. Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad! Yer gonna love this one!)
  • Hear the one about JUDGE DREDD coming to TV? It’s going to be a mini-series on el interwebs. (Um, see, that was the punchline, that “interwebs” sentence. But I have to add that nobody knows who’s writing the series or starring in it or where on the web it’s going to be. So this could be a new form of vaporware designed to get people talking so the series can genuinely come to be. Which means I’d love it if your writerly self would tell your people to talk to producer Adi Shankar’s people and let us know if you get the gig. Or if there even was one for you. Thanks!)

That’s it for now. Write in and tell munchilito what you’ve sold today. TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

Cassandra Hennessey: #POORBOB

Bob in the WALKING DEAD Comic

Bob in the WALKING DEAD Comic

by Cassandra Hennessey

Uh-oh, you caught me. I’m still among THE WALKING DEAD.

Where I would like to take this moment to eulogize Bob Stookey, currently a one-legged guest of honor at the most bizarre BBQ EVER…

“But wait,” you say. “Bob’s not dead.”

Not. Yet.

Hear me out…

…If there’s anything we’ve learned from AMC’s The Walking Dead is when a character has a moment of levity, an opportunity for redemption and a deep philosophical conversation with Rick Grimes, that character’s days are numbered.

Side note: RIP Hershel.

“But, wait,” you say, “Speaking of Hershel; he survived with one leg!”

That’s true. And he would have probably been teaching Rick all about drying heirloom seeds for the next year’s crops if it wasn’t for that nasty little run-in with the Governor. Boy, did that meeting start on the wrong foot!

I know. Groan now at the bad pun. But know that I had to use it. It was right there. Tempting me.

Anyway, back to Bob. When we first met him way back in the Season Four premiere, Bob was a pathetic, scrawny guy who had been residing at the prison for barely a week. Not too far into the episode, it’s revealed that Bob has a problem with the hooch. It’s so much a problem that it results in the horrific death of others (RIP Zack) when he brings down a crap-storm of walkers through a rain-rotted superstore roof, while knocking over wine shelves. Well, I’ll give him credit; he caused all that calamity actually putting the wine bottle back on the shelf.

Later on, in Season Four, he has another literal struggle with “the bottle”; this time dangling precariously off the roof with it, about to fall into the rapacious grasps of walkers below. After much wrangling (and threatening, on Daryl’s part), Bob finally releases the backpack full of booze.

I understand that shaking an addiction in a post-apocalyptic world with no 12-Step programs available may be tough, but gee whiz…

(I have to admit here, that at one time or another, I suspected Bob of being the one feeding the rats to the walkers at the fence, as well as dissecting the ones found within the prison. I feel I must exonerate him, but here’s my argument for my presumption of his guilt: A) He is a former army medic. Dissection is a scientific, medical procedure. I thought perhaps he was studying little walker rodents, trying to find a cure for “Walkerism”.  Uhm… Walkeritis? Then there’s B) He said the last two groups of survivors he was with perished, leaving him as sole survivor. Though he appeared genuinely traumatized by the ordeal, one has to ponder the odds of a streak of such bad luck as well as the conversely good fortune to suddenly acquire caches of supplies from those two defunct groups to tide him over until the next…)

When it came to Bob and his dubious backstory, I kept waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop”.

I know. Like Britney Spears, Oops, I Did It Again.

You’re with me so far, though, right? I mean, could this guy really be this much of a jinxed loser, roaming between bands of surviving humans until they inevitably were overrun with rampant zombies, only to get out by the few scraggly hairs of his chinny-chin-chin? And how was he doing this drunk? Is alcohol a Zombie repellent? Or was he so stupefied in his wasted state that the walkers mistook him for one of their own, as he stumbled and moaned and drooled?

Just saying. It leaves a lot to the imagination exactly how scrawny little Bob dodged each dilemma before ending up at the prison. I guess we’d have to walk a mile in his shoes…

…I know. That’s the last one. It’s all I’ve got.

There were definite signs in the “Strangers” episode of Season Five that something horrible was about to befall Poor Bob. Let’s assess, shall we?

His Humor. The “Glorious Tan” joke was pretty hysterical. Rule Number One: Don’t crack funnies. They’ll make your character more in-depth, more likeable and more susceptible to being tormented by the writers. (It’s what we do. *Insert maniacal laughter here*)

Kissy-Face. His romance with Sasha? At least he didn’t sing to her (Tyreese knows all too well what happens to someone when you croon like Old Blue Eyes to your love interest—a flambé!)

Introspection. He had a rich and meaningful conversation with Rick Grimes. Certain D-O-O-M.

Let’s tally up the “Had a Prolific Moment with Rick” score:

  • Lori
  • Shane
  • Dale
  • Andrea
  • Jenner (the crazy CDC dude, who revealed the group as infected and blew up the building)
  • T-Dog
  • Hershel
  • The Governor. Yes, even the Governor.

Okay. You get it, right? But by this time, EVERYONE has had at least one in-depth, emotional conversation with Rick; hence there’s a good possibility that anyone at any moment could die a horrific death.

And Bob’s transformation to a man of sobriety with passion in his heart made him the perfect victim for the writers! What a better way to tug at our heart strings than to make his character worthy of our care and concern?

And that’s one of the many secrets to good writing, my friends.

On a serious note, the last scene in the “Strangers” episode which reveals the atrocity Gareth and the “Hunters” had inflicted upon Poor Bob was one of the most chilling, devilishly executed and ingenious moments on Television. I would say for sheer “shock value” it’s on par with the gruesome death of Gustavo “Gus” Fring in Breaking Bad.

But I wonder if the evil-hipster Gareth has bitten off more than he can chew? (Oh, groan all you want! You know you said the same thing!)

Remember when Bob was attacked by the submerged, slimy walker in the flooded Food Bank basement?

There’s some speculation going on around the internet that perhaps Bob was bitten and hid the injury from Sasha and the rest of the group. That perhaps that was why he exited the church after watching Sasha blissfully holding Judith and was weeping. If it wasn’t for the fact that mass consumption of the church’s wine was going on and he abstained from drinking, why did he get so emotional? Sure, Abraham’s speech was good, but it wasn’t THAT moving to reduce a grown man to tears.

I happen to agree with the pundits of the web; that Bob was indeed bitten by the basement walker, in an underwater sneak attack to parallel the opening scene from “Jaws”. That Bob limped from the Food Bank back to the church like nothing had happened. That perhaps he was beginning to feel the onset of the walker virus’ symptoms, right before Gareth ambushed him.

Gareth looks like a “Medium Rare” guy to me. And Bob’s leg that he was gnawing on looked pretty undercooked. I didn’t see any meat thermometers around the grill. I haven’t seen any cannibal cookbooks (amazingly not even on Amazon), but I know that most meats must be 165 degrees in the center to be considered safely cooked. Duh! FOOD SAFETY, people!!

Can you say “The Mother of All Food Poisoning Cases”?

If that is the case, then would the former inhabitants of Terminus dying from consuming “tainted” meat be a more fitting “poetic justice” than the one to which Gareth so sardonically referred?

Wouldn’t that be the ultimate in Karma? Botulism on steroids!

And maybe, just maybe, Bob would be alive long enough to witness his captors’ comeuppance.

Unfortunately, I don’t see Poor Bob lasting too long into Season Five. Perhaps only an episode or two more.

So, in closing, my eulogy:

Here lies Bob Stooky.

Army Medic and a former alcoholic.

A man with a sense of humor,

As well as an undying hope for a brighter future.

A man with a glorious tan, by the way.

Some who didn’t know him personally

Would say that he merely “Tasted Good”,

Whereas we know our Bob was a Man of Good Taste.

Rest In Peace, Bob.


Cassandra Hennessey is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE

Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry has Another Cool Web Series for Us

Just another day in Paradise we mean Morganville

Just another day in Paradise Morganville

It’s called MORGANVILLE and is a lot like, well, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER gone wild.

BUFFY the show, that is. Not, specifically, Buffy the character herself.

We’re talking a college town filled with vampires, children. And it’s been online and kicking butt since last Monday.

Based on the internationally best-selling YA novel series by Rachel Caine.

Check it out:

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EPISODE ONE:

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Creative Writing Classes: Are They Hits or Misses?

The best this particular TVWriter™ minion has ever had to say about a college level creative writing class is that it beat having to take another semester of Greek Lit. Other people, of course, may have other opinions. We enjoyed this one cuz it’s so damned erudite (especially for a daily – shudder – newspaper):

samuelbeckett

See how happy Samuel Beckett looks? That’s cuz he didn’t have to take all those darn classes….

by Jane Sullivan

There’s a scene in the Simon Pegg TV sitcom Spaced when a writer is kicked off the dole and has to get a job washing dishes. She complains to the manager: “But this isn’t me. I’m a writer.” The manager replies: “Oh, everyone who works here is a writer, dear.”

They used to make that joke about actors. Now it’s writers. Not that it’s new, exactly. Writers have always taken pride in listing menial and bizarre jobs on their book cover bios, and have taken comfort in the thought they were following in the footsteps of Hemingway and Beckett. A full-time writer is still quite a rare beast, and is usually a writer of books for children, or of books in a highly commercial genre.

So why is a Nobel Prize for Literature judge, no less, complaining about the rather meagre and intermittent help writers can get from institutions? You’d think Horace Engdahl would be totally in favour of writers’ grants and creative-writing programs to nurture talent and to supplement what are usually very modest incomes.

But no, he thinks they are impoverishing Western literature. Just before the Nobel team announced that the 2014 prize had gone to the French author Patrick Modiano, Engdahl told the French newspaper La Croix that “professionalisation” of the writer’s career is having a negative effect: “Even though I understand the temptation, I think it cuts writers off from society, and creates an unhealthy link with institutions.” He cited writers including Samuel Beckett, who had to work as taxi drivers, clerks, secretaries and waiters to make a living.

Engdahl’s comments were reported in The Guardian, which drew some miffed responses from writers (one of them mentioned theSpaced scene). They just don’t view their lives as he does.

Most writers still take the Beckett route, combining paid work with writing in their spare time, and most don’t get any other income until they are published.

Read it all

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/30/14

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Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Adam Karp (newbie winner of the 2012 Humanitas Prize New Voices Award) is writing the pilot for UNNATURAL SELECTION, a CW drama about Charles Darwin’s journey through the Amazon. (Explorers! “Controversial” theories! Jungles! C’mon, admit, this is the stuff daydreams are made of. And if the network can deliver what Adam writes…well, munchkin is in, in, and in.)
  • The selfsame Adam Karp also is writing the script for a CBS pilot, MODERN GOTHIC, partnering with David Reed (SUPERNATURAL) on a series about a contemporary doctor (the character is named after Dracula‘s Van Helsing) investigates supernatural mysteries. (And, yeppers, I’m so onboard for that one as well cuz I keep thinking, “Wow, the protagonist in ye olde NIGHTSTALKER series…if he was cool. At least that’s how I’d write it…but what do I know?)
  • Roberto Saviano has turned his book, ZeroSeroZero, a thriller about international cocaine trafficking, into an English language series out of France and Italy. (Yer muncher will say this about that: At least it’s got the potential for action. “Watch the hero’s eyes glaze over. See the villain get all nuts over nothing.” I’m betting that this’ll be a big hit all over the world. But I don’t think I’ll watch it cuz…well, hell, kiddies, I can see that action in the apartment next door.)
  • Carlton Cuse (BATES MOTEL) has a new overall deal at A&E. (Cuz he’s a writing rock star, he is. So if you’re the kinda person who knows how to stay in the good graces of a diva, I respectfully suggest you hitch our wagon to Carlton’s rising star. And remember: We’re all made of stardust. Neil Gaiman told me.)

That’s it for now. Write in and tell munchilito what you’ve sold today. TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)