2015 is Gonna Be a Big TV Year for Book Lovers

Or, in other words: “Wha the fuck do I have to know how to read for? I’ve got TV.”

Witnesseth:

by Michelle Regalado

Great cover, no?

Great cover, no?

Several popular novels are about to go from the top of the best-seller list to the small screen. Here are seven book-to-TV adaptations currently in the works.

ABC is developing a 10-hour limited series on Ken Follett’s best-selling novel, which follows the lives of five families that become entangled by the first World War. The Fall of Giants is the first in the author’s Century Trilogy, which also includes the books Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ann Peacock (The Dovekeepers, Chronicles of Narnia) is on board to pen the script and executive-produce the project. Depending on how Giants performs, the network may adapt the second and third books of the trilogy into either two more 10-hour event series or a continuing hour-long scripted series.

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Do We Expect Too Much From TV?

Some people might say that if we expect anything at all from television we’re expecting too much. Over here at TVWriter™, we minions are filled with demands for perfection. But our expectations are usually much lower than our hopes. What about y’all?

tv-expectations

by Gary Susman

Here we are, supposedly living in the new Golden Age of Television, and yet we’re still whining all over the Internet about what we’re watching.

Just look at this past week. People whined about NBC’s live “Peter Pan.” Some whined because it wasn’t that great, while those who were determined to hate-watch it whined because it wasn’t that terrible.

Viewers also whined about this week’s “Sons of Anarchy” series finale –- did Jax’s final act make sense? Did it provide a satisfying catharsis after seven long seasons? Or was it alternately gripping and frustrating, like the rest of the series had been?

People complained about the campus-rape episode on “Newsroom,” the one that showrunner Aaron Sorkin called his finest episode yet. Given this week’s controversy over the now in-dispute Rolling Stone article about an alleged rape victim at the University of Virginia, Sunday’s “Newsroom” couldn’t have been timelier, but a lot of viewers thought it endorsed newscast producer Don Keefer’s skepticism about reports of campus rape, as if Sorkin were endorsing a blame-the-victim mentality.

Oh, and people also complained about the Discovery Channel’s much-hyped “Eaten Alive,” since, after having all-but-promised viewers they’d see a man swallowed by a giant snake, the man was not, in fact, eaten alive.

Really, how jaded have we become when we gripe that we didn’t get to see TV sink to its most pandering nadir and show us a man being eaten alive by a snake?

Have we become spoiled? Do we expect too much from TV?

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Peer Production: JOHNNY DYNAMO

Johnny Dynamo Capture

It ain’t perfect, but it’s really, really good. JOHNNY DYNAMO has been on the web for awhile now, and while we’re sorry to have missed it earlier we’re having a ball playing catch-up.

Highly recommended:

YouTube Preview Image

The story:

In the late 80’s, Robert Pierce Mitchell was known around the world as JOHNNY DYNAMO, television’s toughest cop. He was, by far, the biggest television star of the decade and his gritty portrayal of a NYC Detective garnered him countless awards, fans and celebrity. He was the toast of Hollywood – until a failed publicity stunt ruined his credibility and his career.

Now, more than 25 years later, an older, wiser Mitchell, is living an unassuming, quiet life in a Nashville suburb with his wife and daughter, when a tabloid T.V. show spotlights Mitchell, andJohnny Dynamo, on a “Where Are They Now” report.

The morning after the show airs, Mitchell is surprised by a knock on his door. Three, young, entertainment upstarts present Mitchell with the idea that the Internet can get him back in the spotlight and back on top. With a little nudge from his wife, Mitchell agrees to give his career one last chance.

The website

 

 

What Does the Creative Spirit Really Want?

…And what does it feel?

Emily S. Whitten, creator extraordinaire, knows – and feels – all about it:

Combatting Fear
by Emily S. Whitten

What do we seek in life, when we get right down to the basics? And, particularly for those of us in creative fields, how is our drive to create and share our creations tied to what we are seeking?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can look at myself. I seek both lasting and reliable personal connections, and the chance to make a difference in the larger world. To shape the world just a bit – to share a thought that’s dancing just behind my eyes, and throw it out into the sea of people that make up this world, to see if it strikes a chord. To discover: are there others out there like me? Do they get what I’ve put out there because they see the world the same way? Or does it make them see things differently somehow? Does something I’ve done change someone? Or make them feel better, or happier, or understood? Does it tug at the emotional core we all have but don’t always understand, or does it make them laugh, or cry, or feel, or think? Does it matter to someone?

We all want to know we matter, but a lot of us are afraid to really put ourselves out there for fear that we will discover we don’t. This can especially be a problem for those of us in the creative fields. I write this as someone who regularly faces the fear of getting too far into an idea or finishing it because I don’t know if the finished project will live up to even my own expectations, let alone another’s. And as someone who hesitates to send that finished project out into the world, because what if it’s something I think turned out well, and then I discover that people don’t care, or worse, that they hate it?

And yet, I have, at various times, managed to overcome my fear and send things out there (this weekly column included) and through this have at least learned that no matter what the reaction (whether it’s someone who loves it, someone who disagrees, someone who vehemently insults you, or someone who tells you you’ve won the prize / contest / awesome person medal of the week), at the end of the excitement, I am still standing.

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What Songwriters Need to Know About Writing for, um, Hollywood

Everybody wants to get into the act. And why not? In Hollywood they stiff you whenever and however they can, just like everywhere else. But if what we write – TV show, film, theme song, score, gets made and shown – wow, what a thrill to be able to reach millions.

And sometimes somebody in power screws up, and guess what? Yeppers, we actually get paid.

TVWriter™ tips its hat to song writing and songwriters. Everywhere:

What? No Ableton?

What? No Ableton?

by Andrew Leahy

Before Los Angeles had record labels, it had movie studios.

Hollywood has been the center of America’s film industry for more than 100 years. It’s the town that gave us Citizen Kane, Gone With The Wind and The Graduate. A town whose backlots and sound stages include sights like Norman Bates’ house and the clock tower from Back To The Future. A town where all of the “Big Six” movie studios have headquarters. Songwriters like Brian Wilson may have created the “California sound” during the 1960s, but California had a look long before it had a sound.

So what happens when the look and the sound combine?

Even before movies had actual audio, their screenings usually involved some sort of live music. During the early 20th century, organists would play along with silent films, only stopping after the credits rolled. Even the Lumiere brothers got a piece of the action on December 28, 1895 – the day they held the world’s first movie screening ever – byhiring aFrench pianist to help add some sparkle to the event. From the very start, music and movies were close cousins.

Who gets to make that music these days, though? And how? Those are the questions we asked some of our favorite L.A.-based musicians, bandmates, songwriters, supervisors and licensing agents. Their answers paint the picture of a community that’s as diverse and complicated as the city that spawned it.

COMPOSERS VS. SONGWRITERS

There’s always been a fine line between composers and songwriters. Composers write instrumental music and themes for films. Songwriters, on the other hand … well, songwriters write songs. And if you’re a songwriter looking to break into film, you should be prepared for a bit of an uphill climb.

“This isn’t the easiest world to break into, especially if your history is with a band,” admits Robert Schwartzman, frontman of the power-pop band Rooney and nephew of Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola.

In a town filled with hundreds of wannabe John Williams’, it helps to know someone on the inside. Someone who can grease the wheels, so to speak. For Schwartzman, that person was his cousin, Gia Coppola, who recently asked Schwartzman to write a full score – including instrumental music and traditional songs – for her independent film, Palo Alto.

“Typically, the filmmaker is either a big fan of the band,” Schwartzman continues, “and they think, ‘I just wanna work with this artist, and whatever we do, something cool is gonna happen,’ or that songwriter is someone who’s studied orchestration and has worked his way into the film world. If you’re a songwriter, you’re not really viewed as a composer. It’s a different beast. You need to find an entry point, a way to get your foot in the door.”

In a city like L.A., it’s common for musicians to have some experience in front of the camera. Take Jenny Lewis, who kicked off her career as a child actress before ditching the silver screen to form Rilo Kiley. Still, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t excited – and maybe a bit surprised – to receive a call from Disney in 2008, asking her to write music for the CGI film Bolt.

“I was so shocked that Disney asked me to do it, and the process was amazing,” Lewis says. “I was invited to come see the film before it was concluded. I got to stand in a room with sketches of the characters tacked up on the wall. I got to see a three dimensional figure of one of the characters. I went home and wrote the song in an hour, then demo’d it on Garageband and sent it along, and they put it in a Disney movie. A Disney movie! And that song has probably been heard by more people than any of my other songs combined.”

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What the “Collaborative Process” REALLY Means to Writers

All we can say is, “Oy vay!”

abraham-lincoln-emancipation

The Local Lens
by Thom Nickels

Writing a successful play or screenplay is no easy task. When I was commissioned to write a play about the young Abraham Lincoln several years ago by a California-based producer, I had no idea the project would take me into the dizzying orbit of “devised” or collaborative work.

Collaborative work is a tricky and dangerous terrain. After all, the expression, “A camel is a horse designed by committee,” didn’t evolve out of thin air.

This figure of speech takes a dim view of committees and group decision-making, at least when it comes to the incorporation of too many conflicting opinions into a single creative project.

“Too many cooks spoil the broth,” also sends the same message, that being: everything is spoiled if too many people participate in a single task.

There are exceptions, of course. Editors, I think, can work collaboratively but it is an entirely different ballgame for writers. When an ex-New York screenwriter I know told me about her experiences as one of twelve—yes, twelve—writers for a TV sitcom, I wondered how a roomful of people like that could get anything done.

This friend told me that the writers would sit around a huge conference table with their notepads and pens, and that after scribbling lines of dialog, they would compare notes and brainstorm. After multiple revisions and discussions, they would brainstorm again and then vote on the best lines.

When the writing session was over, they would order take-out.

An excruciating process, to say the least, for how do you get twelve people to agree on anything, much less a storyline for a TV sitcom? Twelve may be an apostolic number, but it’s too many brains for a smooth consensus. Think of the angst and tribulations that juries go through when it comes time to reach a verdict.

I had always thought of writing a play as a solitary endeavor, like the way novelist Thomas Wolfe (Look Homeward, Angel) wrote his novels on yellow legal pads standing up in his kitchen and using his refrigerator as a desk top. Wolfe also had the rustic habit of submitting his manuscripts to his publisher in longhand.

Some writers, while not of a collaborative mind, are able to write in public. This is especially true of French writers. One has only to think of the artists who were able to concentrate in cafes like the Café Flores on the St. Germain-des-Pres in Paris. Café Flores is where Jean-Paul Sartre wrote notes for his play No Exit. It’s also where Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre’s primary mistress (he had more than one), worked out many of her projects as well. On the other hand, the novelist Colette locked herself in her house in order to find the concentration to work. Marcel Proust (Remembrance of Things Past), however, was so noise-phobic that he wrote all day in a cork lined room, surfacing only in the evening when he went out with his coachman to Paris’ nineteenth century gay places.

As a student in Baltimore, I tried the writing-in-public thing, only I didn’t go to cafes but to the local Greyhound bus station where I wrote poems about the people I observed. There’s never a shortage of oddballs in bus stations. Mostly I felt like a poseur writing this way. Not surprisingly, none of the poems produced under the glare of a bus station security guard proved to be any good.

The start of my project for the California producer was like a honeymoon in Versailles. Although not a writer himself, the producer suggested reference books, trips to important Lincoln “hot spots,” conferences and lectures to attend in order to help improve my knowledge of the man. Problems at that time were minimal and the future for the play looked bright.

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