John Ostrander: Making a Better Superman

by John Ostrander

supergirl-season-2As of last Monday night, Warner Bros grew a Superman problem. That’s the night that Supergirl started its second season on its new home, the CW… where one could argue that it always belonged anyway. The show guest starred Supergirl’s cousin, Superman, embodied on TV by Tyler Hoechlin.

If you don’t already know, DC – unlike Marvel – does not link its movie universe and its TV universe. Since DC Comics is currently in the Multiple Universe concept once more, it might help to think of their TV and movie universes as alternate dimensions. So we can have two Flashes, two Wonder Women – and two versions of Superman.

The DC movie version of Superman, as shown in Man of Steel andSuperman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice Whaddee Do Dah, is played by Henry Cavill and is a darker, more brooding, somewhat more Batman-ish Superman. His costume is also darker, almost a blue-black. He is, we are told, a more “realistic” Superman. And that’s where I think the trouble is going to lie.

Supergirl’s Superman is a more traditional Man of Steel. He’s a brighter, more confident, more hopeful vision. And, not to slam Henry Cavill, Tyler Hoechlin is a better actor. As a kid he held his own with Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, and Daniel Craig in Road to Perdition where Hoechlin played a starring role as Michael Sullivan, Jr. (Sidenote: not everyone realizes that Road to Perdition is also a “comic book movie” based on the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner. Work that little factoid into your conversations. Amaze your friends. Go out and get a copy. Great read. End of plug.)

The Superman appearing on Supergirl is more my idea of who Superman is – confident, capable, friendly, powerful and, according to one character on the show, smells good. When he walks into the DEO, the government facility where Lara’s adopted sister Alex works, people just stop and stare. Superman works the crowd, smiling, shaking hands, setting people at ease not like a politician or even a celebrity but like a nice guy from Kansas which, for all his powers, he is.

Hoechlin also does a great Clark Kent, reminiscent of Christopher Reeve’s great turn, having a deft sense of humor to the portrayal and making the bumbling aspect work. When his cousin secretly congratulates Clark on a well executed file fumble in the elevator, he tells her it wasn’t an act. That’s endearing.

Also, in the TV aspect of the DCU, there isn’t the underlying mistrust that the DC movie universe has for this strange person from another world. Batman wants to kill Superman because the Kryptonian could be a threat; one of the arguments leading to the creation of the Suicide Squad was who could stop Superman if he decided to burst through the roof of the White House and grab the President? On Supergirl, people trust the Man of Steel. Seeing him, or his cousin, inspires hope. While the darker portrayal may be more “realistic,” it’s not what the character is about.

I’m not looking for a return to the Superman of the Fifties as seen in either the comics or the TV show. To be honest, that one bored me even as a kid. The movies, however, makes him more angsty, more dour, and less Super. Hoechlin is only scheduled to appear as a guest star on the TV show for right now but he wears the tights and the cape – and Clark Kent’s glasses – quite well.

I know that in BvS: DoJ (spoiler alert, I guess) Superman dies at the end of the film but we all know he’s coming back for the Justice League movie. I, for one, wouldn’t mind if the movie Superman uses the grave as a chrysalis and pops out as Tyler Hoechlin. Or maybe they can have Tyler spin off into a series as Superman. I’d watch it. And I bet lots of others would as well.

And that’s going to be WB’s problem – the better Superman isn’t on the big screen; it’s on the small one.

John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium and the writing brain behind the most successful run of Suicide Squad in comics. Don’t forget to read his most excellent blog at ComicMix.

The Wit & Wisdom of Chris Albrecht

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has been one of the most influential executives in television  for decades.

At HBO he developed such classic shows as OzThe Sopranos, The WireEntourage, and Six Feet Under, and at Starz he has brought Power, Ash vs Evil Dead, Outlander Blunt Talk, Black Sails, and more outstanding visions to audiences everywhere.

One of the keys to the success of Albrecht’s shows has been the writing. As a former literary agent (who once represented our Beloved Leader LB), he knows the good stuff when he reads it.

So when Albrecht speaks about his career, we, as writers aching to learn all we can, make it a point to listen. (So what if he was fired from HBO for an act of domestic abuse. Hey, it happened in Vegas, so, you know. Anyway:)

“Rick And Morty” Season 3 Looks to be Better Than Ever


Rick And Morty has been one of TVWriter™’s favorite comedies since its debut back in the days when Co-Producer/Writer/Creator Dan Harmon was nursing his wounds from being fired from a little show you might remember called Community.

We just spotted this preliminary footage from Season 3:

Oh, the writing! The beautiful fucking writing!

And if it sounds even better in the clip than it did last season, the could be because, according to Harmon via Den of Geek:

We hired a bunch of new writers. There was a craving for a gender balance in the writers’ room that we had never had, but I’m also very proud of the fact that we didn’t compromise ourselves following that craving. We just looked harder and I don’t know if it was coincidence or because the show was popping up on the radar of a lot of great female writers noticing, ‘Well, they don’t have any women writers in there. I’m gonna submit something.’ It was probably a combination of all those factors.

And lest anybody have forgotten the writing from last year:

Okay, so maybe we’re a bit biased, but still – who’s a’thunk that a character named Poopy Butthole could have such smooth dialog sliding right out his…well, you know…mouth, right? Mouth!

Know all those people on Facebook who post about how blessed they are? Well, this TVWriter™ minion feels truly blessed just thinking about what’s in store when Rick And Morty returns.

Munchman Bitches Again!

What we do for luv – and money!

Munchman’s TV Musings #2

  1. Okay, kiddies. Yer Friendly Neighborhood Chowdowner has tried twice this season to watch Supergirl. Based on its reviews, I should be slurping it down madly and begging for more. But that first Superman-Supergirl team-up? Holy steaming crap! The script was okay – if you like things that are okay – but the tone in general, the camera angles and movement, the sfx – shameful and insulting. And now you expect me to munch on Legends of Tomorrow featuring The Justice Society of America? What the flaming hell is wrong with you, CW parasites? What?!
  2. Meanwhile, MTV is developing a War of the Worlds series, and all munchderio here can say is…what happened to the good old days when D-boyz and girlz just up and stole the classics and pretended the originals didn’t exist? Cuz speaking of insulting, calling this new show by the same title as H.G. Wells’ classic definitely is heaping big brown spots all over the Wells literary estate – and because the copyright is long expired, nobody even has to pay for the “privilege.”
  3. Okay, my munchiness is feeling a tad calmer now. A post in Flavorwire about fictional writers who’ve appeared on TV had a strangely soothing affect on moi. For my money, the most accurately present writer on television right now is Jimmy Shive-Overly of You’re the Worst. The only glaring inaccuracy is that Jimmy drinks more than he drugs, which isn’t how things be going for m-m-my g-g-generation. And he gets laid a hell of a lot more. No, just kidding! Nobody could possibly be having more sex than yrs trly. Really! I am so a stud!
  4. OMG! I’ve been bingeing on Goliath! I’ve always been a sucker for Billy Bob Thornton, ever since he kicked Angelina out. (What? You heard it was the other way around? Nope. No way!) Bottom line: Billy Bob makes even David E. Kelly’s dated dialog and attitude come alive, creating a character who’s warm without being fuzzy, and who almost makes me wish I’d been born a redneck too.
  5. Speaking of old, fading star showrunners, Steven Bochko’s Murder in the First has been cancelled by TNT. Hey, they got three seasons out of it, so all was not lost. Should it have stayed? Did it overstay? Muncho can’t really say. I never could make myself watch it. Tried and tried, but there was all that drinking and drugging and sexing and writing to do, and y’know how time just slips, slips, slips into the future…

That’s it for this week. I’ve got a terrible, tasteless, but amazingly popular web series to get back to work on, but I promise – I’ll seeya next time with more TV joy!

Web Series: “The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy”

Now this is what we call a truly high concept logline:

In the magical town of Neverland Ohio, Peter Pan, a late 20’s man-child cartoonist, is forced to face growing up or losing his long time crush, Wendy Darling, in this Romantic Comedy reimagining J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan.

Got it? Nah, you only think you do. This series is even better after you see it. And now there’s a lot more to see because after a first season of 24 five-minuteish episodes and an epilog, our favorite web romcom is back with Season Two.

This time we’re talking 29 eps and another epilog.

With the best-written comedy on the interwebs happening, and happening big, who could dare say that 2016’s been a bad year?

Check it out!


Another fun writing gig on Craigslist;


Check it out HERE

As usual, if you respond to this ad, we’re asking you to let us know how it all went down. Here’s hoping it’ll be a story to regale your grandkids with!

Break a leg.



by Aaron Mendelsohn

I don’t love the story-breaking process.  It’s like putting on sunscreen when all I really want to do is get outside and play with my kids.  It’s like doing push-ups before breakfast.  I whine about it, I put it off, I dread it every time.  And every time, I’m really, really glad I did it.

Being a stickler about my story-breaking is one of the key reasons I’ve managed to sustain a 20+ year successful writing career.  My method is simply this: I ask myself a series of eleven story-related questions that prompt ideas about key character and story points.  Once I answer the questions to my satisfaction, I start filling in the story until I have a detailed outline.

Many of my questions are intuitive, like “Do I know what my story amimg_2118is about?” and “What is the Call to Action?”  “Do I know what my story is about?” is particularly important because the answer ends up being the cornerstone of my screenplay (or pilot or series pitch).  If I can’t distill my concept into a simple, clear, one-sentence logline, I may be sitting on a story that’s weak, broken or over-complicated.

Here’s an example of a good logline: “A good-hearted but insecure king who suffers from a debilitating stutter is forced to work with an eccentric speech therapist to deliver the speech that will unify his kingdom.”  In that one sentence I summed up the Central Character (the king), his Fatal Flaw (insecurity), the main antagonistic force (his stutter), the Journey (working with a speech therapist), the Climax (the speech) and the stakes (unifying his kingdom).

Other questions are more challenging and require more thought. “Who is my Central Character(s) and what is their Conscious and Unconscious Desire?” is an important one because it prompts me to write a character bio and spell out the dilemma and conflict that will drive the central character’s journey.  Story-related questions like “What is the Overarching Conflict?” and “What is the Central Character’s Lowest Point?” are good because they help me stake out the bewildering badlands of the Second Act.

Asking yourself the tough questions – whether they’re my 11 or your magic number – is a great way to stimulate ideas and make sure your story-breaking is on track.  You’ll end up with stronger story bones and, ultimately, a better screenplay.

Aaron Mendelsohn is a working screenwriter, a professor of screenwriting at Loyola-Marymount University, a friend of Larry Brody’s and. oh yeah, the Secretary-Treasurer of the Writers Guild of America West.  He is best known for Disney’s AIR BUD, which spawned eleven sequels.  Current projects include a Warner Bros feature, a Spike TV drama series and a Hallmark movie.

Aaron’s story-breaking method is now available as an ebook: THE 11 FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS: A GUIDE TO A BETTER SCREENPLAY For a limited time he’s offering a 20% discount to TVWriter™ readers.  Go for more information.