Larry Brody sees the Trailer for YOUTH

by Larry Brody

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This is only the trailer for YOUTH, a new film written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, and Rachel Weisz, but it made me cry.

I may even go to a theater to see this one. (That would be the second time this year. The first was for AGE OF ULTRON.)

YOUTH opens in the U.S. December 4, 2015. A day before my next birthday makes me even older than I am while writing this now.

TV Diversity – Yay or Nay? Part 3

Here it is: Part Three of Suzanne Chan’s four-part analysis of diversity, or the lack of it, on our television screens. Dig in:


 

Image found at http://www.freepress.net

Image found at http://www.freepress.net

THE GOOD WIFE
by Suzanne Chan

This is part three of a four-part series about television shows that I recently fell in love with for their premise, overall writing, and visual style. Two are to be celebrated for their diversity. Two could do better.

Part 1 was about the diverse world portrayed in The 100. Part 2 was about The Flash, a show that displays great racial diversity, yet terribly sexist attitudes to female characters.

This week, I look at The Good Wife, a brainy, engaging show about a feminist, atheist heroine that is unexpectedly wrong-footed on issues of race.

When CBS first announced a new series called The Good Wife, the premise interested me. It sounded like a “what-if” story inspired by women like Hillary Clinton and Silda Wall Spitzer: independent-minded, liberal women who helped their husbands obtain high stations in public office, only to have their lives upended when the men were exposed as philanderers. It sounded like just the show to scratch my West Wing itch.

Due to scheduling conflicts, I missed the first five seasons of The Good Wife. During this time my nerdy, comics-loving friends heaped praise on the show.

When I finally caught up on the show last fall, as its sixth season was airing, I fell for it head over heels. Far from the leisurely few months I thought it would take, I binged the series in a few weeks.

Super(anti)heroine

I could relate to the feminist, atheist protagonist, Alicia Florick, and I loved the show’s ability to dramatize 21st century crimes: cases that relied on fairly thorough explorations of concepts such as intellectual property, bioethics, and conflicting rights.

Read it all at Sequential Tart

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Most Popular TVWriter™ Posts of the Week Ending September 4, 2015

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The most clicked-on posts by TVWriter™ visitors during the past week were:

Peggy Bechko Ponders Character Development

How Does an Aspiring TV Writer Get Discovered by an Agent?

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Stephen King On Screenwriting? Really? Hmm…

Discovered: Agatha Christie’s Whodunnit Template

And our most popular resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR: Enter

The Teleplay

The Logline

Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week. Don’t forget to read what you missed. re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

Hollywood Neurosis

Let’s face it. If we were normal, we wouldn’t feel the need to show the world our greatness via showbiz. We’d work a little, play a little, have some kids, and lead normal lives. So none of what’s below is going to surprise any of us, right?


 

mentalhwood

Industry Shrinks Reveal What’s Wrong with Actors, Producers, Agents and More

Every job in town, from studio exec to screenwriter, actor to agent, has a dominant dysfunction — and diagnosis. For THR’s annual Doctor’s Issue Hollywood’s top mental caregivers share insights straight out of their session notes.

The Executive: The Pressures of the Golden Handcuff
By Dr. Larry Shaw

The pressures are different for male and female executives. The guys I’ve worked with recently have father issues, which means they had very powerful fathers, so there’s an aspect of living under the father’s shadow. In one week, I had three guys come in and say, “My father’s the most powerful man in Hollywood.” In certain cases, they had really Great Santini abusive fathers. They’ve got this inner dialogue that’s really their father’s voice saying, “You’re not good enough.”

The women who have made it to the top still have to be in a room full of the good ol’ boys when decisions are made. Think Donald Trump. You put a woman in there and they make really, really sexist jokes, and they don’t respect her. The women work harder, I think, and there’s less appreciation.

There isn’t one consistent factor in the women’s upbringings except they had unique childhoods. They grew up in the ’60s, so think of everything from communes to tons of LSD. There wasn’t a traditional consistency in their upbringings.

A certain kind of personality enjoys the chaos of the entertainment industry. One guy told me about an early memory in which he remembers hanging onto his crib and seeing his executive father run in and out of the house, constantly running here and there. So they find something that’s familiar, but they can feel physiologically that it’s wrecking their system. This one guy was telling me, he was in Nepal and he had his cellphone with an international signal, and he said he literally was hanging off a mountain trying to make sure a deal went through.

Everyone I’ve worked with, they all want to get out of the business. They’re at the top of their game and they’re miserable. One guy called it the golden handcuff. Another guy I worked with said when he was in Cannes, he was looking down on the red carpet and thinking, “I just feel so alone. Why am I here and why am I doing this? This has no meaning.” He left his hotel room, skipped some parties, walked to the top of a hill and looked out over the ocean. Then an old farmer came by with an apple, looked at him and cut off a piece of apple for him. He just went, “That’s what life is about, being able to be at peace, and all you need is an apple….”

There’s much, much more. Read it all at Hollywood Reporter

Larry Brody sees SH%T SOUTHERN WOMAN SAY

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by Larry Brody

Having known quite a few Southern women in my time, I found myself attracted to this series as soon as I read the title. And guess what? It turned out to be amazingly well done. Very well written. Very well acted. Well shot.

In other words, no shit here, amigos.

Fuck all those tentpole feature films. What we need is a lot more SH%T SOUTHERN WOMEN SAY.

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Diana Black Continues the Hero’s Journey

anotherjourney

The Hero’s Journey in Episodic Television – Part 2
by Diana Black

As we established in Part I, ‘normal’ life – taking the kids to school, fixing the plumbing…yet again, or attending/hosting the obligatory ‘Happy’ Holydays – rarely provides an opportunity for heroism or maybe they do; depending on your relatives. Let’s hope we don’t have to put our lives on the line (or the children’s) when we take our beloved little sub-units to school…too horrible to contemplate.

To recap, how can we walk the path of the hero and experience pain and triumph? By proxy – through watching someone else suffer or succeed. Caught up in the narrative, at some subconscious level, we’re still back in that primeval forest, slaying the dragons of uncertainty about ourselves and the world around us – will we survive? In this way we get a ‘survival lesson’ for free.

We’ve already explored this via the big screen, by mapping the journey of Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings, but is the ‘Hero’s journey’ likely to be the same animal via that little box in the corner? Or via other media-viewing platforms; many of them hosting the television program peppered with sponsored advertisements? Hence, the importance of awesome, nail-biting cliff-hangers just prior to Act breaks.

But there are two issues here. So far we’ve only explored the heroic adventure in relation to ourselves, but what about ‘the’ hero/heroine in that television program? Can they undergo the heroic transformation in episodic/serialized television…well not really…so why not?

Let’s recap the structural road map of the hero’s journey – perhaps it offers a clue as to why this isn’t feasible in episodic television. Recall we see the hero in his/her ‘normal’ life. Then the inciting incident calls the hero to action – they’re dragged kicking and screaming because they‘ve no desire to undergo an inner transformation; in their mind there’s no need for it. However, they’re not given a choice…fate has anointed him/her for the task. They devise a plan to address the situation… it fails.

Girding their loins, they try again and even with help/back-up, they still fail with one obstacle after another making their life hell. Yet there’s no getting off the roller-coaster at this point. When everything is going to ‘hell in a basket’/ the ‘all is lost moment’, the hero/heroine reaches a crisis point. They’re confronted with the need for inner/spiritual transformation – that is, if they’re to be successful. This generally requires sacrifice – death of old self or death – all in the service of others/the cause.

We’ve or (they’ve) reached the climax of the narrative, the hero/heroine prevails/triumphs – either alone or with help. Then the denouement – we see the hero/heroine alive, but changed forever –older, wiser or perhaps damaged, but now living or perceiving their life differently in some profound way.

So, what’s the problem with this in relation to our television hero/heroine? If we stumble upon the pilot episode and love it, we’ll be like Sam and stay the course – remaining faithful and forgiving by not missing a single episode, so there’s no problem – for the character, us or the commercial stakeholders.

But what about the viewer who stumbles upon the series midway? If pandering to their primeval brain that wants a ‘survival lesson’ via a heroic transformation, the new recruit will be sadly disappointed and thinking wtf? And what about the ‘suits’, how do they recruit and keep lots of new viewers who’ll begrudgingly watch the commercials in between Act breaks; all because they’re emotionally invested in the character/s? This is what makes heavily serialized programs problematic; leading to the rise of DVD sales with the enticement of binge viewing; in order to get these guys up-to-speed.

So as television viewers, we must make a pact and fall in love with the character as they are, not for what they could become. Hence those characters have to be thoroughly engaging – bad-ass/ adorable/whatever, but worth emotionally investing in.

The only alternative to that is to switch channels. However, our primeval brain still wants to via proxy, to accompany ‘a hero’ on ‘a journey’ and learn from them, so flipping channels isn’t the answer.

Thus television characters that we love or hate don’t tend to grow and transform – the emphasis is on the adventure/criminal case itself – a marketing strategy to extend the life of the series, especially on commercial-dependent networks and aspiring television stations. Our hero/heroine is just fine as they are. This is also the reason behind ensemble casting – there’ got to be someone in that ornery bunch that you like and identify with, isn’t there!


Diana Black is an Australian actress and writer. TVWriter™ is proud to call her a member of Larry Brody’s Master Class.