Am I the only human on the planet still giving Roadies a chance?
No, not “Why isn’t anybody else watching this sad attempt at music biz time travel?” I mean, “Why am I watching?”
Can’t be for the writing – it’s cliched beyondeth any understanding. Things happen, but no stories are told. Instead, each episode is a ridiculous slice of life fiction on the order of the bullshit, unreadable fiction The New Yorker magazine used to publish back when reading it could give a high school kid some serious intellectual cred.
(For all yer friendly neighborhood munchikins knows, that pompous, dreary, anti-humor mag may still be publishing those meandering exercises in long-winded nothingness, but I ain’t in high school anymore and have better things to be bored by. Like, oh fuck it, you know, Instagram and FB.
But continuing on the subject of the writing on ROADIES. Not only are there no plots, there aren’t any real characters either. Just cardboard strawmen representing various rock-loving tradespeople (AKA roadies) who, while well-acted, probably would come across as more interesting if they were engaged in some activity or conflict or self-reflectiveness that actually matters to people these days.
Did I say “these days?” Did I say “sad attempt at music biz time travel?” I did, and as a result you may be wondering just what the hell I’m talking about. So here’s a brief explanation: Cameron Crowe of Almost Famous infamy has given us a series ostensibly about a contemporary (as in here on this world and in this timeframe) tour by a major but fictional of course rock band in which every event, attitude, and musical sound reflects the here and now not one single bit but instead takes us back to Crowe’s glory days – the mid-seventies in which Almost Famous is set.
Cam, baby, you’ve been there and done that. So have we. Why the fuck haven’t you and Showtime moved the hell on?
Oh, right. It’s because today’s rock touring is duller than your toenails, that’s why. All business…and, right, not really rock at all. Just that strange generic “music” that owns our iPhone playlists. Nobody would even be tempted to tune in a TV series about 2016’s Wonderful World of Homogenized Harmonies Sung By Girl Singers Who All Sound Like Marni Nixon. (The late soprano who used to dub in the singing voices of all the non-tune carrying actresses in Hollywood back in the second half of the 20th Century.)
Talk about bland…
But hark, what light through yonder window breaks? There it is, the answer to my question: The reason I am, in fact watching Crowe’s sad exploration of what he can still remember of his past.
It’s the the love, kids.
And the passion.
What keeps me coming back for more Roadies is seeing – and feeling because we’re talking about really fine acting here – the love every character feels for the music. The passion for life and art that music gives them, and that they return in kind. This could well be the most idealistic show on television right now. Maybe ever. It makes the Aaron Sorkin years of The West Wing (yes, there were non-Sorkin years but, fortunately, nobody watched them) look cynical.
Once upon a time, my fave video game was Sim Earth. I spent thousands of hours creating life and manipulating civilizations and learning, time and time again, as my societies waxed and waned and thrived and died out, that being a living, sentient being is – well, it’s fucking tough is what it is. Life is hard. The laws of physics and biology are merciless. There is no escape.
In Sim Earth, it was easy to make your people miserable, but bringing them happiness or at least contentment took a lot of thought and, I always liked to think, skill. Over time, I became the Master of Happy Civilizations by discovering one underlying truth: It’s art that makes life bearable. That allows beings like us to survive with at least an occasional smile.
So far in this, its freshman and probably only season, Roadies has demonstrated over and over and over again that art in the form of good ole rock ‘n’ roll is the true Second Coming. Bigger than Jesus! Out there waiting for us to find it and accept it so it can save our souls.
Thank you, Rock Jesus.
Thank you, Cameron Crowe.
Thank you, Showtime.
But don’t expect me to stick around and watch any more episodes of this execrable show. I’m taking action, kids.
It’s time for munchman to form his own band and hit the motherfucking road!
munchman is TVWriter™’s managing editor and scapegoat. Learn absolutely nothing more about him HERE
Because God knows how difficult it is to suck financial benefits out of what we write, especially at the beginning of our careers:
by Gregory Ciotti
When you attempt to envision a writer, I imagine many of you see a quirky recluse, hunched over a desk in some cabin, crumpled paper strewn about as they obsessively work on the next great American novel.
But writing is so much more. Prose is thought put to page, which makes all of us writers—even if we don’t have the chops to tangle with Faulkner. In most cases, writing is most useful as a tool for thinking, expression, and creativity; cabin-dwelling novelists be damned.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of making writing a regular habit.
Writing and happiness
Much of the research on writing and happiness deals with “expressive writing,” or jotting down what you think and how you feel. Even blogging “undoubtedly affords similar benefits” to private expressive writing in terms of therapeutic value.
Expressive writing has also been linked to improved mood, well-being, and reduced stress levels for those who do it regularly, says Adam Grant:
“Research by Laura King shows that writing about achieving future goals and dreams can make people happier and healthier… And Jane Dutton and Ifound that when people doing stressful fundraising jobs kept a journal for a few days about how their work made a difference, they increased their hourly effort by 29% over the next two weeks.”
Writing and communicating clearly
Laziness with words creates difficulty in describing feelings, sharing experiences, and communicating with others. Being able to flesh out thoughts in your mind only to have them come stumbling out when you speak is supremely frustrating. Fortunately, regular writing seems to offer some reprieve.
In both emotional intelligence and in hard sciences like mathematics, writing has been shown to help people communicate highly complex ideas more effectively. Writing helps eliminate “it sounded good in my head” by forcing your hand; brains forgive fuzzy abstractions, prose does not.
Writing and handling hard times
In one study that followed recently fired engineers, the researchers found that those engineers who consistently engaged with expressive writing were able to find another job faster….
NOTE FROM LB: I started my showbiz life in the music business, as a drummer, and played in bands of every genre that existed at the time. The most difficult music for me to play was what then was called Country and Western, because the rhythm sounded like rock but wasn’t quite, and while the lyrics sounded like truth…
The Love I Know
by Larry Brody
Country music gives us the verities:
I live it all everyday, yet still I listen, as
Betrayal becomes the most beautiful
Possible reward, courtesy of a backbeat
And a mournful slide guitar, and
Death grows more desirable than
The most perfect lifetime, drowning
Betrayer and betrayed in a torrent of
Fiddles that could overpower any tide.
But country love pales beside the
No voice, no instrument,
No sequined yoke dress or hand painted
Pair of boots
Has ever been touched as I have,
By a woman whose truth makes
The certainties of Nashville and Branson
As false as an ember from Garth’s
Ceramic campfire log.
Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, “As the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out to me, ‘Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you compromise your artistic vision by trying to please those who are paying. If you don’t accept money, you can be yourself. Like your art, you too are free.'”
Who is the Navajo Dog? Keep coming back and you’ll see.
by Kelly Jo Brick
The Writers Guild Foundation recently partnered with the Academy Education and Nicholl Fellowship Programs for a special event on how to break into the industry as a writer of any age.
Panelists including Ronald Bass (RAIN MAN, ENTRAPMENT), Douglas Jung (STAR TREK BEYOND, CONFIDENCE), Peter Landesman (CONCUSSION, KILL THE MESSENGER), Meg LeFauve (INSIDE OUT, THE GOOD DINOSAUR) and Linda Woolverton (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, MALEFICENT) shared their breaking in experiences and discussed the challenges up and coming writers are facing.
At the very beginning, there’s no pathway to this stuff. There’s no permission slip. It’s about understanding when an opportunity strikes and a door slithers open and really just not hearing no for an answer. — Peter Landesman
You just never know where it’s going to come from. It can be out of your hands in a certain way. I think that’s actually a good thing. — Douglas Jung
Do you want to write or do you want to be a writer? If writing is what you do and you’re excited about it, you get up early in the morning and you just lay it out there and you get to write, then you really got a shot. It will see you through it so many bad times, so many insults, so much failure, because you get to do it. If you hate doing it, but you just think you can make a good living doing it or get to hang out with actresses, have people know who I am or whatever, do something else. You’re doomed. — Ronald Bass
BUILDING YOUR SKILLS AS A WRITER
One thing that I got from film school that continues to help me still today is the idea of how to take criticism and how to give criticism. It seems like an easy thing to do. To have the skill set, to be able to do that and to separate your emotions and the natural defenses you have. That was really big. — Douglas Jung
How are you going to learn? You go and get 50,000 scripts of films you’ve seen and writers you admire. You read them and you steal them. You steal the ideas, the techniques, the decisions they made. That’s how you learn, because then you’re teaching yourself. — Ronald Bass
I think the best way to learn to write is to write as much as possible. Write eight scripts and write five, six, seven, re-writes of each of those eight, because by the sixth re-write you’re going to be like, “Oh, this is what I’m doing.” It’s going to take that many rewrites to even know what you’re doing. And read as many scripts as possible. That is the ground zero of learning to be a writer, doing it and writing and reading as many scripts as you can. — Meg LeFauve
It’s really important to be curious about the world and to have a hunger. What’s in this room that’s drawing your attention; that makes your brain light up? That makes me think that you’re more than just this particular story you’re telling me right now because you’re trying to impress me. Is this a person who has a fluid mind? Are you hungry and want to know more about the world and tell a story about it? That person I want to be around, I want to share the energy of that human being. — Linda Woolverton
The best thing as a writer is if you can engage that executive in a conversation. You have to stay open in that meeting and not just walk in and be, “I’m pitching my story,” because it will flow and move around. They’re going to ask you questions. If you stay open and be honest about what you’re interested in and passionate about, you’ll find someone like-minded. — Meg LeFauve
It’s an absolute skill we should be teaching in classes, because you have to feel the room, you have to feel your audience. I did a lot of performing for kids. The performances for kids really helped me with the pitch, because I can feel, with kids, they don’t care. I have to keep them, I have to lower my voice, get them to lean forward. All that stuff I use when I go out to pitch. — Linda Woolverton
You have to be genuinely enthusiastic with the story you’re telling. You have to find the part of it that you love and the part of the performance that you love. You have to say it a million times to yourself so that you can say it in a very relaxed, conversational way, but you know, like a performer, where the notes are, you know where you want to hit it and really make them believe you love it, because you do love it. If you don’t love that story, don’t go in and pitch it. — Ronald Bass
A pitch is like a song and it’s gotta be musical. Leave your notes at home, I beg you. Here’s the thing, you have a few different versions of the song in your head. If it’s a warm room, you do the opera. If you gotta get the hell out of there because it’s bad, you do the one minute ditty. — Peter Landesman
WRITING AT ANY AGE
If you’re older, the bar is really high in terms of your work. It has to be really, really good, because it’s a young industry. They like young voices. They want freshness, but if the work is great, they don’t care. — Meg LeFauve
Screenwriter is my fourth career, directing is my fifth. And I found that I just rattle less easily about little things. I get nervous less. I have children and perspective and I’ve seen death and I traveled all over the world professionally before I became a screenwriter. I think it’s like anything else, it’s perspective and context. Everybody in the industry wants to feel safe, meaning they’re safe in your hands, you know you’re safe in their hands, they’re safe with story, they feel safe because they think you know what you’re doing. I think that level of maturity is an exponential additive to that. — Peter Landesman
CREATING A STRONG NARRATIVE DRIVE IN YOUR SCRIPT
What does character want and what is the hurt that is driving it? What are in the obstacles in the way of it? What are they going to learn about themselves in the process that’s going to move us as an audience that we can relate to? — Linda Woolverton
The most important thing a writer needs to do is understand what their story is. What they’re dying to say about their world, their life, about living. If you can find that, then that will inject whatever you write with the kind of energy that is musical and infectious and good. — Peter Landesman
What are you afraid of? Push into the script where you feel the most resistance, because there might be amazing juice under there. — Meg LeFauve
You have to expect that the story that’s in you is going to take ten drafts, so get going. You’ve got ten drafts to write before it starts to really get good and gel. — Meg LeFauve
There’s an internal clock that tells you when you’re not really changing it in a way that’s improving the script for you and it’s kind of where you want it to be. Keep writing new scripts also. If you write several different things, you will learn, you will have more ideas, more things to sell, more confidence as a writer. Too many people stop at the first thing or the first two things and don’t keep generating new ideas. — Ronald Bass
The Writers Guild Foundation regularly hosts events that celebrate the craft and voices of film and television writers. To find out more about upcoming events, go to wgfoundation.org.