Monday, February 26, 2007

Oh, Scars

Today I tend to my wounds from the awful assault on my patience that was the Oscars. I don't know why I watch anymore. Changes need to be made - let's open the doors for some big ideas over at the Academy.

Some quick suggestions:

Themed Oscar Parties: Who doesn't like to play dress-up? Is anyone else tired of seeing the same glittery glam year in and year out? I don't care who's wearing who, really I don't. And that weird Steven Tyler lookalike needs to go. Wouldn't it be more fun to have a 'Beach Party' themed Oscars? Have Hollywood's most beautiful decked in barely-there designer bikinis? At least THIS would intice the male audience learn more about haute couture. I can just see someone standing around the water cooler, asking his buddy what he thought of the D-Squared two piece on Jessica Biel.

Other good themes would be: "Toddler" (everyone dresses like a baby - a quick way to get a pacifier in a longwinded award winner's mouth, "Field and Farm" (bringing the best in rural fashion to the red carpet, and "Jungle" (any excuse to get Scarlett in a leopard loincloth).

Or, how about making it mandatory for all actor nominees to come in character? Wouldn't it have been great to see Alan Arkin's Grandpa snap a peice off of Melissa or Joan as he licks his lips and unbuttons his belt?

What if we forced each of young Hollywood's stars to partner with a 'mentor' for the evening, then sent a camera crew to follow Robert Downey Jr. and Haley Joel Osment as they partyhop? I'm taking side-bets on who's carrying who home.

Or send a reality-show crew to follow each nominee as they get ready for their big night, swearing and bossing around immigrants, employees, and agents...then hit the Oscars with a Vaseline and Valium smile.

These are off the top of my head, and (obviously), not terribly well thought out. I welcome your suggestions though - because we can't complain about how big a shit-show the Oscars have become without offering some ridiculous suggestions to spice 'em up.

Friday, February 16, 2007


It's booked, bitches.

March 31-April 26. My first step into the lion's cage.

Anyone have a friend that is looking to sublet for the month of April? I'm your man.

Turns out my cousin is moving to LA in March. This serendipitous turn really relieves a bit of the 'who am I going to hang out with for a month' tension. Now there's only the 'am I good enough to make this transition or am I stupid enough to think it's a good idea' tension to worry about.

I gotta go into this with confidence, or the ship is sunk before we leave port - that's my opinion. I'd love to hear some horror stories of LA trips...pitches gone sour, meetings that made you cry, that sort of thing. It's not that I take pleasure in your pain (although I likely do), it's that whole thing about making you feel you're not alone, the needy-writer thing.

More updates as I find a place to stay, start carving out my schedule, and all that jazz.

For now, I'm fucking freezing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mentos and Coke II

Yes, I posted yesterday for the first time in a few months...but I couldn't let the second installment of this engineering masterpeice slip through my fingers.

Consider yourself impressed.

Think you can do better? There's a contest at the end of the clip.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Dusting off the cobwebs...

I may not win any awards for my first post of 2007... but I’m back, with shorter hair and a bigger belly.

For the past two months, your lazy blogging friend has been writing copy for Playstation, Axe, Liptons, Degree, Royal Bank, Facebook, and Energizer, to name a few. I took a short contract as a ‘band-aid’ while an agency found themselves a full-time copywriter. It was fun. It went well. Things were going so well, in fact, that I started thinking whether I could do this full time. The pay was good, consistent, and allowed for some creativity.

After one day back in the life of an income-less Canadian screenwriter (I think incomeless means ‘up-and-coming’, or some shit) I remember why it is I could never take a full time advertising gig:

I would miss writing stories too much. As simple and stupid as that may sound to any of you, I love it, I really do. Even though sometimes I hate having to stare at my computer, and often want to learn another language so I can stop butchering English…I would never have it any other way. Giving in to the ‘easy way out’ (which is not a bad alternative at all, in fact, quite a satisfying one), would come with the fear that I failed myself. I remember hearing very early on in my screenwriting education that the difference between failed writers and famous ones is that the failed ones GAVE UP. That’s always stuck with me. I know I could have a future copywriting. I've got a lot to learn, but I’m not half-bad. We'll see what the future brings, but for now, that’s shelved and I trudge on, focused on an exciting few months ahead...

Just before the new year, I decided to take a trip down to LA in April. I’m not getting any younger, and its time to take a look. I’m sure it won’t be my last. So, before April, gotta get my little ladies (scripts) all primped in their sluttiest see-through lingerie for their west-coast adventure. It's gonna keep me busy (pronounced "biz-ay").

After sharing my decision, I was asked by a much smarter and more successful friend what I hoped to get out of the trip. I didn’t know exactly at the time, but I do now: I’m going down to pitch. I might get eaten alive, but I’ll give it my best. Hopefully through distribution from family, friends, and agents, most will have read me before so I’m not going in TOTALLY cold – but if not, so be it. So now, time to practice. Pitching, in all its agony, doesn’t come easy to me… so if you find me extra gregarious and/or obnoxious (the latter, for sure) in the coming months, now you know why. Consider this my disclaimer - don’t hold it against me. I’m training to get down to my fighting weight. Cause I can only imagine it's going to be a battle.

Exciting new projects to share: An adult animated series called Retired and Expired. It’s funny…really funny, about the crazy goings-on at a retirement home and funeral parlor – a one-stop shop for all your elderly needs. The other is a thriller called The Spill, based on an outline I wrote at the CFC that has since been re-thunk by myself and a great young genre director. Going to pitch both of them in Canada as well as down south.

I’ve also got two projects I'm currently figuring out: a limited live-action dark comedy series and a MOW mulling around my cluttered, foggy brain. I’d tell you the topic, but since there are only so many ‘ripped from the headlines’ issues available, I must play my cards close to my chest. Also, pretty excited to see the rough cuts of the first 6 episodes of "Team Leader". Should be any day now. I'll let you know how that (usually painful) experience goes.

That’s it for now. Just wanted to say hi, happy new year, and if you’re reading this:

Thanks for not forgetting about me. I’m back. Not sure how frequent, but back, baby, back.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Saturday night. Everybody that Josh knows is out on the town, dressed in what they consider to be the wittiest costume ever conceived and constructed.

In years past, Josh is out with them. But this year, he just isn't feeling it. The whole Halloween thing - yawn.

Rewind 15 years:

I was never one to enjoy being scared. At least not in the traditional sense. Murderous dolls and zombies and vampires and Richard Simmons were scary for most kids, but not for me. Because of this 'defect', I never watched horror films. What's the point? They're so impossibly fantastic. I have so many REAL things to be scared about.

I was scared Ben Johnson was hiding under my bed, waiting to stick steroids in my feet while I slept as punishment for dropping support for him after the truth came out. I slept with my legs crossed for a more than 2 years.

I was scared that robbers would storm my house and take everyone hostage, so I kept a bag of toy guns under my bed that I deemed 'convincing' enough to look and sound real in the event I had to bunker down in my room.

I was scared that the guy who's profile I was watching on 'America's Most Wanted' was waiting upstairs, ready to 'hush' me when I found him and force me to hide him from the authorities.

See? Much more plausible, real-world fears.

Fast forward to Saturday night:

Everyone else was out getting haunted (read: blind drunk), and I was focused on the excellent finish to the Leafs/Habs game. After the game, I had to find something else to watch. There was nothing on, and I had already viewed everything on my PVR (beloved, beloved PVR). I decided to take a quick glance at TMN on Demand to see if there was anything I hadn't watched yet.

And there it was. Staring right at me. The answer to my evening lived inside six little letters:


I found it! Finally! I can't believe I didn't look here sooner.

I popped some corn and hit play. The first 10 minutes made me squirmy and although I covered my eyes a few times (the old 'peeking-through-the-fingers' move), I couldn't stop turn it off (my father, however wrote it off after about 4 minutes. Patience.)

Fast forward 3 hrs:

Finished the first 3 episodes. Left me shook; frightened in a way that I hadn't been since childhood. Fuck the Halloween 'staples' of ghosts, witches, and warlocks. Monsters are REAL. And I've never seen one brought to life with the same eerie authenticity as Michael C. Hall's Dexter.

What intensity! What great writing! What excellent performances! What imagination!

It might be my new favorite show. Besides LOST, it's newly anointed as the one show I can hardly wait for each week.

And Dexter is something to be scared of. Terrified even. Because Dexter could be your neighbor. Your son's soccer coach. Your wife's best friend. The guy at Timothy's dropping arsenic into your latte.

I encourage everyone to watch it. If you can get through the pilot and honestly tell me you're not completely compelled to watch more, I'll give you your money back.

If not, I get to keep the imaginary fantasy money and use it to build my imaginary fantasy panic room to protect me from the REAL dangers that face our sick, deranged society.

Random note:

I had the good fortune to dine with the CEO of a major media conglomerate last night. When I told him I had a new favorite show, he jumped out with 'Dexter!' before I finished the sentence. Didn't even bat an eyelash. The lesson:

Everyone admires, respects this show. From stuffy execs to hopeless creative romantics. Even if you see NO personal connection to it (although whoever says this is lying, in my opinion). Even if it's not your taste - it's worth watching an episode just to appreciate the craft of impeccably-executed TV.

Personally, my favorite reason to watch is, as Dennis McGrath noted: it's a MAJOR accomplishment in writing when you can make a brutal, calculated serial killer your sympathetic protagonist.

What's your favorite reason to watch?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Two posts in one day? Inconthievable!

Does two postings in one day make up for two weeks (okay, three) of silence? Just say yes, and read on.

I just watched last night's Studio 60, and two things popped out at me:

1. Is Amanda Peet pregnant? It seemed that her carrying around a coat and bag all night was done so to hide something. Pardon the tasteless description, but she looked a little thick around the midsection. Anyone else notice this?

2. Steven Weber is fucking funny. I wish I could see Mr. Million-An-Episode Mandler Albing watch each episode and complain to his pill, family about Wings Weber kicking his ass every week.

Because someone asked me, "Why haven't you posted lately?", and I realized that 'because, that's why' wasn't an acceptable answer

Sorry for being out of touch. If I could only pawn off my lack of productivity on the newfound addition of PVR to my life and convince myself it wasn’t an excuse, I would. Trust me, I'm a sucker for transparent scapegoats.

PVR. Three little letters. But more powerful than Brangelina, Bennifer, or Madonna's stolen black baby combined.

But seriously, how did I live without this marvel? It’s better than cigarettes, Party Mix, and White Russians in one - although I’m not sure it’s any healthier.

Where as before my ‘must-see’ TV really only included Lost, Arrested Development, and Family Guy, my stable of shows I’m ‘into’ has expanded. I consume weekly, in no particular order:

The Office (Hilarious every week, if not one-note)
Studio 60 (Seems I'm one of 10 people who like it)
Rent-A-Goalie (I'll give it another few weeks, but it's hanging from a life-line)
Weeds (missed an episode or two)
Heroes (getting better every week)
The Daily Show (You know you're successful when... you spawn a poorly received Robin Williams vehicle)
The Colbert Report (it surpassed Daily as the better show about two months ago)
30 Rock (Tracey Morgan won me over with the chicken-nuggets-AIDS rant)
It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (good writing, great success story)

I’m getting fat on television. Stuffing my furry little face full of of conflict, comedy, and things that go BOOM. Basically, I’ve added about four hours a week of necessary viewing. If I was restricted by archaic institutions like the 'broadcast schedule' (harumph!), it's concievable that my weekday evenings would be totally hijacked by TV, at the mercy of time slots and if, god forbid, I found two shows on at the same time…well, lets just say I don’t think I would be capable of making such life-altering decisions. Thank God (to whom I give the credit) I have this hard drive to archive my addictions and release them to me in digestible, easy to manage doses. I swear if someone developed a way to inject Lost directly into my bloodstream, I’d be in rehab within weeks. I hear FOX is working on it.

So am I a lost cause, a fully-formed TV junkie? No, not yet. But if I could find out what time Dexter or Jericho was on, I might just penetrate that loosely defined point-of-no-return. And with another exciting NBA season around the corner (my #1 drug, not to mention my outlet for vicarious living), I can see it becoming necessary to learn to like coffee just so I can keep awake long enough to watch everything I’ve earmarked on my PVR.

Do I like watching more television - or God, as I’ve started to call it? Absolutely. I find myself writing more and more TV these days (the only way to make a decent buck working in Canada – I bet entry level copy boys/girls/droids/monkeys/whatever make more than the average Cdn film-only screenwriter) and it’s imperative to keep up with the shows that are crushing the Canadian industry. For a more intelligent description than I could muster, check out Dennis McGrath’s post on 10 ways to make Canadian TV better.

Moving now to the future of narrative motion-pictures, the online series: We're now fully cast on Team Leader, and I’m quite excited about the group of actors we've assembled, particularly our leads – I think they have great chemistry.

So, we’re now about three weeks away from production on what we're calling Canada’s first live-action serialized comedy. At least that’s the story we're sticking to. Wanna fight about it?

Coming soon is a more detailed description of this project a.k.a. a thinly veiled attempt to plug our series so that you’ll all watch it, either online, downloaded to your iPod, or your cheaply manufactured knock-off iPod.

We don’t judge. We just want you to enjoy the show.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Best Opening Weekend Of The Year?

I think we have a contender...

The Last King Of Scotland
As I proclaimed during TIFF, performances by James McAvoy and Forest Whitaker make this already powerful film spectacular. Although it's Forest who will get most of the media, McAvoy shines like a Klan spotlight in the Alabama swampland.

And yes, I've been waiting for a reason to use that.

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie
Admittedly not a member of the TPB die-hard fan club, I am excited for this film. It's getting great reviews, and that's tough for a Canadian comedy to achieve.

Two reasons keep my skepticism at bay. One of those reasons has a sub-point, but I wouldn't feel right calling them three:

1) I trust Reitman.

2a) I read that rather than other tv-to-feature films like Wayne's World and Bob/Doug Mackenzie, TPB chose to use their inflated budget not to get bigger, but deeper into the story.

I find this distinction inspiring, and really think it's a decision that more folks in charge of comedy should be brave enough to make.

2b) This adds evidence to something I've been saying for some time: That great comedy comes from character, not circumstance.

(Now that I think about it, I have a suspicion that a dude much more famous and well-dressed proclaimed something along these lines some time ago. Am I making this up... does anybody know what the hell I'm talking about?)

The Departed
Everything I've read claims this is Scorcese back in Goodfellas form. A proclamation like that obliges every male in the free world to drag his girlfriend to opening weekend under the auspices of 'it's my turn to choose'.

Just look at the cast of brothahs (my best Bostonian accent): Jack Nicholson's woken up from a three year catnap to play a villain. Matt Damon (Maht-Daymun!) as a bad cop. Leonardo 'Remember when I was the shit?' DiCaprio, Scorcese's answer to Tarantino's Thurman. And the completely underrated Marky 'Undies' Whalberg.

Apparently it's full of violence, stuffed like a holiday bird. It's been a while since I've enjoyed a graphically violent gang film, and frankly, I kinda miss it. Big fingers crossed on this one.

Fun Fact: At 150 minutes, this film is the shortest Scorcese picture since 1999.

So do me a favor this long weekend. Go to the theater, buy a ticket for Trailer Park Boys, and go see any of the three above films.

(I'd be great if you actually went to see TPB, but I understand if it's not your brand of ale.)