Monday, March 19, 2018

Welcome back, "L.A. Confidential"

James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential has lived many lives. First as Ellroy's behemoth novel, a complicated, sordid tale of corruption in the City of Angels where the LAPD, the DA's office, Hollywood, the Mob, drugs, plastic surgery, a popular amusement park, and high-priced prostitution intersect. Among other things.

Despite their belief that the novel was unadaptable to film or TV, Ellroy and his agent sold the rights to Warner Bros. Warners first shopped it unsuccessfully as a potential miniseries before it became the Academy Award winning film by Curtis Hanson*. There is also an HBO pilot version featuring a pre-24 Keifer Sutherland as Jack Vincennes. The sumptuous episode appears on a special edition DVD of the film.

Recently CBS ordered an L.A. Confidential pilot. Besides the actual news itself, one of the more striking aspects is the casting of Walt Goggins as Trashcan Jack Vincennes, apparently with plans on keeping the character more loyal to the damaged original version in the novel than the slick Hollywood player portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the film, plus the intention of sticking closer to the original source material overall than the film did (as did the HBO pilot).

As a huge L.A. Confidential fan over the years (I own the novel, screenplay, film, soundtrack, and movie poster) I was intrigued by the idea of bringing it to broadcast television after all these years. If done right, it could really stand out from the usual CBS cop shows. No offense to those shows and the people involved with them - they've been wildly successful - but L.A. Confidential is a completely different cat and if CBS is able to nail Ellroy's sensibility about corruption in 1950's Los Angeles and Hollywood this could set a new standard for the normally staid network. I'm actually looking forward to it and for some reason feel really hopeful about it, rather than dreading it.

*I learned a lot about the optioning and eventually successful adaptation of L.A. Confidential while writing a report about it called "Adapting the Unadaptable" for a film class I took in the early 2000's. While my notes and the report are long gone, I do remember the details vividly. Despite initially believing his novel couldn't be adapted due to its length and breadth, Ellroy stated at the time that the film stood on its own as an excellent work related to but separate from his book and actively promoted it. Years, dozens of characters and multiple subplots had to be condensed or eliminated entirely to make it work as a film. It earned, in my opinion, one of the most well-deserved Adapted Screenplay Oscars.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dear "Customer"

Got a highly suspicious email today from "Apple":

Check out that "Apple" email address.

Here's what they wanted:

Yeah, the link actually says "Verification My Account".


Oh, and just for kicks, this was at the bottom of the email:

If like me, you want to know more about phishing and email scams from jackasses claiming to be from Apple, go here.

As instructed, I forwarded the email to Apple with this message:

I don't know what they would get out of being able to hack someone's Apple account, unless they're looking to hack Apple Pay accounts (which I don't have) but let's face it, email scams and phishing have been around for a while and apparently aren't going away. The sad thing is they may actually sucker people and rip them off.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

So how did the brutally honest Oscars insider do?

You know, the guy from the previous post. Let's see how he fared:

Best Picture
Insider: The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: The Shape of Water

Best Director
Insider: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water

Best Actor
Insider: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
And the Oscar goes to: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Actress
Insider: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actor
Insider: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
And the Oscar goes to: Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Supporting Actress
Insider: Allison Janney, I, Tonya
And the Oscar goes to: Allison Janney, I, Tonya

Best Adapted Screenplay
Insider: Aaron Sorkin, Molly's Game
And the Oscar goes to: James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name

Best Original Screenplay
Insider: Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Animated Feature:
Insider: Coco
And the Oscar goes to: Coco

Best Documentary Feature:
Insider: Icarus
And the Oscar goes to: Icarus

Best Foreign Language Film
Insider: A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
And the Oscar goes to: A Fantastic Woman (Chile)

Best Cinematography
Insider: Blade Runner 2049
And the Oscar goes to: Blade Runner 2049

Best Costume Design
Insider: Phantom Thread
And the Oscar goes to: Phantom Thread

Best Film Editing
Insider: I, Tonya
And the Oscar goes to: Dunkirk

Best Makeup & Hair Styling
Insider: Darkest Hour
And the Oscar goes to: Darkest Hour

Best Original Score
Insider: The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: The Shape of Water

Best Original Song:
Insider: "Remember Me", Coco
And the Oscar goes to: "Remember Me", Coco

Best Production Design
Insider: Blade Runner 2049
And the Oscar goes to: The Shape of Water

Best Sound Editing
Insider: The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: Dunkirk

Best Sound Mixing
Insider: The Shape of Water
And the Oscar goes to: Dunkirk

Best Visual Effects
Insider: Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2
And the Oscar goes to: Blade Runner 2049

Best Animated Short
Insider: Revolting Rhymes
And the Oscar goes to: Dear Basketball

Best Documentary Short
Insider: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
And the Oscar goes to: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405

Best Live-Action Short
Insider: The Silent Child
And the Oscar goes to: The Silent Child

By my always suspect calculations, fourteen of the Insider's choices won, while ten lost. At in a way, it's even more interesting to go back and read why he didn't choose some of the eventual winners.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My favorite part of Oscar season

I can't remember the last time I really cared about award shows, but I do love this particular Oscar tradition from The Hollywood Reporter: their annual Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot. In THR's own words:

Each year around this time, THR sits down with an Oscar voter who, under the warm cloak of anonymity, spills his or her true feelings about the current season's crop of contenders. Not just who or what got his or her votes, but also exactly why and how he or she came to those decisions. It's not meant to be a scientific analysis; it's just the candid, unsugarcoated opinions of one voting member (out of 7,258) of the most important and powerful movie club in the world.

It's definitely brutally honest and not sugarcoated, and it never is, which is why this annual article is my favorite part of Oscar season. Reading them, it's almost like they're the opinions of normal, non-Hollywood moviegoers. It will be interesting to see how this voter's choices fare this weekend when the awards are handed out.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February Words of Wisdom

It's hard to win an argument with a smart person, but it's damn near impossible to win an argument with a stupid person. --Bill Murray

I've always hated being gossiped about. When I heard that people were talking about me, I consoled myself with what my mother Ruthie used to say: "Birds peck at the best fruit."
--Bette Davis

I'm totally in control of this tiny, tiny world right here at the typewriter. --Joan Didion

Half of life is lost in charming others. The other half is lost in going through the anxieties caused by others. Leave this play, you have played enough. --Rumi

The rules are simple. Take your work, but never yourself, seriously. Pour in the love and whatever skill you have, and it will come out. --Charles Jones

My motto is, "If we can think it, then we can write it." We can always improve upon it later.
--Patrick Ryan

I think writers should write exactly what they want to write, and nothing more, nothing less.
--Roxanne Gay

Do not just slay your demons, dissect them and find what they've been feeding on.

The more you care about what people think, the more they own you. --Marie Forleo

It is splendid to be a great writer, to put men into the frying pan of your imagination and make them pop like chestnuts. --Gustave Flaubert

Smell the sea and feel the sky. Let your soul and spirit fly. --Van Morrison

I was always a storyteller. I just didn't know it. I never shared the stories I made up inside my head when I was growing up. I never wrote them down either. But I can't remember a time when they weren't there. --Judy Blume

Be like a tree, let the dead leaves drop. --Rumi

Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people. --Karen Salmansohn

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Imagine how he'll celebrate his 30th

I don't know what else to say, so...Local man arrested for DUI after riding horse onto freeway to celebrate his 29th birthday.

I love how calm the horse is in the pics. At least one of them was sober.

I can't decide if this guy is the biggest dork ever, or is going to have one hell of a story to tell at every birthday celebration he attends for the rest of his life.

Also, well played Santa Fe Springs CHP.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Needy cat is needy

I get home from a day of family stuff and attention-starved cat who is used to having me home all day long at her beck and call is galloping around the apartment like a needy mustang.

Just wanted to get that down in writing. Also, hilarious.

Her: You are my world.
Me: Well, that cat food ain't gonna buy itself, and neither are you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

When first drafts attack

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got as a fledgling writer was the importance of understanding that first drafts are shit. They just are. The whole purpose of a first draft's existence is to just get your story down on paper. Then it can be fixed. It's not for public consumption because anyone who reads it (unless they're another writer who understands it's at a really raw stage) will think you're a crappy writer. Writing, as the saying goes, is rewriting.

Another thing that's been on my mind lately is to start submitting well before deadlines, instead of at 11:59:59 pm on the due date like I usually do.

Why do I mention these things? Well, because they've come together the past couple of days as I work on a short story for an upcoming anthology with a deadline of March 23, almost exactly one month away.

The story, which we'll refer to as Hollywoodland (because that's its name) was my submission last year to the Malice Domestic anthology Murder Most Geographical. It wasn't selected and now that I've dragged it out of mothballs to repurpose it for another anthology, I can see why.

It's awful.

Not the story, which I think is fine, but the fact that it reads like a first draft. No wonder it wasn't chosen. But it went out like that because I threw it together at the last second because inspiration didn't strike until the last minute. And also because I am a terrible procrastinator. Kidding, I'm unfortunately really good at it. Point is, because instead of giving myself time to do what turned out to be a much needed rewrite, I sent it out into the world in its sorry first draft state. I feel like I should apologize to the judges at Malice who had to waste their time on it. In fact, I will: Sorry, you guys. My bad. Won't happen again.

I got a lot of work done on it yesterday and a bit more today, and it's in much better shape. My next few days are going to be busy with family stuff, so I won't get to spend more time on it until Sunday. My goal is to have it whipped into shape and submitted by next Wednesday, the last day of the month. That will give me two submissions for the month, meeting that goal again. It also gives me some breathing room in March, because I don't have any other hard deadlines until April and May. I need a new TV spec to replace my Better Call Saul script that is now outdated, so that's probably next in line, as well as the next Sisters in Crime Los Angeles anthology, which is due May 15 and will need to be done well in advance so I don't repeat mistakes of the past.

Writing wise I feel like I'm in pretty good shape. Now if I could just get another acceptance, that would give me two years running. And would be fabulous.

Above image snicked from the internets. If it's yours, A) Great work! and B) Let me know so I can give you credit.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Soup is back (sort of, with swearing) and it is glorious

Just watched the first episode of The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale on Netflix and it filled every hole left in my television watching life since E! Entertainment (!) (?) horrifically cancelled The Soup a couple years ago.

In episode 1, Joel poked fun at Korean and South African TV shows (what, no telenovelas?), reality TV, re-enactment TV (hey, I've seen that episode of Married with Secrets), celebrity guests, his network and their programs, local news broadcasts and of course The Bachelor. We got our first, "We did not edit this..." and appearances by Jason Priestly and a couple of Joel's Community castmates! Even Mankini made a welcome return! And as an added bonus, there are no commercial breaks to fast-forward through. Win win win win win win, etc. Oh God bless you, Netflix. GOD. BLESS. YOU.

There are some differences. Joel is much more casually dressed and there's some grey in the facial hair. But the snark and humor are intact and that's what we always tuned in for. E!'s loss is Netflix's gain.

"The show Sisters Wives is about many things. Polygamy... Okay, it's just pretty much about polygamy." --Joel

Saturday, February 17, 2018