Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why TV?

BooM over at Wannabetvwriter is asking the telescribosphere why they write for TV. A worthy question!

I came to TV writing with a background in playwriting and designing videogames. I'm currently working on a comic book and a feature. Creating fictional worlds is what drives me, and happily, bizarrely, is something people have paid me to do (sometimes), when I would readily pay them to do it if I had the dosh.

A quick digression from the Why to When. One of the games I worked on, MAJESTIC for Electronic Arts, was episodic. We had a writers room, just like a TV show. We even got canceled after 4 episodes, just like a TV show.

One of the game writers was a talented woman who had worked on BEVERLY HILLS 90210 and MELROSE PLACE as well as movies and numerous interactive projects before and since. She became a mentor and a good friend, and encouraged me to think about TV writing should I ever find myself in LA.

As it happens, a later game job brought me to LA. I started writing TV scripts, sent one to the Warner Bros. TV Drama Writers Workshop, got in, and got staffed. I'm so grateful to the people who took a chance on me. It still feels unreal.

Back to the Why.

Stories come in all shapes and sizes, and it so happens that a lot of the richest storytelling can happen in TV, when you live with characters week after week and experience how they evolve and surprise over time.

There's something very intimate and compelling about how these stories unfold in your home. I was in tears during the season 1 finale of MAD MEN. Is it any wonder that fandom emerges around TV shows the way it rarely does for movies?

A key element to TV writing is its collaborative nature, unlike writing a novel or poetry. I love the mix of cooperative and individual creation that takes place on a TV staff, everyone working through ideas to craft the best story possible, then the writer going off and writing the script.

And, it's a shitload of hard, mentally exhausting work, but really really really fun.

The below can consider themselves tagged, although I doubt more than a couple even read my blog:

Alex Epstein

Shawna Benson
Ken Levine
Jane Espenson
And... BooM! What? She didn't say no tagbacks.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Does Shonda Know?

This has been bugging me for a while. You know the title card for PRIVATE PRACTICE? This one?

The image itself annoys me, because I think a successful series spun off from a massively successful one deserves better than a 20-minute Photoshop collage of an improbably toned female torso and clip art of a Santa Monica beach.

But that little building above the belly button? That's not a lifeguard station or a café or a quaint shack where you can rent rollerblades, although there are plenty of all of those along the bike path.

That little building is a public restroom. An oft-used one.

And last week while I was out running along that very path, some Parks and Rec employees were by the outdoor shower, above Miss Torso's bony right hip, baffled about what to do with the half-naked person passed out drunk in the sand.

At least, I hope he was drunk.

And he wasn't naked on his top half.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Next Stop, Cylons

Scientists in Britain have created a robot controlled by a brain of cultured neurons:
“The robot’s biological brain is made up of cultured neurons which are placed onto a multi electrode array (MEA). The MEA is a dish with approximately 60 electrodes which pick up the electrical signals generated by the cells. This is then used to drive the movement of the robot. Every time the robot nears an object, signals are directed to stimulate the brain by means of the electrodes. In response, the brain’s output is used to drive the wheels of the robot, left and right, so that it moves around in an attempt to avoid hitting objects. The robot has no additional control from a human or a computer, its sole means of control is from its own brain.”

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A Title Perhaps Too Apt

Electronic Arts is partnering with the For Dummies series to develop games that... teach you to play games. Poker, Sudoku, Solitaire, "brain-training" games.

Isn't a game that teaches you to play poker, um, poker?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Alex O'Loughlin Sits in a Conference Room

Hi Moonlighters! Firstly, thanks so very much for your kind comments and your support throughout the life (undeath?) of the show.

Secondly, I felt bad for y'all cruising by my blog for what was really not that exciting a post yesterday, so... Here's a picture of the cast at the table read for MOONLIGHT's finale episode, "Sonata"! Click the pic to see a bigger version.

Check out the glamorous world of making television:

From left to right: David Blue (Logan), Jacob Vargas (Guillermo), Jason Dohring (Josef), Alex O'Loughlin (Mick!), Sophia Myles (Beth!), Robert Scott (Assistant Director), and Fred Toye (Director. He also directed "Fever" and "Out of the Past").

Don't they look, um, riveted?

I'm out of frame with the other half of Fred Toye, along with Ethan Erwin (my co-writer on the episode), executive producer Gabrielle Stanton, co-producer Jill Blotevogel, and our executives from CBS, WBTV, and Silver Pictures.

Big thanks to Jill who had the foresight to snap the photo with her iPhone. I was way too nervous to even think about something sensible like documenting the occasion.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Well, At Least They're Still Talking About It

From a post on The Hollywood Reporter's TV blog, deconstructing the stated fave TV shows of Obama and McCain:
Among media portrayals of U.S. presidents, McCain adds he admired President Palmer from Fox’s “24.” Not only is “24” considered an appropriately cool show, but Palmer was a winning portrayal of a tough, conservative African American president. It's a crafty choice on McCain's part, like putting the race card through a paper shredder. (For bonus points, McCain should try chastising CBS for canceling "Moonlight"; he could instantly shore up his weaker demos among women by a few million votes).
Emphasis mine. Ahem.