Friday, November 30, 2007

My Wet Hollywood Morning

The point is we were there and it was raining and we didn't melt. That was the point, and you can get more details by clicking the title of this posting. Now the cool part. The cool part was getting to meet Tom Mankiewicz who shares screenplay credit on a favorite Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever...
...and France Nuyen who was Liat in the 1958 film of South Pacific.
I also got to yell chants at the Thalberg building.
Hooray for Hollywood.

From South Pacific

The trailer for Diamonds Are Forever

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Big Time Deja Vu

From an episode of thirtysomething I wrote called Michael Writes A Story originally broadcast on April 9, 1989

I took your advice; read Nashiru on the art of management. He tells the story of two samurai warriors standing in the rain, swords out, each ready to strike. But neither of them moves. They just stand there in the storm, poised.


You tell me.

Because whoever moves first loses the advantage.

So they stand there getting soaked, accomplishing nothing. Stupid way to make a living, isn't it?

They stand there. Then:

Why don't the two of you come in and we'll have a more substantive discussion?

Sounds like a good idea.

It is.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Speechless Episode 1

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"We gather together..."

The pre-Thanksgiving rally and march of writers and their supporters on Hollywood Blvd. this afternoon.

If you go home some distance for Thanksgiving this week and find yourself in the company of people who don’t understand what the Writers Guild strike is all about, you can try to explain it to them or send them to the links at The WGA and for the nuts and bolts of it. But if someone asks you "Who do those greedy writers think they are?" tell them this:

We are the sons and daughters of parents who wanted us to do better than they did. We are the children of janitors and bank tellers, the legacy of parents who were lectured to by strangers about the dangers of indulging the dreams of their kids. We made them proud by not doing the sensible thing and mastering an intangible skill instead. I have repaid the debt to my father by making a better living than he did. I have repaid the debt to my mother by telling stories. We are the children of parents who taught us that things hard won are worth holding on to...and worth passing on to the next generation.

The corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga Boulevards...the site of Philip Marlowe's office

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

"Rise Again"

Beverly outside NBC last week

Among her many talents, Beverly Mickins bakes a damn good chocolate chip cookie. I married her for other reasons; the cookie ability was discovered later. She has baked treats for every writing staff I've been on and now she bakes cookies for the writers who are on the picket line with me. As industrious as she is, she can't bake a restorative chocolate chip cookie for every writer and supporter. So, at my urging, Beverly has recorded an audible cookie of encouragement: her version of the labor song Rise Again.
You can listen to the song by clicking the title at the top of this post. You're welcome to download it to your computer, burn it on a CD, import it to your iPod, and send the link to every writer or supporter you think would like to hear it.
It's our gift to everyone who's going through this with us.
Take Heart.

Rise Again
Vocals by Beverly Mickins
Guitar and Mandolin played by John O'Kennedy
Arranged by John O'Kennedy
Recorded and mixed by Barry Fasman
for Sanctuary Entertainment
presented by
Handwritten Theatre

Sunday, November 11, 2007


SAG member Holly Hunter on the picket line in support of the WGA

I hope you all enjoyed today’s Sunday New York Times Magazine which was all about me. Well, sort of about me. If you knew what you were looking for. I’m not talking about how the general theme of the issue, “Hollywood Goes West (Again),” is clearly a statement by the New York Times about how I’m supposed to be writing a Western pilot for NBC right now, but instead I spend my time standing on a street corner encouraging people to honk their horns as they drive past the network offices in order to disturb the executives who bought the project. Very nice of The Times to do that.

No, the real tribute to my career is deep within the issue itself, contained in this week’s fashion spread inspired by the Coen Brothers and the actors who’ve appeared in their movies.

Open the magazine on the dining room table to pages 76 and 77, or go online to

There you’ll see two pictures. On the left, a photograph of Holly Hunter, and on the right, a photograph of Jon Polito.

The only mistake the editors made is that these pictures are in the wrong order. Jon Polito was one of the first actors to perform something I wrote. He appeared in the Manhattan Theatre Club production of my play Digby in 1985, so his picture should appear before that of Holly Hunter, who is one of the most recent actors who has performed something I wrote. Holly Hunter plays the title character on Saving Grace, a series on TNT. I write for the show. Or did till the WGA strike started.

Two actors who bookend my work as a writer…to date. It would have been perfect if the magazine had been able to sandwich the picture of Julianne Moore on page 81 between the other two since I got to write for her between Jon and Holly and gave her one of my favorite lines: “Who died and made you Jiminy Cricket?” but, really, The Times did a great job and I don’t want to nit-pick.

My career as a writer was just getting started when the last Writers Guild strike happened. My writer’s affinity for structure had me worried that my career as a working writer could come to an end with this second strike… if things don’t come to a equitable conclusion (meaning a fair contract and protection of the rights and incomes of all writers now and in the future). The fact that these two labor actions feel very different to me, that the first one was laced with fear and acrimony and this one is charged with organization and resolve, didn’t do much to ease my anxiety at the fearful symmetry of the situation.

Which is why I’m so grateful to The New York Times for running those pictures today. They’ve wised me up and allowed me to see past the picket lines. Whatever happens with the strike (and we’re going to win and get a fair deal) the contract negotiations are not going to be the true measure of what I’ve been able to do. Those facing pictures of Jon Polito and Holly Hunter are the real bookends, in the sense that between them are all the words I’ve written for all the actors I’ve had the great good fortune to work with. It’s the work that I’ve done that counts. Not the machinations of studios, but the sweet intangible joy of having somebody tell a story I wrote. And, now that I think of it, The Times was right not to put Julianne between them. Just because Jon and Holly represent the landmarks of a twenty-year plus career, doesn’t mean there won’t be things beyond; words past the bookends. Why should a symbolic bookshelf be any more orderly than my real bookcases?

My thanks to Holly and Julianne and Jon and every actor who’s ever said anything I’ve written or walked through a door because I typed “enters.” If my pages have a legacy, it’s because you performed them.

How about we do some more? Soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Strike Radio Theatre: The Secret Tapes

Click the title of this post for shocking revelations that are no less shocking just because they're totally made up!

Friday, November 09, 2007

The Writers Guild of America is on strike.

An estimated five thousand people turned out for today's WGA rally at 20th Century-Fox Studios in Hollywood.

Since the Writers Guild of Ameria (the WGA) is on strike against the companies that control your news, I thought you might like another source of information.

Click the title of this post to go to the Official Writers Guild of America website and click play on the YouTube video below for a quick look at the real issues.

The author and his wife outside NBC in beautiful downtown Burbank.