A New Me

Because I can’t ever have enough me on the web, I’ve put up a new site that will, eventually, replace this one. It’s more of the same but in a new and improved (with fresh lemon scent) package.

Find it here.

Telefuture!



Coming of age during this technology shift was a complete and total non-event. Only now is the predicted impact being felt by corporations and consumers alike.

Via
boingboing.

Human Target



My current gig. Co-exec, consulting, general dogsbody. Promises to be an exciting season. It’s been super darn exciting making it. Super darn. Oh, and the promo is wrong. Season 2 premieres Wednesday, Nov. 17th, 2010. Seems Lonestar’s demise prompted some schedule shifting.



Sigh

Like someplace in Indiana.

W R I T I N G

Nothing scares me more than the words “FADE IN:” at the top of a blank slab of soft clay.

Brisco's Sunset

Andrew Orillion has some nice words about a nice show.

Always nice to be nicely reviewed

warehouse13s2e3

Deric Hughes, writer-pal on Warehouse 13, alerted me to this a few weeks ago. Robert Berg (Rob Will Review...) was gracious and (be still my heart) observant in his review of the final episode I wrote for Syfy’s Warehouse 13.

Robert says:

Last season, I might never have imagined an episode of Warehouse 13 that involved, as Allison Scagliotti tweeted, “cowboys, gladiators, squawking Farnsworths, and a Snuggie.”  And she didn’t even mention the World War II marines, the gangster, the mad scientist, or the killer, magnetic robot.  ”Beyond Our Control” presents practically every geektastic, B-movie reference one could think of, satirizing everything from their cheeseball, overwrought dialogue to their silly effects, while also managing to add to the series’ Farnsworth mythology–steampunk 3D projector that brings film to life, for the win–not to mention throwing in some excellent meta jokes and references for good measure, my favorite being the act break in which Pete indicates that if someone fast forwards through commercials, it could spell their doom.

“Beyond Our Control” was written as an homage to my television beginnings. Playing with the form and embracing television tropes is always fun and, for a writer working in television, it keeps things fresh. Anyway, thanks Robert.

Warehouse 13: Beyond Our Control

warehouse_13_boc

My latest and last walk down the aisles of Warehouse 13 is available on online.
Catch it here.

Ian Fleming has some advice

Okay. Go.

[Via
Coudal Partners]

Yes, I invented the latest iPhone

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See this? It’s a fictional video telephone I created for Syfy’s WAREHOUSE 13. When I tackled the rewrite that resulted in the show’s pilot and subsequent series I knew that the characters, flung far to the four corners on their pilot mission, would need to stay in visual contact with each other (in series, too). The ubiquitous cell phone was too boring a device. So, since the show dealt with unknown and mysterious tech (occasionally), I chose to gift the characters with a Philo T. Farnsworth (he invented TV) creation called a “Vaudio Device.” Or, “Farnsworth” for short. The show’s art department came up with a fantastic design (including technical blueprints that look so real it’s freaky) and the prop department built it.

(
check out this fan-built prop replica)

Each week Pete, Myka, Artie and Claudia video-gab back and forth about the latest mystery. Oh, okay, so maybe I was inspired a little bit by iChat.

facetime-onetap-call-20100607
But I’m still gonna say Steve Jobs ripped off my Farnsworth idea. Of course, I’m kidding. But I feel obliged to take a little credit here.

Click on the (Apple site image) to see their Farnsworth in action.

You’re welcome, Steve. ;-)












TED: Touch your data

Via Engadget:

In February 2010, the man who built the technology of Minority Report twice -- once for the movie, and once in real life -- spoke at TED about the future of user interface design. Yesterday, TED posted John Underkoffler's entire fifteen-minute video presentation -- a copy of which you'll find right after the break. Get a curated glimpse into his company's tech in the following demo, and hear from the man himself when the gloves might come off.



Art & Copy

“I think creativity can solve anything. Anything!”
– George Lois

Just watched the documentary
Art & Copy about advertising. Streamed it via Netflix on my iPad (hello, future). Pretty brilliant. Hopeful, even. Trailer below.




The Art of Manliness

sharkattack
With the right combination of humor and gentle nudging, The Art of Manliness aims to instruct and inform guys (and gals) in all the things Gallant (not Goofus) should be aware of regarding clothes, food, grooming and etiquette. There’s a whole lost world out there of things my grandfather and dad knew without knowing. Me, I know one tie knot and, honestly, I’d be hard pressed to tie it now. There’s an embrace to this site that comforts. I’m already into the “rebuilding your wardrobe” thing. I’m a bit too old to continue dressing like I’m a budgeted college punk.

Going electric

gallery-7
I’m on deck to get a Nissan Leaf.

Here’s why.

Here’s how.








Working where they don't know "why?"

This nails it.

Fortune studies a TED talk by Simon Sinek that works on so many levels it’s incredible. How many jobs have you had where the folks in charge have no clue as to why they’re there. I know why I’m there. And knowing it is usually what gets me canned.



CBS loves it some iPad

cbs-ipad-lg
Mashable’s article about CBS digging the iPad makes for good reading.

Another aspect of the iPad that stands out for CBS is that the user base is already at one million. That’s important for a content company as large as CBS because while there are other interactive TV initiatives — like Roku, Boxee and others — those products haven’t achieved the reach that the iPad has.

I’ve been iPadding for a little over a week (using Macs since 1987) and can assuredly say that this little appliance has become a solid member of my family. The biggest hits so far -- Alice and Wonderland (here) and Marvel’s comic book reader app.

Recent me



3D bag

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The Los Angeles Times has a good article on the pervasive reach of 3D. I liked AVATAR but this 3D nonsense has got to stop.

Oh, Lord, yes

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Intensive writing over a long period of time is exhausting in ways I find difficult to describe without sounding somewhat precious about it. You feel disenfranchised by reality, a half step behind and off to one side of your own skin, your view oblique, with most possibilities of genuine reaction cooled by being filtered through the habitual appraisal mechanics of your trade. You find an off-hours world crammed with the enticing stimulations of good books, good art, good conversation, but that creative effort necessary to these appreciations is too much akin to the process that uses you up in your work, and so, too often, aware of sloth and guilt, you surrender to the undemanding unvarying flatulence of network television, to magazine fare styled for the lip readers, to social contact with people so curiously predictable in their attitudes you know their lines before they say them.

John D. MacDonald



Get teased!

Please to enjoy. The Warehouse 13 Season 2 trailer from Syfy.


Write that movie



The new thing

Steampunk Wallpaper by Bob Kleeman
It’s official. I’ve begun. After a year of false starts and fun, excursionary tangents into scripts and stories that, while interesting, were not engaging me, I finally landed on something I like. My agent has been hammering me for new material. New material is essential in this business to entice the powers-that-be; PTB that keep changing jobs and positions, falling in and out of networks and studios. So, going public here, I’ve got 8 weeks to get this new piece finished and shipped. Onward. Keep you posted.

Bob and Saul explain it all for you

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Warehouse 13 writer Bob Goodman has written a fantastic essay on the discovery process he discovered working on a hit TV show. It’s about writing and working and fun and imagination and why this job is great. So of course the Writers’ Guild magazine Written By rejected it for publication. io9’s gain. See you at the office, Bob.

And, to get even more Warehousey, check out Saul Rubinek’s (
our Artie) video interview.



K.I.S.S.: Writing to be grok'd

This is aimed at software and hardware engineers. But the sentiments apply to writing for tv and movies.

Be Stupid.

The Story of Macintosh

mac
The Unofficial Apple Weblog links to some insanely great promotional footage regarding the original Macintosh. I’m misty-eyed. A big thank-you to Greg Pruss for introducing me to his Mac Plus in 1988.


Police Story Teller

Thanks, Mr. Gerber.

I couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 when I found a copy of Joseph Wambaugh’s novel,
The New Centurions, on my mom’s nightstand. Read it. Then saw the movie with George C. Scott and Stacey Keach. Loved it. More than anything, I was intrigued with Joseph Wambaugh. His cop tales were so much more than what Jack Webb was turning out. Wambaugh’s stuff was sexy and violent and for a kid in the midwest growing tired of “Just the facts, ma’am,” Wambaugh’s cops were the perfect antidote. David Gerber brought it to our living room. Cool.


SueTube

Via CNET.

Stephen Colbert, the comedian, political satirist, and host of Comedy Central's "Colbert Report," is funny on his show. The animated characters on "South Park," created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, are hilarious.

But will they be as witty on the witness stand?

Colbert was recently questioned by Google attorneys during a legal deposition as part of Viacom's $1 billion copyright lawsuit against Google and YouTube.


Stop. Give it away. We’ll want it more. Lesson #1 from The Wire’s drug dealers.

Back in the Warehouse

pete_and_myka_on_farnsworth
For the last few days I’ve been slogging away at my first script for the second season of Warehouse 13. The first outline submitted to the network was justifiably returned stamped “Bullshit.” It was a clunky tale of weather gone mad. I’d been saddled with the truth of Toronto’s weather in March (snowy -- when the episode is slated to be shot). Knowing that, writing an episode about, well, snow, seemed... production friendly. And that’s about it. Thankfully, network heads prevailed and booted the yarn into the dumpster. A forced rethink resulted in a story I’m excited about. It’s got hardware, a mad genius (whom you’ve already met, sort of), and my love of tv and old movies amply represented. Enough said. Wait. One more thing. As an homage to a unique individual and a fortunate time in my life, the episode is called “Beyond Our Control.”

And, just because I’m procrastinating (and yet feeling like I’ve earned it) I’m employing
The Pomodoro Technique. 25 minutes on. 5 minutes off. Getting things done. Page by page. You should look into it.

Back to work. I’ve got Pete and Myka in a jam and I’m eager to see how they’re getting out of it.

What was the question?

A brilliant bit of early television for this holiday season.



Poke around here for some truly wonderful stuff.

My hero

Leo LaPorte shows you how it’s done. On his own and with a purpose.


No, really?

Wait. What? People are watching TV shows on the internet? Who knew?

The Nielsen Company said Tuesday that its television measurement homes would soon be Internet measurement homes too, bringing the company a step closer toward providing the integrated ratings that media companies are demanding.

From the New York Times.

You say tomato, I say procrastination

Screen shot 2009-11-28 at 6.40.27 PM
Every chance I get I look for some neat new way to help me get my work done in a timely manner. This is how I procrastinate yet feel like I'm actually doing something worthwhile. Well, this is my latest effort. It requires a cooking timer and the freedom to enjoy recess. I'll let you know how it's going.

The Pomodoro Technique.


Dave, I Hardly Knew Ye

I'm working with Nell this year on Warehouse 13. I hope I can crack a good fart joke.

  • I was the second female writer ever hired at Late Night. When I applied for the job in 1988, I had no way of knowing how much the odds were stacked against me. In 27 years, Late Night and Late Show have hired only seven female writers. These seven women have spent a total of 17 years on staff combined. By extrapolation, male writers have racked up a collective 378 years writing jokes for Dave (based on an average writing room of 14 men, the size of the current Late Show staff).

On the Media

otm
NPR's On the Media is a terrific weekly distillation of how the world was interpreted (with some snarky, wise-acre attitude) by our various news orgs. Recently, they devoted their hour to the trials of the music industry. In short order I expect a radio doc on the history-repeating-itself (or not) tribulations of the network TV biz. Here's the first 12 minutes of "The Future of the Music Industry." You can hear the whole thing from their site for free or via iTunes, also free.



"V" The First 8 Minutes

ABC is shoving the first 8 minutes of "V" out to the world. Kind have seen it all before.



Warehouse 13 Nom'd for People's Choice Award

pca
Winners announced in January. Vote!

Update: Well, not quite "nominated." More like nominated to be nominated.

Shut the Tweet Up

It was only a matter of time. Employee contracts are showing up with Twitter/Facebook clauses.

Working for Fox

A few years ago I was employed as a writer working on several Fox Network TV shows. Even then, while the paycheck was nice, I had some qualms about working for an organization whose news division was so... well, idiotic. And dangerous. Now Newsweek's Jacob Weisberg has a few thoughts.

  • That Rupert Murdoch may tilt the news rightward more for commercial than ideological reasons is beside the point. What matters is the way that Fox's model has invaded the bloodstream of the American media. By showing that ideologically distorted news can drive ratings, Ailes has provoked his rivals at CNN and MSNBC to develop a variety of populist and ideological takes on the news. In this way, Fox hasn't just corrupted its own coverage. Its example has made all of cable news unpleasant and unreliable.
My next job offer from Fox, if there is one, will be met with some serious consideration.

  • And weepy Glenn Beck has begun to exhibit a Strangelovean concern about government invading our bloodstream by vaccinating people for swine flu. With this misinformation campaign, Fox stands to become the first network to actively try to kill its viewers.

Update: Jason Linkins on Huff Post. Some galling video, too.

Gearing Up for Season 2

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The Warehouse 13 writers' room is slated to start up on November 2. In addition to many of our returning Season One staff (Jack Kenny, me, Drew Greenberg, Bob Goodman, Deric Hughes, Ben Raab, Tamara Becher) we have some new faces at the table. Mike Fox and Ian Stokes (last season's script coordinator and writers' assistant) have joined the ranks. Also on board are Andrew Kriesberg and Nell Scovell. It's a great group.

The goal is to get as many scripts written as possible before production starts (in Toronto) in early spring. We're trying to avoid the snow. And the cold. And the snow. Did I mention the snow?

We've got a lot of story threads to address and, just like you, we've got plenty of ideas toward ramping things up, keeping things fun and thrilling. We've have spent the hiatus chilling, digging into artifact research and ruminating on Pete, Myka, Artie, Leena, Claudia, Mrs. Frederic and MacPherson. They're a great, dysfunctional family full of hopes, secrets, lies, loyalties and betrayals. Can't wait to dig in.

And if anybody's noticed (probably not) I took myself off Facebook and Twitter. Both venues were weighing on me. Keeping up, keeping clever and keeping my mouth shut was just too difficult. Apparently, I'm in good company: Miley Cyrus also canned Twitter.

To catch season of Warehouse 13, check out
Hulu or Warehouse 13 on Syfy's site.

Thanks for watching. We wouldn't be here without you.

Season Two!

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Warehouse 13 Ratings Soar

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Meet Allison. She Delivers Great Ratings.

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After Comic Con

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Influences: Stingray

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50 Years Ago Today

Hey, I (Re)Wrote a Pilot!

scifi_warehouse
Actually, Brent Mote wrote the pilot. Jane Espenson then tackled the material followed by Rockne O’Bannon. I batted writerly clean-up and produced the pilot with Jace Alexander directing. And now... Hey, We’ve Got a Series!

Read the Variety article here.





Hey, I Wrote a Movie!

Eighteen months ago my wife was pregnant with twins. I wasn’t working. Well, not “working” working but there was a lot of baby-prep going on. Dan Myrick, a good friend, approached me with an idea for a movie. We kicked it around some and, since I had a little time before the baby shoes dropped, I wrote it. He produced it. Ben Rock directed it. Julia Fair did a terrific production rewrite when the twins arrived and I was pulled into two wonderful other directions. Here’s the trailer for ALIEN RAIDERS.



Writing in a Vacuum

Strange, this writer’s life. The only time I feel like I’m actually writing for television is when I’m on the set, the scene to be shot sucks, bad dialog is actually rearranging the actors’ teeth it’s so clunky and we’re losing the light. Then, when I have to whip out the pencil I never seem to have (“Hey, who’s got a pencil?!”) and grab the back of an envelope to try and work out, untangle, cut and recreate the moment, the nut of the scene that worked so well three, five, ten months prior in a first written-in-the-heat-of-creation draft... where was I? Oh. Right. Short version: I like bad scenes because they give me something to do. They fill me with nostalgia for what might have been.
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They’re like suddenly discovering you’re riding a tiger (that’s been gnawing your leg) when all along you thought you were on a horse and now, hey look, who’s got a tourniquet?! As much as I dread on-set rewrites I also welcome an actor coming to me and saying, “Um... huh?” Once I get past the “how dare they” moment it’s kind of interesting (see tiger). One of the best experiences I’ve had working with an actor was with Paul Blackthorne on THE DRESDEN FILES. Before each week’s work he would call me from Toronto (where the show was shot) and we would go through the script, page by page (and not just his scenes) working out the truth of the moments. Paul was always looking for a way to say less and mean more. What a blessing. I vomit words sometimes just to see if there are any bits of goodness worth the effort. If an actor can come along and keep me from puking by simply making my point with a smile, a look, an eye roll or a drop of the head then please, God, eye roll. Sometimes... well, most times great writing is not writing. Great writing is setting up a thought-circus then opening the gates and letting the audience in to wander at will. Actors are those midway barkers. But they’re not barking if they’re doing their jobs right. They’re winking or hooking a finger. “C’mere. Something to show you. No pressure.” You look. Without comment from the writer, actor or director. You simply see and the real circus happens in your head. Later, if the circus is revealed to be a little flat, someone will come along with the “perfect” score to shove you into phoney-emotionville or wow-wasn’t-that scaryland? But sometimes (see THE WIRE) the circus is perfect. I’ve yet to build the an even close-to-perfect circus but it’s great fun trying.

So, anyway, the vacuum thing. I’ve been working on a pilot for the Sci Fi Channel.
WAREHOUSE 13. And this week, as the cut was being prepared for audience testing (yikes) I’ve been working on a story for a possible episode should the series get ordered. The story hits the beats promised in the pilot’s premise. Characters behave consistently (well, more consistently once the actors wrangle them). And, to toot the horn, I think it’s a pretty good yarn. But I dunno. I never know. For so long now I’ve let other people define what’s good and bad about my writing that I’ve sort of taken my ego out of it. Kind of have to to make a living doing this. Does it fit the container the network is trying to sell or doesn’t it? But for now this outline is finished and it’s been handed in for review and criticism. So it’s time to go get some fresh air.

Lord Bowler, R.I.P.


Julius_carry_as_lord_bowler
My friend John McNamara emailed me a few weeks ago to give me the news. Julius Carry had died of pancreatic cancer. Julius was 56 years old. In the early 1990s I was five years beyond the one film I’d written and had produced. It was a lean time. Then I got a call that two producers, Carlton Cuse and Jeffrey Boam, were looking for a little help in scripting a western tv series for the then-fledgling Fox Broadcasting Network. Carlton and Jeffrey gave me the concept, the setting, and the names of the characters. Brisco County, Jr., Socrates Poole, John Bly and Lord Bowler. We worked out the story and I wrote the pilot. Fox approved and we made the series “The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.” It was an adventure for me as well. It started my tv career. Working with Bruce Campbell was a trip. But working with Julius was something special. Julius was a big man. Intimidating at first glance. But the actor I knew was one of the funniest, kindest and quick-to-laugh men I’ve ever met. His character alongside Bruce’s Brisco was designed to be insecure, violent, sensitive, full of bluster, bravado, irrational fears and untapped courage. It was a tough thing to embody that character and to also be the comedy relief to Bruce’s deadpan (and very funny) straight man. But Julius did it terrifically well. Miss you, Bowler.