Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 Season 1 and Season 2. My stint on the The Dresden Files made an impression on Syfy's powers-that-be enough for me to be asked to rewrite the pilot for a Warehouse 13 and get it on the air. With the first season finished (available via streaming and soon to be on DVD) I've been asked back to work on season two. Great show. Great fun. Great group of people.

Alien Raiders

Alien Raiders. Within weeks of my wife delivering twins into our previously tranquil marital bliss (now more blissful in ways too challenging to describe in a blurb about a bloody science fiction thriller), my pal Dan Myrick came to me with an idea for a film that, after several re-titlings, became Alien Raiders. I wrote it. Dan's wife Julia Fair batted excellent clean-up (I was buried under diapers). Dan produced and Ben Rock directed. I must say, for a quickie low-budget straight-to-DVD thing, this baby cooks.

The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files. My first experience with the Showrunner's Wild Ride© patented and inflicted by the Sci Fi Channel. I’d just been booted from Blade when Lions Gate Studios (the producers behind The Dresden Files series) called to see if I might be interested in helping to get this project back on track for Sci Fi. Still bruised by Blade, I passed. A few months later, feeling less bruised, I asked if Dresden still needed help. It did. I met with the proper folks and got the executive producer slot next to the show’s original and talented developers, Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Hans Beimler. The folks at Sci Fi will be the first to admit that they’re a very hands-on, micro-managerial sort (and they are) but we got on well. Sadly, the show lasted only one season. But my work for Sci Fi was part of their decision-making process in bringing me onto another pilot (Warehouse 13) they wanted to improve. From the cast to the staff to the network The Dresden Files experience was a good one.

Blade: The Series

Blade: The Series. Oh, this was kind of a heartbreaker. I was in the middle of production on The Book of Daniel when the prospect of Blade: The Series started circling. That is... re-circling. Months before I'd interviewed for a job on Daniel at about the same time I interviewed for Blade. I was offered both jobs on the same day. I took Daniel. Blade was left to find another showerunner. Then, as fate would have it, Daniel got doomed and Blade (without a showrunner) came back to me. David Goyer, the staff and I spent many weeks working up and working out the first season’s episodes. I got invested. But the network, Spike, became, as production wore on, less invested in me. The term “creative differences” is the catch-all euphemism in situations like this. I felt that the staff and I had a solid road ahead of us in terms of story. Others, the people who actually owned the train set I was being allowed to play with, had other ideas. So at Episode 8 I was shown the door. But the staff continued in the direction we’d laid out and the first (and only) season of Blade: The Series reached the finish line. I’m proud of the work.

The Book of Daniel

The Book of Daniel. Simply, a joy. Producer/creator Jack Kenny, an old friend, opted to hire me as part of the team for this show. We made it for NBC but the religious right decided we’d made it for Satan (or something). They threatened advertisers, boycotted and blew NBC’s ears off with a letter-writing campaign that was driven by bigotry, fear, ignorance and hatred. NBC pulled the show before we finished our run but you can get all the episodes in the show’s DVD set. One thing I learned: you don’t mess with people’s Jesus. Even if that Jesus springs from the imagination of a fictional minister who sprung from the imagination of an extremely talented writer.

Charmed - Season 6

Charmed - Season 6. “...they keep dragging me back in.” So a few years later, after the departure of one of the show’s lead actresses, Brad Kern gave me a call. He said he needed some help. As Charmed was beginning its sixth season the narrative and imaginative well was running a bit dry-ish. I came into this season as a consulting producer and this time around the show was fun, the staff was great and it was good to do fun work.

Charmed - Season 2

Charmed - Season 2. Brad Kern, a former supervising producer with his partner John Wirth on Brisco County, Jr., landed on Charmed after he and John chose to split the partnership and strike out on their own. As Charmed’s second season was about to begin Brad asked me if I’d join him as co-exec producer. I jumped at the chance. And into a political buzzsaw. What with the internecine political maneuverings of Spelling Productions and the stressful confluence of personalities in front of the camera there was also an awkward shotgun marriage in play between the show’s creator, Connie Burge, and Brad Kern who was brought in to make that creation into a successful show. At the end of season 2 the stress level was too much for me. That, and I’d neutralized my ability to work effectively by, oh, I dunno, sassing off to Ms. Doherty early in the season. I was not well-liked by the person that mattered most. I was in good company.

Roswell - Season 3

Roswell Season 3 DVD
Roswell - Season 3. After my run over at Dark Angel, Fox Studios (where I had my deal) and I decided to get me over on Roswell as a consulting producer. Jason Katims was running the show and Ron Moore was the co-exec producer. And I got to work with Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner again. This was a tough show to write for, slightly schizo in the fact that on one hand there was the teen angst angle to sell (Katim’s work on My So Called Life came into play here) alongside the science fiction world the show (literally) spawned from (Moore’s Star Trek pedigree serviced this arena). Writing for the show was a challenge as everything was, for the most part, metaphor. Feeling like an outsider in high school? You’re an alien. Nobody understands you? Alien. Attracted to the wrong guy/girl? They’re alien. But by season 3 I think the show had pretty much run its course. The audience had gotten the joke.

Dark Angel - Season 1

Dark Angel - Season 1. Yes, Jessica Alba is gorgeous. And smart, funny, tough and determined to do good work. I landed on Dark Angel due to a deal I had with Fox Studios. I worked on a show of theirs called Freakylinks as the co-executive producer. Somewhere in there my agents secured a development deal for me. That meant I was on retainer to provide services. When Freakylinks was cancelled Fox still had me on the payroll. So, to justify their expense, they handed me over to James Cameron, Charles Eglee and René Echevarria on Dark Angel. I worked with some terrific people on this highly charged and extremely imaginative show. Enjoyed this one immensely.

Lois and Clark - Season 3

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman - Season 3. This gig I owe directly to John McNamara. I met John on Brisco. He came on board as the staff writer. We shared a trailer on the Warner Bros. backlot and bonded almost immediately. The work on Brisco was fun, difficult but wildly educational. After Brisco was cancelled the producers and writers (along with the rest of the crew) went their separate ways. John’s next job was writing for the Warner’s show Lois and Clark. Turns out they were in need of some writing help and John had sold me to the executive producer as someone worthy of consideration. Consideration turned to a job offer and I took it. It was an interesting year but not without its difficulties. The nurturing and supportive environment I found on Brisco (thanks to Brad Kern and John Wirth) was not to be found on Lois and Clark. Through no fault of John's I entered a situation where egos abounded. Fear ruled the writers’ room. It was the first time the phrase “toxic work environment” became real for me. I was happy to not be asked back for the show’s third season.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.

The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. After Adventures in Babysitting was released I made the rounds at most of the studios, pitching ideas, considering rewrites, the whole drill. There was a brief flirtation with Disney Studios toward doing an “Adventures in...” film series but that fell away. For the next few years I did a lot of rewrites on films that didn’t get made. I sold a few spec scripts. Oh, and I walked the picket line in 1988 for the Writers Guild Strike. Somewhere in there CBS asked for a TV pilot based on Adventures in Babysitting. Delivered that. No go. Landed a TV deal with Lorimar Television that got me into the world of pitching television shows. I got the call that Fox Television, with producers Carlton Cuse and Jeffrey Boam, was looking to do a serialized, fun and slightly campy western. They wanted me to pitch my take on the premise. I did and got the job. The pilot was ordered and shot and we got a series out of it. And I got an education in how TV works, how producers good and bad work, and how I work under the unrelenting deadlines imposed by a weekly television show. Terrific fun.

Adventures in Babysitting

Adventures in Babysitting. So I’m at work. It’s 1985 and I’m a development executive at New World Pictures. I’m working with projects, generating budgets and working with writers contracted to deliver material. In three instances I’ve managed to walk down the hall and pitch movie ideas to my bosses. The first movie got made (see Children of the Corn). The next one got a writer assigned to it that I was working with. The third idea wouldn’t see the light of day until a few years after I left New World (it became, in a very mutated form, Ernest Saves Christmas). Anyway, I came to work one day with an idea. I pitched it to my bosses: “A suburban babysitter gets lost in the big city, say, Chicago, with the kids she’s sitting for. They have a series of adventures then make it home just ahead of Mom and Dad. Sort of like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off meets After Hours.” They stared at me as if I’d just spoken Latin. Then they told me to get back to work. So I did. I closed my office door and wrote the first draft of Adventures in Babysitting in four weeks. I gave it to a co-worker to read. He liked it. He passed it to a friend of his, Stacey Sher, who was interning for producing partners Lynda Obst and Debra Hill. They liked it. They had a deal at Paramount and the next thing I know Paramount has optioned the script and I’m quitting my job at New World and doing a rewrite on the script. One year later, after Paramount dropped the project and Disney picked it up, we’re in Toronto shooting the film with Chris Columbus directing and Elizabeth Shue playing the babysitter. The movie hit theaters in the summer of 1987. Not bad for an initial four weeks worth of work.

Children of the Corn

Children of the Corn. Okay, it’s 1983 and I’ve been in Los Angeles (right after college) for about a year. I read Stephen King’s original short story in some men’s softcore porn mag (yeah, my dad had it) while in high school. The story scared the piss out of me. While in college I read in the local midwestern paper that MGM was prepping to adapt the short story into a film starring, of all people, Lance Kerwin (James at 15 and King’s first TV venture of Salem’s Lot starring David Soul and Lance Kerwin). So, in college, I knew that one of my professors (David Morrell, who, incidentally, wrote the novel First Blood that the entire Rambo series is based on) was pals with King. After some cajoling this professor gave me King’s address and I wrote him a letter asking if he could give me any details on MGM’s proposed production of CotC. King wrote back(!). He told me the production had been shelved and wished me luck in my future endeavors. I’m making his note sound pissy but it really was a nice, longish and generous response. Flash forward a few years. I’m working for New World Pictures. It had just been sold by Roger Corman and bought by two entertainment lawyers, Harry Sloan (who is now the head of MGM) and Larry Kuppin. So it’s 1983 and the new New World is looking for film product to put in the pipeline. And what do I find in a cluttered closet abandoned by the now-untenanted Corman gang? A copy of a script entitled “Children of the Corn.” It wasn’t the MGM script. This was a later draft commissioned by Hal Roach Studios (Hal Roach of Laurel & Hardy and Keystone Kops fame). Hal Roach Studios was still in business in 1983, just barely, and they had somehow acquired the rights to King’s story after MGM dropped it. The script I read wasn’t bad. The best thing about it was it could be shot in about four weeks in a cornfield and come out just in time to capitalize on all the King films that were coming out around then (The Dead Zone, Christine, etc.). So I brought the script to my boss. He read it, saw the potential to reap some profit from little expense and bingo, we were in production. Two side notes: I’m in it. My legs stand in for Peter Horton’s when, near the film’s climax, the corn tackles Horton and wraps itself around his legs. Those are my legs. Also, I’m one of the “children” hiding behind a hay bale when things get crazy at the end. But here’s the best bit: After three days of pick-up shots in a warehouse in downtown L.A. I was asked to give one of the young, relatively unknown stars of the film a ride home. Linda Hamilton. Very cute. Very sweet. And I was totally, absolutely infatuated. Making small talk as I drove her in my shitty used Toyota Tercel from downtown to Venice I asked her if she had any other films lined up. Smiling sheepishly she told me she had just auditioned to be in a film starring “that big body-builder guy, Arnold Schwarzen...I can’t ever pronounce his last name... he plays a killer robot and I play another damsel in distress.” I said something like, “Oh, cool,” but secretly felt the movie she’d auditioned for was bound to be a turd. It was Terminator.