Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The write stuff and John Slattery.

Due to two deadlines, I will probably cut back to three posts a week until my “blogation” starts August 15th.

I have a brainstorming meeting this afternoon with my film executives. In Hollywood we call it “spitballing”. This word is as popular as “wheelhouse” as in, “I was surprised to see HITCH do so well. Rom coms (romantic comedies) are not in Will Smith’s wheelhouse.”

After this meeting I will rewrite my treatment. I have already received their notes. While my friends are off enjoying the Ferragosto holiday, I will be in Rome writing.

(p.s. Thanks again Romerica for the advice about the Partita IVA. The commercialista at the firm spoke to a colleague and I don’t need one for this step. However I will have to get one once I start collaborating with the Italian screenwriter.)

The second deadline is for my spec (meaning it’s an original idea and no one is paying me to write it) script. I’ve been working on it for months. The good news is my manager (in Hollywood) thinks this draft is stronger and heading in the right direction. The bad news is, it has a female lead. I wish I could write a movie that would appeal to teen boys.

Yes it sucks to spend so much time working on something for no money but I like my characters and hope they find a home. The next spec script idea I have also has a female lead but has action in it too so maybe that one will be considered more commercial.

I must remember this business is subjective. I can’t take rejection personally.

Matthew Weiner, who created MAD MEN, used to write for a sitcom on CBS called BECKER. He wrote MM as a spec pilot. His agent sent it to David Chase and he hired him for the SOPRANOS based on the pilot. After a few years, they sent the pilot to HBO. Think about this; it was coming from one of the senior writers of one of the most acclaimed and popular shows on the network. What did HBO do? They passed! Nobody in Hollywood gets that.

AMC who just started to do scripted programming bought it and did a great job with marketing it.

When I see excellent writing like Weiner’s it inspires me to step my game up or when I’m questioning my skills wonder why I even bother, I suck. Ha.

It appears Season 2 of Mad Men did air in Italy this weekend. I went to Amazon.com but it’s not available. I guess I will have to avoid all discussions, message boards etc. about this show until I get a TV or the downloads/DVDs come out.

While I love the writing, I’m also a big John Slattery fan. I think it’s hilarious this stage-trained actor is probably better known for being the kinky politician Carrie Bradshaw went out with on SATC than for his Broadway or feature roles.

When one of my immediate bosses had a birthday party last year he was there. His wife, Talia (yes she used to be married to George Clooney) is one of her good friends. She also plays his wife on the show.

As one of my friends would say, “This man is the hotness!” He also reminds me of a crazy ex but that’s another story.

I love this photo taken by the husband of my other immediate boss.


Romerican said...

You are very welcome.
Congrats, congrats, congrats! I'm also one of those people who has to work in August and I can assure you it's actually kind of cool to be in the city while everyone else is away. It's a good opportunity to connect more with the city without all the hordes of people & cars everywhere. The only hassle is LOTS of things close down, but with a little preparation you can overcome that hurdle and end up having a nice ferragosto.
Quick question: so you're writing the script in English obviously, will an Italian translate it into Italian or do they plan on filming it in English, or is it too soon to know? Just curious...

Miss Expatria said...

1. I love John Slattery with the heat of a thousand suns. It's the white hair.

2. I've been lurking on your blog for a while now, and you always seemed like the girl who was too cool to be friends with in high school. So, I almost passed out when I saw your comment on my blog.

3. August in Rome is AWESOME. Knowing the town as well as I do, August would be my favorite time to go. It depends on where you live, of course - I wouldn't want to live in, say, Piazza Navona in August. I've lived in San Lorenzo and in Pigneto in August, and it's magical.

3A. If you smoke, though, make sure you know your tabacchaio's schedule. Otherwise you'll literally be walking a mile for a Camel.

4. Your posts make me not want to wait any longer to get back to the city that stole my heart. France SUCKS.

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

I could be wrong, but I thought it was Season 1 that actually aired this weekend here. I definitely could've read it wrong, but I do remember thinking when I tuned in--oh this is only the second episode of Season 1! I can still get into it. Then I fell asleep (not b/c of the show, just b/c I was tired...they play 2 episodes starting at 11 pm!).

I've always loved John Slattery; I can't even remember what I first saw him in, but he was a husband, lover or dad, very small role and was fabulous.

And can I also say just how much baseball invades business in America? I didn't notice it until I actually had to tutor a girl in my contracts class in law school on baseball terms b/c our prof used them ALL THE TIME. Thank goodness I grew up in a baseball house ;)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

romerican - Things are closing already! A few of the vendors at my local farmers' market are gone. I stopped by my favorite "farmacia" to buy some more earplugs and they were closed. Shelley and I noticed one of the bakeries near her house is closed for the rest of the summer.

I am writing the treatment in English. Depending on the scrreenwriter the company might translate it into Italian. The screenwriter will write the first draft (in italian) then I will read it and have notes. I can read Italian much better than I can speak it. The movie will be in Italian.

miss expatria - you are too funny! Please, I was in band in high school. Add to the mix foreign parents who didn't think it was important for me to have Guess Jeans and Izod shirts. I assure you I was not cool in high school. ha

I live near Campo de Fiori and I have to say the drunk American students are working my last nerves! I can't wait until winter when it's too cold for them to be hanging outside at 3:00 a.m. yelling "dude, I'm like so f*ck up!!!"

I don't smoke but most of my Italian friends do. At least they are kind enough to blow it in the opposite direction. Thanks for the tip about the Tabacci.. I will have to ask my local one when they are shutting down so I can buy some bus tickets and make sure my electric bill gets paid before they close.

You don't like France? Where in France do you live?

michelle - Oops. It's on that late? You know I have a problem staying up past 10. My Italian friends are like "you need to work on that. We can't eat dinner at 6:30." :)

Okay it cracks me up that you had to tutor someone in baseball terms. It's funny how much sports and war lingo is used in Hollywood. Especially since most of my male colleague did not play sports or serve in the Armed Forces. boh.

Romerican said...

Yeah, the pharmacies are the biggest nightmare during this time of year. I discovered this handy website that actually lists which pharmacies are open when sorted by neighborhood... it sure beats wandering the center looking for an open one (which happened to me the other day!)

erin :: the olive notes said...

Your job always sounds glamourous :) I'm just catching up on the last couple seasons of Desperate Housewives...so I recognize Gaby's groom! (I just finished the season 3 finale).

Lucia said...

I always associate John as the guy who wanted to pee on Carrie on "Sex and the City!". He gives me the heebie geebies! And then he's on Desperate Housewives, now that's one show I'd like to see in Italian! I kept seeing the advertisement for Season 2 on Sunday night and I still missed it. Now I can't recall the dark haired actor's name on that show but did he play Jarrod on the Pretender Series? Love your blog!


glamah16 said...

I dont keep up with all the shows, but as soon as you mentioned the SATC part, I knew!Im so proud of you . Keep it up.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

thanks for the link Romerican.

erin - I forgot he guest starred on that show. Both
Mad Men and Desperate Housewives shoot in L.A.

lucia - thank you! Jon Hamm is the dark haired actor on Mad Men. I have never noticed him before this show. He's very handsome. Yes, John played the politician who was into water sports. haha

glamah16 - Those two episodes were hilarious. I think the episode when they met was a season premiere. The ladies went to Staten Island. Charlotte got drunk, Sam hooked up with a not too bright fireman named "ricky" and Carrie met Slattery's character.

Anonymous said...

I love John Slattery as well-saw him in the Village once, picking up his kid[s] from school. He is quite hunky.

Diana said...

It seems to me that the most interesting people never were very cool in high school. At least I hope so.

I lived in LA for years working in that feeble second cousin of entertainment, the design industry. When I think about then and think now, I like now but only because I have then tucked away in my bag of goodies to call on as needed. When I worked in LA I used to use words like random to describe my entire existence. The randomness of my success or failure there took away and potential joy I could feel from doing well. I simply went back to waiting for the other shoe to drop when good luck presented itself. And drop it did, usually in the form of a fender bender on the 5 or that some no-longer-star was not into paying her invoices.

Sitting on my hill making pots that might not sell just seems so much, well, less random for some reason.

Spec writing for no money in Rome and spitballing at a safe nine hour time distance seems, so me at least, to be a very good choice.

Enjoy the Campo. There is a wonderful tea shop there, the people are kind and the selection wonderful -- namaste is the name, I think?

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

anon - he's also very smart which make him sexy to me. I'm not a fan of himbos I don't care how good looking they are.

diane - I know exactly what you mean! I used the word random all too often.

I felt so much pressure in L.A. it almost made my head explode. While of course I worry about the low dollar depleting my funds and making a living, I don't have the same kind of crippling stress about money, possessions or aging here. This makes life much more enjoyable.

Yvonne said...

Didn't Frances Marion say back in the 20s and 30s that 'Screenwriting is like writing in the sand with the wind blowing.'?

I think you and diana have the right idea. Making space in your life to finally pursue something you're drawn to is it's own reward. Or at least it can be as long as you're eating and have a roof over your head. Health insurance always helps too. ;)

I began work on a spec two weeks ago and hope to have a treatment draft done by end of August, so reading your post is encouraging.

And while there's nothing particularly wrong with teenage boys, please don't let the thought that you have zero interest in writing 'American Pie: Revenge of Band Camp' get you down. So many successful screenwriters I admire--Caroline Thompson, Susannah Grant, Emma Thompson (yep, that Emma), Steven Zaillian, Tina Andrews, Frank Darabont, Scott Frank, Bill Condon, etc.--don't seem to be typing with the demographic in mind either.

Remember we're always here to cheer you on, doubt that we could ever be as good as Matt Weiner either ;->, and agree that John Slattery has a certain silver fox je ne sais quoi! And yes, the premiere of Mad Men was fab indeed.

I will sign off now to refrain from spoiling it for you... The rest of the season looks like what my mom would call 'a doozy.'

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

yvonne - That is a great saying and thanks for the support.

Yes health insurance, food, clothes and a roof over one's head are important, after that everything else is gravy. I know so many people in Hollywood who are basically "swimming in gravy" and they're still miserable.

I love the writers you've listed. I'm also a big Tony Gilroy fan and the late great Anthony Minghella.

It's funny you mentioned that American Pie movie (I never saw any of the straight to DVD ones) I'm thinking about writing a movie about a HS band.

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

Himbos. You crack me up!

Also, you can also catch Mad Men on Sundays around 2 (yes, it's approximate b/c it seems to change a bit from week to week, or at least it did with The Sopranos). With The Sopranos (Mad Men took its slot when it ended), I would often watch the first episode at 11, nod off halfway through, then try to be around on Sunday afternoon to watch both episodes in their entirety. They don't make it easy here, do they?!

Yvonne said...

A high school band? Great minds think...along the same lines if not alike! I've got three screenplays on my writing docket this year. Insane on my part, but what can I say? I'm making up for lost time. Two are romantic comedies and one is a family film about the Harlem Girls Choir. I just dusted off the treatment I wrote for the latter, a family flick (see the synopsis here: http://www.nbpc.tv/news.php?show=90), I've titled Spinning Gold. It's not a high school band, but... ;-> Happy weekend and best of luck tracking down 'Mad Men,' Italian-style.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - grazie. I might be getting a TV very soon. Details later. ha

yvonne - When you are writing three spec scripts at the same time do you work on two in one day? Only per day?

The treatment for the film company is in first position of course. Then the spec that I'm rewriting per my manager's notes is in the second, new spec which I just finished the rough outline for, is in third.

One day I was in a writing groove. I worked on the treatment in the morning, on the spec after lunch and the third project after dinner. Of course it helps that I have no distractions. No boyfriend (haha), no TV yet and I turned off my internet connection.

Have a great weekend and good luck with the scripts. I'll check out the link.

Yvonne said...

Hi there,

Wow, that three scripts in one day thing sounds wild. I bow down in the presence of your greatness!

As for me, only one script per day for me. At least as long as I'm still at my day job.

I just became a yoga instructor too, so I'm trying to juggle the job, teaching yoga, and the scripts with the rest of a pretty full life. But it's so rewarding to work on things you care about versus things that mostly exist to pay the bills. And all my deadlines are self-imposed, so that helps.

Right now I'm hammering out full treatments and 15-step beat sheets for the romcoms. I work on romcom number one on evenings during the workweek, and romcom number two on the weekends.

I hope to feel good with what I've got by the end of August, then I'll work full-time on romcom number one until it's done, then number two, then script number three.

I am only tweaking the third family-friendly telemovie treatment at this point, though hopefully I'll be able to start on it by New Year's 2009. I'm not 100% sold on it the way I am with the romcoms, but I've got plenty to keep me busy until New Year's! That means an insane amount of work between now and then, but I'm game.

No boyfriend distractions for me either, alas, but man, do I hope that changes. Having to regretfully tell a beau that I can't see him that night because I'm THIS close to finishing a script is the kind of problem I'd like to have!

Also, I saw a trailer for a wretched sex farce/romp starring Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, and Scarlett Johansson last night and was cheered enormously. Javier Bardem is the butter on my toast, but this trailer was laughably bad...and it really made me anxious to get back to my keyboard. My script may not be better--but it couldn't be worse, I'm thinkin'! I turned to my ex-boyfriend and said, 'Hey, that's right! Bad scripts sell all the time!' ;->

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Yvonne - You're talking about the new Woody Allen pic. The reviews have been all over the map. Some say it's his best work in years others say except for Javier and Penelope (who speak in Spanish and may have improv) the movie is awful. I'm working on a movie about two American girls in Paris so I will try to see it if it plays in Italy (in original language).

When I had my day job I was lucky if I could get an hour or two of writing in before going to the office. That I had to read so much for my job was a blessing and a curse. A blessing in reading good material helps your writing, a curse when you read a crappy script that sold for half a million bucks and you think "I don't get it".

The whole biz is so random so I just keep on writing and try not to worry about what is selling or not selling. (it's a little easier for me now that I don't live in Hollywood anymore.)

I too hope to change the no boyfriend distractions situation soon. I really need to be distracted. ha

dalia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dalia said...

mmmmmmmmmm john slattery.

(i previously commented and asked if he was single, totally, inexplicably missing the part about him being married to talia balsam. i am now inconsolable).

ps - you are who i want to be when i grow up. i heart you. i too, have been lurking and reading your blog for a while... through you, i live vicariously. i miss italy so.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

dalia - you are too funny. yes he is married.

thanks for the compliment!