Sunday, December 10, 2006


Let me highly recommend you read Blake Snyder's popular screenwriting book "SAVE THE CAT". It's a very easy read, with some laughs, and it will give you numerous pointers on perfecting your next script. I just took Blake's one-day seminar here in New York and it was terrific. Great, proactive group of screenwriters all picking an expert's brain -- Blake is one of those rare screenwriting authors/instructors/consultants who actually has sold screenplays. He's a working writer in L.A. and couldn't be kinder and more patient. What a pleasure to be a part of his class.

A few years ago I took a two-day weekend course with a very well-known L.A. screenwriting guru and he was rude to his students and very condescending. He would limit everyone to something like three questions to be asked after the seminar. I can understand that because some students want to hear their own voice and we're not paying them for the class. We want to get the lecture from an expert -- the instructor. You know the type? The screenwriting know-it-all-student? So I can respect limiting questions in class, but unlike Blake, this other instructor was just downright snippy. So before you pluck down cash and register for seminars, check out these folks thoroughly. Well-known or not, if they're not respected of the writer and his or her struggle, move on. There are plenty of pros out there who will help with a smile -- Blake Snyder is one of them. Buy his book! It should be a part of your screenwriting library. I just added my signed copy to the shelf.

Now back to writing!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was spent in NYC and was low-key this year. No trains to catch, no big family reunions. It gave me a chance to slow down. I was going to go shopping at Macy's on Black Friday but decided not to -- I just paid off a credit card and it is the BEST feeling in the world (okay, maybe a close third to other things). I think half the Black Friday hype is created by the media anyway. If you're not spending on Friday, we feel left out of the party. Shut off the TV and go write and save your money.

I'm taking a writing class in December to recharge the batteries for winter. It will be in NY and should be just what I need.

I'm ready to tackle that major rewrite of my sports script. I have ScriptShark's notes and my own outline all ready. I'm listening to inspirational music that relates to my script's tone. And I'm seeing the script(movie) play out in my head which is always a great sign. It's becoming a vision now. I'm getting to the point where I can't wait to sit down and start writing.

It's been three months! How can I write a blog about screenwriting and NOT write for three months? Well, I tinkered with old scripts and read about screenwriting and watched lots of movies. Writing is daydreaming often, not necessarily sitting down and writing every moment.
But I must say, this is the LONGEST break I've ever taken. Why? Well, two reasons. One, I've been working a lot (I work in TV news to pay the bills) and it's a good-paying job. I got used to the nice paycheck and working long hours (overnights). I'm exhausted half the time. The other reason is that I got the wind knocked out of me creatively once too often -- when a script just languished in L.A. and people made bullshit promises with no follow-through. I've been at this game a long, long time. I have never wavered, but this last setback made me so discouraged (not for writing, but marketing my work) that I just pulled the plug for awhile. I needed a break.
But you know how an actor says, if you can do anything else but act, do it. But if you can't, then you're an actor. Well, it's the same with writing. When I'm not writing, I feel empty and unfocused. I feel like there is this huge void. I feel sad not to be creating because I love the process of writing and being with my characters, seeing them grow and develop, getting into and out of all sorts of situations.

So for me, writing a screenplay is like being a prize fighter. I have to go into training now (which is what I call outlining my script, rereading my old draft, absorbing the notes, doing research, and blocking out time to write every day. I start December 1st with butt in chair and FADE IN. Insert ROCKY theme music here!

My new script should be done by January 1st. It's really just a rewrite, but a page one rewrite. Wish me luck that I go the distance.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Pretty soon there will be that pre-holiday lull in the screenwriting world where nobody seems to be doing business -- not in New York. In December, Blake Snyder, author of a great screenwriting book called SAVE THE CAT will be doing a one day seminar in the city. It's only $100 and well worth it. I read his book early this year and loved it. It gave some very clear tips on improving my writing and script. I recommend this seminar and for the price you can't go wrong. For $140, he throws in his new Story Structure screenwriting software which usually sells for $50.


Date and Time: Saturday, December 9, 2006 9am-6pm (with a 1 hour lunch break)

Place: Teatro La Tea (main theater)
107 Suffolk Street
Suite 200
New York, NY 10002

TO SIGN UP: Contact Isabel Holtreman via email at or
call her at 1-877-525-5083 (toll free).

Blake will be available for private consultations on Friday, December 8th and all day Sunday, December 10th. Please contact Isabel for details.

Also want to let you know about David Negrin's screenwriting group that meets in NYC. You can find out more info at If you want to have your work read and hang out with fellow screenwriters, check this out.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody, and keep writing!

Monday, October 16, 2006


There is a script evaluation service that I have been recommended to numerous times. The first time was in 1999 when I submitted my script to a very well-known production company. The development person there said "call Script Shark" and let them help you polish this script to make it more marketable. I talked to someone at Script Shark then, but never went as far as to use their service.

As aspiring or working writers, we're easy targets. Everyone has a software program, how-to book or DVD that will help us sell scripts. Some are helpful, but we can spend a lot of dough and still flounder. I advise going to your local library for FREE books on screenwriting (if they don't have a new one, sometimes you can order it from a bigger branch), search Ebay for cheaper, used scriptwriting software, scripts, DVDs, etc. Try not to make giving money to others your second career goal. You should be writing scripts not checks.

Back to Script Shark -- my agent recommended I try them regarding my sports drama script. The service for an evaulation and extensive development notes (like the studios would give you) costs $350.00. Ouch. Why pay that? Well, sometimes you've written the best draft you can (at the time) and need an objective, professional opinion to truthfully tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are in the script. Don't pay for it unless you're submitting your BEST work to them. I procrastinated (hating to dish out that kinda cash) but finally sent the script and check in.

I got the notes back (online) and they were terrific. Right on the money. And what I really liked is that the reviewer (anonymous name, just initials offered, but you can look up the person's credentials on their webpage wasn't out for blood, but out to truly improve the material and help "the author". It was well, well worth the $350 bucks. The script was professionally reviewed, with detailed coverage, and then the notes for development offered concrete tips to make the next draft stronger and more marketable.

There are a million script evaluation people and companies in LA and NY. Many former studio readers do this on the side. So if you're going to use one of these services, do some research. Ask them for a sample of a previous evaluation to see their style, ask who will review the material and their credentials, ask exactly what you will get for your money and how soon (don't wait more than a month or so), and what connections they have in the business. Script Shark will post your improved spec script through their website to professionals in the business.

You can also ask friends to read your script, but how objective and in tune are they about the biz and the writing skills you need to sell a script? So I say consider spending your hard earned cash on your writing, but do it cautiously and with research. There are some great services out there, but select wisely.

Now I have to take my notes and see where and how I can improve my sports script. Back to the computer. It never ends, does it?

As John Grisham just said on The Charlie Rose Show, "if you're not writing at least a page a day, you're not a writer." So let's all get busy.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Okay, sorry for not posting in some time. I'm fine, but somehow my computer erased my username and password and I couldn't log in to Isn't that lame? I had the info on "remember me" and when my Mac crashed I couldn't remember my username and password. Duh. Isn't that an awful feeling? It's like when you're at the ATM machine and forget your pin number. The world is made up of too many user names and passwords if you ask me.

So I'm back. Hope this finds you well. Go store all your usernames and passwords in a safe place. Never rely on computers.

As for writing, I paid to get some professional development notes. A professional reader in LA gave me incredible notes on my sports drama script. It will help me a lot with the rewrite. It's great to have an objective opinion from someone who seemed to really get the story and characters. His concerns and questions were right on the money and can be easily fixed. It cost $350 for this coverage and development notes, but I look at it as an investment in my work.

Well, glad to be back!

Saturday, August 05, 2006


So I sent out about twenty emails to Hollywood big-shots from the new Hollywood Creative Directory I purchased. I got two responses -- one saying "Send your script", one saying "Not for us, but thanks." Not great odds so far, but one script went in the mail this week, so I'm happy.

Also heard from my long-lost agent. She aske me if I was writing? Uh yeah. Are you selling??

Keep cool. It's hot as a hair blower here in NYC.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I splurged and bought the Summer 2006 Hollywood Creative Directory. I'm almost done with my latest script and plan to start picking up the phone to call producers. I have an agent, but to be honest, I don't see much progress from when I was unrepresented (except that it gives you a little clout and a foot in the door sometimes).

I went to see Madonna in concert at Madison Square Garden. She is priceless, ageless, and told the audience to never let anyone tell you that you can't accomplish your dream. She is one woman who knows the force of self-promotion and marketing. Do you think she waits around for people to call? Or ever did? I think she would drop you in a heart beat if you didn't produce or promote. Is it any wonder she's been in the biz 22 years and still tops the charts?

Keep writing and promoting yourself. Never give up. Keep the dream alive.

Friday, July 14, 2006


I signed the option.

It's for nine months. This young, L.A. producer thinks he has great opportunities for our animation script. The option was for free this time (he paid $500 a year ago). Bottom line -- he can market my script better than I can from NY so we'll see what happens.

It's hot, hot, hot and humid in NYC. I'm working crazy hours in TV news. I'm still finding the energy to pound the keys though. Interesting term -- pounding the keys. I was editing with a NYC reporter the other day. He was sitting next to me writing his on-air script... and he was literally POUNDING the keys... but with such enthusiasm and joy. This is a local reporter who LOVES his work. You can just tell. He LOVES his job. Do you feel like that when you write? Sometimes I pound the keys with a little more excitement. Does it help our writing? Does that energy translate to the page? I bet it does.

Seeing lots of summer flicks "The Pirates of the Caribbean" (pretty good, but longgggg), "Superman Returns" (pretty good, but longgggg), "The Devil Wears Prada" fun, but something I've seen before (watch "Working Girl" with Melanie Griffith). I love Meryl Streep though and Anne Hathaway is turning into a fine actress. I saw her at a panel discussion for "Brokeback Mountain". She is bright, theater-trained, and an amazing personality.

Keep cool.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


So my writing partner and I haven't signed the option agreement yet. The producer wants the option for a year with no financial terms attached (meaning for free). It's a dilemma because he's a new producer (young) but he works for one of the biggest entertainment agencies in L.A. He can literally walk the animation script around to offices for us. So, although we could use the cash flow, we may sign the agreement to let him shop it for free. I've made a total of $3,000 on options over the years. I'm told some writers get nothing.

I've reworked my sports script and will begin getting that out again soon. I made Act III much stronger. It seems like there is a new sports movie coming out every few months, along with animation films.

I'll keep you posted on the option once we sign on the dotted line.

Friday, June 30, 2006


Over a year ago one of my scripts was optioned for $500.00 (co-written with Pete Flores).
We each got $250.00 and was excited (Pete said he'd buy a new fishing pole and I needed the cash flow since I had recently left my full-time staff job at a cable news channel in NY.) Well, the option expired. No sale, but some nibbles. Just heard from the young producer again this week. He wants to re-option the script. It's an animation script. But he doesn't want to pay for the option this time (he's well-connected in the biz) so do I or don't I? Hmm. Options. Choices.
Dilemmas. Looks like Pete won't be able to buy any more fishing gear and it's a good thing I have a steady job again.

Isn't the Barbara Walters/Star Jones battle crazy? 9 years of a professional relationship over. Sad. Never cared much for Star but I have to say I like the way she's handling herself these past few days. I've long respected and admired Barbara Walters but I'm disappointed in how she's handled matters. One day she's giving Star a standing ovation and then BOOM she's off the show. I'd of respected her more if Miss Walters addressed the "betrayal" at the moment it happened. Oh well, it's TV. It's business. I have to admit I'm looking forward to Rosie joining "The View" in September. It won't be dull and will be worth TiVo-ing.
Speaking of Rosie, she's got a great website (blog) which has links to benefit kids. Check it out.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Want a great website for screenwriting? Check out written by the enormously successful screenwriting team of Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot. What have they written you ask? Well, just movies like "Pirates of the Caribbean" one, two, and soon to be released three. Oh, they also wrote "Shrek". And "Aladdin" and "Little Monsters" and a bunch of movies.

Their website (and written before the blog craze) is chock full of tips, advice, columns, humor and direction about making it in Hollywood. Check it out. Read the columns. These guys really devote a lot of time to the columns. They tell you as it is.

I also recommend to download or read scripts online. Great resource and they often have current scripts available for free!

I'm really looking forward to seeing "Superman Returns". Great reviews and it just looks like a terrific summer movie. Finally! I saw "The Break-Up" with friends and it got a mixed reaction (the ending is different in the script). One friend loved it, two hated it, another was so-so, and I thought it was okay. I think in some way we expected a happier ending and to retitle it "The Make-Up".

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Two years ago a young guy in L.A. called me up. He was interning at a production company and had read one of my scripts "WAR BIRDS", co-written with Pete Flores. It's an animation story about birds at the time of the dawning of man. Steve, the intern, left me a voicemail and said he had no power, no clout, but he was planning on becoming a producer one day in the future and wanted to keep in touch with writers he respected.

That was a cool phone message to get. A few days later I called him back. We chatted about my scripts and I could tell this was no ordinary intern. This guy knew his stuff. He was in his 30s and served in the military (Air Force) and was now in Hollywood. He planned to be in NYC soon and hoped to meet with me. We did. We had coffee for two hours and he gave me all the inside scoop on Hollywood, talent agencies, selling your script, etc. from his perspective. It was two hours well-invested.

Months later he optioned "WAR BIRDS" for a $1,000. He shopped it but wasn't able to sell it. However, Steve remains a great contact. Last week, he now works for a TOP talent agency in L.A., sent me the script for the new movie "The Break-Up" and three "The Sopranos" scripts, two written by its creator David Chase. "The Break-Up" was fun to read, but in places, it seemed too formulaic and I didn't particulary care for the main characters. They were both annoying as a couple. There were some funny laugh-out-loud lines that I could imagine Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston saying. I'm seeing the movie so I'll be able to see how closely they followed the script. It's a good script, but it didn't blow me away.

Now... Mr. Chase is another story. Wow. "The Sopranos" is outstanding on the page alone, not to mention once the actors get these lines. The dialogue is not sparce, but each line fits the characters perfectly and gives deeper meaning usually. Reading Tony and Carmella's lines are priceless. The scenes move (even when just talking heads are involved). I plan to reread "The Sopranos" several times over. There is a lot to learn from David Chase, similar to when I read "DEADWOOD" scripts written by creator/writer/producer David Milch. The talent is on the page in black and white.

So keep writing, people, but more importantly, keep reading great scripts from great movie and TV writers (many more in TV of late).

That intern is now close to becoming a bona fide Hollywood agent. I'm glad I returned his phone call when I did. See, ya never know.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


It's not officially summer yet, but it sure feels like it. It's humid and hot today. Just took my dog for a long walk (with her water bottle) and she's now pooped out in front of the A/C. I don't blame her.

I'm working on a new script and it's coming along well. I've been writing at a PC desktop for years. Just bought a Mac laptop and it's weird to be able to write in every room, sitting, reclining, outdoors in public. The laptop gets warm (a normal occurance Apple says) so last night I was writing on the sofa with the laptop sitting on my lap... and wondered why I was so hot. The laptop was throwing off heat or maybe it was my scene? lol.

Heading to the gym and then to some place to write today. Might wind up at the library on W. 4ndStreet in Manhattan at the Reading Room. It's one of my favorite places to read or write.
They better have air conditioning.

Keep cool and write on.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Apple & Final Draft.7

It was about that time to update and upgrade my writing technology.

So I went out a purchased a new Apple G4 laptop for writing scripts primarily in great NYC locations. I don't think I'll be writing much in Starbucks like other screenwriters (maybe in the winter months), but right now there are too many terrific places to write outdoors. I passed a Tibetan tea house recently with an outdoor back garden area. Now that sounds like the perfect place to write.

I also upgraded to Final Draft.7 I just started using it last night so I'm not sure what the differences will be from Version 6, but Final Draft is a great screenwriting program. I won my first version back in 2000 (Version 5). I had entered their screenwriting trivia contest online and WON (I never win anything). So I have special fondness for Final Draft although there are a ton of writing programs out there for you to choose from.

Can we talk pre-summer movies? I haven't seen one. I'm terrible, aren't I? I'm not contributing to the movie economy at all. And I LOVE movies. Nothing interests me. I may check out The DiVinci Code (enjoyed the book), but I'm not running to the movie theater. Tom Cruise? Usually love his movies too (the early ones "Jerry MaGuire", "A Few Good Men", "The Firm", "Born of the Fourth of July", "The Color of Money"). I'm not into Action-Tom (that includes sofa jumping). Oh wait, I will rush to see Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn in "The Breakup" (looks hilarious) and did you catch VV on "Oprah"? I'd say Jen hit the jackpot with that tall, charming guy.

Ok, time to take my laptop out and get busy writing. Now the dilemma isn't what do I write, but where to write? There is always an excuse to procrastinate. I love technology.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


The festival is almost over. It was a great run. I enjoyed volunteering. I met lots of enthusiastic, great folks in and out of the film business. One woman is a therapist, another guy a brand-spanking new attorney maybe interested in entertainment law, and lots of students and people from all walks of life -- we all had one thing in common -- we love movies.

So everyone asks "Did you see any stars?"? I was so busy working (and I do mean WORKING) that I only saw a few familiar faces (some I didn't know their names). I did see the guy who plays Larry David's agent on "Curb Your Enthusiasm". We exchanged a few words at the lunch buffet line. He seemed like a nice guy.

I missed seeing one of my faves John Travolta by a day!

Okay, let me explain -- I was madly madly in love with JT growing up -- I mean, "Welcome Back, Kotter", "Saturday Night Fever", "Grease", "Urban Cowboy" and "Pulp Fiction" are all soundtracks to my life. I adore that man and always thought he was tall and sexy and that someday I'd meet him.

I heard the bartenders say that Travolta "lost all that weight and looked great, man." Now you know when bartenders say you look cool -- you do. They're a jaded bunch (especially at a celebrity filled hotel) and don't hesitate to speak their minds.

Leaving the Tribeca Grand Hotel, I saw Paul Giamanti of "Cinderella Man" and "Sideways". He was strolling along looking in shop windows. Great actor.

Tom Cruise invaded our city yesterday for "Mission Impossible III". Word at the festival was that he might swing by, but he never did -- he had bigger fish to fry uptown. The closest I came to TC was his security men. One security guy I talked to was part of the team to watch over Tom while in NYC. Security guys are a lot like bartenders -- jaded, not starstruck and speak their minds.

So, I never got to meet John Travolta... but I will someday. It would be a thrill to look into those blue eyes and shake the hand of Vinny Barbarino, Tony Manero, Danny Zucko, Bud, and Vincent Vega. John, long and lean in his heydey, will always be sexy to me -- heavier and over 50 now -- he'll always be my man.

Monday, May 01, 2006


May is my favorite month of the year. I guess it has something to do with me being born in May. It's just a beautiful sounding month -- like April. April and May make you happy to be alive -- when everything is reborn. You can see it in the flowers, the birds, the happiness on the faces of New Yorkers (even on their way to work). No more heavy coats and sweaters -- out come the flip-flops and Tees.

So, I'm still volunteering at the Tribeca Film Festival. I saw two free films today. Documentaries. One being "The Saint of 9/11" about NYC Fire Chaplain Mikyl Judge who was killed while administering last rites to the injured on September 11th. This documentary is a must see, especially if you're Catholic. Father Mike lived the true message of Jesus -- be a tad radical, ignore the arrogance of power, and always serve the less fortunate.

The second film (documentary) I saw was "Dorothy Day". It's a terrific one hour documentary about the life of NYC activist, author and co-founder of The Catholic Worker. Ms. Day was quite radical and a pacifist who went so far as to openly not pay her federal income tax because she said a large portion of federal taxes goes to the military -- which supports violence and war. She was arrested on several occasions for civil disobedience, started hospitality homes for the poor, wrote numerous books and newspaper articles, and felt close to her faith even if she didn't always agree with the heirarchy of the Catholic Church. While leaving the film, I wondered what she would think of today's times (the war in Iraq, the poor suffering after Katrina, the class differences). Nothing has changed since her passionate heydey.

The woman, Claudia Larson, who directed, wrote and produced "Dorothy Day" had never been a filmmaker before this movie. She had a pamplet of Dorothy Day on her desk and could never seem to give it away, file it or toss it. Dorothy Day's photo haunted her and the result is a great documentary that took 14 years to finish. Check out for more info.

NYC, the month of May ahead, the Tribeca Film Festival, and possible sainthood... what more can you ask for?

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I'm volunteering this year at the fifth annual Tribeca Film Festival. At the start of the new year, it was my goal to volunteer more (usually for non-profit, social programs), but this time I also added a festival. It's great fun and I'm meeting incredibly nice people while helping out. Not everyone has "an agenda" for being there either -- although many of us are writers, actors, directors -- but most people there (many older people too) just want to support filmmaking and the downtown area.

Hey, and I get a free T-shirt and lots of goodies -- and a chance to see many of the movies for free. Volunteering has its perks.

There are many films I hope to see. All the buzz is about Flight 93. Not sure I will see it yet.
I want to, but the trailer alone choked me up. I'm not sure I can sit through it. One of the cable channels did a reenactment of Flight 93 not long ago and it was well-done and very upsetting.
Other buzz is about "The Groomsmen" directed by and starring Ed Burns, also Saint of 9/11 about Fire Department Chaplain Mychal Judge who was killed on 9/11, a documentary about Dorothy Day (a liberal Catholic), "Lonely Hearts" starring James Gandolfini and John Travolta.

So check out Tribeca Film Festival this year and enjoy filmmaking at it's most daring and creative. There is something for everyone (including Family Films).

Perks for people who love movies and filmmaking!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I'm not really suffering from writer's block. Writers block is the inability to write or think of anything worth writing about. I'm not there. I have 6 completed screenplays. I'm trying to decide on my next one. I have the idea and title. I've done research the last month (I enjoy that part) and have some tentative character names... I see the "movie" in my head... but I'm having a hard time deciding is this the best avenue for me to go down for the next six months to a year?

As you know, writing is rewriting. So when you're starting a new script, honey, you're looking at another 2-3 drafts for sure just to get it good enough to send to your agent. As Hemingway so artfully said "All first drafts are shit." It's hard to write the first word of a new script... but eventually it all comes together.

I could revisit a former script and give it a page-one polish. But I'm not passionate about it at the moment. This other new script could also be written as a book. So that's my dilemma.. spend the next year on a new script or try my hand at a short novel? Of course, writing a book is no less daunting than writing a screenplay. Ah. Decisions.

Met a great guy from L.A. who is reading my scripts and getting them to some people. He's very quick to pick up the phone and call anyone in the business. He's a nice guy, too. So I hope he can get my script on the right desk. He's not even an agent, but he's fearless and that's essential in the writing business.

I haven't been to the movies in awhile and I love going to the movies. Nothing interests me much. Thank goodness for Netflix. I'm catching up on classics.

It's glorious springtime in New York. The birds are chirping, flowers blooming, and the trees on my city block are budding. I love this time of year. Rebirth, promise and hope.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


So a lot has happened since I last posted. The Oscars were handed out. I thought Jon Stewart did a decent job. He had to play it safe. The opening segment was funny (with Billy Crystal & Chris Rock in the tent). And, of course, "Crash" was the upset. I thought it was a great movie, but not Oscar-worthy.

To be honest, after seeing all five nominated movies, the picture that should have won the Academy Award is "Munich". It's an incredible, suspenseful political thriller. Don't miss it.
"Crash" was an easy out for Hollywood. "Brokeback", "Munich" and "Capote" pushed too many buttons. "Crash" was in- your face, too, but it pacified the "voters" in my opinion. An African American friend says "Crash" is just "a white man's version of being black".

Hey, Oprah loved it.

So... BIG NEWS regarding the A-list producer who I was waiting on for those notes... he isn't sending them! After six months of waiting... of monthly emails saying "They're on there way soon." He decided he doesn't have the time for the project. My agent said it's a disappointment, but it's good that we can all move forward. Back to square one. That's the movie business... lots of false hopes, false starts and false promises.

My agent submitted my cop script to a new cable channel. I'm in the running for a writing position, she says, out in L.A. -- whatdya think? You have to be optimistic in this racket.
It only takes one true YES to open the door.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm Irish Catholic... so I have a question. Since St. Patrick's Day falls on a Friday this year during Lent... can we eat corn beef and cabbage or not? It's not good to drink on an empty stomach. Maybe we can just eat the cabbage and drink more beer?

Luck of the Irish to ya!

Monday, February 27, 2006


Less than a week to go. I'm excited. Jon Stewart should be funny (please, please, Jon, be funny. Don't be Chris Rock. You can't sing and dance like Billy Crystal, but BE funny. I know he has the potential and the writers.)

So here are my picks for the Golden statues. I may be wrong, but here goes... "Brokeback Mountain" best picture, Ang Lee best director, Philip Seymour Hoffman best actor, Felicity Huffman best actress (Ok, she won't win... Reese Witherspoon will... but see both movies and tell me which role was more demanding and required "acting". I love Reese, but Felicity Huffman is soooo good in this daring role.) George Clooney best supporting actor ( I love him more than ever!), Rachel Weisz best supporting actress, Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana "Brokeback Mountain" best adapted screenplay, Paul Haggis "Crash" original screenplay, "Wallace & Gromit" best animated feature, Dolly Parton "Travelin' Tru" best song. Dolly lost for "9 to 5" twenty-five years ago. She's long overdue and just the coolest lady.

So those are my picks!

Paul Haggis was on "The Charlie Rose Show" (listen to Charlie on Google Video podcasts now. He's incredible, not to mention his guests) the other night and Haggis explained why he wrote the movie "Crash". He was carjacked by two teens in L.A. several years back and wondered often where they grew up, who raised them, what were they like at home, and he began to to write the script from those seeds. It's like anything in life -- good or bad -- we can learn from the experience and create something to help others. He talked about being broke and down on his luck often as a writer before hitting it very big writing "Million Dollar Baby" and (directing/writing) "Crash". I wonder if he'll thank those two thugs in his acceptance speech?

Some writing news for me. I may go to L.A. in April for a conference (my agent is springing for it, the conference, that is). I heard from the assistant to a studio executive who offered to read my scripts and help "open some doors". A news cameraman friend of mine is married to this assistant's sister... so he put us in touch... helps when a friend looks out for you.

Enjoy the Oscars!

Monday, February 13, 2006


Ever hear the expression "The check is in the mail."? That's usually what someone says to you when they owe you money, but can't pay up. If you think it's in the mail, you go away. What about notes? When a producer tells you he will send you notes next week... and the week after that... and after that... when do you figure he's bullshitting?

A-list producer sent me an email in January. Wished me a happy new year and said the notes were coming the following week... we're in February. This all started in September. So yesterday I wrote my agent an email and said basically let's move on. I explained my feelings, blah, blah, blah. She FORWARDED him MY rantl and asked him what's the deal? Good thing I didn't call him "a procrastinating Hollywood asshole", huh?

A-list producer writes back that he's working on a UK funded script in Hollywood... is swamped... but I'm on his mind and so is my script. He doesn't want us to get discouraged and give him UNTIL NEXT WEEK for the notes. Are you laughing yet? My agent writes me and says "What do you think?" Now she knows him well in L.A. and he is an A-list producer with major screen credits... he's no schmuck... do I wait or do I go?

My agent and I decided to wait this out until March. We just got a huge blizzard here in NYC. So when the snow is gone, I should have those damn notes. Yup and the check is in the mail.

Meanwhile, I finished my comedy script and sent that to my agent. She prefers snail mail and a hard copy (I do too). I hope she likes it. If it makes her laugh, I will be happy.

I recommend an awesome book on screenwriting by Max Adams (a woman! name sounds like an old man) and she's a produced screenwriter who has also won numerous writing awards, namely the Nicholl Fellowship, which all screenwriters know is the biggie. Her book is called "The Survivor's Guide to Screenwriting". It is hilarious and will answer all your writing questions. Read it if you can.

So my new goal is to try and read every screenplay that has won an Oscar for Best Writing. Learn from the best, right? Before tackling the old ones, I just read "Brokeback Mountain" in script form (it's nominated this year). It is amazing on the page. Heartwrenching with richly described characters (Ennis's love for his wife and girls, but his love for Jack is stronger and destroying his life.) The script is available to read on a nifty website called They have everything there! I plan to read "Munich" (164 pages!!) and "Good Night and Good Luck" too. All for free. I love the Internet.

This is a great time to read with snow drifts keeping us prisoners in our apartments this weekend. This is an old school snow storm, people. The kind we remember as kids. So enjoy... and keep reading and writing!

Saturday, January 21, 2006


Just want to recommend the Creative Screenwriting Magazine podcasts available through iTunes. They've had some great in-depth chats with the screenwriters of such movies as
"Capote", "The Family Stone", "Syrianna", "Hostel" and many other popular releases.

Some of the writers are a little full of themselves and seem to like to hear themselves talk -- but I guess when you spend your life in a room alone writing -- the chance to pontificate and articulate is exciting.

The podcasts are conducted by Jeff Goldsmith, a senior editor for Creative Screenwriting Magazine and he does a good job trying to keep the writers on track.

I'm still writing. Getting a new script out this month to L.A. and guess what?? I heard from A-list producer about the sports script! He said "my notes will get to you in a week or so". Guess what? NO NOTES. This is since August! Granted he's finishing a big project for the WB Network, but it's frustrating just the same. I'm beyond annoyed and actually think it's funny now. If I ever get the notes, I will faint. They better be DAMN good.

Catching up on movies. Really liked "TransAmerica" with Felicity Huffman. Wow. She's phenomenal in this role. She will definitely be nominated for an Oscar. The movie is really good too. Also "Walk the Line" was better than I expected it to be. Great sound editing (and I never usually notice that stuff, but the sound/music in that movie are mixed in a creative way.) "Match Point" was worth seeing too. Very suspenseful and disturbing. Scarlett Johansson was terrific.

Oscars are right around the corner -- my equivalent of the Super Bowl! Can't wait for the glam red carpet walks, the show hosted this year by Jon Stewart and the corny Barbara Walters Pre-Oscar Special!

Monday, January 02, 2006



We all know there are too many screenwriting books on the market and most are not very helpful -- and most of these authors are unproduced writers who are making their living from selling to other unproduced writers... it's like the blind leading the blind. Okay, not every coach can hit a home run either... but most coaches were once former players... so that experience does come in handy.

Therfore, I highly recommend reading the book "SAVE THE CAT! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need" by Blake Snyder. I got it as a Christmas present and read 3/4 of it in one day -- highlighting away -- it's a practical, how-to on craft, structure, the business and marketing (like don't even start writing that script until you have a catchy, pertinent title and logline!!)

Snyder is a million-dollar writer who wrote Blank Check and Herbie Comes Home for Disney. He also wrote "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot!" but we'll forgive him for that one. Snyder knows the business of making movies -- and it is a business foremost -- and shares his tips, secrets and advice. I found it all worthwhile.

Now that the holidays are over, I hope to catch up on all the new movies out there. I hear Woody Allen's "Match Point" is a great one.

Happy New Year!