Monday, June 30, 2008
Anyway, I’ve got a couple more Banff posts in the works but DMc tagged me a while ago on the music meme that’s popping up here, there, and everywhere, and I felt the need for a good palate cleanse before I finish up that series. The idea is:
“List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now.”
Some of these are from the music I brought on my recent Alberta-Quesnel road trip, and others are what’s playing in my office lately, but all are what's on my mind at this moment:
1. “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz. I could have picked almost any song on his latest album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, but this is the first single and representative of his infectious boppiness. My officemate sort-of introduced me to the magic of Mraz, though I’d previously heard some of his tunes without connecting them together. I’m the de facto DJ of our shared office and early on, when I’d have random Internet radio playing, he’d occasionally ask “Who’s this?” I always had to check, and the answer always seemed to be “Jason Mraz.” It’s become a running joke, even when he knows damn well who this is.
“ I guess what I be saying is there ain't no better reason to rid yourself of vanities and just go with the seasons.
2. “Mercy” by Duffy. It’s the hit single off the altogether fine album Rockferry, so maybe it’s another too-obvious choice, but what can I say, it’s a worthy hit. The lyrics get to me as much as the musical hooks: maybe I know too many people who are in love with otherwise attached people, but this is a catchy lament for that predicament. Duffy is a young Welsh singer with an old-soul voice, and after listening to the album I always have to put this one on repeat until I get it out of my system.
“Now you think that I will be something on the side but you’ve got to understand that I need a man who can take my hand.”
3. “If You Want Me” by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. I’m still not over Once, the movie or the music. “Falling Slowly” won the Oscar with the sweetest acceptance speeches ever, plus one of the sweetest Oscar moments ever when host Jon Stewart brought Irglová back onstage to finish hers. But this is by far my favourite song from the soundtrack, from a scene in the movie that is equally sweet. Recently everyone in the office seems to have borrowed this CD from me because I can’t resist cranking it when “Falling Slowing” and “If You Want Me” come on.
“If you want me, satisfy me.”
4. “Galway Girl” by Steve Earle. It’s in my heavy rotation right now because Gerard Butler sings it to Hilary Swank in P.S. I Love You, which I saw not too long ago. Shut up, I know that makes me a sap.
“And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do, 'cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue.”
5. “Cucurrucucu Paloma” by Caetano Veloso. This has been haunting me since my boss asked me to translate a bit of dialogue at the end of this video, from the movie Hable Con Ella which I saw long ago -- roughly speaking: “That Caetano, he gives me goosebumps.” And he sure does in this song of lost love.
“Juran que esa paloma no es otra cosa más que su alma.” (“They swear that this dove is nothing more than his soul.”)
6. “(Antichrist Television Blues)” by Arcade Fire. Again, I love the whole album, but this is the song I keep coming back to, both lyrically and musically. I have no idea if it’s based on anyone in particular, but it seems like an indictment of a Joe Simpson type (daddy of Jessica and Ashley). In New York. I dunno, but I like it, especially for its abrupt ending.
“I need you to get up on the stage for me, honey, show the men it's not about the money. Want to hold a mirror up to the world, so that they can see themselves inside my little girl.”
7. “Teardrop” by José González. Yes, I’m a parody of myself: one of my songs is House-related. But it’s also really good. It’s a cover of the theme song by Massive Attack, used during a musical montage in the heartbreaking finale, “Wilson’s Heart”. González is a Swedish singer – bet you weren’t expecting that – probably best known for his song “Crosses,” which is also really good. But did I mention this one is from House?
“Love, love is a verb. Love is a doing word.”
I’m going to cop out and not tag anyone but throw it open to anyone who hasn’t already participated. There must be a few of you out there.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Links to actual experts on the subjects:
Saturday, June 28, 2008
You would be allowed to record a TV or radio show, but no more than one copy. And if broadcasters started putting up locks to block your PVR, you could face fines for hacking it.The net neutrality debate has opened up discussion on how much control service providers should exert over Internet access, with Bell's throttling practises to limit access speeds a hot button topic right now.
Listen live Sunday at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern and join the discussion by calling 646-200-4063 (or sign in and look for the Click to Talk button on the show site). Or catch the podcast afterwards.
There are great guests coming up in the next couple of weeks ...
- Swingtown Producer Sees Double Standards In Network Standards
"They're kind of akin to a third world theocracy, the level of sexual puritanism," Poul said of the FCC. "On Desperate Housewives or CSI, there is a level of lascivious content, but the person involved usually gets punished or, preferably, killed. We love our characters. We don't judge them. There are no negative repercussions for the behaviour they're engaging in. They find that terrifying." Read more.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
- From Idea to Screen: The Craft of TV Writing
"Comedy writer Jeff Greenstein, currently on Desperate Housewives and formerly with Will and Grace and Friends, talked about the craft largely from the big-picture perspective of the showrunner or creator, while drama writer David Hoselton of House delved into the nuts and bolts of writing an episode from one-line idea to shooting script." Read more.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
My brother Steve joins me again as co-host, as we quizzed director David Winning (Blood Ties, Andromeda, Earth: Final Conflict, Dinosapien, Naturally Sadie, etc.) about his long and varied career, including many forays into science fiction. Then we played the interview I did in Banff with Martin Wood, executive producer and director of Sanctuary, who shares his thoughts on that web-based series moving to television. At the end, Steve and I talk a little about sci fi and the uneasy relationship between television and the Internet.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
- Boston Legal Provides Evidence Of Hollywood’s Social Responsibility
"'Television’s primary obligation is to entertain,' said Clemenson, who won a Guest Actor Emmy in 2006 and was nominated again in 2007 for what was originally supposed to be a three-episode arc, but is now a regular character. 'But David Kelley in particular has this amazing ability to entertain while at the same time he’s slipping some powerful medicine down your throat, and you don’t even realize it. That’s wonderful television.'" Read more.
A lot of what EIC does is too behind the scenes for even me to write about, but the organization intrigued me and appealed to my idealistic streak. A couple of years ago a locally produced TV show asked me about ideas for their (never materialized) series blog, and one of my favourites was the concept of writing posts about issues brought up by the episodes. Take House, for example: maybe someone from the Huntingdon Society could provide an article about what a diagnosis means to a real-life young woman contemplating family and career. (Good lord no, it wasn't actually House I talked to. I'm picking an example most of you will recognize, is all.) I wouldn't be the one to start this, but I love the even broader idea of a website that dissects TV shows from the social/philosophical/etc. angle, like a TV Squad with a conscience. It wouldn't get the megahits, but it would be about something more meaningful than fannish musings.
Anyway ... recently, the EIC sent a media release about their Congressional Mental Health Care Briefing and it seemed like a great opportunity to finally write something with a bit more of a fan-based hook. Though sorry House fans, despite the origins of my knowledge of the organization, there's no House content. But as a slight bonus (slightly outdated), here's an excerpt from that report that started it all:
“The problem with incorporating content from health and political organizations,” said Lawrence Kaplow, “is that as storytellers we tell stories, not messages. But in this type of roundtable discussion, competing messages gave rise to controversy, which was when I started to pay attention, as participants began substantiating their opinions with their own experience. And since whenever there’s conflict, there’s story, I probably walked away with four or five pretty good story/character ideas. Plus they fed me.”
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Following that live discussion, I'll play an excerpt of the interview I did with executive producer and director Martin Wood of Sanctuary, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. It includes material that didn't make it into my article, such as more on Sanctuary's innovative filming process and a solid answer to the elusive question I've been asked more than once: Why is Vancouver such a hotbed of science fiction filming?
Blogtalkradio has just introduced an "Ask The Host" feature where you can log in (registration is required but free) and click to "call in" to the show … though it's not working at the moment. As BTR has caused me to say more than once, this Internet thing is great when it works. Fingers crossed for Sunday. It will mean no more long distance charges to participate in the live show, which is a good thing. If it works.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
This bit comes right after he's told the story about his first ever script sale, a freelance episode of The Untouchables, which he barely recognized when he saw the shooting script. The sound quality is poor but I have a transcript:
David Shore: What you come to grips with is you've got a lot to learn. Now I'm rewriting other people, but hopefully not quite that dramatically, because if you rewrite people that dramatically, they don't stick around for long.
Terry David Mulligan: So why Los Angeles? Why not New York or London or Toronto?
DS: Los Angeles is where TV is. But that's actually secondary. The only other writer in the world I knew was in Los Angeles. A guy I went to law school with moved there to be a writer.
TDM: And what's he doing now?
DS: He's still a writer. He's still doing OK. He and his partner went down there and oddly enough, his partner I just hired to be a writer on House for this coming season. [The timing and facts work for this to be David Hoselton he's talking about, but it seems odd that he doesn't refer to the fact that he also went to law school with "his partner."]
TDM: And what told you that you wanted to be a writer?
DS: You know, it was one of the great stupid decisions of all time. In hindsight, there's absolutely nothing ... I was practicing law full time and I said you know what, I think I want to be a writer. The smart thing would be to write a little bit and figure it out from that. I was a partner in my firm. I quit the firm, got in my car, drove to LA, and then I started writing. I had no reason. I look back, I can't understand it. I honestly look back on it and go, I can't figure this out.
TDM: Even Neil Young had the guitar and a hearse to sleep in.
DS: I went down there, bought a computer in LA, started typing. I don't know. So to everybody else, that's what you should do.
TDM: Did it flow out of you?
DS: No! It was terrible. It was funny, I figured I'd write features and so I spent like six months writing this spec feature and gave it to my friends to read. And then I spent about a week while they were reading it writing a spec TV script, and they read both of them and said, you know, maybe you should do TV. I did better work on it. I don't know, it may have just been because it was the second thing. The more you do it, writing is rewriting, the more you do it ... you always look back on your own stuff ... hopefully. I'm very leery of writers who are in love with their own stuff. You look back on your stuff hopefully you're able to see the flaws, learn from them, and move on.
TDM: Writers are a quirky bunch, aren't they? They're like the drummers of the business, the Keith Moons.
DS: Uh, yeah, OK.
(This isn't in the clip, but TDM went on to recount something about Keith Moon having piranhas in his bathtub, so DS said well, I don't have piranhas in my bathtub. He really wasn't going for that analogy.)
In finding my David Shore Banff post to link to, I rediscovered his own words about why he doesn't believe in following the dictates of the audience, as was so controversial in my recent article on online fans: "Ultimately you have to write what you like. If you're writing to your audience, you're screwed. It's very basic: you won't do it as well."
- Breaking Into Hollywood Any Which Way They Can
"Suddenly desperate to support a family and aware that writing the Great Canadian Novel wasn’t the quick road to riches (but screenwriting is?), Hart Hanson started faxing pitches to the long-running Vancouver-based The Beachcombers. After the 15th fax, the executive producer relented, inviting him for a meeting." Read more.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Well, TV critic Jaime Weinman of Maclean’s Magazine hilariously riffed on that theme:
Moral of the story? Instead of being lied to by television about the law, go into television and lie to us about medicine instead. There are people now who, seeing episodes of House written by ex-lawyers, will go to medical school and discover that medicine isn’t like House told them it would be, so they’ll get jobs writing for lawyer shows, inspiring a future generation of Davids Hoselton and Shore to go to law school and, later, write medical shows. And thus goes the cycle of renewal and rebirth.
Monday, June 16, 2008
- Online Fans Represent TV's Vocal Minority
"Does Eric Millegan's fate in the Bones finale still have you fuming? Can't stop talking about Hugh Laurie, Robert Sean Leonard, and Anne Dudek's powerful performances in the House season ender? Pondering Swingtown, looking forward to Sanctuary, and can't wait for the boys of Entourage to return? Like many fans, maybe you're expressing those thoughts online ... and maybe the people behind those shows are reading. During various sessions at the Banff World Television Festival, TV writers, producers, and directors commented on their reaction to that instant, online audience reaction." Read more.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
- Sanctuary Leaps From Net To Network
"When you're that far in front of the wave, you're sitting on the foaming edge of it. Everybody looks at you and says 'ok, how are you doing this?' And you have to turn to them and say 'not very well, but we have an idea.'" Read more.
Some of what Wood says reminds me of part of my interview with Gregg Spiridellis, the JibJab guy, that didn't make it into that article:
I think most people appreciate the fact that if you want to produce high quality original programming there's a cost associated with it and advertising doesn't support original programming online.That Spiridellis interview occurred soon after the writers' strike was resolved, so I asked him if he'd been watching those events, since it brought out stories of writers as entrepreneurs, wanting to take away control from the studios:
I think they were great stories. I mean you heard about writers gathering together to go raise VC (venture capital) money. If that happened it would have been a good indication that we were approaching a bubble, you know, the end of the bubble is about to pop. So I was kind of glad to see all that calm down, because it's really complex. We find television's a different medium. It's a different kind of storytelling on the web, it's a whole different perspective, and while someone may be an awesome sitcom writer, they may not know how to tell a story in 30 seconds, they don't have the experience doing it. I think there's a lot of opportunity to bring talent from TV to the web but we're looking more for new talent, people who grew up on the medium. That's a better place to mine for content that's appropriate for the medium.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
They're not what I'd consider true spoilers, since they're what people involved with the shows chose to share knowing that media were in attendance. But for real spoilerphobes, be warned there's varying degrees of information, from nothing (House - though there's a few fun snippets that weren't in the interview article) to possibly a bit more than you might want to know (Friday Night Lights). There's subheads so it should be easy to skip the ones you don't want to read.
- What's Next? Friday Night Lights, Entourage, Desperate Housewives, Bones, and House
"Spoilerphobes proceed at your own risk. Except House fans. I've got little more than evasiveness and joking speculation for you. Don't blame me, blame close-mouthed writer David Hoselton. But Jason Katims of Friday Night Lights, Doug Ellin of Entourage, Jeff Greenstein of Desperate Housewives, and Hart Hanson of Bones were somewhat less reticent." Read more.
- Nicholas Campbell Returns as Da Vinci in The Quality of Life
"Things that are significantly in public discourse, like harm reduction, the plight of the underprivileged, are very much less a topic of conversation in the media. For Da Vinci to get anyone to listen to him, he has to go at things like normal politicians do." Read more.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Then it was off to Edmonton, land of my birth, for a quick visit to friends and family, before I head home to Vancouver the long way for another quick visit in Quesnel. Since it's hard to write and drive at the same time, the rest of my Banff articles will have to wait until I get home. (Though I realize it's not impossible to compose and drive - I've just never been good at dictating. I need the blank page or screen.)
A write-up of the Nicholas Campbell Da Vinci interview is in the Blogcritics queue. I hope to get Internet access before the movie airs so I can post it to TV, eh?, but if not, it'll appear here when they post it to Blogcritics.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
- From Law to Medicine: An Interview with House Writer David Hoselton
Wherein he calls me crazy and won't tell me anything about season five but still has me on his side. Kinda House-like, in fact. Read more.
And as a bonus extra ... beyond the fact that he writes for my favourite show, I was predisposed to like him just from reading his bio on the Banff World Television Festival site (and he didn't let me down in person):
Law school was a mistake. Being a lawyer looked cool on TV. Halfway through second year law at U of T, I discovered that television lied to me. But when I landed a part time gig reviewing movies for a pay-tv magazine (for 15 bucks a blurb), I saw a dim light. Then one of my friends from law school, Lorne Cameron, had a so-crazy-it-probably-won’t-work idea: write a screenplay and sell it to Hollywood. So we wrote the spec and he moved to LA. We never sold it but it did get us an agent and a couple of writing assignments. After a few years, I moved to LA (with my wife and 6-month-old son) only to get a gig in Toronto. Scorecard on the next 18 years: lotta pitches, buncha meetings, 22 assignments, 4 specs, 1 TV pilot, and 3 pretty good movies that were actually shown in theaters with my name on them. And now television is paying me back with the best job ever, on a hit show that also happens to be really good. And I can say that because I had nothing to do with creating it; that feat belongs to another friend from law school, David Shore.
Okay, so maybe law school wasn’t a mistake.
I don't know many people here. That's natural, since I'm not part of the industry and it's an industry event. So it's a weird feeling walking around the conference centre seeing everyone peer at my nametag. It always makes me feel like saying "don't bother, I'm no one." It's gratifying how many people involved in Canadian TV series know the TV, eh? site, but that only makes it a little easier for me to break the ice with a small percentage of attendees.
My innate shyness, lack of mingling skills, and horror of cowboy hats meant that going to the Banff BBQ last night was a big leap for me, especially since I didn't know if any of the people I did know would be there. I spent the first 10 minutes thinking I shouldn't have come, the next chatting with someone I didn't know, and the rest hanging out with those I did and those I now do.
There's a lesson in there, of course, and it's one I've been pushing myself to learn all my life -- doing things that make me uncomfortable pushes my comfort zone outward, bit by bit. That, and passing up free food and drinks would just be dumb.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
OK, maybe not. I'll write up the interview ... soon. (I know, I keep saying that.) But the poor man was in endless media sessions so keep your eyes peeled on ET Canada and various other sources for more on absolutely nothing about season five.
The Banff people gave him a promotion to showrunner - that's what they called him on my interview sheet - and a pre-festival story in the Canadian Press had referred to him as that too, so my other nefarious plan is to make it sound like he's going around Banff pretending he's usurped David Shore.
Hmm, this article could be fun.
1) I'm sitting in the Banff media room posting an article by Stephen Hunt of the Calgary Herald to TV, eh? and realize ... who's sitting across from me but Stephen Hunt of the Calgary Herald.
2) A couple of hours ago, Will and I were standing in the conference centre lobby talking about the people we'd meant to run into but somehow forgot the all-important step of knowing what they look like or where they'd be. We started talking about David Moses (Robson Arms), looked up and there in front of us was a man attached to a nametag reading "David Moses."
3) After chatting with him and various Canadian TV people in the Showrunners Group, we ended up in the lounge where I had the bright idea of emailing Jill Golick to say I'd love to say hi but didn't know if I'd run into her or recognize her if I did. My laptop battery died, so I popped into the media room to plug it in ... and there Jill was, blogging away.
I'm now going to try to use my powers for good and try to summon Hugh Laurie...
Will and Jill for a bit, I'm skipping the Kim Cattrall session -- I'm a weirdo fan who's more interested in the people behind the scenes -- to study for my David Hoselton interview this afternoon. His The Craft session this morning was a cool peek into the House writing process from one-line idea to outline to script, and how things change along the way because of production and budget pressures and input from the producers, primarily showrunner David Shore, as well as the network/studio -- though with a successful show, apparently those notes amount to "there should be an apostrophe after that 's'".
By the way, yes, some day soon I will write something interesting instead of telling you about the interesting things I plan to write about.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Went to Master Classes with Alan Poul (Swingtown, Six Feet Under), Doug Ellin (Entourage), and Hart Hanson (Bones) -- all highly entertaining in highly diverse ways -- so I'll have something on some of those at some point. Instead of reports on their talks, though, I'm hoping to eventually connect the dots with a few running themes of the festival and see what various speakers had to say about a subject. That's the goal, anyway. The other way is easier.
Ran into Will, who's at least as entertaining as anyone on stage but I'm sure he'll share his own stories on his own blog.
The keynote speech that feels like days ago but was really this morning was presented by Richard Florida, economist and author of Rise of the Creative Class and Who's Your City. His thesis (in my layman's oversimplification) is that the creative class -- not just artists, but any industry where the real resource is the innovation of its employees, like the IT sector, or even Toyota -- drives economic development of cities, and that particular cities foster the creative class better than others.
I'd love for someone to compare his philosophies with the Canadian television industry's philosophy of spreading production across the country instead of developing our own "Hollywood." Doomed to disaster? Though I hope to write something on his speech, that won't be my article: I don't have the insight or the research time for that.
Actual Banff-related posts coming soon. Tonight's the awards, so I'll do a quick write-up about the winners which should make it up on Blogcritics tomorrow morning. The rest will come when I make time to write about the speakers instead of listening to the speakers. Another full day of sessions and an interview tomorrow. That's not a complaint - I wasn't going to come to Banff this year, wanting to horde my holidays this year, until I realized that combined with a trip "home" to Alberta, this is one of the things I wanted to do with those horded holidays.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Listen below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.
The Quality of Life featuring Campbell reprising his role as Dominic Da Vinci airs Saturday, June 14 at 9 pm on CBC.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Sex and the City. It's not a great movie, to tell the truth, but it was so much fun to have a movie event to look forward to that was so unabashedly girly. I mean, I've stood in line for enough Lord of the Rings films, thank you very much. If you like the HBO show, it's 2 1/2 hours of that, and a mostly satisfying way to catch up with the gang.
Bard on the Beach. Every major city I've lived in has a version of this, but Vancouver's has the most beautiful setting, overlooking the water and mountains. This particular version of Twelfth Night was the goofiest Shakespeare I've ever seen - it's not often I'm reminded of Spamalot when watching the Bard - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm looking forward to CBC's version of Othello too. I don't think my Shakespeare nerddom has made an appearance on this blog yet, but there you go. That F.M. Salter Award in Shakespeare Studies hasn't gone to waste. Much.
Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind. I'd love to do a review of this book, but I have other reviews piling up and who am I kidding? But it's an entertaining book about the brain. How improbable is that? It's a far more convincing argument for evolution over creation than anything Richard Dawkins dreamed of writing, and had me nodding about the infuriating ways our minds work - a kluge is an inelegant, cobbled-together solution. Author Gary Marcus actually gives tips on how to overcome the liminations of our minds, too - common sense stuff that's not so common, like considering other alternatives, not making important decisions when tired or distracted, to consciously weigh benefits against costs, and to be rational. The tips may not be funny or ground-breaking, but they offer some hope of outwitting our inner kluge at the end of a book that is both funny and ground-breaking.
- MVP: The Secret Lives of Hockey Wives Goes Into Overtime
"Using informants including hockey wives and even a player, and drawing on the real-life world of 'puck bunnies' who share information online about their trysts with NHL players, the MVP writers were inspired by gossip about 'who's sleeping with who and who's had twosomes and threesomes and foursomes and sixsomes,' she laughed." Read more.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Since I'll be on the road to Banff this weekend, there's a special edition of the TV, eh? Blogtalkradio show this Thursday, June 5 at 7:30 am Pacific/10:30 am Eastern, with guest Nicholas Campbell. After seven seasons of Da Vinci's Inquest and another of Da Vinci's City Hall, Campbell brings his alter-ego Dominic Da Vinci to life again in the CBC movie The Quality of Life, airing Saturday, June 14 at 9 p.m.
Listen live Thursday at 7:30 am Pacific/10:30 am Eastern, and feel free to call with your questions at 646-200-4063. Or catch the podcast afterwards.
Because I know you're marking your calendars, the next show returns to its regular Sunday timeslot: June 15 at 11 am Pacific/2 pm Eastern. The topic is CBC's Othello, which will air later that night, and the guests are director/co-writer Zaib Shaikh (better known as Amaar from Little Mosque on the Prairie) and Matthew Deslippe, who plays Iago.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
- Banff World Television Festival Unites Industry Professionals
"The Banff World Television Festival isn't simply a learning and networking opportunity for those in the television industry. Last year, more than $644 million in business deals were made at the four-day event, which takes place in a spectacular setting at the castle-like Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel surrounded by the Rocky Mountains of Banff National Park." Read more.
The interview's about 20 minutes: listen below, visit the show site, or subscribe via iTunes or with any other program via the TV, Eh? feed.