Monthly Archives: February 2008

The year without an Oscar Party…

Since we are both here in Santa Fe right now, Christine and I — like Vanity Fair before us — decided to cancel our annual Oscar party this year for the first time since 1989. I know…sad, huh? Admittedly, the ’89 pre-Christine bash was more like beer and chips with Gregg and James in our dorm room, but hey, it was still a party. And every year since then, we have had a fairly ornate bash…so, I must say it was kind of weird to not have one this year.

Also kind of odd to not even be in the same time zone as the show…still getting used to that central time zone insanity. Did you know they play “The Tonight Show” here at like, 10:30?! Crazy!

The Un-Oscar Party 2008!
.

But, probably the strangest thing of all this year was the nagging uncertainty about whether the show would even go on at all. Honestly, I was kinda prepared to picket the damn thing…so, all things considered, I guess it was appropriate that our humble semblance of a party consisted of pizza, beer and treats from my “Welcome to Santa Fe” gift basket. Which were quite tasty…thank you, “Not Forgotten” Production Office!

Sticklers for tradition that we are, we did still fill out a ballot with our hotel pen and play along with the show. Not that there were prizes to be had, but I won with 12 correct picks, so, yeah for me!

Anyway, the show itself was pretty damn awesome! Jon Stewart mentioned the strike here and there and managed to keep things appropriately political, the winners were all totally deserving — we’re still cheering for Tilda Swinton’s surprise Best Supporting Actress win, rock on, Tilda! — the honorary Oscar to Robert Boyle (a former teacher of mine at AFI) was really sweet and (thankfully) not nearly as long as they usually are, and overall, the show moved at a really good clip…even without the benefit of Tivo.

Christine marking her ballot!
.

But hands down our favorite moment of the night was when Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova took home the gold for their beautiful song from “Once”. If there is anyone reading this who has not seen that movie yet, then go rent it RIGHT NOW. Truly one of the best films of the year and the fact that Jon Stewart allowed Irglova back up onstage to finish her speech just shows you how much the movie rocks. If it touched his cold, cynical heart, it will surely touch yours. Seriously…check it out.

Also glad to see the awards spread out over so many movies. I hate it when one or two movies dominate the night, and with all of the films nominated for Best Picture scoring at least one win — even bloody “Atonement” for that cool at first, but ultimately annoying “typewriter key” music…yikes! — none of the major movies went home totally empty handed. So…hooray for Hollywood.

And finally, and I gotta mention the rocking Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill. Those guys were f-ing hilarious! Seriously, I coulda watched that Halle Berry-Judy Dench bit all night long! Also kind of dug some of those cheesy flashback clips of past winners. Babs looked great and we both got a little verklempt all over again at the sight of Steven Speilberg’s mom reduced to tears after his “Schindler’s List” win…beautiful!

Love to hear what you guys thought of the show, so comment away! Oh yeah, and just for the record, if and when I ever bag one of those bald dudes, let me tell you right now…I am so consulting Diablo Cody’s stylist. Awesome!

Advertisements

5 Comments

Filed under Do, Eat

RIP: HAL 9000

OK, I know I haven’t written in a bit, and while a big part of the blame is my own, another huge chunk of the blame can be heaped on my late, great, Macbook, HAL 9000. Yes, I said late. Great, I’m still not so sure about…

As many of you might know, I have the surreal good fortune of having two films that I wrote or co-wrote in production right now. I know…how crazy that after all these years, they both went at the same time…insane. But they did, so, naturally, I went to visit the sets.

HAL 9000 giving me the evil eye…
.

The first one was shot in Provo, Utah (they should have wrapped this week) and the second movie is being shot, literally as we speak, in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico, were I have been now for the past two weeks.

The shoot has been awesome! The cast is great, the New Mexican food is fantastic, I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of on-set guests to keep me company — Muchas gracias, Ginger, Aunt Linda and Cousin Albert! — and the weather, while cold as fuck sometimes, is actually pretty nice. Even the snow has been giving us a break, snowing only when we shoot interiors and stuff, which is awesome. Thanks, snow!

But my computer has been another story altogether. For it was here in the high desert plains of my ancestors — seriously, Romero’s are one of the Primeras Familias de Nuevo Mexico — that I lost my beloved Macbook to the other side. Not sure if it was all the traveling I’ve done recently or the fact that he was just not built to last, but either way, my first day here in Las Vegas, New Mexico…I turned on HAL and was greeted with the bone-chilling image above. Yikes…

After consulting a cool Mac specialist here in Santa Fe, the Apple Store in Albuquerque and even my Mac guru, Dave (at Di-No Computers in Pasadena) all signs point towards a failed hard drive. Which means that unless someone can resurrect HAL’s innards, all my videos, data and most importantly, my pictures are lost to the ages. The saddest thing is that I had some sweet-ass pics on there from the set in Provo. What a bummer…

The end of HAL…
.

And sadder still is the news that my computer was not covered by an Apple Care Protection Plan at the time of his unfortunate demise. Which basically means…I’m screwed. So, with no other choice — I mean, come on, I’m off-strike now, you think I wanna go computer-less for the duration of my stay here in NM? — I bought a new laptop. Same model, same color, different generation.

I’m still hopeful that HAL’s data can be salvaged and even if it can’t, Di-No Dave tells me a new hard drive will have him up and running again in no time (Hooray, Christine can have a laptop for work now!), but wow…what a bummer.

And so, I salute you HAL 9000. We had some good times together, brother, but when it really counted you kind of dicked me over, dude. So, while I cherish the memories we shared, you can bet your ass I won’t name this new Macbook after the murderous super computer from “2001”.

Hasta la vista, HAL. You will be missed…

8 Comments

Filed under Do

Back to work…

Though I myself am not entirely cool with the terms of the deal we received from the AMPTP last week, the WGA voted yesterday, by a whopping 92.5% to end the strike. So, as of today, the strike is over…

There is still, of course, the little matter of ratifying the new contract. That vote will take place on February 25th, once the membership has had a chance to fully digest the fine print of the proposed deal and distribute what I’m sure will be “lively” pro and con statements on the matter. Man, can’t wait to read some of those con statements!

“FREAKS AND GEEKS” star David Allen w/me and Patty @ NBC (Jan. 9, 2008)

The thing that really galls me though, and the reason I voted (by proxy, thanks, Patty!) against ending the strike, is that if we don’t ratify the new deal on the 25th, then we would probably have to go back out on strike. Kind of stupid, huh? Not to mention the fact that it would make us look like total jerks coming back to work one week, then leaving again the next.

I think we should have stayed out till we voted to ratify the contract, and then stopped striking. But judging by the overwhelming member support for ending the strike, I’m pretty sure our leaders feel that ratification is kind of a slam dunk. So, as of today, we’re all allowed to go back to work with the same people we’ve been fighting with since November…awkward!

I’m sure things will iron themselves out eventually, but man, it’s times like these I’m glad I write movies. Thankfully, I don’t have to cross our old picket line site at NBC (or any other network) to go back to work today.

But for all the super cool folks I met who do, hang tough, amigos! It’s gonna be a little hairy for a couple weeks, but you’ll get back in the swing of things soon enough. And hey, look at the bright side…if we don’t ratify the new contract, we might just all meet up again in a couple weeks for cold pizza and teamster sandwiches on the picket lines! Yeah!

Either way, have a great day back at work, everyone. Let’s hope this tentative peace with the AMPTP is a lasting one…

3 Comments

Filed under Do

Joss Whedon: AMPTP Slayer!

Wednesday was Sci-Fi day on the picket line at NBC and man alive, what a blast! Not only were there tons of fans bearing food — the pizza and brownies rocked, the cupcakes, not so much — but the event was attended by writers and creators of some of TV’s biggest Sci-Fi hits as well.

Joss Whedon, Me and Jaime Paglia @ Sci-Fi day! (Feb. 6, 2008)

Jaime Paglia, the co-creator of the Sci-Fi channel’s “Eureka” (pictured above with me and Joss) made the rounds with the strike-bearded Ronald D. Moore (below), executive producer/writer of the cult hit “Battlestar Gallactica”, but for me the highlight was my old pal, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “Angel” and “Firefly” creator, Joss Whedon.

Ronald D. Moore @ NBC’s Sci-Fi day! (Feb, 6, 2008)

Not only did these guys sign my geek-tastic hand-crafted picket sign — which read: “GUILD WARS, The WGA Strikes Back!” — but they also signed just about anything else the fans or fellow writers brought with them. Awesome!

So, in honor of Jaime, Ronald and Joss’ gracious, kick-ass appearances on the picket lines Wednesday afternoon, wanted to reprint something Joss Whedon wrote later that day for United Hollywood.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA fan signs! (Feb, 6, 2008)

I have been a huge Whedon fan since the wacky feature version of “Buffy” and after reading his fiery, impassioned letter to the WGA membership (printed in vampire blood red below) my esteem for the dude has reached kinda epic proportions.

With every carefully chosen word, Whedon beautifully sums up the feelings of many of us hard-core picketers at NBC. So, for that and so much more, we salute you, brother Whedon…long may you reign!

Joss Whedon signing a fan’s picket sign! (Feb. 6, 2008)

Dear Writers,

I have good news. I have lots of good news. In fact, I have way too much good news.
.

The strike is almost over. A resolution is days away. Weeks. Friday. Valentine’s day. Two weeks exactly from whenever my manager/agent/lawyer told me. Yes, after talking to writers and actors all over town, I’m happy to report that the strike is going to end every single day until March. Huzzah! All of this entirely reliable information means that at last the dream of the writing community has been realized: the Oscars will be saved..

Let’s step back..

The Oscars seem to be the point of focus for a lot of this speculation. That either they must be preserved, or that the studios feel they must be preserved, and therefore this terrible struggle will end. There is an argument to be made for wanting the show to go on: it showcases the artists with whom we are bonded (there’s no award for Best Hiding of Net Profits), and it provides employment and revenue for thousands in the community that has been hit so hard by this action. Having said that, it’s a f%$#ing awards show. It’s a vanity fair. It’s a blip. We’re fighting (fighting, remember?) for the future of our union, our profession, our art. If that fight carries us through the Holy Night when Oscar was born, that’s just too bad.
.
And the studios? Well, the Oscars provide advertising revenue and a boost for the films that win. But the studios have shown impressive resolve in ignoring short-term losses in order to destroy us. I don’t hear any knees knocking in the Ivory Towers over that night of programming. Hey, I wish I did. I wish, like a lot of people, I could hear anything from in there besides that weird clicking sound Predator makes.
.
I ask you all to remember: the studios caused an industry-wide shutdown. They made a childishly amateurish show of pretending to negotiate, then retreated into their lairs (yes, they have lairs) to starve us out. They emerged just before Christmas to raise our hopes, then left in a premeditated huff. They Force Majoured with gay abandon, cutting deals and ‘trimming the fat’ (I’ve met a couple of ‘the fat’ on the picket lines. Nice guys.) and made every selfish, counter-intuitively destructive move in the Bully’s Bible. They met with the DGA and resolved quickly, as expected.
.
We have been advised to tone down the anti-studio rhetoric now that a deal might be progressing. Our negotiators have the specific task of forgetting the past and dealing only with the numbers before them. Their ability to do that impresses me greatly, but I maintain that it’s their job to treat the studios like business partners and it’s our job to remember who they really are. The studios are inefficient, power-hungry, thieving corporate giants who have made the life of the working writer harder from decade to decade. They are run by men so out of touch with basic humanity that they would see Rome burn before they would think about the concept of fair compensation. I maintain that they have never revealed their true agenda in the causing and handling of this strike, and to expect them to now is cock-eyed optimism of the most dangerous kind.
.
I have heard people both in and out of the industry say, “But that’s enough now, right?” I have seen the thing I fear most: that whatever their agenda, they are beating us down. With hope. With rumors. With Time. The mindset seems to be shifting to one of relief and even unspoken gratitude for their return, instead of flaming indignation that they ever (illegally, do you recall?) left the table in the first place. It’s the mindset of the victim. The lethargy of limb that strikes the fighter as he unconsciously lets himself lose. The studio strategists have worked this scenario as carefully as they have everything else. It is so crucial that we outside of the talks remember that, and let them know we do.
.
This is not over. Nor is it close. Until the moment it is over, it can never be close. Because if we see the finish line we will flag and they are absolutely counting on us to do that. In the room, reason. On the streets, on the net, I say reason is for the ‘moderates’. Remember what they’ve done. Remember what they’re trying to take from us. FIGHT. FIGHT. FIGHT.
.

I have been mugged an embarrassing number of times, even for a New Yorker. I’ve been yelled at and chased, beaten down and kicked, threatened with a gun and the only mugger who still hurts my gut is the one who made me shake his hand. Until there is a deal – the right deal, not the DGA deal – held out, let’s keep our hands in our pockets or on our signs. Let’s not be victims. Let’s never.

.
In solidarity,

Joss Whedon

4 Comments

Filed under Do

Que viva los voters!

Wow…talk about Super Tuesay. In my entire life as voter I have never had a harder choice to make. Both Clinton and Obama would make bad-ass presidents, and I was literally on the verge of flipping a coin at one point.

In fact, when a Clinton pollster called our house as we were preparing to leave to vote, Christine answered her quite honestly by saying that she was still undecided but would make up her mind when she got there.

Go, Obama! (Feb. 5, 2008)
.

We were like a couple of undecided Kennedy cousins unsure of whether to listen to Caroline and Uncle Teddy or Kathleen and Kerry. It was madness…

As you can see from the picture, we did eventually decide on who to vote for, and though our man didn’t win in California we can hardly complain, since, as I said above, we really like them both. I say join forces now and rule the galaxy! I seriously don’t care if it’s Clinton/Obama or Obama/Clinton, as long as you keep my true favorite little Johnny Edwards in there somewhere as Attorney General.

But whatever the final outcome in this truly unprecedented election year, I think the most exciting news yesterday was the whopping Latino voter turnout. I read somewhere that a record-breaking 29% of Latinos voted in California yesterday. That is so awesome! I don’t care who they voted for, just the fact that they came out at all is pretty damn incredible.

So rock on, hermanos and as I said above…que viva los voters!

5 Comments

Filed under Do

Remain calm…

OK, contrary to several major media reports, the WGA strike is NOT over. Not by a longshot. What is true is that the WGA negotiating committee has called a meeting for all members in good standing on both coasts to discuss the details of a possible tentative agreement with the AMPTP.

Patty doing some strike yoga on the line @ NBC (Jan. 10, 2008)

To clarify another rumor swirling around town (and beyond!) we will NOT be voting to ratify the new deal at this meeting. This gathering is strictly informational, with the WGA leaders briefing us on what’s been happening in the negotiating room, and us sounding off on it. WGA leaders on both coasts have assured us that they will not act on anything until AFTER they hear what we have to say at this meeting.

That would mean a vote to accept or decline the latest offer from the AMPTP would happen sometime next week at the earliest. So, for now, chill out, stay strong and definitely don’t believe everything you read. And if you’re feeling really anxious about things, you can always relax the way mi amiga Patty and I do on the picket line…strike yoga!

Actually, Patty’s the only one who does the yoga…I usually just take the pictures and eat. But, hey, whatever gets you through the strike.

1 Comment

Filed under Do

Best Cherry Coke ever!

I’m sure many of you already know this, but chain of chains TGIF has a Cherry Coke on their menu that is just…wow…truly heaven-sent. I mean, Cherry Coke on tap or in a can is one thing, but the cherry-tastic TGIF concoction is quickly becoming my drink of choice out here in snowy Utah!

Cherry Coke to die for! (Feb. 2, 2008)

Not only does it have the taste and look of a classic soda fountain Cherry Coke, but it is also deceptively simple to make. I can say that with some authority, because, well…I watched my waiter make me half a dozen of these bad boys. OK, not really half a dozen…but MANY.

To make this awesomeness at your own house, simple pump three or four squirts of Monin (or at least it looked like Monin) cherry flavored syrup into an ice-filled cup, splash some Coke on top and Bob’s your uncle. Simple, delicious and, as I said above…heaven-sent! Seriously, you’ll die…

So, make some at home if you want, or, if you have a TGIF in your neck of the woods — which, sadly, I do not — check this stuff out in person…it’s amazing! Oh yeah, and the Jack Daniels baby back ribs aren’t bad either…

5 Comments

Filed under Eat