Tag Archives: screenwriter

John Hughes (1950-2009)

First Farrah, then Michael and now John-freaking-Hughes? Jesus, my childhood is being decimated here. I know he hasn’t directed a movie since 1991’s infamous flop “Curly Sue” — which I will forever refuse to see — but John Hughes was nothing short of the cinematic voice of my generation.

Seriously, I cannot even begin to tell you how his writing influenced my own. Sure, “Star Wars” made me wanna make movies in the first place and Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” and “Days of Heaven” taught me how to write them, but John Hughes taught me everything I’d ever need to know about character.

The amazing characters of John Hughes #1

The amazing characters of John Hughes #2

I mean, the man created some of the most iconic, imminently quotable onscreen characters of all time and in doing so had a hand in bringing to life some of my favorite movies ever. My family and I watched “National Lampoon’s Vacation” (which Hughes wrote) so many times that we just about blew out our creaky old RCA Videodisc player.

And when he started directing, forget about it. When she was a kid, Christine rented and watched “The Breakfast Club” every day for a week and a half…a week and a half! And when “Pretty in Pink” opened in theatres, I remember going with my friends to see it every Saturday night for three weeks straight. Even cooler still was the fact that the same people from my high school were there every week too. We even sat in the same seats…it was insanity!

And though I never felt the same undying love for “Sixteen Candles” and “Ferris Beuller”, I did rediscover “Uncle Buck” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” in recent years and love them to death.

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I think the thing I most loved about Hughes’ writing was that his characters felt real and lived-in. And though many have tried to replicate his voice over the years — you don’t even wanna know how many times I’ve heard studio execs say they want something kinda John Hughes-ish, urgh! — no one could ever balance humor and pathos like the man himself. And the music he used…wow, I owned every one of those soundtracks back in the day!

Actually, wait, Cameron Crowe (another hero of mine!) used to do a pretty good job of that too. But Crowe aside, there was something very pure and truly original about the stuff Hughes created during the 1980’s.

Sure, he lost focus a bit when he got all kid-friendly with “Home Alone” and shit, but even that movie has that patented Hughes warmth and messiness all over it. That family wasn’t perfect, they were flawed and human and goofy and even stupid sometimes, but you loved them.

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Same thing with “Pretty in Pink”…I mean, love or hate the sell-out ending, the shit his teen queen muse, Molly Ringwald, went through in that movie was as real as real gets, baby. I mean, hello, her Dad was a lonely, unemployed loser still reeling from his wife leaving them…yikes, how much more real can you get?

And while there is a certain slick, artificial veneer to many of the greatest films of the 1980’s, Hughes films were different somehow. His movies had heart and soul and I know it sounds corny, but they were kinda timeless. And the cool factor? Man alive, his best characters didn’t follow crazy 80’s trends, they set them.

And Hughes himself didn’t just capture the zeitgeist of the 80’s, he created it on film for the whole world to see and enjoy. And for that, and so much more, I salute you, Mr. Hughes. You have left us way too soon, amigo, but your voice, your sweetly sad humor and your indelible characters will live on forever…

The amazing characters of John Hughes #9

The amazing characters of John Hughes #9

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Slamdance or bust!

Hola, amigos! Just wanted to remind you guys that my movie “Not Forgotten” will be having its world premiere this Saturday night at the 15th Annual Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Hooray!

I’ll be staying at the posh Best Western in Coalville, which I hear is where all the big Hollywood stars bunk up. Not! But hey, hotels in Park City proper are expensive, yo! But seriously, if you’re thinking of coming out for the festival, the floor in my room in swinging Coalville is all yours, baby!

Slamdance!

Sadly, Christine will not be coming with me this time as she is what we call “very pregnant” and for some reason, the idea of riding on a plane to Utah and then trying not to slip and fall on snowy Main Street is not exactly appealing to her at the moment. Weird, huh?

Actually, I don’t blame her, I can’t tell you how many times I slipped and fell in snowy Santa Fe last year…yikes! Guess I’m more of a warm weather walker…or maybe I just shouldn’t wear my flip-flops in the snow…hmmm.

Anyway, if any of you are seriously considering making the trek to Park City for Slamdance (or Sundance for that matter!) you can purchase tickets to either the Saturday or Monday screening here. Also, there will be a filmmaker Q&A after both screenings, so if you’ve ever wanted to heckle me…now’s your chance.

And if you really wanna throw tomatoes my way, make sure and swing by the WGA-sponsored Screenwriter Fireside Chat on Tuesday the 20th at noon. Since most of America will be watching our first African-American President take the oath of office around that time I think the crowd at the Fireside Chat will be a little lean…so, you’ll be able to throw shit at me pretty easily. Yay!

Hope to see you there!

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“Wicked” at the Hollywood Pantages

Although Christine and I saw the Tony-award-winning musical “Wicked” a couple weeks back, am finally just now getting around to blogging about it. But please don’t take the delay as a lack of enthusiasm, because this show rocked our world…HARD!

Not only are the songs great and totally catchy, but the story itself is really, really cool and after seeing the show in person at the Pantages, I gotta tell ya, “Wicked” is well on its way to being one of my favorite Broadway shows ever.

Don’t believe me? Just ask Christine how many times I’ve played the rocking soundtrack while cleaning the kitchen…let’s just say she knows all the songs by heart now too. Ha!

I don’t know if it’s the fact that the book of the musical was written by one of my favorite screenwriters, Winnie “My So-Called Life” Holzman, or the fact that it deals with such deep, socio-political issues in such a frothy, lighthearted way, but “Wicked” is way deeper and darker than it need be. And if you ask me, that is totally a good thing!

Loosely based on the best-selling novel by Gregory Maguire, the musical version of “Wicked” is, on the surface, the story of what went down with the “The WIzard of Oz” witches Glinda and Elphaba (aka The Wicked Witch of the West) before Dorothy arrived on the scene. But deep down, the show is about how difficult it is to be different, and the price one pays for daring to stand up for something you believe in, in a society where it’s much easier to simply blend.

I know…deep, huh? I told you! If you’ve seen the classic movie (and, well…who hasn’t?) you know that the so-called Wizard of Oz is a fraud. One of my favorite things about this show is that when Elphaba learns this and threatens to expose the phony Wizard to all of Oz, she is quickly branded “wicked” by the powers that be and banished to a life in the shadows.

Hmm…you might almost say Elphaba is being “unpatriotic” by speaking up and, like some of her modern-day American contemporaries, she pays a stiff price for her views. Hell, there is even a song dealing with the fickle nature of history and how it is essentially written, and often re-written, by the victors. Really interesting stuff any way you look at it.

And when you couple all that depth of content with some seriously kick-ass songs by Stephen Schwartz — the first act closing number “Defying Gravity” will leave you breathless! — and those dazzling sets and costumes, this is a show for the ages, amigos. Even my brother, who generally loathes musicals, loved it.

But “Wicked” is leaving L.A. in January, so, if you live in town, check it out while you can at the Pantages. I mean, shit, even if you don’t like the show, you gotta love that theatre. Just looking up at all those cool green lights outside the facade…wow, it’s like the freaking Emerald City, baby! Awesome!!

Oh yeah, and despite what you read in the paper or online there are TONS of cheap seats available for all shows. We got $100 rear orchestra seats for $50 at Goldstar.com and if you buy you tickets in person at the Pantages box office, they’re even cheaper. Ryan and Laura paid $32.50 a seat the day of the show with not a handling fee in sight! Yee-haw!

Go, “Wicked”!

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“The American Mall” airs tonight!

I’m sure I don’t have to remind you guys — after promoting the crap out of it for months now! — but my movie, “The American Mall”, finally airs tonight on MTV at 9:00PM. So, check it out!

And if for some reason you forget to Tivo it, no worries, because tomorrow, August 12th, “The American Mall” soundtrack and DVD go on sale online and in stores nationwide. I’m buying my copy at Sears of course, but I did scope out the Sunday supplements and Circuit City has the best price of the bunch. They are selling the DVD and the soundtrack as a combo for $20. Not bad!

Anyway, I gotta go “get my rock on” right now. Hope you dig the movie!

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More shamless-self promotion…

After waking up this morning to find out that my ugly mug was appearing on the front pages of not just one newspaper, but two, all I can say is: wow, it must have been a slow news day in Burbank and Santa Cruz. Ha!

Seriously, I knew there would be a couple of Tomás-centric “American Mall” articles appearing soon, but I had no idea they would come out on the same day and both be on the front page. Crazy!

And while I haven’t seen the article from my hometown newspaper, the Santa Cruz Sentinel, in person, I did receive an awesome scanned copy of the article from my Dad and it looked cool. Thanks, Dad! And it sounds like my friend Ginger — who is actually quoted in the article! — has secured me a goodly amount of Sentinels as well, so, I think I’m covered.

And I think I’m pretty good on the local front as well. After reading the Burbank Leader about twenty times this morning, Christine and I spent the rest of the afternoon snatching up free copies of the paper from news racks around town. She drove, and I jumped out and grabbed Leaders from every rack we passed. We were the Bonnie and Clyde of stolen local newspapers, but we had a blast.

Speaking of fun, the pics here were taken in front of this strangely futuristic video kiosk at the Burbank Town Center which was playing “TAM” previews of a loop. So, naturally, while hitting the mall with my brother on Friday, I forced him to take these spectacularly nerdy picture of me in front of it.

You can imagine the stares we got as Ryan and I stood there waiting for the kiosk to cycle through the ads for GNC and Forever 21. Seriously, I’m kinda surprised no one called Mall Security…we must have looked so creepy just lurking there with our cameras at the ready. Yikes…

Anyway, the good news is, we got the pics! So, enjoy. Oh yeah, and before getting to the actual article links, I gotta give a huge shout out to my boy, James for writing the juicy little press release that made all this shameless self-promotion possible to begin with. You rock, dude!

You can check out the Santa Cruz Sentinel article here: “Harbor High Graduate debuts show on MTV”, and the Burbank Leader piece here: “From malls to MTV”. And don’t forget to watch the actual movie this Monday night, August 11th, at 9:00pm on MTV. Rock on!

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Movie premiere food…

OK, the big story here is…free popcorn and soda! Yay! Sure there were some awesome finger foods at the premiere after party at the Cabana Club — I’ll post some pics of those amazing “American Mall” cookies very soon, I promise! — but Christine and I were probably most impressed with the tables and tables of free popcorn at the Cinerama Dome.

The Hollywood Cinerama Dome on "American Mall" night!

And this is no ordinary movie popcorn folks, this is Arclight Cinema popcorn and it’s fantastic! I guess it should be considering how expensive movies are at the Arclight, but wow, this stuff was so good we didn’t even share it. Nope, it was his and her’s popcorn all the way, baby!

I don’t think they did anything fancy to the free sodas — or even to the popcorn for that matter, maybe it just tasted better because it was free! Ha! — but after working up a sweat walking that half-a-block long red carpet, trust me…Coke never tasted so good!

So after mingling around a bit in the lobby with some of the rocking cast and crew, Christine and I took our seats — which were perfect, thank you MTV! — and watched “The American Mall” for the first time on that big-ass Cinerama Dome screen. And, whoa…let me tell ya…it looked and sounded awesome!

Christine and I have already watched the movie several times on DVD, but it looked pretty freaking incredible on that gigantic movie screen. Everything was so damn big that I noticed tons of stuff I’d never caught before, and watching it with an audience that laughed, clapped and cheered at all the right places was pretty groovy too.

All in all, it was kind of a magical night…and best of all, after the movie ended, we still had the after party to look forward too! So, yay!

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Red carpet madness @ “The American Mall”

No film studies class I ever took at San Francisco State or AFI could ever have prepared me for how totally insane it is to walk down a red carpet at the premiere of your first movie. Not only is it totally intense and nerve-wracking, but it is also one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done.

Christine and I likened it to our wedding. You spend all day getting ready — and in Christine’s case, several days as we had just returned from a work trip/shoe shopping expedition in San Francisco — worrying that you might be late or that you might die on your way to the event (I’m not kidding, I actually worried about that on Monday) and then you get there and are forced to smile your ass off for the next couple of hours.

I’m not complaining, because it was totally fun, and, frankly, as glamorous as life as a grubby old screenwriter gets, but wow, that shit is just not normal. Crazy…

On our wedding day I remember my cheeks actually hurting at the end of the night from smiling so much, and to tell you the truth, smiling on that red carpet was pretty much the exact same way.

You never knew who was filming what and which picture or live interview you might be stumbling into, so smiling was the only safe way to walk.

And even though the folks from “Access Hollywood” and “Extra” never asked us who we were “wearing” — or asked us anything for that matter — Christine and I smiled like movie stars (or, you know, a screenwriter and his wife from Burbank) the whole way down the red carpet.

And only at the very end of our jaunt down the plushly-carpeted sidewalk, as I paused to snap a quick pic of Christine’s super cool new shoes (thank you, Michael Kors!) did I stop to think about how very cool it was to be there.

I mean, wow, strange as it all was, it was still some kind of thrill! So, rock on, “American Mall” red carpet!

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