Tag Archives: writers

Woody’s winning streak…

While several of the key categories are still up in the air, there is one sure bet at the Academy Awards this Sunday, and that is that Woody Allen — the most nominated writer in Oscar history with a whopping 15 writing nominations alone! — will collect his fourth career Oscar for writing Midnight in Paris. That’s right, amigos, the Woodman is back!

And if there was any doubt about it, I’d say Allen’s Best Original Screenplay win at Sunday night’s WGA Awards pretty much sealed the deal. Beating out such worth contenders as Diablo Cody’s wicked-good script for Young Adult and Tom McCarthy and Joe Tiboni’s amazing work on Win Win, Allen took home his fifth WGA Award for Midnight this past weekend.

As you know, I’m a HUGE Woody Allen fan, so, I’m very excited for him, even though Midnight was not my favorite of his movies (I voted for Young Adult), it was cute and fun and fluffy, but, at the end of the day, he’s done magical realism better in The Purple Rose of Cairo, Alice and even Broadway Danny Rose. That said, as a lifelong fan, it is really cool to see a Woody Allen movie nominated for writing, directing, and best picture again.

So, good on you, Woody. I look forward to seeing who picks up your Oscar for you this year! Kudos also to Alexander Payne and his co-writers Nat Faxon and Jim Nash for winning the WGA’s Best Adapted Screenplay award for their stellar work on The Descendants. That one I did vote for!

To see a list of all this year’s WGA Award Winners, click here.

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WGA Screenplay Nominees (2011)

Most years, I have a hell of a time narrowing the nominated films on my awards ballot down to ten, but, this year…well…let’s just say it was a struggle to find ten worthy films to nominate.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some really great movies released in 2010, but, the good ones (“The Social Network”, “Inception”, “The Fighter”, “Black Swan”) were so good that the rest of the nominees felt like total filler.

And when you couple that with the fact that several of the biggest Oscar-bait flicks this year (“The King’s Speech”, “Winter’s Bone”, “Toy Story 3”) were considered ineligible for WGA nominations, well, the list of nominatable films was pretty damn slim this year.

That said, this was the first year since I can remember that almost every single movie I voted for got nominated (rock on, “I Love You, Phillip Morris”!!) so, that’s kinda fun for a change.

In any case, congrats to all the nominated writers and here is this year’s freshly-minted list of WGA nominated films. Enjoy!

Original Screenplay

Black Swan (Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz, John McLaughlin)

The Fighter (Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington)

Inception (Christopher Nolan)

The Kids Are All Right (Stuart Blumberg & Lisa Cholodenko)

Please Give (Nicole Holofcener)

Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours (Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy)

I Love You Phillip Morris (John Requa & Glenn Ficarra)

The Social Network (Aaron Sorkin)

The Town (Ben Affleck, Peter Craig, Aaron Stockard)

True Grit (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)

Documentary Screenplay

Enemies of the People (Rob Lemkin & Thet Sambath)

Freedom Riders (Stanley Nelson)

Gasland (Josh Fox)

Inside Job (Charles Ferguson, Chad Beck, Adam Bolt)

The Two Escobars (Michael Zimbalist, Jeff Zimbalist)

Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? (John Scheinfeld)

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My “Not Forgotten” interview with the Pop Culture Nerd…

When my fellow Pop Culture Nerd (also known as my friend Elyse) heard that “Not Forgotten” was premiering in Los Angeles this weekend, she asked me to do an interview for her blog. Yes, amigos, sometimes people actually interview the co-writer/associate producers on movies too. Crazy, huh?

Tomas Romero's NOT FORGOTTEN director's chair

Anyway, her questions were hilarious and we had a lot of fun, so, muchas gracias to Elyse for the rocking good time…and here’s hoping the buzz from your blog gets a few more seats in theatres this weekend! To read our nerdy interview in it’s entirety, click here.

And to pre-order tickets for “Not Forgotten” this weekend at the Mann’s Chinese in Hollywood of the Mann’s Plant 16 in Van Nuys, please visit the Mann’s website here. From the looks of it, all the afternoon and evening showings on Friday are sold out (yay!) so, get your tickets soon, yo!

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The “American Idol” Truth Tour

This Wednesday, the Writer’s Guild of America launched its first ever “American Idol Truth Tour” with a fiery press conference at WGA headquarters in the Fairfax district. Designed to promote awareness of the gross mistreatment of workers on Fremantle Media’s top-rated “American Idol”, the Truth Tour will follow this year’s “Idol” auditions from city to city to promote the cause.

And what a cause it is. Since “Idol” is a defiantly non-union show, the producers routinely break California and Federal labor laws by forcing many of their workers to pull 36 hour shifts with no breaks, no overtime and worst of all, no health benefits or residuals for the work they do on the show.

One former “Idol” production assistant revealed to the crowd on Wednesday that after factoring in all his time spent working on the show, he averaged about $4 an hour. That’s less than half the California minimum wage!

And as several of the Teamsters in the crowd pointed out, “Idol” is also one of the only shows in Hollywood to use non-union drivers. I think WGA Vice President David Weiss said it best when he scolded Fremantle for preying on the starry-eyed new-to-Hollywood crowd when hiring and then systematically using these people up and spitting them out at the end of each season.

Not only is this practice morally wrong, but it’s also illegal and with scores of pending lawsuits and labor board cases against Fremantle and several other producers of so-called “reality shows”, the heat in this kitchen is about to get pretty damn unbearable.

I guess the thing that really galls me — and I am a huge “Idol” fan by the way — is the fact that Fox and Fremantle spend so much time and money touting their massive “Idol Gives Back” charity each year, while at the same time denying their own workers the most basic of benefits. It’s just kind of mind-boggling that the same people that raise millions of dollars every year for charity could be so goddamn greedy when it comes to paying their own workers. Insanity!

So, though I did not get my act together in time to get on the Truth Tour bus to San Francisco — the site of this year’s first round of “Idol” auditions — my friend Patty and I did attend the early-morning press conference on Wednesday to show our support for our WGA brethren.

And I mean to tell ya, that crowd was fired up, baby! Slipping on our new Truth Tour t-shirts, swapping war stories with my fellow WGA strike veterans…man, it was like old home week at the WGA. And even though I didn’t bring much more than a camera with me to the press conference, I have to admit, I was pretty tempted to jump on that bus at the last minute and call it a day.

But to the hardy souls who did get on the bus and staged a rowdy protest at the “Idol” auditions yesterday at the Cow Palace, I say, rock on, writerly soldiers! Here’s to showing the world what really happens behind the scenes at the top-rated show in America!

All we can hope for now is that the press actually covers the Truth Tour events — stories about the press conference were virtually non-existent on the local news last night — and that maybe, just maybe, the soulless bastards at Fremantle will do the right thing and go union.

I know it’s a tall order, but hey, sometimes a little bad publicity is all it takes to make these corporate robots quake in their boots…so, for now, que viva la WGA Truth Tour!

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SAG readies for war…

The leadership of the Screen Actors Guild might be saying publicly that talk of an impending actor’s strike is a “distraction” during their difficult ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP, but if you ask me, SAG created this distraction on their own, and they are loving every minute of it.

But if the rumors are true, and SAG truly is readying their troops for war, then why not just call a spade a spade and get on with it. Ain’t no shame in your game, SAG, just come out with it already!

Sure, another major strike right now would suck, but if you ask me, I say burn that mutha down, actors! After watching the DGA, my beloved WGA and even SAG’s crazy-eyed sister-union, AFTRA literally take it up the ass from the studios, I’m aching for someone to take a real stand against those greedy bastards.

And who better to do it than the biggest guild out there? SAG has 120,000-plus members, which is like ten times the size of the WGA. That is some serious union muscle, baby! And while the studios are always quick to undercut writers and directors, if they skimp on actors, well, they’re gonna feel that burn pretty quick.

With the ratings for last year’s TV season pretty much demolished by the WGA strike, I’m guessing the AMPTP might actually give this guild what they want this time. And, if it takes a strike to do it, then strike away, amigos. Like I’ve said before, I know a lot of writers who will be out there supporting your pretty faces on the picket lines every day, and, trust me, we have plenty of red t-shirts.

So, do what you gotta do when that deadline hits, Mr. Rosenberg — SAG’s current deal ends at midnight tonight — and know that whatever happens, we got your back! Go, union!

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“Lost” opens the coffin…

Wow. Just finished watching the “Lost” Season Four finale and though there were a couple times where I really wanted more answers, I gotta say, they tied up this season with a bang! My one complaint is that unlike some of the shocker endings on previous seasons, this year’s send-off had kind of an unfinished, “Empire Strikes Back” ending.

I’m not complaining, but I described it to Christine as being midway through a great book only to have it taken away from you for three months! Ahh! Sure they showed us who was in that damn coffin, but, in classic “Lost” style the show introduced dozens of questions for every one they answered. And though that probably frustrates the hell out of some people, that’s fine by us, baby!

Dissecting the show’s intricate, ever-changing mythology is one of the chief thrills of “Lost” for us…so the more layered and weird it gets, the more we love it!

And while I don’t wanna give too much away for those that are hoarding the season finale on their Tivo’s for the weekend, I am bursting to nerd out about some of juicy new developments that played out on last night’s show.

So, that said, if you don’t wanna read any “Lost” spoilers, thanks for checking out the blog but, please…STOP READING NOW.

OK, so how about that Desmond and Penny reunion!? Awesome, right? Something tells me that Ben — having vowed to kill Penny as revenge for his own daughter’s murder by Widmore’s goons — will try and put an end to their happiness in upcoming seasons, but for now, rock on “Lost” power couple!

And the island moving thing? Whoa…could that have been any damn cooler? Not only was the sound incredibly unnerving, but the look on the faces of everyone who watched it disappear was kinda priceless. Also, are we the only people in America that picked up the budding sexual tension between Sawyer and Juliet? Hmm…wherever the hell they end up, I think I see some sparks flying.

Also loved Kate’s creepy dream sequence. The whispers in the dark, the door opening downstairs, and then that backwards-talking voice on the phone — a tip of the hat to the iconic Man from Another Place on “Twin Peaks” — the whole thing was almost insanely terrifying.

And the site of Claire lurking ghost-like over Aaron’s bed…holy shit! I just about lost it! Christine feels that Claire’s presence in the dream answers the “is she or isn’t she dead” queston…but I’m not so sure. If you look at her forehead, Claire isn’t wearing the bandage she had on in the cabin.

But then again, who even knows when this dream is supposed to be happening? Is it the future? Or, wait, is the future now the present…? Who knows? Either way, it still scared the pants off us both!

Another thing that really broke our hearts was Sun’s anguished screaming on the helicopter. Man, give that chick an Emmy already…she rocked!

And her “chance” meeting with Widmore in London was even cooler. For some reason, it seems she and Jin are not huge fan favorites in the “Lostie” community…but we love them both, so, we were very glad to see her being so proactive in getting back to the island. And using daddy’s money to do it is just plain brilliant! Go, Sun!

Another reason we’re rooting so hard for Sun to succeed is that we — well, actually, it’s more me than Christine — still think there is a chance that Jin survived that hellacious explosion on the boat. I know, I know, it was a big old boom, but hey, is this not the same son-of-a-Korean-fisherman who survived an exploding boat in Season One?

And for that matter, didn’t Michael also survive said explosion? If you ask me, my odds are on the two of them living to see another day. Speaking of Michael, one of the many harebrained theories that I’ve been bugging Christine about since the show began was also given a huge boost last night as well.

See, I have thought for a long time that perhaps some sexual shenanigans went down between Sun and Michael when they first got to the island. Not sure if you remember, but there was a scene, way back when, where Michael “stumbled” upon Sun undressing and when she turned to face him, she didn’t seem all that eager to cover herself…know what I’m saying?

So last night, with a bomb ticking madly away in the hull of the ship, Sun takes the time to tell Michael that she is pregnant?? Weird, huh? And the long beat before he replied was even weirder. I might just be imagining things, but notice how they didn’t show the kid when she phoned home before meeting Widmore. Maybe it’s because Sun’s baby is…bum, bum, bum…Black! Just an idea…

Also, gotta say I loved the final Dharma training video for “The Orchid”. It was so fun to see that Asian dude explaining everything again…and the “time-traveling bunny” was amazing! Loved the look on Locke’s face as Ben kept piling all that metal shit in the machine…classic!

And what was the deal with the crazy-eyed redhead from the boat, Charlotte, talking about “finding where she was born”? Hmmm…as Lewis Carroll’s Alice — clearly a major influence on the writers — would say: “Curiouser and curiouser.” Love the fact too that former ship-mate, the ghost-hunting Miles knows something about her too. Very cool!

And finally…the coffin. Christine and I figured out the identity of the coffin’s occupant long before the big reveal, but it was still fun to see John Locke all dolled up for the afterlife. Love the fact too that the writers chose the name “Jeremy Bentham” for Locke’s off-island pseudonym.

I checked both Wikipedia and Lostpedia (I know, nerd partol!) and just as I suspected, Bentham, like the real-life John Locke, was a famous English philosopher. Oh, you crafty “Lost” writers…

Now, if Christine and I could just find a time machine of our very own to help us fast-forward through the summer and see what happens next…all would be right with the world!

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Confessions of a Cannes nerd…

Judging from my last couple of posts, you’ve probably already figured this out, but, for the record…yes, I am a total Cannes Film Festival nerd. Sure, I get excited about Sundance and Toronto and even the Los Angeles Film Festival — the only one I’ve ever actually attended! — but nothing for me is as exciting as Cannes.

I don’t know, maybe it’s because those cinema-mad Frenchies are such big fans of some of my favorite writers and directors.

Only a handful of American films have ever won the Palm d’or, and almost across the board, they were made by some of the coolest, most idiosyncratic filmmakers in Hollywood. Robert Altman (“Mash”), Martin Scorcese (“Taxi Driver”), Francis Ford Coppolla (“Apocalypse Now”), Bob Fosse (“All That Jazz”), the Coen Brothers (“Barton Fink”), Quentin Tarrantino (“Pulp Fiction”) and David Lynch (“Wild at Heart”) are just a few of the American winners to date, and the list of cool foreign films that snagged the top prize is even more impressive.

Unlike the Oscars, who’s crusty old members will throw a Best Picture Award at bloated schlock like “Crash”, Cannes juries are more discriminating and the movies they screen and honor with awards at the festival are much more interesting because of it.

For instance, aside from a Best Original Song nomination for Bjork, Oscar voters totally ignored modern classics like “Paris, Texas” and “Dancer in the Dark”, but not Cannes, baby. “Texas” and “Dancer” both won the Palm in their respective years and the Cannes jury even gave Björk a well-deserved Best Actress award.

And one of my all-time favorite writer/directors, Jim Jarmusch — who shockingly, has never even been nominated for an Oscar! — has been in the running for the Palm d’Or a whopping six times. And that’s just the nominations, Jarmusch’s list of Cannes wins could fill books.

Aside from taking home the lesser, but still prestigious, Camera d’or for his seminal “Stranger Than Paradise”, Jarmusch also won a Grand Jury award for “Broken Flowers”, a short-film Palm d’or for “Coffee and Cigarettes III” and a special award for “Best Artistic Contribution” for his seriously-underrated “Mystery Train”. As my French friends would say…incroyable!

And the writing awards at Cannes are even more eclectic. They doesn’t give out a screenplay award every year, but when they do, the juries at Cannes pick some really amazing scripts…stuff that is often totally overlooked by other festivals, the Academy and hell, even the WGA.

Genre-bending classics like “Nurse Betty”, “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”, “Henry Fool”, “Volver” and even James Schamus’s pitch-dark swinger dramedy “The Ice Storm” are just a few of the rocking good screenplays to win at the Cannes Film Festival.

So, while I haven’t ever climbed the grand staircase at the Palais du Cinema in real life, I have followed the festival for years from abroad, and man alive, what a nerdtastic trip it’s been!

Vive le cinema! Vive le Festival de Cannes!

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