Los Angeles

Opening Weekend

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Tonight Airplane Live goes live in front of an audience. If you’re a fan of the 1980 movie you’ll love this staged adaptation – true to the original, but with a few additional twists.

I was asked to direct this play by my friend Chrisi (the writer) and it has been an enjoyable 2 months of rehearsals, run-throughs and the usual ups and downs of trying to get a piece of theater ready for an audience.

Granted, Pinter… it ain’t, but watching the actors individually find their way through the material while everyone figures out a way to come together as an ensemble is always kind of magical. I know that sounds hokey, but it is true. I’m happy I was a part of the process.

The LA Weekly has already listed the show as one of the top things to do in Los Angeles this weekend, and tickets are already moving briskly. It should be a good run.

Don’t miss it!

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2016 is go.

For every cynic who likes to trot out the “making a big deal about the ‘New Year’ is useless and arbitrary” line, there are more of us who disagree. For whatever reason – culturally, socially, humanly – most of us 6+billion people collectively agree that, 18 days ago, something old ended and something new began. That collective thought has a power all its own – in ways that will probably be scientifically proven within the next 30 years tops (I’m lookin’ at you, Quantum Physicists) …well, assuming we don’t destroy ourselves before then.

Part of that excitement to come out swinging when the New Year bell rings, at least from my perspective, is a reaction to how little seems to get done in Hollywood between mid-November and January 2nd. “The Holidays” are something to be waited out. We wait for the new year to start. We wait for new budgets to be approved and for new hires to start and for everyone to be in the right mood to start thinking about new ideas & new projects.

And now that time has finally arrived.

One of my first to-do goals for 2016 has been to get my work in front of at least 30 new people by the end of January. This is a big deal because, while no one would ever call me ‘lazy’ as a writer, I have been very guilty of not being “proactive” enough when it comes to getting my completed work seen & read. I know that is on me to change. So, I am happy to report that so far in 2016, I have already gotten my pitches & loglines and at least one of my five spec sitcom pilots into the hands and reading piles of at least 14 new people (yes, contrary to most of what you hear, producers, agents & managers are people.) So far the response has been positive and hopeful. People want to read more and, really, that is all you can ask for. …but that doesn’t mean I’m going to slack off. The month is half over and I’m only halfway to my goal.

Meanwhile, I’m also still doing shows. I’m excited to start the new performance year off with a return to STRONG WORDS this coming Saturday in Silverlake. Maybe we’ll see you there?

STRONG WORDS 35

Time for more BBQ.

I’m thrilled to report the latest great news: The good people at the Austin Film Festival’s screenwriting competition just informed me that not one, but TWO of my spec sitcom pilot scripts advanced in their annual competition… so it looks like I will be visiting that sweet, weird city again this October.

Regular PlanetOC readers will recall that I attended the 2011 festival because one of my scripts (also a spec sitcom pilot) called  “Mass MoCA” made it into the top 5%-10% of submissions last year. I had a great time at the festival, met some interesting and creative people and learned an awful lot, so I’m really looking forward to attending the festival again.

For anyone who isn’t a regular reader and doesn’t know what a big deal this is (to me, anyway,) let me explain. The screenwriting contest that the AFF puts on every year is considered the second biggest & most influential writing contest of its kind (it is generally agreed that the Nicholl Writer’s Fellowship competition is #1.) This year’s Austin contest drew nearly 7,000 entries, so having both of the scripts I entered land in the top 5-10% (again) is a pretty solid accomplishment… and when you couple that with last year’s strong showing, it demonstrates a certain level of consistent quality in my comedy writing – especially when it comes to sitcom pilots. As I said, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Here are the quick loglines for both of the scripts. I might post them on this site for downloading at a later date, but for now I’m keeping control of the material and only sending it out to specific industry folks etc.

OGRE STONE

“‘Arrested Development meets ‘Game of Thrones’ in a sitcom of Epic proportions.”

I <3 YOU, LULU

“In the tradition of ‘I Love Lucy,’ a successful young musician and his totally loose-cannon of a wife, both madly in love with each other, take on the world.”

…now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue my preparations for this Thursday’s big “Don’t Tell My Mother” show… and I have to book my flight to Austin.

September News & Comment.

Greetings. In an effort to (for once) not bury the lead, I’ll let everyone know that the big news is this: One of my scripts  has “advanced” through the competition in the Austin Film Festival’s top-notch screenwriting contest. My submission in the “Original Sitcom Pilot” category made it into the top 10% of entries (out of nearly 6000) which is, apparently, a big enough deal to land me an invitation to the festival along with some “special access.” Who can say no to special access? …so I’m now mapping out a late-October trip to Texas, my first-ever visit to the Lone Star State. And since I’m being a bit self-aggrandizing with all this, I’ll mention just one more thing: The script that did so well in this contest is a different “sitcom pilot” than the one that was a ‘finalist’ in the LA Comedy Shorts screenwriting competition last Spring… so that’s two respectable showings for two separate scripts in just a few months. Not bad, and I’ll take it… sooner or later, people are going to notice these sorts of things.

More than telling the world or blowing my own horn, the preceding paragraph was mostly written for my own benefit – I sometimes need to remind myself that I do know what I’m doing when I sit down at the keyboard. Lately I’ve been wrestling with a 3rd draft of a script that just isn’t working… and it seems that the universe itself is telling me that this particular idea/script just isn’t going to come together in a satisfactory way. These things happen of course, but they can really take the wind out of a guy’s sails… but we keep typing/rowing until the wind finally picks up again to launch us in new directions.

And finally: Check out the calendar of upcoming shows (to the right –>)

I’ve got another reading/essay show coming up on Friday 9/30 and I’m very psyched for it. Come on by if you’re in LA (but call ahead, this show sells out every time.)

Festival wrap-up.

I’m pretty tired after four days and nights of screenings, panels & parties. I missed out on a lot of sleep, but I saw some great & funny short films, met some really nice & hilarious people, ran into some old friends and ate an assortment of good meats served on a variety of skewers. What’s not to like? Answering the big question: I didn’t win my category, but I’m very pleased with my ‘Top 3’ finish and I’m hoping it will generate some interest in this half-hour pilot script (“Morley & Leslie”) that I’m very proud of.

…and now, as I said on Facebook, I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow I’ll be back at my desk – writing.

December Lull ??

Here in Los Angeles “The Holidays” is an unavoidably slow time of year. From approximately Nov 15th to Jan 4th, when it comes to trying to do (creative) business,  the first sentence on everyone’s lips is: “Let’s talk about this after The Holidays.”

It is easy to find this mindset annoying, especially when you’re trying to get things done, but that sort of angst is futile… better to just give in to the holiday vibe. Know in your heart that everyone is too distracted to focus on any old business and of course it being the “end of the year” no one has any budget left for new business.

So what do you do?

You use the time to work on your own projects and ideas free of the worry of looming deadlines or fast-approaching pitch meetings. It is a time to quietly GET STUFF DONE.

With that in mind I can tell you that I have been keeping myself plenty busy. I’m preparing an essay piece I’ve performed live a few times for possible inclusion in a book (sweet!) I’m hammering out a 2nd draft on the latest feature comedy spec,  and submitting scripts & short film stuff to some 2011 festivals. On the ‘Blunt Farce’ side of things, work is progressing on episode 3 of Bud Fallbrook, but since it is animation, it is painfully slow going.

…but there is little to complain about. We’ve all more-or-less survived another (rocky) year. This weekend I’ve got some holiday parties to attend that I know will be sweet affairs, populated by some of my favorite people in the world. We’ll talk about the year that was and our plans/hopes for the future and remind ourselves how blessed we are regardless of any obstacles or frustrations currently blocking the path to our dreams.

Happy & Safe Holidays to Everyone.

A Thrilling Start !

The first week of ZODIAC THRILLERS was a blast. A Sell-out crowd got to see four great improv sets from four great teams… but in the end VIRGO won and will advance to the ‘Night of Champions’ on Aug. 28th. Pre-sales for next week’s show are already going strong, so guarantee your seat (and save yourself 2 bucks) by buying in advance online. Where? at the BANG WEBSITE of course.

In other news: Should have a couple more bookings for ‘spoken word’ shows around town by the end of the month.

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