Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some people I will always miss

Back when I was still acting, I dreamed of the day when my face would be immortalized by none other than Al Hirschfeld.

Even from when I was very little, I was amazed how in a few simple pen strokes he could so vividly capture the essence of an individual. I was determined to be one of those individuals. Sadly, that was not to be.

About the same time, a program that originated in Chicago began broadcasting nationwide. It was called "Sneak Previews", and was hosted by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. I never missed a show. If they gave their signature "two thumbs up" I was sure to see that film. If they gave a "thumbs down", forget it.

I loved the banter between them. They had decidedly opposite taste in what kinds of films they liked, and they often got into heated debates about the virtures of their particular favorite movie of the week.

Tragically, in 1999 Gene Siskel passed away from complications during brain surgery. That left Roger Ebert to find a new partner. Several came and went, but the chemistry was never quite the same.

When Roger Ebert fell ill in 2002 with cancer in his co-host Richard Roeper took over the lead spot of the show, now re-named "At the Movies", and he began having a series of fellow film critics come in to second him on the show.

With the loss of Gene Siskel, and then the departure of Roger Ebert, the magic was gone. Richard Roeper's delivery is entirely too snarkey for my taste, and although most of his co-hosts were quite pleasant, they proved no match to Roeper's incredible ego.

But all this is now a moot point. Roeper hasn't renewed his contract with Disney, and Ebert -- even though he hasn't been on air in quite some time -- also followed suit, not renewing his contract.

There are rumors Roger Ebert is thinking about hosting a new program -- not with Disney, of course -- but for the moment they are simply rumors.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Make that a Venti(ng) to go!

Three years in a row. Three years placing highly, but not highly enough in several prestigious screenwriting competitions to advance into the finals.

I don't get it. I know it's a crapshoot, but come on! One set of people love the piece, while another finds it passable.

One particular management company told me, "(Name withheld) and I just finished reading your script - its an amazing one and we're both huge fans. You have a way with words that is rarely seen." If this is the case, if I truly have a way with words, then why WHY can't I get beyond where I am?

I know it can't just be a matter of talent. I know people with buckets of talent, and are still struggling the way I am.

If I was twenty years old, this might not bother me as much as it does, but I'm not twenty. Hell, I'm not twice-twenty!

Fiction writers write until either their heart, or their brain gives out. Established fiction writers are revered. Younger writers learn from them. Younger writers look up to them.

Hollywood, on the other hand, is a strange beast in which the tables are turned; the young devour the old. Screenwriters over a "certain age" are almost non-existant. This is a young person's game, or more specifically, a young man's game, since most screenwriters these days seem to be baseball cap-wearing twenty-somethings, who sit in Starbucks sipping twelve-syllable drinks. This is a statement I find both horrifying and fascinating, since most of those young people I've met don't know jack-shit about themselves, much less about life. And yet theirs are the screenplays being bought and made by the studios. They are writing about people my age! WTF?!

If you want stories about --and for -- people my age, then hire someone who is my age!

I am available. Now.

(All operators are standing by)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Happy Birthday -- To Me!

Two-score and eleven years ago, our father and mother brought forth on this continent a new child, conceived in liberty, and dedicated themselves to the proposition that all men and women are created equal.

What were they thinking?!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Living It Well - R.I.P. Randy Pausch

This was a man I wish I had known.

Please watch. Often.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Tiny Glimmer of Light...

To guide me out of the endless morass of self-pity I've been in lately:

Dear Cathy,

2008 marks the fifth anniversary of the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards, and it has been a record-breaking event! We received 3,865 scripts this year, submitted by writers from all across the United States and 50 foreign countries. Our judges tell us that the overall quality of this year's entries is the best they’ve seen, and they’ve been extremely impressed by many of your screenplays. So the next few months promise to be very exciting!

Today we're officially kicking off the 2008 Awards season and we have some good news for you…

The First Round of judging has now been completed, and the judges have chosen the top 25% of all entries to compete in the Quarter-Finals. Based on your First Round scores, we're very happy to inform you that the following advanced to the Quarter-Final Round:

A Ghost of a Chance

Congratulations!! Given the level of competition you faced, this is a real achievement.

Our Quarter-Final judges are now in the process of reading and evaluating your screenplays, and their scores, combined with the scores of the First Round judges, will determine the twenty-five Semi-Finalists in each of our ten genre categories.

We’ll finish tallying all those scores in just a couple of weeks. So mark your calendar and make sure you check our website on Friday, August 1st, when we’ll post the list of our 2008 Semi-Finalists.

Thanks again for the opportunity to review your work, and best of luck in this Quarter-Final Round!

Sincerely yours,
Jennifer Berg & Zoe Simmons
The 2008 PAGE International
Screenwriting Awards