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screenplay_stackI spend a good deal of my time lately —

Staring at lists of script titles in my immediate future with a sense of impending loathing and horror.

This is based entirely on the titles.

I have no idea what’s inside there. But the titles? Ahhh!



When this happens, I sort scripts not based on which script I want to read first — but on which script I want to read last.



This is not a good scenario for a script.



Writing is a seduction.

That seduction starts with the title.



marilyn_head_shotThis really darling piece —

Showed up on Jezebel the other day, all about women needing stronger [or at least with better dialogue] roles in Hollywood. [I'll give you the link later, hang in there.] It features a youtube clip of actress and producer Olivia Wilde.

[From House, you punks, start reading the fucking credits.]

It’s titled “Olivia Wilde Crushes It When She Talks About Women in Hollywood.”

Olivia Wilde totally does crush it too. [I'll give you that link too if you stick around.]

[Stop scrolling, you attention deficit bastards, there is method to my madness.]

The problem is the Jezebel writer, Hillary Crosley, doesn’t “crush it.”

[Sorry, Hillary, I'm sure you're a lovely person.]



Here is how Hillary’s “go girls” article ends:

“First you get the producers, then you get the power, then you get the women.”

Cute. But. No. Though it is a darling twist on the protest quote “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

That is Gandhi right?



Hollywood is not Occupy Wall Street. Hollywood is a corporate living breathing high school metaphor — that is supposed to make a profit, not topple banking corruption or withstand pepper spray in New York parks. And the emphasis there though it should maybe be on “high school” is on “make a profit.” As in “huge fucking profit.” And if you don’t get that? You don’t get Hollywood.




In Hollywood, producers don’t bring in the money – or the power.

Producers in Hollywood are matchmakers. They match talent [actors, actresses, directors, writers] with projects [books, adaptations, concepts, specs] and studios [studios are the purse that is highly corporate and also linked into more corporate deals like “distribution” which is often with other studios and often highly problematic and is also another subject entirely that would take a whole other post so moving on].

Or, using another metaphor, let’s pretend we’re planning a home coming dance.

Yay! Back to high school!



Producers are the party planners. Producers bring everyone together, but producers in Hollywood aren’t paying for the dance or directing the dance. They are just matching all the right players up so it sounds like a really fun party and everyone goes, “Hey, great party, fuck, everyone will come, let’s do it!” Then the studios supply the cash and you know, if you’re bankrolling the party, that gives you some say. But if you throw [bankroll] a party and no one comes to the party [no cover charges, no drink sales, ahhh!]? Like, the homecoming queen and king say, Fuck you, dead party, we’re going to the country club instead?

Dead in the water.

So that’s why the [prom queen] talent can have more clout than the studio [bank roll]. The talent [prom queen] is the core of the equation. Because if the prom queen boycotts your party?

No fucking party.

Did the metaphor work?



So the power, making Hollywood films? Resides with studios [the money], and with talent [the people the studios will throw money into a project with because if those people boycott future parties?, no more parties].

So how does this all boil down in terms of hot female lead and hot dialogue for female characters projects in Hollywood?

You don’t go to the producer. You go to the toughest female Hollywood talent on the block, with or without tats, they have served their time and fought their way up through the hierarchy and have the clout.



This does not mean producers are not important. Producers are crazy important. Mostly the party would not even happen without producers. But do you know who Gale Anne Hurd is? [God I hope so but doubt it. Go IMDB you fools. Ahhh!] How about Robert Evans? [No? Ahhh!]



In other words, Miss Crosley? You got it wrong.

You want to make hot female driven projects? You do not start with “the producers.” You start with the toughest women in Hollywood.

And when I say “tough,” I don’t mean prison tats. I mean, they are the prom queens of Hollywood. They have such powerful track records with the studios, have starred in so many films that made the studios so much money, if they say, I want to make this or star in this or produce this or direct this? The studio suits will say, “I can’t risk you not showing up at my next party, I will write this check.”

But —

There is a caveat.

[There always fucking is a caveat. This is Hollywood. Bummer.]

“If this party fails, you go to Tough Hollywood Babe With Clout Jail” and stop making me fund parties no one shows up to.”

That means the tough girls in Hollywood have something to lose every single time they back something. See, if the suits get really pissed? They could screw up that other thing we don’t have time to talk about — distribution. And something we haven’t even mentioned here — promotion. And to cannon ball past all that? That’s a lot of effort. And why would they do that for another woman instead of for themselves making profit off a film that is important to them, stars them, and will keep them and their film career alive another decade or more?

And that’s another subject that would make this post too long. So. Let’s go back to the original point.



You want more women dominated films in Hollywood? You want better roles for women in film? You want better dialogue for women in films? You don’t talk to the party planner [producers]. You talk to the prom queens [tough ass kicker women actors and directors and writers in Hollywood -- and the big prom queens are the actresses, you can't fire them halfway through principal photography without dropping millions, everyone else is fungible].


Wait, I promised you the Olivia Wilde clip too. Here you go yay!:



Also, I should link you to the Jezebel piece. Sigh:

:::jezebel piece:::



PS: Dear Jezebel Peeps: If you need someone who actually understands Hollywood on the payroll? Hit my link. If I’m too busy or expensive? I’ll refer you.

You’re welcome.


this cracks me up

February 25, 2014




*For all my students who come out of :::classes:::
looking at old scripts with new eyes.


ooh la la live voice

December 31, 2013


This is a podcast of an :::INTERVIEW::: I did with Phillip Ramati from Crossroads Writers:


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I’m speaking online tonight in USA #Scriptchat on the do’s and dont’s to get your screenplay read, sold, and produced. Stop by and say hi.

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*Congratulations to @Alexander_A_J who was the #Scriptchat winner of the random drawing for a free copy of The New Screenwriter’s Survival Guide yay! #tnssg



14 ways to tick off a writer

November 12, 2013


typewriter_blueThis is so brilliant —

And funny to me I have to share it.

Also I am not even going to tell you how many “Now I’m pissed off” blog posts are in the Celluloid Blonde archives that I never pushed “publish” on. But they are in there.

[Thanks to Ana Maria Montoya for sharing it.]


14 Ways to Tick Off a Writer
~by Rebecca Makkai
~originally published on Ploughshares

“I love throwing rocks at tigers in the zoo,” you say, “but now that the weather’s cold, I need an indoor activity.” Look no further. Writers are fun and easy to annoy. Minimum effort, maximum rage. Try these 14 simple tricks, and you might never need to pay for the Large Cat House again.

1) Go on Amazon and give the book one star because “the plastic wrapping was slightly ripped when it arrived from the seller.”

2) Ask what the new book’s about. After the writer answers, say, “Oh, that sounds exactly like that T. C. Boyle book that came out last year. Have you read that? You have to read it! Yours sounds exactly like it!”

3) When interviewing an author on the radio, make sure to give the wrong title for her book. Just wrong enough….

:::continue reading:::



abstract_wing_tsunI was in —

A martial arts class once, and the ancestor master from China was there.

There is a serious hierarchy in martial arts, and this man was THE ancestor of the classroom I was in.

I was a baby in that class. It was Wing Tsun.

Someone showed me how to do a move. I tried it. And got it wrong.

The master tapped me hard on the clavicle and said, “Learn.”


Here’s something I notice about writing instructors in the US.

We don’t tap someone on the clavicle after the first mishap and say, “Learn.”

We repeat ourselves about five times going in in the hopes they’ll get it right the first time and then, we cajole them after they get it wrong and repeat. 


And repeat again.

I wonder sometimes what would happen if I just punched someone in the clavicle and said “Learn.”


I’m pretty sure my students would say I already do this.

But I really don’t.


my bloody parables

October 5, 2013


take_meI speak in parables. A lot.

It is how I talk. I tell a story, or incidence. There is a purpose behind it. A meaning. Sometimes people get it. Sometimes they do not.

Suits do not get it.


I think the parable thing is why I am so good at pitching and telling people how to pitch. [Irony!] Pitching, you cannot tell a story in parable. I learned really fast in pitching I had to talk backwards of how I speak. Because suits don’t get parable. Suits have to hear “fact.” And maybe that worked out and was clearer to me going in simply because it was so completely reversed from the way I communicate.


I do not know quite how I ended up speaking in parable. It may have been a way to test out the waters when you had to say something rough but were not quite sure whether the adult in question who was not quite right would react. So you test it out. You tell a story. You see how that hits first. It’s fiction. Nobody gets beat up for fiction. [Usually.] And if that works out? Maybe you can talk real stuff. And if it doesn’t? Wait for another day — and another parable.


my beautiful time sinks

September 23, 2013


steampunk_clockI think —

I’m spending my time unwisely. I’m doing all these things which in the grand scheme of things appear to be mostly time sinks and just grunt work not accomplishing anything.

I put out a newsletter every month. It says what new classes are coming. It talks about what the workshoppers and the students have accomplished. What’s up with the book. It has 118 recipients. [I know, Super Bowl! Not really.] The September newsletter got 48 opens. And, 7 clicks through. That means, with a grand total of 118 people actually getting the newsletter, less than half of them opened it, and out of them, only 7 people actually hit a link.

Time sink.

There’s an irony here too. You’d think the workshoppers and the students who are accomplishing things and getting talked up in the newsletter would forward it on. They don’t, mostly, though. I can barely talk them into giving me info to put into the newsletter on time. They won’t talk about themselves or promote themselves with that newsletter by even sharing it. Hell they won’t even talk about or promote themselves with a website, half the time. So. Me talking about them falls into a black hole.


Then there is Beyond Top Secret. It’s kind of cool and fun. It’s a spot where people who are fans of the book or me or just buds can hang out and talk about things the book. It’s a fun idea and a lot of people signed up going in. They were being supportive. Being friends. But only about five people actively show up, read any posts, or contribute in the active forum. I kicked a bunch of people out too, I said, If you’re not active, I have to pull you out of here. But then there’s the friend thing. Someone showed, they were showing support, that’s great, you feel bad if you say, I love you, you love me, but you’re a slacker ninja in terms of being here I’m throwing you out. So then I don’t throw them out. And then we’ve got this huge group of people doing — nothing. And sapping the motivation and energy from anyone who is doing anything because people who are active are just looking around saying, Wait, I’m the only person talking in this echoing amphitheatre of silence and inactivity?

[Yes, exactly, that is how I feel too.]


What I do know is showing up every single week to post things to a forum of silence is sapping me. And showing up every month to post a newsletter full of news and classes and student and workshopper accomplishments that less than half the recipients bother to open and only 7 people actually click links in? Is killing me. It’s killing my momentum. It’s killing my enthusiasm. It’s hurting my heart.


It’s sucking my time.


The funny thing is I threw all the inactive newsletter recipients off too one time, I looked at the numbers and recipients and I threw everyone off who hadn’t opened a newsletter in three months and I sent them a nice note that said, Hey we see we’re not connecting here so we are cutting you loose. AND THEY ALL SIGNED BACK UP. AND STILL DON’T OPEN THE FUCKING NEWSLETTER. AHHHH!


I’m not sure what the answer is here. Shut these bad boys down?

I think so. I think the whole world tells you you are supposed to do all these marketing things that don’t really work and are mostly time sinks and I don’t want to play that fiddle any more.

I could be wrong. It has happened before. But I don’t want to write and send out any more newsletters to people who just want to get them, they don’t want to open them. And I don’t want to spend one day every week making up some cool new action of the week nobody will ever read because nobody is there.


There are many ways to be supportive.

Echoing silence isn’t one of them.


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