Life and Death in L.A.: January 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Leno Came Back To Late Night To Do This?

Here's NiKki Finke's post on Jay's late night performance these days. She truly tells it the way it is.

BY NIKKI FINKE | Saturday January 29, 2011 @ 12:03am PST
I haven't watched Leno in ages but tonight I was tipped that he did a segment on the Oscar nominations so I tuned in to see if it was worth posting on Deadline. Jeez, when did Jay stop giving a damn about generating laughs? (No wonder I keep hearing rumors he wants to quit the show after this season.) He looked bored, the show's writing was worse than ever, and not only was his monologue unfunny but the Academy Awards segment was a lamefest. Oh wait, Justin Bieber just walked out. Now this is truly a crapfest.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hitchcock, Bombs and Anticipation

Matt Byrnes leads the Venice Beach Screenwriters group, and he's written some good stuff on the screenwriting craft. In one recent article he talks about anticipation, and how to build it in your audience.
He also co-wrote an article in the winter ScriptWritersNetwork newsletter (a downloadable PDF) about organizing a staged reading of your script. Check out the ScriptWritersNetwork website, as well as Matt's own screenwriting site, InScreenwriting for info on the Venice Beach Screenwriters.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Haggis Offers Some Sound Screenwriting Advice

"Crash" screenwriter Paul Haggis sits down and discusses the craft. He offers some of the best, most logical advice I've heard in a while.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Are Sitcoms Written?

I'm listening to the Thursday tele-seminar by sitcom guru Ken Levine, who runs sitcomroom as well as a fascinating blog on writing sitcoms, and offers seminars that teach you what it's like to be in the sitcom writers room. Ken has cranked out episodes for many classic TV shows including "The Jeffersons," "Mash" and "Cheers." He's fielding questions from dozens of us who phoned in to listen and ask about the writing process.
Some of his suggestions for beginning writers include, always begin with an outline, rather than jumping in to writing the script right away--it's too easy to paint yourself into a corner. Makes sense to me--I'm a big believer in outlining.
Establish your story in an outline first, and figure out your act breaks (space for commercials) and, most importantly, how your story will end.
Story ideas need interesting characters--on "The Office," we see a delusional boss who is inept in performing his job and wrongly believes he's the best boss in the world.
Supporting characters must offer opportunities for conflict with the central character.
What's the one best thing people can do tomorrow to further their careers?: Continue to write. If you have one good script, don't rest on your laurels. "If you write three scripts. I'm almost certain that the third script is going to be better than your first," said Dan O'Day, Levine's writing partner.
Added Levine, "Remember, no one can stop you from writing."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The 2010 Black List ... OK, So I'm a Little Late. Big Deal!

Here's the 2010 Black List, cribbed from the L.A. Times. It's been out since mid-December, but just in case you haven't seen it, feast your eyes on its majestic splendor.
Earlier, we gave you a sneak peak at the top 10 scripts on the Black List, an unscientific but much-watched ranking of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. Every year, Franklin Leonard, a midlevel Hollywood executive, surveys his colleagues in the industry for their suggestions on the best scripts they've read and compiles the results into this dossier.

This year, some 300 executives responded, and below are their results. Many of these scripts are already in the hands of studios or indie financiers. Some are still waiting to be discovered. Regardless, the writers who land on this list hope the citation will give their careers a big boost. Read on to see what Hollywood is reading.

Click ahead to see the 2010 Black List:

49 Votes: "College Republicans" by Wes Jones

Based on true events. Aspiring politician Karl Rove runs a dirty campaign for national College Republicans chairman under the guidance of Lee Atwater, his campaign manager.

Agent: Creative Artists Agency -- Gregory McKnight, Jay Baker

Manager: Circle of Confusion -- Ken Freimann, Greg Shephard

Anonymous Content producing

47 Votes: "Jackie" by Noah Oppenheim

Jackie Kennedy fights to define her husband's legacy in the seven days immediately following his assassination.

Agent: Creative Artists Agency -- Rowena Arguelles, Billy Hawkins

Manager: Management 360 -- Guymon Casady, Darin Friedman

Fox Searchlight. Protozoa Pictures producing.

45 Votes: "All You Need Is Kill" by Dante Harper

A new recruit in a war against aliens finds himself caught in a time loop where he wakes up one day in the past after having been killed on the battlefield.

Agent: Creative Artists Agency -- Todd Feldman, Jay Baker

Manager: Management 360 -- Guymon Casady, Darin Friedman

Warner Bros. 3 Arts Entertainment, VIZ producing.

43 Votes: "Safe House" by David Guggenheim

A young man at a CIA-run safe house in Rio de Janeiro must help a rough ex-agent escape assassins who want intelligence that he won't sell them.

Agent: Agency for the Performing Arts -- David Boxerbaum

Manager: Madhouse Entertainment -- Adam Kolbrenner

Universal. Stuber Pictures, Madhouse Entertainment producing.

39 Votes: "Stoker" by Wentworth Miller

After the death of her father, a teenager must deal with a mysterious uncle who returns to spend time with the family.

Agent: ICM -- Nicole Clemens, Adam Weinstein

Manager: Industry Entertainment -- Eryn Brown

Fox Searchlight. Scott Free Productions producing.

32 Votes: "999" by Matt Cook

A gang of crooked cops plans a major heist that will require them to shoot a fellow officer in order to get away with it.

Agent: William Morris Endeavor -- Cliff Roberts, Danny Gabai

Manager: Anonymous Content -- Bard Dorros, Keith Redmon

Anonymous Content producing

31 votes: "Margin Call" by J.C. Chandor

Based on true events, the final 24 hours of Lehman Brothers

Agent: WME -- Rob Carlson, Simon Faber

Before the Door Pictures, Washington Square Arts & Films, Benaroya Pictures and Taggart Productions producing

30 votes: "American Bull ... " by Eric Warren Singer

The true story of Abscam, the FBI's 1980 undercover sting operation of Congress to root out corruption, which was the brainchild of the world's greatest con man.

Agent: CAA -- Robert Bookman, Billy Hawkins, Stuart Manashil

Sony. Atlas Entertainment producing.

28 Votes: "Argo" by Chris Terrio

The true story of how the CIA, with help from Hollywood, used a fake movie project to smuggle hostages out of Tehran during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis.

Agent: CAA -- Rowena Arguelles

Manager: Anonymous Content -- Michael Sugar, Bard Dorros

Warner Bros. Smoke House producing.

24 votes: "The Last Son of Isaac Lemay" by Greg Johnson

An aging outlaw convinced that there is evil in his genes goes on a journey to kill his offspring. In the process, he discovers that his last remaining son is a terrifying manifestation of his worst fears.

Agent: RWSG -- Sylvie Rabineau

Blind Wink Productions producing

21 votes: "Family Getaway" by Jeremiah Friedman & Nick Palmer

A man whose family doesn't know he's an assassin must protect them during a cross-country car chase when rival killers show up.

Agent: United Talent Agency -- David Kramer, Jason Burns, Geoff Morley, Rebecca Ewing

Manager: Mosaic -- Emily Rose, Dawn Saltzman

Warner Brothers. Mosaic producing.

18 votes: "Die in a Gunfight" by Andrew Barrer & Gabriel Ferrari

A young New Yorker falls in love with the daughter of his father's nemesis, setting up a forbidden romance reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet.

Agent: WME -- Danny Greenberg, David Karp, Mike Esola

Manager: Prolific -- Stuart Wrede

Media Rights Capital. Mark Gordon Co., Ninjas Runnin' Wild producing.

17 votes: "Better Living Through Chemistry" by David Posamentier & Geoff Moore

A straight-laced pharmacist's uneventful life spirals out of control when he starts an affair with a trophy-wife customer who takes him on a joyride involving sex, drugs and possibly murder.

Agent: ICM -- Adam Weinstein

Manager: Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment -- Aaron Kaplan, Sean Perrone

Occupant Films producing

17 votes: "Gray Man" by Adam Cozad

American operative Court Gentry, also known as the Gray Man, races against time and teams of government assassins in an effort to save his family.

Agent: ICM -- Aaron Hart, Doug Maclaren

Manager: Gotham Group -- Jeremy Bell

New Regency. Shine Pictures producing.

17 votes: "Imagine" by Dan Fogelman

A musician in his 60s tries to live his life differently after reading an old letter written to him by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Of greatest importance to him: tracking down and reconnecting with his biological son, whom he has never met.

Agent: WME -- Danny Greenberg

Manager: Industry Entertainment -- Eryn Brown

Warner Bros. Di Novi Pictures, Carousel Productions, Jessie Nelson producing.

16 votes: "Chronicle" by Max Landis

Three Portland teens become exposed to a mysterious substance in the woods and, as a result, begin to develop incredible powers. They work together to hone their skills until personal and family problems begin to turn them against one another.

Agent: WME -- David Karp, Simon Faber, Danny Gabai

Manager: Circle of Confusion -- David Alpert, Britton Rizzio

Fox. Davis Entertainment producing.

16 votes: "Gold" by Patrick Massett & John Zinman

The true story of the biggest securities exchange fraud in United States history.

Agent: CAA -- Matt Rosen

Manager: Industry Entertainment -- Michael Botti, Andrew Deane

Paul Haggis producing

16 votes: "Snow White and the Huntsman" by Evan Daugherty

A re-imagining of the story of Snow White in which the huntsman sent to kill her becomes her mentor.

Agent: UTA -- Tobin Babst

Manager: FilmEngine -- Jake Wagner

Universal. Roth Films producing.

15 votes: "Are We Officially Dating?" by Tom Gormican

A dating movie told from the male perspective about the lengths men will go through to avoid being officially in a relationship.

Scott Aversano, Andrew O'Connor producing

15 votes: "Free Country" by Josh Parkinson

The owner of a tourist mining cave kills a rich boy who finds a huge ruby. Chaos ensues when he teams up with his two dysfunctional brothers to hide the body and fence the stone with the victim's hot-headed twin on the hunt for his brother.

Agent: CAA -- Dan Rabinow, Matt Rosen

Manager: Gotham Group -- Lindsay Williams

Mandate Pictures. Rough House Pictures producing.

15 votes: "Gangster Squad" by Will Beall

Amid the corruption and chaos of 1940s Los Angeles, the LAPD's Gangster Squad works to keep the East Coast mafia out of the city.

Agent: CAA -- Jay Baker, Shari Smiley

Manager: Management 360 -- Darin Friedman

Warner Bros. Lin Pictures, Langley Park Pictures producing.

15 Votes: "Your Bridesmaid Is a Bitch" by Brian Duffeld

After agreeing to groomsman duties at his sister's wedding, Noah Palmer realizes he has made the mistake of his life after finding out that the woman who broke his heart is also part of the bridal party.

Agent: HML -- Bob Hohman, Bayard Maybank, Devra Lieb

Manager: Circle of Confusion -- Noah Rosen, Zach Cox

Skydance Productions producing

14 votes: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith

When the mother of future United States President Abraham Lincoln is murdered by a vampire, he begins a lifelong vendetta to rid the world of the heinous creatures.

Agent: WME -- Cliff Roberts, Jeff Gorin

Fox. Tim Burton Productions, Bazelevs Productions producing.

13 votes: "Hunger Games" by Billy Ray

Based on the book by Suzanne Collins. In an America of the future, young boys and girls are forced to participate in a televised battle to the death.

Agent: CAA -- Todd Feldman, Brian Kend

Manager: Management 360 -- Guymon Casady.

Lionsgate. Color Force producing.

12 votes: "Welcome to People" by Alex Kurtzman, Bob Orci, Jody Lambert

A young man whose father has recently died is tasked with bringing $150,000 to an alcoholic sister he never knew about and her 12-year-old son.

Agent: CAA -- Risa Gertner, Todd Feldman (Kurtzman, Orci)

WME-- Cliff Roberts, David Karp (Lambert)

Manager: Mosaic -- Paul Nelson, Dawn Saltzman (Lambert)

Dreamworks. Kurtzman/Orci producing.

12 votes: "What Happened to Monday?" by Max Botkin

In a world where families are allowed only one child due to overpopulation, a resourceful set of identical septuplets must avoid governmental execution and dangerous infighting while investigating the disappearance of one of their own.

Agent: CAA -- Stuart Manashil, Matt Rosen

Manager: EML Entertainment -- Eva Lontscharitsch

Vendome Pictures. Raffaella Productions producing.

11 votes: "The Butler" by Danny Strong

The story of African American White House butler Eugene Allen, who served eight United States presidents from 1952 to 1986.

Agent: CAA --Risa Gertner, Maha Dakhil

Manager: Gotham Group -- Lindsay Williams

Sony. Laura Ziskin Productions producing.

11 votes: "The Escort" by Justin Adler

A flight escort responsible for overseeing the safe transport of a spoiled, wise-acre child must find alternate means of getting the kid home to Boston after their plane is grounded.

Agent: UTA -- Julien Thuan

Manager: Kapital Entertainment -- Aaron Kaplan

Dreamworks. Tom McNulty producing.

11 votes: "Fun Size" by Max Werner

A high school senior is forced to take her weirdo brother trick-or-treating but loses him along the way. With the help of a few classmates, she tries to find him before her mother gets home. Meanwhile, the depraved little brother is having the time of his life.

Agent: WME -- Danny Greenberg, David Karp

Manager: Anonymous Content -- Bard Dorros

Paramount. Anonymous Content, Fake Empire producing.

10 votes: "Arsonist's Love Story" by Katie Lovejoy

A young arsonist falls for a woman in the art world, which he desperately wants to be a part of.

Agent: CAA -- John Campisi, Craig Brody

10 votes: "Looper" by Rian Johnson

In the present day, a group of hitmen is sent their victims from the future.

Agent: Featured Artists Agency -- Brian Dreyfuss

Endgame Entertainment. Gordonstreet Pictures producing.

10 votes: "Murdoch" by Jesse Armstrong

As his family gathers for his birthday party, Rupert Murdoch tries to persuade his elder children to alter the family trust so that his two youngest children by his newest wife will have voting rights in the company.

Agent: CAA -- Gregory McKnight

10 votes: "One Day" by David Nicholls

Dexter and Emma meet for the first time at college graduation in 1988 and proceed to reunite one day a year for the next 20 years.

Agent: CAA -- Robert Bookman, JP Evans

Focus Features, Film4. Color Force, Random House Films producing.

10 votes: "Perfect Match" by Morgan Schechter & Eric Pearson

Male and female roommates, both 28, who are longtime best friends and unlucky in love decide to try an Internet dating service that promises to introduce them to their "perfect match." In the process, they discover that they're each other's "perfect match."

Agent: UTA -- Rebecca Ewing (Schechter)

ICM -- Doug Maclaren (Pearson)

Manager: Circle of Confusion -- Ken Freimann, Britton Rizzio (Schechter)

Michael De Luca Productions producing

9 votes: "The 13th Man" by Enio Rigolin

An unlikely codebreaker is thrust into the role of hero when he discovers a secret code being sent through comic books during WWII.

Agent: The Kaplan Stahler Agency -- Shan Ray

Manager: Heroes and Villains Entertainment -- Mikhail Nayfeld, Markus Georg, Dick Hillenbrand

9 votes: "Dark Moon" by Olatunde Osunsunmi

Using found footage, the story explores the possibility that manned moon missions did not stop with Apollo 17.

Agent: CAA -- Billy Hawkins, Ben Kramer

Manager: Caliber Media -- Dallas Sonnier

Dark Castle Entertainment. Weed Road Pictures producing.

9 votes: "Hot Mess" by Jenni Ross

Four girlfriends make, and then break, a list of rules devised to get the guys of their dreams and discover their inner hot messes in the process.

Agent: WME -- Simon Faber, Elia Infascelli-Smith

Manager: Tom Sawyer Entertainment -- Rachel Miller, Jesse Hara

Endgame Entertainment. Goldsmith-Thomas Productions producing.

8 votes: "Everly" by Yale Hannon

The story of one woman's struggle for redemption as she fights to stay alive and unite with her mother and young daughter, all while staving off vicious attacks by a ruthless army of yakuzas who have trapped her in her apartment.

Agent: Verve -- Adam Levine, Bryan Besser

Anonymous Content producing

8 votes: "Hoof Harrington's Greatest Hits" by Dutch Southern

An aging, semi-retired hitman recalls his murderous career while trying to kill the billionaire who has put out a contract on his life.

Agent: UTA -- Tobin Babst

Manager: Energy Entertainment -- Brooklyn Weaver, Adam Marshall, Angelina Chen

8 votes: "The Impossible" by Sergio Sanchez

After a major tsunami hits a beach resort in Yokohama, Japan, a Spanish family on vacation with young children becomes separated and must find one another amid the wreckage.

Agent: UTA -- David Flynn, Rich Klubeck

Summit Entertainment. Apaches Entertainment producing.

8 votes: "Murder of a Cat" by Christian Magalhars & Robert Snow

A darkly comic noir about a guy trying to unravel the mystery around the murder of his pet cat.

Agent: The Gersh Agency -- Carolyn Sivitz

Manager: Madhouse Entertainment -- Adam Kolbrenner, Chris Cook

8 votes: "Oz: The Great and Powerful" by Michell Kapner

Based on the books of L. Frank Baum. The story of how a con artist from Kansas became the wizard behind the curtain.

Agent: HML -- Bob Hohman, Bayard Maybank, Debra Lieb

Manager: Fineman Entertainment -- Ross Fineman

Disney. Roth Films producing.

8 votes: "Road to Nardo" by Mike Gagerman & Andrew Waller

Two guys drive to Mexico to rescue their best friend who is broke and without an ID.

Agent: APA -- Debbie Deuble, Sheryl Petersen

Manager: Circle of Confusion -- Britton Rizzio

Sony. Original Film, American Work Inc. producing.

7 votes: "Abduction" by Shawn Christensen

When a teenager who has always felt distanced from his parents discovers that he was kidnapped as a child, he is thrust into a vast conspiracy and must go on the run in order to survive.

Agent: Verve -- Bryan Besser

Manager: Caliber Media -- Dallas Sonnier

Lionsgate. Vertigo Entertainment, the Gotham Group, Tailor Made Entertainment producing.

7 votes: "Can You Keep a Secret?" by Megan Martin

After a woman spills her secrets to a stranger during a turbulent plane ride, she shows up at work to discover that he is the recently returned CEO of her company.

Agent: WME -- Sime Faber, Craig Kestel

Manager: Principato/Young Management -- Susan Solomon

Seed Productions, Laurence Mark Productions producing

7 votes: "Cinema Verite" by David Seltzer

Based on the PBS series "An American Family," cameras follow the members of a family as they go about their daily life.

Agent: ICM -- Nicole Clemens

HBO Films. Pariah producing.

7 votes: "The Claim" by Damien Chazelle

A father with a criminal past must save his kidnapped daughter, even as he fights the claim of another couple who insist the girl is theirs.

Agent: The Gersh Agency -- Sandra Lucchesi, Frank Wuliger

Manager: Exile Entertainment -- Gary Ungar

Route One Films producing

7 votes: "Crazy, Stupid, Love" by Dan Fogelman

Straight-laced, fortysomething Cal Weaver is living the dream -- good job, nice house, great kids and marriage to his high school sweatheart -- but when Cal learns that his wife, Emily, has cheated on him and wants a divorce, his "perfect" life quicky unravels.

Agent: WME -- Danny Greenberg

Manager: Industry Entertainment -- Eryn Brown

Warner Bros. Di Novi Pictures, Carousel Productions producing.

7 votes: "Get a Job" by Kyle Pennekamp & Scott Turpel

A comedy about a father and son struggling to find a job in the current job market.

Agent: CAA -- Gregory McKnight, JP Evans

CBS Films. Double Feature Films producing.

7 votes: "The Girl With Something Extra" by Terrence Michael

A young man who has been raised his entire life to believe that he is a girl comes of age as he enters high school and learns his true gender.

Agent: Original Artists -- Chris Sablan

Manager: Media Talent Group -- Chris Davey

7 votes: "How It Ends" by Brooks Mclaren

When an apocalypse strikes, a man halfway across the country from his pregnant wife goes on a dangerous and desperate journey to get back to her.

Agent: ICM -- Adam Weinstein, Emil Gladstone, Aaron Hart

The Schiff Co. producing

7 votes: "Hyde" by Cole Haddon

An allegedly rehabilitated Dr. Jekyll is pulled out of prison to help hunt a new monster who seems to be using an improved version of the Hyde serum.

Agent: ICM -- Lars Theriot, Ava Jamshidi

Manager: Anonymous Content -- Alex Goldstone

Dark Horse Entertainment, Mark Gordon Productions, Skydance Productions producing.

7 votes: "Keep Coming Back" by Michael Gilio

When an adrenaline-junkie interventionist attempts to save a troubled woman, he nearly loses everything in the process.

Agent: UTA -- Julien Thuan

Manager: Industry Entertainment -- Eryn Brown.

Fox Searchlight. Ad Hominem Enterprises producing.

7 votes: "The Last Witch Hunter" by Cory Goodman

With the population of witches and warlocks on the brink of a major explosion, one witch hunter must stop them before it's too late.

Agent: WME -- Mike Esola

Manager: Aperture -- Adam Goldworm

Summit Entertainment. Aperture producing.

7 votes: "Ricky Stanicky" by Jeff Bushell

For years, three lifelong friends have used an invented character named Ricky Stanicky to get out of sticky situations. When their wives demand a meeting with Ricky, the friends hire an actor to portray him.

Agent: WME -- Mike Esola

Manager: Smart Entertainment -- John Jacobs

Summit Entertainment. Michael De Luca Productions, Smart Entertainment producing.

7 votes: "Easy Money" by Noah Oppenheim

Based on the foreign film "Snabba Cash," a business-school student with substantial ambition works in strategy for a New York City criminal enterprise.

Agent: CAA -- Rowena Arguelles, Billy Hawkins

Manager: Management 360 -- Guymon Casady, Darin Friedman

Warner Bros. Atlas Entertainment, Ninjas Runnin' Wild Productions producing.

7 votes: "Zombie Baby" by Andy Jones

After the zombie apocalypse, a young couple unsure about whether to start a family has the decision made for them when they take in an orphaned zombie baby they don't have the heart to kill.

Manager: Alan Gasmer & Friends -- Alan Gasmer, Daniel Vang

Unnamed Yorn Co., Alan Gasmer & Friends producing

6 votes: "ATM" by Chris Sparling

Three co-workers end up in a desperate fight for survival when they stop to use an ATM.

Agent: UTA -- Charlie Ferraro, Doug Johnson

Manager: Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment -- Aaron Kaplan, Sean Perrone

Gold Circle Films, the Safran Co. producing

6 votes: "Boy Scouts vs. Zombies" by Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuko

A troop of Boy Scouts on their weekend camping trip must protect an island town from a zombie outbreak and save the local Girl Scout troop.

Agent: HML -- Bob Hohman, Bayard Maybank, Devra Lieb

Manager: Brucks Entertainment -- Bryan Brucks.

Paramount. Broken Road Productions producing.

6 votes: "The Ever After Murders" by Ian Fried

In a dark metropolis populated by characters from classical folklore, detectives Tom Thumb and Rachel Riding investigate a murder that brings them into contact with the city's most dangerous inhabitants.

Agent: WME -- Mike Esola

Manager: Prolific -- Will Rowbotham

6 votes: "Hovercar 3D" by Blaise Hemingway

Set in the future, an ex-con street racer has to transport a whistleblower across country in a high-speed hovercar with an army of authorities trying to stop them.

Agent: ICM -- Harley Copen, Ava Jamshidi

Beacon Pictures. Millar/Gough Ink producing.

6 votes: "Lola Versus" by Daryl Wein & Zoe Lister-Jones

A 29-year-old woman has to reevaluate her life after her longtime boyfriend calls off their wedding at the last minute.

Agent: The Gersh Agency -- Carolyn Sivitz

Manager: Management 360 -- Daniel Rappaport

Fox Searchlight. Groundswell Productions producing.

6 votes: "Prom" by Katie Wech

High school students prepare for their prom.

Agent: ICM -- Nicole Clemens, Todd Hoffman, Ava Jamshidi

Disney. Idealogy, Inc., producing.

6 votes: "Replay" by Jason Smilovic

Based on the Ken Grimwood novel. A man dies, wakes up in his 18-year-old body and has to relive his life over and over. With his original memory intact, he takes the opportunity to travel down roads he passed up the first time around.

Agent: CAA -- Risa Gertner, Jay Baker

Manager: Madhouse Entertainment -- Adam Kolbrenner

Warner Bros. Goldsmith-Thomas producing.

6 votes: "Sidney Grimes" by Brian Helgeland

A man just out of prison seeks revenge against his former partner who got him locked up.

Manager: Brillstein Entertainment Partners -- Missy Malkin

Todd Black, Billy Gerber producing

5 votes: "Alive Alone" by Khurram Longi

A London-based suicide bomber is having a crisis of conscience as he and his cell are planning an attack in the city. His female next-door neighbor, a drug addict and prostitute, has men who want to kill her after she witnessed the murder of her john. These two find solace in each other as they try to survive their respective situations.

Agent: Creative Artists Agency –- Robert Bookman, Martin Spencer

Sarah Radclyffe producing

5 votes: "The Flight of the Nez Perce" by E. Nicholas Mariani

The true story of Chief Joseph and his resistance to his tribe's relocation to a military settlement in Idaho during the 1800s.

Agent: United Talent Agency -- Charlie Ferraro, Jenny Maryasis

Manager: Circle of Confusion -- David Alpert, Britton Rizzio

5 votes: "... Jane Austen" by Blake Bruns

Two male friends angry at Jane Austen for creating unrealistic romantic expectations among women today get sent back in time to the 19th century. The only way for them to return home is for one of them to get Jane Austen to fall in love and sleep with him.

Manager: Brucks Entertainment –- Bryan Brucks

Brucks Entertainment producing

5 votes: "Hit and Run" by Owen Yarde

A young man discovers that the undertaker who recently hired him as his driver is actually a hit man for the mafia.

Agent: William Morris Endeavor –- Cliff Roberts, David Karp

5 votes: "Kitchen Sink" by Oren Uziel

A human teenager, a vampire and a zombie must save their town from an alien invasion.

Agent: International Creative Management –- Harley Copen

Manager: Circle of Confusion -– Britton Rizzio

5 votes: "O.K.C." by Clay Wold

An ambitious legal aide working for the Timothy McVeigh defense team tries to get to the bottom of what really happened during the Oklahoma City bombing.

Agent: United Talent Agency -- Charlie Ferraro, Barbara Dreyfus

Manager: Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment –- Aaron Kaplan, Sean Perrone

The Safran Co. producing

5 votes: "Ness/Capone" by Grant Myers

The true story of young Elliot Ness taking down Al Capone.

Agent: Paradigm –- Mark Ross

Manager: Gotham Group –- Jeremy Bell

5 votes: "Point A" by Chris Rubeo

An unconventional romantic comedy featuring a 30-year-old magazine writer and the subject of his newest piece, a witty, wise-beyond-her-years teenage video blogger.

Agent: International Creative Management –- Aaron Hart, Adam Weinstein

Manager: Tantillo Entertainment -- John Tantillo

5 votes: "Paint" by Brit McAdams

A Bob Ross-esque PBS painting-show host must fight for his career when his station brings in a rival painting host.

Agent: United Talent Agency -- Blair Kohan, Geoff Morley

Manager: The Collective –- Sam Maydew

Rip Cord Productions producing

5 votes: "Paper Airplane" by Sid Karger
After sabotaging another family vacation, a travel agent who's afraid to fly battles his irrational phobias to win back his wife and daughter.

Agent: William Morris Endeavor –- Mike Esola

Manager: Madhouse Entertainment -– Adam Kolbrenner

5 votes: "Serena" by Chris Kyle

In 1930s North Carolina, George Pemberton, with the help of his father's money, owns and runs a logging operation in the Smoky Mountains. George meets and marries Serena, a strong-willed, scheming, ambitious woman.

Agent: International Creative Management –- Robert Lazar

Nick Wechsler Productions, Exclusive Media Group producing

-- Nicole Sperling

Subscribe to this blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the right.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Here's One Way To Keep Your Writing on Track

This article from the Writers Store popped into my mail box. I thought it was worth sharing.

When it comes to making New Year's resolutions, we writers aren't exactly the norm.

Most people resolve to lose weight, dreaming of the day they can hold up their "fat jeans," as if in a weight-loss commercial. We want to hold up a few freshly printed scripts and know we've created something tangible.

Others might hope to finish their first triathlon this year. We hope to finish a screenplay, a one-hour pilot, and a half-hour comedy spec.

This year, I'm gonna write more. It's a popular resolution amongst our crowd. It's a great goal, but it's vague.

Then again, maybe some of us promised to write every day. That's even better.

But just like hitting a plateau at the gym, we sometimes lose the steam that once powered a new and exciting story idea. We take one day off, which turns into two days off; eventually, we find ourselves opening up a document only to realize it hasn't been touched in two weeks – or more.

Let's say you do write most of the time, but you take one or two days off each week for any number of reasons. That's still a lot of writing. But consider this: at the end of the year, that's roughly 10 weeks, or 2.5 months' worth of days that you didn't write anything.

That's where Jerry Seinfeld's productivity tip "Don't Break the Chain" comes in.

Years ago, when software developer Brad Isaac was performing stand-up at open mic nights, he received his best advice ever from the already-famous comedian.

Seinfeld explained his method for success: each January, he hangs a large year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he had the exquisite pleasure that can only come from drawing a big red "X" over that day.

Drawing those Xs got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it. Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs.

The idea was to never break that chain.

Not only does this approach program the body and mind to sit down and write daily – it also motivates you to continue that beautiful string of big, red Xs. If you don't write one day, you don't get to draw the X.

It doesn't particularly matter what you write. Blogs, articles, scripts, your memoir. It can be anything, as long as you're actively and routinely pushing yourself.

But let's say you're a screenwriter, and you take it a step further. You might decide that you only get an X for the days you work on your screenplays.

If you made progress on your scripts every single day for an entire year, how many could you finish? Two? Four? More? Now, imagine that you've finally gotten the ear of an agent, producer or director. If you don't break the chain for two or three years, chances are you'll end up with a script to please just about any buyer.

Learning from the pros is imperative in this business, but if you don't put their lessons into practice, it won't take you far. And while professional writers offer a wide range of ideas, they will all agree that discipline and determination must come first.

That means writing all the time. It means not believing in writer's block. It means turning off the television, silencing your phone, and finding some Shangri La that somehow does not yet have wireless internet.

First and foremost, it means making writing a major part of your life. To do that, you have to make writing a habit, just like going to the gym, eating healthy foods, or flossing - but harder.

There are countless excuses, most of them completely acceptable, which hold us back from writing. More often than not, it's our never-ending To-do lists that take precedence over our passion.

With Don't Break the Chain, writing, too, becomes a daily task that we have to cross off that To-do list. This method is a constant reminder that, if we want to succeed as writers, we must acknowledge our craft and respect the process.

Because the reality is, if you do work at your craft obsessively, you will find success. And if you do become a professional writer, you will need to write every day. Not only that, you'll be expected to prove that you can constantly produce worthwhile material, and the only way any of us can achieve that is to push ourselves tenaciously.

Who else is going to push you? For many, it's going to come down to self-determination. Your partner or parents or kids can encourage you, too. Let them know about the calendar. After you prove you can keep the chain connected for a couple of weeks, they too will motivate you not to miss a single day.
Find all the motivation you need to get started, because by teaching yourself to incorporate writing into your daily routine, you'll transform yourself into a professional.

Think of it this way: Your first day at a new job can be stressful. You might feel like you don't know where to park, when to show up, or how to answer your phone. Cut to a few months later. You've gotten into a routine. It's no longer intimidating. It is, simply, what you do.

The same idea applies to writing.

It's no wonder we tell ourselves we have writer's block some days, especially after leaving a story cold and dead for a whole month or more. Think of those big red Xs covering an entire calendar year as a fire stoking your creativity – and your writing career.

Of course, it's up to you whether you want to jump-start your career now rather than a few years down the line. If you want to do it now (a wise choice), Don't Break the Chain will get you moving right away – as in, immediately! TODAY!

The Writers Store was launched to provide writers with the tools necessary to help at any stage and in any medium of writing. That’s why we’re offering a free download of your own yearly calendar to print out.

Now, all you need is a pen – the color is up to you – and the goal to draw a big X over every single day.
Are you willing to see how much you can create over an entire year? Are you curious to find out what happens when you take a professional’s heartfelt advice and put it to good use?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Netflix Buttons Up For The TV-Internet Convergence

Netflix continues its juggernaut as the leader in the accelerating television-Internet convergence. This spring, TVs and other devices such as Blu-ray players are going to have a Netflix button on their remotes. I'd always assumed that the big networks (NBC, CBS, ABC) would become inconsequential in a few years. Now it looks like that might happen even sooner.
The Netflix button is promised to connect with streamed media instantly and without the hassle associated with some current Netflix-supporting devices. I can hardly wait.
At the urging of a friend, I finally got the courage to see The Human Centipede. Wow! Revulsion and non-stop tension galore. Just don't watch during dinner.

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Cheesy Moment Can't Ruin A Day In Hell

It's possible to like a movie despite it's shortcomings, especially if the story is delivering interesting characters, or at least putting its characters in increasing jeopardy that seems believable and logical.
Case in point is Sam Raimi's recent horror film, "Drag Me To Hell." The film places its heroine in mind-bending jeopardy, as only horror films can, and keeps the plot moving at a white-knuckle pace.
The story involves a bank loan officer (Alison Lohman) who, through understandable yet poorly conceived judgment, denies a loan extension to the wrong old woman--chaos and hysteria result.
Without giving too much away (SPOILER ALERT), there is a turning-point scene involving a key prop--the story's McGuffin, if you will. In the film's rare moment of lazy storytelling, the characters mishandle the McGuffin in such a way that it screams, "Plot Point."
What's irritating about this moment is not only that it's so easy to see through it and understand how our heroine is going to get herself out of this mess, the sloppiness takes us out of the moment and reminds us that we're watching a movie. Up to that point I was involved in the story and, best of all, not sure where I would be led next.
Still, even a cheesy moment can't sink the film entirely. This is, after all, a horror film, and they usually contain around 60 or so cheesy moments per movie. "Drag Me To Hell," by that standard, ain't doing so bad.