Tuesday, January 29, 2008

WGA Strike - Days 84, 85, 86

Not much to report on this end since I've been taken "out of town" on urgent family business, so I'm just watching the news like everyone else, fingers crossed for the best. United Hollywood (see url to the right) has an interesting and disturbing "worst case scenario" posted for those who would like to wallow in despair. I would prefer to hope for the best at the moment...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

WGA Strike - Day 83

Mark Evanier has another excellent piece up at his blog, this time on the ever-thrilling rumor mill churning over WGA strike developments.


I can attest to the rampaging "rumors" situation; I received an almost panicked e-mail yesterday claiming negotiations has completely broken down, then read that things were actually all peachy at Nikke Finke's site (see url to the right for Deadline Hollywood). And I have no idea of either is true, not that I doubt Nikke's reporting, but who knows why people are talking to reporters and if there may be another agenda at play.

Mark's sage advice is to expect another bump or two in the road before this mess resolves. On that, I agree completely. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst...

Friday, January 25, 2008

WGA Strike - Days 81, 82 TORNADO Edition

Nothing like hearing a siren blare then watch a crawl across the television screen warning of tornadoes in your neighborhood. I'm sure this is a fairly regular situation in tornado prone areas, but Los Angeles? Not so much. And I thought Wednesday's wind and rain storm during picketing was extreme. Sheesh!

In the news, both Lionsgate and Marvel have signed interim agreements with the WGA while informal talks between the Guild and the AMPTP theoretically continue. (I say theoretically because with this on-going strike-news blackout, nobody except those closest to the negotiations really knows.) Fingers remain crossed in this tornado-prone area that the talks are proving productive... but otherwise, we're in a holding pattern until something substantive develops.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Casino The Movie and Lefty/Ace...

After watching the movie Casino, did you wonder what ever became of the Ace Rothstein character? "Ace," played by Robert DeNiro, was actually a thinly veiled version of Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust casino in the 70's and '80's and enjoyed a... remarkable life. If you're curious, you can check up on Frank's recent activities by going to his very own website (!)...


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WGA Strike - Day 80 -- RAIN Edition

I've been a little under the weather, so naturally I get back on the picket line just in time for a mighty wind and rain storm. My umbrella turned inside-out, my first sign melted away into scraps of cardboard and I managed to get soaked to the skin. Just another fun-filled day outside the NBC Studios. I doff my chapeau toward all the hardy NYC picketers, who brave far more extreme weather and do so on a regular basis. Me, I put on a jacket when it dips below 65...

The news black-out re: strike info continues, so it's still wait and see for those of us manning the barricades...

Elvis Costello's "This Year's Model" Turns 30...

And to celebrate, Universal Music's releasing another "Deluxe Edition" on March 4, similar to last year's "My Aim Is True." We're talking bonus tracks and a second disc with a live E.C. & the Attractions concert from 1978. Here's the track listing:



1 No Action
2 This Year's Girl
3 The Beat
4 Pump It Up
5 Little Triggers
6 You Belong To Me
7 Hand In Hand
8 (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea
9 Lip Service
10 Living In Paradise
11 Lipstick Vogue
12 Night Rally
13 Radio, Radio

Bonus material: B-sides,demos, live tracks, alternates, etc.

14 Big Tears
15 Crawling To The USA
16 Tiny Steps
17 Running Out Of Angels (demo version)
18 Greenshirt (demo version)
19 Big Boys (demo version)
20 Neat Neat Neat (live)
21 Roadette Song (live)
22 This Year's Girl (alternate Eden Studios version)
23 (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea (alternate
Basing Street Studios version)

Live At The Warner Theater, Washington, DC, February 28, 1978


1 Pump It Up*
2 Waiting For The End Of The World*
3 No Action*
4 Less Than Zero*
5 The Beat*
6 (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes*
7 (I Don't Want To Go To) Chelsea*
8 Hand In Hand*
9 Little Triggers*
10 Radio, Radio*
11 You Belong To Me*
12 Lipstick Vogue*
13 Watching The Detectives*
14 Mystery Dance*
15 Miracle Man*
16 Blame It On Cain*
17 Chemistry Class

* Previously Unreleased

More details at: http://www.harpmagazine.com/news/detail.cfm?article=12156

Incidentally, there's been some on-line fan griping about this latest release, which is at least the fifth major reissue of the original album since CDs were born. I have five CD versions myself, from the original Columbia release through the Rykodisc reissues, the Rhino reissues, the Japanese "cardboard sleeve" reproductions and last year's "just the album" re-master from Universal. And for all that, I'll definitely pony up for the next wave, and I really don't understand why folks are cranky about the release. If you don't want to part with another $30 for the live show, then... don't! See, unlike the reasoning of the fellow quoted in the Bear McCreary post below, there actually is an alternative between buying the music and stealing it. And that is "going without." I know, I know, that way lies madness, but it IS an option...

Bear McCreary's Battlestar Blog...

Battlestar Galactica composer Bear McCreary has a must-read post up at his blog, prompted by the italicized blog-comment I've copied below...

“Bear, No offense, but I’ve been spoiled by itunes. I’ve come to appreciate the ability to purchase a song from an album without having to purchase the whole album. That being said, and again, no offense, but I really have no interest in buying your album to hear one song. I really dig your version of “…Watchtower”, but not enough to go through the hassle of purchasing the whole album online. I have to admit that I would probably like your other music too, but, that’s besides the point, I would love to purchase your version of “All along the Watchtower”, but if it’s not available as a single, you’ll lose my support. I’ll just wait till someone uploads it to a bit torrent site and get it for free. Wouldn’t you rather get paid for your work?”

Click to Bear's site for his response, but me, I'm just impressed with this poster's brass. In a note to the guy who actually recorded the song, the comments-writer blithely tells Bear that since Bear hasn't released his recording of Watchtower on i-tunes, well, then he's just going to steal it. Yes, the unbelievable hassle of ordering the CD on-line (a click or two on Amazon, see below, I'll make it easy for you!) forces him to rip off music from a composer he theoretically enjoys. And then, and here's where the sheer brass comes into play, he has the audacity to blame Bear for forcing him to take this step.

Let's translate that into other retail situations. You're in a 7/11 and you really want a Twinkie, but just one Twinkie and all they have are the two-packs. So you tell the clerk, "no offense, but I only want one Twinkie, and since you don't sell the one-Twinkie packs, and it's a hassle to go to a store that stocks them, I'm just going to steal one. Better get those one-Twinkie packs ASAP, though, because I'm sure you'd rather get paid for your product."

Bear's response to the poster is considerably more... nuanced. Check it out at:


And if you're ready to go through the "hassle" of ordering Bear's CD online, here's a link:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WGA Strike - Days 77, 78, 79

Back channel negotiations between the AMPTP and the WGA are beginning, hopefully to lead toward formal negotiations where we can reach deal nirvana, that glorious place where all sides can walk away feeling like they got something. The WGA's opted for another news blackout during this period, and there's no secret "members only" conduit (Nikke Finke at Deadline:Hollywood doesn't count), so for now it's just wait and see.

I've been under the weather and so off the line the last couple of days, but word from my sources say the mood continues to be "determined." And I've got strike on the brain... I was watching an episode of MONK the other day and there was one of those great "TV" strikes, where the agitated picketers are all shaking non-specific signs ("Unfair!") and screaming with great vigor. All I could think was, boy, I'd have been gasping after fifteen minutes of all that frenzied screaming and shaking. Real life long-term picketing tends to be a little less dramatic, I guess...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Robert Gordon On Conan O'Brian

My favorite rockabilly stylist made a rare appearance on U.S. TV this month, doing a number on Conan O'Brian's show. I guess this means Robert crossed the WGA picket line, but when he sings so purty it's hard (for me) to get too cranky...

Incidentally, Gordon's Elvis tribute album is really, really good...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Random Pop Culture Comments...

The movie Cloverfield is a wild ride, and for once I mean that almost in the literal sense. I sat close to the screen for this baby and the shaky-cam almost made me nauseous, and this from a guy who works on shaky ol' Battlestar Galactica. (Jeez, I thought even low-end video cameras had image stabilizing built into them these days...)

Springsteen's current, live tour version of "Reason To Believe" is amazing. For Southern California types, the upcoming April Anaheim Pond stint is a must see.

The latest issue of The Comics Journal (Jan. 2008) has an interesting article on Mort Weisinger, legendary editor of the craziest silver-age Superman comics and (evidently) legendary jerk. His son is quoted as having fond memories of spending the day with Dad and watching him ream some unfortunate writer or artist (!). For more insightful psychoanalysis, you'll have to buy the mag...

The great rock band The Smithereens will be recording tracks for a new live album starting the end of January in lovely New Jersey. Check out lead singer Pat Dinizio's site (http://patdinizio.com) for the gruesome details.

WGA Strike - Days 75, 76

So a little time has passed and some analysis has been done on the DGA's deal with the AMPTP, and whether it makes sense as a springboard for the WGA. Evidently informal talks have started between the WGA negotiators and the other side, which is an enormous first step. Meanwhile, controversy reigns re: the details of the DGA agreement, to the point where I'm not sure the actual nitty-gritty of the agreement have actually been made public or available to the WGA negotiating team yet.

Personally, and based on this limited info, I'm still sorting it out. But here are some places to go for varied and differing views on the DGA agreement and what it means for writers.

First, television producer John Wells has weighed in with a laudatory opinion. I worked with John a few years back on a pilot and consider him one of the true good guys in this racket. You can find that piece at http://artfulwriter.com/?p=318

(Hat-tip for the Wells letter to Mark Evanier, whose own http://www.newsfromme.com/ remains an invaluable resource as well.)

As always, http://unitedhollywood.blogspot.com has a flurry of good information about the DGA deal and the WGA's official reaction at the moment.

Meanwhile, over at the Huffington Post, writer Robert Elisberg reflects on the "why now" of it all: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-j-elisberg/

I'll post more as it becomes available...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Another MY NAME IS BRUCE Poster?

I'm not sure if this is real or a fan creation (hey, I only wrote the movie, don't ask me for intimate details), but it's kinda fun. Bruce is VERY serious here...


EVIL DEAD #1 - The Reviews Keep Slashing In!

Another nice review from Horror Yearbook... Ash lives!


Here's To Better Times...

Think back to a time when there was no strike, when studio and artist worked together in bliss and harmony, and when a simple wine-cooler could solve almost any problem...


(It's two parts, you will be directed to the second at You Tube.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

WGA Strike - Days 73, 74

I was just about to write another "well, two more days on the picket line" post when events overtook me. The Director's Guild Of America has announced they've managed to make a deal with the AMPTP and the details are just being released. I haven't had a chance to read enough to make a cogent comment, but... I like that there's some sort of movement. The devil, of course, is in the details. And as the next couple days ensue, I'm sure there will be plenty of those to discuss.

But for now? It's wait and see...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA Writers Scare President Of Pakistan!

At least that's what Jon Stewart on "A Daily Show" (not "The" Daily Show until his writers come back) told a guest on Monday's (1/14) show. According to Stewart, and I know he's telling the truth, the President of Pakistan won't come back on his show because that weenie won't dare cross the picket line and go face-to-face with a group of Battlestar Galactica writers. Hey, I don't blame the guy. Even I get a little scared when we're all together. Jane Espenson, especially, is one surly hombre. And Ron Moore? He put Col. Tigh's eye out!!

So world leaders, be careful! Since we can't write, BSG's staff is out there on the loose. Just... waiting.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Great EVIL DEAD #1 Review!

Deadites everywhere agree, it's grrrrrrEAT! Check out another good review at:


WGA Strike - Days 71, 72

"Endgame scenarios." Be great if the conversation actually began to turn toward resolutions. Rumor has it that the DGA is close to announcing a deal with the AMPTP, which could mean... a lot of things.

I finally met Robert Elisberg during my ill-fated sojourn to Las Vegas, and his commentary on the strike continues to be extremely interesting. Check out his latest at the Huffington Post re: the rumors of a pending DGA settlement (still, at this writing, just a rumor) and how that potentially impacts the WGA.


BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - Crossroads Part 2, #2 Best Episode Of The Year!

A top fifty list from our friends at Futon Critic names Crossroad Part Deux the #2 best episode of television in 2007. And who am I to argue? The list and more at:


(Thanks again to Anne Cofell-Saunders for the tip!)

Sunday, January 13, 2008

EVIL DEAD #1 - It's on the stands. Yes, really!

Years in the making, months in the printing, weeks in the shipping, EVIL DEAD #1 is finally on the funny book stands. I just made Kevin Smith a few cents richer by buying two copies from his new "Secret Stash" store nestled in the back of Laser Blazer, my favorite Los Angeles DVD store. (My good friends at Dark Horse Comics neglected to provide any "advance" copies and I wanted to see how it looked.)

Incidentally, I read a review where someone assumed that since the EVIL DEAD series has been gestating for so long, something must be "wrong" that prevented a more timely release. Umm, "no." Basically, this was a case where two really busy boys (me and painter John Bolton) were given the time to realistically fit this baby in our schedules. So, no, Dark Horse wasn't cringing and waiting for some opportune moment to slip this in under the radar; rather, they waited for us to finish the entire four issue series and then solicited it. I believe that's called "responsible publishing." So get out there and snatch it off the stands before it's too late!

WGA Strike - Days 69, 70

Another weekend passes, but at least there have been some new developments. The WGA is hinting that more deals with splinter studios are on the way, while the DGA has started negotiating with the AMPTP. If they can make a deal for themselves that translates into something acceptable for writers, hey, more power to them. As always, my friend Mark Evanier offers some interesting and cogent handicapping of the situation:


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Best LAW AND ORDER Episode Yet!


(Thanks for Anne Cofell-Saunders for the tip!!)

WGA Strike - Days 65, 66, 67, 68

And so it goes, on and on... sounds like the Weinstein Company will be making a deal with the WGA, joining United Artists and Worldwide Pants in accepting the Guild's terms. All of which suggests that the deal offered by the WGA in the beginning were less the ravings of diabolical madmen intent on destroying the industry than the some fairly reasonable requests from the guys who, you know, come up with a lot of this so-called "content."

But I guess everyone wants to be a writer these days. Sounds like a Fox employee was trying to pitch a LAW AND ORDER story to showrunner Rene Balcer, "angry driver runs over famous writer in crosswalk!", when things got a little out of hand. And now our friend Nikke Finke says there is a concerted disinformation campaign going on on various blog sites to demoralize writers. May I make a suggestion? Rather than running down writers in crosswalks and throwing money at expensive lobbyists so they can infiltrate blogs (!), why not go back to negotiations and end this?

EVIL DEAD #1 - Book Of The Week!

Even though I haven't seen a copy yet, I'm assuming EVIL DEAD the first (written by yours truly, painted by the amazing John Bolton) has finally hit the stands. Check out a very nice review at:


Monday, January 07, 2008

WGA Strike BREAKING NEWS: Famous Mark Verheidens Thrown Out Of The Wynn!

Dateline: Las Vegas. Me, Jane Espenson and some nice fans gathered to pass out some informational WGA leaflets to passing Consumer Electronics Show journalists inside the Wynn casino this evening. That is, we WERE passing them out until hotel security told us to, well, leave. I thought we were being quite polite, but evidently someone decided to be snitty. Having seen Scorsese's CASINO far too many times, we hit the bricks as ordered. Oh, the shame.

Ironically, the Wynn is the very same casino/hotel where the BSG staff sat down last year this time to start discussing BATTLESTAR season four. There is also some small irony in being tossed out of a "press" event, first amendment and all that. But perhaps the largest irony is that I actually have a slot hostess at the Wynn, after some heavy play at that self-same BSG season-four breaking session. "Oh well..."

WGA Strike - Days 63, 64 - Las Vegas Edition!

In a change of pace, this evening (Monday 1/7) I'll be joining Battlestar Galactica writer/co-executive producer Jane Espenson in a bit of leafleting and discussion in front of the Alsace Ballroom at the Wynn hotel/casino in Lost Wages, I mean Las Vegas, Nevada. Right now we're planning to be there from 7:00PM to 8:00PM.

The event is the big Consumer Electronics show, where it seems Bill Gates has just announced a bunch of new internet related media deals with NBC and others. (You remember the internet. It's that thing that doesn't make any money for anybody.) Anyhow, BSG fans, writers and friends are invited to drop by and offer your support!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

EVIL DEAD The Comic - Interview

I discuss the upcoming EVIL DEAD comic series over at THE PULSE... according to one funny book site, the first issue's now coming out on Wednesday Jan. 9. It's so evil it doesn't want to be born! Anyhow, for some images and palaver, go to:


WGA Strike - Days 61, 62 - United Artists Edition!

According to the ever-reportorial Nikke Finke (see the Deadline Hollywood url to the right), Tom Cruise and United Artists are going to break from the AMPTP tomorrow (Sunday) and sign on to the WGA's contractual proposals. It's still a rumor at this point and we've seen a lot of rumors fizzle to nothing, but if true, it is a significant development. UA isn't the biggest studio player out there, but it's an honest-to Gosh AMPTP studio and this will give them a leg up on their competitors. Basically, they can get back to producing films. Which is kinda all anybody wants at this point...

More if/when the news is actually confirmed...

Friday, January 04, 2008


There's a very cool two-page, full color BATTLESTAR spread in the 1/11 ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY. Interesting shots of most of the cast and some cagey hints at season four by Ron Moore. Prepare yourselves for lots of steamy looks and one character brandishing a knife (!). Yipes!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

WGA Strike - Day 59, 60

Well, LATE NIGHT went back on with writers, LENO without, and the world didn't spin off its axis. I don't do politics much on this blog, but it does seem like a pretty dumb move on Mike Huckabee's part to cross a picket line first chance he could and do Leno. Evidently Huck shrugged his shoulders and said he thought there had been a waiver granted to ALL late night shows, but even once that had been straightened out, he still did his schtick... so much for "labor friendly."

And according to Nikke Finke, some big name writers (she names one) have recently gone financial core. Unfortunately, the guy she "outs" is a fairly well know media personality and hence gets more attention than some. Until it's confirmed I will withhold judgment, but if true... it's pretty damn sad.

And as we hit day 60...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Per our friend Hercules at Ain't It Cool news... check out the entire, EXTREMELY perceptive list at:


Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Per Boston Now's perceptive critic... check out the full list at:


WGA Strike - Days 54, 55, 56, 57, 58

Day 58 lands on New Year's, and I'm hoping there was good (non-uber-windy) weather over the Rose Parade for the fans4writers skywriting campaign.

I've been away from my computer and my blog for a few days, and there have been some new developments. Hopefully no one is actually getting strike "news" from my blog, because you'll be woefully behind, but the big development last weekend was making a deal with David Letterman's company so his shows (Late Night and the Craig Ferguson show) could get back on the air with writers intact. I have to admit, I had mixed feelings about this move, specifically about allowing a CBS profit center back on the air while we're still trying to make an overall deal with the AMPTP, but any misgivings are mitigated by two things. One, I'm sure the WGA negotiating committee argued the same points to death before making this move and two, there needs to be movement to break the logjam. Whatever else the Wordwide Pants deal is, it IS movement.

Nikke Finke some quoted "angry feature writers" who vowed to get back to work right now, because he or she is fed up with being on strike for issues that only affect television. Here's the commentary from Finke's column to Deadline Hollywood (url to the right).

"Before today's announcement, I received phone calls and emails from some well-known WGA members, especially feature film writers, angry that the WGA was even contemplating such an agreement while at the same time dumping those issues important to screenwriters like possessory credit, free rewrites and endless meetings without pay. They told me they planned to stop picketing and possibly go Fi-Core over what they see as a strike that's become more about television that movies.

Tonight I've managed to reach one of those successful screenwriters who phoned me and he's furious. "I'm going back to work," he said, asking me not to use his name. "I have gotten five phone calls tonight from feature writers and every single one of them has said some variation on, 'Bullshit on this. Why am I looking at staying out of work until April when these guys are going to start picking up paychecks on Tuesdays?'"

The writer continued: "All you're doing every time a movie or TV star goes on Letterman is making money for a member of the AMPTP. If you're going to strike GM, then you strike GM. You don't say, 'We're going to give a waiver to the guys making pickup trucks because they're really good guys.'" You don't maintain solidarity by letting a handful of guys go back to work. So what's next: Lorne's people go back to work? Then Colbert's people go back to work?"

This guy is essentially making my earlier point, so I have some sympathy, but not to the point of going financial core or scabbing. And I find myself getting tired of people suggesting that issues important to television writers have no effect on feature writers. As someone with size 15's firmly in both camps, I'll note that getting coverage on projects released over the internet is going to be vitally important in both arenas. And these feature folks shouldn't be surprised if one day the television world comes knocking, in which case suddenly all these TV issues will be VERY important. I sold 14 feature screenplays my first few years in the screenwriting business and never even considered a career in television until, well, I had a career in television.

I can't get back to wrapping up the final season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA or continue working on the two features I have pending, so believe me, I know frustration. But going off the rails because Letterman's writers are back to work isn't the answer. The (unfortunately corny, but so it goes) answer is sticking it out, trusting the negotiating committee and getting a fair deal.

Oh, and... Happy New Year...