Thursday, February 09, 2012

When Creators Collide

I have no dog in this hunt whatsoever, but I was taken by the dueling blog posts between writer John Rozum and artist Scott McDaniel over the unfortunate creative process that developed while they were working on a recent DC comic series (Static Shock). Rozum felt cut out of the creative process early on and went public because he felt his writing career was taking a hit from the failure of a book that he essentially wasn't allowed to write. McDaniel, who was plotting and then more or less writing the book, went public in rebuttal, posting a lengthy piece on how things started well and then went very very bad. I suspect the moment when artist McDaniel pulled out a Robert McKee screenwriting book and read a passage to Rozum to make a point about writing craft was a special low point...

I've made it a personal policy of never broadcasting my creative disagreements publicly. (Sit me down with a drink, and I'll regale you with many a tale... but I will never put them into print/blog form). This doesn't mean I've never had creative disagreements -- there have been plenty, believe me. I've received sole credit on several television episodes that make me cringe -- because there are elements in the show that I didn't write and worse, really don't like. But I can't append pop-up balloons explaining "this stupid dialogue was NOT MINE!" or "yes, I know that plot twist was convenient, explain that to the other guy!" And as time rolls on I have the absurd confidence that I've done enough okay stuff not to sweat it when the odd clunker comes along. In the words of producer Larry Gordon, when confronted with the failure of a project: "next!" Some ask why I didn't remove my name from most egregious examples. Well, since residuals are tied to credit, that would be adding financial insult to creative injury. Or, to put it more bluntly, if I have to suffer the critical slings and arrows, then I'm damn well going to get paid for it!

(By the way, not to get too full of myself here, I have also written episodes where I cheerfully take personal responsibility for the odd clunker lines and/or bit that didn't quite work. But overall I'm more or less sanguine with my produced "stuff"...)

Anyway, I'm not sure either of the aggrieved parties in the Static Shock situation did themselves any favors by rinsing their dirty laundry in public. I understand that Rozum felt his career was taking an unfair hit because his name was attached to a high profile underachiever. And I understand McDaniel not wanting to let it go. It's just too bad it went that south in the first place, I guess. Links to the various blogs can be found in this post from Heidi McDonald's great site --


Blogger Muldfeld said...

While I understand your position from a personal professional perspective, not talking about things publicly hurts any history about that product. One of the coolest things Ron Moore did publicly was talk about his grievances working on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" to Cinescape and then to IGN (back when IGN did awesomely detailed interviews like this)

It helps fans understand a lot!

I've never been a "Star Wars" fan -- except briefly when I was 9 and I finally saw "Return of the Jedi" in full on NBC -- but it was great to read last year from Lucas' co-writer that Lucas had dumbed down the last movie to sell more toys. Wow.

These details help fans figure out what a writer's work really is and why it FEELS like their work in one instance and why it doesn't in another. For example, I doubt Ron Moore wants people thinking he writes crap like "Mission Impossible 2" or "The Thing".

And "Caprica" is better forgotten, given the apolitical work that occurred after Ron Moore's pilot and without the involvement in the writer's room of yourself and Mr. Angeli. Although I loved Michael Taylor's work on "Ghosts in the Machine," I could tell the follow-up episode wasn't up to his usual quality and didn't feel like his voice (just as the episodes ascribed to you and Mr. Angeli weren't in your voices), to the degree to which I've been able to figure that out.

So maybe it's not my right as a fan to know, but I just want to know, so that, if for any other reason, I know when it's worth investing my time in something. Not seeing "The Thing" (which I'd otherwise have assumed was partly in his vision) allowed me not to waste $13.

Ira Steven Behr seems to adopt a similar position to yours, but I'd love it if he'd spill the beans on why he was removed from Syfy's "Alphas". I LOVED his political work (exemplified by that kick ass season finale which felt like an ode to the progressivism of the Occupy movement before Occupy started!) and I'm sure the show won't be as good or have as much of a conscience without him.

12:50 AM  
Blogger Muldfeld said...

Even if people don't want to talk conflict, though. I'm sure you'd agree it's great when writers express their shared pain over the cancellation of a series. "The 4400" got better and more political when Ira Behr got more control, including the pop song selection that went from cheesy Top 40 to stuff like "The Pixies"' "Where Is My Mind". It was heart-breaking when the show was cruelly cancelled by USA and we fans were in so much pain, so it was a great comfort to know Mr. Behr felt the same way:

"it's a drag, isn't it"
paul mccartney's response to
john lennon's murder.

what an a$$hole
i remember thinking
when i first saw
the newsclip
of mccartney's
casual reaction
to such an overwhelming

but i was

lennon's death
it's stunning
gut wrenching
was so immediate
so fraught
that no adequate response
was possible
no response
was even
the event
for itself.


what does the death
of a musical/cultural icon
have to do
with the
of a tv series?

fair question

i'll try to explain

what i'll
miss most
about the 4400
aren't the actors
i have only
warm feelings
toward them all
or even
my co-writers
my partner
in crime
craig sweeny
the way
the business works
we can always
find ourselves
toiling away
on some other


what i'm going
to miss most
about the 4400
are the characters
the characters
have ceased to exist
their stories
are over

which is why

to me
it feels like

tom baldwin
is dead
diana skouris
is dead
jordan collier
is dead
shawn farrell
is dead
kyle baldwin
is dead
even garrity
and on
and on
and on

it's a drag
isn't it?

ira steven behr

1:12 AM  

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