Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Name Is Bruce PICS! 86 of 'em!

For those still curious about our little epic, here's a link to 86 (!) different still shots taken during MY NAME IS BRUCE. Coming to... a theater, television, DVD, via download, SOMEWHERE soon...


On Writing and Process...

Interesting piece into today's Salon dealing with what it is to be a "writer." First, read the reader's question and the columnist's answer here:


I'm always intrigued by writing theory, and I'm sure many folks adhere to the tenets presented here. But when people ask me why I like to write, I usually quote the W.P. Mayhew character played by John Mahoney in Barton Fink. As in, "I just like making things up." Like many heartfelt endeavors, I think it's possible to both over and under-think the underlying principles of an "artform," be it commercial, personal or somewhere in between.

I knew a writer some years back who considered completing a paragraph of his latest novel a good day's work. Me, I would find that sort of painstaking pace maddening, but his working method required the sort of obsessional dedication (*) identified in the Salon piece. These anecdotal tales often end with "and incidentally, he never sold one of his books", but in fact he did, and his novels (the second, as I recall, took close to ten years to write) were well received, sold fairly well, were optioned for movies, etc.

The Salon piece also talks about writing as a vehicle for self-examination. That, of course, is one perfectly valid reason to sit down at the keyboard. But I've always felt that writing in about communicating, too... presenting your ideas to others because you have this crazy idea there may be some value in your point of view. I suppose that's why I blog instead of scribbling this nonsense in a private journal. I kinda know what's scrambling around in my head; presenting it in a more public forum is the way I exorcise my pesky idea-demons...

I recall another acquaintance, some years ago, who met me for lunch to chat and brought with him a bulky manila envelope. He never once mentioned the envelope or its contents, though. I just assumed it was something he had bought outside the restaurant, but later his wife explained that her husband has spent the last several years writing a novel, but now he was stymied. Because it was done, but he didn't have the courage to show it to anyone. He was so terrified of rejection, of all that effort being denigrated by an outsider, that he was essentially paralysed into inaction.

It's not like I don't understand that feeling. I do think people (especially in the movie and television business) forget that even the most commercial writing venture involve the writer putting some piece of him/herself on the page. When those pages are criticized, it's hard not to take it personally. Indeed, one of the most important skills required of anyone trying to make a career in screenwriting is "how to take notes." Both how to assimilate them, understand where they are coming from, and then how to move on. Anyone who has done television knows what it's like to complete an outline or even a script and then have the whole thing jettisoned because it's just not working. Early in my so-called career, I decided on a "three hour" rule for such (fortunately rare) events. I allow myself three hours to lament, curse, point out to anyone who will listen that my way was right and the world is unfair. Then I force myself to start the next one.

But that's me. I suppose I used to think that writing "for yourself" was a bit of a wank, but these days I'm much less judgemental. Because basically that's what we're all doing, whether it's writing for Battlestar Galactica or poetry or book five of our personal journal...

(*) Re: obsessional dedication to writing, note that instead of sleeping in, I am writing blog entries...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Battlestar Related Stuff...

I've sent my latest batch of answers off to Comicmix.com, this week regarding the fine episode "Escape Velocity", so that should go up on their site sometime Monday. Meanwhile, this week's episode, "The Road Less Traveled", was written by yours truly, so if you have any questions that just DEMAND answers after you see it, I'm your guy. You can check out the trailer over at Galactica Sitrep (see right for the url) or, I think, on Sci-Fi site. Curious about Kara and her much ballyhooed "destiny?" Then the next two episodes are for you.

Meanwhile, production continues on the final five... episodes, that is. And that's about all I can say about that. Though I can promise (yes, scout's honor) that there are still many BSG thrills and spills to come. As to when they'll come, that's in the trusted hands of the Sci-Fi channel folks. So that's one question you might as well not ask me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

This Week On Battlestar Galactica: Escape Velocity!

Things heat up for Baltar and his newfound acolytes, and Tyrol deals with the aftermath of last week's dark turn. Directed by Admiral Adama himself, and written by ace BSG scribe-er person Jane Espenson!

Friday night at 10:00PM on the Sci-Fi channel, with a repeat showing at midnight. See it!!

My New Favorite Band Name...

"Candygram for Mongo", opening for the Smithereens in Los Angeles at the Crash Palace, May 15. Go to crashpalace.com for details, ticket info and more! $20 a ticket, that can't beat. On the same L.A. swing, the Smithereens are also playing Hollywood Park (!) and the old standby, "The Coachhouse" in San Juan Capistrano.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

WGA Letter and Financial Core...

There has been some small controversy over a letter released by the WGA leadership last week, identifying the people who opted to go "financial core" during the recent strike. When you choose that option, you are free to work during a strike and, at any point, for non-Guild companies, while still enjoying most of the benefits of Guild membership. Mark Evanier discusses both the WGA's letter and the entire fi-core controversy at his blog...


Battlestar Questions ANSWERED! At ComicMix.com!

My latest set of answers to fan queries about last weeks new episode of Battlestar Galactica, "The Ties That Bind," is up at comicmix.com. No spoilers (unless you haven't seen the episode, in which case, watch first, read second!). I believe the site takes questions as each episode airs, then gets them to me by Sunday, so if you want to join the fun, e-mail them after the next show airs and I'll try to answer what comes in...

Smithereens Are LIVE! New CD For May...

Here's the straight scoop on their latest effort, a live record from 2008 that promises to be another high energy slice of rock nirvana. Or something like that. Press release from singer/songwriter Pat Dinizio's site...

KOCH Records is pleased to announce the newest album by rock band The Smithereens.

"Live In Concert - Greatest Hits and More" features music from The Smithereens' four-night stint at The Court in New Brunswick, New Jersey, a musical home away from home for the group, which took place January 30th - February 2nd, 2008.

The band, all hailing from surrounding Central Jersey towns, played the Court Tavern often at the start of their career.

The album features live recordings of two brand new songs, "Any Other Way" and "Since You Went Away."

The set also includes Buddy Holly's classic (and a big influence for The Smithereens) "Well Alright," and the ripping interpretation of the "Batman" theme, a live staple for the band.

For the past 25 years, The Smithereens have toured non-stop, recording and releasing Gold and Platinum albums that spawned Top 40 radio hits such as "A Girl Like You," "Too Much Passion," "Blood And Roses," "Only a Memory" and "Behind The Wall Of Sleep."

But at the beginning of that long and successful road, the loved group spent many sweaty, rock filled evenings in the damp, close quartered basement of The Court.

Live at The Court takes us back to that hallowed ground and brings back the energy and edginess that was present at the beginning of The Smithereens' career.

The club was packed for every performance, and the love and energy for the Smithereens is evident on each track.

This album features the Smithereens in their natural habitat, playing great music for their hometown fans. It shines a light on the love of their fans, and what the group is about.

For more information go to www.officialsmithereens.com

Track Listing:

1. Behind The Wall of Sleep

2. Drown in My Own Tears

3. Miles from Nowhere

4. Room Without a View

5. Only a Memory

6. House We Used to Live In

7. Spellbound

8. Since You Went Away

9. She's Got a Way

10. Yesterday Girl

11. Well Alright

12. Especially For You

13. Any Other Way

14. Top of the Pops

15. Time and Time Again

16. Blood And Roses

17. A Girl Like You

18. Batman

Monday, April 21, 2008

Nana Visitor on BSG and Decapitation...

Actress Nana Visitor, who co-stars in the BSG season four episode "Faith" (look for it in about three weeks), chats about her love for all things Battlestar, her life on Star Trek and getting her head lopped off playing Mrs. Voorhees in the up-coming remake of Friday The 13th. Now there's a pop culture trifeca for ya!


Bruce Campbell's Revamped Site!

Bruce Campbell's rejiggered his website and now it's uber-swank and cool, just like "the man", with an embed of the My Name Is Bruce movie trailer, production details, a spoilerific synopsis and other goodies. Also a new piece of info, that Bruce will have premieres in Portland Or., Los Angeles and elsewhere this Fall. There are also links for Bruce Campbell merchandise and other cool stuff. Take a look at:


Friday, April 18, 2008

Great Review of "Six Of One."

A very thoughtful analysis of the second regular episode of Battlestar Season 4...


The Spongetones Are "Too Clever By Half"...

I've been a fan of the band "The Spongetones" since 1982, when I picked up a vinyl copy of their first album, "Beat Music." Their heavily Beatles-influenced tunes were a welcome reprieve from the droney "new wave" craze of the time, with super clever lyrics and inventive melodies. They've been at it ever since, and "Too Clever By Half" is their brand new effort. More super-catchy, upbeat songs in the Fab Four vein, and a generous sample at that, with 18 total tracks.

If you see a copy, you'll notice a "thank you" to yours truly in the liner notes. The Spongetones have been self-financing their recordings for a few years now, solciting small donations from their diehard fans to pay for studio time, etc. It seems this is becoming the way of the future for niche bands, which frees them from the demands of a record label and provides them the freedom to make music their way. Another local L.A. singer, Jill Sobule, recently raised $75,000 to finance her new collection by selling personalized phone-machine jingles, bithday greetings and doing house shows. Might not be for everyone, but having hosted a house show by the 3/4 of the Smithereens a few years back, I will say it can be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

BSG Episode 415 - That's A Wrap!

We finished shooting episode 415 yesterday afternoon, in time for me to catch the last flight back to L.A. for a little much needed shut-eye. (Not to say production is endlessly grueling, but there can be some pretty long days.) I stole my BSG producer's chair seat back (with my name and the BSG logo) after the last "cut!" and that, in terms of my scripts for the show, is that.

Of course, there's still lots to do, i.e., seven more episodes to hone and shoot, and to be honest this was a great one to go out on, writing-wise. I am precluded from offering even the vaguest hints re: the show's content, but I don't think anyone will be shocked if I suggested the show's journey takes us down paths that would have been unthinkable even a season ago. I mean, could you imagine an episode pivoting on whether it'll be angel food or an ice-cream cake for the big surprise birthday party? Me either, and of course that's not what the episode's about at all...

Meanwhile, THIS week on Battlestar Galactica (Friday at 10:00 PM on the Sci-Fi Channel!), trouble brews among the newly minted Cylons. I will continue to answer a few viewer questions after each new episode over at comicmix.com, so keep your eyes peeled...

Monday, April 14, 2008

On Killing Your Babies...

I was talking with a director friend last night about writing and directing and all that, and it turned out we both had experienced the same odd epiphany over the years. Somehow, it always seems like that one bit that is your absolute favorite moment in a script (or, in his case, a first cut) is inevitably the one that you have to drop, sooner or later.

It really is true. In almost every Battlestar that I've done, I've hatched some curious turn on a phrase or quirky twist on a scene that gives ME no end of pleasure, but ultimately ends up being cut before shooting, cut during shooting or left lying fallow on the cutting room floor.

Now, anyone who writes television or film for a living develops a pretty thick skin when it comes to making changes and/or cuts; there just isn't time to be precious, especially when you're shooting. Just last week, because occasionally scenes will take more time to shoot than you originally imagined, I had a lose a (short) sequence on the fly and rejigger another to cover for the missing plot information. (Trust me, you'll never miss it.) That is the business of production and it happens every day.

But this is different. Why do our favorites, "our babies", always seem to perish on the road to production? I'm beginning to think it's because they are so "personal", in the "this works for me, but only because of my own individual attitude/sense of humor/political slant" sense, and not because the moment is essential to telling the story. I'd like to think I'm "professional" enough not to bend a story like a pretzel just to hold on to one quirky moment. But the truth is, when you step back and take a clear-eyed, dispassionate look at many of these moments, you often realize, huh. We really didn't need that, did we?

That said, as I get all contradictory on your ass, sometimes you DO need those idiosyncratic moments. I remember watching a cut of an upcoming BSG episode where what I thought was an absolute critical, crux emotional moment of the story had somehow fallen out of an early cut. In that case I lobbied for its return, and the scene DID make it in. (When that episode airs, I'll try to point out the scene...) I guess it's all part of what makes this racket so darn interesting...

Sunday, April 13, 2008


The final installment in my four part comic book adaptation of EVIL DEAD the movie is on the stands, so pick up a copy, pick up ten copies, and finish the set! This is probably my favorite issue, both 'cause things are in full demon-slaughter mode, and artist John Bolton gives us a killer full page shot of Ash preparing to do battle with the Kandarian bad guys. If the letters pages in the back are any indication, folks seem pretty happy with the end result...

I haven't heard the details, but I suspect a book compilation of the series may be in the offing. Meanwhile, if you're jonesing for some hardcore Ashleigh action, check out the comics!

Six Of One Q & A at ComicMix.com

I just sent along answers to ten questions about the last BSG episode, "Six of One." Look for them to be posted at comicmix.com sometime early this week...

Cool Battlestar Galactica Swag


These guys have produced a series of fun art-decoish BSG posters, you can check them out at their site. I get absolutely nothing from their sale, but I saw a set hanging around the Vancouver production offices and thought they were cool.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Battlestar Galactica Stuff

First of all, hopefully everyone is watching the new episodes! FRIDAY NIGHT at 10:00PM on the Sci-Fi Channel! 7:00PM Friday night on the SPACE CHANNEL in Canada! We like good ratings!

I'm still in Canada as I write this, supervising the episode known as "415." So, you may be asking yourself, what exactly does the co-executive producer do while on set of an episode? You've got a director, you've got a line producer, you've got all sorts of very talented people doing very talented things. So what's up?

Well, among other things, you are there to help everyone understand the intent of the script (not always as obvious as the writers would like to think) as much as the dialogue. It's as simple (and yet complicated) as explaining the intent of a line of dialogue like, "Follow me. Please." One read is as a simple command. Another might have urgency, "Follow me. Please", like you're begging the other person to come. Or it could be a warning. "Follow me. Please." Because if you do, bad mojo awaits.

It's also about making minor (usually) changes in the script to reflect the reality of the situation. On a show like BATTLESTAR, with many sets and few exterior locations (i.e., "New Caprica"), you'd think that wouldn't be a problem, that we'd have the geography of things down cold. But I'm still surprised by nuances... this corridor is actually wider than I imagined, this room only has one door (could have sworn there were two), etc. Sometimes the adjustments are very minor, a word or two, and sometimes the actual, hard geography can alter an entire scene.

We're also here to enjoy Tim Horton's FINE coffee... but that's another story...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Me, Battlestar, ComicMix

I'll doing a Q & A covering each episode of season four as time permits AND AFTER THE EPISODE AIRS, all for comicmix.com. Folks are encouraged to submit questions to the site and they will pass along the ones they like, though I can't guarantee that I'll answer everything. And I am precluded even hinting at a spoilers for upcoming shows. The first one covering last week's episode is already up, check it out!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

What's New In Battlestar Land...

Posting has been light the last few days because I've been spending much of my time on set, helping make sure episode "415" is as chock full of Battlestar goodness as possible. Things are rolling along extremely well and as usual the cast and crew is doing a superlative job turning my scribbles into high drama. It's strange to think this probably won't actually air for months and months, long after I've vacated my palacial NBC/Universal office...

So, what else has been going on? Let's see, I saw Springsteen at Vancouver's "General Motors Place" arena last Monday night, enjoying myself with a sell-out crowd along with Aaron "The Chief" Douglas and the ever ebullient S. McA. from the BSG production office. And the show? It is considerably changed up from the first leg of the tour, lots of new songs, and Springsteen and band debuted a very special request, an outtake from Born In The U.S.A. called "Home of the Brave." I don't think this one even made the "Tracks" compilation, so that was fun.

Oh, and BATTLESTAR IS FINALLY BACK ON THE AIR. It airs at 7:00PM here in lovely Canada (on Space Channel, tip o' the hat to my pal Mark Askwith at Space who does a great job stoking the flames for BSG) so I missed the debut and any parties that may have ensued. Oh well, there's always next seas... oops. At least it was missed for a good cause.

More as it develops...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


This is the most exhaustive recap of the series I've ever seen. If you need a refresher course on all things BSG, check this out --


Battlestar Galactica - Episode 415!

Since I'm loathe to even reveal titles at this stage, "415" is the Battlestar episode I'm currently writing and producing in lovely Vancouver B.C. As I type these fateful words, we begin shooting tomorrow with director John Dahl at the helm. I don't want to give away any significant plot details (or any details at all), but two words: no daggits. Sorry.

Anyway, people sometimes wonder what exactly a "producer" does in the pre-production and shooting phases of episodic television. That's a little like asking "what does a banker do?" It all depends on the job description, and how the powers-that-be have defined your role.

On BSG, for the writing producers, it generally means coming up to Canada and attending to all the myriad details that transform the words on the page into something that can actually be shot with human beings on a stage, or created with CGI. When you're four seasons into a show, happily a lot of the decisions have already been made. Costumes are pretty much set, make-up, hair, lighting, "the look" of the show is well established. So at this point we're dealing with the specifics of the individual episode, with the help and guidance and enthusiasm of a host of incredibly talented production folks.

Assuming the actual content of the script is relatively settled (and that's a BIG assume on some shows, not so much on BSG once we get to the pre-production stage), then the main concerns are usually budget, schedule, budget, schedule, oh, and occasionally we have to think about the budget. And the schedule.

BSG is not an inexpensive show (and thank you for the generous budgets that have been provided, Sci-Fi and NBC/U!) but there are of course limits. Sometimes the writers can be surprised when a sequence that may seem relatively simple on the page is actually more complex and costly. Conversely, I'm sometimes surprised by what ISN'T that expensive. And the fixes aren't always that Draconian. Sometimes thousands of dollars can be saved by simply moving a scene from one set to another.

And then there's the shooting schedule. Needless to say, there is not an unlimited amount of time in which to shoot our little epics. I'm always astonished at what our crews and directors can accomplish in the time alloted, but there is considerable design involved in making that come to pass. After you've done this "TV thing" for awhile, you learn to adapt your thinking, to some extent, to the practical realities of production. Some of this is intuitive. If you set a half page scene in a set that you're only using that one time, you're expending considerably time and effort moving crew, lighting and etc. for a very short piece of story. If that same scene could be set in a location you're already using for other work, you've just lopped a chunk of time out of the schedule to be used elsewhere. In well-budgeted features, this stuff isn't so important, but in television it can be make or break, especially if the choice is between the unique location or sacrificing a bit of story.

(As an aside, I was given an education in this many years ago when I was doing an uncredited production rewrite on what eventually became DARKMAN III. I had written a scene where Darkman slammed a bad guy into the hood of a car, bashing him so hard the hood crunched in. I was then given a thirty minute lecture by the director on how impossible that piece of business was; you needed to bring two expensive stuntmen in to manage the throw, you would need to double or triple the bad guy's costume in case it was soiled or torn in the action, you needed to create four or five fake, bendable "hoods" so you could do multiple takes when the first try inevitably went wrong, etc., etc. Suffice to say, this was NOT a high budget production, and I think we wound up throwing the guy up against a tree.)

There are also alterations that happen when you try to put your scenes in the actual physical spaces that have been created for the show. (I.e., "on the sets.") We're all pretty familiar with how things look, but it's easy to forget there's no door over there, or that ceiling is too low for X to happen, etc. Experiencing the physicality of the space really helps adjust to fit the story to the "reality."

So that's just some of what goes on after the script has been written... more as it develops!