Monday, October 29, 2007

Hulu test

NBC's new video hub is sorta-live, so let's see if this works:

EDIT: It seems to be working just fine, and they fact that they're letting me embed the entire pilot episode of Airwolf is kind of ridiculous.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I've Been Tagged, Apparently

First time for everything, I suppose. Here's the deal, as presented to me by Ken Lowery's Ringwood:

There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”. Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

You can leave them exactly as is.

You can delete any one question

You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change “The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…” to “The best time travel novel in Westerns is…”, or “The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is…”, or “The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is…”.

You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form “The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is…”.

You must have at least one question in your set, or you’ve gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you’re not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

The initial statements/questions:

My parent is: NONE.

1. The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is…The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers.
2. The best romantic movie in historical fiction is…Cold Mountain.
3. The best sexy song in rock is…Gloria, by Patti Smith.

My parent is: Ringwood. Here's his stuff.

1. The best epic song (over six minutes in length) in rock is... "November Rain," Guns N' Roses. C'mon, "Hey Jude" and "Freebird" (but only when it's over the last minutes of The Devil's Rejects!) are a bit obvious.
2. (Mockumentary = deleted. Quite the dead end, that.)
3. (the mutant) The best End of the World concept album in Science Fiction is... Year Zero, by Nine Inch Nails. Considering how extensively Trent Reznor and co. built their world, calling it a mere concept album may not be enough. It's a staggeringly thorough and compelling piece of fiction.

Okay, so here are my answers:

1. The best epic song (over six minutes in length) in rock is... "Layla," by Derek and the Dominos. (I almost went "Since I've Been Loving You," by Zeppelin, but I changed my mind. For no good reason.)
2. (the mutant) The best pure sci-fi TV show concept is... The Six-Million Dollar Man. (Seriously. The ways that idea could be exploited is ridiculous...and it's ridiculous that Bionic Woman isn't a thousand times better, given the fertility of the idea.)
3. (the new one) The most formidable superheroine in comics is... The X-Men's Storm. (Especially after Claremont stripped her of her powers, forcing her to learn hand-to-hand combat as well as battlefield strategy. And then she got her powers back. Positively bad-ass.)

Now, for the people I'm tagging:

Adam Freeman. Cowriter on The Highwaymen and Monster Attack Network.
Joshua Hale Fialkov. Elk's Run. Postcards. All-around gentleman. Newlywed.
Neil Kleid. Brownsville. Ninety Candles. Bon vivant. Renaissance Man.

Friday, October 19, 2007

More Love for the Finale

From the San Antonio Express News' René A. Guzman:

"This has been by far the best limited series of the year and the only thing wrong with this last issue is that it has to end. Highwaymen has been more about humor and action than emotion, but you actually get a bit more of the latter in this issue. I say a bit because it delivers the former in grand style. Kudos to Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman for a rollicking read and to Lee Garbett for the kind of sharp but fun art perfect for the tale. Buy all the issues now, or at least mark your calendar the millisecond you find news of the impending trade."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sometimes, I Just Don't Understand America

I was watching an episode of Bones the other day. Which I like. No problems with the show itself. This particular episode was about the murder of some dude who was into "pony play." Which, if you didn't watch that particular episode of Real Sex, involves men and women who pretend to be horses and riders. They wear bits and saddles and the whole shebang. And then, they have sex.

Anyway, the episode opened with a dead body found in the woods. Dessicated skin, maggots crawling around gooey eye sockets, amputated feet. Then, Bones and her team start the investigation, which includes cutting open the stomach to see what the deceased ate last (answer: hay).

In other words, the most disgusting things you can imagine seeing were on Fox at 8:00pm. Family hour.

How did we get to the point where we're willing to tolerate, nay, encourage (through viewership) seeing the retch-inducing inner workings of the human body after it's been violated—and people freak out over the sight of an exposed nipple? How is seeing the unadorned interior of the body more acceptable than seeing its unadorned exterior? How is the feeling of disgust better than the feeling of arousal? Really, what's worse for your kid to watch: people having sex or people committing murder? Which would you rather they emulate? And if the question is one of morality—and you know who I'm talking to—which is the worse sin?

Again, no problems with Bones. Or CSI or Crossing Jordan or any of those gross-out procedurals. Just a problem with us. What the fuck is wrong with this country?

And That's All Folks...

Highwaymen #5 was on stands yesterday, and with that comes an end to our first mainstream comics series. It saddens me, a bit, to note that we won't get to tell any more stories with these dudes—not unless there's some crazy twist of fate and #5 sells, like, 20,000 copies. But that won't happen, so I'll just take some solace in knowing that we did a pretty good job, our first time out, and that the people who did read the book seem to have dug it.

To wit:

IGN's Richard George says, "This series has been a great deal of fun. There have been a couple points where I felt the momentum dragged a bit, but overall Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman have delivered a fast-paced action story that didn't insult the reader.

Being the last issue of the mini-series, things wrap up fairly well. I won't say everything is happy by the last page, but there's no way you'll feel cheated or dragged along to some unannounced sequel. This one is done in five, folks. Bernardin and Freeman do leave room for future installments however, and I certainly wouldn't mind that.

If you haven't read this series, it's basically some sort of mixture of old buddy cop movies like Lethal Weapon or perhaps Die Hard 3. You could probably throw films like Speed in there to some degree as well...and a bit of James Bond. That's basically all there is to it. This is a love letter to all of those classic action films, featuring great chemistry and gripping action. I was impressed with how familiar these heroes felt, though I'd pin that on the fact that this is very much an homage. But it doesn't feel too derivative either. If you skipped this, and don't want to hunt for back issues, pick up the trade. You won't regret it."

And here's CBR's Hannibal Tabu: " What a way to go—Monroe and McQueen are still blowing stuff up and tossing around bon mots as they fight their way towards fulfilling their mandate, as the last member of a black ops government project learns how to stand up for herself. This is a great last reel to an action movie, and even in its confrontations the chatter is kept concise and smart. Fast moving, smartly conceived and well executed (the part with the rope is especially fun on rereads)."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Highwaymen #5 Preview

The final issue is out next Wednesday, Oct. 17th, but here's the first three pages—ganked from Wizard. (Shhh.)

Get Thee To A Pitchery

So, as I said, I was in Los Angeles last week. (Or maybe the week before last...can't remember.) I was out to do some Hollywood pitching. Keen readers of the blog will know what we were pitching...shouldn't take a genius to put two-and-two together.

The pitches went well, I think. Everyone said they went well, and that's really all I've got to go on. Since this is the first time I was "in the room" with the express purpose of selling people on ideas, I've got no real frame of reference.

But the pitch process is a ludicrous one. We're writers, right? And we write. We've spent long hours hammering away at a keyboard, grafting fragments of ideas so they resemble a coherent story. That's what we do.

So if someone wants to see if an idea has enough meat on its bones to justify spending millions of dollars on to make a movie, if they can't read a script, they want a pitch. Which is fine. Totally understandable.

What I don't really understand is why that pitch needs to be delivered verbally. Why we needed to spend weeks writing a pitch that hit all the right notes, laced in all the character arcs and emotional beats, and hit the action sequences in a non-exhaustive manner—only to then have to memorize the whole thing so we could deliver it in an 18-minute monologue. (Or, since there was two of us, a duologue.)

Why couldn't we just email them the pitch?

I get that, in the days of the old studio system, people like Jack Warner were shepherding hundreds of movie ideas at a time, and wouldn't have time to read hundreds of proposals for new projects. So he'd ask for the "pitch." "Okay, these two lovers ended their relationship badly. He fucked off to Morocco to open a bar. She joined the French Resistance. Sorry, forgot: Nazis. And she needs travel papers, and only he can get them. Thing is, she's in love with another dude. Sad, sweet, darkly funny. And it'll end in an airport...maybe."

But today? No reason why we couldn't email them a document they could read in less time it takes us to pitch, and wouldn't suffer from nervousness, brain-farts, or mysterious chest colds. We're writers. We write. We're best when we write. (Except for those of us who used to be stand-up comedians, and know how to work a room like a motherfucker. P.S.: Thanks for the tips, John.)

I get that they want to meet you, and make sure you smell like a person who showers regularly, and don't have a third eye, or extra digits. But couldn't that happen after they read the pitch?

It just seems to me that it's another example of Hollywood's vise-like grip on nostalgia. This is the way it is done because it's the way it's always been done. Same reason every script has got to be written in 12pt courier. If it isn't, readers won't read past page one, and it'll die at the bottom of a recycling bin, even if it is the second coming of Casablanca. (And this, despite the fact that no one writes on a Smith Corona manual typewriter anymore. We just have to pretend we do.)

So, yeah, we pitched, and we did well. Things are "happening." But I can't say that I had an erg of fun doing it. Because this process isn't set up to be fun. But I'm damn glad I did it.

Lag Time

It's been something of a crazy couple of weeks. In LA the last week of September, and then, as soon as I got back into the office, I found myself doing a completely different job. (Which is a pseudo-direct result of my week in LA.) I'm now working for, editing a bit, and writing a whole lot more. I've still got my fingers in the stew that is "paper EW," but I've got a whole lot of learning to do. Which is one of the reasons I took this new gig, the learning.

Reminds me of an interview Harrison Ford gave to Letterman a coupla years back. Ford told Dave that he was learning to fly a plane. When Dave asked him why he'd do that, Ford replied: "Because it had been a very long time since I learned how to do anything new."

So that's what's been swallowing my time. But whenever I feel bad about not blogging for a while, I just turn to good ol' Josh Friedman...who hasn't filed a new post since New Year's Day.

So there.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Don't Go Away, Renee

Was watching the premiere of Life the other day. You know, the NBC genre show with a British actor playing an American? Sorry, let me be more specific: the cop hour with Band of Brothers' Damian Lewis as a wrongfully imprisoned police officer who's out of the hoosegow and back on the force as a detective. (Not to be confused with Bionic Woman, starring Michelle Ryan, or Journeyman, starring Kevin McKidd—apparently, some casting director summered in the UK.)

So, our hero—who's so indelible I don't remember his name—is saddled with a partner. A sullen Latina who drinks too much, is muy promiscuous, has a father who won't talk to her, and might have had something to do with her dead partner.

In other words, she's Renee Montoya from Gotham Central, minus the homosexuality. And, since I think we can all agree that being gay is just one element of one's psychological makeup—and not even the most important—she's Renee Montoya.


I always wondered why no one moved on a Gotham Central TV show. Seems tailor-made. You've got a recognizable subject matter (inner-city police precinct), terrific characterization (the aformentioned Montoya is but one of a stellar cast), and the patina of newfangled glitz without ever having to show Batman if you don't want to. Or, you treat him the way he should be but never is: as a creature of shadow, who you never entirely see, but the spectre of whom hangs over everything.

I was told a few years ago that A) the powers that be wanted to save all the Bat-heat for the then-nascent Batman Begins and that B) Birds of Prey scared everyone off.

Which, honestly, is too bad.