Thursday, November 12, 2009


Some random thoughts:


I’ve received quite a few sympathy notes from my Netherlandic brethren as a result of my previous blog entries. (I responded to several queries with a link to PASS THE DUTCHIE). And they shared some of their thoughts with me.

It seems the author of the book “Rich From One Sentence” has gotten a few complaints from others in town who are outraged with the proliferation of Dutch query letters. After reading my blog, one of the book’s acolytes wrote me saying, “I assumed the author had contacted you before mentioning your name and email address.” But that is definitely not the case. While e-mail addresses are hardly top secret, it’s another thing to print it in a book and encourage thousands of people to submit ideas. It certainly wasn’t proper industry etiquette.

Note the book cover below. I don’t speak Dutch but the last two words sure look like “film idea” to me. And then right under those words is a stack of hundred dollar bills. Now, an American book might be dressed with the photo of a computer or a pad and pencil or a picture of Aristotle or even the Hollywood sign. But that wad of e pluribus unum cash-money is pretty ballsy.

Having read my blog and learning that Hollywood doesn’t pay out millions of dollars this way, a Dutch hopeful asked me, “But where does the idea come from that Hollywood would be interested in ideas for screenplays? Maybe that was the great idea - sell a book about selling ideas.” He answered his own question.

The idea of selling a sentence to Hollywood for a million dollars is a lot of double Dutch.


At, we’re in the midst of another logline contest, something we started there many years ago (in a slightly different format). The contest goes like this: Writers send in their loglines and a panel of preliminary judges picks the ten best of the bunch. The ten are posted in the twoadverbs interactive forum for members to vote on their favorite.

The top three are presented to an industry panel of producers, agents and managers (my friends and whoever I might bump into in the hallway or throughout town). The logline with the most votes wins. The announcement is made on Christmas Eve.

There is no entry fee, of course, and the contest was created as a way to celebrate all the hard work and writing done throughout the year and to offer up some good lessons too.

The “prize” is a feedback & networking frenzy, where the winner will get a year’s subscription to (to keep up on what’s happening in the script world) and will have his script read by screenwriting pros Jay Simpson (ARMORED), Ryan Condal (GALAHAD), Jeff Morris (THE TRUE MEMOIRS OF AN INTERNATIONAL ASSASSIN) and twoadverbs webmaster and filmmaker Jacinthe Dessureault (DOG TRAINING) – all for feedback. I’ll also provide a phone conference for the winner to discuss his script along with other ideas he might have and answer general questions about the biz.

Also, Adam Levenberg will offer up his inimitable feedback for all three finalists. Adam is a former student of mine, who I set on his path to knowledge many years ago. He has a great understanding of material and the business.

The ten finalists will be posted on Wednesday November 25th, when the polls open. They close on December 9th. You can join twoadverbs (for free) by visiting the home page and clicking on "new user" at the top right hand corner of the screen.


Each year on the first Saturday in December I drive out to the Glendale Library and meet with the Alameda Writers Group, where I listen to pitches and offer feedback.

It's a fun hour or so and a great learning experience - even for those who don't pitch.

The Alameda Writers Group is "a non-profit organization dedicated to serving writers of all stages of development and all genres." Although they haven't updated their website yet, the event is on December 5th. I'll arrive around 10:00AM. The event lasts until about noon and is free. Three hours of free parking is available across the street from the library. The event is held in the upstairs auditorium of the library at 222 E. Harvard Street.


AMC premieres THE PRISONER this weekend starring Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen. The miniseries runs from Sunday 11/15 through Tuesday 11/17.

The show is a reimagining of the sixties TV show, the brainchild of British actor Patrick McGoohan, who also starred, wrote and produced the show – along with directing several episodes.

The original tells the story of a secret agent who resigns suddenly, but then finds himself kidnapped and held prisoner in an idyllic seaside village where everything is sweetness and light but from which there is no escape. He is stripped of his identity and given a number (6). The powers-that-be (Number 2 – played by a different actor each week) hope to learn the secrets in his head, but they cannot break him down. The show’s catch phrase, “I am not a number. I am a free man” became a sort of anthem in the 1960s.

Over the years, the cerebral and psychedelic show developed a cult following, earning it the number seven slot in TV Guide’s list, The Top 25 Cults Shows of All Time. It has inspired the likes of THE TRUMAN SHOW, LOST and many others.

Universal has had its eye on the project for quite a while and several screenplays have been written – one by Konner and Rosenthal – with the hope of creating a film property but none have captured the spirit of the abstruse original. Simon West was once attached to direct. More recently, it was announced that Christopher Nolan would take a shot at the big screen version.

Patrick McGoohan had a long career in Great Britain on stage and in film and television. His American film debut was playing yet another spy opposite Rock Hudson in 1968's ICE STATION ZEBRA. He went on to star in several popular films including SILVER STREAK (1976) as the art thief out to hoodwink Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, and, ironically, the warden to Clint Eastwood's prisoner in ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979). He also denied Mel Gibson his freedom as King Edward the Longshanks in the Oscar winning BRAVEHEART (1995). The Los Angeles Times upon reviewing the film said, “Patrick McGoohan is in possession of perhaps the most villainous enunciation in the history of acting.” McGoohan also won two Emmy Awards (1975 & 1990) for villainous turns on the COLUMBO TV series. He even played himself in an episode of THE SIMPSONS, spoofing the character that made him famous.

McGoohan died earlier this year at age 80. He was my wife’s grandfather. And with the new series, perhaps, eclipsing the old, I bring this all up as a way to introduce McGoohan to those who might not know him. He was passionate and fiery, creative and brilliant. He could be disagreeable, aloof yet loveable. He had a great sense of humor – one that was particularly self-effacing – and he enjoyed being the target of barbs. When I first met him, I told him I never understood THE PRISONER. “Good. You’re not supposed to understand it” is what he said to me. I think that solidified our relationship, as he was always bemused by those that would try to decipher it. Upon his death, Entertainment Weekly referred to McGoohan as “the man who embodied hope over despair in the coolest way imaginable.”

A cool way to be remembered.


At 6:05 PM, Blogger pauline said...

thanks for sharing a bit of information and lovely photo of your wife's grandfather....he's one of a kind...


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