Boring old ratings became suddenly interesting with the addition of a Live +7 DVR timeshifting number. I love that it's called timeshifting, by the way, instead of just, y'know, RECORDING. But whatevs.
The CW learned, for example, that a show like "Reaper" gained 29% 18-34 women and 34% 18-34 adults. And even the old people who watch CBS figured out how to use their DVRs, with shows on that network gaining as well. Although interestingly enough, half as much as the CW's numbers. Maybe this ancient Nielsen thing will finally go away, hmm? Because seriously. With all the technology, cable and other things to watch, how stupid that it's remained the same old antiquated system. Makes you think the people it benefits have worked very hard to keep it in place, right?
As everyone knows, one of the truly awful things about the internet is that anyone can throw up a website and act like they know what they're talking about. This used to happen in the old AOL days all the time, when some know-nothing would wander in and bleat about screenwriting like their opinion was just as valid as a professional's. If one of the pros told them that their opinion was uninformed, the shit would inevitably hit the fan. It was almost a weekly event. Because they could type, the fact that they'd written a novel/screenplay/pilot meant they were writers.
Not so, we would decree. But now that people can have websites, any one of them can create his own little world of "BOB SMITH, PROFESSIONAL WRITER-THING." They don't need the pros to ever see what they're doing. But sometimes, fortune smiles upon us, gentle readers. Let me introduce you to the wise and wonderful world of Paul William Tenny, the self-proclaimed (is there any other kind?) media pundit. Firstly, LOVE that he uses all three of his given Christian names. There's something lovably awkward about that. Anyhoo, PWT (by his own admission) is a "freelance screenwriter living in North Carolina." On AOL, we used to CONSTANTLY tell people that, with very few exceptions, you HAVE to live in L.A. to make it as a film or TeeVee writer. If you call yourself a freelance screenwriter but you live in North Carolina, you aren't very serious about writing as a career. Which is rather annoying to those of us who actually committed. And you're not really freelance if you've never sold anything. The use of the term indicates that you have, at some point, sold something. No, you're just an aspiring, PWT.
What he does, apparently, is comment on film and TeeVee news that he finds on the internet. He comments on the negotiations, which I find rather frightening. I think HE thinks that because he fancies himself a writer, he has to think the WGA negotiating committee is totally rockin' this thing. And he has a post about the ratings for "Bionic Woman," where he only takes into account the household ratings to prove it's a disaster. While the show is sliding in the ratings (thanks, America!), it's the demographics that really interest NBC, not to mention the politics that are probably going to keep the fucking thing on the air all year. He's trying to comment on the behind-the-scenes debacle, the showrunner parade that's happened over there, but he doesn't even get that right.
But that's not the point of this little item. He has a rather brilliant post on writing partners. Some choice bits:
Cinematical has an actual employed (and probably about to be unemployed due to the coming strike) writer on staff writing about..well, writing. What else would he write about? If you're interested in this story of thing, he has five in-depth tips for collaborating on scripts when you don't physically meet with your writing partner, which I found terribly odd. Then again I find the entire notion of collaborative writing odd. If you're supposed to write the second act of a telescript and your partner is in the process of writing the first act, how do you know where to start when you don't know where he or she is going to end?
Hey, at least the Cinematical guy doesn't call himself the media pundit! But how hilarious is this? It's a total mystery to him how two writers could possibly write something together. Although I am unfamiliar with the term "telescript," maybe PWT's really, really old. I dunno. But it gets better:
I guess you'd have to heavily rely on writing from an outline (I despise them like evil leprechauns) which will only hobble you, should a TV show want to hire you onto their staff. I've never heard of a writing team being hired on a staff and they won't function at all once they do because it's a massive waste of resources. I can pretty much promise you that I can write a single script in the time it takes any single writing team to bang out the outline and for two simple reasons: I won't need an outline since I am writing alone, and I can write extremely fast.
An outline -- actually knowing where the story is going -- will hobble you? Hey, fellow writers -- has this been your experience? And if you're hired on staff, not only will you have to "heavily" rely on the outline, that's all it's about, baby. Because the outline has to be approved by the showrunner, the production company (if there is one), the studio and the network. If it is approved, you'd better not deviate from it without an exceptional reason. The real beauty of the paragraph, though, is that PWT, the media pundit/freelance screenwriter-who-has-never-sold-anything from North Carolina, has NEVER -- in all his born days -- heard about a writing team being hired to write for TeeVee. EVER! His claim that it's a waste of resources indicates that he thinks each member of a team makes a full salary, which isn't true. You split a salary. So basically, you make HALF of what a single writer makes. It's two for one, which is the opposite of a massive waste of resources. It's like recycling!
But PWT doesn't stop there, folks! He goes on to promise -- PROMISE! -- that he can write a script faster than a writing team can. Look, PWT. Anybody can shit out sixty pages of crap. I could type sixty pages of something today. That doesn't mean it's a STORY. And I would LOVE to know how long he thinks it takes us to break a story. Because if this were a contest, we wouldn't have to actually write an outline. We'd take a day to break a story and we could write a first draft in another few days or, if pressed, THE NEXT FUCKING DAY. Don't test me, son.
Then again, two of the most successful and highly paid writers in the biz right now happen to be career-long writing partners. Of course I'm speaking of Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, the duo responsible most recently for the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, amongst many other very successful films.
Didn't one of the greatest writers in the history of film write with several writing partners? Hey, media pundit? You wouldn't happen to know who that is, would you?
It's people like PWT who make me effing crazy because somewhere, somebody's reading his posts with the notion that he knows what he's talking about, JUST because he has a website.
Not everybody should write with a partner, and it's easier to work well with someone if you haven't established your own style and method of writing. But for the love of God, DO YOUR GODDAM HOMEWORK if you're going to bleat about it on the internets.
I have liberated quite a bit of my TeeVee viewing of late. No more "Bionic Woman." I just can't do it anymore. There is literally NOTHING of any value on the show. It's a total disaster, and they're wasting Katee Sackhoff. She's so much better than that show. It's clear that nobody on the show has any idea who she's working for, who they're working for, what kind of an "operative" she is, or any of that. All they've trained her to do is kickbox, but they're sending her out on generic missions? How is a former bartender going to be able to be a spy if you don't train her? It's totally retarded. So that show's gone. I've also excised "Chuck." The strain of trying to fit Chuck into each episode is tiresome. "Journeyman" lasted an episode and a half. I can't stomach "Pushing Daisies."
I like that they're doing a bit of mythology on "Reaper." I think the show needs it. And this week's vampire double feature, "Moonlight" and "Blood Ties," were pretty effing good. I totally forgot to TiVo "Dirty Sexy Money," dammit. But that's about it. That's all I'm watching.
Is there anything else on?
AJ asks if I've seen "Californication." I have not. Just didn't have an interest, and it sounded like a show (sort of like "Tell Me You Love Me") that's pushing the envelope for the sake of it. I'm not interested in that.
And Josh (thanks, BTW) wants me to piss even MORE people off and get quoted and junk. Heh. It's funny, because it's been fairly recent that all this WGA shit has started to piss me off. Maybe it has something to do with the upcoming presidential election as well. I see the candidates doing the same fucking thing the WGA does. They're out there gladhanding like furious marmosets, looking into the eyes of the "common man" and nodding along, like "I dig it, Bob Smith. I feel your pain." Yeah, well, you fucking do not. You want Bob's vote and you'll do anything to get it. It's all disingenuous bullshit, isn't it? And we've set ourselves up as a culture that buys into it. They want to be on the pedestal and we put them there. Then they start believing in the bullshit and they forget where they came from. Well, unless they come from wealthy, elite families. That, they remember very well.
I'm sure that at some point, public figures DID have something to say. They wanted to do things that would matter in the lives of the rest of us. But then they get into the system and it all goes to hell, because you can't function like that in the system. You're a slave to it.
The WGA is a slightly different animal. I wonder how many people who run for office are really that invested in bringing about change. Or is it all about making better contacts? It's hard to fault someone for that, because contacts make our world go around. But again, that's the system dictating behavior. There's a huge disconnect between the desire to do good and actually being able to do it. The issues being negotiated are crucial and couldn't be more important. We have health care and residuals because other people went on strike before us. If we have to go on strike to stop these rollbacks, then that's what we have to do and if the WGA will put regular Joes on the picket line, I'll gladly picket (but close to home, please; gas is expensive!). I am curious as to why I was not contacted about being on a strike team (and don't you want that t-shirt?). I'm reserving judgment on that one, but they DID contact some name writers, so I dunno.
As Josh says, this strike is going to affect many people who are dependent on this industry for their livelihood. Crew people. All the assistants -- writer, executive, agent, producer. Union and freelance readers. PAs. Agents' assistants. Restaurants. Messengers. Anyone struggling to make ends meet who needs a flourishing entertainment industry in order to do that.
I wish people like Verrone understood what all of this posturing has done to the rest of us. I don't think he or his ilk ever will, because their reality is substantially different from mine. But then our world, especially now with the internets, our technological advances, and a mindless press, is all about changing the nature of reality. The Bush folk know that well. They do nothing BUT alter reality. When you think about it, nobody sees the world the same way as you do. Each person on this planet sees the world differently. That's a LOT of different realities.
Which leads me to one of my favorite speeches, one that I steal from often. Philip K. Dick, speaking in Anaheim in 1978. PKD was one of those writers who was spookily prescient about a lot of things and in this speech, he pretty much nails it.
Take a look.
How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later.
np -- The Raveonettes, "Lust Lust Lust"