Like everyone else near a keyboard, I've grown accustomed to Wikipedia.
I should probably wean myself.
Every now and again I'll check the IMDB discussion boards on movies I'm working on. It's pretty fascinating, if only as a study in the global game of Telephone that is the internet. My favorite debates are the ones where someone insists loudly and arrogantly and with supreme confidence that "This movie will be Rated R! I know someone at the stuido!"…even though the movie was never going to be R.
And yes, spellings like "stuido" are part of the fun.
So today, when I skimmed the boards for Superhero!, I was excited to see that someone was trumping the debate by citing the ultimate internet authority. Off I went to see the movie's entry on Wikipedia.
Let's go through it…
Superhero! is an action/comedy written by Craig Mazin and directed by David Zucker, and produced by Robert K. Weiss. The movie will spoof famous superhero films. It is distributed by The Weinstein Company. It is uncertain what the release date will be. Some sites confirmed that it will be released on March 21, 2008.
Boy, only thirteen words in, and they've already blown it. I'm directing, not David. I've always been directing. I've never not been directing. I'm also producing with Weiss and Zucker. We've shifted positions a little bit, but the same basic team behind SM3 and SM4 is still in place.
I do believe we are on the schedule for March 21, 2008, though, so good on them.
Now, here's the "purported plot."
Fabtopolis' greatest supervillain, a magician who goes by the pseudonym The Great Jim (Chris Elliot), has just kidnapped the city's mayor (Leslie Nielsen) and his wife (Anna Faris). Four of the world's most spectacular superheroes are called to the rescue: Beakman (Greg Giraldo) – the leader of the group, Squak (Eric Christian Olsen) – the wannabee, Cleara (Carla Gugino) – the see-through hero, and The Stoner (Ben Harr) – a loser who becomes a large stone monster when he gets high. The Great Jim is building a device that will allow him to sound like anybody in the world and this group of superheroes must stop him and save the mayor or the entire city will be destroyed.
As they race against time to defeat Jim, they team up with many other superheroes to try and take down Jim and his allies, including the dreaded Dock Cock (Kevin Mcdonald) and Mephistopheles (Adam Arkin).
Not bad. The only things they got wrong were everything. Every single thing. Insane.
Anna Faris married to Leslie Nielsen?
Folks, I know I've disappointed some audiences in the past. Maybe myself too. But if I ever write anything that even remotely resembles the above, I'm eating a gun. Okay? Here's a hint…we never do "funny names." Ever.
Then they move on to a list of the movies we will be spoofing.
Superman film series
Batman film series
Fantastic Four film seriers
The Hulk (film)
Spider-Man film series
Ghost Rider (film)
We're not really specifically spoofing anything. We're taking on the entire genre. However, I can assure you that the vast majority of the movies mentioned above aren't even getting casually referenced.
Here's my favorite part. "History." This is the part that sounds like actual information!
It is currently unknown whether David Zucker or Craig Mazin will direct. According to some sites, the film was supposed to be originally released on February 7, 2007. However the film's real release date has been reported to be delayed to March 21, 2008.
It was confirmed on March 2, 2007, that Adam Campbell will reprise his Superman role from Epic Movie.
Many cast changes were announced on March 13, 2007. Big name actors such as Josh Lucas, Laura Kightlinger, and Joshua Jackson turned out to be actors "considered" for the roles, but not actually cast.
The producers have decided to go with actors that are more familiar to this type of film. They've gone with Anna Faris, Kevin McDonald, and Chris Elliot to replace the others.
It's currently known. I'm directing. It was "confirmed" about wha-huh now about Adam Campbell? I've never even met the guy. He's not in our movie, and he's not going to be in our movie. Nothing against him, but he belongs to a different brand of…well…whatever genre Epic Movie is. Yeah, I was totally considering "big name actors" like….Laura Kightlinger??? I actually think she's very funny…but "big name actress?"
No, none of the actors mentioned in the paragraph above have been considered for anything in this movie (YET…because we haven't really gotten into casting yet…that's coming up in just a few weeks). But why should that stop anyone? Here's the "cast of characters!"
Greg Giraldo – Theo Payne / Beakman
Carla Gugino – Cleara
Leslie Nielsen – Mayor Jogen
Anna Faris – Mrs. Jogen
Eric Christian Olsen – Mark Ockle / Squak
Ben Harr – The Stoner
Chris Elliot – The Great Jim
Fred Willard – Alfred
Adam Campbell – Superman
Kevin McDonald – Dock Cock
Lil' Kim – Betty Sue
Jonathon Martes – Spider-Man
Penny Ulrich – Lindsey
Lochlyn Munro – Daredevil
Shannon Elizabeth – Elektra
Adam Arkin – Mephistopheles
Xavier Reboir – Lex Lover
I'll go in order, giving you a "yes" or "no". Presume that a "no" is both to the actor and the character. A "yes" is a yes to both.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no and no.
Other than that, it's a really accurate entry.
Nappy-headed schmoOh, blog, dear blog, I've been neglecting you. I'm racing toward a deadline on my script right now, so I've been keeping you at arm's length. Then, a couple of days ago, when I was thinking about posting, I gave myself a concussion (my head + underside of my son's wooden loft bed = pain and puking). But I can't stay away from you. I want to touch quickly on two topics that have been dominating the news.
First, the Virginia Tech jerk.
It's normal for everyone to navel-gaze and point fingers after something like this happens. One of the best classes I ever took in college was a course called "The Psychology of Justice." In that class, I learned about a phenomenon that is incredibly pervasive and persistent across all cultures: the Belief In A Just World. Belief in a just world often means that we deserve what we get, and we get what we deserve.
However, in cases like the Virginia Tech shooting, it's clear that the victims didn't deserve what they got. That doesn't mean Belief In A Just World goes away. Instead, the BJW theory says that great evils must have great causes.
The space shuttle doesn't blow up because a piece of rubber got cold–it blows up because of a culture of failure and the incompetence of an entire space agency and perhaps because of humanity's hubris… You know what I mean?
In this case, BJW says that video games, isolation, access to guns, non-access to guns, popular music, coarsening of culture and ultimately society itself is to blame for the tragedy at VT. Of course, the problem with BJW is that it's not true. The world is not just. Existence is not fair. Great evils sometimes happen for the most mundane reasons. The poor people who died at VT died because a mentally ill person made the insane choice to kill them. And if someone chooses to kill you, they are going to kill you, and there's nothing you can do about it. They might use guns, they might use gasoline and fertilizer, they might use poison…
…not a very comforting thought.
But that's life in an unjust, unfair world.
Of course, one can imagine Don Imus thinking to himself, "If only this asshole could have done the shooting a week earlier…I'd still have my job."
Frequent commenter Kevin Arbouet has a post up on the Imus situation. I agree 100% with Kevin that this is not a free speech issue at all. No one has the right to a radio talk show. The government didn't fire Imus. He's free to say "nappy headed-ho" all day long without fear of imprisonment or fines.
Now, when this whole thing went down, I was honestly puzzled. Imus has been saying stupid crap like that for years. So has Howard Stern. Have you heard the stuff the comedians say on the Friar's Club roasts? Hell, any four second sample of Lisa Lampanelli's act is waaaay worse than "nappy-headed ho's."
Should Imus have been fired? Yes, but years ago. For sucking. My view of this latest debacle is that it's an example par excellence of our nation's inability to discuss racial issues honestly. We have two cultures. The first culture is soaking in racial humor, racial observations, the n-word, bitches, ho's, racial suspicion, racial resentment and occasionally racial hostility. The second culture is a color-blind, multicultural rainbow coalition where no one sees race, no one ever says or thinks anything "offensive," and we all live, work and play in a bridge-of-the-Starship-Enterprise-like world of ethnic harmony.
The first culture is true. The second is a fraud. We all burble along in the first culture, until, occasionally, someone makes a stink. It's not always Jesse or Al. Sometimes it's the ADL, sometimes it's the guy from the Catholic League, sometimes it's GLAAD, sometimes it's O'Reilly yapping about the coarsening of culture. At that point, everyone suddenly pretends that the first culture is the anomaly, and the second, fraudulent culture is the reality. Somehow, we begin doing rhetorical backflips to denounce true culture as transgressive against a fictional culture that has never been and probably never will be.
But why Imus? Was Imus' "nappy-headed ho's" comment funny? No. Was it accurate? No, not even close.
The reason Imus said that comment is obvious to me: he thought he was sounding "cool." See, perversely, Imus is not part of true culture. He's out of the sphere of what is current. His attempt to be a part of that culture immediately rang false, and I think that's what caught people's attention.
If Howard Stern says, "Nappy-headed ho's," no one blinks. I guarantee it. Why? Because Howard has been manufacturing this kind of relaxed culture for years. Not Imus. When Imus tries it, it sounds tinny and fake and creepy.
Of all the stuff I've read about this affair, the best and most honest perspective is from this guy. I don't agree with everything he says in his piece (I don't have a stake in the cultural battles between black men and black women), and I think he's too hard on Cosby in particular, but when I read his essay, I thought, "Points for honesty."
When it comes to discussions of race in this country, we're in dire need of a Diogenes.
Look around the site, and you'll see lots of little icons next to all of the links.
Welcome to Snap.
Instead of boring links that send you to sites unseen, if you hover your cursor on the link, Snap lets you see a miniature image of the page you're thinking about visiting. To visit the link, just click the image of the site. You can also search within the snap box. Kind of neat, I think (unless you use Safari…the search function seems to crash it).
If you hate Snap, just click on the options or disable link within the link bubble to customize your preferences. Admittedly, I've installed Snap if only to keep up with the Augusts (who went and installed a super nifty live comment preview function on his blog that's apparently super easy for WordPress blogs like his, but on par with nuclear fission for MovableType blogs like mine), but I really like it.
If any of you blog on MovableType or are familiar with functionality you'd like to see here, please let me know. I'm always looking to improve this site, and fussing with php tags at 1:30 in the morning actually keeps me young.
Time for rebirth…Today is my 36th birthday. It’s also Jesus’ rebirthday. No, I’m not comparing myself to Jesus. And yes, I chose the picture because it’s so ridiculous.
I just love the idea of MEGAJESUS, looming over Earth like a hypoglycemic Galactus, pissed off at our stupidity and failure. He’s so angry, the back of his head has exploded outward, forming some awesome new nebula. The moon is this painting’s version of Jackie O., and it’s getting drenched in MegaJ’s cosmic brain splatter.
The tear rolling down The Boss’ cheek? That’s his burgeoning sense of retribution, the volume and pressure of which is so great it has begun leaking in liquid form from his improbably blue Jewish eye.
Just look at his brow. It’s telling you the entire story. That’s the brow of a man who is about to take a bite out of a planet.
But I digress…
I want to talk about endings and beginnings. Those of us who write are plagued and blessed at once by an overexposure to cycles. No, I don’t believe in reincarnation or the divinity of Jesus or some of the hippier notions about how we’re all one with Gaia, etc. I do, however, believe that all human experiences begin, then progress, and then end.
I’m a writer. I’m soaking in that. And because I write, I find myself constantly beginning stories, places, ideas, people, moments…then experiencing them progress…and then watching them end.
And when they end…they end as finally as anything can. I do not know what Keyser Soze did after he got into the car with his lawyer at the end of The Usual Suspects, and I’m pretty sure I never will.
Just like that….(poof)…he’s gone.
All this beginning and ending stuff can start playing with your head. Like mathematicians who started noticing small recursive fractals as compositional blocks of larger recursive fractals, you begin to see the cycles in your own life on multiple levels. There’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then there are multiyear arcs, like movements of a symphony.
Maybe you don’t see this, but I do.
Curiously, my cycles seem to take on four year spans.
I won’t bore you with childhood, but high school was an interesting four years. College…four years. After college, I spent four years trying to make my way toward something I could do as a career…a search for permanency, perhaps.
And I found it.
I spent the next four years establishing myself as a working screenwriter as well as a husband.
I spent the next four years establishing myself as a solo working screenwriter, as well as a father.
And I’ve spent these last four years establishing myself as a…for lack of a better phrase…successful screenwriter.
Ding! Four years are up.
Last week, I had lunch with a friend. Another writer. I look up to him in a very pure way; there’s no creepy jealousy or competitiveness or resentment to infect my relationship with him. I’m not particularly prone to those things, but I’m not inhuman either–I’m lucky that circumstances are such that I can admire someone as cleanly as I admire this guy.
By the way, he doesn’t blog or comment in here, so don’t bother guessing.
Hint…it’s not Josh Olson.
So anyway, we sat at lunch and this guy lectured me. He actually said, “I want to lecture you about something.” And then he did.
In fact, it was such a good lecture, it sent me hurtling toward my therapist, but in a good way. What this guy said to me was something I really needed to hear, and I really needed to hear it from him. It was the best compliment I’ve ever received, and almost certainly the scariest too. Good for him. His lecture may very well be the thing that sets the table and defines my next four year cycle.
What I’m saying is that I think I just typed FADE IN: on myself yet again.
“Okay,” you’re saying. “Enough preamble. What was the lecture??????”
…would you mind terribly if I didn’t tell you?
Cuz I’m not.
It’s not for you. It’s for me. It wouldn’t apply to you, and that’s true if you’re a hundred times more successful than I or a 15 year-old desperate for some guidance. This stuff was custom advice (although if you really want a hint…I’ll say this…I doubt I’ll use the language I used to describe the last few cycles when it’s time to describe the next one…)
What I can tell you is that you’re in a cycle right now, whether you like it or not.
Did you know? Do you understand it? Is there a rhythm to it?
Are you at the beginning?
Lost in the desert of your own 2nd act?
Nearing the end (that’s the scary one)?
Do you care?
You don’t have to. Honestly. Most characters are blissfully unaware that they’re in the stories we write, so why should we torture ourselves by getting recursive with the narrative of our own lives? I only dabble with the recursion myself. I’m sure Pirandello would think of me as a self-oblivious dolt.
Still, birthdays tend to do this to me.
And so, I’ll think I’ll give some of you a gift.
This gift is for the struggling. Particularly, it’s for the struggling young. This gift is for the people who have begun the “set out on my own” cycle. Maybe you’re in a new city. You’re trying to make it in a new business. You have no experience. You have no connections.
That was me…beginning of Cycle 3.
I don’t archive much of my life, but there’s one piece of paper I’ve saved all these years. I finally scanned it and laminated it, because it’s so important to me. When I arrived in Los Angeles in July of 1992, all I knew is that before anything good could happen to me, I needed to get a job.
I stood out on the corner of La Cienega and Pico, leafed through a payphone yellowpages (ahhhh, the pre-cell, pre-net days), and started cold-calling temp agencies.
I had a pen, which ran out of ink…and a pencil.
Today, I’m a rich guy with a hot wife and two great kids and a nice house and I do what I love for a living.
But fifteen years ago…
….I was this piece of paper.
Note the boxed note in the top middle. The one where I set a meeting with Louise at The Friedman Agency for 2:30 on Wednesday, July 29, 1992. That’s the meeting that gets me my first couple of temp jobs, one of which becomes a permanent job, which becomes a writing job, which gets me a marketing job at Disney, which leads to my career as a screenwriter.
I’m particularly fond of the question mark floating above it. I have no idea why it’s there, but I love that it’s there.
This paper is not some trophy or something. It’s my reverse Ozymandias. Know what I mean?
Look upon my Beginning, Ye Mighty, and smile!
I’m not saying you’re going to be rich and happy and famous. Honestly. I don’t know what you’re going to be. Drug-addicted hobo isn’t out of the question.
What I’m saying is…treasure your beginnings. That’s where all the fun is. That’s what I’m doing right now. Because I’m beginning a new cycle.
Let’s see where it goes.