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Thanks to everyone who congratulated me on the various projects I’ve got in the works.  Of course, the mere fact that I’m busy doesn’t guarantee anything.  Three months ago, I had almost eighteen different projects on the go, most of which have since dematerialized like a red-shirt ensign teleporting planetside so that he can lend Kirk some much-needed back-up.

Don’t get me wrong.  A couple of the projects I mentioned yesterday look very promising, but I know from experience not to take anything for granted.  I learned that lesson the hard way not too long ago…

I received an email informing me that a green lit show was looking for a showrunner and those involved were eager to work with me.  I needed to get on the phone with the president of the company that week!  So, I read all of the supporting materials, then got on the phone with the president of the company and discussed everything from the show’s budget to where we would shoot.  I was told we would need to move quickly!

I spent the weekend reviewing the materials so that we could hit the ground running on Monday.  Which came and went with no word.  Then Tuesday came and went.  Then Wednesday.  I emailed the president of the company wondering what was up.  Wasn’t this supposed to be a fast track project?  No response.  Thursday. Friday.  Finally, Monday, I was contacted by their director of development who apologized (they were away) and, over the course of the conversation, informed me that the project was not, in fact, green lit.  It was a script to series deal (And, days later, not a script to series deal either).  I would need to prepare and pitch my vision for the prospective series.

And so, I spent the better of that week reviewing materials and putting together a detailed pitch of the series pilot and a series overview.  I got on the phone and pitched my take to the director of development who was very positive, offered me a few suggestions, and then set a time for me to pitch the broadcaster.

The following Monday, I pitched the broadcast exec.  He had a few questions.  I answered.  I was thanked for my time and then…nothing.  While I wasn’t expecting an immediate response from the broadcaster, I assumed I’d at least receive an email from my partners on the pitch letting me know how they thought it went, offering me some sort of timeline.  Instead – radio silence.  The next day, I reached out to the director of development who informed me they expected a decision later that week.

Then on Friday, I received a call from the president of the company. And by the tone of his voice, I could tell it wasn’t good news.  “I hate making these types of calls,”he began and I felt bad.  Not for me, but for him.  I wanted to tell him that I believed we had a great pitch and that we could just take it somewhere else.  This wasn’t the end.  But, as it turned out, it was the end.  For me anyway.  “As you know,”he said, “we went out to a number of different showrunners for this project.”

Actually, no.  I didn’t know.

Apparently, the show had been picked up, but the broadcaster had elected to go with someone else’s take.

Normally, this would have been cause for frustration, but not to the extent I experienced that day mainly because I had been misinformed about a project that had gone from a green light to a blinking yellow to a full-stop red.

The incident soured me, not only on the industry as a whole, but on a few people as well.  Still, it did teach me a very valuable lesson about not counting your chickens before they’re hatched – or crewing your production until you have a signed contract.

So, for the time being, I’m going to pretend I haven’t been offered that showrunning gig, or been hired to write that pilot script, or am on the cusp of having that series I’ve been developing for the past nine months green lit. Instead, I’m going to keep working and focus on those comic book projects.

Oh, and maintain my torrid reading pace.  So far this year, 226 books and counting!  A job would really throw a wrench into my book-a-day average.

Over the past several months, I’ve had multiple projects on the go.  A number have fallen by the wayside, leaving me with about a half dozen serious contenders…

Project A: As I mentioned last week, this sci-fi series is a go.  I’ve started the creative ball rolling with series creator, discussing series, seasonal, and character arcs, technology, the pilot, plot developments, and reveals.  Also, have discussed brass tacks production issues, everything from standing sets to visual effects, casting to scheduling.  If everything falls into place next week, I’d like to start assembling the writers’ room with an eye to an initial two-week gathering to discuss broad stroke creative issues and break the first episode, then a lengthier period to break the rest of the season.

Project B: Received broadcaster notes on the pilot and bible for this sci-fi project.  Great input and I don’t foresee any problem addressing the network requests/concerns.  Hoping to have the polish delivered before month’s end.

Project C: Delivered a revised bible and pilot breakdown for this horror series last week and now impatiently await a green light on the script.  If I don’t hear anything by Monday, I’ll follow up with an email on Tuesday.

Project D: At this point in time, I really thought we’d be much further along on the the planned adaptation of this horror novel.  If the paperwork on the option is nailed down by next week, I fear scheduling conflicts may well force me to miss the boat on this one.

Project E: I pitched a production company five original ideas.  They’ve picked one they’d like me to develop for them.  Which one?  I find out on Tuesday when I go to lunch with two of the company executives.

Project F+: Yesterday, I sat down with an artist.  The day before, I spoke to my former writing partner about a possible collaboration.  I’m circling three comic book companies: Image (from an ownership standpoint, tough to beat their deal), Dark Horse (we have a pre-existing relationship), Vault (I hear great things about them from other writers).  Very excited about this one.

Projects Miscellaneous: I’m not going to bother giving them an alphabetical designation until things start to solidify on these various pitches, takes, and preliminary discussions.  But who knows?

Really, these videos speak for themselves.  I got together with my buddy Ivon and we spent an afternoon sampling classic chips, chocolate, and candy.  By the time we were done, I was exhausted and ready for bed.

At 4:00 p.m.

The chips…

The chocolates…

The candy…

 

These were my favorites…

Domino #4 (cover art by Greg Land)

Jirni Vol. 3, #5 (cover art by Michael Santamaria, John Starr)

The New Mutants: Dead Souls #5 (cover art by Ryan Stegman)

Old Man Logan Vol. 7: Scarlet Samurai (cover art by Mukesh Singh)

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Vol. 3: Remastered (cover art by Ashley Witter)

The Dead Hand #4 (cover art by Jordie Bellaire)

And which were your favorites?

My father was a student of the lottery.  Growing up, I remember him sitting in the kitchen every night, assiduously reviewing data amassed from years of weekly draws, every set of winning numbers carefully transcribed in a  set of dedicated books.  He would pore over these like a cryptanalysist seeking out hidden patterns, looking to identify elusive numerical biases.  When he passed away, among the things he bequeathed his loved ones was a set of lottery numbers my sister has since played on a dedicated weekly basis going on thirteen years now (along with a second set of potential winners that, mysteriously, came to ME in a dream some five years back).

I remember working on a show many, many years ago when, during a snack break between scenes, I got into a conversation about sin taxes – taxes on alcohol and cigarettes.  “How about a tax on stupid people?”offered the office P.A.  “They already have one,”replied the first A.D.  “It’s called the lottery.”

According to “the experts”, the chances of your winning the lottery are significantly longer than the likelihood of you:

Being killed by a meteor!

Being struck by lightning – twice!

Winning an Olympic gold medal!

Which is incredibly sobering and all until, really, you stop and ask yourself: When was the last time you heard of someone being killed by a meteor?  Or being struck by lightning twice?  Compare this to the number of times you’ve heard a lottery winner announced.  Also, I don’t have the statistics at hand, but if one were to tally up all of the Olympic gold medal winners and all of the big prize lottery winners over, say, the last fifty years, I’d hazard that the number of lottery winners is more than “slightly higher”.

Hey, that’s not to say playing the lottery is a smart move.  The odds against you are astronomical (though, clearly, much better than being killed by a meteor, winning an Olympic gold medal, or being struck by lightning – twice).  Someone once said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  And, while I think the clinical definition of insanity differs somewhat, I can see the logic in this.  Why would you keep playing the lottery if you never won?

Why was my father so captivated by the lottery that it became an almost obsessive hobby for him, keeping such meticulous logs, studying past winning number combinations with a single-minded commitment usually reserved for cancer research?  In short, why did my dad keep playing the lottery? Oh, that’s easy. Because he won.  Once.  And I’m not talking a free ticket or a couple of hundred bucks.  It wasn’t much in today’s dollars but, back then, it was twice what he and my mother had paid for their first home.  They used the money to pay off their mortgage, clear their debts, and set aside a modest sum for a rainy day.

For one crazy draw, he defied those seemingly insurmountable odds.  And then tried to do it again because, I suppose, statistically, you have no less of a chance of winning a second lottery than you would a first.

As for me, I’m not much of a lottery guy, preferring to pay the equally long odds of trying to land a t.v. show.  Still, whenever I see the grand prize inch past 50 million, I am tempted.  After all, I may not know any gold medal champions, but I have first-hand knowledge of at least one lotto victor.

Over to you…

Congratulations, you’ve won the lottery!  What will you do with your winnings?

I happened across the photobucket website earlier today and recalled “Hey, I think I actually had a bunch of videos uploaded there at one point.”  After several failed attempts, I finally succeeded in haphazardly inputting the correct password and – voila!  I was greeted with a slew of poor quality videos dating back from days on the Stargate.  Here are a few for posterity’s sake (or, if you prefer, as one of my ex-girlfriend’s used to say “For prosperity’s sake”):

SGA “The Last Man”.  The sand in the sandstorm was actually powdered oatmeal.

Real sand would have hurt more.  And been harder to clean up.

Wraith loose on the lot!

SGA “The Last Man”.  The Keller-McKay walk and talk was shot right outside The Bridge Studios lot.

Good times.  Good times.

At the end of every season, there was one thing I especially looked forward to.  In addition to the wrap party.  I refer, of course, to the annual focus group research packages that neatly summed up the likes and dislikes of a very small sampling of our overall audience.  From what I could tell, the methodology involved gathering viewer opinions via online questionnaire, engaging roughly 1000 respondents, about 200 of who actually watched our show (I was always quick to point out that they could gather a broader sampling by simply hitting up twitter, but my suggestion went largely ignored).  Their answers were carefully tallied up and revealed in colorful fashion: pages of graphs, percentage tallies, multi-colored boxes, and venn diagrams.  The result were distilled into a cover summary that would offer helpful direction for the next season.  Thanks to these surveys, for example, we learned –

Our series regulars and likable characters, TWO and the Android chiefest among them, were the most popular while the character of the lecherous/murderous Wexler – who at the time had appeared in all of two episodes – was decidedly less popular.  Hell, I would even go so far as to describe him as “unpopular”.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Alicia Reynaud, who also appeared in all of two episodes, was not a fan favorite either.

On the one hand, audiences really enjoyed the complexity of the season 2 storylines but, on the other hand, they found a lot of the second season storylines too complex.  They also simultaneously loved the show’s unpredictable twists and turns yet found these twists and turns somewhat predictable.  They loved the fact that the season was action-driven and exciting, however they were disappointed in the slow pacing.  They preferred instances in which the crew worked together as a team over technical explanations of space travel.

My favorite takeaways, however, were the conclusions that derived from cherry-picked responses and contextless feedback.  For instance, audiences were asked to rate the importance of certain aspects of the show, say: relationships, space battles, and fight sequences.  Relationships were of the greatest importance with space battles coming in second and fight sequences in third place.  “See!”I’d be told.  “Audiences don’t care about fight sequences!”

Another great example was “the great Android voice debate”.  Amidst all the feedback we received on the show’s first season was some criticism of the Android’s voice as a handful respondents found it lacked the authority of classic android’s of yore.  I guess.  So a request was made to make sure the Android spoke in a more authoritative manner in season 2.  My response: “GTFO!”.  Never mind the fact that the Android character ranked either #1 or #2 in popularity across most categories, why the hell would you change a beloved character midstream?  It’s not as if people who weren’t watching the show were going to see a preview and say: “Holy shit!  That android character speaks with authority!  I’m going to start watching this show!”   More likely, fans of the Android will watch and wonder: “What the fuck did they do to the Android?”

It was on the heels of one of these yearly cross-network fact-finding summations that I found myself at a nameless network, looking to pitch.  I sat down and started to roll into my first show, a horror-comedy in the spirit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  “Look, I’m going to have to stop you right there,”said the senior executive in the room.  “We’ve found that our audience doesn’t respond well to horror so horror is definitely not something we’re looking for.  No horror.”  As I shifted gears to my next pitch, the junior started talking about one of their upcoming new productions, a monster-themed show with, uh, comedic elements. “It’s great,”he enthused.  “It’s alternately terrifying and horrifying.”  And then, catching a look from the senior executive, he quickly added: “But more terrifying than horrifying.”

Uh, right.

7 Great Movie Endings Demolished By Test Audiences

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