Monday, March 3, 2014

And the Oscar Doesn't Go To...

I wasn't nominated for an Oscar. I wasn't even thanked in an acceptance speech. I can live with that. In June 2000, I graduated from a top film school in LA with an MFA in Screenwriting. My first novel, Rattlesnake Lawyer was published on graduation day, and I did my first signing at a Borders in Glendale California a week later. By July, I had a job writing on a show that Dick Wolf, the exec producer of Law & Order. My Hollywood future looked bright.

What the hell happened?

Life happened.

The show was canceled, I moved back to New Mexico and resumed my legal career. I put up a poster of the film "The Devil's Advocate" on my new office. My boss made me take it down within an hour...
I used to go out and sleep on my sister's couch in Westwood, a few times a year.

For one brief month, it looked like I would have a show optioned on a major network. There was a writer's strike and that project went into "turnaround." It's still turning...

I blinked and thirteen years has passed...I no longer have the proper screenwriting software and couldn't write a screenplay if I wanted to. All the people I knew in show biz have retired. I think my back wouldn't let me sleep on my sister's couch in Westwood anymore

The only Academy I thank, is Albuquerque Academy....

What would have happened had I stayed? The show I wrote for -- "Arrest & Trial" -- was a forerunner of the Identification Discovery Channel. I wrote the words "A brutal murder had rocked San Diego, and then police found a clue that broke the case wide open." That would have enabled me to write the words "A brutal murder rocked San Francisco..." or "Santa Fe..."

My gut instinct is that had I stayed I would be earning a living writing, but no closer to winning an Academy Award if I was in Westwood as opposed to the west side of Albuquerque.

I am still writing of course and I feel tremendous satisfaction as a criminal defense lawyer helping people facing the worst time in their life. I'm married, and I've built a life here...

But for one day a year, I always wonder ....

I want to thank the Academy...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Justin Bieber will die for our sins.

There will be a book about Justin Bieber. That book will be turned into a film. Right now, we just don't know whether there will be a happy ending.

Even if Justin deals with his current legal issues, goes into rehab, and indeed retires from the music industry, there's already enough material in his young life for Martin Scorcese to get a three hour movie out of it. A young Leonardo would have been perfect for the part. Does Leo have any illegitimate nineteen year old kids?

Speaking of Leo, after Titanic he had fame equal if not greater than Justin's. While there were some reports of wild days and wilder nights, Leo dealt with his fame, dealt with temptation. He became an activist for causes. He also became a damn good actor. When was the last time Leonard egged one of his neighbor's homes? The new Leonardo would actually be out there cleaning them up and narrating a documentary about the evil of eggs on the environment.

Mark Wahlberg actually did real time for real crime back when he was getting funky with the funky bunch. Jay Leno recently showed a clip of a Marky Mark inteview from twenty years ago, when he might as well be his generation's Justin Bieber. I can remember the exact moment that he stopped being Marky Mark for me. In Boogie Nights, in the infamous "Sister Christian" scene, you see his eyes contemplate the drug deal that's about to go horribly wrong. Without saying a word, he showed that there was a brain behind those eyes. Was he thinking of executive producing Entourage during those moments? Wahlberg trained with the Navy Seals to make "Lone Survivor." Bieber could sure use a couple of weeks of basic training.

The biographer/film maker should wait until Bieber turns 28 because the twenty-seventh year is the crucial year. Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Paris Hilton all made it that far and have relatively cleaned up their act, even if they have sacrificed some fame. We are still waiting to see how Miley Cyrus turns out, but I am betting against her. You can Google all the famous stars who died at 27. The reason so many stars die at that age is because you can still be young in spirit but old at heart. Just ask Amy Winehouse.

So all you biographers and screenwriters out there, watch this story unfold. Or should we say all you beiberographers . . .

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Write, Talk, Seahawk: Richard Sherman Author?

If the Seahawks win the Superbowl, their cornerback Richard Sherman will get a book deal. Count on it. Hopefully, he will not taunt his fellow authors as he taunted Michael Crabtree. He might even outsell mystery writer Michael Connelly but Michael Connelly is a better writer than Michael Crabtree.

I've only read one sports autobiography, that of Dennis Rodman. It was written before Rodman went to North Korea, so I am hoping that he writes another chapter. Rodman's North Korean adventures could actually make a decent film, if only we could find someone who could portray Rodman as well as Rodman portrays himself.

Back to Sherman and his rant. I've been a published author for twenty years, and it is a very competitive business, but thankfully writers do not taunt other writers. The closest thing to taunting that I've ever done was when the editor of another book group bragged about their anthology at our group meeting while our anthology was suffering through a production penalty phase. "Come talk to us if you want to know how to do it. "

When our book came out, I picked up our book and said "This is how you do it." No, the feud between an Albuquerque and a Corrales writing groups does not compare to a feud between Seattle and San Francisco.

From all accounts, Sherman is a very intelligent man, a graduate of Stanford, which is a school that I did not get into. I do look forward to reading his biography and I do hope that it inspires youth to stay in school and pursue their athletic dreams.

Hopefully, WHEN the book is published he will treat his fellow authors with more respect than he treats his fellow players.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Blogging at Dawn: Academy Awards or Oscar the Slouch

Blogging at Dawn: Academy Awards or Oscar the Slouch: The Academy Awards nominated today. I once vowed that I would win one in writing, preferably in Best Adapted Screenplay  for adapting my own...

Academy Awards or Oscar the Slouch

The Academy Awards nominated today. I once vowed that I would win one in writing, preferably in Best Adapted Screenplay  for adapting my own novel into a screenplay. Could that still happpen? Well, I haven't given up yet. Remember the "secret" where you are supposed to visualize  a moment and that will happen? Well accepting an Oscar is my secret.

By telling you, did I just ruin it?

We do have a cat named Oscar. My wife named him. He has a tendency to block the TV screen when he wants to be fed.

My instructor at Film School won on Oscar and I did get to hold one in my hand. It is far heavier than you expect and I nearly dropped it. That might have caused a dent in the floor. Unfortunately, I do visualize dropping the statue as I accept it. I can live with that.

Another film school instructor also won an award for screenwriting.  He told me that I should go on and do things. He gave me a D, but that's another story.

None of my friends have actually won an Oscar, but a few have been thanked in speeches. That gives me two degrees of separation. It gives YOU three degrees as you are reading a column of someone who knows someone who has won an Oscar.  I don't know any of the nominees this year, in any category, but that isn't a bad thing.

My cousin who looks exactly like me, but younger and thinner, won an Emmy for Screenwriting. I don't hate him, but I do wish he would return my phone calls.

I already know what I would say in my acceptance speech. I would thank everyone who believed in me, but more important, I would thank everyone who didn't. On second thought, I would not be harsh in a speech. I would be more like Sally Field when she said "You like me! You like me!"

I do plan on watching the Oscars. Who knows? Maybe someday I will be there.   Hopefully Oscar won't block the screen.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Better Film Better Call Saul in ABQ...Please!

Vince Gilligan, I'll say it again...You better film "Better Call Saul" in ABQ! We know that the show will premiere in November. We still don't know whether the setting will be here or in Chicago or both.  Think of all the TV shows and films set in Chicago--Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, not to mention ER, Home Alone and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. As a practicing criminal defense attorney in Albuquerque who is the author of eight and counting legal thrillers, Albuquerque would create a unique setting for a show . . .

Several publications have noted that Breaking Bad had scenes that seemed to be taken out of a western. Albuquerque has that and more . . .At the risk of sounding morbid, so many crime shows begin with the discovery of a dead body. The show could portray that scene in so many locations without repeating itself. Saul can be standing over a body in the mountains, along the river, the desert, a casino or in front of his office without leaving the Second Judicial District. The Santa Fe courthouse is sixty miles away and it could be even more visually exciting. I once did a docket call on a felony case in a double wide trailer. Can Chicago say that????

Albuquerque is an eclectic mix of cultures. Breaking Bad barely touched on Native American characters, but Saul could open up that world. I have never seen a Native American lawyer on American TV. We certainly wouldn't see that in Chicago.

Albuquerque has stories to tell and people to tell them are already here. Our film crews are the equal to any in the country, but we also have a community of writers here that haven't been tainted by Hollywood.

When I was in film school at AFI in LA, I  wrote a "spec script" of "The Practice," a show set in Boston. I had never been to Boston when I wrote that script. Hopefully a whole generation of writers will be working on their "Better Call Saul" scripts, but they better come to Albuquerque to get it right!

By the way, I have a great idea for a feature, Ferris Bueller retires to Rio Rancho, but that's another story.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Breaking Globes

I am part of the Breaking Bad tour. I work in the building whose exterior portrayed Tuco's hideout. A tourist snapped my picture yesterday as if I had something to do with it. With the win at the Golden Globes last night, I have a feeling that Breaking Bad is going to truly break...globally. Does that break bad or good for Albuquerque?

There is no doubt that Breaking Bad was good for Albuquerque while it was filming here. It employed many locals and literally put Albuquerque on the film map. Another series, Killer Women is filming here now. Sofia Vergara is one of the producers, but I haven't heard of any Vergara mania yet.

I can't count the number of times my out of town friends asked me about various locations. I myself posted a pic of myself at the Breaking Bad car wash --the Octopus on Menaul and Eubank. After posting the pic, I had nearly thirty "likes" on Facebook during the hour and thirty minute detailing process. Defintely a break for the good.

I didn't like when I was constantly asked whether Albuquerque's meth problem was as bad as it was portrayed on the show. I do agree with Vince Gilligan's assertion that Jesse Pinkman's teeth were too white for a meth addict. that's a break for the bad.

The Golden Globes were sponsored by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Breaking Bad is now going to get more global attention, long after many of us have moved on. A Japanese women was looking for the mythical "Fargo treasure" in Minnesota, long after that movie aired. Will Australian tourists come to Tuco's hideout in ten years? That could break either way...

Congrats to Bryan and everyone involved in the show. Break a leg!