May 1, 2014

Residual Angst, Part 2.

“A year and a half?” I gasped again. “There’s a queue,” explained Sheena, Queen of the Lost Residuals Jungle. “Qualified and pre-approved arbiters are in high […]
April 23, 2014

The Food Chain.

An old pal—let’s call him Hal—once told me the story of his first cool Hollywood car. It was over margaritas, chips, and a big bowl of […]
April 16, 2014

Only in L.A.

Much of working in showbiz is about living and existing in showbiz. Or amongst it without allowing its corrupting essence to sink beyond one’s initial layer […]
April 9, 2014

Curiosity and the Kill.

“What’s your name?” I asked the wannabe screenwriter. “Gerald,” answered the wannabe, shaking my hand. Okay, so his name wasn’t Gerald. I’ve only named him that […]
April 2, 2014

April Fool’s Massacre.

Note to reader: If you’re looking for a lesson this week, go elsewhere. Because all you’ll discover herein is, at best, amusement and a taste of […]
March 26, 2014

The Tamale Principle.

Simple axiom. When faced with a choice between the unfamiliar and the familiar, most people will choose the latter. At least, thus was the theory posited […]
March 19, 2014

Anger is an Enemy.

Ever hear that old axiom, never write a letter when you’re angry? Yeah. I’d heard it too. And I wish to hell I’d remembered it. But… […]
March 12, 2014

Shut Up and Deliver.

“What the hell we gotta do to get a performance out of her?” asked the big bald one, aka Bruce Willis. “Maybe she’s intimidated,” replied the […]
March 5, 2014

Thanks for Sharing.

I don’t recommend you make a best buddy of your agent. Then again I don’t not recommend you get bestie close with your chosen rep. That’s […]
February 26, 2014

The Egg McGuffin.

“Did you really just say that?” I asked, pretty much stopping the meeting in its tracks. “What?” asked Miles, the over-animated producer who I’d backpacked into […]
February 19, 2014

Tick. Tick. Tick.

I asked myself how many times I’d been there before. Up against or even beyond the deadline. The phone ringing with calls from either the studio […]
February 12, 2014

The Brighter the Light.

“I have a great idea for a film.” Sure you do, I would usually say to myself. And, adjusting for inflation, if I had a dollar […]
February 5, 2014

Down ‘n’ Outlines.

The deal was closed. All initial meetings in the books. There was but one obstacle that stood between me and my tapping out FADE IN on […]
January 29, 2014

From Script to Scream.

There’s an old Hollywood story I’d heard about Earnest Lehman, famed screenwriter of The Sound of Music. He was asked about what exactly it was that […]
January 22, 2014

I Yam What I Yam.

A Twitter pal asked me this question: When can I call myself a writer? My answer was pretty simple, though I qualified it as one man’s […]
January 15, 2014

Do You Want Fries With That?

“What can we do for you today?” “Thanks,” I said. “Need a couple of iPhone 5s for Christmas gifts.” It was ten a.m. straight up. The […]
January 6, 2014

Dangerous Game.

Welcome to the true story of a dirt road, a dog, and the two homes that marked both the beginning and end of the half-mile stretch. […]
December 16, 2013

Great Acceptations.

I’d utterly failed at my first attempt at getting in to the famed USC film school. Upon reflection, it was a horrible application—all kiss ass, full […]
December 9, 2013

The Company You Keep.

“We need help,” said the director. In order to not embarrass this highly likable guy, I’ll call him Briny Sprockets. “I’ll get it,” I reassured him. […]
December 2, 2013

What’s in a Name?

I was paying with a credit card. It was a basic business purchase—a thumb drive to hang on my keychain. I’d already bought eight or so […]
November 18, 2013

The Best Revenge.

Yes. You know this person. The doubter. That one, not-so-well meaning person in our lives who insists it’s their personal responsibility to themselves and society to […]
November 4, 2013

The Great Offender, Part 1.

It was just a gig. An all-terms upfront, uncredited production rewrite. Pack quickly, climb on a plane, fly to the location, find a quiet corner in […]
November 4, 2013

The Great Offender, Part 2

Tommy Tantrum was a dead man. On the movie I’d been hired to fix—an uncredited production rewrite—he’d found a way to exclude me from a couple […]
October 28, 2013

The Enemies List.

The assignment started like this. A meeting at the studio with a vice president of development. I was pitched a character scenario. After a week of […]
October 14, 2013

What it Takes.

Not long ago in a post I titled ENTER THE GAUNTLET, I wrote about what it takes to get me – the grizzled veteran word merchant […]
October 7, 2013


Before Jerry Bruckheimer became the stand-alone superstar brand he is today, he was partnered in another superstar brand known as Simpson-Bruckheimer Films. The late Don Simpson […]
September 30, 2013


I was in a particularly delicate spot. You know that place. Low batteries. On the outside looking in. It felt as if I was in a […]
September 23, 2013

Paycheck Player.

The conversation is a common one. Agent and writer/client. The subject concerns the delivery of a script. “The producer has some notes,” said the writer. “You […]
September 16, 2013

Kiss It.

I have a confession. I have a prejudice against a particular minority group. And I’m being utterly unvarnished about this embarrassing fact. Upon my introduction to […]
September 9, 2013

Kill… or be Killed.

“For God’s sake,” barked the director. “I’ve made movies for Ray, Joel, and Don. Hell if I’m gonna go through all that again with Jon Peters.” […]
August 26, 2013

It’s a Small World After All.

Just this week I got a call from a young writer/director acquaintance. He’s a friend of a good pal and, every so often, I’m lucky to […]
August 19, 2013

Ten Little Indians, Part 1.

Rodney Redux had, once again, balked at starring in the follow up to his biggest hit movie. Somehow, sequels didn’t live up to the tiffany image […]
August 12, 2013

Ten Little Indians, Part 2.

Though my deal hadn’t been closed, I was already writing the studio sequel I’d sold the movie star, Rodney Redux (name obviously changed to protect the […]
August 5, 2013

Finders Keepers?

The trendy bar was our starting-block for a night out in Austin. After a day of stumping my newest novel, my publicist and I met up […]
July 29, 2013

Trailer Trashed.

My movie was being released in about four months. That meant the new trailer for the film was landing in theaters, attached to the studio’s most […]
July 22, 2013

Late to the Party, Part 1.

I loathe being late. Be it a movie, a meeting, a flight or pretty much anything. I hate it so much that I get anxious and […]
July 15, 2013

Late to the Party, Part 2.

So we’ve established that I hate being late. And on my studio rewrite, I was beyond late. Like a credit card bill long past due. Excused […]
July 8, 2013

Late to the Party, Part 3.

One of my screenwriting credos goes like this. Do you want it fast or do you want it good? I usually reserve this lightning bolt for […]
June 24, 2013

Enter the Gauntlet.

I have a policy. It pretty much goes as follows: Thank you for asking but I can’t read your script. Such is the nature of having […]
June 17, 2013

A Bitter Pill, Part 1.

Here we go again. The names have been changed for the most obvious of reasons. I met Charlie A-List just inside the threshold of his Paramount […]
June 10, 2013

A Bitter Pill, Part 2.

“Did he offer you the franchise?” asked megabucks writer Charlie A-List. As you read last week in (A Bitter Pill, Part 1) I’d just landed in […]
June 4, 2013

Truth, Terrorists, and Turnaround.

This isn’t a sequel as much as it is a companion piece to last week’s A Funny Thing About Homage, where I recalled the late great […]
May 27, 2013

Funny Thing About Homage.

What’s wrong with this picture? I was an unproduced screenwriter standing at the threshold to my antique, valley domicile. It was my tiny, first-timer bungalow measuring […]
May 20, 2013

Big Bad Bruce.

It was our first morning at the location. The set, a neo-modern house the art department had dressed up into looking more like a comfortable fortress, […]
May 13, 2013

That Screenplay Thing I Do.

“So whaddayou do, Doug?” It’s the usual, socially interactive question. Adults, stuck in the same mini-sphere, in this particular case it’s at a Little League team […]
May 6, 2013

Writer’s Nightmare.

I’d just typed FADE OUT for the umpteenth time in my short career. The draft was neat and a tightly wound one hundred and fifteen pages […]
April 29, 2013

You’re Fired.

I think I was twenty-five years old. Pretty young to have come to the conclusion that the man who’d helped me cross over the threshold into […]
April 22, 2013

A Million Dollar View.

In a rare early collaboration, I co-penned a script with friend and former agent, Rick Jaffa. Though the partnership eventually collapsed under the weight of unreasonable […]