Tenspeed & Brownshoe

Saturday, April 14, 2007

After our self imposed exile and a good suggestion from Craig over at The Artful Writer, I decided to post about this whole Don Imus situation.

I've also turned on the comments section because I'm really interested in what people think of this whole issue.

I'm not sure I've ever flip flopped so hard over a single issue. And I think a lot people feel the same way. Mainly because both sides are idiots.

It's like watching Donald Trump and Don King fight over who's got the best hair.

I guess I should start this whole thing off with the basic misinterpretation of what Free Speech is. Wikipedia's definition of Free Speech reads as this:

Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment.


This Wikipedia definition is insanely vague and more than a little incorrect. But this is how most American's would define Freedom of Speech. No, what Freedom of Speech guarantees is that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Now that's the legal definition. As Americans we retain that right as long as our speech does not pose a clear and present danger (i.e. inciting a riot). Freedom of Speech does not however protect us from consequences.

Nor should it.

(Quick aside: As it turns out Wikipedia is updated by just about anyone and is as accurate as a blind man playing Operation.)

Speech will always have consequences. I'm free to call my boss an idiot but in turn, he's free to fire me. I'm free to call the head of Disney a fascist and he's free to never buy one of my movies. Speech without consequences loses its power. Speech without power is just babbling. And babbling is for brooks and babies.

So this brings us to Don Imus. Where to start? First of all, point of fact, I do not enjoy Don Imus or his radio show. Not because I think he's a racist but I just don't think he's funny. You want funny radio? Download The Ricky Gervais Show with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. Arguably the best radio (actually, they were limited podcasts) ever in the history of recorded sound.

Now first of all, has everyone actually seen or listened to the offending comment? We've all read the "nappy headed ho's" thing but let's see it in context.


Oddly enough, I feel like the entire piece had more offending material than just nappy headed ho's. Fast forward to Friday morning and Don Imus has been fired due to the charge led by Al Sharpton.

(Another quick aside about Al Sharpton. He's an absolute idiot. I'm offended that he thinks that he represents the interests of all black people and 9 times out of 10, he actually cheapens any credible cause with actual merit. That man has to go. Please.)

So here we are. And the question becomes: Did Don Imus deserved to get fired for his comments? Deserve? I don't know. But I do know this...he got fired. He got fired because his employer decided to fire him.

So is this a free speech issue? God, no. Never has been. Imus was never arrested for his comments. He was suspended and then he was fired. Which is his employer's right. I don't know about you guys but I've been fired before. Did I deserve to get fired? If you're asking me, then no, I didn't think I deserved to get fired. I'm not sure anyone does. I've heard people ask why he got fired before his employer's saw if his ratings were going to go down as if ratings had anything to do with a radio or television show. It's all about advertisers, folks. And when they don't buy, you die. Just ask the people behind the CBS show, Becker. For years it was rated in the top ten but CBS moved it all over the schedule, trying desperately to kill the show. Why? Because the people who watched the show weren't fiscally desirable. (Read: Old People).

So now the other question has to be, 'Why all of a sudden has Don Imus been raked over the coals?' Opie & Anthony have said things that are much, much worse. There's a lot of speculation. Some of it has been credited to Barack Obama and his bid for presidency. Some of it has been credited to our increasingly puritanical society. Pure speculation.

Here's the real reason and I want everyone to remember this:


That's it. Just pure and simple timing.

Every single person I know in this "biz", including myself, got there by pure and simple timing. Every single person. They just happened to know or bump into someone who knew someone, who knew someone. And boom...careers are made.

In the case of this Don Imus thing, someone who knew someone on the Rutgers team just happened to be watching that segment of the show. That someone just happened to know someone else who unfortunately knew Al Sharpton.

The rest is history.

I just think it's important for all of us to remember that as Writers, Directors, and Producers, what we say and what we write will always have consequences. In our careers there will always be someone who will inexplicably zero in on something you've written or said and you will become the target of political correctness. Personally, I've been accused of being a racist, a misogynist, and a homophobe. I am none of those things. But what makes America great is that there will always be someone who's Free to accuse of those things.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Okay, okay, okay.

So we haven't posted in awhile. Like months. And the funny thing is, when Josh Friedman doesn't post for months at a time I'd be really pissed. But then again we don't have a .0001% of the visitors that the Jewish Dahlia has.

The truth is Scott and I have been very busy with our projects (Scott is the king of all things theatre) and I've been directing a lot, including a television sitcom.

So...life is good. Which of course means that you'll probably never hear from us again. Such has been the way of a lot of us when we get busy, professionally that is, not in the 90's colloquiasm for sex.

Honestly I don't know how people like Craig Mazin and John August do it. They're at the peak of their career and they find time to dole out such good advice. Then again, they're both pretty settled in their careers while Scott and I are still metamorphisizing (I never thought I'd be directing television after all my years in film).

Maybe when things cool down a bit we can get back to the useless info and inane inner monologues that we post. Until then...



Wednesday, October 25, 2006

All in a days work as we keeps it real out here.

Thank you for the story about the audition. It tickled me so.

While I don't have anything as epic and ridiculous as the "Forty degrees is cold" guy, I do have a good one from the land of ON SET where I find myself so often.

SO, we're shooitng a prison torture scene where one actor is holding another actor's head under the water; and the guy with his head in the bucket is going for the academy award of course...
Oh, wait... I should go back.
The director is this woman who has like, bronchitis (she thought) but it turns out it's really bad asthma. And we are in an abandoned building with no heat or running water, so it's fucken cold. And there's dust and shit; and probably asbestos.
So she's got a coat on, and all that; and a pink winter hat with a pompom- and a face mask breather thing . And horn rimmed glasses.
Okay got it?
Mask, glasses, pink pompom.

So drowning guy and his tormenter are doing a great job on this really long scene where there is no cuts so we have to do it as few times as possible and it's hand held and there are sound people and cable wranglers scurrying around behind the DP and the whole thing...
Well, she like loses it and forgets that these guys can ACT and while the guy is struggling with his head under the water she stands up in the middle of a take and shouts,
Twice, just like that. And blew the take. So I yell cut, like they hadn't already, and everyone looked at her like, "What the fuck- that was the one!?"
I thought that was awesome.

I have heard that STUDIO 60 was not doing well, I seem incapable of getting home on a Monday night. And no I don't have fucken tivo, because I will never care about TV that much unless I am on it, or wrote it. (Or Kevin and Larry produced it - which means I am on it or wrote it.)


it's brownshoe loooking at life from both sides now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The NO NO's of Auditioning

Over at Ken Levine's blog, Ken has graciously and humorously shared some of his audition stories with actors coming in and embarrassing themselves or other people in the room. Currently, I'm in the middle of a slate of projects and we just had our first round of auditions yesterday. This has inspired me to write about some of the things that I love and hate about auditions:

Don't look at the producers or director when auditioning.

Unless the director is reading the lines himself with the actors, there will always be some sort of "reader" when auditioning. Some actors make the mistake of playing it to the director/producer in hopes to come off more powerful. Guess what? It doesn't. It's actually rather off-putting. Especially if the scene contains an intense argument. I can't tell you how hard I laughed when an actress looked over at my Director of Photography and called him a "white cracker bastard!" P.S. Don't worry, it's adapted from a Langston Hughes story and not a Chris Rock monologue.

Don't destroy the room!

Yet another argument scene. One actress thought it would be dramatic if she ripped off her necklace, her watch, and proceeded to systematically destroy the room while performing. Well...it wasn't. And she was wearing beads. And it broke, sending beads all over the floor. A nice little present for the next actor coming in. So now after her, the room looked like the last scene of The Burning Bed.

Read the script...

The most outrageous thing that happened yesterday was a guy who came in to read for the lead. He came in dressed like he was gonna rob a Korean liquor store. The story takes place in 1940. Already, I could tell he wasn't really prepared. Anyway, he starts reading the sides...literally. He never looked up. And if that wasn't bad enough, he delivered all his lines like DMX. We politely reminded him that the movie takes place during the 40's. So he starts again and this time he starts to shiver while reading his lines. The director stopped him and asked what he was doing. The actor responded, "Yo, 40 degrees is cold, nigga."
I laughed for 10 minutes straight.
True story.


Friday, October 20, 2006


For the past couple of weeks, all I could hear about was how much people didn't care for NBC's Studio 60. Personally, I really love the show. Or...I loved it. The show's premise is actually kind of similar to my own situation with my co-director and co-producer, Larry Strong. Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford's characters (Matt and Ben) are scarily close to Larry and I. Even more incredible, we were hired to direct a new sitcom the day the show premiered. So naturally, I felt a kind of...I don't know, kinship, with Studio 60.

Recently, that's changed.

There are a few reasons why people don't like this show. People within the business object to the far fetched premises of the storylines. There was one episode where a staff writer stole some jokes from another writer and Matt & Ben made everybody redo that segment. Twice. This of course is so far from reality it wasn't even interesting. They never checked on any facts and it was just silly.

But I think what most people are objecting to is the Writing for Studio 60. Every single scene contains some sort of reversal. In one scene last week, Amanda Peet's character starts reciting some statistics and then Whitford's character says, "You're using a crib sheet, aren't you?" And of course she pulls out a crib sheet. Which wouldn't be so bad if that didn't happen IN EVERY SINGLE SCENE.

It's too much and it destroys any hopes of taking a scene seriously. In essence, scenes never have any stakes. Which is fine for a comedy like Arrested Development but totally wrong for an hour long drama (with elements of comedy). If they tone down the reversals, I think the audience would react a bit more favorably with the show.

I'm still watching Studio 60. I think you should do. But Aaron Sorkin needs to just let his great cast get through a scene without virtually mugging to the camera. Besides, NBC needs to keep more scripted shows on the air and less Deal or no Deal shows...


Friday, October 13, 2006

UPDATE: The trailer I put up for the film, Grindhouse, was taken down because it was apparently stolen from the studio. Sorry, everybody. But take my word for it, the trailer was outrageous!


So this has nothing to do with screenwriting, production, or anything like that.

It's a trailer.

A movie trailer.

And quite possibly the most outrageous movie trailer I've ever seen.

I'm trying to find out if I can pre-order tickets...


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

So...I really hate reviewing television shows and movies. I try hard not to do it but sometimes it has to be done. Has to? Why does it have to? Man, I'm full of crap.

Anyway, there are two shows on television that I think people really need to watch and there's another show that I'm close to holding vigils to get it off the air. The first show is: DEXTER

Dexter is just such a great show. I never really watched Six Feet Under and I didn't know about Michael C. Hall. Well as it turns out, he's fantastic. Hall plays a serial killer who murders other serial killers...while working as a forensics officer. Great premise. And yes, I'm a bit biased because the show also stars Lauren Velez, the star of my film, Serial (are we all sick of me promoting my film yet? I am...). Lauren is also a stand out because she's playing a character she's never really played before. Basically she's a hot and bothered police lieutanant who wants some of that Hall killer love. Nice. Everyone...watch this show. It's great.


Okay. Now I feel like kind of a dick but this show is soooo awful I just can't ignore it anymore. Enter: THE MEGAN MULLALLY SHOW.

This is just the worst talk show I've ever seen. This may seem hard to believe but it's even worse than The Magic Johnson show. Maybe someone should have told her that she's not a talk show host. Conan O'Brien. That's a talk show host. Megan Mullally is a comedic actress...not the same thing. Which is evident from watching the show for just 2 minutes. Her monologue consists of either one of two things.

1. It'll either be a horrible, horrible song.


2. Some really ill advised taped segment with Megan mugging to the camera.

It's just such an awful show. If you don't believe me. Watch this video of one of her songs.

Did you get through it? The entire thing?

I doubt it.

And why in God's name does she wear the exact same outfit EVERYDAY? The Megan Mullally wardrobe consists of these items: Tight Blue Jeans, some sort of V-neck Cosby sweater, a large collared blouse underneath the Cosby sweater, a blue blazer, and her glasses.

She's also the worst interviewer on the planet. She pretty much sits her guests down on a couch, sits on top of them, and then (I'm not making this up), makes her guests sing a song. Nothing beats watching Isiah Washington's uncomfortable face singing, I'm not sure but I think it was "Copacabana".

I think NBC kind of beat me to the punch but please cancel this show. Ok, that's it.
I'm a terrible person.