Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History Has Been Made Today...

And man am I psyched to see what tomorrow brings...

Thanks to all who've debated with me these last few's been intriguing to say the least...

Needless to say I was pacing around like a fanatic at a sporting event for the first few hours of results and then started to calm down toward the end... I am quite happy with the final results to say the least. -JG

Friday, October 31, 2008

A New Hope On Election Day?

So - I've grown quite tired of arguing with old friends and acquaintances about politics - especially when so many of them are misinformed.

I really wish people would learn to use sites like to learn actual facts and cut through the spin - but of course - it would seem that folks are much happier believing half-truths than the actual truth.

As for the above picture - for anyone reading this outside the United States - it is a clear parody which mixes Obama's "Hope" Campaign poster with Luke Skywalker and the title of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

I find it hilarious but can't decide if the image is from Episode IV or not... I mean - Luke wears dark clothes in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi - so - I kinda wished he was in the white robe from Episode IV - but whatever - you get it.

My friend Claude who is as sick as I am of the politicized-spin encountered in all media this year replied with the following hilarious comment when considering Luke Skywalker as a 2008 presidential candidate:

"Luke Skywalker is an inexperienced elitist Jedi Knight who wants to convert the entire galaxy to the Force, which will raise taxes on middle-class planets and destroy their proud way of life. And he looks French."

Claude's hilarious - and maybe should work in a Republican think-tank but I guess were someone to further politicize the image - they'd have to add this as well:

"This Jedi sympathizer is also a rebel terrorist who has repeatedly fought and plotted against the Empire and commonly associates with other terrorists and enemies of the Empire."

I guess it'd be funnier if it wasn't so sad to see how misleading the Republican party has been ranging from a Plumber they call "average" even though he seemingly out-earns the working class that the Republicans claim to be protecting...

...To the folksy VP candidate who is so down to Earth that she wears the most expensive outfits one can find with the purpose of donating them to charity - a tradition that I guess comes from having the power to "read everything," as she told a reporter when asked what publications she reads.

Wow - I wonder if she's read any of my stuff in Empire, Total Film, Variety, The Los Angeles Times or even Creative Screenwriting?

Alas - here's hoping for an Obama win - and a bunch of votes toward seriously restructuring the Congress as well.

Then maybe laws can be enacted the way they were supposed to have been - which isn't exactly from the throne of the oval office with special "war time powers."

Who knows? With enough votes, maybe the Empire may finally come to the end?

Heck - I'd dance with Ewoks if that happened - and well - I freaking hate Ewoks - 'nuff said. -JG

Friday, September 26, 2008

I actually can't say it better myself...

So - I'm reposting Jon Stewart's smart and sadly comedic assessment of our current "crisis." I think the rush to a deal with no oversight due to an emergency has in the past proven to be ineffective and irresponsible to say the least.. these clips demonstrate that quite well...--JG

Stewart and the rush to for a deal with little analysis:

Stewart and his awkward loan interview:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Plato on Play-Doh

Allright - it's fancier than that...but still...

This is a kinda cool random flick featuring Plato's The Cave allegory. Expect more random postings than I did this summer - which really fell off...

Expo planning is in its intense stage now - remember if you want to go and want to save 10% use the discount coupon code: CSPODCAST to save on your price of admission.

I'll leave one spoiler note below...

Spoiler note: Consider this - if these guys were prisoners in a cave next to each other for a long, long time - is it really feasible that when one of them comes back the others wouldn't recognize his voice? The story still works - and what he's describing to them might still be indecipherable - but not recognize his voice? That's pushin' it Plato... --JG

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight Soars to New Heights of Masterful Storytelling

This is amazing character-driven action writing and one of the greatest adaptations I've ever seen of material stemming from the illustrated page. In my podcast today I mentioned that The Dark Knight certainly deserves writing nominations. It also deserves a best picture nomination as well since it really is the best film I've seen this year.

Here characters are often tempered through action and they in fact grow through the action. Action also reinforces the thematic of "How far will you go to deliver justice?"

Everything really fits into place and works in this film which smartly comments about the times we live in without hitting you over the head with it. Even the dialogue says a lot even as the characters are generally saying so little. It's really tight writing and great structuring.

I had a screenwriting friend who wanted me to break down the plot of the film after I saw it three weeks ago, spoilers included, so that he could figure out what everyone was raving so much about.

I refused to do so because as I explained, there isn't anything truly new in this film so much as it simply adds the classic tenets of drama to the mythology of the Batman universe.

There's a familiarity of the world you're in while at the same time the presentation of the narrative and character arcs have been so meticulously well thought out that everything does in fact seem new and polished. It truly has to be seen to be believed.

Of course, I think this response only annoyed my pal since he was convinced that if someone would just tell him the secrets of the film - he might get a leg up on his own project, which is again absurd because the only secret of The Dark Knight is to take the high road when it comes to narrative and character writing - which isn't easy to do.

After he sees the film, I'm going to ask him what he possibly could have told me were the roles reversed. What "secret" or spoiler from this film could help you in your own writing vs. did experiencing watching other writers setting the bar so high for the genre inspire you to do so yourself? Nothing I could have emailed him could have enlightened him to the film's masterful writing beyond me emailing him a PDF of the script itself.

The Dark Knight's character writing is so strong that I couldn't wait to return to the characters when immersed in an extended action sequence, like the prisoner transfer. Sure the characters are all there - but - the real anticipation of bringing them close together to see how they interact is what kept me on edge. The film's final confrontation between The Joker and Batman was sublime.

As discussed in my podcast with co-writer Jonathan Nolan, he and his brother, co-writer/director Chris Nolan and (story by writer) David S. Goyer all envisioned The Joker as a force of nature, which is a cool conception but not so easy to translate to the screen - yet, they totally pulled it off. Ledger's acting was incredible and definitely nomination worthy - but - I certainly hope people don't forget about the excellent performance by Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent.

The writing of the Harvey Dent character was Shakespearean in scope and is the character with the grandest arc in the whole film. Dent goes through the most change phsycially and of course mentally as Gotham's White Knight falls when we see his conceits of justice meld into a lust for revenge by the film's end. It's great writing and Eckhart simply "got it" which is evident in every frame of his strong performance.

I was really glad Jonathan Nolan was able to sit down for our podcast (you can find it in Itunes) and hope that during the awards season this excellent film is properly rewarded with the nominations it deserves.

I've already seen The Dark Knight twice in Imax and have been absolutely blown away by it and can't wait to see it for the third time on Saturday night... - JG

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford discuss The Empire Strikes Back - way back....

Ah the fun of Youtube, here's a Today Show interview about The Empire Strikes Back shortly before it came out. It's especially interesting to hear the 3 prequel concept explained all the way back then...

And then of course the second part, where Hamill oddly makes a comparison that involves a sister - this of course a few years before the sister revelation in Jedi...
Enjoy - JG

Monday, June 9, 2008

Acting is For Orangutans - thank goodness writing isn't. Whew .

If the marketplace wasn't tough enough already..-JG

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Foot Fist Way Conan TV Appearance

In this week's Creative Screenwriting Magazine Podcast in Itunes of The Foot Fist Way Q&A, an audience member asks about the Conan O'Brien TV appearance made in Feb. 2008.

For your viewing convenience - I've posted the clip below. It's quite amusing, and for the film's sake, I wish it'd been closer to release, but still feel its a very cool bit of marketing. Enjoy - JG

And of course now the clip has been pulled - stay tuned - I'll try and find it again! Email me if you have it!

Cinematic Losses

I was very saddened by the passing of the great filmmaker Sydney Pollack this week, which of course only reminds me of the other cinematic loss suffered this year with the passing of Anthony Minghella.

I've been fortunate enough to have had the honor of interviewing both of these film greats in years past and while I can't say I knew them personally, felt compelled to remember them here.

I interviewed Mr. Pollack as part of the Interpreter cover story for Creative Screenwriting Magazine and he was very generous with his time for the interview. As co-writers Scott Frank and Steven Zaillian explained in the article, Mr. Pollack had a passion for storytelling and took the development process very seriously. While exhausting at times, Mr. Pollack strove for the story to be the best it could be and refused to settle for any sort of short-cutting.

He was very supportive of our coverage and frankly I'd had it in the back of my mind to try and figure out some sort of a retrospective piece on his work. Yet, I'm sad to say I never got around to doing it. I felt lucky to have interviewed him and as a fan of his work have always had the deepest amount of respect for him.

I first interviewed Mr. Minghella for Cold Mountain as the cover story in Creative Screenwriting Magazine and he was also kind enough to come spend time with us for a screening and Q&A of the film. I had recorded this Q&A although it was in the days before podcasting and the tape seems to have been slightly damaged, but probably fixable. I'm hoping to one day restore the footage and get it online.

Mr. Minghella was a fascinating interview since his process, especially in his research stage, was very in-depth and focused. Upon the completion of research he seemed to store the information in his deep in the back of his mind allowing it to bubble forth as needed while writing his scripts. In effect if he remembered something he researched, he deemed it worthy enough to be put in his script as opposed to having a stack of papers by him when he wrote.

After the screening he stayed around to chat with our readers and subscribers and sign various books and posters. A few years later he was kind enough to double-book a screening with us, meaning he drove across town from one screening and Q&A to ours. While many busy writer/directors can always do this - few wind up doing it as it really takes a lot of time and energy to do two Q&As in one night. I made sure that we were the last stop of the night so that we'd have more time for our Q&A.

That Q&A for Breaking and Entering can be heard in Itunes as part of Creative Screenwriting's podcast. Again Mr. Minghella was very kind to our readers and subscribers afterwards and his presence on the big screen will be greatly missed.

Both Mr. Minghella and Mr. Pollack's company Mirage had a bunch of interesting projects in various stages of development. It will be interesting to see what the fate of those projects become. I hope that somehow a few of them make it to the screen as they always had such good taste.

Ultimately, talented filmmakers live on through their films and based on the work left behind by these two greats, I'm confident that they shall be admired and studied for years to come. -JG

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Great Week to be a Geek!

So um,

I've seen Iron Man and it's an excellent comic-book adaptation.

Surprisingly a bit more violent for a PG-13 film than I'd expected, it'll be interesting to see if parents complain. Of course, middle-eastern terrorists are being killed -- so I'm guessing there'll be few complaints.

What's so great about Iron Man is how well its character-driven focus translates to the screen. Rather than getting caught up in a multitude of villians (here only two work together for just the right amount of time) and their villian back-stories, we focus on a transformational arc for Tony Stark as he realizes that he could probably do more good for the world.

A day after seeing Iron Man I got my special edition Grand Theft Auto IV which includes a soundtrack, book of art, Rockstar Games bag and most importantly my authentic GTA IV lockbox! I can only wonder what crazy things I'll figure out to lock up in there...

I'm digging the game which will itself break records this week financially, but will also serve as a wake-up call to the marketplace that this M-Rated (Mature) game has a large audience of adults with money to spend on non-traditional and at times even risque (but not pornographic, at least not what I've seen) adult entertainment.

Most importantly the game provides an immersive character experience where you can go on missions that play into the game's structure or of course you can utilize other GTA "Sandbox" games throughout the huge city and have fun on your own with a gamut of entertaining activities.

Iron Man and GTA IV in one week - gotta say - it's been a heck of an entertaining week...--JG

Grand Theft Auto IV ScreenshotSee More Grand Theft Auto IV Screenshot at

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Davey and Son of Goliath

Mark Bell of Film Threat recently revived this video, which I'd kind of forgotten about - but ya know - share and share alike, it's always cracked me up. If ya dig this you can easily find a few more in Youtube as well...

Enjoy -JG

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wain Attacks Web! (like months ago)

Um, there was a David Wain Surge on the web last summer and I believe this utterly silly and great show, Wainy Days, was even mentioned briefly in The Ten podcast we did - but I somehow forgot to ever watch the damn thing until today.

Wow - am I slow or what? (answer is yes)

But the good news about jumping in to an ongoing comedic serial webshow is that you don't have to wait for new episodes to be posted since there's already two seasons up there that you can blaze through.

Wainy Days is as plot-driven as Lost and as dramatically intense as an episode of ER where a small child dies so - you really gotta watch every episode - in order, all the way through.

I asked writer-director Wain about his writing process for these webisodes via email today and he was cool enough to respond before heading in for surgery.

When asked about how much improv vs. scripted material there is in each episode Wain replied:

"It's 95% scripted but improv is allowed!"

The rest of his answer was garbled as I think the anesthetic had kicked in. - JG

Friday, February 29, 2008

Chatting With Jonesy

For this week's podcast I was honored to be a part of the legendary LA Radio show Jonesy's Jukebox on 103.1 FM as part of the LA Times Envelope/Buzzmeter Panel.

The Envelope is a special section to the LA Times that I was able to write for in 2007 and the buzzmeter is a part of The Envelope's website which compiles a group of journalists, critics and pundits to rank Oscar categories and try and predict both nominations and the winners themselves.

If yer unfamiliar with Jonesy's Jukebox, it's a show hosted by Steve Jones, the guitarist for the Sex Pistols and is a fantastic interview and music show here in LA that has filmmakers, actors, musicians and yes even an occasional journalist like me on for a chat. To hear more Jonesy, just type 103.1 FM into Itunes to find their great podcast.

As a Sex Pistols fanatic and fan of the show - it was a blast to be on it as a guest and quite strange to actually answer questions for once rather than ask them.

If only I'd prognosticated more Oscar winners....oh well - I got best picture, original screenplay, adapted screenplay and director correct and of course there's always next year...JG

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

whew - the strike is over

I know it's a week late on my blog to say this - but - last week was a long week. So - just wanted to say congrats to all the hardworking men and women of the WGA who toughed out this strike. While many were confused about the strike being related to DVD pricing - really it was about setting some foundation of authorship in the new media age - which is quite important. I think the WGA had great leadership and unity and found it very interesting that the AMPTP moved forward in the strike without much of a face.

By face I mean - no real point of view. Sure they had a lead negotiator - but even after hiring a PR Agency they simply were never able to explain why they refused to deal fairly with writers. Interestingly the strike came to a close via back-channel dealings as the AMPTP's lead negotiator and membership were not in agreement as to what they wanted or would negotiate about thus - off-line chats ultimately settled it without the power-brokers help. Granted they were negotiating on the power-brokers behalf, but, it was just interesting how there seemed to be very little focus and definitely not much fiduciary sense to the AMPTP's refusal to come back to the negotiating table for so long.

Nonetheless - glad it's over and congrats again to the WGA for enduring a tough strike and having it conclude with some well deserved gains. -- JG

Monday, February 11, 2008

David Lynch vs. Flix on yer Phone

Lynch is a master of experimental narrative which is why I was slightly surprised he'd be against someone experiencing his work in an alternative environment like on a mobile phone, but, artistically I can completely understand his gripe with someone experiencing his work intended for a big screen on such a tiny device. To date, I've never watched a flick on a phone and I couldn't imagine having that much time to stare at a phone outside of a long plane ride. I definitely want the new iPhone when it comes out - so - maybe I'll give it a try.. but I certainly won't be watching Blue Velvet, out of respect to Mr. Lynch --JG

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why I Walk...

From - a wild tale. It was recently speculated by Variety that if the strike continues too long some writers may lose their health insurance and the WGA's best move at that point is to pay for COBRA coverage. I hope it doesn't come to that... - JG

This was submitted by WGA member Mark Kunerth.

Invariably, while walking the picket line, conversations to turn to one of three things: dissecting the issues we are fighting for, speculating as to the status of the negotiations, or determining how many miles we’ve walked during a particular picketing shift. Perhaps it’s grown to urban legend proportions, but recent reports put the latter at 29 miles per shift. Oddly, in thirteen weeks, I’ve lost exactly zero pounds.

We all have our own reasons for marching in circles for hours on end. It may be the hope of achieving fair compensation for new media or the desire to revamp the dreaded DVD formula or it could simply be to show solidarity and resolve.

However, the reality that often gets lost in the mix is how the outcome of these negotiations – the fair compensation for all of our work – will affect contributions to our pensions and health fund. Any concessions or rollbacks, regardless of how the companies may try to decorate them, will directly and significantly affect the stability and viability of two funds we largely take for granted.

I know I certainly used to take them for granted. That was until six years ago when my wife was stricken with a life-threatening illness. It was a time filled with grief, confusion and uncertainty, yet the Guild was there. That is why I walk the strike line. To support a union that supported my family during a very dark time. During that time, a faceless organization became a collection of caring, compassionate friends. For that, I will always be grateful.

When my wife was just over seven months pregnant, I found her on the floor in our home office convulsing in a violent grand mal seizure. Instinct took over, paramedics were called, and an ambulance rushed my wife to the nearest hospital. There, while awaiting treatment, she suffered two more seizures, underwent a CAT scan and spent the next twenty-four hours drifting in and out of consciousness as doctors struggled to come up with a diagnosis.

Once stabilized, we were told my wife’s CAT scan was negative, and that her seizures were the result of adult-onset epilepsy; an odd diagnosis and punch to the gut, but a relief that the previous days’ drama was nothing more serious. Sent home with anti-seizure medication and an otherwise clean bill of health, my wife and I spent that day trying to wrap our heads around this diagnosis. That night, however, she had another seizure in her sleep. Again paramedics were called and back we went to the hospital.

Doctors performed another CAT scan. Afterward, they pulled me aside and said, “We found a mass. Your wife has a brain tumor.” This was impossible. The scan two days earlier showed nothing. The doctor checked my wife’s patient file. No record of a previous CAT scan. The cynic in me said, “Of course.”

Over the next thirty-six hours, my wife was held in intensive care where she suffered five more seizures, each more violent than the last. Finally stabilized with heavy doses of anti-seizure medication, she was moved to a private room in the High Risk Pregnancy ward where we would remain for the next six weeks, allowing our baby to grow as close to term as possible. The plan was to wait for our baby to be born; then schedule my wife for brain surgery. The entire time, she was exhaustively monitored by state-of-the-art equipment, impressive machines and mind-boggling technology that a writer can’t possibly begin to understand.

We spent time between blood draws and neurological tests learning all we could about brain tumors. We researched doctors, and tried, with great difficulty, to adjust to our new reality. Less than a week into our ordeal, the phone in our tiny hospital room rang. It was a representative from the Writers Guild of America. Word had gotten out about our little story, and the Guild wanted to make sure that we were receiving everything we needed, and to ask if there was anything they could do to help.
We didn’t know what we needed, just that our plate was suddenly and ridiculously full. There was even an IRS audit in the middle of this. Seriously.

We were reassured that the Guild was a phone call away, ready to provide anything: doctor referrals, recommendations, assistance with paperwork and the peace of mind that our medical insurance – still one of the best in the country – would cover everything. We were instructed to make our medical decisions based on need and what we deemed best for us, and the Guild and its insurance would do the rest.

A month and a half later, our little girl was born – three weeks early and with under-developed lungs. She spent the first several days of her life in the neonatal unit. (Because we still hadn’t had enough drama.)

With the help of referrals, we found the best brain surgeon in the country, if not the world. Dr. Keith Black, who heads up the Maxine Dunitz Neurological Clinic at Cedars Sinai Hospital, has dedicated his life to treating brain tumors and working for a cure. He agreed to perform my wife’s surgery, and a week later, she was transported to Cedars Sinai Medical Center where she underwent four-hour brain surgery to remove a racquetball-sized tumor from her left, frontal lobe. Three days later, she was home. The WGA called again to inquire about the health of my wife and daughter. In the course of eight weeks, we had accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

All of it was covered by our insurance.

A week after brain surgery, we met with Dr. Black for her biopsy results. Our research had led us to a morbid hope. “We need the tumor to be either grade one or grade two.” Those, our research had told us, were the types of tumors that were eminently treatable or even curable.

Our doctor sat us down and said, “Surgery went incredibly well.” Hope.
He went on, “Unfortunately your tumor was a glioblastoma multiforme – grade four.” The words we didn’t understand turned out to mean, ‘Incurable.’ Complete devastation.

We were told that it would be treated aggressively. Radiation. Chemotherapy. Still, the prognosis wasn’t good. Most people diagnosed with these tumors live, on average, 18-24 months. We were told of the incredible likelihood that my wife would not see our daughter walk.
The next few months were filled with innumerable doctor visits, MRIs, radiation treatments and finally a steady diet of oral chemotherapy that my wife would continue indefinitely.

The whole time, the WGA supported us, helping us cut through healthcare red tape and managing an unending maze of hospital and insurance company beauracracies.

It’s now been nearly six years since my wife collapsed in our home office. Our little girl started kindergarten in the fall. My wife has valiantly fought her way back from the most vicious of diseases and the direst of prognoses. She discontinued her monthly chemotherapy nearly three years ago and now, aside from a really cool scar on her head, you’d never know she was sick. And despite no longer working as a sitcom writer, she still benefits from my WGA insurance coverage and marches side-by-side the rest of us, logging more hours than most, I’m sure.

For us, the strike is about much more than DVDs, streaming video, ESTs and any number of negotiating bullet points that involve math I don’t entirely understand. Like my fellow guild members, I want to be paid fairly for all of our work. On top of that, however, I hope to keep the very real and significant contributions to our pension and health care funds, which will continue to provide all of us with world class healthcare.

So while I walk for a fair deal, I also walk out of loyalty to my union. I walk because I will never forget their support in the face of adversity. I know my reasons are probably different than most, and oh, how it would be so very easy for me to hit the snooze button and forego that 6 a.m. strike walk. But it also would have been very easy for the Guild to have not gotten so personally involved in our lives.

And while this letter may be perceived as ‘heart-tugging,’ ‘manipulative,’ or some lame attempt at sympathy, it is really a long overdue thank you letter to the Writers Guild of America.

Thank you, WGA.

Mark Kunerth

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stephen Gaghan speaks out

Writer-director Stephen Gaghan chats about his views on the strike from and when Gaghan talks - I listen - JG

Good Dick

Marianna Palka wrote, directed, starred in and produced Good Dick a dramatic competition selection at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. I was really impressed with the film which also stars Jason Ritter and think Palka is definitely a screenwriter/director to watch. Here's an interview with her from the Sundance site...-JG

Use this link to watch it:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Human Tetris from The Game Over Project

I'm still in love with these guys and here's their latest video. I'm sure the logistics behind this were tricky - but well worth it! -JG

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Same Old Story Video

Another great video from with a long-term via as to how long writers have been getting the short end of the stick from the studios - JG

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Phil Robinson - This Is Our Moment Video

Writer-Director Phil Robinson speaks out about the importance of the strike - JG