Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Chronicles of Twitter - Part II: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TWEETED


Even after being on the Twitter bandwagon for a few months and after seeing it put to hilarious lengths (seriously- @SteveMartinToGo, its just brilliant), I would say I still had a few doubts about this strange "not quite Facebook" thing. That is, until this past Thanksgiving, where Twitter became about so much more than what @JuddApatow was up to...

It became a conduit for a harrowing tale of trauma and survival, of search and rescue, or LIFE AND DEATH!!!
Thanksgiving night...just like any other...well, much colder than any other...like, 20s I think...anyway, I was enjoying a post-gluttony cigar (which was kinda a continuation of the gluttony, but whatever) on the screened-in-porch back in good ole' Glen Ellyn when my longtime neighbor, friend, and ultra-conservative advocate JOHN DIETZLER came hurriedly into the backyard - Bob's new dog Bootlegger (nicknamed BOOTY) had escaped from their backyard and was on the loose! 
That kicked off a feverish neighborhood search to track down this dog that was lost in the strange wilderness of suburbia. Despite the exhaustive effort by all available, Booty was not found that night. It was scary, because of the cold we did not know if Booty would be okay. I had to go back to the city, unsure if Booty would ever be found..
Little did I know that the real story was just beginning. Michelle - Bob and John's sister and organic beef entrepreneur extraordinaire - was Tweeting in hopes of tracking down Booty: the 2010 version of putting up fliers on telephone poles.
As I went through my regular routine of writing, bar-hopping, and general Chicagoing, I kept a close eye on my Twitter feed, which chronicled the trials and tribulations of the Dietzler family in their continuing search for Bootlegger the Dog. 
I would like to present Michelle's Tweets, in their entirety, to preserve the visceral experience of what happened....


@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Alert! Bootie- our German Shorthaired Pointer- ran away tonight from my parent's house in Glen Ellyn. Have you seen her? we are so sad...
25 Nov via web


@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Please help us find our farm dog Booty. She is lost in Glen Ellyn and was recently spotted by Lincoln School.... please. triblocal.com/glen-ellyn/201…
26 Nov via Tweet Button

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Thanks @triblocaljenn for this article about Booty triblocal.com/glen-ellyn/201…We really miss her...
26 Nov via Tweet Button 

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Thanks to everyone who has shown support for our missing farm pup Booty. She is lost in Glen Ellyn and we hope to find her soon...
26 Nov via web

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
We have an update at Booty: Someone saw her on the prairie path in Glen Ellyn. If you go out for a jog or bike ride today, pls look for her!
27 Nov


@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
We are still looking in Glen Ellyn for Booty, my brother's beloved sidekick. We really hope we find her and can take her back to the farm...
27 Nov

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Our dog Booty is still missing in Glen Ellyn. She is cold and hungry. Please call us if you see her 630.***.**** or call the police.
27 Nov

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
This is a link to a photo of our missing dog Booty and some info on her: triblocal.com/glen-ellyn/201…
28 Nov 
@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
This is a pic of our missing farm dog Booty... http://twitpic.com/3b2dgt
28 Nov

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Good news! We have spotted Booty! She is scared and running around under 355 between 53 and St. Charles Road. Hunting the hunting dog!
28 Nov

@DietzlerFarms  Michelle Dietzler
Booty is back with Bob now and happy to have food and her comfy bed again. Thanks for everyone's help getting the word out! We are so happy!
29 Nov

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Now that Booty is home, we can finally all sleep and eat... this whole episode has been physically and emotionally exhausting!
29 Nov

@DietzlerFarms Michelle Dietzler
Bob and Booty- happily reunited!
29 Nov


Wow.

I don't know a film released in 2010 that can offer a ride like that... plus deliver each story beat in less than 140 characters.

I mean, this is Screenwriting 101.... you've got a sympathetic "lost child" archetype in Booty. There's the strong, silent tough guy with a heart of gold in Bob. We have a likable, engaging protagonist with @DietzlerFarms-- who can imagine this tale being told through anyone but her Tweets?

There's a community rallying together, excitement, disappointment, resolve...

And a happy, crowd-pleasing ending that's as Capra-esque as you can get. 

In fact, if Frank actually wrote this you'd call it too sentimental! I mean, Booty actually went missing on Thanksgiving night. Can't you just imagine her frozen little snout puffing on a window, watching a warm and happy family picking at turkey leftovers?

So, yes: Twitter may mostly be an overflowing swamp of sarcasm, ultra-irony and self-loathing/self-aggrandizing shallow little men (remember to follow @mkosin!), but I think its worth noting that there are also good, honest people on Twitter. People who care about family, country, and high-quality ground beef.

That's the Twitter feed I want to follow!

So that's it. The Greatest Story Ever Tweeted. You may be cynical, you may disagree, but I want you to know this: 

"Every time you Re-Tweet, an angel gets its wings"
"That's right....that's right!"






Monday, December 13, 2010

BLACK list POWER

Caution! "Inside Baseball"-heavy post today...*

*not actually about baseball


Today there's a bit o' buzz around the smog-covered hills of Hollywood because today the Industry's "Black List" of scripts was released.

Now, this ain't Joe McCarthy's black list. Unless, McCarthy spoke to a Wheeling, West Virginia crowd and said "I hold in my hand a list of 57 of the best written scripts in Hollywood that have not yet been produced by a studio!"

Okay, here's the deal- first read this LA TIMES article on the blacklist.


Now, the cool thing about this article is that this semester I've actually been able to meet - or, at least, briefly talk to - two of these major players, through some of the really great classes I've had this year.

The first is that Franklin Leonard, the guy the article is about, came to my advanced producing class and told us all about his life and how he came about to compile the Black List. He's a really cool guy, very smart, very savvy- kind of like a real life version of an Aaron Sorkin character.

He was an awesome speaker who really catapulted himself into a powerful position in the Biz through a little creativity, reasoning, and hard work.

*BTW when he came and spoke to us he was still an Exec at Universal and our teacher said, after he left, that with the changing over the guards at NBC-Universal he'd either get a promotion or be somewhere else in a few months. Now he's somewhere else. My producing teacher is smart.

Anyway, ANOTHER really cool thing about this article is that I also got to hear the life story and briefly speak with the writer with the #2 script on the Black List- Noah Oppenheimer.

He was a completely unknown producer who burst into the industry recently after working his whole life in news and reality TV. Pretty much bammed out a screenplay in about a week and a week later Steven Spielberg was strongly considering it. So, he's pretty hot right now.

He came in to my "Business of Representation" class because, luckily enough, my professor for that class also happens to be Noah's agent. SMALL WORLD.

Oppenheimer's got a pretty interesting story too-- worked in cable news for years, often alongside my one-time favorite shouting head Chris Matthews-- now he's done in a few months time what some people spend a lifetime hoping to achieve. Pretty good. Pret-tay pret-tay pret-tay good.

There's a lot to learn from guys like these, and I especially look at how I can emulate them or follow their paths. Now, they did both go to Harvard, and I went to, what we'll call "the Harvard of Rogers' Park".... still, I'll call that one even.

The other things they both had in common that I take a lesson from? They both worked really, really, really, really hard. REALLY hard. Like, Great Depression-era coal-mining ya-finish-the-day-even-though-you're-wheezing-from-the-black-lung hard.

Now, THAT's something I can do.

(Hopefully)

Anyway, thought I'd share that bit of fun.

Also, I'm gonna try and hustle to get a copy of the # 1 script - COLLEGE REPUBLICANS - about a young Karl Rove.

Apparently, back then they used to also call him "The Architect"


Or more like "The Architect of Getting Laid!"

I'm sorry...that was a terrible joke to go out on. I'll try and Tweet something funny later.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

WATCH THIS: "Shit Blows Up while People Run 3 (in 3D)" TEASER


Just out today....

video

 I have to say that while Michael Bay is the guy I love to hate, he's also occaisonally the guy I hate to love.

And with this TRANSFORMERS 3 trailer he's the latter. 

I mean, Transformers 2 was one of the WORST movies I've ever sat in a theater and watched (didn't pay, but still- it was a Friday night), but somehow he actually has me interested to see Transformers 3. Now, part of the reason (who are we kidding, 99.9% of the reason) I give any thought whatsoever to Transformers 3 is because they spent half the summer blowing up my favorite city...and that's always fun to see (IN MOVIES!! IN MOVIES!!!! NOT REAL LIFE!!!! #thanksalotbinladen).

So I'm already kinda intrigued by this movie and now he comes out with this teaser where they say that Niel Armstrong say some Transformers during the moon landing. Which is so stupid....but also SO COOL.

I'm sorry, but as a history nerd I love when movies go back and weave their ridiculous plots in with real history. Clearly that was the whole idea behind "Inglorious Basterds". Or like "The Watchmen" saying Dr. Manhattan won the Vietnam War. Or remember when in "The Rock", Michael Bay implied that Sean Connery had a microfilm that proved aliens landed at Roswell and that JFK's murder was a conspiracy? Remember how much COOLER that made "The Rock"?

I think that when Michael Bay is a big history nerd too, except that when he actually tries to DO history it comes off eye-gougingly terrible, (*cough* PEARL HARBOR *cough*) but when he just uses history to enhance a half-decent story, it actually kind of works.

So, yes...I guess maybe once the real trailer comes out and we see Shia's dumb dialogue my interest will wain but I think now- because of the Chicago thing and now this dumb "Neil Armstrong" hook - I may actually be excited to see Transformers 3....God, I may actually go to a midnight screening...
I feel dirty. 


I need to see BLACK SWAN and fast...that'll make me forget all about this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

10

Bit of seriousness today. Last Friday I joined the mourning of thousands in Chicago upon hearing about the death of legendary Chicago Cubs player, broadcaster, advocate, and ultimate fan - Ron Santo.



I don't usually feel strong connections when public figures or celebrities die, its usually a brief moment of "that's too bad", a moment of remembrance, and moving on. But Ron's passing hit hard and I feel like its reverberations will be felt for more than just a few days. In fact, I think the sadness will be especially palpable when the 2011 Cubs start their season and Ron Santo's voice will be absent from the airwaves.

I don't want to pretend that I'm in any position to give a eulogy on Ron's amazing life and career, plenty of reporters and people who knew Ron can do that much better.

All I know is that being a Cubs fan is hard. We suck a lot. I've seen more wasted opportunities and depressing seasons that any fan outside of Cleveland should have to endure. Ron's amazing enthusiasm and affable personality made those painful games a bit easier to listen too.

And, on the few occasions when the Cubs were actually successful, hearing Ron's exclamations of joy made victory all the more sweet.

Pat Hughes brought up Ron's blatant homer-ism in a piece in the Tribune:

Of course, everyone remembers Ron's famous "Oh, no" call on the dropped fly by Brant Brown. I swear, his forehead was glued to the table after that one. I thought he'd died. What most people don't know is manager Jim Riggleman had to comfort Ronnie afterward, putting his arm around him, telling him not to worry, that the Cubs still would go to the playoffs.

A manager cheering up a broadcaster? Do you think Mike Ditka ever tried to cheer up Wayne Larrivee? This was a first in professional sports. I had to look away. It was a terrible day, and I didn't want anyone to see me laughing.


And there's so, SO much to say about Ron's charity work and battle with Diabetes. Again, much will be said and done in the coming days. I'm glad that Ron's family has suggested in lieu of sending flowers or cards that fans donate to JDRF.

In addition to everything great about Ron Santo the broadcaster, the fan, and the man, there was also Ron Santo the player.

A great player. One of the all-time best for his era. Its a shame so much discussion in the wake of his death centers on the Hall of Fame's committee's stubborn refusal to let him in. The important thing is that Ron's #10 flies in the wind over Wrigley Field.

On that note, one of the best idiosyncrasies of baseball is the timelessness of statistics. Though HGH and Flintstone vitamins may cast some periods under suspicion, there's little doubt that in Santo's time, his numbers stood alone. So, in a baseball geek's tribute to the exuberant third basement who munched on candy bars in between innings to keep his blood sugar up, the career statistics of Ron Santo.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Chronicles of Twitter - Part I: WHAT THE TWEET?

I think that at long last I should discuss my newest "hobby" and why there is seems to be a confusing and often unintelligible "Twitter Box" on the right hand side ----> of the blog homepage...for those who've noticed and actually VISIT the homepage.

I explored Twitter a year ago because a classmate (the one classmate who is sure to rocket to success while the rest of us are spending our post-grad days giving Paul Rudd a copy of our script when we "bump into him" at the doctor's office. In the doctors office. Okay, fine, its a costume I'm not really a doctor) went to CANNES and was going to share the experience via the newfangled TWITTER.

I got on. I followed. I was entertained by Coog. I didn't get Twitter. Cannes ended. I was done.

Recently a professor was going to another film festival and said we could follow her on Twitter while she was there. By now I'd seen a few more friends hop on the Tweetwagon AND was really blown away to find out that a writer could get a TV SHOW on a REAL, LIVE, NON-NBC NETWORK with the whole @shitmydadsays thing.

So, in the spirit of absolutely shameless self-promotion (caused by being in the business I'm in and the general milieu of my generation) I got on "back" Twitter this September.

This time around, I figured it out. I figured out the value of Twitter, or more specifically, why I valued Twitter. And embraced it.

The thing that separates Twitter from Facebook [and by the way, for the older, not quite "plugged in" family members, things are about ready to get very advanced tech-speak wise. Unless you recently saw "The Social Network", you may just want to click over to AOL.com and read the most recent story about a farm-town someone who did something.] - anyway, the thing that separates Twitter from Facebook is that, when used effectively, Twitter can be a valuable and entertaining stream of comical quips and breaking news rather than an endless droning of Event Invites, Status Updates, and the 1,000,000th tagged picture of someone drinking with friends.

We get it! We all like to go out and drink, myself ESPECIALLY SO, are we really in need of THIS level of documentation? Why are you showing me this?

Sorry bout that angry rant, but its the kind of thing that living a Facebook-filled life spawns. Twitter doesn't make me angry, know why? Because I get to choose who I follow on Twitter. I'm not socially obligated to follow someone on Twitter just because I see them every day. You're a dick if you reject a friend request but nobody gives a crap if you dont follow them on Twitter.

Because I get to choose, the people I follow on Twitter are INFINITELY more interesting the vast majority of my FB friends. I mostly keep an eye on people in entertainment, especially funny people....to name a few: JUDD APATOW, AZIZ ANSARI, MATT WALSH, AUBREY PLAZA, ADAM MCKAY, DAN HARMON, ERIC STONESTREET... oh!, and

STEVE MARTIN

This guy has found his 21st century banjo. Steve Martin sees Twitter for the ridiculous time wasting entity that it is and just goes with it. Irreverent, funny stuff.

But, yeah, these are writers, directors, TV showrunners, actors...all people I want to be or be working with sometime soon. They tweet about being on set or writing a new script and, if they do tweet something inane about what they had for breakfast or they're going on a vacation, THEY TOSS A JOKE IN THERE!

I also keep up with some news guys, some sports guys, and the occasional ridiculous celebrity (I did start following Ashton finally but really only because he gives great BEARS shout-outs. Represent.).

Now, another plus is that this Twitter thing can be purely observational or interactive. You can follow tons of people and trends and never once offer up a Tweet, Twit, or Twat. Or you can get involved.

I like to get involved.

Without going into too much detail - because who really cares that much? - (said the guy writing a lengthy treatise on Twitter...hypocrisy much?) - but w/out going into a lot of detail I'll just say that I like to Tweet for really 2 reasons.

#1. To use it as my own personal AP wire service to let people who might be interested know when I'm up to something that's worth mentioning ie: I'm coming back to Chicago today...we're launching our webseries today....I was at a Cubs game and met Vince Vaughn who liked my script and he's gonna attach himself and then he introduced me to Mila Kunis who thinks I'm funny and we're taking a trip to the Greek Isles today...(HYPOTHETICAL EVENTS SOME MAY NOT HAVE ACTUALLY HAPPENED!!!)

#2. To share something, either that I came up with or that someone else Tweeted, that is going to hopefully be funny or interesting or exciting and bring a tiny ray of sunshine into an otherwise miserable day.

And that's it.

If any of y'all ever see a Tweet come up that sounds like my head is up my ass (more than usual) or like I've been spending a little too much time in the harmful skin-baking rays of L.A.'s sun, please let me know - please put it on the blog and say "THIS IS A BAD TWEET. NO! BAD SOCIAL NETWORKER/BLOGGER! STOP IT!"

Its the only way I'll learn.

Now, because Twitter is such a phenomenon - and who doesn't love a good phenomenon? - I've got at least one more MGH post on Twitter. And if THIS post didn't make you want to jump on the Twitter bandwagon, then the NEXT one surely will.

And if the NEXT post doesn't make you want to jump on Twitter, then you probably won't jump on Twitter.

And that's fine.

You probably live a richer and more fulfilling life than I.

Kudos.

STAY TUNED for Part II: THE GREATEST STORY EVER TWEETED