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Blog is Blog

March 5, 2009 Leave a comment

Though it is said there are no absolutes in life, I’m pretty sure this is one: I don’t know everything. I used to have a favorite line I coined for just myself. It went like this: There are entire buildings devoted to all the things I don’t know. They are called libraries.

The Internet has made the library a bit less trafficked. Though many have adapted, DVD loans are always up. AND most also let you access the net there too. When I am homeless, I intend to spend a lot of time at the library. I have no faith in the Tyler Perry Plan and/or I’ll need the net to check how my SAG & AFTRA residuals are flowing, until I can buy my own island.

But that’s not why I’m here today. Today, I’d like to point out to readers of blogs a salient fact. Web logs are like columns. In the olden days, when newspapers & magazines meant something, having a column was something a writer earned. Sure, maybe they were getting it on with the editor. Maybe they actually went to Journalism School ( really a department in a college or university ). They spent their days & nights, doing scut work, getting a beat, and pounding it for years, while eating as many free press buffets as possible. One day, they write something that gets them noticed. If it happens a few more dozen times, if sales went up & you were[deleted] the editor, you probably got a column. Or fired, because they refused to give you more money. I was a Journalism major. I quit it.

Columns express the point of view & opinion of that writer and are set on or near the editorial section, that’s why they are called Op/Ed. Some people who read columnists & blogs don’t understand that distinction. While no one suggests any writer ever has carte blanche—editors still edit—columnists are not reporters. They don’t need to have facts or quotes. They may choose to use them to avoid libel suits—a good practice. Hey! even the NY Times had a reporter ( or 2 ) fabricating stories. Those were purportedly fact based. Had he or she been a columnist, it wouldn’t have been the same ethical issue. I’m not erudite or knowledgeable enough to do a full tutorial on journalism fine print, but readers do need to know the difference.

Yes–some bloggers are in the business of disseminating facts. They can also be reporters. For example Rick Reilly is a columnist, Selina Roberts is a hack, erm, reporter cum author. If I were working for say, Sports Illustrious or ISPN, I can’t say Manny Ramirez is a poophead. Mostly. Here I can. This is because Manny isn’t going to find me & knock me down. This is for a few reasons—one: though I am old, I don’t have any game tickets he needs. Two: he can’t read. See! that’s probably not true ( cough-yes it is ). But I don’t have to answer to anyone when I’m a jerk. Kind of like Manny! Again, not nice. Peter Gammons can get away with some stuff now because he is in the Hall of Fame & 2 years ago his brain blew up & he recovered. That aside, as a guitarist, he’s meh. But as a rule Pete won’t stoop to name calling. Yes, because he has integrity. And he doesn’t need a lawsuit after all those hospital bills.

So, if some blogger disses your team or your school or your mama, they might not fact check it. Well, maybe not your mama. Don’t expect the person to have three verifiable sources. Or even a source. Unless Mountain Dew Voltage ( I like it ) counts. Meanwhile I heard this awesome rumor about Tyler Perry & Dame Edith. I’d like to tell you, but I am waiting on 12 solid ( albeit fluid ) sources. When I get back from WalMart with my 12 pack, you’ll be the first to know. That’s if it’s still on sale.

Hack-ting Out

November 15, 2007 Leave a comment

The Writers Guild of America, read: Hollwood hacks, is on strike. They have a point and you may find their issue described elsewhere in detail. Nub of the quill pen, hmmm I mean nib, would be writing royalties or residuals for DVD sales. Simply, they want to be paid part of those huge monies derived from television series sales; I agree.

Well, I agree, some of them should be paid. Not the clowns who write the same kinds of bad teleplays and scripts using phrases such as ‘ Excuse me!’ when a character is indignant ( typically when they are being told the truth about themselves.) AND my new favorite stereotypical response to being asked to comply with some questionable act: ‘ Hell, no! ‘  Nobody should be paid for that, in fact, money should be deducted! Every time either of those lines is uttered, an angel loses its wings. I bet they don’t do that kind of lame work in Islamic countries. At least not more than twice.

Make no mistake, even hack writing is work. It does require a modicum of discipline and an ear for everyday, conversational speech. Not to mention re-cycling other’s pap, churning out cliched crap and/or— I can get it for you wholesale plagiarism. If it was easy, I could do it! Actually, the real skill of these people is being able to sit down and type. Or having a girlfriend/boyfriend/life mate, who can. Being able to make it snow year round in a warm climate, doesn’t hurt either.

While I’m at it, last TV season’s breakout show Heroes, has sucked so far. It’s been soap opera slow with repetitive scenes. The producer, Tim Kring has acknowledged this, and vowed to fix it. Not having writers will be an impediment. Or will it? First sign of Heroes super-shark jumping for me, was the appearance of overly familiar ( and obnoxious ) faces such as Stephen Tobolowsky and Alan Blumenfeld. Whoever thought this was a worthy followup to first season casting of George Takei, Eric Roberts, Christopher Eccleston & Malcolm McDowell, needs to be terminated, rehired, then fired again, right after they buy a house in the Hills.

My sole experience with screenwriting was when I worked for a guy who scored movies. One day, after I had done a particularly good job feeding the cat, he took me aside. Seems he and his writing partner had a screenplay, a teen sex-ploitation comedy. I won’t tell you the basic plot ( think law suit ) but the catch phrase could’ve been: ‘ This one time. . . at Van Camp’s. . .. ‘ *  He thought I could take a run at punching it up. What apparently inspired him, was my never-ending supply of anecdotes featuring my show biz failures. Also, he’d just torched some excellent weed. Wow. . . he should hear me now.

Once the smoke had literally cleared, that project went nowhere. However, after reading my version, he did say that I was really wacky. Excuse me? Then he told me it was time to clean the cat’s litter-box. Hell NO! So, I ain’t in the WGA. Or on strike.

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* sorry—gotta know your pop culture and canned goods for that one