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Archive for January, 2017

“For decades he was the chief justice of the film industry — fair, tough-minded, and innovative. I feel that all of us have lost our benevolent godfather.” 
Steven Spielberg quoted in the LA Times after the death of Lew Wasserman

When Lew Wasserman died in 2002 he was considered the last of Hollywood’s moguls. Variety said he was “Hollywood’s ultimate mover and shaker.” He was head of Universal Studios when Jaws and and E.T. became the highest grossing pictures ever.

“One of the great lessons I learned from [my grandfather Lew Wasserman] was that the more successful you are the more problems you deal with. And the more challenges you have, and the bigger company you have, and the bigger business—just stuff goes wrong. The key measure to success is how well you deal with the bad news, and the problems, not how well you embrace the good news. Inherently, the more successful people have organizations better at anticipating, communicating, learning from, growing from, and dealing with and surviving problems. He was a big believer in that. He used to always say, ‘bad news gets worse, so you better just deal with it.’ And if you think about it it’s true, I get paid to deal with problems. Good news takes care of itself. And if you think about human nature—whether if it’s with your kids, or your partner, or at work, most people’s knee-jerk reaction is to stick their head in the sand and hope that bad news goes away, and the truth is, it doesn’t.”
Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO of Wasserman
Rich Roll Podcast interview

P.S. Casey Wasserman is also heading the committee trying to bring the Olympic games to Los Angeles in 2024. He was 10 years old when the Olympics were last in L.A. and said it was a magical time. It was. I graduated from film school in L.A. in 1984 and remember that era fondly. That’s also the year I met my wife in an elevator in Burbank.

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Conflict-Conflict-Conflict
Looney Toons & Conflict
Neil Simon on Conflict

Scott W. Smith

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Six Pages a Day

Write six pages of script a day. Stick to this schedule no matter what. You’ll have a finished first draft in roughly twenty days. Then go back and edit what you’ve written. Spend no more than five days on this edit.”
Screenwriter Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct)
The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood

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Postcard #117 (Dez Bryant)

They are playing the NFL Pro Bowl in Orlando tonight and I went out to the ESPN Wide World Wide of Sports at Disney yesterday to see the last practices of the AFC & NFC teams and other events. Got to see wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. be covered by cornerback Richard Sherman—two of the best in the league.  And I saw Dez Bryant (#88 of the Dallas Cowboys) play John Madden Football and took this shot:

des2

©2017 Scott W. Smith

Related post:
Postcard #28 (Prime Time)

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“I’m Mary Tyler Moore and I am…an actress, an animal lover, the chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Reseach Foundation, the wife of Dr. Robert Levine, and…I don’t want to give away the whole story from the vert start. Suffice it to say there are a lot of ways to end that sentence, and I don’t think I’ve come close to living through all the possibilities, thank heavens. But what I do know is that in every role I am a devotee of laugher and tears, committed to expressing the nuances of each.”
Mary Tyler Moore
Growing Up Again:Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes
Opening of Chapter 2

That iconic freeze frame of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat in the air as Mary Richards in The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a peak moment in her life. It was her Rocky running up the steps moment.

In a Facebook-centric world we’re great at putting filters on photos and our lives. We’re good a promoting our victories and happy moments. But our tears and struggles we’re not so good at talking about. (And when we do we know they won’t get as many likes.)

When Robin Williams committed suicide in 2014 it was surprising for people to learn about his struggles. He was known for his laughter. But it reminded me the suicide of Freddie Prinze back in 1977. He was a successful stand-up comedian turned even more successful sitcom actor. Yet just months after signing a $6 million five-year deal with NBC the 22-year-old took his life. Depression, drugs, and divorce were the flip side of a man who made many laugh.

Moore, who died last week at 80, was a survivor. She too made many laugh and reached incredible entertainment heights in the sixties and seventies with her comedic Emmy-winning abilities and then received an Oscar nomination for her serious role in Ordinary People (1980).  A devotee of laugher and tears.

A life shaded by getting married at 19 to flee her alcoholic parents. She later not only divorced her first husband, but her son from that marriage died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 24. Moore also had her own struggles with alcohol.  And just before her run with The Mary Tyler Moore Show began she discovered she had stage 1 diabetes.

Since this is a blog on screenwriting let me just say that’s what a three-dimensional life looks like. When we read a script or see a movie or Tv show where we see three-dimensional characters it resonates with us because it reflects our lives.

I’ll close with this excerpt from Moore’s book Growing Up Again:

screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-6-49-12-am

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Broken Wings & Silver Linings
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MLK & Screenwriting (on characters)

Scott W. Smith

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Carl Reiner on casting Mary Tyler Moore for The Dick Van Dyke Show:

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“I will never forget one day [Lucille Ball] sort of walked out of the studio and then came back, and came up to me and said, ‘you’re very good,’ and then walked on. That was the greatest gift I ever received in this business. I don’t think I have another moment that compares with the impact of those words.”
Mary Tyler Moore
Archive of American Television interview in 1997

P.S. In that interview Moore mentioned that Lucille Ball would sometimes drop in on rehearsals of The Dick Van Dyke Show because her company Desilu Productions owned the studio where they taped episodes before a live audience of 300 people. Also in that interview Moore said that her favorite episode from that show was My Blonde-Haired Brunette.

Bonus quote for the day:

“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
Mary Tyler Moore

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“Today Mary Richards and her DNA can be found in nearly every major female character in primetime.”
Tina Fey on the character Mary Tyler Moore played in the TV show that lead to Moore winning four of her seven Primetime Emmy Awards

mtm3617

©2008 Scott W. Smith

The day after I won a Regional Emmy for this blog in 2008 I drove the the Starbucks in Crystal, Minnesota where Diablo Cody wrote much of Juno, and I then drove to downtown Minneapolis and took this photo of the Mary Tyler Moore statue on the Nicollet Mall.

I’ve read the because of construction in that area the statue is temporarily “housed inside the Minneapolis Visitor Information Center at 505 Nicollet Mall, Suite 100.” And because of her death today flowers are being placed on the statue.  Here’s the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show that ended with the famous hat toss of a happy Mary Richards.

Entertainment Weekly ranked the hat toss as the second greatest moment in TV. The show was created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns.

Scott W. Smith

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