Archive for February, 2009
When the writer’s strike happened in late 2007/early 2008, writer Jeffrey Berman was looking for a way to stay busy in a productive manner. And that’s how his new project began–The Write Environment. Here’s more details on the project: “THE WRITE ENVIRONMENT features 50-60 minute, in-depth, one-on-one interviews with some of the most lauded and prolific writers in the television industry today, including Damon Lindelof (Lost), Tim Kring (Heroes), Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond), Doug Ellin (Entourage), Sam Simon (The Simpsons), and Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
… each episode … takes viewers backstage into the heretofore unseen world of the writer’s room for intimate interviews that offer a rare look at these diverse writers and what inspires them. From that first idea to the finished script, the writers share their views and stories, examining their successes, failures, and everything in between.”
I enjoy the chance to interview interviewers, so my thanks to Berman for his time. In preparation of the interview, he was kind enough to allow me to view screeners of the Lindelof and Whedon interviews. My thanks also to Sylvia Desrochers for making this interview possible.
Tim O’Shea: How did you first come up with the idea of doing this series when the writer’s strike was in full swing? Do you think you would have been able to get these writers’ time if they had not been on strike?
Jeffrey Berman: The series came about as a byproduct of the Writers Guild Strike. I had co-founded a web site called UnitedHollywood.com. Our mission was to keep our members, and the public, informed as to what was really going on behind the scenes. My contribution to the site was producing live interviews from the strike line as well as viral videos to assist in getting our point of view heard. As the strike progressed we started talking about cutting out the middleman, aka the studios, which would allow us to retain ownership of our own projects. As an aside, I’ll tell you that screenwriting is the only faction of the creative world where the creators do not retain ownership or rights to their material once they sell it.
And here’s the official release–
Now in its fourth successful year, the Glyph Comics Awards (GCA) continue to honor the best in black comics and creators. Many new faces are among this year’s nominees, as well as some old familiar ones.
The nominees for 2009 are:
Story of the Year
Bayou, Jeremy Love, writer and artist
Incognegro; Mat Johnson, writer, Warren Pleece, artist
Justice League of America: The Second Coming; Dwayne McDuffie, writer, Ed Benes, artist
Pilot Season: Genius, Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman, writers, Afua Richardson, artist
Presidential Material: Barack Obama; Jeff Mariotte, writer, Tom Morgan, artist
David A. Price instantly piqued my interest recently with his thorough examination of Pixar, called The Pixar Touch: The Making of a Company. The book aims to cover “the history of Pixar Animation Studios and the ‘fraternity of geeks’ who shaped Pixar’s story.” According to Price’s bio, he “has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Inc., Forbes, Business 2.0, and Investor’s Business Daily. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and computer science from the College of William and Mary and law degrees from Harvard Law School and Cambridge University. His previous book, Love and Hate in Jamestown, a history of the Jamestown colony and the Virginia Company, was published by Knopf in 2003 and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.” It was a true pleasure to get to interview Price about his latest book. I particularly respect him even more after learning his interview philosophy/no-pressure approach.
Tim O’Shea: You’ve been a fan of Pixar since the late 1980s, but how long had you been considering an examination of the Pixar company?
David A. Price: I became a Pixar fan after I saw an unfinished version of Tin Toy at a conference in ’88. But I didn’t start thinking about writing their history for another 15 years. In 2003, I had finished my book on the Jamestown colony and everyone was telling me to tackle another story out of the colonial period. That’s the standard advice — to build on what you’ve already done.
In the comics industry, I have tons of online friends, but KC Carlson is a rarity in my online friends–as he’ll actually call me on the phone once and awhile (Which reminds me, I need to get him my new number…) and better yet–take phone calls from me. His wife (and of course, respected industry critic and fellow pop culture blogger), Johanna Draper Carlson, posted some alarming news yesterday that I only just read tonight–KC may have had a mini-stroke earlier in the week.
I can’t thank Johanna enough for keeping her readers and friends in the loop at this very stressful time, as well as running a photo of a smiling KC. There is also some reassurance to the fact that KC is already home from the hospital. But anyway you slice it, reading that news made me realize just how much I respect, admire and treasure the friendship I have with KC and Johanna. They are good folks and deserve all the great health they can get (get rid of that cold, Johanna!)
Go visit the post at Johanna’s site and lend words of support and good wishes.
I run the risk of getting dope-slapped the next time they see me, but I have to ask them at some point–what was KC reviewing (and how bad was it) when he had the mini-stroke? Free double dope-slap, KC and Johanna, promise.
Get well soon, friend.
Sometimes the best leads for an interview happen in the library. Such was the case when I ran across pop culture historian Chris Epting‘s 2007 book, Led Zeppelin Crashed Here: The Rock and Roll Landmarks of North America. I was impressed with Epting’s research, after flipping through the book, which aims to take the reader “through America’s rich rock ‘n’ roll history with the musical landmarks detailed in this extensive collection. Nearly 600 locations, including birthplaces, concert locales, hotel rooms, and graves, are neatly compiled and paired with historical tidbits, trivia, photographs, and backstage lore—from the site where Elvis got his first guitar and Buddy Holly’s plane crashed to Sid and Nancy’s hotel room and the infamous ‘Riot House’ on the Sunset Strip.” I tracked Epting down at his website and he agreed to an email interview. We covered a great deal of ground and I had a substantial amount of fun along the way. Hopefully you’ll have fun reading this.
Tim O’Shea: Do you think your affinity for pop culture began where you grew up–in Westchester County, New York–an area where you note: “certain notable people became attracted to the area. Jackie Gleason, for one. Other actors. Writers. Thinkers. Even Peter Frampton (on the heels of the blockbuster album “Frampton Comes Alive”)”
Chris Epting: It definitely started at that point in my life, but I think it was more a process of the times than the geography. That said, our close proximity to New York City was valuable in terms of what were exposed to, but in general I think growing up in the thick of the 1970s is what really did it for me. It was an interesting time in that you had some great directors breaking out (Scorcese, Coppola, etc.) some cutting edge TV (All in the Family, MASH, etc), great radio (both am/fm), decent theater—a lot of culture was in flux, and the churn produced, I think, a wonderful storm of pop culture fury that still influences a lot of things today.
I’m about a month late on acknowledging some changes at the blog, but honestly I held off–making sure I liked the changes from all angles. And I’m happy to say that I do.
First off, I’ll no longer be interviewing comic creators here at Talking with Tim. Why? Because as some of you hopefully already know, I have started a new column at Robot 6, called Talking Comics with Tim. There you can join me every Monday afternoon for an interview with a comics creator or pundit.
This move allows me to cover a great deal more of pop culture ground with my email interviews here. New interviews will be posted here on every Wednesday. I’m really hoping that I can get feedback from you the reader as to projects and creators you would like me to interview. I’m open to suggestions and I look forward to hearing from you. On the interview front, be sure to come back this Wednesday.