Monday, January 7, 2008

Hollywood, Week 15: This Writer’s Rooms

September 23, 2005

The Writers’ Room and The Writer’s Room:
A mix-up in the availability of one of our actors means that the story we just broke last week is now going to become episode 9 instead of 8. This means we had a week to break a whole new A-story, write a one-pager, draft an outline, and put together a 50 page script. John and Dayna were already at work on episode 9 and Diane is working on 7, so that left me, John, and Rob to whip up something brilliant. It might sound easier to have three people on the project, but writing is one of those endeavors that just gets more complicated with more people. It’s like driving a car—one driver can do a good job, and it might be nice to have a map-in-hand passenger assisting with navigation, but if you both try to steer, there’s bound to be an accident.

Monday was one of the best days I’ve had at the writers’ table—everyone was in a good mood, (although the guys were almost giddy, for some reason and at one point, the women just looked at them—Phil bouncing on his special back-support chair, Rob spinning his wedding ring around the table like a top, John doodling madly on his legal pad—and thought we’d stumbled into an ADD support meeting.) Empowered by my Rosie-the-Riveter WE CAN DO IT undershirt, I felt more confident than I have in a long time and pitched more ideas than ever. Maybe not good ideas, all of them, but at least the crew knew that I wasn’t just sitting there with a bowl of jello in my cranium.

Tuesday, we awoke to a thunderstorm. Stinkee howled all night, I slept periodically between 11:13 and 12:47; 12:52 and 3:11, 3:45 and 5 ish. The rain pounding outside—what my friends in India might call either an impending or receding typhoon—meant the roads were slickened with long-dormant oil and commuters were exercising their brakes and horns with adolescent abandon. A grey sky, windshield wipers awakened from months-long hibernation, and long, curly hair that frizzed on contact with the outside air. I was in heaven. Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.

Alas, the writers’ room bubbled less. Monday’s frivolity gave way to Tuesday’s weather-induced gloom. We looked at each other, some snappishness occurred, ideas withered in the humidity. Driving home, I fondly recalled the Olden Days, when I left work on a rainy day cheerfully anticipating an afternoon nap, a comforting glass of Merlot, and a night of crafts watching a romantic comedy.

Wednesday, we reported to the table at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. to hash out the beats for the A, B, and C stories of episode 8. Although John Enbom and I (BelbEnbom) will be credited with the script, the labor was divided between me, Rob, John, and Diane, with a previously-written scene by Phil thrown in for good measure. I began Thursday in my office, coffeed-up and intense, and sequestered myself there for seven hours to produce 6 pages of outline for the as-yet-untitled script while the others did the same. By quittin’ time, we’d put together an outline. It feels like finals week. I took myself out for sushi and enjoyed the calm before the storm…Monday we’ll get the RT version of the outline back, and the ulcer inducing stress will begin again.

The Hotel Room
My friend Anna said, when I told her about my upcoming weekend in Vegas, “It’s like you’re at summer camp!” I don’t know where the Coggans were sending their children, but at Camp Don Bosco, we were lucky to go on a day trip to the river, let alone a weekend excursion to Las Vegas.

Here’s the backstory: Veronica Mars employs, on retainer(ish) a local P.I. WHOSE NAME I CAN’T SAY FOR SECURITY REASONS. This fellow, who I’ll call “Sam,” is called upon to inform us when we have technical questions, like how to hack into a school’s grade program or the best method for impersonating a federal agent, or whatever. He’s also an active member of the World Investigators organization, a group that happens to be holding its annual conference at the MGM Grand this weekend. And they’re happily sponsoring a Veronica Mars contingent of one: me. So I’m off at the ass-crack of dawn today to mingle with the mysterious. I’ll keep you posted.

The Green Room

Weirdly, the dude who books guests for The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson (nightly at 12:30 on CBS, following Letterman) happened upon an article about my (mis)adventures in The Bellingham Herald. He contacted Warner Brothers, they contacted me, I signed some paperwork that will probably put me within auditing distance of the IRS, and now I’ll be appearing on Ferguson’s show to talk about the strange segue from high school librarian to Hollywood TV writer. At least I hope that’s what we’re going to talk about. It’s entirely possible his researchers dug up some embarrassing tidbit from junior high, like how I cried in home ec when I had trouble sewing the little green pickle-shaped piece of felt on my hamburger-shaped pillow or something.

At any rate, they’re sending a car to pick me up for the taping on Tuesday at 4 p.m. THEY’RE SENDING A CAR! I’m pretty sure the only time a car has been sent to pick me up was when I drank too much at a party and my friends were afraid I’d skid over someone’s family on the way home. They’re doing my hair and make-up, and the woman who made those arrangements assured me, “they’re very good…they won’t make you look like a hooker.” Well, damn. Imagine the book I could squeeze out of that: from high school librarian to TV writer to internationally known, televised prostitute. At any rate, if you want to see me talk about my sewing skills or how my fan letter to Rob Thomas led to a new career or if you just want to see whether or not I really look like a hooker on TV, I’ll be appearing Tuesday, September 27, at 12:30 a-friggin-m on CBS.

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