Monday, January 30, 2006

Beginning of Week Four...

Now we're at the beginning of UCLA Winter Quarter Week Four. And I'm at page 20 of a 110 page script. That means I'm a bit behind. Logically, if I'm doing ten pages per week, I should be at the end of Act I. But I'm still going back and forth over the first twenty pages, doing small rewrites of my scenes. This week will be a slight challenge as I have to fly to Houston for a Black History Month gig. It's going to basically take out two days, so I think I'll try to write some new pages after 434 tomorrow and get to the end of Act I by the middle of the week.

Black History Month is always a dual edge sword for me as I enjoy lecturing on The Divine Nine, but the travel is a killer. When you've traveled to over 300 colleges in six years, you tend to lose your appetite for security checkpoints, tight seats, rental cars, and hotel rooms. I always laugh when wannabe or soontobe authors get excited about the "author's tour". If I could do my tour from my couch, I would. But then again, I do enjoy meeting the different people at the various campuses. If you've ever met me, you know that I'm a people person. So I can't complain too much. I'm only doing about three lectures this year when I normally do about ten. But I simply don't have the time.

Tomorrow, my son and best friend go to their first Cub Scout meeting. That should be fun because he really wants to get a flashlight and go camping. Just as long as I don't have to wear those khaki shorts to meetings, I'll be cool.

Starting Weight: 226lbs.
Start of Week Four Weight: 217lbs.
Goal Weight: 190lbs.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Britain and Television...

When I was around thirteen years old, back in the days with seven channels, and midnight meant that the station went to test patterns, I used to watch thousands of hours of PBS. It was different, and it seemed like my own private world. And I actually liked the programming. And one of the things I liked was the British programming. It started with a little sitcom called "Butterflies". It was a rather ordinary comedy about a bored housewife who was on the verge of having an affair, but never does. Loved it. From there, it was Up Pompeii!, Are you being served? Chef! (a personal favorite), Monty Python's FC, and thousands more. After that, I started liking British culture in general, and now I've been a Manchester United fan for the past fifteen years. Why am I talking about this?

My new show is on AMC, and it's called Hustle. Hustle stars Adrien Lester, and is about a group of grifters. I've always been an Adrien Lester fan, (although in America, he's most famous for Primary Colors). If you get a chance, check it out. Hustle is a show that I'd like to emulate when I start balling as a big writer/producer.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stepin Fetchit Friday...

Yesterday at UCLA, I had the pleasure of attending a book signing/panel celebrating Mel Watkins new book, The Life and Times of Stepin Fetchit. This is significant for me because I'd written a Stepin Fetchit book proposal a few years back. My agent began shopping it just at the time when Watkins' proposal had sold. So that was that. But Mel Watkins is a very good writer, particularly when it comes to black humor, so I'm not mad at him.

Stepin Fetchit, for those who don't know, was the character played by Lincoln Perry. Lincoln Perry had started in vaudeville around the turn of the century, and then was signed by the major studios in the 20s to play what has been termed, derogatory roles. Normally, his character would shuffle into frame, mumble his lines, and act as lazy as white folks thought black folks were. Soon, while playing with people like Will Rogers (the first black/white buddy films), Fetchit was making millions. He was also the first black actor to get first billing.

For years in the black community, the worst thing one could say about a performer was that he was a "Modern Day Stepin Fetchit", meaning that his character embarassed the race. But what makes Fetchit interesting is that he was more complex than what appeared on the screen. He wrote columns for black newspapers like the Chicago Defender, talking about discrimination in Hollywood. He appeared in black cast movies where instead of being a derogatory character, he was simply a comic character. His timing was impeccable, and it's hard not to laugh at a person who obviously is a talented clown.

In the years following his death in the 70s, there's been efforts to rehabilitate his image. Before he died, he received a Lifetime achievement award from the NAACP, and folks will probably do retrospectives on him. However to me, he still presents a problem, particularly as a black screenwriter. My question is this: Is Stepin Fetchit a legitimate part of the African American comedy linage, from Fetchit, Foxx, Cosby, Pryor, Murphy, etc. and therefore a legitimate character, or is he still a derogatory character? And if he's a legitimate character, what are the nuances that divide him from being a derogatory character? I hate the movie Soul Plane because it plays into every derogatory stereotype ever made for African Americans. But Soul Plane is very close to what Stepin Fetchit played. Is Soul Plane legitimate?

Conscious African American screenwriters try to adhere to the doctor's oath of "Do No Harm" to their community. And so writing modern characters that harkens back to Steppin Fetchit are fraught with danger and complexity.

Starting Weight: 226lbs.
Ending Weight Week Three: 217lbs.
Goal Weight: 190lbs.

My weird sleeping patterns messed with my eating schedule, so I was certain that there would be a drop off in weight loss. But last night, I got to bed at one am, so I'm back on track. Regardless, I was still able to get to the Wooden Center three times last week, so my cardio is on track. The goal this week is to sleep right, eat right, and then get in three workouts. If I can do that, I think I can get to either 214 or 215lbs.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Late Night Writing...

My clock is all off. This is the fifth straight day that I've stayed up until 4am to write. I write my best during this time, but it's terrible for the body clock. I'm getting home from school around 5pm, exhausted and sleepy. So I take a short nap and WHAM, I'm up until the early morn watching VH1 We are the 80s. But, I'm gradually rolling pages for MEN OF THEIR TIMES. And, I solved a problem that had been bugging me. At the end of Act I, I want Langston and Latimer to have a huge argument about race, and for some reason, I couldn't figure out what was going to be the issue. But it was right in front of me. Now, the end of Act I will have a great emotional end. Now, back to Depeche Mode.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The 434 Experience...

434 is UCLA's advanced screenwriting class, and we pretty much have to take it each quarter. In 434, we write a script a quarter. Good practice. But it is also a place where you will feel the thrill writing good scenes, and the despair of writing bad ones. Basically, you spend a week working on your script, and then you bring it in for critique. Even the most confident writer can leave a 434 feeling raw and unconfident after a session where either your classmates or teacher doesn't get what you're writing.

Today in Hal's, it was pretty rough. Folks are going over their Scene-O-Grams (get Hal's book for further info, but basically it is the event at the end of every ten pages in an Act, plus the inciting events, exposition, etc.). One of the things I like about the Scene-O-Gram is that it's basically a schematic for your script. One can get loosey-goosey with where things are going if you don't have a roadmap, and the Scene-O-Gram keeps you focused on the various points within your script that are important. But the other thing a Scene-O-Gram can do is point out where your characters are flat, one dimensional, or the story is too linear.

So as we roll through our second week, each student has to take their Scene-O-Gram up to the overhead and hear real criticism, notes, comment, and "I just don't know what the fuck you were trying to do" comments. Some of the comments are REALLY good, because I think most students in this program want to read the best script you can write. I know I don't want to write crap, and since I'm not a singular genius, I'm open to as many good ideas as possible. But it can be tough to take, especially as you stand there and listen. However, it's good preparation for the real Hollywood. In real Hollywood, and not film school, producers, marketing folks, etc. all have two cents to add to your script, and not all of it you'll like. But at least film school is a safe place to learn.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Goals This Week...

Kobe went for 81 last night, so that's inspired me to go for the gold this week. Get EVERYTHING done that I need to get done. Ten pages for MEN OF THEIR TIMES. Buy the Creative Directory for my Showrunning class. Get a fast start on Fred's new assignment. That's UCLA.

For the porn project: Contact the talent scout and schedule a time to follow him around. Contact my main subject for the book. Finally find the transcriber for my interviews. Go back over the proposed Table of Contents and tweak it. Set up my contacts list because I'm always bad doing that. I tend to have business cards and things all around, instead of having them put in a file.

For the diet: More of the same. Work out at least three times this week, mainly on the days I have school. Eat six meals a day. Avoid carbs and sugar. Drink eight glasses of water. Add 50 crunches per hour to the regime. The one big problem is getting to bed by midnight, because I love writing at night. So I may amend that to getting to bed by 2am.

Starting Weight: 226lbs.
Start of Week Three Weight: 218lbs.
Goal Weight: 190lbs.

Friday, January 20, 2006

This Week...

The last class I'm taking is a show running class being taught by Paul Nagel from the William Morris Agency. In short, we're learning how to create and package a show for a television network/s. At UCLA, there are relatively few television classes, so this class was filled with MFA students, a few law students, and a couple of MBA students. Showrunning is where the cash is, so the students follow the money. Since this is a producers program, most of the screenwriters were worried getting in, but there were enough spots. So with that, my schedule is done. Three classes, sixteen units.

This week was pretty much a waste, writing wise. Okay, not a complete waste, but I didn't write as much as I meant too. I'm almost done with Fred's comedy assignment, but still need to work on Hal's Scene-O-Gram. I'll do that later tonight.

In the coming days, I'm going to be meeting with my Sloan science professor (more on that later next week), so that I can start thinking about the science scenes for MEN OF THEIR TIMES.

Starting Weight: 226lb.
Beginning of Week Two: 221lb.
End of Week Two: 218lb.
Target Weight: 190lb.

Amazing what eating well and moving will do for a body. LOL

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Only One Page Done...

Okay, so I only wrote one page yesterday, played a lot of Call to Duty (thought I would retire it, but I got to the Russian sector), and then started work on Fred's comedy assignment. And then I slept for a few hours. Never did contact the porn talent scout. So sue me. Sometimes, it be's like dat. Got class tonight, and then it's back to the grindstone. I still have to do Hal's Screen-O-Gram, but I'm dedicating all day Friday to it.

We just pulled Langston out of Warner Elementary and put him back in his old Catholic school. Warner was so cold and distant, it's going to make a great template for a script one day. The stories I could tell and will tell. It'll be a very dark movie. Beware of 10 out 10 school credentials. That's a nice fascade, but the inside could be rotten as a fish sold on Monday. Two days back at his Catholic school and my son is 1000% more happy. Saw all of his old friends and it was like coming home. He'll be there for the next eight years, just like I was.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

February 2006 Best-Selling Books

The Divine Nine is back on the Essence magazine bestseller's list. Not bad for a six year old book!

Essence Magazine
February 2006 Best-Selling Books

1. The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson (African American Images, $12.95)
2. The Willie Lynch Letter by Kashif Malik Hassan-El (Lushena Books, $3.95)
3. The Pact by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt (Penguin Group, $14)
4. Chess For Success by Maurice Ashley (Broadway Books, $14)
5. Reallionaire by Farrah Gray (HCI, $12.95)
6. Keeping Black Boys out of Special Education by Jawanza Kunjufu (African American Images, $15.95)
7. The Divine Nine by Lawrence C. Ross Jr. (Dafina Books, $17)
8. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (Three Rivers Press, $13.95)
9. Letting Go of Stuff: Powerful Secrets to Simplify Your Life by Darren L. Johnson (Inside Out Learning, $12.95)
10. Cooking With Grease by Donna Brazile (Simon & Schuster, $13)

What's On Tap Today?

Today, there are no classes, so it's writing and getting stuff done. I'm going to contact a porn talent scout I met in Vegas and see if I can hang out with him as he goes on the look out for new talent. Also, I need to get back in contact with my main subject in order to see what's happening with his business. That's on the porn end.

On the writing end, I want to write freely for about ten pages on MEN OF THEIR TIMES. I'm not going to worry about if it's right, I can go back over it later and either delete it or rewrite it. I just to see where my character is going.

Yesterday, I had my comedy class with Fred Rubin, and it's quickly becoming my favorite class. We're going over a lot of stuff as it relates to character development, specifically to comedy, but it's working for dramatic work to. Again, Groundlings co-founder Phyliss Katz came in and worked us through some improv, and I just might take her Improv writing course. She was really good.

As for assignments, I need to do Hal's Screen-O-Gram, which helps you plot out your script. That will take time. Then, I need to go over the premise for my comedy script, and then do a character breakdown for my two main characters. Should be a piece of cake. I've been up since 6:30am, so I think I'll start work about 9am.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

On Notes From Fellow Students...

In our 434 class, we read each others work and then give notes on what we think is strong or weak with either the story, the script, the dialogue, or the characters. It is the students responsibility to take what they find valuable and discard what is not. I say responsibility because you have to leave your comfort area, that rest area inside of the brain that tells writers that everything they write is made of pure gold, and be willing to listen to criticisms and shock, BETTER ideas for your story/script.

Yesterday, I took all of the notes my fellow students (and Hal) gave me, and sat them on my coffee table. Then I went through them. Some stuff, I didn't agree with, but there was one thing that did strike a nerve. In MEN OF THEIR TIMES, Langston Hughes is 25 years old. One of my fellow students told me to remember that if he's that young, then he would be a bit more immature and irrational than the iconic Hughes that we know now. I had to keep that in mind as I wrote him, so that his actions wouldn't simply be Hughes as perfect debater to his opposite, the scientist Latimer. That was a EUREKA moment for my script, and it made me go back through the story to add logical flaws for a still developing Hughes. This will change the story to a certain degree, but that's good. It'll mean that the characters will be more well rounded around a more well rounded plot.

The other thing I'd worried about was the use of flashbacks in my script. This is a period piece, and it has to use them. However I want to be judicious with them. Too many flashbacks and you get a CBS movie of the week during Black History Month. So I'm going to have to get creative with using the present to explain the past.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Top 'o the Week To Ya!

Happy MLK Day! A great man, and we should never forget how he created a non-violent social revolution at a time when oppressed peoples around the world were picking up guns. He saved America society.

Now, today. First day of Hal's 434 and man, it was great. We all brought the stories to our scripts and you could see the difference between what we were doing in 431 (intro to screenwriting) and 434 (advanced). The stories were much more developed, more well thoughtout, and made SENSE. In 431, I thought a lot of our stories made overall sense, but when you got into them, some kind of fell apart. That's not to say they couldn't be saved, but they were sort of immature, including my own first story. But in 434, the stories were GOOD. Interesting, different, and adventurous. And I could see them as fillms.

So now it's on to Hal's Screen-O-Gram. Tomorrow is Fred's comedy class.

Weight Loss Update:
Start of Week Two:
Starting weight: 226lbs.
Today's weight: 221lbs.
Target weight: 190lbs.

Back at the gym tomorrow.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Double Consciousness...

On Double Consciousness

by W. E. B. DuBois

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,--a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness,--an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,--this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. ...

Excerpted from the chapter "Of Our Spiritual Strivings" in his book The Souls of Black Folk.

One of the dilemmas of being an African American screenwriting film student is figuring out what you want to write. Now why is that different than any other film student of any race you ask? Well, I think it's different because I think there's an expectation that you will concentrate your writing on African American subjects. That's pretty natural. I am African American and I do have a ton of script ideas that are African American themed. But...

Screenwriting is a business. No, kill that. Screenwriting is BIG business. And while there are those who will like to sing KUMBAYA and say that only the story and script counts, I learned in Terry Press' class (Director of Marketing at Dreamworks) that while that counts, so do a bunch of other more practical issues.

African American films don't sell internationally, so they don't get bought often. When I met with an agent friend at Paradigm, he told me the same thing, but also said that if I brought an African American script to him, he would be able to send it to about two companies versus twenty five. When I talked to my friends at William Morris and Endeavor, they said exactly the same thing. So what is a brother to do? Do you turn your back on writing African American subjects? Of course not. But I have to be smart.

When writing my books, I thought that since I was a published author, I would have the freedom to write outside of the African American genre. Easier said than done. It's a Catch 22 situation. You get published time after time because you've built a loyal African American readership. So to your publisher (and agent) the idea of blazing new trails outside of the African American is not that appetizing. So you write on African American topics. Is that bad? No. Is it limiting. Yes.

My interests are not all African American specific interests. My ideas are not all centered around African American life. That doesn't make me any less African American as the writer who only writes African American scripts. So why the hell am I talking about this?

At UCLA, there are going to be scripts that I write that will have African American themes, and others that won't. For example, my Sloan script is an African American period piece. However, the scenes I'm working on for Fred Rubin's Comedy Class will be for a predominately white themed script. When I eventually bring both scripts to agents this Spring, I want to be able to demonstrate that I can not only write for the African American audience, but the broader audience. That's a part of the double consciousness that African Americans have to think about, whether they write scripts or work on Wall Street.

Gotta Get Back To Brazil...

When writing my second book in 2001, The Ways of Black Folks, I had a chance to stay two weeks in Brazil. It was absolutely great. I stayed a bit in Sao Paulo, which I loved, and also Rio, which was great. While in Sao Paulo, I had a chance to go to a place nicknamed, The Bronx. There, all of the shops paid tribute to African Americans by naming themselves "Black Power" and then the title. It was great, and I miss the friends I met there, including my boy Kibe (on the left). I think I may take the family down there during our summer, and their winter, when the rates are low and the beef and beer is cheap!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Change of Title...

I love good titles, and I think I'm pretty good at creating them. My books: The Divine Nine, The Ways of Black Folks, Friends With Benefits, have done me well. But the title of my Sloan script was bugging me. I'd originally named it LATIMER, after the protagonist Lewis Latimer, but that was pretty lame. Langston Hughes is as central to the story as Latimer, so I needed something better. Something that spoke to both. And I think I found it. MEN OF THEIR TIMES speaks to story I'm writing and now I can roll.

If you look to the right, you'll see that the progress bar is back. It was pretty dead and gone because the previous progress bar started asking for money. Natch. So I found some new code and voila! As you can see, I'm twelve pages in. We write a script a quarter (ten weeks), which means I'm right on schedule. I have no room for brain farts, and since I don't believe in writers block, I think I'll be okay. I may just divide my time between new material and rewrites.

Money Shot work is allocated to the weekends, and that's for interviews only. I won't start writing Money Shot until June, so that way I'll be concentrating on writing scripts during school.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Done Pitching...

I'm done pitching, and now all I need to do is make sure I get into a producer's class on showrunning, and then I'm set. I finished the first assignment for my comedy class, run by Fred Rubin, and I can tell this is going to be fun. Yesterday, we did improv with Phyliss Katz, co-founder of the Groundlings troupe, and it was a blast. I haven't done ANY sort of improv since I was in a play at Cal nearly twenty years ago.

Other than that, nothing much happened today. I need to send in a few lecture contracts and then try to settle my final schedule. Since UCLA waits forever to let you know when you're admitted to the program, I had scheduled a few lectures for Black History Month and the Spring.

BTW, the diet is going a-okay. Went to the gym twice this week, missed this morning, and I'll go two more times. I'm eating about six meals per day, with an hour of cardio. Very little carbs. White meat only. No sugar, but fruit okay. Plenty of water. NO CHOCOLATE.

Starting weight as of January 9th: 226lb
Today: 224lb.
Goal: 190lb.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I've Been Tagged with a Meme...

All right, my boy Dave at Man Bytes Hollywood has tagged me with a meme. So I'll answer it right now and then tag a few other folks.

ONE (1) earliest film-related memory:

My earliest memory is sitting in the backseat of my parent's car at the Century Drive In (now torn down, the bastards!) in Inglewood. We watched James Earl Jones, Diahann Carroll, and a young Lawrence Hilton Jacobs (to become Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington in Welcome Back, Kotter) in Claudine. It was 1974, and I remember this because my mom put up a blanket to block our view when Jones and Carroll had a love scene.

TWO (2) favorite lines from movies:

Sofia: Sat in that jail, I sat in that jail til I felt like I's bout to rot to death. I know what it like to wanna go somewhere and cain't. I know what it like to wanna sing... and have it beat out 'ya. I want to thank you, Miss Celie, fo evrything you done for me. I 'members that day in the store with Miss Millie - I's feelin' real down. I's feelin' mighty low. And when I seed you - I knowd they is a God. I knowd they is a God. : The Color Purple

Pogue Colonel: Son, all I've ever asked of my marines is that they obey my orders as they would the word of God. We are here to help the Vietnamese, because inside every gook there is an American trying to get out. It's a hardball world, son. We've gotta keep our heads until this peace craze blows over.: Full Metal Jacket

Just have to throw this one in: "Shut up Donnie!": The Big Lebowski

THREE (3) jobs you’d do if you could not work in the “biz”:

Work in an advertising agency
Teach History in High School
Create a non-profit

FOUR (4) jobs you actually have held outside the industry:

Internet businessman
Magazine editor
Newspaper reporter

THREE (3) book authors I like:

Walter Mosely
Langston Hughes
Martin Gilbert

TWO (2) movies you’d like to remake or properties you’d like to adapt:

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: I'm going to write another version of the classic
The Big Sea by Langston Hughes.

ONE (1) screenwriter you think is underrated:

Charles Fuller: A Soldier's Story. He is constantly asked to rewrite other people's material, but I can't get his stuff made. It's a crime.

THREE (3) people I’m tagging to answer this meme next:
I've got to figure out how to put html tags in the body of a message first.

Pitching is fun...

I pitched my script yesterday, and it was fun as hell. In our advanced screenwriting classes, better known as 434s, writers, directors, and producers, all get a chance to pitch their script to the professor. So about thirty of us pile into a room built for twenty, and listen as folks pitch their ideas for scripts. It takes about two and a half hours to finish, but it's cool because you get to hear about some really good script ideas. I have to say that those of us writing scripts for the Sloan have some wonderful ideas. We've all weaved science into our scripts, and it comes organically. It should be a good competition.

But pitching is fun for me. When pitching, the person needs to have a clear idea of what their story is, and then tell it in a way where people can grasp the story. But having said that, you don't have to be, in the infamous words of Tom Cruise, glib. It's more important to be concise. I learned the lesson about two years ago when a friend and I pitched to a producer at Endemol. We had a reality show that they were interested in. We talked, and talked, and talked too much. Never again, I thought, as we left.

But the key to pitching, lecturing, or anything else that requires one to speak in front of crowds is to realize that it isn't life or death. If you flop, no one is going to recommend your immediate execution. You just try again. It's the same way I approach film school and my scripts. A lot of what I write will be crap. Well intentioned crap, but crap none the less. What I understand is that if you work hard on that crap, filet out the good parts and work from there, and then start writing something that's good, then you are WAY ahead of someone who believes that everything they write is already gold.

Monday, January 09, 2006

School, Working Out, and No More Chocolate...

Today is the first day of the quarter. I have to pitch Latimer to two advanced screenwriting teachers today, and hopefully it'll go well. I'm pretty confident in the material, so it shouldn't be a problem, however you never know. I just need to be concise. The start of school means that I have to reluctantly put my copy of "Call To Duty" in mothballs for a while.

I got up this morning at 6:30am and worked out at the Wooden Center. The goal is to lose about forty pounds this year and get in shape. Too many headaches, body aches, and general lumpiness. I had the wife take front, side and back picture (sort of like the 360 degree mirror they use in What Not To Wear) and boy was it revealing. It's amazing what your brain will tell you look like, and what you ACTUALLY look like. So I have a nice program set up. One of my saving graces is that I lose weight pretty rapidly when I actually change my diet and exercise. I've done it before, but writing and lecturing tends to throw a monkey wrench into my plans. Now I have no excuse. So it is four times a week at the gym, watching The Big Lebowski on the iPod (the best damn gym invention ever).

BTW, Final Draft is f*ing up. Every so often, it won't recognize my serial number, so I have to keep my disk in the computer to save my work. That's a real drag.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Day Three at the Porn Convention and Back Home...

Day Three at the AVN, and I've finished my interviews. I decided to skip the award show on Sunday because I don't think it will really help my book, and also I needed to get back for school. The porn heavy hitters came out today, Jenna Jamison and Tera Patrick (pictured) and it was like Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz had decided to show up. The whole convention tilted toward them and it was nothing but camera flashes for about an hour.

On the black porn front, I met a guy who runs a porn operation out of Chicago, which is VERY unusual, since about 95% of porn is based in the San Fernando Valley. I've got to figure out how I'm going to cover him.

So it was a good three days of research. And now, I need to forget about it. I need to get my brain back to screenwriting. I'll start working on the porn research on the weekends. But for now, it's lay on my ass time while watching Sunday NFL football.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Day Two at the Porn Convention...

The interviews just continue to get better. The porn industry tends to be dominated by white men, a lot of whom couldn't get jobs in other industries, (felons, uneducated, etc.), and yet I'm finding a LOT of college grads among my black subjects. I did about eight interviews today (about thirty minutes each) and I'm really glad I chose this topic for my fourth book. There's nothing like peeling back what you think you know about people and then showing who they really are. But this weekend is just the beginning. I have six months of research before I start writing.

BTW, the folks who kind of creep me out are not the people in the biz, but the fans. The fans in porn are like fans in sports, or entertainment, etc., but there's something weird about a guy wanting to put his face in a porn star's silicone breasts, and then have his buddy take a picture. Where do you show that picture? To the fam at Thanksgiving? On the coffee table next to the kids? But then again, I may be too much uptight. One of my subjects said I had to loosen up a bit. Easy for her to say. She was wearing a thong and pasties.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Day One at the Porn Convention...

Ladies and gentlemen, I just attended day one of the Adult Video News convention, and it literally overwhelms the senses. There's porn for EVERY taste, fetish, or kinky idea one might have. Plastic breasts and bubble asses are everywhere, as this is a flesh market, and the bigger the better. But there's a funny thing about porn. It's not that titilating and all of this flesh becomes a bit of white noise. If you really want to learn about who these people are, you have to ignore what they are showing and focus on their faces. That's where the truth is.

I don't have time to go into it right now, but I got about five good interviews from African American porn actresses, and I think I'll be able to get a bunch more throughout this week. Very interesting stories and why I like this topic, these people are not who you think they are. Very complex and not all sob stories. So now, it's uploading photos and interviews to the computer. I have a full day tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

UCLA: The Second Quarter...

One of the beautiful things about UCLA film school is that it has classes which literally make me hyped when I read the descriptions. I actually have to hold myself back so that I'm not taking too many. This quarter, I'm taking three classes. I'm taking my obligatory 434 advanced screenwriting class. We begin pitching next week and since I have to write my Sloan script, LATIMER, in the class anyway, it's pretty much well thought out. I was able to roll about ten pages of script by the way. Next, I was accepted into a television comedy course being taught by Fred Rubin. One of the things that surprised me about UCLA is that there doesn't appear to be a lot of television classes. This class is about writing comedy scenes, and since I have a comedy show I've already sketched out, I'm interested in what makes a scene work. Then, I have a class on showrunning, which allows me to understand how to sell my next Nielsen winner. I think I'm one of those rare writers who actually LOVES the business side of things. Maybe because I've actually run businesses? That'll be enough work with the book manuscript due in September.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Big Ups!

Big Ups to my boy Dave at Man Bytes Hollywood! For the past week, good ole blogger wasn't letting a brother post to his own blog, AND user comments weren't posting. Double plus ungood. But upon his genius recommendation, I've changed templates, and voila, things are kopastetic again. I've also decided that I'm going to liven the blog up a bit with some pictures.

So it's January 2nd, and I've eaten too much gumbo. To wash it down, I decided to treat myself with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. The good ole diet begins on January 9th, first day of school for the quarter, so I figure I should get in all of the bad stuff right now.

In a couple of days, I go back to the land of adult make believe, Las Vegas, as I begin work on my next book, Money Shot. From Jan. 5th to the 8th, the Adult Video News magazine will be holding its annual convention and award show. For me, this is a WONDERFUL opportunity to conduct interviews in one place. My deadline for the book is September, and with school, I don't have a ton of time to waste. So among the silicone, nakedness, heavy makeup, and buzzing toys, will be a guy with a digital recorder hoping to get great stories from the folks on the outside of polite society. Ya gotta love it!