Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Call From Hermene...

So I get a call from Hermene Hartman, publisher of Savoy. Funny how she decided to call me all of the sudden. Out of the blue. Just out of the goodness of her heart. Long convo cut to the nitty gritty, she tells me that despite all of the evidence to the contrary, she's a responsible person, and that I would get's just that she didn't know when. Well, that took a load off! I mean, there's nothing like combining the comfort of knowing that you'll get paid, with that ambiguously vague time period of "I don't know when". Whew, that cleared everything up! Glad she called.

In the National Association of Black Journalist forum (an organization I was proudly a member of back when I was a reporter. And I think I just may pay dues again, even though I'm not a reporter now), I think I've sparked a conversation about freelance writers and contributors getting the shaft from some publications. And that is good. So what's next? If no check by Monday, I will go to phase #2 of the accountability campaign for Ms. Hartman and Savoy magazine. Maybe then, we can get a little more specific about the "when" part of when I'm getting paid.

Savoy Redux...

It's been damn near a year, and Hermene Hartman at Savoy magazine has still not paid her writers and photographers. And so where I was patient before, partly because Savoy was a black owned business, and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, I finally decided to take further action. When I did my research on Ms. Hartman, I was astonished to find out that she was the president of ABLE, a black business organization in Chicago. ABLE has some of the most respectable black businesses in the country, and I couldn't imagine that they knew they had a president who either couldn't pay her bills, or was unwilling to pay her bills. So I emailed them and explained the situation. All sixty four of them. Along with the editors of the Chicago Sun-Times. And the Chicago Defender. And Crains Chicago business magazine. Ms. Hartman should be held accountable for not paying for work done, and we as writers should not have the burden waiting for payment.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Changing My Mind...Yet Again...

I was going to do a comedy script. There was a book that I wanted to adapt, but after doing some investigation, it appears that the book has already been optioned, so that is a no go. I had another comedy idea, but this Spring Break rest has been good for me, and I think I'm going to write another story. Back to drama.

One of the things I have to do is balance my desire for commercial success, and my need to write things that are important to me. I have something to say, and I think I'm bright enough to say it in a complex way, versus being a writer whoy pumps out some simple crap because of a check. I like checks, yes, but I also know that writers are in unique position to become immortal. The two can meet, and I have an obligation as a husband and father to make sure they meet. But I only get so many chances to write something. I better make it worth my time.

So...I will work on a piece called FREE LOVE IN UTOPIA. It's about an Iraqi war vet and his trials and tribs.

Friday, March 24, 2006

The 70s--The Best Decade for Elementary School...

Come on along and join us
Come on along
We're gonna have some fun
Come on along and join us
In a little bowl of Vegetable Soup!
*Drum Break*
It takes all kinds of vegetables,
All kinds of vegetables,
All kinds of vegetables,
To make a bowl of Vegetable Soup!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


I waited to the last minute and it cost me. I tried to pick up my Jeep and then get back to campus to turn in my fellowship info (having waiting until the last minute) and couldn't make the deadline. Oh well. But back to the Jeep! Just paid $25 less on a full tank of gas. Found a parking spot easily because I didn't have a large truck bed to haul around. And it's just a plain cool Jeep. 6in lift with 33in mud tires. I was going to get rid of the mud tires, but now I'm not sure. They make a ton of noise, but I'm getting used to it. Plus, the Jeep came with a tube bass, so the music pretty much covers up the sound. They do feel like they're floating a bit though at around 60mph. I'll think about it. Still might get some all terrain tires.

Mad Hectic...

Today is going to be mad hectic. I'm supposed to pick up my Jeep today. Cool, 'cause being without your own car in LA sucks. I've been rolling the wife's Jeep Liberty, but it's all girly. Also, today is the deadline for submitting material for various fellowships and prizes for screenwriting. So of course I waited until the last minute to fill out the applications. I need to get that together and submitted by 4pm. I have to finish reading and giving notes to two classmates on their scripts. They've already given me WONDERFUL notes on mine, so I want to make sure that I read their scripts carefully. Reading scripts doesn't come naturally to me, so I have to gut it out. I'm also polishing a 30 page sitcom pilot that I'm submitting for another contest. I think I may be done there, so that's cool.

On Monday, I'm going to restart the Money Shot research. Actually, that's not true. I'm going to rethink the book proposal and replot out the chapters. The way I have it now, the book is too anthropological. I need to give it some umph. It'll come to me because I try not to force it.

On the personal front, I haven't been to the gym in a week (because of the car situation and a gang of stuff to do), but I haven't gained any weight. I'll start back this weekend. My son is really starting to get into reading, which is wonderful because that diabolically terrible school Warner Elementary tried its best to undereducate him. It's amazing what they'll try to do to little black boys. I'd always heard about bias and attitudes toward them, and of course, I was once a little black boy, so I have my own experience, but until you have a little black boy in the school system, it doesn't hit home. I'm now a paranoid when it comes to my son's education.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Changing My 434 Script...

I'm going to change the 434 script I'm going to write next quarter. I'm going to title it Project X because I like the title so much that I don't want to make it public. But this script is going to be a comedy. I'm still going to write Slaveryland, but probably during the summer. One thing I'd vowed to do was write in a different genre each quarter, so that I get the most out of my advanced screenwriting courses. Last quarter: historical drama. This quarter: comedy. Next quarter is probably going to be a gangster/thriller.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Change of Plans...

I was going to lay on my behind for two weeks, and let my brain rest, but there's been a change in plans. I'm going to do some work, and that's pretty much what I'd end up doing anyway. I'm pretty much an adult ADHD case when it comes to sitting still, so just vegging is not in my nature.

My boy MK Asante, the most together 24 year old I've EVER met, has bought a Canon HD camera, so we're about to be 'bout it bout it (by the way, why did I see Master P in Ralphs the other day? Did I mention that?). We're about to shoot a project I'd been tossing around for months called BlackCafeLit. We're going to shop it to BET (there has to be hope for that station) and see where it goes. If not BET, then we have a TON of options. So that's next week.

On the writing tip, I have a comedy pilot script that I need to write for a contest. I'm actually excited about writing this because I think I have a funny premise. But I can't really say what it is just yet.

For my 434, I'm going to write SLAVERYLAND, the project I was previously writing as a novel. It works better as a script, but I'm still trying to figure out the tone. I have two weeks to do that.

Since the contract for Money Shot (Non Fiction Version) came in, it's time to devote some time to the book. So that's another thing.

Lastly, I'm going to try to rewrite MEN OF THEIR TIMES in the next twelve weeks. I want two scripts ready to shop by June.

So that's that. But I'm still going to sleep a lot.

BTW, weight update:

I've pretty much plateaued at 211lbs, but I really expected that. I always plateau there. My diet (and I mean diet as what I eat and not a weight loss specialty) is becoming very natural. I haven't had chocolate in eons, and I'm still working out at the Wooden Center about three days a week. I'm going to add basketball games to it to get me to the 205lbs. target weight. But with a loss of 15lbs in ten weeks, the belly is no longer swelly, and the face has edges to it versus being round and fat. But I still need to kill those last six pounds. As my girl Fresh at Crunk and Disorderly likes to say (quote Diddy), at 40 years old, I need to "preserve my sexy". :-)

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Quarter finally over...

I met with Hal to get the final notes on MEN OF THEIR TIMES. He had some great ideas about how to sharpen Langston's voice, and also how to get a character that I really didn't exploit well, into the mix. He told me that I'm about 50-60% there, so I'm feeling pretty hyped. I'm going to rewrite it over the next quarter cause I want it ready to shop by the summer.

I sold my truck yesterday, and it was tough watching it go. Bought her new and she really did me well. But she also sucked at gas mileage. My Jeep will be ready next week, so for the meantime, I'll be rolling my wife's Jeep Liberty. I'll be easy to see. I'm the brotha carrying a keychain that has a rhinestone heart (can't seem to find any other key for the car other than the wifey's).

We also have a bunch of contests to enter. But for now, I'm laying on the couch.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

re: The Pitch...

Hey all,

I had a great meeting today. The two development people I met at the production company were SUPER cool. Not fake, Hollywoody, but real folks that you could kick it with. Also, they remarked that my pitch was really good and they could see the show. That was another plus, because I remember pitching a show about two years ago, and we did almost everything wrong (I pitched it with a writing partner). In this pitch, I was clear and concise and to the point. And lastly, they said that the formatting of my reality show was spot on. That's important because it means the show makes logical sense.

The bad news is that they didn't buy the show. They made some great arguments about the subject matter being difficult to capture on screen, and pointed to a couple of shows like my show (never believe your idea is unique. It ain't.) which failed. BUT, I left the meeting feeling good, and also knowing that in order to make my show different than those shows that failed, I think I could make a few tweeks, and then pitch it some more. I just may pitch it to Tyra's production company, Bankable Productions. She's an Inglewood girl.

Anyway, a GREAT experience anyway. If you're going to get in this business, you need to make sure that you are a sunny optimist, even though the path to success is one with a decidely negative slope. As I've said before, I sit on the couch with a 100% "No" decision on any idea. If you don't go out there and see if it's any good, then you don't afford yourself the 2-5% chance of getting a "Yes".

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wish Me Luck...

On Thursday, I will be pitching a reality television show to a production company I really like. Not just because I like their show, but because I like the owner of the production company. He's not all Hollywoody and he has a genuine enthusiasm for his work that shows. I want to sell my show and I've deliberately not pitched it until I found the right company, but I think I may have found it. But hell, you never know until you actually take the meeting. There are a number of scenarios that could happen. 1. My pitch could suck. 2. My idea could suck. 3. My idea could have already been pitched and rejected. 4. It's not what they're looking for. 5. THEY LOVE IT!!! Let's hope for #5. I'm an eternal optimist, so honestly, the other four options don't matter to me. My outlook is that I already own "no", so let's go get that "yes".

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Perfect Day...

1. A bag of polly seeds.
2. College Basketball on the tube.
3. A 1/4 Zankou Chicken (white)
4. Cal playing UCLA at 3pm.
5. Listening to Guru and MC Solaar 'Le Bien, Le Mal" from back in the day.
6. A frat event in a couple of hours
7. My script done.
8. Might even get a nice wine and chill with the wifey.

Life is good...

And then...


Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I'm so close to being done, and I so need to be done. Right now, I'm on page 85 and by the end of the night, I want to be around page 100. Act III will end between 110-120. I still have to meet with my science mentor for some info on scenes, but for now, I just needs to get done.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Home Stretch for MEN OF THEIR TIMES...

The full script is due a week from next Monday, and I still have to:

1. Rewrite portions of Act II.
2. Meet with my science mentor for three science scenes
3. Write Act III.

I'm also on the Showcase committee, so I have some calls to make. AND, there's a comedy script comp that I'm entering too. Oh, and the two book contracts are in the mail. So I'm going to be a busy brotha.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I did absolutely NOTHING important...and LOVED it! I watched England beat Uruguay in a friendly, prepping me for my World Cup 2006 marathon. Turned in my Showcase ap. Went to Roger Dunn golf and bought my first new set of clubs since 1992. Decided to go big baller with Callaway Big Bertha Fusions with Nippon shafts and King Cobra woods. May not make me better, but damn I'll look good. Now I'm looking for a custom made golf bag with either the Alpha shield or simply A-PHI-A on it. If anyone knows where to get one, please holla! Decided that it was time to sell the Dodge Ram cause gas is kicking my behind. I'm going to stay in the Chrysler fam with a Jeep. Went to Louise's and ate a nice blackened salmon. Feelin' good at 211lb, about five pounds from the goal weight. Life is good, but tiring.