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Category Archives: Entertainment

Hollywood Producers with Fresh Ideas

That basic idea and game went through many stages of development before even being pitched to the network, but once produced, it became the most successful game show in the history of television we now know as “Jeopardy!” In 1986 Griffin sold the show, along with “Wheel of Fortune” (created shortly after) to The Coca Cola Company for a staggering $250 Million in cash.

Today, the landscape of programming and deal making is vastly different, and creating such simple concepts that haven’t already been produced is difficult. To our benefit, the outlets and opportunities for new TV shows is literally a hundred-fold what it was in the 60’s. Hollywood producers and development executives work full time to create or find those new concepts to sell to TV networks, and more and more are using the Internet to source new material.

The Television Writers Vault is a valuable tool being used by producers scouting new projects, and for writers (aspiring or professional) to market their concepts and scripts direct to the television industry. Writers can find professional advice on formulating concepts for today’s thriving and competitive programming world, as well as understand the inner-workings of the television industry to streamline projects in the most positive direction.

If you think being an outsider from Hollywood makes it impossible, I know first hand that’s not true. In my first year as a development executive at Merv Griffin Entertainment, I brought in a concept created by a journalist in Florida. The idea was written up in a two-page outline, and explored the simple idea; “How far will an ordinary person go to help a stranger in need?” The idea could have also been pitched as “Pay It Forward meets Candid Camera”. Our producers immediately saw the potential for comedy and entertainment value, and Merv signed the new writer to an option deal. The project was sold on our first pitch to Disney, and eventually packaged for production where it still sits.

Just recently, an aspiring writer from Alabama, Timothy Centner, sold 3 projects (all ideas for reality-based programming) to a producer who uses The Television Writers Vault for finding new projects. Prior to that, Jon Stewart of Illinois sold his idea for a reality-based program built around his own life to a head executive for Fox Television Studios.

You may have the most inspiring story or script any producer could read, but unless you can boil that story or concept into a brief synopsis with a highly marketable “logline”, a producer will never invest the time in reading the entire script or treatment, leaving no chance of any deal to be offered.
A “Logline” is a one or two sentence description that tells the basic idea and purpose of a show. Loglines for the sake of pitching a project are similar to a TV Guide description, but more specific in describing the idea of the show. This is the catalyst for increasing the odds of selling any script or idea to Hollywood.

A great logline should provoke interest and inspire the TV producer to see it’s potential. The following are examples of could-be loglines for current television shows:

– “Ordinary people face their fears by competing against each other in outrageously devised stunts” – Fear Factor

– “A likeable husband’s marriage and tolerance is tested by the constant intrusion of his overbearing parents and dim-witted brother” – Everybody Loves Raymond

– “Twenty women will court and compete to win the affections of one man who will narrow the selection until he must decide on his one true love.” – The Bachelor

– “Contestants’ general knowledge will be tested when given the answers to questions they must then form.” – Jeopardy

Between Hollywood and Bollywood

Which one is superior, Hollywood or Bollywood? The discussion is endless. Though Hollywood is quite ahead of Bollywood in terms of revenue, Bollywood’s influence in the world film industry is gaining new heights. Hollywood’s earnings do not depend on ticket sales only. It has adopted the proven ‘franchise-formula’ in which a big part of the revenue or income comes from other sources such as TV networks, magazines, home-videos, etc. No doubt, Bollywood is also considering this aspect to promote its business. But revenue is not the only factor that one should take notice of, there are other aspects also to be considered, such as story, music, song-and- dance sequences, photography, technology, etc.

The main difference between Hollywood and Bollywood commercial movies is that song-and-dance sequences is an essential feature of Indian films. Professional play-back singers sing songs which are lip-matched by movie characters played by actors and actresses. While, there is no such thing like song-and dance in Hollywood. Therefore, they are attracted towards Bollywood. Bollywood films are a good source of entertainment presenting anything and everything, quite like a Santa Claus gift bag, whereas Hollywood films focus more at the cinematic knowledge.

But, things are changing very fast these days. A time may come when there would be no difference in Bollywood and Hollywood. Particularly after the success achieved by ‘Slum-dog Millionaire’, can we expect more movies where Bollywood come together with Hollywood? In the coming times, you will see Barbara Mori paired with Hrithik Roshan in an Indian film ‘Kites’, and likewise, an Indian actor Anupam Kher will act in Hollywood’s top director Woody Allen’s film. After winning Oscar awards for an Indian film Slum-dog Millionaire, the difference between Bollywood and Hollywood has reduced and it is becoming a joint venture. May be, one day we see Sylvester Stallone dancing around trees in an Indian film and Hrithik Roshan playing James Bond in a Hollywood film.

Screenwriting Seminars Really Necessary

First, writers often (mistakenly) interchange “story” and “structure.” These are two separate elements of the writing process. Story is the creative experience that only you can uniquely express from your vision. Structure is the foundation for that story, and the rules of structure have been accepted for thousands of years. The easiest way to grasp the distinction is to think of a dinner party. What you cook is entirely up to you (story). But you must serve your guests the appetizer first, then the entrĂ©e, then the dessert, in that order, and those dishes have to complement each other (structure). If not, no matter how great the food is, your guests are going to think you have no idea how to make dinner. And they won’t come back to dine with you again. Writing seminars tend to focus on teaching structure, NOT story, so that creative genius has a chance of being understood and enjoyed by buyers and audiences who innately expect a certain foundation to a script. And story instincts can be honed and expanded with professional guidance, as well.

Second, virtually all professions have rules for writing. Just as lawyers must learn proper structure and format for legal briefs and programmers do the same with software code, screenwriters must learn and apply rules of structure and format to screenplays. Most professions have training expectations, too. Just as no one is going to give you $100,000 to perform open heart surgery on a patient just because you’ve always dreamed of being a doctor, no one is going to give you $100,000 to write a script just because it’s your lifelong fantasy. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals get degrees and regularly attend seminars to maintain their chops and their edge, and so do writers. No matter how strongly emerging writers believe that Hollywood is a get-rich-quick-with-no-effort industry, in order to succeed, you will have to replace that belief with the simple acceptance of show business as a business.

There simply is no benefit to railing against the industry’s insistence that writers get some training before they attempt to get paid for their work. Any time you are asking someone to pay you, you must anticipate their establishing rules for that income. If you don’t want to have to learn the insider rules, the simplest solution is to write for free. But if you want to sell your work, just as in any other business, you have to respect the guidelines. The good news is that the rules of writing get far more flexible after a first sale!

Third, it’s common for people to mistrust writing teachers as unnecessary snake oil salespeople who are not personally successful themselves. Yes, the rules of story structure that Hollywood subscribes to are fairly standard. The laws of physics are standard, too, but not many people easily grasp and apply them! Training helps writers master the rules so they can craft solid scripts that can actually be sold. And just as you learned better from some teachers than others in high school, you will find in the variety of books and workshops at least one approach to structure that will help you effectively integrate it into your work.

Remember, selling a script is neither a requirement for nor a guarantee of being able to teach screenwriting. I’ve produced many writing panels and seminars, and many successful screenwriters lack the communications skills and the clarity of process to adequately guide another writer to a successful script. For my part, I teach from the point-of-view of the buyer instead because that was my background and because my personal business strategy is to always understand what the person who writes the check is looking for. Believe this – whatever an individual teacher’s approach, the ability to teach a subject well enough for students to grasp it is its own gift.

Hollywood and Martial Arts

Truthfully, many affiliations between big business and the music industry have netted fruitful endeavors for all parties involved. And now, a university-level homework assignment: see if you can use a keen eye to find a few more examples of relationships between big business, government, or social organizations with the Rap community. Chances are, there’s probably some right around you; you may not have even been aware of them before. Hint: Take a good look at those motion pictures hitting the big screen. Here’s an interesting scenario for you to sink your teeth into…action!

Celebrity Will Smith laughed his way straight to the bank when many Rap fans wrote “DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince” off as lame. But before ‘the show’ was over, Smith got the starring role on TV sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” which debuted in 1990. The show had a long successful run, and continues running in syndication. Will Smith ‘the rapper’ performed the theme song, while Will Smith ‘the actor’ made sure his Rap music homey Jazzy Jeff was also cast in some shows; but Mr. Smith did not stop there. He went on to star in movies which earned him as much as $10 million a pop. There is no need to mention his list of credits; just go to Blockbuster Video or the Internet and type in the ‘search.’

Finding a need to outdo ‘himself,’ Smith’s fee went from $10 million to 20 big ones, then from 20 large to $25 million per, before he dived into the big ‘M’ and ‘super-sized’ his life by marrying Jada Pinkett. She paved her own way as an impressive actress on shows like “A Different World,” “The Cosby Show,” and in blockbuster films such as “Ali,” “Jason’s Lyric,” “Menace To Society,” “Woo,” “Set It Off,” the “Matrix” spinoffs, “The Nutty Professor,” “Scream 2,” “Collateral,” and who knows what else by now. I heard a rumor that the pair might have to buy a continent to use as a tax shelter. Wow – that’s big enough to get on the Oprah list! Combined, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith account for about two dozen top films of the 20th and now, 21st centuries. And these films usually came with hot music soundtracks, too. This is another example of the deepening relationship between Hollywood and the Rap/Hip-Hop world. For the purpose of fun, let’s call their happy union “Holly-hood.” Watch out–more fun’s on the way!

But hold up and wait a minute: before we dig in any further, let’s pull over at a local Asian restaurant for some grub–we’ll need it for our next stop. My fingers tingle from all this typing action on the laptop, sitting here in the ‘time out’ corner of the classroom. Where’s my Dragon voice recognition program when I need it? At home parked on the desktop computer – what a bummer!

Please note that things have changed with regards to technology, folks. Not only does my voice recognition program type as I talk into a microphone, it’ll read it back to me, too. When my editorial consultant Ms. Melilli (also known as the infamous ‘XoxoJean’) sends e-mails to a friend with a text recognition program, it recognizes her name by saying “Socks-a-Jean.” I’m just happy she likes my smoked turkeys. According to information obtained from my old friend B.Brown of Bar-Red Entertainment, my confidential Author Code Name is: ‘Turkey Smoker of the Stars.’ His mother Ms. Lydia works for the Atlanta Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. Both she and Miss Jean can keep getting the big birds too, as long as their taste buds approve of the transaction.

Broadway to Hollywood

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

In the present economy, if a rising tide lifts all boats, what does the opposite do? Does Hollywood have the right stuff for another installment of Star Wars (Episode 7), Indiana Jones(5)?Is a potential Oscar winner sitting in a dreary room eating take-out while writing his or her groundbreaking screenplay for Avatar(2)? As Netflix rakes it in with oldies, Hollywood’s best are tailored to teenage boys, and comic book special effects devoid of anything fresh in human drama or comedy. So, what’s an actor to do? Jobs are scarce in the entertainment business. When eating out in New York City chances are your waiter or waitress is a Julie Andrews wannabe, or Hugh Jackman hopeful-hopeful they won’t have to return to Boise, heartbroken. Ergo, when veterans like James Earl Jones and Elizabeth Ashley can’t find work, what’s an actor to do? They can take it with them-all the way to the Longacre on BROADWAY!

Some Boomer Demographics

By 2015, those aged 50 and older will represent 45% of the U.S. population (American Association of Retired Persons). By 2030, the 65-plus population will double to about 71.5 million, and by 2050 will grow to 86.7 million people (U.S. Census). Adults 50 and older now own 65% of the aggregate net worth of all U.S. households (U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey). Entertainment cannot be exclusively geared to one genre-The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, or the highly successful PBS television series Downton Abbey. But there’s a vast audience to be counted among the living; and large number of unemployed talent. Do we need another Irving Berlin to tell us “there’s no business like show business?”

According to a Government Accountability Office study released last year, workers 55 and older experience consistently longer periods of unemployment than younger workers. Without cosmetic reconstruction, it’s especially difficult for older female performers, or network news anchors. If Barbara Walters looked like Sixty Minutes warhorse Morley Safer, would the octogenarian just retired broadcast journalist have withstood the rigors of her male-dominated profession? Former ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer was ‘the last woman standing.’

The Man From Malpaso

Riding into the sunset of history, 84-year-old Clint Eastwood is the atypical Hollywood mogul. With few duds in his resume, can he be “Forgiven” for, according to critics, his latest Jersey Boys? Spaghetti westerns and Dirty Harry made it possible for the multi-talented actor-director to make some of the most original films for adults in the history of cinema: the mystical Pale Rider, the inventive Letters From Iwo Jima, which isn’t even in English.

White Hunter Black Heart, the story of the making of The African Queen, is an underrated masterpiece, with the real life s.o.b. director Eastwood playing the role of the former larger than life s.o.b. director John Huston. From the romantic Bridges of Madison County to the racist curmudgeon in Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood is the epitome off “fresh.” The late Roger Ebert said it best. “The idiosyncratic director, the jazz-loving filmmaker and composer, the master of cinema and winner of two best picture Oscars. What is the thread that draws him through his life? I think there are two threads: Intelligence, and an instinct for the cinema that has compelled him toward ever more ambitious projects. He just gets better.”

Influences of Television

Influences Real Life

Most of our activities are now guided by what we see in the serials or movies. Even the music industry has influenced us. Some of the people try to imitate the life and styles of the star not knowing that this can be very much difficult in reality. Even one’s personality also gets influenced. From talking to dressing up and every other thing gets changed.

Peeking Into the Lives of the Celebrities

The ones who love to know more about their favorite stars, television serves as a medium for them several shows let them have a peek into the life of the person and everything he does. Thus, the fans are always kept updated.

Loss of Innocence

Television shows both good things and also bad things. Children do not necessarily understand the difference between good and bad and might hence commit mistakes trying to imitate scenes that they have seen on the television. They say such things and gives certain logics that no longer we can call them innocent.

Hollywood, Movies, and Entertainment

The first are the traditionalists, the connoisseurs, people who appreciate theater as a unique art form. These people tend to be middle to upper class, middle age to elderly, and may or may not bring their families with them, if they have families. These people often see the same productions over and over, usually by different theater companies. They may be particular fans of Shakespeare or Frederico Garcia Lorca, and usually these patrons have a long history of going to the theater that often began when their parents took them as children.

The second type of theater patron would be those who are members of the theater community. They are actors and directors and writers and stage hands, and their families and friends. These people are often theater majors in college, and may or may not be making a meager living in the community. They show up for their brethren’s shows, as much to support each other and for camaraderie as for appreciation for the art itself.

With the exception of spectacular musical theater shows, which consistently draw larger crowds than non musical theater, there is a very small market for stage productions. What money there is to be made is rarely enough to grow rich on. But this essay is not about live theater. It is about movies and television. The screen. Specifically I am considering the future of movies, which I believe is swiftly going the way of traditional theater; contracting, becoming a niche, and falling out of the main stream.

Yes, I foresee the era of big budget films ending, and Hollywood ceasing to exist as a grand centralized location for the film and television industry. Soon. What will we supplant these forms of media with? Video games. Posh you say. That could never happen. Video games are cartoonish and pedestrian, not a true art form like film. But what happens when a video game becomes more real than film? Virtual reality role playing scenarios may one day be able to mimic all of our senses and fool the keenest of participants into confusing them with reality. Whatever reality is.

In this hypothetical VR, we are active participants, not passive observers. Artificial intelligence will adjust itself to accommodate our individual desires, decisions, creations and interactions. In the future, perhaps, we will all be writers, directors, and actors in our own epic improvised adventure journeys. This technology, should it come to fruition, will render obsolete film as the medium of choice for our entertainment needs. But the question is, what will happen to the writers, directors, and actors?

For the answer to that, I take as an example a local theater called Improv West, at which I have taken in a few live shows. While I was in the audience, I paid attention to who was sitting around me, and gleaned that most of the people there to watch were also performers, students of the improv school, or family and friends of performers and students. Few of the people there were not involved in the comedic improvisation community in some capacity.

Film, I believe, will be much the same way not to long from now. It will still be a valued medium by few but not a massive industry as it is today. It will be valued not by the general public, but by die hard aficionados, people who are in it for passion for the art form. They will be accompanied by their family and friends, who themselves may not be film makers, but who get a thrill out of seeing the work of someone they are close to. Niche genres like sci fi and horror may still be valued by certain audiences, as will cult films that posses unique cinematic qualities. But the era of big budget actioners, romantic comedies, and dramas with big name actors will probably wane.

History of Hollywood Musicals

During the mid 1920s, Warner Brothers studio began experimenting with something new known as Vitaphone. The Vitaphone provided a method of coordinating a musical soundtrack with film, thereby effectively creating a sound picture. This method, however, overlooked much of the huge potential regarding the adding of sound to motion pictures. At this time in movie history, Warner Brothers felt it was not necessary to hear the individuals talk, and merely wanted the sound to provide some musical background noise to film. It wasn’t until 1927 that Warner Brothers first introduced to the big screen singing along with sound in their release of The Jazz Singer; a remake of the Broadway musical of the same name.

The late 1920s brought difficult financial times to the country. It was during this time that Hollywood came to the publics rescue with the wonderfully entertaining diversion of the Hollywood musical. Hollywood movie studios began to release numerous musicals which offered the movie going public a chance to temporarily escape from the financial issues at hand. Some of the most popular and highly regarded musicals to come out during the 1930s included 42nd St, Bright Lights, and Gold Diggers. The 1939 musical, The Wizard of Oz is one of these classic musicals that still continues to entertain audiences today.

It was during the 1940s that the Hollywood musical really came of age and their popularity continued right through the 1950s. One of the more popular 1940s musicals was Yankee Doodle Dandy, a film that introduced movie lovers to a young James Cagney who gave a performance that earned him an Oscar. This movie continues to be one of the most famous musicals ever produced. Another popular title that has become a holiday tradition is The Bells of St. Mary’s.

Current Movies for Family Night

For starters, use the family computer together & hop onto the Internet, put in a search for movies out right now and your zip code, and bam – you’ll have instant results. Before going online, have a little meeting with the kids (if they’re old enough) about movie etiquette & what it means to go out to watch a movie.

Since you’re online, be sure to check out available online family movie guides. While asking a friend for a movie recommendation can be nice for the occasional night out with the Mrs. or with buddies, a better bet would be checking online family movie guides. There are a number of websites that are comprised of detailed movie reviews & critiques tailored toward the family. This way, you’ll have a “heads up” on the type of language & situations you’ll encounter, which makes a choice a little easier.

Of course, don’t be completely afraid to ask your friends for a little input. Chances are that you have a film buff friend that can’t wait to tell you about the latest release. Why not use him/her as a resource for choosing the right movie that will cater to your cinematic leanings? Moreover, if he or she has kids, they may truly be a tremendous resource as they’ve been through the process themselves and will know what to recommend to you.

Be willing to try something different to make your family outing a thrill for everyone. For example, instead of thinking of dinner & a movie as separate things, check out a dine-in theater. The movie-going public has refined its tastes, and that includes fine dining & craft beer in-house while you watch a movie. What’s more, you can take a family movie outing from neat to out of this world because these theaters work well with families.

Arts and Entertainment Education

Prisoner selection and progress in such programs will be monitored and considered in their reentry into society process.

I think Wyoming would be a great place to build prisons. Good jobs for Wyoming and placing them out in the relatively empty places in Wyoming would keep them away from society. I just think prisons and the whole rehabilitation industry would be good business for Wyoming.

Reforming Hollywood and other entertainment industry activities is another project we can work on to improve human nature and civilization. I am astonished that people think that murder and rape, and all kinds of human perversity is entertaining.

I guess the scientists who work in Hollywood have discovered how to push certain buttons in human nature and now they just keep pushing them, just like a pigeon will keep pushing the cocaine button in an experiment.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should do it. Make sure everyone wins in all your business activities. Deliver more than you promise. Trade good stuff for good stuff. Never sell poison for money, whether its physically, mentally or spiritually poisonous. Much of the entertainment available today is mentally and spiritually poisonous. And when people act out the fantasies they are watching, it becomes physically harmful.

We are all responsible for this. Society is whatever we make it. We can make a peaceful and prosperous society, or we can make this mean oppressive society that Hollywood is selling.

I encourage everyone to help make the world a better place, be kind friendly and polite. Practice peace and prosperity in your own personal and professional lives. Practice unity in diversity.