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Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008: TV IN REVIEW

I've gotten quite a few emails and comments from readers asking me what shows I thought were good this year. When I ran the question through my head, I realized that I had no idea. I read and hear a lot of buzz about shows so I'm aware of what's good and bad, but I'm not really an avid TV watcher, so I'm not a very good judge of the TV landscape. In fact, I have to force myself to watch television because it's my business. When I inventoried my tivoes I came up with the following list. I don't know if these are the best shows, in fact I know some of them are not, but they are the shows I enjoy watching for a variety of reasons. I do watch my shows, SOA and The Shield (mainly because I need to stay on top of audio mixing levels; they differ from week to week and we are still refining the formula), but I will not include them in this list. Here are my favorites of 2008 in no particular order. 1. This Old House (DIY) - Because I love watching people build shit. They were back in New England this season. It was a fantastic project. Real men, with real jobs... some day. 2. House Hunters International (HGTV) - Because I long to have a second home in a different part of the world. Some place where real men have real jobs. 3. Lost (ABC) - Because it's great escapism and I really dig Damon's storytelling. 4. Mad Men (AMC) - Because I still can't figure out why I enjoy it. 5. True Blood (HBO) - Because it took it's time revealing the world and the idiosyncrasies of the characters. I was slow too the warming, but then I relinquished control and drank the blood. I wasn't sure if Anna Paquin was right for the role, but then she got naked and I didn't care. 6. Entourage (HBO) - Because it's "I love Lucy" with guys I was never cool enough to hang out with. 7. Family Guy (FOX) - Because it's the only show that makes me fucking laugh out loud. It's also become a great bonding device for me and my twelve-year old son. We quote Peter at the dinner table, much to Katey's confusion and ultimately, her dismay. 8. The Backyardigans (Nick Jr.) - Because I tivo it for my two-year old daughter and watch it at three in the morning, alone, in the dark, in surround sound. It's like taking acid in "safe mode". Try it. 9. The Simpsons (FOX) - Because even if the episodes are getting weak, Homer feels like a comfortable pair of slippers. The show is like an old friend who still lives in his mother's basement. It's a little sad, but you know he's always around when you need an easy hang. 10. Weeds (Showtime) - Because even if episodes are getting weak, I enjoyed the previous seasons enough to sit through this one, hoping it would get better. Then Mary Louise Parker got naked and I didn't care. Shows I know were good that I've never seen, but will try to watch in 2009: Breaking Bad Chuck Damages The Middleman Dexter 24

Thursday, December 25, 2008

JOHN BOSTON: GENERIC PALMDALE XMAS LETTER #20

Came across this article. I don't know who John Boston is, but I am now a fan. By John Boston Posted: Dec. 24, 2008 6:39 p.m. Updated: Dec. 25, 2008 4:55 a.m. Dear Friends, Family and Parole Officer Detective Bartell: This can't be 20 years I've been sending out the Xmas letter. But I checked 'cause 20 years ago November I was birthing Bobby Dale behind the Antelope Valley Grange. I can't believe I'm nearly 34. I can't say 2008's been a kind year to our Antelope Valley kin, but we've relished some small moral victories. As you may already have seen from the windows of Walmart, Clove's half-brother, Berton Urnee, is famous. The AV Sheriff's Dept. used his booking photo for their holiday "This Is Your Brain on Meth" campaign and paid him with 50 posters plus a reduced sentence. Bert's handing them out as Xmas cards. Eunice had an operation to become a lesbian and is healing nicely. Medical paid for it. I know the holidays are the times when we're supposed to be grateful, but it seems our family has some yard-thick rubber band attached to our spines, keeping us from advancing. The twins had just been released from that store-bought prison outside California City and the redneck clowns were caught celebrating in the AV Zoo after hours. Drunk, Edness and Redness fell into the Palmdale Living Desert Exhibit and the former lost much of the left side of his face from a peccary attack. Edness passes along thanks for the get-well cards, but notes he could really use a hockey mask for Christmas, some bottled water and maybe some prostitutes. Redness was not hurt, but, being still attached Siamese, he states it tweaks his neck wrong while his brother performs the county-mandated rehab exercises. On the bright side, they got the wild pig that got them. It's only 3 pounds, but it will be our proud Xmas dinner centerpiece. You know our family motto: Anything you kill yourself always tastes better. I'm not saying all things are bad out here in the high desert. We're in the midst of a White Christmas. We had as much as 12 inches stay on the ground. Black ice caused a double-rig to jackknife right outside Mojave and Great Grandpa Ewing made off with about 300 cartons of Lee Press-on Nails from the smoldering wreckage. GG is 106 next month and is still staring at the instructions, figuring just where you're supposed to hit them with a hammer. Janegoodal - you know, Clare's daughter named after the chimp lady? - got wed in a double ceremony and had her sixth child by a sixth and possibly seventh husband. We're still trying to figure out the math ourselves but the little monkey girl explains it had something to do coming home drunk from a Chumash casino during the March Thaw and blearily recalls ending up in two trailers simultaneously. The baby shower is on the 29th and Janey's asking for smokes and one of those $19.95 Ronco DNA fatherhood kits they sell out of Rite-Aid. Frank is out of the hospital with a new heart valve. Frank was just visiting Curt, who, as you recall from the AV Press headlines had unsuccessfully attempted to jump the California Aqueduct on a 19cc Yamaha two-stroke. Anyway. Times being tough, Frank just picked up this Tupperware labeled "Heart Valve" and pocketed it, figuring if he couldn't sell the wiggly little sucker, it was at least the right size for bait. Irene, his Eskimo mail-order bride, socked him good, but Frank got to keep the valve on account he had been playing with it and it got all dirty from Frank's mitts and would be of no good to any Christian now. Irene knows certain people have been calling her a "Cold War Bride" behind her back and asks if certain people could please stop. Bathsheba, Eunice's 600-pound daughter, is likewise hospitalized. The doctors muttered something about "putting salt on her hot dogs" and told her to quit. Barbara the Biker got offered a job! She was home, watching Oprah, when one of those cold-callers from The Los Angeles Times inquired if she'd like either a subscription or job as editor. She thanked them nicely, but explained she was on disability and suspected she was being videotaped and that work might compromise her payments. Hope you got the photos Jedikiah e-mailed from Fish & Game from Edna's funeral. Got her butt splattered on the radiator of a Peterbilt whilst bending over to retrieve roadkill on 138. Possum, we believe. Edna's kid, Bryannn, delivered a stirring eulogy and surprised us when he confessed that he didn't actually have three N's to his name. His mother just stuttered and it somehow spread to the birth certificate. Millie and Buelle, who homesteaded off 12,019th Street at the San Andreas Fault, had their double-wide carried off by feral dogs. Somehow, about 300 strays organized and I don't know whether they were clever enough to disconnect stuff first, but them mutts just got under M&B's trailer, counted to three and hoisted it off its foundation. Dragged the trailer to the Devil's Punchbowl and picked that pathetic sliding door lock. Buelle made it to the top and picked off several of them with his old Enfield, but they ate Millie. Strangest thing is that Buelle lost his first wife, Linda, in a similar fashion when he was away during the Gulf War. Mind you, he didn't fight in it. He was just - away. Buelle took hell, by the way, from AV PETA for shooting feral dogs out of season. Well. That about wraps up Palmdale Family Christmas Newsletter #20. If any of y'all-all were lucky enough to draw my name, I'd surely love if Santa'd bring the Golden Edition Collector Set of "Sons of Anarchy." On Beta. Palmdale/Lancaster pretty much shuts down when those righteous boys roar into our living rooms via cable. John Boston has earned 117 major and, frankly, alleged national, regional and California awards for writing stuff. His column? Fridays and Sundays in The Mighty Signal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

FINAL DVR DATA REVS UP RATINGS FOR FX FROSH DRAMA SONS OF ANARCHY

A little Happy Holiday news I wanted to share. Thanks to everyone who stuck with the show and made it a success. Have a safe and sane holiday. LOS ANGELES, December 18, 2008 Based on final ratings, FX's critically acclaimed freshman drama series Sons of Anarchy has proven itself to be a worthy successor to the network's award-winning drama series The Shield, which completed its historic seven season run last month. With the Live +7 ratings factored in from Nielsen Media Research on a multi-telecast basis, Sons of Anarchy delivered a weekly average audience of 5.83 million total viewers (jumping 16% vs. the Live numbers) and 3.9 million Adults 18-49 (up 18% vs. the Live numbers), the highest ratings of any new series on FX since the network's hit series Rescue Me, which debuted in 2004. On a first-run basis the series averaged 2.6 million total viewers and 1.75 million Adults 18-49. For calendar-year 2008 on a first-run basis, Sons significantly surpassed new and returning basic cable shows on delivery of Adults 18-49 including Saving Grace (1.59 million), Battlestar Galactica (1.58 million), Eureka (1.42 million), Raising the Bar (1.37 million), The Cleaner (1.11 million), Mad Men (879,000) and Breaking Bad (821,000). Sons of Anarchy showed incredible consistency on a week-to-week basis and actually saw audience growth over the final two episodes, hitting its peak with the season finale (episode 13), which delivered 3 million total viewers on its first run. The second-to-last episode (episode 12) delivered the most Adults 18-49 (2.04 million) in the series entire run. The series premiered on 9/3/08 to 2.87 million total viewers and 1.73 million Adults 18-49. FX has picked up a second season of Sons of Anarchy, slated to begin in Spring 09. The series stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman and was created by Kurt Sutter who also serves as Executive Producer. John Linson and Art Linson are Executive Producers. The series is produced by FX Productions and Fox21. The Shield ended its historic seven season run by averaging 3.51 million total viewers and 2.27 million Adults 18-49 on a multi-run basis. The series was recently honored as one of AFI's Top Ten Programs of 2008 and was named Time Magazine's #1 show of 2008. FX will close out 2008 as a Top 5 basic cable network in Primetime delivery of Adults 18-49 (averaging 709,000 as of 12/11), which will be the third consecutive year that the network has earned this distinction.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AUDRA MAE ON ITUNES

We had a lot of requests for the two versions of "Forever Young" from episode #111. It's now available on iTunes. The link below should get you there. iTunes

Thursday, December 11, 2008

STRIKE TWO, WE'RE ALL OUT

THE QUALIFICATION I haven't blogged about the potential SAG strike for a number of reasons. The main one being that I have a LOT of opinions. Many are knee-jerk, overemotional responses. So I waited. When I read that the ballot for a strike authorization will be going out after the first of the year, jerking knee or not, I figured I’d weigh in. For the record, I am a member of SAG, AFTRA, WGA, DGA and a former Teamster. I, like most talent in this town, think AMPTP is an insidious, greedy affiliation that continues to diminish and undermine the creative force that IS entertainment. Recently watching the big three automakers squirm during their beg fest before congress, I couldn't help but superimpose Iger, Chernin, and Moonves’ faces on the bodies of Nardelli, Mulally and Wagoner. It was a sad, eye-opening examination, but there were moments where it was just plain fun watching the fat cats get bitchslapped. I qualify my affiliations and my belief in solidarity because I'm going to share some thoughts that will probably piss people off. They will question my loyalty and want me dead. Join the club (see previous death threat blog). I believe that it would be a huge mistake for SAG to strike in 2009. It would not only cripple this industry, it would deal a blow to the union that could create irreparable damage to actors’ leverage and reputation. THERE IS NO MAT In case you haven't noticed, we are in a full blown recession that's hurling toward another not-so-great depression. It's very fucked up; jobs are scarce. One of my struggles with getting behind the WGA strike was the impact the walk out was having on the whole TEAM. This business is not about the actor, writer or director, it's about the PRODUCTION; it's a huge collaboration. To ignore the ramifications of a strike on all the players affected is not only arrogant and selfish, it ultimately hurts the striking party. That was hard to swallow a year ago during a more stable economy, now it's just unthinkable. If the actors walk out in this economy it would put THOUSANDS of people out of work. Now more than ever, there is no place for those displaced folks to land. Not only is that fiscally and morally wrong, it's a PR nightmare for the union. I'm not saying what SAG is asking for is wrong or undeserved. I've see the "pro-yes" videos and I understand the needs. It's a sound and compelling argument and at any other time it would make sense. My argument is not about the content, it's about timing. Yes, I know AMPTP is using the same argument to demonize SAG and to scare actors into voting "no". But although their motives are twisted and of course void of any real concern for the working man, the facts are true -- a strike would do more harm than good. And SAG using the same fact -- gross unemployment -- as leverage to make a deal, is just as wrong. And if the sentiments in this blog end up in some Big Media propaganda -- “showrunner condemns strike” -- I apologize in advance. But I truly believe that this is not the time to go to the mat. There is no mat. INTO OBVIOUS ACTION Not that anyone asked, but here are the obvious things I think SAG needs to do. 1.) Go back to the table and get the best "comparative deal" you can get (the one AMPTP has offered which is equal to the WGA and DGA deal). 2.) Sign a two year contract so that the SAG contract expires in May of 2011 when the WGA and DGA contracts do. That way all three unions are renegotiating at the same time, giving us back the leverage we lost during the Gilbert administration. 3.) FIRE ALAN ROSENBERG. I’m sure he’s a nice man, but as a leader, I’m telling you kids, he’s a dangerous fucking dude. In a recent interview with the NY Times, Rosenberg said, "Aside from my family, I have two great loves in my life: acting and the fight for social justice." Um… forgive me for being callous, but let's look at this scenario. His wife just left him, his acting career isn't exactly booming, what's the guy got left? That’s right, THE FIGHT. And that's exactly what it is to AR. It's become very personal and very deep. It's his quest to make a difference. As a friend recently pointed out, SAG is renegotiating a contract, not fighting for human rights. The contract talks are not about injustice, they are about percentages and parameters. Do you really want your leader gearing up for a holy crusade when what you need is a determined diplomat? The biggest problem for Mr. Rosenberg now is that the longer this process drags on, the more the size of his dick is on the line. Meaning, he has taken such a strong stance up to this point that anything other than a “bold move” will make him look flaccid. So even though the evidence is piling up that makes a strike the wrong move, his penis will not allow him to acknowledge it (it's a guy thing). Alan no longer has true objectivity or a clear view of the big picture. The most dangerous thing about his leadership is that it becomes a dream scenario for AMPTP. Our leader appears desperate and extreme, so they will hang him out as a "desperate extremist". And unfortunately, he's easy to demonize because his behavior on more than one occasion has been a little, well…demonic. His inner circle of thesnazis are the Samuel French equivalent of eco-terrorists. I've been the victim of some of their threatening emails. When the news of Sons of Anarchy hit the trades, one of them actually called me "a fucking backstabbing asshole" for letting FX “strong-arm” me into an AFTRA contract. And threatened to "blacklist" the show. Really? Are your guest spot residuals from Judging Amy that important where you are actually willing to commit a felony? (BTW, after The Shield, all FX shows became AFTRA. There was no choice in the process.) Luckily, there are now several people recently voted in to the new board who are much more qualified to lead this union. Hopefully a Coup d'├ętat is brewing. 4.) Stay vigilant. Monitor residuals and new media. Take notes on the "gray areas" that will need to be revisited in 2011. It's very easy, once things have returned to normal, to bury your head in the sand, but awareness is one of our strongest weapons. 90 PERCENT PARTY I have no idea what will happen when the SAG strike authorization vote goes out next month. The general consensus is that the 90% of the union who do not earn their livings as actors have nothing to lose, so they will most likely vote to strike. It gives them something to do between temp gigs and it’s an opportunity to make friends and network. It's a fucked up voting system, but that's a whole other blog. Anyway, the point is -- if we strike now, we all lose.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Saturday, December 06, 2008

RAGGING ON THE WRITER

There may be something coming out in one of the tabloids this week about Katey and myself, so I wanted to address it before hand. One of the rags took something I said out of context and twisted into a ridiculous story. In an interview with my hometown Jersey paper, I was discussing some of the feedback I was getting about the show. Here's what I said:

I've gotten my share of death threats. Some people are not happy, but I'm actually surprised at all the really good feedback. The outlaw culture by nature is about not being put into a box. The fact that we're making a little TV show about that world flies in the face of that. I wasn't expecting to be embraced, but for the most part, people get it, that it's a TV show, that we're at least trying to make it as organic and real as we possibly can, within the framework of having a compelling narrative week after week. They appreciate the fact that somebody is attempting to tell dynamic stories, and attempting to at least show it as it really is. I would say that the majority of the feedback has been positive.

In that statement, I was using extremes to single out a particular group of irrationals. I've received a fair amount of angry, aggressive emails from hogpumpers and delusional MC wannabes who claim that I stole their idea for a TV show. One of these inane emails came through a Fox website, so the network was legally obligated to have some extra security on set for a few days while I was directing (I wasn't too worried, I had a hundred fucking bikers watching my back). But for the record, none of those accusations came from any member of an outlaw club. As I stated, the majority of the MC community embrace the show. They understand it's fiction and that we are at least attempting to portray the world in a real and compelling way. I guess the scoop in the rag will be that Katey is beside herself because my life has been threatened. Not true. The greater threat is the one I'm getting from Katey as I slowly inch myself closer to getting back on a Harley.

The gossip biz must be hitting a serious downturn. Things have gotta be real slow if their spinning fiction about fucking writers. What's next, Busta Rimes caught [ommitted] Shonda Rhimes?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

PIRATE SWAG IS DANGEROUS FASHION

This is a warning to anyone purchasing pirated Sons of Anarchy clothing from EBay or other outside sources. None of that merchandise is legal, more importantly, none of it is sanctioned. I'm not trying to protect Rupert's bottom line here, I'm trying to save people from getting their asses kicked and to protect the respect we've earned in the outlaw community. John Linson and I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of club members when choosing colors and fonts for the SOA cut and shirts. We did that research so no club felt disrespected or misrepresented. The stuff being pimped on EBay is homemade shit that disregards all of that. Some idiot buys a three hundred dollar faux leather cut and sports it while he rides his poser Hog, he's gonna get his balls kicked into his throat. It also makes the show look like we don't give a shit. It pisses me off. We are selling some merch at our website that has been approved and sanctioned by me. This will be expanded upon and by next season we will have a full line of cool SOA shit you can buy. And again, I'm not pimping FX here. I don't get a fucking DIME from merchandise. I just wanna protect your ass and my reputation. SOA merch link

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

SOAP, SHOES, TELEVISON

I had a very interesting lunch with a TV critic the other day. Let's call him Ethan. He was someone who panned Sons of Anarchy when it premiered and I shot back with an angry, loaded blog. After that tit for tat, we struck up an uneasy email exchange and wagered on the outcome of the presidential election. I won the bet, Ethan offered to buy me lunch. Knowing the sad state of journalism, and feeling a little remorseful for my big reaction, I covered the meal. Truth is, as I suspected, Ethan's a decent guy with a thankless job (that's easier to say now that the sting of his review has worn off and our show has become a critical and ratings success). We had a great lunch; the conversation flowed freely and without rancor. We discussed the state of television, the difference between pay and ad-supported TV, shows we like, shows we hated. I learned a lot. Ethan discussed the limitations of judging pilots. And how difficult it is when critics only receive the premier episode of a show. More often than not, a series is still finding itself in the pilot and the first few episodes. He admitted there were many shows he initially panned that he now loves. He also said that the reason his reviews of HBO shows are often more favorable is because HBO sends out at least six episodes, sometimes the whole season. It's easier and more effective writing a review when you have more content to judge. I was reluctant about our meeting, but it turned out to be an eye-opening experience. I got to slip inside the critic's skin for a moment and realize something that logically I already knew, but somehow attaching a person to the column, it became so clear to me -- Ethan is just a guy with an opinion. A smart, well-informed guy, but still his reviews are not scientific, they are not fact. They are subject to his experience, his dysfunction, his point of view and his taste. We dressed differently, ordered different meals, and drove different cars. We like different things. Soap, shoes, television. One man's bar of Ivory Soap is another man's Arcona Green Toner Tea Bar. Even though I feel good about our lunch, I'm not expecting a positive review from Ethan next season. I just don't think SOA is a show that will ever appeal to him. But at least, or I would hope, that when I read it, I'll have more insight into his process and I won't want to hurt him. At the end of the day, that's pretty much all I can ask for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

THE LAMEST DUCK

I get flack for mixing politics with my TV shit. But as I've said before, art is and always has been a reflection of the sociopolitical climate. And SOA is a political show.

Joe Klein's article in Time sums it up.

Bush's Last Days: The Lamest Duck

We have "only one President at a time," Barack Obama said in his debut press conference as President-elect. Normally, that would be a safe assumption - but we're learning not to assume anything as the charcoal-dreary economic winter approaches. By mid-November, with the financial crisis growing worse by the day, it had become obvious that one President was no longer enough (at least not the President we had). So, in the days before Thanksgiving, Obama began to move - if not to take charge outright, then at least to preview what things will be like when he does take over in January. He became a more public presence, taking questions from the press three days in a row. He named his economic team. He promised an enormous stimulus package that would somehow create 2.5 million new jobs, and began to maneuver the new Congress toward having the bill ready for him to sign - in a dramatic ceremony, no doubt - as soon as he assumes office.

That we have slightly more than one President for the moment is mostly a consequence of the extraordinary economic times. Even if George WashingtonJohn Adams was planning to do after his Inauguration. And yet this final humiliation seems particularly appropriate for George W. Bush. At the end of a presidency of stupefying ineptitude, he has become the lamest of all possible ducks. (See TIME's best pictures of Barack Obama.) were the incumbent, the markets would want to know what

It is in the nature of mainstream journalism to attempt to be kind to Presidents when they are coming and going but to be fiercely skeptical in between. I've been feeling sorry for Bush lately, a feeling partly induced by recent fictional depictions of the President as an amiable lunkhead in Oliver Stone's W. and in Curtis Sittenfeld's terrific novel American Wife. There was a photo in the New York Times that seemed to sum up his current circumstance: Bush in Peru, dressed in an alpaca poncho, standing alone just after the photo op at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, with various Asian leaders departing the stage, none of them making eye contact with him. Bush has that forlorn what-the-hell-happened? expression on his face, the one that has marked his presidency at difficult times. You never want to see the President of the United States looking like that.

So I've been searching for valedictory encomiums. His position on immigration was admirable and courageous; he was right about the Dubai Ports deal and about free trade in general. He spoke well, in the abstract, about the importance of freedom. He is an impeccable classicist when it comes to baseball. And that just about does it for me. I'd add the bracing moment of Bush with the bullhorn in the ruins of the World Trade Center, but that was neutered in my memory by his ridiculous, preening appearance in a flight suit on the deck of the aircraft carrier beneath the "Mission Accomplished" sign. The flight-suit image is one of the two defining momentsHurricane Katrina. This is a presidency that has wobbled between those two poles - overweening arrogance and paralytic incompetence.(President Bush in the Middle East.) of the Bush failure. The other is the photo of Bush staring out the window of Air Force One, helplessly viewing the destruction wrought by

The latter has held sway these past few months as the economy has crumbled. It is too early to rate the performance of Bush's economic team, but we have more than enough evidence to say, definitively, that at a moment when there was a vast national need for reassurance, the President himself was a cipher. Yes, he's a lame duck with an Antarctic approval rating - but can you imagine Bill Clinton going so gently into the night? There are substantive gestures available to a President that do not involve the use of force or photo ops. For example, Bush could have boosted the public spirit - and the auto industry - by announcing that he was scrapping the entire federal automotive fleet, including the presidential limousine, and replacing it with hybrids made in Detroit. He could have jump-started - and he still could - the Obama plan by releasing funds for a green-jobs program to insulate public buildings. He could start funding the transit projects already approved by Congress.

In the end, though, it will not be the creative paralysis that defines Bush. It will be his intellectual laziness, at home and abroad. Bush never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and regulation that was necessary to make markets work. He never understood, or cared about, the delicate balance between freedom and equity that was necessary to maintain the strong middle class required for both prosperity and democracy. He never considered the complexities of the cultures he was invading. He never understood that faith, unaccompanied by rigorous skepticism, is a recipe for myopia and foolishness. He is less than President now, and that is appropriate. He was never very much of one.

Monday, November 24, 2008

JOHN THE REVELATOR

Revelations. Chapter 22, Verse 1: Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

THE END OF A TV ERA

When I found out the production schedule of Sons of Anarchy was being accelerated to premier WITH the last season of The Shield, I was too overwhelmed by the impending work load to realize the other downside -- that I'd be so caught up in the flow of my own show, I wouldn't be able to savor the brilliant last season of the show that got me where I am. It really hit me when I received a couple emails from cast members urging friends and family to watch these last episodes of the show. I read the sadness and the approaching void in their words. Actors are looking for work. Holy shit, it's ending. The Barn is closing its doors. I was on The Shield from start to finish. I was hired season one as a staff writer and finished the last two season as an executive producer. Every other writer that started on the show left. Some because their options weren't picked up, but most because it was a better career move to jump to another show. I stayed. For a few of reasons, four reasons actually. One, before I got sober, I was a guy who never finished anything. Part of me felt like it would be quitting to take another gig. I wanted to finish the ride. Two, there was no other show I wanted to write for. Was I really gonna go take a gig on CSI Bayonne or Law and Order DUI? I'd blow my fucking brains out and probably take a few people down with me. Three, I loved writing those characters. Vic, Shane, Claudette, Dutch... c'mon, those voices are just so fucking great. The possibilities were endless. And four, I really hate change. The Shield was my first paying writing gig. I was a struggling feature writer with a few TV spec scripts. One of those specs got me the gig on what was then called "The Barn". It was on a nothing cable network with the fat guy from The Commish as the lead. I actually debated if I should take the gig. I was up for another show that looked like it had more potential. But when I read Shawn Ryan's script I realized that this was something different. It read like an independent movie not a TV show. After I met with Shawn and Scott Brazil I was offered a staff writer position. Of course I took the job. And that fat guy turned out to be a ripped pitbull who reinvented the concept of reinvention. From the jump, I flourished at The Shield. It really was a divine pairing. Every twisted pitch, every insane, dark, mutilated, fucked up idea I ever conjured up -- the ones that had studio execs calling security and my agents wondering if I needed psychological intervention -- I got to infuse into the actions of Vic and his crew. I dove into into the deep end of the dark pool and swallowed hard. My time on The Shield allowed me to grow as a writer and producer and Shawn's patience and tutelage, allowed me to become a better, more responsible man. I was a bit of a terror the first few seasons. My uber passion for the work and my lack of people skills were a dangerous combination. I unhinged a few doors and many a nerves. But the work was solid so Shawn stuck by me. Not wanting to step on my process and quite frankly not wanting to get hurt, he gently nudged me toward saner more productive work habits. It took about about six season for me to get it. But ultimately I did. There is no way I'd have the skill set to run a show if not for my time on The Shield. And I doubt no other showrunner would have put up with my intensity. Again, a divine pairing. I guess the upside for Shawn -- or at least I'd like to think this is true -- is that my intensity helped make The Shield a better show. Ground-breaking is an over-used term in this town, but the most accurate in the case of The Shield. It put a network on the map and help established FX's reputation for great drama. It set the bar for cable dramas both is quality and ratings. It took the cop genre and turned it on it's head, creating a whole new level of anti-hero. We made some small screen history. I'm catching up on a few episodes this weekend and looking forward to the finale. We're having a finale party and we'll all watch the final episode together -- cast, crew, producers, studio, network. It'll be a powerful, bittersweet evening. I really urge you to watch these last few episodes. It's some of the best drama you will ever see and I am confident if you are a fan of the show, you will be satisfied with the ending. One thing I can promise you -- they'll be no ten seconds of black.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

DEAD RANGERS

This from actor, W. Earl Brown's Myspace page: "HBO has decided not to pick up 1%. There is an alchemy that sometimes happens when a group comes together and the total sum is greater than the individual parts. It is a rare thing to occur, especially in the ego-centric world of Hollywood. When that alchemy happens, as did in DEADWOOD, the results can be astounding. 1% had it. The show had the capacity to work at the same rarified level as DEADWOOD, SOPRANOS, SIX FEET UNDER, THE WIRE, etc. However the new management seems to be afraid. The network went from being run by a balls-out, shoot-from-the-hip sort of guy (who I did not always agree with) to a knees-aquiver, nail-biting, "worried what the NY TIMES will say" sort of guy. The Death Rangers scared him. It's ashamed. Truly." Not sure if 1% was destined for the greatness of the aforementioned shows. It was plagued with issues both creative and legal from the jump. I like to believe that ultimately it was bad karma that brought it to its knees. Stealing from me and the Linsons is one thing, but screwing Sonny. What the fuck were they thinkin'? PS. Did I mention that Mr. Brown auditioned for our show but did not get the role. Frankly, I found his work "ham-fisted and obvious".

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I AM MY OWN TARGET DEMO

So as I've posted before, I'm a huge gamer. PC purist. I've got thousands of titles on my shelf. I got the new Call of Duty, World at War yesterday. Installed it, played it for about an hour, then caught the east coast feed of my show. The hour was sponsored by Activision's Call of Duty, World at War. I am my own target demo...

Friday, November 07, 2008

KATEY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES

Out From Under All That Big Hair Kevin Scanlon for The New York Times

THE STICK

The iconic stick. Used to symbolize strength and aggressiveness from Teddy Roosevelt to Buford Pusser. It's amazing how the simplest things ignite our imagination. In this age of technoflashwizardry, I was giddy when I read the following article. Speaking from experience, the rock and the stick are my daughter's favorite outside playthings. Toy Hall of Fame points to new addition: the stick
In this photo released by The Strong National Museum of Play, Chris Bensch, AP – In this photo released by The Strong National Museum of Play, Chris Bensch, curator of collections, holds …

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A magic wand, a fishing rod or a royal scepter?

The lowly stick, a universal plaything powered by a child's imagination, landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday along with the Baby Doll and the skateboard.

The three were chosen to join the Strong National Museum of Play's lineup of 38 classics ranging from the bicycle, the kite and Mr. Potato Head to Crayola crayons, marbles and the Atari 2600 video game system.

Curators said the stick was a special addition in the spirit of a 2005 inductee, the cardboard box. They praised its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child's creativity.

"It's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price — there aren't any rules or instructions for its use," said Christopher Bensch, the museum's curator of collections. "It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows.

"This toy is so fantastic that it's not just for humans anymore. You can find otters, chimps and dogs — especially dogs — playing with it."

Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the hall, which the museum acquired in 2002 from A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village in Salem, Ore. Each toy must not only be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, but also endure in popularity over generations.

While dolls have been around since ancient times, the Baby Doll with its realistic newborn features emerged in the late 18th century and has been through hundreds of incarnations. Today's models can crawl, drink and even talk via voice-activated commands.

"It is generally thought of as lovable and cuddly, even if it can doze off or cry during play," said Susan Asbury, an associate curator. "Toy designers have spent decades making it ever more lifelike and true to form. ... It promotes imaginative play and brings out the nurturing side in all of us."

The first skateboarders in the 1950s cruised walkways on California beaches trying to match the speed, turns and tricks performed by surfers they watched offshore.

Apart from being fun, practicing ollies, grinds and primos "promotes individualism ... artistic expression and it's also very athletic," skateboard icon Tony Hawk said in a video message played at the induction ceremony.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

YES WE DID.

"So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

FINALE PICS

A good director must be a good listener.

FINALE COLLAGE

This is about the tenth edit I've made to this blog. Keep finding better pictures. Some of my favorite faces . My most favorite face is not here, she's taking the photos. I love my wife.

WRAP

First season filming is finished. Katey took a lot of photos, I'll post them in the next few days.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

FINALE

Finishing up the finale next week. I'm directing the last one and having a blast. Love this cast and crew. Solid fucking humans, all of them. Very rare. I won't give anything away but I'm very excited that I get to shoot a scene with over fifty Harleys on Tuesday. Some days I'm amazed that I actually get paid to do this shit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

ART AND POLITICS

I've gotten many nasty blog comments and more than a few threatening emails from people upset about my political musings on this blog. Not just the fact that they're extremely left (although I'm guessing that's a large chunk of it) but the fact that I'm mixing my politics with discussions about my show. As I wind down this first season of Anarchy, it seems like a good time to briefly weigh in on that beef. First of all, it's called Freedom of Speech. This is my personal blog. I do not speak for any show, film or production. I'm gonna express myself whether I have seven readers or seven thousand. These are my experiences, my opinions. There are millions of other blogs out there. If mine offends you, remove it from your bookmarks. And stop fucking whining. Secondly, Art is Politics. Always has been, always will be. In every culture, in every country, through history, art has always been a reflection of social issues. From the Italian Renaissance to fucking Punk Rock, words, sounds and images are the most powerful tools that men possess. Thirdly, Sons of Anarchy is a political show. It's all about the corruption and manipulation of the American dream. How freedom is often achieved through violence and how the pursuit of happiness is often achieved through greed. Outlaw clubs have a rich history in political outspokenness. From Sonny offering the aid of the 81 in 'Nam, to a recent Midwestern MC's support of McCain. Motorcycle clubs are an all American sub-culture. Harleys are apple fucking pie. Fourthly, I've earned the right to express my political point of view. I'm educated, I'm aware and I vote. My passion for Barack Obama is because I believe in this country. I believe that we can pull ourselves out of this economic hole and repair the global shame that the last eight years has brought down on us. It's not really a partisan thing. I think you can tell that I'm not really a tow-the-party-line kinda guy. If I thought McCain had a better vision I'd have no problem voting Republican. I don't. I think he's eleven kinds of dangerous. That's just my opinion. It's just my blog.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LUMPY UPDATE

7 months. I was never a small dog kinda guy. I've always had biggish, dopey rescue dogs. Love the freaks. But Katey wanted a smaller dog. She did the research and decided on a French Bulldog. So we got one a few years ago. Lola is a great dog. So great, we got another. Lumpy was my birthday present. He's such a great fucking dog. They're tough to train, but worth it. Smart, loyal, a tenacious watch dog, super playful and most importantly -- how can you not smile when you come home and see that mug?