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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

FAME, BITCH-SLAPPING AND SWOLLEN CHERRIES


I'm on flight back from New York, so I'd figure I'd kill the ride with a blog. Fame and Violence. Two of my favorite subjects. In light of the recent accusations about Marc Cherry assaulting one of his actresses, I thought I'd weigh in from a showrunner's perspective. First, let me qualify by saying I do not know Mr. Cherry, nor do I watch his show. I'm sure it is a good show, it's just not my particular shade of lipstick. I also do not know any of the facts of the alleged attack, other than those released to the press. I will say that the headlines sent a shiver up my spine. As much as I enjoy the status of running a high-profile show, the Cherry news made me painfully aware of the downside of, as Variety recently profiled, the celebrity showrunner. Clearly, the "look at me" sword cuts both fucking ways. 

I love my small slice of fame. Anyone who says they don't want to be famous is lying (except JD Salinger, I believed him). It's not without it's drawbacks, but faced with the desire to have it or have it not, the truthful would opt for the have. From Actor to Zoologist, everyone dreams of being loved, adored and worshiped. I wish it wasn't true. Really, I wish I was deeper and secure enough that I didn't crave the attention of strangers, but alas, Facebook and Twitter give me half a chubbie (I reserve the full chubbie for other parts of the internet). Plus the instant connection to the fanbase of SOA is remarkable. I enjoy the feedback, the wacky suggestions and the deep felt connection folks have to my characters. It's incredibly gratifying and serves as a great way to keep our audience plugged into the show during our long downtime off-air. 

The truth is, self-promotion comes very easily to me. I have a huge fucking ego and my favorite subject is Kurt Sutter. If I am being truly honest, I am my own biggest fan. I try to temper that by staying honest and outing myself on my own lack of humility. To stay right-sized I have to always put the work in front of my own needs. Meaning, at the end of the day, Sons of Anarchy needs to be more important than my career goals. If I can remember to keep the creative work the priority, I'm usually capable of doing my job while remaining a decent and approachable man.

Here is why the Cherry thing scares me -- that could have easily been me. Not the striking an actress part, I adore my actors and our set is a big fucking love-fest. It's the anger part. Letting the stress and frustration of the gig push me past the point of rational choice. I'm not an angry guy, but I'm an extraordinarily controlling guy. When I sense any loss of control, I get scared. When I'm scared, I panic. When I panic, I act out. All that happens in a millisecond. For me, it usually manifests into an inappropriate email or slamming a phone down on an agent or executive. Shit happens. I'm not making excuses for Mr. Cherry. If he did actually strike someone, no matter what the circumstances, there needs to be reckoning.  I'm just saying it's a wake up call for writers, directors and producers. Our behavior is no longer private property, hidden behind stage walls. If we choose to live by Twitter, we can die by TMZ. Because now our behavior is of interest and we are capable of generating dirt for public consumption. So, if I have a meltdown on set, no one can stop a bored extra from snapping a photo or video snip and uploading it to Twitter. We live in an invasive age, where "everyone is big brother" (my wife's quote). I know this is not new, we've been here for awhile. It's just new for me and some of my brethren.

My first impulse is to completely unplug.  Burn all my accounts and recess back into the shadows of my writer's room, but I think it's too late for that.  Me disappearing from the scene could actually negatively impact the show.  Maybe.  So, instead I will try to embrace the challenge. The truth is, anything to keep my ego in check and my behavior accountable is probably a good thing. Sometimes humility has to kick me in the nuts to get my attention. I'm guessing Cherry's nuts are sufficiently swollen. I'm sure that was his accuser's attention.  

Note to self: never give aging starlets stunt direction.