September 20, 2007

This Is The Way The World Ends

The apocalypse satire I've been waiting years for, Richard Kelly's long-awaited follow-up to Donnie Darko, opens November 9.

And here's your first look at stills from the soon-to-be-released trailer (Yes, that's Justin Timberlake and Cheri Oteri).

Across the Universe

My latest is now available over at

September 18, 2007

Hating Rupert Murdoch

How dare he censor the Flying F**king she is uncut:

Congrats Ms. Field.

September 10, 2007

The VMAs: Your Responses

Looks like I spoke for everyone who had functioning eyes and ears...(the last one speaks for itself):

From Laura K:
"you wrote this!? Its perfect. basically sums up everything i thought when i watched that dreadful show last night. "hot mess" (in a bad way, not sexual) is a good way to describe it, but it was staged poorly. I didn't know what the hell i was watching...dark rooms, foggy hotel rooms, logically a nightmare! don't get me started on the 'performances'.

and last but not least, my roommates and i wept over how mtv is a disgrace and has killed rock and roll, and all appreciation of music for our generation, and those to come..."

From Denise:
"You've enrolled a new fan! Very well written.. and of course humorous. I didn't watch it but you painted a clear, horrifying picture lol."

From Xaque G:
"Hiko ~ YOU NAILED IT!!!!!!!!! Again, I am SO impressed with your accuracy (and speed) in delivering your assessment of the VMAs.

Watching it, I found myself stranging longing for the 1980s when Video Artists like a-Ha and Peter Gabriel were making artistic statements in the music video medium and people actually cared. At one point I was craving to see an actual music video and switched to The Tube (which plays great music videos 24-7) and there was Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" - so fresh 25 yrs later...the wandering cows, the flaming orange was a breath of fresh air.

I switched back to the VMAs and I was so exhausted by the disjointed-ness, I went to bed. For a second I thought maybe it was me falling out of touch with things, but then I read your blog and was relieved it wasnt just me. ha!"

From Cheri W:
"Once again you nailed it. Alicia Keys was the ONLY saving grace of that show. At least she can actually sing... Chris Brown – nothing but a male pop tart that I’m waiting to hurry up and fall off once his voice finally changes. Poor Britney... Chris Rock said it best. In 3 to 5 years she can come back with a great accoustic album of plaintive Alanis like songs and maybe make a respectable comeback. Until then, she needs to sit down and shut up!"

From Alicia V:
"Hiko, you are just brilliant! I love that I don't have cable and didn't see the VMAs and I can picture it! God, was Britney THAT bad that YouTube took it down? That was the only way I was going to get to see it :("

From Chris C:

Things That Suck: The VMAs

Remember the name Hamish Hamilton.

He is the man responsible for digging an ever deeper grave for MTV. In other words, he was the director behind the debacle that was last night's Video Music Awards (I'm sure there's plenty of producers to blame, but the director is a much easier target).

And, while we're at it, the word "video" shouldn't even be used in the name of the show anymore because apparently the awards are certainly no longer bestowed upon the innovative and fresh mini-movies that once pioneered the medium. The past decade has clearly shown us that Moonmen are only handed out to those who reigned supreme on the Billboard charts or monopolized every Top 40 radio station from here to Nova Scotia.

That said...

Just when we thought MTV couldn't produce a more heinous awards ceremony, along came the 2007 edition. Calling it a hot mess would be an insult to the hot messes out there that worked hard at becoming hot messes.

Let us count the ways how the show failed miserably more than ever (fret not, I'll get to Britney in a minute):

Did they learn nothing from 2005's mess in Miami, the year when Diddy's ego got in the way of his hosting duties? Placing the ceremonies in Vegas, a city that's flashier than most of the performances, takes away from the heart of the show. MTV, your celebs seemed to be distracted, itching to leave their seats because either the slot machines were ringing, the bars were filling up, or the hookers were waiting.

MTV, go back to the auditoriums! Sporadically shooting the show around the Palms Casino and Resort was a pathetic attempt to revamp a television format that does not require revamping. Stick to the classic One Room: here's the audience, there's the main stage. Sure, the table-and-chairs idea was very Golden Globes, but please don't double the tables as platforms for performers (Chris Brown? Okay, possibly the saving grace of the night). Also, last night's confusing jumps from party room to party room throughout the resort didn't make the whole event feel "interactive." It just made it feel like we were watching a home video of a private party we weren't invited to. It was as if we were watching chaotic footage from a claustrophobic nightclub (New Year's Eve, anyone?). For once, we didn't wish we were there.

Triple Threat of the Year? Monster Single of Year? Really, MTV? Call me crazy, but I thought video awards went to actual, y'know, videos. Is there an award for Worst Pitch for a New Way to Revitalize an Aging Youth Network?

The last time I remember enjoying the VMAs was back in 1999 when Chris Rock emceed at the Metropolitan Opera House in good 'ol reliable New York City. You need a host, VMAs. You need a father-or-mother figure to bring everyone back down to Earth every time a rap-metal band rips up the stage or a pop goddess dazzles us by stripping away her clothing in one swoop. You need someone to be there for us, to guide us through the chaos, to answer our Did-She-Just-Do-That? with a confirming head shake or witty commentary.

And now we turn to the night's highly anticipated opening act, Britney Spears...

All together now: What. Was. She. Thinking?

The trauma we experienced was unexpected. What we saw first was the bad weave. Then, it was the alien-blue contacts. Then, it was the unnecessary outfit that did little to hide the abs she thought she still had. Then, it was the actual performance. She acted as if she had never been on stage before. Yes, there was the obligatory lip-synching, but this time it was blatant and ridiculous. For the first time, her dancers had outperformed her. Her pelvic thrusts were limp. Her steps were awkward (damn those stiletto boots). Overall, the girl didn't seem to know what she was doing. Did she even care?

According to sources we tracked down immediately after the performance (remember, we were on the West Coast and behind the rest of the Americans who witnessed the horror live), MTV scrapped her original plan which involved famed magician Criss Angel (the current Mr. Cameron Diaz). Allegedly, Britney was supposed to float in mid-air along with her dancers in a number that proved to be to controversial for the cable network. Was this pitiful performance then put together at the last minute? Was this Britney's F-You to MTV? Did she fail...on purpose? Or was she so nervous about performing at the VMAs for the first time in four years that she overloaded on Xanax before stepping on stage? The critics (read: fans) are going to be harsh either way
(Perez Hilton? Hate all the way).

As for the rest of the mess:

Sarah Silverman, for the first time, bombed. You could hear crickets when she called Britney's babies "mistakes" and impersonated a vagina with her mouth. The audio on Pete Wentz's mic went out during his report from the Fall Out Boy party. Justin Timberlake made a public plea for MTV to play more videos - twice (JT, don't you get it by now? That joke is sooo six years ago). Beyonce looked as if she wanted to get the hell out of there after accepting a Moonman for "Beautiful Liar" (Shakira? She was "in Canada"). Nelly Furtado was on crack. Dr. Dre was on steroids. Kid Rock punched out Tommy Lee. And Nelly held an open cup of beer on camera for all underagers to see.

And yet there are those of us who come back and tune in every year to check out at least one possibly hot performance with the fading hope that the whole shebang won't suck as much as the previous year. And yet we're let down every year, bashed over the head by an increasingly irritating barrage of drunk rockers, incomprehensive hip-hop artists, and shoddy camerawork (the angles couldn't have been more unflattering).

VMAs, it's a long road to redemption. Can you, will you get it together and wise up?

Perhaps we'll find out once the bong smoke clears, the vomit is cleaned up, and every scantily clad twit goes home to sleep off the vodka.

Yours truly (disgusted),

September 07, 2007

Son of a Pitch

I have this idea for a television show.

I don't think the small screen has seen anything like it before. It combines the premises of two of the hottest dramas currently on TV and has the potential to last enough seasons to satiate the greediest gatekeepers of syndication.

But good luck trying to get it out of me. I won't leak any details until I get a put-pilot commitment from a network and a shiny Executive Producer credit above my unique-for-Hollywood name.

Learning the ways of Los Angeles, one discovers how to guard one's assets - these being ideas, intellectual properties that could spin several pages of typed dialogue into regenerating, residual gold. Once you have an idea, chances are someone else is already expanding upon it, getting it out to his or her connections who have connections who have connections.

That's why I need to act fast. That's why I need to finish a draft and whore it around town like a starlet ready for rehab.

"I have this friend who created a few sitcoms back in the late 80s and early 90s," a friend of a friend tells me at a party where we discuss The Biz. "They all failed, but boy, he never has to work again."

As I understand it, there are some of those who have had their one idea turn into a singular, well-run success on the tube. One hit was all they needed. Take, for instance, the woman who created a series about four teenaged girls and their prep school headmistress. She now lives a modest life in a Silverlake 3-bedroom and enjoys cruising the Farmers Market every weekend with her cocker spaniel. Meanwhile, her mailbox fills up with paychecks every time Blair, Tootie, or Mrs. Garrett yuks it up on Nick at Nite.

I have to believe that my Untitled One-Hour will be the work that opens the door, raises the curtain, shows me the proverbial money. I'd love to have a network exec kiss my ass, welcome me into a meeting with other studio suits, offer me a fruit platter and sparkling water his assistant had imported from Paris, and ask me to make a few tweaks to the script ("What if we made our heroine a coke addict who got raped by her alcoholic uncle when she was twelve?"). Because apparently TV protagonists, in the wake of Tony Soprano, need to be more effed-up than ever.

Then they would continue to woo me by offering a list of names for my consideration, potentials for my creative team. These are producers and writers with whom the studio has deals; they're the established lot that needs to be staffed on a show before their contracts expire. It's all a part of the splendor that is the politics of television. Write for a hit show or create a moneymaker, and we'll keep you in the family for an indeterminate amount of time, even if it means plopping you onto a show run by a kid (I'm convinced that's what they call anyone below the age of 30).

And I would need to be careful with what's thrown at me - "Here's a guy who won an Emmy for that episode he penned for ER." Yeah, in 1996. "How about this great writing team we just picked up from that cancelled CBS sitcom?" Two words: CBS and sitcom. "Or there's that woman who produced that Lifetime vehicle for Valerie Bertinelli." Next.

Naturally, I'm getting ahead of myself, but shouldn't I be in order to keep the fire burning, the passion alive, the fingers a-typin'?

I must practice my patience and let my work simmer before serving it to an audience for feasting. I'll need to go through the register-and-copyright rigmarole before it's consumed and possibly regurgitated as someone else's material. Because, as we all learned in elementary school when Mrs. Doyle introduced us to the word "plagiarism," there's nothing as soul-crushing as someone stamping their name on your property and taking the credit.

I first felt the burn when I had pitched an idea for an article to an editor of a national magazine where a friend of mine works. "Maybe it can go into your upcoming entertainment issue," I suggested, but alas, having no references or other writing samples to validate me as a qualified writer, I was shot down. Nice try, kid. Why don't you go back to your...blogs.

Cut to: Two months later I opened the latest issue of said magazine and saw a section dedicated to the very idea I had pitched to the editor. Deep down, I kind of expected it. During my e-mail correspondence with the editor I had started to realize what I might have been getting myself into: "Please, by all means, take my idea and publish it as your own!"


So goes the life lesson. The world is an imperfect place. Screws fall out, backs are stabbed, shit happens.

But back to the keyboard.

I have this idea for a television show...


Celebrating My 17th L.A.nniversary with a Bang

The impact, like many impacts, was sudden. I heard the crunch of metal, not as loud as those bang-ups you see in the  Fast and Furious ...