Raynold Gideon [Interview]

This is Kandi & Bear. They allow today’s guest to live with them. They are much younger and a whole lot better looking than Raynold Gideon, according to today’s guest. We cannot confirm this, but would probably guess it to be true based on the adorableness of Kandi and Bear.

 

Welcome back Folks to another very exciting week here at Trainwreck’d Society. In fact, this is a week that I am EXTREMELY excited for, for so many reasons. Sometimes it is so much fun to know the line up before it comes out. It’s the little things, I guess. Today’s guest is an absolute genius storyteller, to say the least. It’s Raynold Gideon, Everyone!

Raynold Gideon is a man who has a wealth of experience in the world of film and television as a writer, producer, actor, and more. For over 50 years, this man has been on a mission (whether he knew, or believes it, or not) to put out some wonderful work. He has received two well deserved Oscar nominations (both projects will be discussed in the text below, as you know we have an unhealthy and unreasonable love for these “awards”). Along with his long time writing partner Bruce A. Evans, penned what can only be referred to as the single greatest coming-of-age films of all time when they adapted, and dare I say bettered, the Stephen King story that would become the film Stand By Me.

Stand By Me is a god damned classic. We all know this. But, when the chance to share some words from the great Raynold Gideon came to fruition, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite stand up comedians and podcasters out there, Daniel Van Kirk, who I have heard, on more than a dozen occasions, say that Stand By Me remains his favorite film of all time. So I thought, why not see if he had anything he would like to ask Raynold about the film. And lo and behold, we managed to steal a few moments from Daniel to throw a question together for Raynold in order to join in on the fun. So just a delightful bonus to throw out there for you all. Thank you so much to Daniel Van Kirk for helping us out today!

So Folks, please enjoy this incredible interview we have for you all with the amazingly talented human being that is Raynold Gideon. He is a brilliant writer, the roommate of some very beautiful canines, and just an all around delightful human being. We talk about his coming up in the business, his long term partnerships, the disrespectfulness of Disney, and of course, the glorious film that is Stand By Me. Enjoy!

 

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What was it that initially that made you want to get into the world of writing and producing films? I understand that you initially entered the world of entertainment as an actor. What prompted you to make that shift?

Getting into writing was a total accident. A friend needed an idea for a short film. He was a theatre director and wanted to show he could direct film. I sat down one morning and sketched out what I thought would be a fun short. Other than dissertations at University I’d never written anything before. The director liked what I had written. I said he could have it if I played the lead, he said you can play the lead if you put up half the money to make the film, I did, we shot it and got an Academy Award nomination. It was called Frog Story. The actress we cast was dating Bruce Evans at that time and that’s how I met Bruce. Some months later Bruce and I wrote a short film together, we shot it, it was called James Sloan Private Eye. Bruce and I got along and said why not try to write a feature script together, we did and have been writing ever since.

 

How did you manage to team up with your writing partner of 40+ years, Bruce A. Evans? And what do you believe it is about you both as team that has worked so well in regards to bringing some wonderful stories to the big screen?

I somewhat answered this as part of the first question. Bruce and I like the same kind of movies, we’re good friends and we’ve had some success as a team. Why fix what’s not broken.

 

 Several of the projects that you have worked on have been adaptations from previous works, and many have been original scripts. I am curious to know which form of writing that geniuses of their craft such as yourself prefer. So, do you have any preference between the two? And which do you tend to find the most challenging?

Adaptations are a bit easier because you have the idea, the story. Originals are blank page time and a lot of ‘what if’s?’ We’ve mostly done originals. A Man A Woman and a Bank, Starman, Kuffs, Made in Heaven, Mr. Brooks

 

 

One very specific project that meant a lot to me as a child growing up in the 90’s that you wrote was the 1997 fish out of water tale Jungle 2 Jungle. As a 12 year old kid at the time, this Americanized remake of a 1994 French film was very special to me, and I still enjoy it to this day, if not only for nostalgic reasons. I am very curious to know what drew you to this project? What made you want to bring this story to American audiences?

Disney. We got a call from an executive at Disney. Would we be interested? We screened the film, loved it, said yes, and then were told we have Tim Allen, don’t lose him. So we wrote the script, we didn’t lose Tim, he loved our script. We were invited to a special afternoon Premiere, and everyone, cast, crew executives, all had reserved seats, we the writers did not, did not have a seat anywhere. To apologize, next day the executive sent us a case of ok wine.

 

A question from the wonderful & acclaimed comedian Daniel Van Kirk (Dumb People Town, Pen Pals podcasts): Throughout the 30+ years since the release of Stand By Me, what storyline, character trait, or moment in the film seems to still resonate the most with audiences?

Innocence. It was the age before those kids discovered girls, and rubbers and all that. It was an “Ah to be that free and happy again; also it was a terrific adventure for kids and for the young girls who came to the film again and again, it was “I always wanted to know what my brother was doing in that tree house with his friends”. Also everybody seems to remember Gordie to Ace…“Suck my fat one you cheap dime store hood’.

 

 

After so many years in the world of storytelling, I am curious to know what you believe to be your most prized accomplishment in the business? Not necessarily one singular project (could be though, if you so choose), but when you look back on your decades spanning career, what would you say you are most proud of? 

Stand By Me. Stand By Me. Stand By Me. Rob Reiner captured the innocence, the adventure, the humor of our script and I believe we captured the essence of Stephen King’s novella.

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

We have three projects that we like Sisyphus are pushing that rock up the hill to potential green lights.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Sunrise this morning at Runyon Canyon.

 

And for a clip of one of the greatest scenes in American cinema:

 

Sunday Matinee: Princess of the Row [Film]

 

“Bouncing around the sometimes-abusive foster care system, a creative 12-year-old girl, Alicia Willis (Tayler Buck), ditches school to visit her military veteran father, Sgt. Beaumont “Bo” Willis (Edi Gathegi). After a battle-induced brain injury during his service in Iraq, Bo is now homeless and living on LA’s skid row suffering from severe PTSD. The injury renders him unable to recognize his own daughter most of the time, but to Alicia it doesn’t matter, because she remembers him as the father he used to be: a caring man with a love of storytelling.

Inheriting her father’s creativity, Alicia loves to write and spends most of her time writing fantasy tales of a Princess on a quest. But when Alicia’s social worker Magdalene (Ana Ortiz), places her in a perfect home with an award-winning writer, John Austin (Martin Sheen), she learns they live 10 hours away. Fearful of never seeing her father again, Alicia escapes the city with her father, on a mission to find a better life where they can be together in peace.” – Millennial PR

 

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If you are a living human with a pulse that is active, you will know just from the description of a film like this, that if it is done correctly, it is going to be a true work of art by the greatest design. And lucky to us living humans, it was done absolutely perfectly. Seriously Folks, this is not only one of the finest films I have seen in 2019, it is a gem of a film that is one of the best I have seen in a very long time.

The idea that we are seeing an abundance of homelessness being the result of hundreds of thousand of people fighting in two wars at the same time, and being a country that wasn’t ready to handle the trauma that they would feel as a result is absolutely sickening and terrifying. But, films like Princess of the Row are a prime example of a work of art that seeks to bring the discussion to the table. To humanize those who have suffered so much in this manner is truly beautiful and should definitely get the conversation started. Why are we spending so much money to go to war, yet are not prepared to support the troops on the homefront as well? It’s a question that has been asked so many times, yet nobody has a real answer to. The VA is out there, and I personally know people who are committing their lives to helping out our vets, and I truly commend them. But, it obviously isn’t enough. It’s god damn ridiculous, and it’s sickening. And while I truly love Princess of the Row as a film, I truly wish that it wasn’t so possibly true to life. I wish we could watch a film like this and see it in an Orwellian light and had to ask ourselves, “What would it be like if we really treated our veterans this way?”. Unfortunately, we don’t need to ask such a question, because it is currently the truth, and this story could have been truly ripped from real life experiences.

 

 

 

When it comes to performances, Tayler Buck is the clear standout in the matter. She runs the show here as not only the titular character, but as the ringleader of emotions that run throughout the film. Even with the likes of legendary performers like Martin Sheen and Edi Gathegi, who are absolutely brilliant by the way, this young woman steals the show thanks to not only her talents, but for the fact that she was a wonderfully written part done masterfully by director Max Carlson and writer A Shawn Austin.

So, when you find the opportunity, you owe it to yourself to check out this gem of a film that addresses some very serious issues in a responsible and artistic manner. It truly isn’t just the best film of 2019 thus far, it’s easily one of the best films of the last 20 years. I wouldn’t lie to you, Folks!

 

Princess of the Row is in select theaters now, and currently on the festival circuit. You can check out the film on Wednesday, April 3 at 8:00PM – TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, Hollywood, as part of the Beverly Hills Film Festival.

 

Saturday Special: Pet Graveyard [Film]

 

A struggling student nurse assists her brother and his friends in a graveyard in a dangerous experiment called “brinking” — a ritual where it is said you can explore a region between life and death, enabling you the chance to speak to those who have passed on. However, when they return to life, a sinister force is after the group, wanting to take them back to the dark side and keep them dead.” – October Coast PR

 

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Alright Folks, I know you may feel a bit put off by a film with a title like Pet Graveyard. Yes it is similar to another very famous film and the reboot that is currently making the festival rounds. But trust me Folks, any comparison would be ill-informed and insanely incorrect. This film is so much better than it truly deserved to be. It has an incredible concept, a wonderful story to tell, and has a look that is absolutely brilliant that was made on a restricted budget to say the least. Acclaimed B-Horror producer Rebecca J. Matthews has moved into the director’s chair and has created something truly original and extremely impressive in bringing screenwriter Suzy Spade’s wonderful story to the world.

I would again like to reiterate that this film stands on its own two proverbial feet as a singular piece of art. This is a magnificent horror-thriller for exactly what it is, and nothing more. Any comparison to any other film is unnecessary, and I sincerely wish that the comparisons weren’t so easy to make. But, I get it. Making a film is really, really fucking hard. Something has to draw the audiences. But not unlike so many folks we have spoken with who have worked on “sequel by name only” projects (i.e. The Marine 4, Jarhead 3, etc.), the work is solid. It is well-written, has solid performances, and is simply just a damn fine film. And if it takes attaching the title’s likeness to something that is already known to get this beautiful work out into the world, so be it. I would much rather have a film like Pet Graveyard in existence, even if I don’t care much for the film’s title. I wouldn’t like to you Folks and I definitely am not now when I say that this film is special and should be enjoyed by all. So, please keep at least a slight bit of an open mind, and check out this amazing work of horror. You will definitely not be disappointed!

 

Pet Graveyard will be available on DVD & VOD on April 2nd, 2019.

 

 

William Kaufman [Interview]

 

 

Happy Wednesday Folks! We have a wonderful and exciting interview to share with all today. We are fortunate enough to have another damn fine writer and director to feature on the site. In fact, his work speaks for itself, and has actually been featured here at Trainwreck’d Society in the past. It’s William Kaufman, Everyone! He is a brilliant mind in the world of action films, and happens to have a close partnership with our dear friend Chad Law! And best of all, William is one hell of a nice guy!

We discuss Mr. Kaufman’s start in the business, what he loves about action films in particular, our beloved city of Spokane (which we were once calling “The City of Lost Potential”, but may have to retract that statement soon!), and so much more. We are so excited that William was willing to grace our digital pages today and we know you are going to love what he has to say. So Folks, please enjoy some great words from the brilliant artist and person, Mr. William Kaufman!

 

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What was your first introduction into the world of cinema? And what made you decide that you wanted to join this world for a living?

I grew up in London and being the only “Yank” on campus I think I always felt like a bit of an outsider at my British prep school… I think going to the movies was sort of my “escape”… most of the movies I saw were American blockbusters, heroes saving the day and as “little boy” as that sounds, it was my connection to home…  I have insanely great memories of all those Saturdays I spent in my old local theater. 

I quickly became “that kid” in the neighborhood that was always running around with a camcorder making his little movies.  To be very straightforward it was all I ever wanted to do… When I was around 13 we moved to Texas for Junior High and then moved back overseas to Bangkok Thailand where I went to an international school. While I was there I got to work (PA/extra) on a couple big US movies that were shooting there and from that moment on I was hooked. After film school in Texas I got hired on by a SFX/Armorer coordinator and that definitely served me well when I got ready to do my first indie film The Prodigy.

The majority of your credits have been in the world of action/adventure. What is it that you love the most about this genre of film? What keeps you wanting to work in this world specifically?

I think it was just a natural direction to go in as that genre is what spawned my initial love of film. I love the action genre when it’s done well, and for me in particular, I am most connect when it’s grounded in great characters, compelling storylines and and a gritty reality I can recognize. 

I’m not saying that I don’t care for fantasy or sci-fi… on the contrary, I just prefer it when crazy outlandish ideas are are taken seriously.  I just want the stakes of the storyline to matter… And in the action genre specifically, I have to be completely invested in the characters for any of the action set pieces to have any impact.  Without that, it’s simply a series of stunt shows strung together for 90 minutes.

 

 

You filmed much of 2011’s The Hit List in the eastern Washington city of Spokane. I was living in the area at the time, and I remember strolling around Riverfront when you were shooting. The film was fantastic by the way, and I’m sure local Spokanites are always happy to see their city being used. So how was your experience in the city of Spokane? Did you get to enjoy your time in eastern Washington’s largest (and frankly, only) city?

Spokane and the surrounding areas are beautiful. I had an amazing time there. It was a huge growing experience for me because up till then I’d never done a studio picture… I never had anyone in charge of the production that superseded me creatively. That was a huge adjustment… I learned a ton… I definitely learned what to do and also what to absolutely NOT do when playing at that level :).

The next year you returned to work with Cuba Gooding Jr. with One in the Chamber. This time your location was a bit more enticing, as it was set in Romania. So you spent a lot of time with the Oscar winning actor of the course of these two films. So how has your experience been working with Cuba, and what do you believe is a main factor in your partnership that has helped in  putting out such great films?

As I said on The Hit List there was quite a bit of adjusting for me. Cuba of course was great but I still think he was trying to figure out what kind of a filmmaker I was if you know what I mean. That’s just natural… I was an absolute unknown indie film maker out of Texas with one tiny little, genre festival hit under his belt and another film nobody had seen yet called Sinners And Saints in post production.  On One In The Chamber, all that was behind us. Sinners And Saints had become a run-away cult hit and Cuba had gotten great reviews from The Hit List and so his level of confidence in me was completely unwavering.  I remember he would come to set and say “OK coach let’s get to work” He was awesome to work with… Great attitude, amazing work ethic… We had a blast!

While you are definitely known to write your own brilliant stories, such as Sinners and Saints, The Prodigy, & more, you have manage to direct the works of some very fine screenwriters like our old friends Alan McElroy and Chad Law. So when you are picking up a gig as a director on a project that you didn’t write, what are you looking for a script that a guys like Alan or Chad just seem to get? What makes a solid script in your opinion?

Alan’s resume speaks for itself.  We didn’t get to collaborate very much but he’s a great guy and responsible for a lot of very cool stuff. 

My relationship with Chad is a completely different animal. We’ve been friends and collaborators for over 10 years. Chad is a straight up monster of a writer.  You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more prolific as a screenwriter and lover of genre film than Chad. And that’s what I look for… Someone who REALLY has a love of the genre… Too many aspiring writers dabble in the genre thinking it will be easy path to get to do “real movies.” They quickly find out how misinformed they are.

Chad is someone who really “gets it”.  His scripts are also a blast to read… They actually read like a good fiction novel. They’re slick, funny and oozing with attitude. So speaking as someone who is inundated with scripts all the time, Chad’s work definitely stands out.  He also invests a huge amount towards attention to detail… Always double and triple checking that everything in the script tracks… That everything moves the story along and stays true to the characters he has created. Knowing your partnered with a writer who cares that much about doing great work is a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal.

 

 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you can tell our readers about?

I did a very cool little action film in Albania and Bulgaria called The Brave that I’ve been told will be released later this year.  It was a really unique project because with the exception of Louis Mandaylor who played the protagonist and Armand Assante who played the antagonist the entire cast was either Russian, Albanian or Bulgarian.  The story is set in Albania and is about an elite Albanian strike team going after a powerful drug lord. If you’re a fan of old-school gritty action cop films I think you’ll really dig it… Louis and his costars killed it… Super proud of his performance in it.

As for upcoming work… There are lots of interesting things developing but it’s probably a bit early to share those. One project I am particularly excited about is Johnny Strong and I are shooting a follow up to Daylight’s End early this winter.  It’s a great script, again penned by Chad Law… A different kind of movie than the first one. It’s more of a survival/journey storyline than last stand action film… I promise to report back to you soon as I get the greenlight to share more. 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Ha! Probably this question… Do you mean on production?  Well then that would be my experience with Louis on The Brave… after production ended in Albania we had an bit of an adventure trying to get out of the country… I’d share the details with you but then… then I’d have too… Well you know. 1f60e.png

 

Left to right
Bes Kallaku (famous Albanian actor), Kaufman, Louis, Chad Pittman (producer)

New Music Tuesday: Tremendous – Open For Closing [Single]

 

Oh do we have something absolutely wonderful to share with you all today. Let me start this out by stating that “Open For Closing” is a brilliant, and systematically engineered absolutely PERFECT song. Seriously Folks, this beautiful track has everything that, I personally feel, is required to be a perfect track. From the soft beginning that quickly ramps up into a hard as hell and also anthemic like vocal structure. With ironic and open for interpretation lyrics that breathe into your ear holes with a sound that is part glam rock, part 80’s hair metal, yet has a far greater and more modern collection of guitar work that is more reminiscent of the best of what we heard in the early 00’s, but without the cheese. This is truly an amazing 3 minute experience that you will quickly turn into a 6 minute experience. And then 9, 12, 27, 300, and so on. It’s an absolutely brilliant record, and I am so happy that it was brought to my attention, and you can rest assure that the name Tremendous will be appearing on these digital pages as the year 2019 progresses forward.

“Open For Closing” is the third single from Tremendous’s forthcoming debut full length album, Relentless, that will be coming to the world this coming September, and I am so damned excited to check out this album, and of course share it with you all when the time comes. Tremendous has that sort of sound that is obviously influenced from another era, yet is completely original in its own right. As I expressed before, there are recognizable elements that will be obvious, but there is something extremely modern and sort of cleaned up about the arrangement in which the track is presented. This could be partially due to the fact that they have acclaimed Kings of Leon and Robert Plant producer Gavin Monaghan piecing the whole thing together. But, I dare say that he was handed a proverbial chunk of gold, and was asked to add a few bits of platinum into it. Folks, it is a damn fine track, and it’s definitely going to leave you wanting more and more.

For our readers in the UK, check out Tremendous doing “Open For Closing” & more live for yourself as they will be performing at Dublin Castle in London on April 4th. Check out the event HERE.

 

“Open For Closing’ will be available for streaming and purchase wherever you do these things (iTunes, Spotify, etc.) on April 12th.

Until then, check out this wonderfully original video for the song, and bask in the glory that is “Open For Closing”:

 

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/GlautZGr6HE&#8221; frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen>

Sunday Matinee: The Cannibal Club [Film]

 

“Otavio and Gilda are a very wealthy couple of the Brazilian elite who have the habit of eating their employees. Otavio owns a private security company and is a notable member of The Cannibal Club. When Gilda accidentally discovers a secret from Borges, a powerful congressman and the Club’s leader, her and her husband’s lives are in grave danger.  ” – October Coast PR

 

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I have to kick this thing off by stating that this film was much more amazing than it really needed to be. And I say this as a major compliment. The premise is one that is usually dealt with as something be treated as dark, yet silly. But, The Cannibal Club is a film the dives into the world of elitism and self-indicted superiority by using very graphic material to elicit the idea that the rich and powerful are seemingly only around to destroy the poor. And in this case, they plan to eat them as well. Make no mistake about it, everything from the setting of the film being in more prominent areas of Brazil that are intermingled with the poverty stricken areas, to the brilliant performances from the likes of Tavinho Teixeira and Ana Luis Rios, this is an absolutely brilliant demonstration of what it means to be just too damn powerful. This idea is extremely exaggerated in a brilliant bit of dialogue regarding first and third world countries, in which we are witness to the “better to reign in hell” mentality that these characters seemed to have.

 

 

What struck me the most about this very powerful and insane film, was the idea of the conflict of the film being so very mild on the surface, yet was still stoked a reasonable fire when you considered the characters at hand. I’m not going to spoil the big “secret” that Gilda discovers in the plot, but it is suffice to say that it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal when you consider that this man is LITERALLY EATING HUMAN GODDAMN BEINGS!!!! And this, I feel, is what truly adds to the beautiful conflict that this film presents. Satirical is an obvious way to describe the film, but please don’t lead to believe that there is really anything zany and ridiculous within this film. This is a very serious take that speaks gruesome volumes about the disparity of wealth in this world. Maybe I am projecting my own thoughts into he plot of the film, but isn’t that what I am supposed to be doing here?

Overall, The Cannibal Club is a brilliantly made film and is an absolutely must see for anyone who can handle a good measure of insanity whilst understanding that sometimes the true terrors of the world are all around us. It is wonderful that we have filmmakers like Guto Parente out there in this world to describe such terrors to us in a visual manner. Watch this movie, Everyone! It’s a an absolute treasure, and one of my favorite films of 2019. Enjoy!

 

The Cannibal Club is available in select theaters and on VOD right NOW!

 

Harry Werksman [Interview]

 

Hello Folks, and a happy Friday to you all! We have yet another exciting interview to share with you all today. We have ventured once again into the world of wordsmiths, and are so very excited to share some words with an absolute legend in the world of television. It’s Harry Werksman, Everyone! Harry is a man that has worked as a writer and/or producer within a plethora of genres, from modern whimsical comedies such as Ugly Betty, to the sci-fi classic Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the incarnation of the wildly successful drama Grey’s Anatomy, and just so damn much more. He is an inspiring figure in the world of television and just damn good writing in general. And he also happens to give some of the best insight into some pretty common questions about the modern world of television that appear regularly here at Trainwreck’d Society, but also very often out in the real world, although I am sure many are afraid to actually admit they are asking. But, we don’t give a single solid fuck around here, and Harry Werksman doesn’t seem to as well, as he is brutally honest and, dare I say, exactly spot on with his answers (and far more rational, I might add).

So Folks, please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant mind of a legend in his field, the absolutely brilliant Harry Werksman!

 

When did you discover that you had a passion for the world of TV writing and producing? I understand you had a different career path before joining the world of entertainment? 

I have loved TV my entire life. For example, I would set my alarm clock as a boy (starting at age 10) to wake up at 11pm to secretly watch the original Star Trek, The Prisoner, and Night Gallery. Didn’t know back then that one day I would write and produce TV, in fact I didn’t even know those jobs existed, I thought I was really watching people doing these things. Well, except for Star Trek but I did want to tag along with Kirk and crew. 

And yes, I did have a slightly different career path. After I graduated from Northwestern, I went to Oxford to get a graduate degree in history (17th century English Ecclesiastical and Social History to be precise). The goal was a doctorate, become a Don at Oxford and teach. That changed, for a variety of reasons, I got an M.Lit. in history and moved to LA. Where, with my ever-useful degree, I got a job working for a crisis management consulting firm. After about 18 months in that job, I just couldn’t do it any more and quit. Given that unemployment wasn’t going to pay the bills and I knew that I wanted to write TV (I started taking extension writing classes at UCLA (having NEVER even seen a script before) to figure out how it all worked. While doing that, I worked as an art department PA on TV commercials. That production experience truly helped inform my writing. To be able to see what can and can’t be done and appreciate the incredible contribution everyone below the line can make. 

 

 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And was there anything from this experience that you learned and still sticks with you to this day in your work life? Any lessons learned, basically? 

After many fits and starts, my first pro sale was to Star Trek: DS9. At the time, the show was reading spec scripts (they had to be DS9 scripts) trolling for ideas and getting people on their pitch list. I had submitted a script, which they didn’t buy, but got me on the pitch list. After a few times going in to pitch, I had had no luck. Then on what must have been my third or fourth try, the producer I was pitching to said he “loved” the story but it was a “seventh (final) season idea. I left the meeting thinking “They’re going to steal the idea, God damn it”. About six months later, as I was now on a ticking clock to either break into TV or find something else to do with my life, I got a call from the DS9 offices saying they were buying my story and could I have a story document ready by Monday. When I picked myself up off the floor, I said “ABSOLUTELY!” It was Thursday late afternoon already. But I hunkered down, submitted it, got paid for the story and eventually saw it on the air!

The lesson for me was only do this writing thing if it’s truly what you want to do and you can think of absolutely nothing else you’d rather do and are prepared to hear “NO” 99.99% of the time. So, if you accept those two things (and dig deep for the answer) then NEVER GIVE UP. Write because you have something to say, not because you want to say something (thanks for that one FS Fitzgerald). It’s a marathon not a sprint.

The always reliable and knowledgeable website Wikipedia has informed me that you spent some time in the current “location” of the Trainwreck’d Society “headquarters”, here in the UK, including some time in Scotland as a youth, and even attending the prestigious Oxford University. With that, I am curious to know how you enjoyed living on this side of the pond? And were there any sort of British ways and means that still influence your work to this day?

My mum is Scottish. Growing up, before we moved my grandparents to California (Glasgow was no place for OAPs in the mid-1970s), I would often spend part of my summers in Scotland with my family visiting my grandparents. And yes, years later, I did attend Oxford for my M.Lit. in history, and some rowing and maybe a little bit of beer drinking.

I loved all the time I spent in the UK. Scotland was magical as a child. Oxford was an amazing experience — the friendships, the intellectual challenges, and just seeing the world from a different POV than through the colored prisim of America. The thing I think I carry with me the most is the ability to “take the piss” out of someone and have the same done to me. We’re just telling stories… getting paid to make up lies. I have a responsibility and a hope that what I write makes a wee bit of difference.

You were there in the beginning of the mega successful series that is Grey’s Anatomy. The popularity of this show was almost instant it seems like. Medical dramas have been around for a while, but GA will most likely go down as the greatest one of all time. With that, I am curious to know what initially drew you to this project? And were you able to foresee the success that it would become?

I had spent a year in Sydney, Australia working on Farscape and fell in love with the country. When I came back to the US, I wanted so desperately to go back  that I wrote a pilot set in Queensland. I eventually sold the pilot to ABC. It didn’t get made but it got me an interview with Shonda Rhimes.

When I was offered a job on the first season of GA, I took the gig but had NO CLUE it would become GREY’S ANATOMY! I don’t think any one did. Those first three seasons were a wild ride. The magic of that show was/is that it’s not really about the medicine. That’s just what the characters “do”. Medicine was a mirror that we held up to the characters that reflected what was going on with them and who they were and hoped they could become. 

 

You have worked several other damn fine projects over the years, such as Ugly Betty, Star Trek: DS9, and many more. And I would never ask you to choose your favorite project that you have contributed to in any capacity, but I am curious to know what you believe to be some highlights of your career thus far? When you look back on your career thus far as a whole, what are some things you find yourself having the most pride in?

I have been truly blessed with the career I’ve had so far. I’ve learned something new and experienced something different every step of the way. I’m proud of every show I’ve contributed to in one way or another, from Staff Writer on VIP to helping make Grey’s what it is to Show Running Moonlight (the little vampire show that could but was about a season too early).

But I’m most proud of every bad idea that I’ve had, on every show I’ve been part of, that started a conversation that resulted in a good idea being born, nourished or sometimes even brought back from the brink of death.

With a career that has spanned 25+ years, I am sure you have seen a lot of change in the ways in which television is made, not to mention the more recent resurgence of the television platform being where all the best stories are told. So, I am curious to know what your thoughts are on the current world of television? We have so many different ways to be entertained these days. Do you consider the abundance of shows available to be a good thing, or is the business simply becoming oversaturated?

Holy shit snacks! 25+ years! That’ll make you feel right sized if nothing else will. 

Yes, I’ve seen and experienced a lot of change in the TV world. The world is a very different place than it was 25 years ago. TV today is amazing. There are so many choices, so many voices, so many perspectives, and so many interesting stories being explored. Another Golden Age they say and I’d agree. The medium had to evolve the way it has to keep pace with radically changing technology and the way we consume our entertainment.

There will be over 500 scripted TV shows produced in 2019. Is that too many? Not enough? I’m not sure. Certainly there are more opportunities but that also means the opportunity for more crap (that being wholly subjective of course). As long as smart, funny, engaging, challenging and thought-provoking projects are having a chance to break through the clutter and noise then, while we may be reaching a saturation tipping point soon (I don’t really know, just my opinion), I say bring it on! Let’s take on any and all comers. Tell a good story that people care about, that makes them think and feel something, for better or for worse. At the end of the day, my job is to: Show up. Keep up. Shut up. That’s entertainment. 

What does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers? 

I’m still just a working writer. I joke that I go to the “Word Factory” everyday. I’m continually coming up with new ideas, wherever and whenever they might come to me. I read a shit ton of books of every description and genre. I write pilots for stories with great characters, interesting stories, a specific POV and maybe something to say about something. I take pitch meetings, general meet and greet meetings, open writing assignment meetings, whatever comes my way. The one project I’m quite keen on at the moment (and has been an obsession of mine for years) is about the world of art crime. The Thomas Crown Affair meets Mission Impossible. It was recently optioned by a production company so my fingers are crossed. Stay tuned. 

What was the last thing that made you smile? 

That question and the fact that we should all smile more often. Though I just read that in primates smiling is a sign of fear. But maybe, just maybe we’re not just monkeys hitting a keyboard an infinite amount of times and producing Shakespeare.