Ever watch a movie and think you could write a better one? Here’s your chance, without having to invest in pricey screenwriting software. Plotbot is a nifty web-based interface that walks you through the mechanics of screenwriting, handles all of the tricky formatting issues, and even allows you to collaborate privately or publicly. There are a lot of other great resources for writers online, including this discussion from Kurt Vonnegut about why we need drama (with charts!), Screenwriting Tips, and Scriptologist.
Give it a try, and if your film gets made, remember to thank me in your Oscar acceptance speech!
Ron Masak’s face and voice are more familiar than his name. As Sheriff Mort Metzger in “Murder She Wrote” he appeared with Angela Lansbury as the mystery novelist who ran into a different real-life mystery every week. And he has been called the “King of Commercials” for his appearance in hundreds of radio and television ads. This career has given him the opportunity to meet up with many of the biggest stars of sports, show business, and more. He has written about his encounters with heroes from Buzz Aldrin and Muhammad Ali to Bill Cosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, and Elvis Presley in a charming book called I’ve Met All My Heroes From A To Z. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me what celebrity you’d like to meet and the first one I receive will win a copy of this book.
Ron was nice enough to answer my questions.
Which of the people you met was least like his or her public persona?
The fact that they made the book means that they were all pretty much what they appeared to be. Lucy [Lucille Ball] of course was a brilliant business woman as well.
Which one taught you the most important lesson?
My wife…taught me to “be yourself. My college director had the same advice.
My favorite part of your book is your loving tribute to your wife. What did she
teach your children about how to be a parent?
Be a living example to them…Teach them right from wrong, to “be themselves” and never let them leave the house without hearing “I love you.”
I’m a Chicagoan, too — so what’s your favorite place for pizza in Chicago?
In my youth it was Venuccis, Chesdens, and Home Run Inn.
Do you find that the same qualities lead to achievement whether it is in acting, sports, or the military?
Yes, the challenge, the preparation, the ability to perform your duties.
Who is the bravest of your heroes and why?
Audie Murphy, most decorated man in WWII, medal of honor winner. Who could top that?
Who is the funniest?
In my book a tie between George Burns, Jerry Lewis, Lucy, and Cosby. Not in my book? Shecky Greene.
As the King of Commercials, what is the most important thing to remember in
making an ad?
Timing…If you are brilliant and it’s too long it is wasted.
Do you really have to like the product?
One surprising thing about your book is the unexpected kindness shown by many of
the people you write about. Do you have a favorite example?
They were all so generous with their time and talent. Roy Rogers, catching a Special Olympian out of the corner of his eye as we were leaving, going over to him in his wheelchair, kneeling and spending time with him. He was special….he was everything you wanted your hero to be.
I have written before about the coarsening of language in the media, which continues to concern me. Two recent examples are in the titles of upcoming releases. While the movie and television series are not intended for children, I wonder whether it is appropriate for these titles to be advertised so widely as it is almost certain children will be exposed to them.
The first is “Dinner for Schmucks,” an American remake of the French film shown in the United States as “The Dinner Game.” It is a comedy about a cruel prank in which successful friends have a contest to see who can bring the biggest dork to dinner. The word “shmuck” is Yiddish slang often used to describe a hopeless loser or total idiot, but its literal meaning is the male genitalia.
The second is a just-announced television series from CBS called “$#*! My Dad Says,” based on the popular Twitter feed (yes, there is now a television show based on tweets) called S*** My Dad Says. CBS says the title is pronounced “Bleep My Dad Says.”
These quasi-euphemisms seem inadequate to me. And so does this response from CBS spokesman Phil Gonzales, who said. “Parents who choose to do so will find the show can easily be blocked using their V Chip.” How, Mr. Gonzales, do we block the advertising and news reports that will keep pushing this show’s title on our families?
I’m hoping that this fall’s “Easy A” will give Emma Stone the breakthrough role she needs to become a major star. From “Superbad” to “The Rocker,” “Zombieland,” “The House Bunny,” and even “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” she has demonstrated the ability to zero in to create a fully-realized character instantly, and she has some of the most powerful screen charisma of her generation. Here’s a clip that is just plain adorable.