Monday, June 16, 2008

Why I've been away...

Where have I been? Why haven't I posted? What's happening with the blog? When will I write new reviews?

I'm really, really, really, really sorry for disappearing, guys. These past few months have been filled with back-to-back commitments and other priorities.

First was dealing with my late father's estate. It's still going on, and it's exhausting.

Second was dealing with my moving into a new house. It's a nice place, though the mortgage payments often feel larger than the available square footage of the property.

Third, I've been working on a TELEVISION SERIES, and with the looming ACTOR'S STRIKE (!!!!) I've been working 'round the clock. Or at least I feel like I have been.

I'M GOING TO BE A DAD THIS YEAR! What wonderful news to share with everybody this Father's Day!

So I hope you can understand that the plates of my personal and professional lives have been quite full lately. I'll be back, though, and sometime soon. Promise.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Tonight was the first chance I've had to check my emails, it's been too long to remember. If you're looking to punish me for my tardiness, rest assured, 1327 unread emails have already done it for you.

I'm not kidding. For while I'm pretty sure that at least 99% of those 1327 messages were spam, ads, or newsgroup posts, it's likely that a query or two could have been lost in the TRASH box.

So, for those of you who have sent me a query and not received a reply, please don't hesitate to resend your messages. I know it's an inconvenience, but with the move I've had to prioritize a lot of things, and this blog, as much as I love it, falls pretty low on my list.

Sorry about this.

Movin' right along...

No, I'm not dead...though lately I've been feeling close to it.

My wife and I have been moving, you see. And moving sucks. It has cost us far more energy, time, and MONEY than either of us had anticipated, and my wife is pretty conservative when it comes to all our financial planning. (So much for the sexist stereotype of women being the heavy spenders in the family.)

I've moved several times in my life, but they all were either A.) When I was a kid, thus my parents handled everything, B.) When I was single and apartment-bound, and C.) When I had significantly fewer possessions (and pets) than I do now.

Here's the funny part: This is the hardest move I've ever been through, yet our new home is less than 20 miles away from our old one!

I'll post new reviews when the boxes have been unpacked and I revive from the coma I'm about to fall into.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The strike is dead....LONG LIVE THE STRIKE!!!!!!

Well, it's finally over.

What a big, bloated, bloody mess. I'm very happy that the strike has ended, but...

Oh fuck it, time for a little honesty here: the damn strike wasn't worth it.

"So who won the strike?" you might wonder. It's a fair enough question, but the truthful answer is that nobody won. Sure, compromises were made, a middle ground was reached. But at what cost? The $2 BILLION in lost revenue? The thousands of people who've lost work?

And don't think that all will go back to normal now that the battle's ended. Television production is screwed up for the next year, and it will take months for any kind of normalcy to return to the industry.

Writer Harlan Ellison, a committed WGA member who picketed and protested with the best of them, has written this scathing piece about his feelings toward the strike and the compromises that were made. As sad as reading it makes me, it has a lot of harsh truth.

Yes, I'm glad it's over...just like I'll be glad when the goddamn war in Iraq is over. But don't expect me to clap my hands, to have my heart surge with warm patriotism, and to think that, in the end, the whole thing was worth it.

It wasn't.

Monday, February 04, 2008

An explanation...and regarding the WGA strike.

I'm sorry I've been so infrequent with my posts these last few weeks. One would think that because of the strike I'd have nothing but time on my hands, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

The truth is that my dad died last year, and handling his estate has required my traveling back and forth across the country for weeks at a time. This is happening while my wife, bless her patient heart, is preparing our move to a new house -- our first.

So please, I humbly ask for your patience. You're still welcome to submit your queries, and I will read them. But new reviews are going to take me more time than I thought...and I have to prioritize things.

Speaking of the strike, rumblings are about that the end is finally in sight. Wonderful news...and how proud I am that so many stood in solidarity, shutting down the industry for months and putting so many people out of work, so that we all can get a few more pennies in our paychecks.

(If my humor offends, suck it up and deal. I did my part at the picket lines, even if it annoyed the shit out of me.)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Writers BEWARE!!! (Or, How the WL Writer's Literary Agency is a sham!)

New reviews should be posted around the end of the month, but in the meantime I wanted to warn readers about some shady business dealings a so-called "agency" has been up to.

I've heard about this by two different aspiring screenwriters, both of whom asked to remain anonymous. However, in doing a bit of research on their stories I found that their suspicions were very, very justified.

Here's part of one of the emails I received. I'll let the screenwriter explain it himself:

Greetings Unsung,

I wanted to ask your advice on something. Recently I responded to an online ad by Writers' Literary Agency & Marketing Company (aka WL Writers' Literary Agency). The ad was very prominently displayed on, saying that they were a new agency seeking new screenplays to represent. Worth a look, I figured, so I followed their instructions, sent a query, and when they agreed to give the script a look I sent it over.

A few days later I got a very lengthy, form-letter email response from Sherry Fine, the company's VP of Acquisitions. Here's the first part of it:
Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our review team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would like to proceed further with you. We believe we would like to represent you. Basically, we feel that your concept and writing thus far has potential and that if polished and presented properly, we can sell it. To take the next step, please let us take a minute to tell you a little bit about how we think and the way we do business.

If you agree with our business process, instruction for the 'next step' is at the very end of the email.


I think you would agree that your work can use some level of polishing. However, we don't think you should take just our word for it, we would like to have an independent review of your work that shows you where the improvements can be made. Also, if your work is 'great and ready to go' it is helpful that we hear it from an independent source as well.

In short, we like it, and we think we can sell it, but we would like it to be as polished as possible before we take it to our buyers. From a trust factor, it's like an investor trusting a certified public accountant ... if there is an independent review on the table, we can each relax and trust each other, and spend our time strategizing marketing, not arguing over whether the work is ready to present or not. (And believe me, we've had quite a few arguments with authors about whether the work is ready-to-go, or not! It's not a good situation, and life's too short, if you know what I mean.)

What we have learned over the years is that nothing is more invaluable than having a unbiased, critical review of an author's work as a roadmap for bringing the work to market. In screenplay writing circles this is called critique/coverage. We want you to have a critique of your work. You might already have a critique of your screenplay, or you may need to get one.
The long-winded email continued, essentially saying that I had to get the script "polished" before they would be willing to do anything with it. But the strange thing was that they were trying to refer me to an "independent" editing service, and that I would have to pay for it out of my own pocket.

Is this normal? I've already had the script edited, tweaked, revised, and reviewed by many, many professionals over the years, and though I can understand if someone else wanted more changes made, wouldn't it make sense to simply state what those desired changes were, instead of merely passing me along to a third party, without giving me any input or feedback whatsoever and explaining why I was being passed along?

But here is where I got really suspicious. I sent an email reply to Ms. Fine telling her that before I could make any kind of decision, I wanted to talk to her -- or anyone else at her company, if it was more convenient -- and ask a few questions, either in person or over the phone. I figured that if the agency's interest in my work was truly sincere, this was not an unusual request.

I never got a reply.

So...what am I to do? Should I go ahead with the referral service and send Fine the script, or should I go elsewhere? (If you want to know, her email is, and the company's website is

Before I go on, let me say that the other screenwriter's story was nearly identical to this one, but she decided to go through with the editing service and submit her script. Alas, she did so before asking my advice...and she hasn't heard from them since. the WL Screenplay Agency a sham? Well, take a look at this message board. Or this one. Heck, even this one. See for yourself. These guys should be ashamed of themselves.

It is common practice for an agency rep to ask for changes or corrections for your material; for a spec script to be accepted "as is" and ready to go is virtually unheard of. Also, using a professional editing service to help polish and refine your writing can be a good idea, especially for writers starting out in their careers.

But for an agency (and I use the word "agency" loosely) to demand a writer pay out-of-pocket for such editing services as a condition of establishing a business relationship? That's shady! Shady indeed!

This isn't a real agency, guys. Real agents make their money through script sales, not editing services.

So, if someone claiming to be an agent ever asks you for an editing fee, a reading fee, a consulting fee, etc., take my advice: run for cover and stay far, far away. (That includes your $10,000 class, Michael Wilde.)

And before you send off your script with your hopes held high, do a little research first. WRITER BEWARE'S "THUMBS DOWN AGENCY LIST" is a good start.

If any of you have similar bad experiences with this or other companies, let me know and I'll be all too happy to bitch about them here.

Good luck...and stay cautious.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Casualties of war

Looks like this year's Golden Globes ceremony is kaput, and that's a hell of a shame.

I'm sure to be in the minority on this, especially among fellow WGA members, but come on, guys...this is a freaking awards show, a venue where people in front of and behind the camera can get a little recognition and respect for their achievements. It's not all about starlets flaunting designer gowns and dresses, no matter how much attention the press gives them. In case you haven't noticed, screenwriters get awards there, too...

If this was about some Hollywood would-be blockbuster, with the studios and producers shafting writers from getting their fair share, I wouldn't feel so bad. (And don't.) But the Golden Globes, slight though they might seem in the company of Oscars and Baftas, were designed to celebrate movies, television, and the talents that went into them.

Think of it like the Olympics. Even during times or war, opposing nations would come together and put their politics behind them in celebration of sport. (Oh wait, there was that nasty business in Munich back in 1972... Glad to see we're all following that lovely example, even if it is just in spirit.)