Jon Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men

BOOKENDS: We are all Don Draper (the pilot and series finale of Mad Men)

Don Draper Mad Men image

Here’s a character arc we can all understand:

From blocked creative to fulfilled creative.

You know this story.

You’re young and it comes easy. It flows out of you. You get a bit older and it starts to feel more like work. Life intercedes, your creative side suffers, and you struggle. You hit the wall and you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. You’re blocked, stuck in the crucible, and it seems like there’s no escape. You contemplate giving up, throwing in the towel. It would be easier to just call it a day — it would alleviate a lot of pain. But you can’t. You have to keep fighting. You have to do the work. So you make a plan. First, you strip yourself of all that is holding you back. You get lean and mean. You do the work. It’s the only way. The only way to find your new path back to creative fulfillment. And one day it comes to you: that big idea. The lightbulb that illuminates that corner of your imagination that had been held in shadow for so long. Maybe it’s just the idea that gets you back at the desk, or maybe it’s a world-class winner of a concept that lights a fire across the globe.

This is your story. The story of every writer.

And, as we now know, it is the story of Don Draper, the now iconic character at the heart of Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men.

We are all Don Draper.

Just with less mistresses and whiskey.

I hope. Read more

My Lady Cop Can Beat Up Your Man Cop

Kickin’ it Old School with C & L

We’ve seen a fantastic wave of female protagonists on television in recent years, and many of them carry a badge. The viewing public can’t seem to get enough of cop shows, so you can’t go wrong in writing your next pilot in this genre. And why not build your crime procedural around a tough woman with (or, more interestingly, without) a gun? Read more

Dexter Season 6

Dexter season six premieres on Sunday, October 2 on Showtime. Once again, we will get the opportunity to watch some strong dramatic writing at work. Dexter has always been a good example of the use of a dynamic character and the technique of dramatic inevitability. Both devices contribute to dramatic character and plot arcs over the course of a season. Read more

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” cast interview part 1 (video)

I had the opportunity to visit the set of one of my favorite shows on television: the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” which shoots on the Fox lot. A group of us observed the shooting of a very funny scene in Paddy’s pub (I wish I could tell you the premise, but I can’t reveal any spoilers), toured the set and interviewed the cast. Read more

“The Walking Dead” axes its screenwriting staff – head shot or near miss?

This is an interesting story (and comments board) from Deadline Hollywood’s Nellie Andreeva:

The Walking Dead Lets Go of Writers; Considers No Writing Staff For Season 2

Writer turnover on series between seasons is commonplace but wholesale overhauls are unusual. What’s more, I hear Darabont is looking to forgo having a writing staff for the second season of Walking Dead altogether and assign scripts to freelancers.

Read more

The Walking Dead Brings Cinema-Quality Horror To Television

Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist, Frankenstein (1994)) and Gale Ann Hurd (The Terminator, Aliens, Armageddon, The Incredible Hulk) have an incredible pedigree in genre movies so it’s no surprise to see that their first television collaboration is on the level of a studio-quality horror film. The aesthetics of The Walking Dead (which premiered with a 90 minute pilot on Halloween night on AMC and became the highest-rated cable premiere of the year) are superb: production design, makeup FX, creature design, extra work, action sequences, locations and performances are all top-notch.

Frank Darabont

When I first heard about the show, I immediately wondered why no one had previously thought to make an episodic series in the incredibly popular zombie genre? Over the past 10 years, zombies have invaded pop culture en masse, in movies, comic books and video games, so it seemed like a no-brainer to do a high-quality one hour drama set in a post-viral devastation setting that called for numerous point-blank head shots to survive (was that enough hyphens?).

Speaking of which, the show adheres to most of the traditional zombie conventions, one of which is that zombies can only be killed by major trauma to the head. I can safely tell you that if you love head shots, and I’m not talking about those glossies that actors carry around, then this is the show for you!

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VIDEO Interview with Graham Yost… Justified, The Pacific, Band of Brothers, Speed, Broken Arrow

I sometimes cover openings in Hollywood.  I caught up with Graham Yost at the premiere of his TV drama series Justified which airs on the Fox’s FX Network and stars Timothy Olyphant and is based on original characters by Elmore Leonard.

Graham Yost is the series creator/Executive Producer of Justified and a veteran writer/director in film and television with an impressive list of credits that includes Band of Brothers, Boomtown, Raines and The Pacific and the feature films Speed, Broken Arrow and Mission to Mars. He won an Emmy for his work on the mini-series From the Earth to the Moon.

Related: Interview with Elmore Leonard and Graham Yost, creators of “Justified”