Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lucky Guy

Above - with the fine actor, Powers Boothe, following an invitation only reading of 'ABSOLUTE TRUTH.'

It's been a short second since I've blogged. The reason is simple. I've been too busy working on other projects. Three writing projects and a couple of acting projects, to be precise. I have entered an unexpected phase of my hot and cold career lately in that I find myself writing big things, long things, complicated and time consuming things that will, in the end, not only generate substantial income but also dictate my day to day life. The acting stuff (I used to be 'an actor who writes.' These days I find myself squarely in the category of 'writer who acts') is paying the bills but the writing stuff is sustaining the dreams.

I'm not sure exactly when or how I fell into my particular habit of writing, but I seem to be at my best early in the morning. For example, it is now 4:50 in the morning. I feel fresh, relaxed and clear-headed and pushing at the gates to get going. Odd, since most of my life was about getting to bed right about now.

One of the bi-products that surfaced after I made a cognizant pardigm shift in thinking some years back (read: stopped drinking enough to kill a bull elephant every night) was the astonishing realization that I'm a morning person by nature. I like the morning. I feel at my best in the morning. I am acutely aware of the myriad possibilities spread before me like an impromptu banquet.

The downsize is I'm ready to hit the hay around 7:30 at night. Just about the time Alex Trebek rolls out the final Jeopardy question I'm ready to put my face mask on. This is one of the things my wife found 'cute' early on but now finds annoying.

Speaking of my wife, this Monday, October 10, we'll celebrate one year of marriage. And what a year. Good Lord, what a year. The best of times and, well, the best of times. How she manages to put up with my eccentricities, which border on a need for clinical diagnosis at times, is beyond me. Nonetheless, she does. And not only does she allow me my personality quirks and disorders, she makes it fun. That's about all I can say about that. I'm learning to be prudent.

I just finished a film in San Pedro a couple weeks ago. It's called 'Sunken City.' A throw back kind of script. A few times during the filming I began to feel a little like Mike Connor in 'Mannix.' Except my suit was nicer.

In a week I head to Michigan, the U.P., to shoot the exteriors in a new film called 'Confirmation.' The location stuff is a remote camp in the apparently beautiful (I've never been there but my mother-in-law, Rosemary, who has traveled almost as much as Christopher Columbus tells me so) part of Northern Michigan and then back to LA to do the interiors for a week or so. In fact, I just learned yesterday I'll be lodged in a 'log cabin' for the shoot there. It's a good role - the gruff, but loveable, ex-military high school teacher. Kind of like Lou Gosset Jr. in 'Officer and a Gentleman' except without the karate and the potty mouth.

I just finished another reading with the gruff but lovable Powers Boothe. I love talking to Powers. It's sort of like talking to a film encyclopia. He knows everyone, has worked with everyone, and has an opinion about everyone. Smart guy and, of course, a very good actor.

And along the way I've done what I never expected to do, which is turn down some theatre gigs, good ones, at that, so I that I might be in a position to do more film work. And speaking of which, the next gig, following the gruff but lovable, ex-military high school teacher, looks to be a 'sleazy lawyer' (although I've read the script and he doesn't seem all that 'sleazy' to me) in a Lifetime movie to be shot in and around LA this winter. Of course, that's not in the bag yet. Until the contract is dried and the money is in the bank, I've learned, through trial and error, to not count on anything in this business. I still have to read for it. But it looks very promising and also it's a chance to work with a good buddy of mine who happens to be a wonderful director. My wife and I have our fingers firmly crossed for that one, hoping for the best and always expecting the worst. A credo I've become all too familiar with in this town.

The screenplay I've been commissioned to write is finally complete after about 187 drafts. In addition to being exceptionally challenging, it also made me learn to write for the screen. Literally. I think it goes without saying that writing for the screen is a different animal than writing for the stage. For film one is literally 'writing images.' Not words, but images. Took me awhile, but I finally grasped that long about the 104th draft. In any case, it's done and I'm happy with it. I meet with the producer next week before heading to Michigan to discuss what we have.

I also spent a lifetime or so turning 'Praying Small,' my most successful stage piece, into a screenplay. But I really can't count that as work. More a labor of love. That, too, I think, is pretty good, albeit a little wordy.

And finally, a television pilot. I just finished that one. Angie and I have a dear friend in the television biz and I'm going to put it in front of him soon and see if there's anything there to pursue. It's the best, most natural, most exciting writing I've done in quite some time and it involves a subject I'm most passionate about and, I'd like to think, anyway, somewhat knowledgeable: professional boxing in the 1960s. Again, it's a subject off the beaten path, to say the least, but one that stirs me. To be perfectly honest, it's a piece of writing I've been waiting decades to put on paper, metaphorically speaking. Actually, it's not 'on paper' at all but sitting firmly and securely in my computer.

I'm a lucky guy. Always have been except for a brief decade I spent being unlucky in the bowels of Chicago. And frankly, all of Chicago is a bowel as far as I'm concerned. I heard a good line in an otherwise bad film the other night. Some chick said, "You're my angel. You've rescued me simply by being alive." I knew instantly exactly how she felt. Because the same happened to me. I was blind and then I saw. I met my wife.

And finally, I've found myself inordinantly preoccupied with, no pun intended, with Occupy Wall Street, the movement taking place all around the country at the moment. It has awakened in me a sense of injustice, a sense of indigination. I don't really know what, if anything, this movement hopes to accomplish (my wife constantly points this out to me - "They don't even know what they want") but the fact that they're angry about being the ox and yoke for a privileged, well-paid few speaks to me on a very basic level. I, like the stalwart and brave-hearted hundreds freezing their asses off tonight on Wall Street, feel betrayed. And I feel I cannot keep up a constant chatter of patriotic blather and still live with the knowledge that the big banks and the corporate innkeepers of this nation are getting unspeakably rich on the backs of the dwindling middle class. Anyway. I could write reams on this, but I'll exercise discretion here and not. Suffice to say, if I still lived in New York I'd be very cold and laying in a tent right this very moment.

But I'm a lucky guy. And I have more to write this morning before my perfect wife and my perfect dogs, Franny and Zooey, awake. I have miles to go before I sleep (which, as I mentioned, comes about 7:30 or 8:00 these days, it seems). I have a road less taken to explore. I have to fire up the Pandora and stare for few endless minutes at an unyielding white piece of paper. I have to hope for a little while that someone else thinks that what I'm about to write today is as interesting as I think it is.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Because I'm a very lucky guy.

See you tomorrow.