Summer is now just around the corner, more tourists, less parkas. In the writer's room we get a call from the network in the east that the first episode does not look good. Everything I suspected (or knew) was correct. The first few scripts were fixed as much as possible but you can't make a good script out of a bad one. No matter how hard you try.
You can make it better, but not much. At least it wasn't mine. But we also have someone new to deal with.
Hilda is representing the German partners in this series, that's why we have Erica here and also a few other German actors. All of whom are very good and easy to work with.
Hilda is a different story.
True to stereotype, Hilda is a tough, stocky woman who orders rather than asks or requests. She is Littman's opposite and is here to exercise power for the European partner. I am introduced and then leave for lunch.
On the way to the Java place that Louise runs, I meet Mindy, the young actress who's a regular on the show. While no Meryl Streep, she does okay for the role. She walks up to me, holding a script, which, as it turns out was my episode, the one that I wrote about the German tourist who was dying and came to the mountains to end his life.
There are two subplots; one deals with Mindy's romantic dinner with the police chief and another subplot involving a stripper, which Kaplan insisted I put into the story against my objections.
Mindy had read the script and was all smiles. Then she gave me probably one of the best compliments I've ever had on a script.
"It's so Jim."
That was all. But coming from her it made me feel that my efforts to write good, solid drama and some comedy was working. And no matter what anyone else said, it didn't really matter.
And others would say not so kind things.
Hilda questioned the entire series, she wants more "family entertainment." Then she adds "why do all the characters have so many problems, why can't they just be happy and ride on horses and lets not have so many people in bed, my goodness (yes she did say that).
I do agree with the bed-hopping the characters do, not because it's racy, but because it's poorly done. Like most of the scripts we're forced to redo. It's clear now that Rino and I are the best writers here. Jonathan, who rarely leaves his condo can do good work, but he seems disillusioned now. And Kaplan, who initiated the sexy scenes, now looks uncomfortable.
Then we get to my script. The one Mindy likes and the other actors like.
"Ah, yes, Mark's (Littman the network guy) favorite script."
Kaplan bites his lip and Jonathan looks angry. But before they can say anything Hilda launches into my script full ahead. She rips almost every scene saying she wants happier characters.
And she doesn't like the stripper story, which I didn't like either. Kaplan forced it on me. But to Hilda it's even worse as she says about the stripper; "It's disgustiing, I mean, I know they have to feed their children but let's cut most of that character out."
Well at least she didn't want us to kill the stripper off.
Kaplan turns traitor again and goes along with Hilda's comments, which Rino and I know are mostly incompetent and useless. They both insist I make some major changes and I have 24 hours to do it as the episode begins shooting in one day.
This has put me between four sides; Kaplan, Hilda, Jonathan and Littman a thousand miles away.
Ah, the writer's life.
(Fri: Hollywood Donuts)