Let’s Talk About Podcasts – My Current Top 5

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PODCASTS!

When you’re a geek, or even in the geeky fringe, certain conversations take place all the time. The old standby discussion about what your favorite movie is has almost become passé. Favorite music? Whatever. We have Spotify to tell us that. For me, the two conversations that currently seem to be a constant are, “What are you binge-watching right now?” and “What podcasts are you listening to?” The binge-watching conversation is for another day (but right now it’s Daredevil, and it’s amazing.) Today we’re going to focus on the podcast question.

The podcast question has now pretty much become the geek equivalent of “What are you wearing?” It seems to define who you are and what you stand for. Although, to me it’s WAY more important than that silly fashion question (unless you’re an actual designer, then it completely makes sense — sorry to my friends Claire, Toni, amongst others.) The reason it’s more important to me is because podcasts themselves have gotten SO specific. There are so many out there that you can find practically anything you’re interested in and listen to others talk about it. There are professional ones, or sometimes just a few lonely dudes in a basement whispering so their mom doesn’t get mad. Podcasts are a level playing field of insane specificity. Hey, if you’re into Norwegian kitten sculptures that wind up and curse at you in Swahili, you’re probably in luck. Sven and Ed and their “Vulgar Kitties of the World” podcast is just for you. What you listen to actually CAN define you and what you stand for. Simply because the choices are there.

I figured I’d answer this question I get asked a lot, and give you my current favorite podcasts. I have to throw in the word “current”, because it does change from time to time. But when I’m exercising, hiking, or just procrastinating from work (aka being a writer), these are my current go-to’s. They’re not really in any order.

 

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 #1 – Killer POV
http://geeknation.com/podcast/killer-pov/

I love this podcast. To me this is my “inside baseball” podcast. I’m a horror writer, obsessed with horror movies since birth, so obviously I’m going to seek out a like-minded podcast about all things in the horror movie realm. You really can’t beat Killer POV. The three hosts are insanely knowledgable, likable, and best of all have slightly different leanings in their horror tastes. Whether it’s Rob talking about Psycho movies or AJ Bowen, Rebekah speaking about all things Fangoria or her nun obsession, or Elric never shutting up about goddamn Possession (a bonkers film if you’ve never seen it), they definitely dip their toes into every gamut of horror. They speak about new releases, old classics, and tons of shit most people have never even heard of. They always have great guests and a lot of insight into the current horror universe. Sometimes it is a little insider baseball, but one thing is for sure, if you love horror films of all kinds, look no further.

 

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#2 – Crypt of the Macabre
http://cryptofthemacabre.blogspot.com/

This is a perfect example of why I love podcasts. Compared to Killer POV, which is pretty professional, has a lot of high-profile guests, and is very insider-y, Crypt of the Macabre is… the complete opposite. And that’s why it’s a GOOD THING. Ryan and Jim are not professional, nor do they ever claim to be. They ramble. They screw up. They sometimes even review the wrong movie. But that’s kind of the charm of the whole thing. They are simply super duper fanboys. They are just two guys who have a very specific hobby, and then ramble on about a bunch of tangential shit in the meantime. It’s kind of like hanging out with old pals. This podcast focuses mainly on 60’s and 70’s British horror films, namely Hammer and Amicus. I know, pretty specific right? What did I tell you above? And since this just happens to be a sweet spot of mine as well, I’m a big fan. They’re also a few buddies of mine from high school so I know them to be completely likable and entertaining fellas (which is one of the most important parts of a podcast if you ask me).

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#3 – Radiolab
http://www.radiolab.org/

Honestly, if you aren’t listening to Radiolab, you’re less of a person. Radiolab is one of the single most interesting pieces of media on Earth. It also just happens to be pretty much the only podcast that I listen to that has no swearing, so I can listen to it in the car with my kids. And that’s a big point. Kids love it too. Radiolab manages to find certain stories relating to science that everyone is fascinated by. Whether it’s learning something benign about elevators you didn’t know (the Door Close button usually isn’t even connected!) to fascinating stories about medical discoveries (Patient Zero episode is amazing), they manage to make you think and rethink on a level you sometimes forget human beings are capable of. Trust me, download and listen. This podcast is truly for everyone.

 

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#4 – Scriptnotes
http://scriptnotes.libsyn.com/

Again, here is another podcast that is purely connected to my interests. It’s a podcast completely dedicated to the craft of screenwriting. John August and Craig Mazin are longtime hollywood screenwriters that definitely know the craft and the business. They give quite a bit of insight into a sometimes overlooked craft (if you’re not in Hollywood, that is.) Yes, sometimes it too can be a little “insider baseball”, but other times it’s very broadly geared toward the beginner. Regardless, it’s always filled with a few nuggets here and there that I never would have thought of. If you’re a novice or a pro, there is definitely something of worth for any screenwriter out there. I highly recommend it.

 

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#5 – Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast
http://www.billburr.com/podcast

Bill Burr just makes me laugh. End of story. He’s opinionated. He’s vulgar. He’s curses like a sailor constantly stubbing his toe. And he’s a genius. You will never always agree with him (did that make sense?), but you’ll always understand where he’s coming from. The fact that he is consistently funny and has a seemingly never-ending wealth of material is just amazing to me. In addition, his stand up comedy specials are amongst my favorite ever. If you like funny opinionated people that will honestly get you to think about certain things, while making you uncomfortable, Bill Burr is the king. Goddammit, I love Bill Burr. Just listen. And laugh. His anger just makes the day better.

 

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Honorable Mention – Serial
http://serialpodcast.org/

Everyone knows about Serial by now, so there’s really nothing more I can say. I couldn’t officially put this on the list because I’ve already listened to Season 1. When they put up Season 2, you can guarantee it’ll be back on there. Serial is in a league of its own.

I should also mention a few that barely didn’t make the current Top 5:

Adam Carolla Podcast
Nerdist
Babble-On
KCRW’s The Business
The Bloodcast (RIP)
This American Life

Anyway, there you go. There are a lot more I listen to off and on, but these are probably the tops of my list right now. I’d love to hear who else I should be listening to. Send me a message. I’m always looking for new podcasts to procrastinate to.

 


My buddy Sam Simon.

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Exactly one week ago, I lost a friend. I lost my buddy Sam.

Yes, I know it’s much bigger than that. I’ve read all the headlines; seen all the tributes. “The comedy world has lost one of its greatest voices.”The entertainment world has lost an icon.” “The animal rights world has lost a leader.” Yes, Sam was all of those things… and SO much more. Simply the fact that the word “world” is used in most of the headlines is pretty telling. “The poker world…” “The boxing world…” He was truly the world to so many different facets of life. But to me, and to many others like me, he was first and foremost a friend.

After going to Sam’s memorial yesterday, and attending what might have been the single most amazing funeral I’ve ever been to (sounds weird to say, I know), I felt like I needed to write something about him. Some of the greatest comedic minds in the world, like Jay Kogan, George Meyer, Al Jean, and Drew Carey, all gave speeches that blew me away. They were both the funniest I’ve ever heard, and yet the saddest… because we all collectively now know our journey with the amazing Sam Simon is over. In addition to those on the comedy front and in the animal activism universe, were speeches from the amazing women in his life, his ex-wife Jennifer Tilly, current girlfriend Kate Porter, and even fellow activist Pam Anderson. All in all, there were as many laughs as there were tears, exactly as Sam would have wanted it. I kept it together for the most part until it was time for the actual burial. Once it was time for each of us to drop a spade of dirt on the coffin, that’s when I broke apart inside. It was real. And even how that part of the experience happened was a perfect example of this common Utah boy’s insane journey with Sam. The person in front of me was Conan O’Brian (an absolute idol of mine). He threw a spade of dirt on Sam and then handed me the spade. Even in his death, Sam continued to give me these unique gifts. It was a perfect example of my relationship with Sam’s world. I was the normal guy thrown into this insane upper echelon Hollywood fairy tale land that I just didn’t quite belong to. But he didn’t care. Sam loved me all the same. And I loved him all the same. Yet, now that the flashy memorial is over, I wanted to share just a taste of my own personal journey with Sam.

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Sam was probably the most unique person I’ve ever known in my life. I’m not going to retell his accomplishments here because that’s already been done to death by 60 Minutes, NBC News, Vanity Fair, etc, etc, etc… Just Google them. He won countless awards, earned countless accolades, blah, blah, blah. We all know that stuff. His Groucho Marx story? Heard it. His Elvis story? Yep. Breakfast with Walt Disney? Know that one too. What I wanted to talk about was the Sam I knew. The Sam I spent time with. The Sam that sometimes took me, this little unknown shit from Utah, and blew my mind pretty much every single time I shared space with him.

The first time I met Sam was well over a decade ago at a simple poker game. My buddy Dave Steinberg met him at a dog park and invited him to come play in our little home game. The second Sam came in with his abnormally large wad of cash for the game, and his constant Groucho cigar in tow (which, if I remember correctly, Dave put a stop to immediately), he was the epitome of larger than life. To all of us guys at the table, most of us screenwriters and Simpsons admirers, the man was a legend. Yeah, try playing poker with a legend sometime. There’s a learning curve. Trust me. But it wasn’t long before that first impression wore off. Soon, Sam just melted into the game and into the group. His contagious smile. His room-encompassing laugh. His ability to argue any point, regardless how trivial. Sam was still a force to be reckoned with—that would never change—but now, he was also just one of the guys. Shooting the shit and playing poker. Little did I know how much this man would give me – this little peon kid from Utah.

Sam, Dave and me Sam and his cigar

Over the years, I got to know Sam a lot better than most of the guys at the table. I’m not trying to compare friendships or anything like that by any means. I’m simply saying that I think our personalities clicked a bit more. I am by nature a goer. I love to dig into everything life has to offer. The younger generations call it the YOLO scenario. **And dear lord, let me just tell you how much it actually, physically PAINED me to write the term, younger generations. Ouch.** Anyway, back to my point, Sam had this same goer, or YOLO, mentality. He loved to take the world by the horns and attack it, something pretty apparent in everything he did. And I think he saw that in me as well, and we got along extremely well where others simply did not.

Before I continue I should briefly elaborate on that last sentence. When I mentioned that a lot of others didn’t get along with Sam, that’s for good reason. Sam, point blank, was not the easiest man in the world for certain personality types to get along with. I would always defend Sam to people that would occasionally badmouth him. They didn’t understand him. Sam wasn’t simply being mean, he was just constantly testing whoever it was he was speaking with. He was testing a person’s threshold, their strength, their ability for comebacks, to take a punch, and to deliver one back. Sam had a boxer’s mentality in his everyday dealings in life. And I got that immediately. I usually laughed at this behavior because I knew what it was. But I’ve watched countless others crumble. I’m not saying it was always the right way of going about this. But it was a fascinating way he would conduct his own experiments in weeding out the weaknesses in people. And I saw that.

But back on point, this goer mentality that I shared with him, opened up numerous doors to me. Yes, many of them may have been borderline debaucherous doors, from amazing Cuban cigars, to rare single malts, to his bizarre chiew that was concocted, and blessed, by a medicine man for good luck (which I swear was slightly hallucinogenic, but did give me one of my biggest wins in poker history at his house after drinking it.) But many of these doors were simply opening my eyes to how a genius mind works. I was fascinated by him every time he spoke. From himself seeing a joke in every single situation, to his interesting (and sometimes completely bizarre) criticisms of everyday life, the man’s mind just worked differently than others. It opened my brain to doors I didn’t know even existed.

Beyond the intangibles, there were countless tangible situations that I have to thank Sam for bringing into my life. He brought me along on so many adventures. I would love to share a taste of a few here because I love to reminisce. In the past week, many of us who were his friends have been sharing Sam stories, and it’s so much damn fun. We all have been realizing how much joy and uniqueness he brought into our lives. So I’ll reminisce a few here with you.

Some of my earliest memories were when we would all go to the Magic Castle together. The very first time we even travelled by limo (my wife and I’s very first limo ride). We would go there and eat (he would complain about the food; I loved it.) We would watch the main stage magicians (he would complain about them; I loved them.) But amongst all of Sam’s complaints, there would be these moments of pure giddiness. Watching Sam deal with the “magic” piano that would play any requested song you spoke was always a delight. He would constantly try to stump it with very specific and rare songs, and every time the piano knew. But the best moment was when he walked up and it started to play The Simpsons theme music before he even said anything. He lit up like a little kid on Christmas. It was simply an amazing thing to see. And speaking of childish astonishment, don’t even get me started on how much he obsessed over the close up magic room. That evening with Johnny Ace Palmer was one of the greatest things I think Sam had ever seen. It was always so much fun to witness him at his happiest. I once again bring up his contagious smile and laugh. They were quite simply, the best.

Thanks Sam.

One of my biggest “Cinderella at the ball” moments with Sam (that’s how I always felt with him, little Cinderella experiencing things I wasn’t ever meant to), was the Lamon Brewster Heavyweight Title fight at Mandalay Bay in Vegas. When Sam was managing Lamon, I remember Sam kept telling us that Lamon wasn’t as good of a technical fighter as Vladamir Klitchko (who he was fighting that night), but that he was a knockout artist. All Lamon needed was one opening and he’d take him down. I’ll never forget when I saw Sam the afternoon of the big fight and he said, “Take everything you have, and bet it on Lamon. Trust me.” Lamon was a 10-1 underdog in the fight, and to most it was a sucker bet. But for some reason the way Sam said it, I simply had to do it. I bet a lot of money (for me) on Lamon and hoped for the best.

When we arrived for the fight, we had no idea what we were in for. We got escorted all the way down to the ring and were sat freaking ringside… at a Heavyweight fight! I had never experienced anything so amazing. We were surrounded by Michael Jordon, Mike Tyson, Don King, Drew Carey, and countless other celebrities and sports figures. I even remember Kato Kaelin hitting on my wife, and I thought it was just downright adorable. Long story short, the fight went exactly how Sam said it would. Klitchko was destroying Brewster from moment one. Three straight rounds of people complaining that Lamon shouldn’t even be in the ring with the likes of Klitchko. And that’s when it happened… The opening Sam talked about. Lamon threw a haymaker right in front of me and pounded Klitchko so hard it was almost cartoonish. A few more punches and Klitchko was knocked out cold. The underdog Lamon won the Heavyweight Championship, and the place erupted in an insanity that was like nothing else on Earth. The rest of that night was a blur. I remember eating dinner across from Don King and Mike Tyson, hoping that neither would actually look at me. I remember taking over the entire VIP area of Rum Jungle and partying with Lamon and his people. He even let me hold the Heavyweight Title belt (and it is HEAVY.) I remember them closing off sections of Mandalay Bay for us to gamble and pretty much getting us whatever we wanted. That night Sam owned that casino. And to even be a tiny part of it, was something I’ll never forget. I went to bed pretty much when others were grabbing lunch the next day. Oh yeah, and I won my bet. Yeah, that night was one for the books…

Wladimir Klitschko v Lamon Brewster

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Thanks Sam.

But that wasn’t my only Vegas experience with Sam. I remember when he invited me out to Vegas because he just got his own poker show (on the Playboy Network of all places) called Sam’s Game. It was supposed to be a rendition of his home game that I also played in. So I travelled to The Palms to play, only to find out that I wasn’t going to be allowed to actually play in the game because they only wanted celebrities. There was a slew of amazing comedians and actors, like Jen Tilly, Drew Carey, Artie Lange, Jeff Ross, Dave Attell, Norm McDonald, and tons of others. But even though I didn’t get to actually play, they didn’t forget about little old me. My “job” was to hang out in the background with all the playmates and just drink and talk, since it was supposed to look like it was taking place in the Hugh Hefner suite at the Palms (which only part of it was actually filmed in, but we got to play there a bunch, that’s for sure.) I was supposed to be one of his friends that just hung out over there and didn’t play. The poker freak inside of me hated it, but the horny 16 year old inside of me was living the dream. Yeah, that was an interesting weekend. Although, I did have way too many conversations with the Playmates about Utah. There were some other stories for sure, but that’s for another day…

Thanks Sam.

I could sit and discuss countless of these larger level experiences for sure – because Sam LIVED on a larger level—but I want to also focus on a few smaller moments that have always stuck with me.

For a while, Sam was engaged to a friend of ours, and I remember one night the four of us went on a double date. At my core, I’m just a middle class kid from Utah. I don’t know luxury. I don’t feel comfortable with lavish things. I even like my restaurants more on the much more “chilled out” level. So I remember we bypassed the more expensive places just down the road from his place, and we went to Marix, this little Tex-Mex place that is much more my speed. I have absolutely no idea why, but I got a sick gratification out of bringing Sam down to my level a bit. Happy hour. Cheap tacos. Screaming kids at the table near us. It delighted me for some completely unknown reason, and that set the tone for the evening.

Later that night after dinner, we were hanging at his house watching Hard Knocks (we were both insane football fans), and I was a little drunk, and continued to dig at him for all these over-the-top lavish things in his life. I started to jokingly make fun of the fact that the engagement ring he bought Jenna was so big it was going to break her wrist. It had the biggest diamond on it that I personally had ever seen. And I remember him finally getting his fill, taking the ring off of Jenna’s hand and jokingly throwing it at me. It hit me in the chest and dropped in my lap. I remember picking up that ring and holding it in my hand. The millions of dollars that ring must have cost didn’t even register to me cognitively. It was worth more money than I could ever dream of even making. I paused and said something to that fact, and that’s when he honestly said it didn’t matter to him. And I believed him… Yes, it was true that money was a huge factor in his life, but it was this slightly drunken moment that we shared where I realized it wasn’t the driving force in his life. It was this moment that made me realize that he didn’t give a shit if I was a poor struggling screenwriter and he was a tycoon of epic proportions. There was a connection that went beyond money. And even though it was a tiny moment, it meant a lot to me.

Thanks Sam.

I’d be remised if I didn’t talk about some of the parties Sam threw at his house. I’m sure many of you have heard the stories. He had some pretty epic ones. But I want to mention one in particular that was a showcase for his generosity. I had a few of my dearest friends Silvio and Heidi visiting me from Utah. When he heard they were in town, he told me to invite them along for sure. So Amy and I, and Silvio and Heidi, all went to Sam’s for his engagement party that was truly one for the ages. Same was in the best spirits. Silvio and Heidi kept thanking him and Sam treated them just like he always treated me – he delighted in showing us Utah kids a damn good time, Southern California style. And beside all the nice expensive wine that we’d never be able to afford, or the lavish experiences of the party, it was what he told Silvio about me that night that always melted me to my core. Sitting at his bar, he told Silvio that I was “truly the nicest guy he’d ever met”.

And he meant it.

I was blown away by that. It was then that I realized that even though he’d been showing me all these amazing experiences, I had actually been showing him something too. It warms me to this day knowing that even though he had such an effect on me, that maybe this little middle America nice Utah boy had an effect on him as well. It may have been small, but it was huge to me.

**On a side note, he also introduced me to Jamie Gold that night as “the best poker player he knows.” Um, Jamie Gold had just recently WON the Worlds Series of Poker, and that’s how Sam introduced me to Jamie. God, it was so awesome.

Thanks Sam.

As the years went on, Sam left our little home game that Dave hosted. Most of the guys didn’t see Sam anymore. But I still did. I’d play at Sam’s house with some of his friends. There would be the occasional sports night, or certain other occasions. But after a while I didn’t see him as much. There was a spell where he disappeared and I didn’t know why. I remember reaching out to him and asking why I hadn’t seen him in so long. That’s when he broke the news to me about his cancer and that his doctor gave him 3-6 months to live. It was a punch in the gut. I remember having to go back to Dave’s game and break the news to everyone over there as well. It just sucked in every way. Little did I know what happened AFTER that diagnosis would go on to be the greatest two and half YEARS of Sam’s life. GodDAMMIT that man was a fighter. I loved seeing how he took on cancer with his boxing gloves on.

Sam’s final years became the subject of a documentary. I don’t need to tell you about them here, just watch the documentary that premieres tonight on the FUSION network. It’s called Rebel With A Cause: The Sam Simon Story. It definitely focuses mostly on his animal crusades, which needless to say are astounding.

The one thing that meant the world to me was when Sam said he wanted to have one last poker game for the cameras, he wanted me there. The seven people in the room were me, Sam, Jen Tilly, Phil Laak, Mark Thompson, Drew Carey, and Jeff Madson. To be included in that mix of friends, poker players, and celebrities, made this kid feel like a million bucks. It was an amazing night of cards and laughs. Yes, we were miked, and being filmed, but after a few moments we all forgot and just had fun. We played all night, far longer than the cameras rolled. And at the end of the day, I actually don’t know what footage even made it into the final product, but I don’t even care. That night alone was worth it for me.

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Thanks Sam.

Last time I saw Sam was just a few weeks ago. He was full of life and you’d never know he was on the final lap. Hours went by and the laughs kept coming. It was a magical afternoon of just hanging out and being friends. The fact that my last experience with Sam wasn’t a larger than life experience, but rather a nice, quiet, hangout session, was exactly what I will always remember. Friends hanging out. Laughing. Drinking. Laughing. Smoking. Laughing. Criticizing. And laughing. It was a good night.

Thanks Sam.

Look, I know this has gone on for a long winded amount of time. But to be honest, I could go on for hours and days longer. Sam deserves all the tributes he’s been given on the larger lever. But Sam the man was truly a force in my individual life. Someone that made me think differently. Someone that introduced me to some incredible people. Someone that gave me experiences that I’d never have been able to have in my lifetime. Someone that changed my life.

I know he’s known as a comedic genius, an entertainment icon, an animal savior, and a philanthropist beyond the world over. But to me, this little kid from Utah, he was Sam, my friend.

I miss him so much. And he will continue to be missed. I love you Sam.

Thank you one last time.


Run Like Hell and The Stan Winston School.

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Hey all, just wanted to give you a quick head’s up that I wrote a small piece on Run Like Hell for my old employers, The Stan Winston School of the Character Arts. They ran it on their site and figured I’d link it here as well. Check it out, won’t you?

https://www.stanwinstonschool.com/blog/run-like-hell-graphic-novel-by-jeff-dixon-released#

Also, there will be more websites that are running stories about Run Like Hell in the future, as well as upcoming reviews, so stay tuned for more updates!

And spread the word about RUN LIKE HELL!!!

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Click “BUY NOW” to purchase!


Let’s finally discuss what happened with my show and Jamie Lee Curtis.

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Okay, so yeah. Looks like I went on one of those little disappearing spells I’m prone to do with this blog from time to time. Other than a brief snippet of joy this morning announcing that RUN LIKE HELL has finally been released(!), it’s been three and half months of silence from me since Halloween. Well, I usually have some kind of Halloween hangover, but this is ridiculous. Let’s just say, the reason for the disappearance this time can be chalked up to a combo of both good news and bad news. For some that have been following what’s going on, you definitely know the bad news… Let me finally talk about this elephant in the room since so many people have been asking me about it these past few months.

Yes, Jamie Lee Curtis, my actress, my fellow executive producer, my horror muse, an amazing woman, and someone who became a friend, has exited my ABC Family horror TV show The Final Girls, to topline a pretty similar competing FOX horror TV show called, Scream Queens.

So in just over a year, we went from this….

http://deadline.com/2013/09/abc-family-preps-horror-drama-jamie-lee-curtis-attached-to-star-steve-miner-to-helm-589579/

To this…

http://deadline.com/2014/12/emma-roberts-jamie-lee-curtis-cast-scream-queens-series-ryan-murphy-fox-1201315464/

Yep, I lost her to Ryan Murphy of American Horror Story and Glee fame. He’s definitely more powerful than little old me. He is absolutely the Goliath to my David. What can you do? Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is TV. TV moves fast. A show that was supposedly “fast tracked” but had been sitting on the shelf for a year seems like it wasn’t happening anyway. But au contraire. The Final Girls was not sitting on the shelf at all. There were many behind the scenes machinations going on, just not publicly. We were still very much alive at ABC Family (and still are actually, at least as of the time of this posting.) So how could this happen?

Well, if you’re looking for specifics, I’m sorry. You won’t get them here. No gossip. No inside scoop. I still work in this business. I respect all parties. I’m not stupid. This is a public forum. And sometimes (well, most of the time) public forums are not the place to air specifics or grievances. But I will say this…

I can not blame Jamie.

There were so many pieces to this puzzle, it would take far too much bandwidth to download it all, but just know, I can’t blame her. After this happened, she called me and we had a very open and honest conversation about how this all came to be. And you know what? I understood her. If there’s one thing I want people to take away from this it’s that Jamie is not a villain here. She’s still very much a class act. Yes, there were a lot of circumstances that led to this that I wasn’t a fan of, but I can’t blame her. I still love and respect Jamie, and can’t wait to see her back in horror where she belongs (even if it isn’t on my show.)

And yes, we WILL work together again in the future. I’ll make sure of it.

But look, not blaming Jamie still doesn’t diminish the fact that this was NOT an easy situation for me… to say the least. This was my horror heaven situation. To take it back to the beginning, I met Jamie through a friend of mine Steve Miner (a horror idol of mine, not to mention my other executive producer on the show) very early on in the process. She said that for so many years she had shied away from her horror roots, but after a magical experience at a horror convention, she realized that horror was what she’d be remembered for after all. Soon after, she read my pilot for The Final Girls and told me that this was the perfect thing that spurred her to “return to horror in the right way.” It was a pivotal moment for me. A validation of years of hard work in the horror biz, told to me by the goddess of horror herself.

Soon after that, Jamie, Steve, and I pitched the project all around town, driving around in the same car, spending every second together, in 48 of the best hours of this horror nerd’s life. There were so many anecdotes. I’d regret if I didn’t at least give you a little peek down memory lane. It was so much fun. I think it’s cathartic for me to look back.

I remember this little tidbit. Jamie lives relatively close to me, so every morning I’d drive to her house and hang a bit before the driver came to pick us up for the pitches (yes, we were driven by Jamie’s driver, how cool, right??) I’ll still never forget sitting in her kitchen the first day when she sat down and showed me a book of baby penguins. She told me that these cute and fuzzy penguins were exactly like the Final Girls of our show, pure and innocent… BEFORE their lives were torn apart by the murdering madmen that turned them into something else. It was awesome. She was so into it. So into the project. It was such a surreal moment that totally spoke to me, and I remember even bringing it up in one of the pitches.

I’ll never forget when I got to meet her husband Chris Guest. An absolute IDOL of mine. I even dressed up as Nigel Tufnel for Halloween that year and texted Jamie a picture of it. She said that she thought it was funny, but that he wouldn’t find it funny at all. It was such a bizarre and meta moment that I still have a hard time believing it.

Here’s the picture…

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I remember our crazy pitch at HBO and Cinemax where I pitched to 9 (or was it 10?) people across the world’s largest conference table. Plus, I had to freakin’ follow Amy Poehler, who was pitching a different show right before me.

This was right after the HBO pitch, and right before MTV… I’m such a giddy fool.

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I remember having some time to kill between pitches so we went shopping for Chris, or we stopped at coffee shops where I watched countless people come talk to Jamie, or we’d drive around to weird locations and take Instagram photos.

This was Steve and I looking like badasses, sitting in one of the clothing stores while Jamie was shopping for Chris (she took the pic.)

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All in all, it was just so much fun, I can’t even begin to tell you every tidbit. Just know, for me, it was a week I’ll never forget. The aforementioned horror nerd’s dream. But finally, the part I’ll never forget the MOST, was driving home exhausted from that first day of pitches, hearing that we already got our first offer.

Alas, we set it up at ABC Family. And we were off and running.

But as we all know… this business is full of surprise potholes. It’s no secret there was a massive regime change at ABC Family, which to no one’s fault, just kept adding delays to the project. There was this… There was that… Blah, blah, blah. You know how it goes.

And after all this, it happened. We lost Jamie. Ryan Murphy is a smart guy. He knew her value, and he got what he wanted. But I only ask one thing of Mr. Murphy and his fellow producers of Scream Queens…

Please don’t claim that it was your original idea to bring Jamie back to the horror fold. Don’t claim credit for her horror resurrection. Just know that she was already cuddled up in her horror resurrection quite warmly with us when you pulled her away. No ill will. Business is business. I guess all this little fledging wants is a little bit of credit in helping Jamie decide to come back to the horror fold after saying for countless years that she wouldn’t.

Now, I said earlier there was bad news AND good news. The good news is, as I mentioned earlier, The Final Girls is still alive (again, as of this posting.) Everyone seems in very good spirits about it, and ready to rock. Time will ultimately tell, but however it turns out, it’s been one hell of a ride already. As for other good news, I just worked with Ivan Reitman’s company Montecito on a project. I’m pitching two separate new TV shows within the next month. My graphic novel is FINALLY coming out in print. And (gasp) lastly, but not least, I may be directing my first feature by year’s end. But shh, that one’s a secret so pretend like I didn’t say anything.

Thanks for bearing with me on this long-winded discussion. But so many people have been asking me about it, I figured it was finally time to open up about it.

Be good to each other folks. And I promise I’ll update sooner next time. Maybe.

 


RUN LIKE HELL IS OFFICIALLY RELEASED!

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IT’S OUT.

For reals.

For really reals.

I know what you’re thinking, no… this is just a mirage. I’ve read all the stories… (to refresh your memory, here are a few easy links.)

The Long and Torrid History of Run Like Hell – Part 1
The Long and Torrid History of Run Like Hell – Part 2
The Long and Torrid History of Run Like Hell – Part 3
The Long and Torrid History of Run Like Hell – Part 4

No, this journey can’t actually have an ending, can it? Run Like Hell couldn’t possibly be physically printed and released… could it? …COULD IT???

Yes.

It can. And it is.

RUN LIKE HELL IS OUT TO THE WORLD BABY!

Buy it!
Read it!
Review it!

Help spread the word!!!!

Here is the OFFICIAL RUN LIKE HELL PAGE.

You can go to your local comic book store, various online retailers, or you can even buy it right here on this very site! Here’s a wonderful little link for you to do just that.

PURCHASE RUN LIKE HELL HERE.

Phew… Yep, that’s one hell of an exhale.

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

*THUD*

(Jeff has passed out from exhaustion)

 


10/31/14 – 2014 OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #31 – Trick ‘r Treat.

Trick 'r Treat

In years past, I’ve always picked one of my all time scary favorites for the Halloween selection. In 2010, I picked Martyrs (the most disturbing movie ever made.) In 2011, I picked John Carpenter’s Halloween (um, duh.) In 2012, I picked Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (still one of the best hooks ever.) In 2013, I picked Rosemary’s Baby (more haunting with every view.) And now in 2014, I am picking something a little different. I’m venturing less into the purely scary universe, and a bit more into the horrifically comedic territory. What’s funny is that of all those movies I just mentioned, Trick ‘r Treat is probably the most “Halloween-y” of all of them. I will be honest and say right up front, no, it doesn’t share the same on par status as those other films. But to me, Trick ‘r Treat is by far the most entertaining, flat out Halloween nostalgic movie out there. If you’re a real fan of the holiday, you will absolutely love this movie. Everything you’ve ever enjoyed or remembered about Halloween, especially if you grew up in a small town, is in this film. But what makes Trick ‘r Treat different from most horror flicks that showcase this holiday, is that this movie isn’t setting out to disturb, or truly frighten, it’s mainly here to have fun. That’s the key word – FUN. Exactly how Halloween felt as a kid, Trick ‘r Treat is flat out playful and fun. That playfulness is apparent even in its structure, which is completely open. It tells multiple stories much like a horror anthology, but instead of multiple short films one after another, rather they all intersect and play out in pieces throughout the film. Think of it as a horror version of Pulp Fiction. I’d really like to not ruin anything if you haven’t seen it, so I’m not going to explain any of the stories. That’s for you to discover. But essentially they include their own versions of urban legends, known traditions, serial killers, and mythical beasts. Each one is unique, interesting, and has a killer twist. Plus, you get a little evil burlap sack boy named Sam. Man, I love him. Many of you may remember that this film was delayed for years with no explanation from the studio (rumor was it was so original that they just simply didn’t know what to do with it.) And that was a real shame. But after all these years, it really doesn’t matter, because Trick ‘r Treat has since achieved cult-like status, and thankfully, Trick ‘r Treat 2 is on its way soon. Very pumped for that. Hey, if you love this holiday as much as I do, do yourself a favor and watch a movie that has just as much reverence for all things Halloween. Turn off the lights, light a pumpkin, and just have a ball with it. But whatever you do… don’t blow out that candle until its over. Bwahaha.

Happy Halloween fellow freaks. Thanks for following my picks this year. It’s been a great 2014.


10/30/14 – 2014 OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #30 – The Canal.

The Canal

If you’ve been paying any attention to the festival rounds or the independent horror circles, you’ve definitely heard of today’s pick, hailing from Ireland. The Canal is one of those movies that has been the subject of a lot of horror talk in 2014. And I’m here to say that it’s for good reason. After you see this film, it sticks with you. You will think about it. You will want to talk about it. It just unnerves you in a way that most films try for and never attain. The Canal earns a lot of love from me because it doesn’t fall into the “jump scare” school of lazy horror. Its methodical slower pace earns all its scares, by building an atmosphere of dread, a chilling mystery, and truly slick directing and editing. There are glimmers of other films in here for sure – The Ring, The Grudge, Sinister, to name a few. But overall, The Canal is uniquely its own. It’s actually a simple premise. A husband discovers his wife is having an affair, and that same night he sees her with her lover, she is found dead. While the police suspects him as the killer, he begins to suspect a ghostly presence is to blame. In one of the more interesting twists in the story, the husband, who is a film archivist, comes in contact with an old reel from 1902 that shows a brutal killing in his same house. He’s convinced it’s the same man that killed his wife, and he sets himself on the mystery of proving a ghost is the murderer. Much like a movie I wrote about a few weeks ago, Lovely Molly, there is a nice ambiguity to much of the film where you truly question our main character’s decomposing psyche and mental state. Whenever the audience takes the same journey as the fragmented soul, it’s usually going to be a fun ride. Especially when you’re in the hands of a really great director. And that’s where a lot of the kudos should be given. The writer and director, Ivan Kavanagh, knows what he’s doing here. Even small nuances like the jump cuts during scenes help add to a feeling of uneasiness. It’s slick, stylish, and shot with masterful eye for detail. And let me just tell you, the slower pace builds to one of the most disturbing climaxes I’ve seen in a while. There are a few scenes in the end that will stick with you like glue, long after the credits. Trust me, if you’re looking for something smart and scary, skip the cheaper jump scare stuff, and check out The Canal. You won’t be sorry.


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