In the News - Movie Reviews & More
NEW YORK (AP) - Thirteen journalists were killed last
year covering the war in Iraq, the highest death toll for
the media in a single country since 1995, a watchdog
group said Jan. 3. In all, 36 journalists were killed
worldwide last year, up from 19 in 2002, the Committee
to Protect Journalists said.
Iraq was the main reason for the increase.
"Iraq is a dangerous place for many of the people who
are there now," said Ann Cooper, the organization's
"It's still a huge story," she said. "It's particularly a
huge story for American media. There are probably
hundreds of journalists there at any given time, and
they're at great risk."
CPJ said it was particularly troubled by the deaths of
four journalists in Iraq killed as a result of U.S. military
action. It has called on the Pentagon for a public
accounting. Three of the four were killed in April, when
the buildings they were in came under fire from U.S.
forces; the fourth died in August after being shot by
The count includes only journalists killed as a direct
result of their work. The list does not include six other
reporters who died from illness or accidents while
covering the war. The group is also investigating the
cases of four missing journalists, and 12 journalist
deaths that may have been work-related. Conflict in
the Middle East also claimed the lives of two journalists
in Israel and the occupied territories.
Five journalists were killed in the Philippines, four in
Colombia, two in Brazil, and one each in Cambodia,
Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ivory Coast, Nepal,
Pakistan, Russia and Somalia.
The death toll in Iraq was the highest for a single
country since 24 journalists were killed in Algeria eight
WASHINGTON (AP) - A coalition of journalism
organizations and media companies asked the Supreme
Court on Jan. 2 to let them join an appeal in a secret
The news groups are siding with an immigrant in Florida
whose challenge to his detention after the Sept. 11
attacks was handled in secret. Lower courts sealed the
filings by Mohamed Kamel Bellahouel and kept private
the existence of the case.
"It would be hard to imagine a case in which
intervention in this court is more clearly justified,"
Washington attorney Thomas Goldstein told justices in
a filing on behalf of the groups.
Bellahouel's lawyer has urged justices to use the
case "to preserve and protect the public's common-law
and First Amendment rights to know." Bellahouel is an
Algerian waiter who the FBI believes likely served meals
to Sept. 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta and Marwan al
Shehhi in the weeks before the attacks.
More than 20 organizations and media companies made
the unusual request to let them become a party in his
Supreme Court case. They include the American
Society of Newspaper Editors, the Newspaper
Association of America, Society of Professional
Journalists and The Newspaper Guild-CWA.
On Jan. 5, the Bush administration asked the Supreme
Court to let it keep its arguments secret in the case.
Solicitor General Theodore Olson told justices in a one-
paragraph filing that "this matter pertains to information
that is required to be kept under seal."
Justices sometimes are asked to keep parts of cases
private because of information sensitive for national
security or other reasons, but it's unusual for an entire
filing to be kept secret.
The court will decide later whether to consider
Bellahouel's appeal and at the same time whether to
allow the secret filing. Justices will be able to review
the government's private arguments.
The news groups can continue the appeal if Bellahouel
is deported or if he reaches a settlement with the
government, they argued in the filing.
"By participating in this case, the media aim to ensure
that the proper balance is drawn between secrecy in
the name of national security and the public's right to
know," said Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director of The
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, one of
DENVER (AP) - The judge in the Kobe Bryant sexual
assault case on Jan. 5 scheduled a series of hearings
that will last until nearly April, making it unlikely the NBA
star will have to worry about a trial until the season is
State District Judge Terry Ruckriegle announced
hearings for Feb. 2-3, March 1-2 and March 24-25 to
settle disputes over what evidence can be used at
trial. He has not specified what he wants to cover at
"I doubt if the Lakers' schedule will have any impact in
the judge's mind, but it certainly will in Kobe Bryant's
mind," said Denver attorney Dan Recht, past president
of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. "I don't see a trial
happening in this case until summer at the earliest."
The NBA finals do not begin until early June and must
end by June 20.
Bryant, 25, is charged with felony sexual assault
stemming from a June 30 encounter with an employee
of a mountain resort west of Vail. Bryant has said he
had consensual sex with the 19-year-old woman. If
convicted, he faces four years to life in prison or 20
years to life on probation.
Bryant's attorneys are asking the judge to close the
February hearing, saying evidence they expect to be
discussed might taint the jury pool and may not even
be allowed at trial.
Any parts of the hearing that deal with statements
Bryant made to investigators should be closed, defense
attorney Hal Haddon said in a Jan. 2 court filing
released Jan. 5.
The February hearing was scheduled to deal with a
defense request to dismiss statements the Los Angeles
Lakers guard made to police early July 2. The defense
says the statements were obtained illegally because a
sheriff's investigator used a hidden tape recorder and
never read Bryant his rights.
"If the statements attributed to the defendant are
disseminated to the public and then suppressed, the
intense media coverage of this case will insure that the
jury pool will be exposed to these statements," Haddon
Haddon said the U.S. Supreme Court has approved
closures of pretrial hearings, including those to discuss
motions to suppress evidence.
Prosecution spokeswoman Krista Flannigan prosecutors
will "most likely" file a formal response to the request to
close the hearing.
Attorney Tom Kelley, who represents media
organizations including The Associated Press, said the
hearing can be conducted without disclosing the
content of Bryant's statements. He said his clients had
not yet determined whether to oppose the request.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General John Ashcroft
on Dec. 30 recused himself from the politically-sensitive
investigation of who leaked the name of a CIA
operative. The Justice Department quickly named a
special prosecutor to take over the investigation.
The announcement was made by James Comey, the
department's new No. 2 official, at the Justice
Department. He called the new top prosecutor "Elliot
Ness with a Harvard law degree and a sense of humor."
The U.S. attorney in Chicago, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, will
take over the investigation and report to Comey, who is
Ashcroft's top deputy.
"He has the power and authority to make whatever
prosecutorial judgment he needs," Comey said.
This will not be Fitzgerald's first high-profile
investigation. He oversaw the investigation of former
Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a Republican who was
indicted this month on 22 counts of corruption,
including taking free vacations, tax fraud, lying to
federal agents and skimming cash out of his own
campaign fund. Ryan pleaded innocent a week ago.
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the main critics
of how the Bush administration has handled the leak
investigation, praised the announcement.
"It is not everything we asked for but it comes darn
close," Schumer said in a statement. "And tonight, the
American people can, as a result, feel more assured
that there will be a full and thorough investigation, no
matter where it leads."
Comey said Ashcroft's decision to recuse himself was
not based on an actual conflict of interest but on the
appearance of a possible conflict.
"The attorney general in an abundance of caution
believed that his recusal was appropriate based on the
totality of the circumstances and the facts and
evidence developed at this stage of the investigation,"
Comey said. "I agree with that judgment."
Comey did not say exactly what evidence necessitated
President Bush, vacationing in Crawford, Texas, was
informed of the decision and supports it, the White
House said. "He wants to get to the bottom of this. He
said in September that he welcomes this investigation
and has absolute confidence in the ability of the Justice
Department to do a good job," spokesman Trent Duffy
Comey said he considered bringing in an outside counsel
but decided Fitzgerald was the "perfect man for this
job" because of his experience in national security
matters. He also said by choosing somebody from within
the Justice Department, there would be no delay in
continuing the investigation.
Fitzgerald can keep the career prosecutors and FBI
agents who have handled the work so far, Comey said.
Unlike an outside counsel, Fitzgerald can make
prosecution decisions without having to first inform
Comey, who is acting as the attorney general for this
Comey and Assistant Attorney General Chris Wray will
supervise the investigation. "It is not in the public
interest to move this matter entirely from the
Department of Justice," Comey said.
Comey said he had a simple mandate for
Fitzgerald: "Follow the facts wherever they lead and do
the right thing all of the time."
Investigators want to know who leaked the name of
Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA officer, to syndicated
columnist Robert Novak in July. Plame is married to
former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who has said he
believes his wife's identity was disclosed to discredit his
assertions that the Bush administration exaggerated
Iraq's nuclear capabilities to build the case for war.
The leaker could be charged with a felony if identified.
The FBI has interviewed more than three dozen Bush
administration officials, including political adviser Karl
Rove and press secretary Scott McClellan.
The interviews have extended beyond the White House
to other government agencies. The Defense and State
departments and the CIA itself also are part of the
The focus, however, remains on the White House, two
law enforcement officials said on condition of
anonymity. While the initial, informal interviews have
yielded no major breaks, the FBI is satisfied that the
dozen agents assigned to the probe are making
progress and have not encountered any stalling tactics,
the officials said Thursday.
So far, no grand jury subpoenas have been issued, they
Wilson said he had no idea why Ashcroft chose to
recuse himself now. He speculated that Ashcroft, who
has long ties to members of the president's staff, simply
wanted to make sure that any findings at the end of
the investigation are not tainted by even the suspicion
of conflict of interest.
"I would have no idea whether a report has emerged
that led him to recuse himself," Wilson said in a
telephone interview Dec. 30. "I have always said, as
some senators have argued, that the administration
needed to take a good hard look at this."
He declined to express satisfaction over Ashcroft's
"It's not a question of whether I'm happy about it," he
said. "The crime that was committed was not
committed against me or my wife, but against my
country. It's the country that's the victim in this."
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A bitter Hollywood feud has
turned even nastier. Famed Hollywood composer Hans
Zimmer sued his former longtime partner Jay Rifkin,
accusing his collaborator on such award-winning
soundtracks as "The Lion King" of secretly embezzling
money from their business to support a lavish lifestyle.
The lawsuit, filed on Monday in Los Angeles Superior
Court, counters a $10 million legal action filed by Rifkin
last month against Zimmer, in which he accused the
composer of plotting to take over their Santa Monica,
California, music studio "in a textbook example of
breach of fiduciary duty."
The dueling accusations come about a month after
Zimmer tried to end the 15-year partnership after
learning that Rifkin's behavior was threatening his
reputation and livelihood, Zimmer's attorney Bonnie
"We told him that unless we could wind up the business
fairly and quietly and quickly we were going to file a
lawsuit," she said. "We were in settlement
Rifkin could not immediately be reached for comment.
Eskenazi said that rather than harming Zimmer's career,
his bitter public split with Rifkin "has increased his
desirability in Hollywood tenfold."
The pair head the Media Ventures Entertainment Group,
a large work space that is home to about a dozen
composers. Zimmer's lawsuit asks a judge to order the
company into receivership and to force Rifkin to pay
him $20 million in reparations plus punitive damages.
A Mississippi man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to
charges that he threatened to reveal security
weaknesses in the Web site of electronics seller Best
Buy unless the company paid him $2.5 million. Federal
prosecutors charged Thomas E. Ray III with two counts
of extortion for allegedly sending threatening e-mail
messages to Best Buy under the guise of "Jamie
Weathersby" between Oct. 16 and Oct. 30 last year.
Filmgoers Targeted over Piracy
Moves to ban US filmgoers from videotaping films inside
cinemas have been stepped up by the movie industry.
Suspected offenders in California and Ohio could be
subject to citizen's arrest under the latest steps
designed to cut film piracy. Similar laws exist in
Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, with penalties of
heavy fines or jail. The Motion Picture Association of
America said it had acted to combat piracy costing
$3.5bn (£1.97bn) a year.
Critics say the movie industry should be more
concerned about illegally copying of films by its own
employees. The MPAA has moved to stop sending
preview tapes and DVDs to Oscar judges, although it
insists that most pirated films are made from
Cheaper by the Dozen
The movie is basically a family film and does not touch
on many higher social issues. The original made you
question the actions of Gilbreth's and whether society
was going in the right direction. The remake is "Home
Alone" with twelve children. Many of the scenes are
taken standards for the family movie genre. Children
running wild, people hanging from chandeliers, dog bites
in sensitive places - pretty much the standard bag of
Who should see this movie? Anyone that is looking for a
safe family movie to take the kids to.
Paycheck is based on the book by Philip K. Dick, author
of Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report.
Paycheck is a retooled version of a lot of other movies
you've already seen. That may or may not be a problem
for you, but it's undeniable that this movie doesn't
really break any new ground. There's nothing new here
about memory wipe (see Total Recall). There's nothing
new about leaving clues behind for someone with
amnesia (see The Bourne Identity). Paycheck doesn't
even cash in on the fact that it's set in the near future
like Minority Report. So from that point of view it's a
It is a very good movie and feels shorter than its 2.5
hour run time. The acting is top notch. The story is a
good one that is not cheapened in the last reel. The
pacing might be too slow for some people, but if you
want to get involved with some characters, then this is
the movie for you.
Who should see this movie? If you are a Civil War buff,
you will appreciate many of the things that were done
right, but this is not a romantic version of the war.
Movies Released Today
Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer (limited)
Director: Nick Broomfield
Nick Broomfield's second documentary on Aileen Carol
Wuornos, a highway prostitute who was executed in
2002 for killing seven men in the state of Florida. This
second installment includes the filmmaker's testimony at
The Battle of Algiers (rerelease)
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo
"The Battle of Algiers" is one of the most viciously
realistic films of all time. Initially banned by the French
government, it quickly won wide acclaim: an Academy
Award nomination for Best Foreign Film and garnishing
11 international awards. Struggling to rid their country
of French colonialism, Ali L Pointed and his terrorist
group painting the streets of Casbah red with the blood
of their enemies. Children shoot soldiers at point blank
range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire
Arab population builds to a mad fervor.
Mandy Moore, Mark Harmon, Annabella Sciorra, Jeremy
Piven, Matthew Goode
Director: Andy Cadiff
Budding teenage beauty Anna Foster (Moore) wants
the American dream: life and liberty to pursue
happiness. But as the only child of the President of the
United States, every detail of Anna's life is constantly
monitored by the media, the public and her very
protective parents - who are backed up by a battalion
of Secret Service agents that safeguard Anna from any
danger, including the perils of first dates.
Muzaffer Özdemir, Emin Toprak, Zuhal Gencer Erkaya,
Nazan Kirilmis, Feridun Koc, Fatma Ceylan, Ebru Ceylan,
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
A photographer who is haunted by the feeling that the
gap between his ideals and his real life is growing finds
himself obliged to put up in his apartment a young
relative who has left behind his village looking for a job
aboard a ship in Istanbul to go abroad.
My Baby's Daddy
Eddie Griffin, Anthony Anderson, Michael Imperioli
Director Cheryl Dunye
Lonnie (Griffin), G (Anderson) and Dominic (Imperioli)
are three bachelor buddies from the hood who, after a
lifetime of hard partying, are in for a rude awakening
when their respective girlfriends all get pregnant at the
same time. The fathers-to-be embark on an always
hilarious and often touching journey while learning as
much about themselves as they do about love and
Crimson Gold (NY)
Hossain Emadeddin, Pourang Nakhael, Azita Rayeji,
Kamyar Sheisi, Shahram Vaziri
Director: Jafar Panahi
A murder and a suicide occur early one morning in a
jewelry store. Behind this headline lies the story of a
desperate man's feelings of humiliation in a world of
Along Came Polly
Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Debra Messing
Director: John Hamburg
Ben Stiller portrays risk-averse Reuben Feffer, whose
best-laid plans for life and love zoom wildly off track
when his wife (Messing) dumps him on their honeymoon
for a scuba instructor (Azaria). Stunned, humiliated and
in the grip of acute indigestion, Reuben plans to play it
safer than ever. But a chance encounter with an
adventure-craving, globe-trotting friend from middle
school (Aniston) shoots him into a whirlwind of extreme
sports, spicy foods, ferrets, salsa dancing and living in
Teacher's Pet: The Movie
Nathan Lane, Shaun Flemming, Rob Paulsen
Director: Timothy Bjorklund
Spot Helperman is one smart puppy leading a secret life
as Scott Leadready, the coolest kid in the 4th grade.
But when wack-o scientist, Dr. Ivan Krank gives Spot
the chance to become a real live boy, the little dog's
problems end up being man-sized!
Tokyo Godfathers (limited)
Toru Emori, Aya Okamoto, Yoshiaki Umegaki
Director: Satoshi Kon
Three homeless people-Gin, a former professional
bicycle racer; Hana, a transvestite; and Miyuki, a
runaway young girl-are living together in Shinjuku,
Tokyo. On Christmas Eve, the three discover a baby girl
at a garbage dump. They head for the brighter parts of
the city where people are enjoying holiday festivities,
looking for the baby's parents. Their encounters with
various people result in adventures that force each of
the trio to confront his or her own life, which they've
almost thrown away.
Ice Cube, Martin Henderson, Jaime Pressly
Director: Joseph Kahn
Biker Cary Ford (Henderson) has returned to his
hometown to reunite with his girlfriend Shane (Mazur)
and take care of a little unfinished business. When he
skipped town months ago, Ford was in possession of
several motorcycles belonging to Henry (Schulze), a
ruthless drug dealer and leader of the Hellions biker
gang. Now Henry's putting the squeeze on Ford in an
attempt to retrieve the bikes, which have something a
little more valuable than gas in their tanks.
Greetings Dear Members!
I wanted to take a moment to thank all kind souls that
sent warm invitations, well wishes, good cheer, as well
as blessings, they were received with deep gratitude
and a smile.
Thank you for opening your homes, hearts, and
extending your kindness to a stranger. My greatest
wish for 2004 is that the heavens shower down on all
of you, ten times the good fortune it has bestowed
** Ok now on another note: No you weren't imagining
things. We didn't send out a newsletter last week. But
we do have much to catch up on this week! **
If you think you have what it takes to write an article
(any subject will do), why not send an email and if we
like what we see we'll be more than happy to send it
out for our readers to enjoy along with your link!
|Recipes & Jokes|
Since it's still pretty cold here, I'm sticking with the
warm stuff !!
Mexican Hot Chocolate
6 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
3oz. unsweetened chocolate
1tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. vanilla
In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, chocolate and
cinnamon. Heat until chocolate is melted. Cook and stir
until mixture almost boils (do not boil).
In a bowl, beat eggs with vanilla. Add 1 cup of hot milk,
then return to saucepan. Cook 2 minutes. Beat until
Pour into mugs and garnish with whipped cream.
Misunderstanding Military Terms
One reason the Services have trouble operating jointly
is that they don't speak the same language.
For example, if you told Navy personnel to "secure a
building," they would turn off the lights and lock the
Army personnel would occupy the building so no one
Marines would assault the building, capture it, and
defend it with suppressive fire and close combat.
The Air Force, on the other hand, would take out a
three-year lease with an option to buy.
The Show Off Pilots
An F-111 was flying escort with a B-52 and generally
making a nuisance of himself by flying rolls around the
lumbering old bomber.
The message for the B-52 crew was, "Anything you can
do, I can do better."
Not to be outdone, the bomber pilot announced that he
would rise to the challenge.
The B-52 continued its flight, straight and level,
however. Perplexed, the fighter pilot asked, "So? What
did you do?"
"We just shut down two engines."
Title: Scarlet Moon
Author: K. C. Hughes
Publisher: PublishAmerica; (October 2003)
Paperback: 167 pp
Rated: Highly Recommended
When Atlanta fire fighter Rick Edison is accused of the
murder of his recently divorced wife, he and his partner
set out to find her killer. Together they manage to
block the police investigation and the coroner who is
helping them turns up dead. When the FBI is called in
Rick, must fight his physical attraction to the female
This is a fast-paced action packed mystery with strong
sexual content. Author, K.C. Hughes makes you love
and hate the main character, because of his human
flaws. I enjoyed this read!
Reviewed by: Susan Weekley
Title: Typhoon Rising
Author: David M. Dibble
Publisher: Asgard Publishing Company (Nov 2003)
Rated: Highly Recommended
Espionage On the High Seas!!
This novel depicts the journey of a Naval Intelligence
Officer, John Blake on a mission to locate two stolen
American Mark-48 homing torpedoes. To accomplish
this task John attracts the attention and aide of
Japanese Secret Service Director, Yoshiro Takagawa.
John receives Takagawa's assistance only after proving
himself worthy by surviving a few "life or death" tests.
John and Takagawa devise a plan in which John must
impersonate ceramic's expert, George Franklin, gaining
him access to one of the top "godfather's" of the Asian
Throughout his mission, beautiful and mysterious
women surround John. He is being trained to play the
role of Dr. Franklin by Riko and Kiko, employees of
Takagawa, and his daughter, Kalani.
Once John penetrates the Yakuza and Oyabun
syndicates, there is sexy Cheri, Tomoji Sato's
secretary. Cheri is trapped and cannot get out of
Sato's grasp and attempts to solicit John's aide by
befriending him. Then there is Dr. Katsuro who could
possibly blow John's cover before he can foil Sato's plot
to hold the world hostage in exchange for billions of
Author David M. Dibble, uses catchy and intriguing
subtitles for each chapter. This exotic, action filled, spy
thriller is chuck-full of suspense and surprises. Bonus
features between the covers of Typhoon Rising are
extortion, murder, romance, deceit, culture, and
On a personal note: I don't like war stories of any kind,
but I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this "007"
Reviewed by Juanita Reynolds
Title: Surviving Pieces
Author: Dana A. Matthews
Publisher: PublishAmerica; (September 2003)
Paperback: 201 pp
Rated: Highly Recommended
Detective Tiffany Potter is alone in an abandoned
rubber plant when she is ambushed and left to die.
Somehow through a mental connection she is given the
will to survive by someone she has never met before.
Sitting in her dressing room, studying her script,
actress Jasmine O'Reily is not only feeling Tiffany's pain,
but she watched the ambush as it unfolded in front of
Now through this strange connection the two women
must discover what the common bond is that has
brought them together in a way that neither has ever
Author, Dana Matthews has masterfully crafted a tale
of reincarnation and mystery. Added to that is the
perfect mix of love, devotion, and well-written scenes.
This was an intriguing mystery that pulled me along
page after page!
Reviewed by: Susan Weekley
|For Aspiring Writer's|
Our desires and wishes are not just about love and sex,
but also about adventures we long to have, and our
desire to live more intensely, more passionately, more
fully. Look to your dream adventures to find possiblities
for action-adventures and thrillers and mysteries.
Dreams can present solutions to your writing problems.
One writer, Sue Grafton, uses her dreams to find
answers in several ways. Sometimes she drinks coffee
late in the day, knowing that the caffeine will wake her
up in the dead of the night. "So I get to sleep perfectly
soundly, and then, at 3:30 a.m. when left brain is
tucked away, not being vigilant, RightBrain comes out
to play and helps me."
Dreams can help you understand a character from the
inside out. The action in dreams can give you ideas
about ways to keep a story moving or to express a
** I find that most of my characters come to life in my
dreams and direct which path and level the story
should take next. This is something that most of my
friends fail to understand when I try to explain it. At
times I wonder if one day the men in white coats may
come knocking at my door.
Now, as you collect your dreams, force connections
between them, free associate, apply all your creative
Add, subtract, multiply, divide, change the point of
view, ask why.
Your dreams and your unconscious mind can deepen
your story, but more importantly, deepen you as a
person. You will, as a result, be able to bring more
insights, emotions, unique images, and original
perceptions to your work.
However, to achieve an even deeper level to your
understanding and your work, you next need to be in
touch with your shadow.
The Screenwriter's Dilemma
by Greg Rempel
There is a wealth of information available these days
for writers of almost every genre. As a screenwriter, I
am amazed at the sheer number of articles written,
classes offered and websites devoted to the
Having been a faithful reader of this material for the
past several years, I can't help but find a striking
contradiction in some of the most basic and oft-quoted
advice. The first has been repeated so frequently, it
has become a writer's cliché: WRITE WHAT YOU
KNOW. In essence, this means that to create
something of substance, we are advised to rely upon
our own life experiences. Here we think of projects
like "Antoine Fisher," the true story of a young black
man coming to grips with his ugly past. We find an
authentic lead character in a script filled with conflict,
drama and resolution, all the elements of a successful
story. But for most of us, our own life stories aren't
nearly so interesting, let alone inspiring. Writing the
story of a middle class person who leads an uneventful
middle class life seems like a waste of time. Who would
pay $8 to see such a dull and boring movie?
Which brings me to the second most popular bit of
advice for the screenwriter: BE ABLE TO DESCRIBE
YOUR STORY IN ONE SENTENCE OR PHRASE. Are they
kidding? No, they're quite serious. They've even
provided examples such as IT'S CASTAWAY MEETS THE
LION KING or IT'S THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS MEETS
THE MUMMY. This is "the pitch" and, according to the
screenplay gurus, it is the hook that gets the big fish
biting. Is it just me, or do these two pieces of
screenwriting advice seem at odds with one another?
Take a "pitch" such as IT'S THE MATRIX MEETS
TITANIC. Let's assume that what the pitch is trying to
convey is that this story is some sort of science fiction
epic that takes place during a major disaster. Is there
any chance in the world that the author of this
screenplay listened to the first piece of advice, WRITE
WHAT YOU KNOW?
Was the author of the original "Matrix" screenplay
writing about his own life experiences as a member of a
secret organization devoted to revealing the truth
about our very existence -- that machines are running
the universe and humans are nothing more than fuel
cells, powering these machines? I doubt it. So, what
advice is most valuable to the screenwriter?
First, let's think about both schools of thought and
consider the outcomes of both pieces of advice. If, as
a screenwriter, I am writing a deeply personal story
based upon my own experiences, am I likely to have my
script made into a Hollywood blockbuster? Probably
not. Most stories along these lines, "Antoine
Fisher," "Lost In Translation," "About Schmidt,"
and "Bend It Like Beckham" are often independent
productions, made for much smaller budgets.
The second school of thought, condensing one's story
down to a single phrase, is more likely to put us in the
realm of the Hollywood blockbuster. But, for every well-
written movie that becomes a blockbuster ("Lord of the
Rings" comes to mind) there are dozens of sub-par
sequels like "Legally Blonde 2" and "Charlie's Angels: Full
Throttle," as well as remakes like "The Texas Chainsaw
Massacre." Nothing is easier to describe in one phrase
than a sequel or a remake. At the pitch you simply
say, "Remember Charlie's Angels? This is part two."
It's your choice. As a writer, which path do you
choose? Obviously, almost all of us would choose
writing a great, personal screenplay that becomes a
blockbuster. But that is a rare animal. The small,
personal stories tend to be independently produced,
but generally attract big stars who are dying to play
the roles you've written. Incidentally, though these
films seldom come close to earning the revenue of the
blockbusters, they are usually Academy Award
nominees and, often, winners. It's not likely that
Hollywood blockbusters like "Bringing Down The
House," "The Cat In The Hat," or "Bruce Almighty" are
going to be Academy Award winners. They may clean
up at The People's Choice Awards, but that's an
entirely different story.
Each day there appears yet another resource for the
screenwriter. Because there are so many kinds of
writers it's good to get a variety of advice. But,
ultimately, you've got to choose the path that is right
for you. All of us are individuals with unique stories to
tell. The point is to continue writing and to become a
better writer with each passing day. This is as true for
screenwriters as it is for writers of poetry, essays,
articles and novels. There is no list of rules set in
stone that fits every writer. And oddly enough,
sometimes we do find that rare crossover -- the writer
who has chosen a high-concept idea, yet found a way
to make it personal.
I think of my friend, Maria Romero. Maria has been
writing ever since she could string words together. She
just can't stop writing. It's in her blood. It's a
compulsion. She writes nearly every day. The sheer
volume of this young woman's work is staggering. She
has written a number of screenplays and has not had
much luck finding success. So she kept writing. This
time she tried her hand at a novel, and Maria's very
first work, "Caleng and the Moonstone Pearl" has gotten
her some long overdue recognition. Did she set out to
write a blockbuster? I don't know. But knowing Maria
the way I do, I would bet she started out with a kernel
of an idea and added her own personal touches to it,
polishing it every day. And little by little it took shape.
Do I believe that Maria lives in a land of fairies and
magic? Not literally. But if you read the book, you'll
find traces of Maria on every page.
Greg Rempel is an independent writer/producer living
in Pittsburgh, PA. His first feature film, "The Murder,"
opened The Three Rivers Film Festival in 2002 and is
currently making the festival circuit. Greg is raising
money for his next movie, "Burn," an old-fashioned
Crime Scene Investigation
The scene of the crime. The phrase itself has a certain
dramatic grittiness. It carries a frisson of excitement
that writers are understandibly eager to exploit. Crime
scenes, however, are fraught with danger -- for the
investigator and the writer.
An undisturbed crime scene (which sounds like an
oxymoron) offers the police a tremendous opportunity.
It's easy to make a mistake when dealing with crimes
scenes. And in both real life and fiction, if you make a
mistake at the crime scene, that mistake may come
back to haunt the rest of your work.
Evidence is the point on which criminal trials are
balanced. The more evidence pointing towards a
defendant's guilt, the moe likely there is to be a
conviction (although, as any trial lawyer will tell you,
there are no guarantees). The more exculpatory
evidence produced, the more likely the defendant will
There are two basic types of evidence: verbal evidence
and physical evidence. Verbal evidence is what folks
say about what took place. Physical evidence, as the
name indicates, pertains to stuff -- the physical
evidence of a crime. Broken windows, fingerprints, burn
patterns, bits of cloth, dead bodies, the bugs attracted
to dead bodies.
Crime scenes are mostly about physical eveidence.
Physical evidence is generally considered to be most
important type of evidence. Why? Because physical
evidence is morally neutral. It doesn't lie. In fact,
physical evidence cannot lie. A broken window is a
broken window. A fingerprint is a fingerprint. A bullet
hole is a bullet hole.
While physical evidence doesn't lie, it is open to
interpretation. Different people may have different
opinions on, say, a blood spatter pattern -- how it got
there, who it belongs to, from what direction or height
it came. But its physical evidence can't be questioned.
It's there-- manifest truth, just waiting to be
By closely examining a crime scene, a good detective
can obtain a fairly accurate idea of what took place:
that is the progression of the crime.
It might even point to who's responsible. A crime
scene, after all, is the residue of criminal behavior, and
behavior reflects personality.
Police and private detectives both have a keen interest
in the physical evidence found at crime scenes.
However, they are often looking at different things for
different reasons. Police detectives, of course, have a
single, simple focus: They want to catch the person
responsible for the crime.
Private detectives on the other hand, have a much
more complicated view in regard to crime scenes. They
usually see cold crime scenes and examine them coldy.
They pick through the bones of the scenes looking for
some means to attack the cases against their clients.
PIs look for mistakes. Why? Because Private detectives
engaged in criminal work almost always work for a
defense attorney. Thus becoming involved days,
weeks, and even months after a suspect has been
arrested and charged. By this time the crime scene is
almost certainly ruined.
As a writer you have the right to present the crime
scene any way you choose. But it's important that you
know the truth before you embellish or alter it. There's
no reason you can't have a PI discussing evidence at
an active crime scene with a police detective, so long
as you are aware it doesn't happen that way in real life.
|The Latest Literary Scoop and More!|
The Dallas Morning News recently launched its newest
daily newspaper, Quick, a "quick-read" paper designed
to deliver a digest of the day's news for "readers on-
the-run." Quick is a free publication distributed Monday-
Friday. Quick presents the news in a "quick-read,"
tabloid-size format designed to reach a young
demographic of readers, ages 18-34. Quick will compete
with the new A.M. Journal Express, a tablod-format
newspaper targeting the same demographic, which was
recently launched by American Consolidated Media in
the Dallas market. It also introduced two new editions,
Al Dia, to support the growing Hispanic market; and The
Dallas Morning News Collin County Edition, created to
reflect the needs of residents in the fast-growing Collin
County area. These and other new product initiatives
had been in development and testing since September
2002. The Dallas Morning News is published by Belo
Corp., one of the nation's largest media companies with
a diversified group of market-leading television,
newspaper, cable and interactive media assets.
The "classics" are coming back. Could it have anything
to do with Oprah's new book club, which only chooses
classics? Barnes and Noble has reported a huge
increase in sales of classics, and Bookspan is starting a
series featuring classics. Borders is also jumping on the
bandwagon, by increasing their offerings in the classics
Is there anyone who hasn't read The Da Vinci Code? It
continues to be a leader in the fiction field, with a
whopping 4.5 million copies now in print.
Homeschooling Companion: Learning Through History
recently launched. This bi-monthly magazine features
historical topics and themes. Their website is
High School Hoops magazine recently launched, and will
be available at high school basketball tournaments, as
well as at newstands.
McDonald's Restaurant started it's first magazine last
month. The mini-magazine, called Relax, is distributed
free with "Brother Bear" Happy Meals, and is geared
Tracks, a new music magazine, launched last month.
Vanguarde Media, publisher of Heart & Soul, Savoy, and
Honey magazines, is ceasing publication and filing for
January 06, 2004 - Allbooks Reviews
(www.allbooks.bravepages.com) is pleased to announce
the Allbooks Reviews Editor's Choice
for 2003.It was a
difficult decision due to the number of excellent books
reviewed by Allbooks in 2003, however we are happy to
announce our final decision.
EDEN FOUND author: Steve Hart
Available at: www.stevehartbooks.com and most
PUBLISHER: Hart-Burn Press ISBN Number: 09740318
Eden Found author, Steve Hart was born May 1, 1949
in Methuen, Mass, north of Boston. He dabbled in
poetry during early teen years and harbored thoughts
of some day becoming a novelist. As time went by the
dream of writing remained a ghost in his subconscious,
but was never able to burst its way through the
everyday clutter of working for a living. It wasn't until
his father died in early 2001 that he finally
decided, "now." Out of work with a bad back he wrote
the first draft of Eden Found. By the time he was
healthy enough to return to work he discovered that he
wanted to keep on writing full time. Allbooks Reviews
congratulates Mr. Hart on taking a difficult subject and
turning it into a literary masterpiece.
Steve Hart's second novel (a sci-fi called, "The
Reluctant Prophet) will be released in the spring of 2004.
We would also like to announce the Allbooks Reviews
Honorable Mention for 2003 in various categories:
Children's books- Caleng and the Moonstone Pearl ---
Children's Picture books- Various Faerious--- Jacqui
Fiction/Suspense- Deception's Guard--- Jacqueline G.
Philosophy/Religion/Inspirational- Doorway to Eternity--
- Kiara Windrider
Travel/Memoirs- Tuscan Echoes, A Season in Italy---
Mark Gordon Smith
Young Adult- A Gentleman's Tale --- J. A. Short
Congratulations to all of the authors. Visit the Allbooks
Reviews website today to read the complete reviews.
Shirley Roe, Managing Editor
Allbooks Reviews (www.allbooks.bravepages.com)
Places of Interest
The following contains useful information whether
you're a screenwriter or not. I've been reading Jerrol's
newsletter for over a year now and he always manages
to surprise me with something interesting.
This time I thought I'd share and I'm sure many of you
will feel how close to home it hits:
We all at InkTip.com (Jerrol, Norma, Stephanie, Maia
and Stella) wish you a happy, prosperous and
satisfactory New Year!
As our company tries to assist in the matching up of
screenwriters/scripts with representatives, producers
and industry professionals, I thought I would make a
couple of comments and clear up a misconception that
I hope you will find useful.
Though, there is still turbulence in the world, it does
appear to be calming down somewhat and it looks like
the entertainment industry is calming down and getting
more focused as well. Thank goodness for that!
Producers, reps and the studios are still looking for
scripts and writers and perhaps more so now than they
were in the last couple of years. Despite all of that, 10
films were made from scripts and writers found through
our network in 2003, whereas we had one made in
2002. Next week (when our web designer gets back),
you will be able to see the details on the films made on
this page: http://www.inktip.com/endorse.php
Since we are embarking on a New Year, a New Years
resolution is in order. For us, it is to do some
improvements to the site and to use what we have
learned in this past year in dealing with producers and
reps, in order to get 20 films made through our network
for 2004. Of course, some of that is already in motion,
due to the number of writers hired and scripts optioned
from previous years, but we still need to work on
bringing our average up so that we have between 5
and 10 scripts sold/optioned or writers hired a week. A
tough goal, but I believe we can do it.
As for the working or aspiring writer's New Years
resolution, I don't even need to mention that writing is
an art and skill and should always be honed down and
perfected, in the same way that a dancer continues to
work on his/her grace and performance. This is a
However, I have found that most writers are weak in
the area of marketing. For any writer who is not making
six figures a year as a writer and who really knows
his/her craft, this is an area that requires a New Years
On a one-for-one basis, almost all of the writers who
have 'made it' spend a good deal of their time selling
themselves. To this day, even writers with major
representation who are successful working writers
routinely spend time taking meetings and getting to
know more people in the industry. To some degree,
they remain aggressive about marketing their talents
and never fully rely on representation.
We have all seen movies, which we thought we could
have done at least as good a job or better on. The
difference is that the writer(s) involved were better at
Whether you place your works on our site for the
additional exposure or subscribe to our Preferred
Newsletter or not is a personal decision. But a writer
must sell/market himself to become successful and no
writer should put their scripts on our site and think
his/her job is done, just as no writer having obtained
representation should think his/her job is done; far from
There is a cliché along the lines that if your script is
good enough, somehow it will find its way into the right
hands and get made. This is misleading to say the
least. There are far too many incredibly well written
commercial scripts, which prove this cliché false. There
isn't a producer alive who doesn't have an incredible
script that for some reason or another didn't get
made. 'Unforgiven' sat on the shelf for decade, 'ER'
suffered a similar fate and Peter Jackson's trilogy
almost didn't get made. None of these would have
gotten made if someone wasn't really, really pushing
and marketing it.
If you're interested in reading more about Inktip and
what it can do for you or want to sign up
for Jerrol LeBaron's newsletter go to:
Story Analyst Services
Why not take the time to get your screenplay, novel,
short story or poem ready before you rush it out the
door? A professional analysis at a reasonable rate can
help you get the results you need.
Trust me, the rates really are low and the feedback
provided is great! Very professional - I highly
recommend this site. Visit Kriss Perras at:
for more details, including
1570 E COLORADO BLVD
PASADENA, CA 91106
LEADER TO LEADER MAGAZINE
6141 TERRYHILL DRIVE
LA JOLLA, CA 92307
P (619)218-7665 F (858)454-7974
1221 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS
NEW YORK, NY 10020
Looking for a certain book? Authors wanting to
setup a book signing? Here's a short list of bookstores
in San Francisco.
Black Oak Books (540 Broadway, 94133 415-986,3872,
http://www.blackoakbooks.com). Third branch of the
Berkeley bookstore. You apparently either love it or
hate it. Open Sun-Thu 12N-10PM, Fri-Sat, 12N-12M.
City Lights (261 Broadway and Columbus, 415-362-
8193, http://www.citylights.com). The best place for
Eastwind Books (1435 Stockton, 415-772-5888).
Eastern thought, Buddhism, etc.
Tower Records (Columbus Ave & Bay, 415-885-0500).
Also has books. Open 7 days 9AM-12M.
Barnes & Noble (Cost Plus complex near Fisherman's
Builder's Booksource (Ghiradelli Square, 415-440-5773).
Architecture, construction, landscape architecture,
engineering, interior design, etc. From coffee-table
books all the way to the AISC Steel Manual.... Also
has a larger store in Berkeley.
Maritime Book Store (Hyde Street Pier near Fisherman's
Wharf). A very good selection of new maritime books.
Louie Bros Book Store (754 Washington near Grant).
[Yes, there are several bookstores on the second floor
of 49 Geary. All of them are fairly antiquarian
Brick Row Books (49 Geary, Suite 235, 94108-5705,
Jeffery Thomas Fine and Rare Books (49 Geary, Suite
230, 94108-5705, 415-956-3272, FAX 415-956-2738,
http://www.jeffreythomas.com/). Open Mon-Fri 9AM-
Thomas A. Goldwasser Rare Books (49 Geary, Suite
244, 94108-5705, 415-981-4100,
http://www.goldwasserbooks.com/). Open Mon-Fri
10AM-5:30PM, Sat by chance or appointment. Thomas
A. Goldwasser Rare Books (486 Geary). Open Mon,
Robert Dagg, Rare Books (49 Geary, 94108-5705, 415-
John Windle, Antiquarian Bookseller (49 Geary, 94108-
5705, 415-986-5826). Open by appointment. 871 Fine
Arts (49 Geary, Suite 513, 94108-5705). Art and
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art bookstore (151
Third St between Mission and Howard, 415-357-4035).
Its museum store is greatly expanded, and has the best
selection of new art and art-related books in SF; also
some interesting children's books.
Foto-Grafix Books (655 Mission, 94105, 415-495-7242,
Photography. Formerly Friends of Photography
Bookstore. Open Tue-Sun 11AM-5PM.
European Books (925 Larkin, 415-474-0626,
http://www.europeanbook.com/). THE place to go for
European-language books. Mostly French, German, and
Spanish, but other languages as well. Open Mon 11AM-
4PM, Thu-Sat 11AM-5PM.
A Clean Well-Lighted Place For Books at Opera Plaza
(610 Van Ness Ave between Golden Gate and Turk, 415-
441-6670, http://www.bookstore.com). A good
general selection of books, and a helpful staff. Also
hosts, quarterly mystery events in association with
Sisters in Crime to which the public is invited." Sun-
Thu 10AM-11PM, Fri-Sat 10AM-12M.
Acorn Books (1436 Polk between Pine and California,
415-563-1736, email@example.com). Very large
collection of SF paperbacks. Some hardcover. Some
highly priced collectibles. A good selection of pulps in
average condition (AMAZING, ASTOUNDING, ANALOG,
etc.). Open Mon-Sat 10:30AM-8PM, Sun 12N-7PM
Fields Bookstore (1419 Polk, across from Acorn Books,
415-673-2027). "One of the best esoterica/New Age
selections I've seen."
Richard Hilkert, Bookseller (333 Hayes, near the
Performing Arts Center, 415-863-3339). Has a large
number of books on architecture, as well as a large
collection of books, new and used, on design, the arts,
collecting, gardening, cooking, travel.... Carries new
and used books, and has book signings from time to
Kinokuniya (shopping center at 1581 Webster, 415-567-
7625). The largest Japanese-language bookstore in San
Francisco. They also have books in English on Japan,
translations into English, Japanese language textbooks,
many periodicals, etc. They have a branch in San Jose
(408-252-1300) and perhaps elsewhere. Sun-Sat
Marcus Books (1712 Filmore between Post and Sutter,
a few doors down from the Kabuki Theatre complex).
African and Black history and issues since 1960.
Mission (and Noe Valley):
Bernal Books (401 Cortland Ave at Bennington, 94110,
415-550-0293). New books.
Borderlands Books (866 Valencia at 19th, 94110, 888-
893-4008 or 415-824-8203, http://www.borderlands-
books.com). New and used SF. You need the hyphen
in the URL, or you get a completely different bookstore!
San Francisco Mystery Bookstore (4175 24th between
Diamond and Castro, Noe Valley, 415-282-7444,
Cover to Cover Booksellers. (24th at Sanchez--Noe
Valley, 415-282-8080). Smallish general bookstore. A
neighborhood place. Lots of kids books.
Books Inc. (2275 Market, 94114, 415-864-6777,
A Different Light (489 Castro Street between 17th &
18th, 415-431-0891 or 800-343-4002). This is a
branch of the company that also has bookstores in
West Hollywood and New York City. They have close
to 14,000 titles of interest to lesbians, bisexuals and
gay men, and occasionally carry a few used books.
Green Apple Books (506 Clement and nearby, 415-387-
2272). New and used.
Thidwick Books (first block of Clement
Street). "Extremely enthusiastic, helpful proprietor,
interesting selection of new books with a delightful
Charlotte's Web (2278 Union, 415-441-4700).
Children's bookstore. Excellent selection of children's
books along with tapes, cards, art supplies and other
good stuffcards, that children and parents will enjoy.
2004 Toy Releases
Ok I need these like I need a hole in the head, but
hey... I have nieces and nephews to look out for.
The new 45th Anniversary Barbie to celebrate 45 years
of Barbie! A must for the collector!
Another new collectible giftset. Includes Barbie and Ken
as Arwen and Aragorn in the 3rd movie of this epic
trilogy, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
A classic miniature set of Raggedy Ann and Andy
together titled "Forever Friends" will be available
exclusively from THE TOY SHOPPE - the premiere RJW
To help bring the joy of play to children of all abilities,
Toy Industry Association, Inc. introduces the 2004
edition of Let's Play: A Guide to Toys for Children with
Special Needs. This valuable resource is an expanded
version of TIA's Guide for Children Who Are Blind or
Visually Impaired, an award-winning publication first
produced by the Association in 1993.
The latest big steamers from 3rd Rail are the O gauge
Pennsylvania RR Q1-class 4-6-4-4 locomotives in
skirted (rear) and unskirted (front) versions. The brass
locomotive comes with Lionel TrainMaster Command
Control and RailSounds as well as Train America's Puff
n'Chuff II and Engineer On Board speed-control circuits.
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. announced
the much-anticipated release of EyeToy(TM), a
revolutionary technology set to change the future of
gaming by providing players with a truly immersive and
interactive experience. Developed exclusively for the
PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the
EyeToy USB camera features unique motion-tracking
technology to enable gamers to become physically part
of the game. The EyeToy USB Camera comes with
EyeToy: Play, developed by Sony Computer
Entertainment Europe, London Studio, the first title to
showcase the PlayStation 2 exclusive EyeToy
For surveillance, a 2-ounce, camera-carrying UAV
(unmanned aerial vehicle) called the Dragon Eye, is built
to be taken to the battlefield in a backpack. "A bungee
cord serves as a kind of slingshot to launch the vehicle
before its electric motor takes over. The operator
directs it with a laptop computer." But Paul Saffo, a
director of the Silicon Valley-based Institute for the
Future, expects to see UAVs in wide civilian use within
five years -- especially among teenage hobbyists.
Saffo, whose work includes predicting how consumers
might incorporate new technologies in their daily lives,
says nobody will "be able to comfortably sunbathe
topless in their backyards anymore."
Microsoft Corp. announced it will unveil the latest
version of its digital cable software platform,
Microsoft® TV Foundation Edition, at the 2004
International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this
week in Las Vegas. Microsoft TV Foundation Edition
version 1.5 enhances the consumer viewing experience
by providing fully integrated support for high-definition
television (HDTV) and digital video recording (DVR),
while enabling network operators to better market and
merchandize new and existing digital cable services
including video on demand (VOD).
Broadband on the go will get a lot closer to reality
Thursday when the USA's No. 1 phone and wireless
carrier details plans to build the first national wireless
network that's truly broadband. While popular "Wi-Fi
hot spots" offer public wireless broadband in coffee
shops and airports, this service would make a laptop as
mobile as a cell phone.
Copyright by Betsie, 2004 All
contents of this email are for the use of Betsie's
Literary Page subscribers and may not be reproduced in
any way and/or posted on websites without prior
express written permission. If you would like to have
friends or associates receive our emails, rather than
forwarding this, please have them subscribe.
Thank You for reading, see you next week!