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Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Talking About Those Funny Little Christians...
Here's an email heads-up I just got from a friend...

Barb-

I was listening to the latest podcast from (NPR affiliate) KCRW's The Business and they
devoted 15 or so minutes to interviewing the Details reporter and
talking about "Hollywood's new God Squad" While the host should have
talked to, I don't know, you... the Details guy was able to go into a
lot more detail as well as express sympathy for act one's cause.

I'm guessing you could either go to the radio station's website or just
subscribe to "The Business" on iTunes.

Thanks for all you guys do!

C.L.


Of course, my friend is right. It is somewhat weird and curious that KCRW wouldn't have included US in the dialogue about us. Doesn't interviewing the journalist kind of make him the story? As though we can not be trusted to really speak for ourselves? The "listening audience" needed to have an astronaut from their planet come back from visiting ours with news about the extraterrestial beings he met?

Beam me up, Jesus.
Monday, August 29, 2005
The World on Act One
Here is yet another two-piece article on Act One, and specifically the book we have coming out. This one is from the Christian magazine World. Some new quotes in there from the usual collection of Christian Hollywood suspects: Karen Covell, Ralph Winter, Scott Derrickson, Leo Partible, etc.

Here's the snip in the first part with me in it...

But why would a Christian want to work in the film industry? The people WORLD talked to and the contributors to Behind the Screen exhibit particular talents that they see as gifts of God. They see their work as a Christian vocation.

That Christians are needed in Hollywood should be self-evident. The media world is at the heart of contemporary culture, shaping the imagination and the moral sensibilities not only of America but the whole world.

But in Hollywood overnight success is the exception, not the rule. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ set box-office records yet came about, as Ms. Nicolosi points out, after 30 years of experience in the movie industry for Mr. Gibson, a decade after winning an Oscar for Braveheart, 15 years after his conversion, and after 10 years of creative struggle. "There will be no other Passions," she said, "without other Mel Gibsons to bring them along."

This is why Act One is dedicated to helping Christians first master the craft. Ms. Nicolosi calls for more "happy, well-catechized believers in the entertainment industry." But she emphasized that "Christians in entertainment don't have to be always talking about God. They should be talking about everything in a godly way."


The second half of the article can be found here.
The Washington Post's Turn at Act One
[Well, here's another one. This was another hour-long interview during which I feel sure I said many clever and cool things. But here's what ended up in the story. I don't think it is too bad. I do think it was somewhat lousy to pair my statement about the calumny about us being fetus-obsessed with the Christian value of the sacredness of human life. Doing that is a bit of editorializing by the Post, as though we really are actually obsessed with abortion. I have about seven fundamental themes that should distinguish Christian efforts in storytelling, and that one is one of them. But, you know.... And I'm not backing off of it. I am obsessed with fetuses. And old people. And chronically ill people. And the non-chronically ill people. And Indiana five year olds. And people with red hair. And people who like polo. And then there are the Grateful Dead fans I am obsessed about...

Anyway, here's the piece.]

(from The Washington Post, August 27, 2005 Saturday Final Edition)

Trying to Bring Christianity Into the Picture;
Hollywood Internships for Believers Develop Talent and Spread Values


BYLINE: Sarah Price Brown, Religion News Service

DATELINE: LOS ANGELES

It's hip to be spiritual in Hollywood these days, as long as you're not religious. The way the fashionable set see it: Scientology and cabala are in, Christianity is out.

But a new program to train Christians to be film and television executives is trying to reverse the trend.

"We're not here to fix Hollywood as much as we're here to fix the church," said Barbara Nicolosi, executive director of Act One, which runs a three-month program that places Christians in entertainment internships and hosts lectures by industry professionals.

Some of the first films ever made played in churches in the early 20th century. But over time, religious leaders began to associate movies with immorality, sex and violence. And Hollywood became a place where people of faith would not go, Nicolosi said.

Today, many Christians shun Tinseltown, and "there's absolute bigotry in Hollywood toward Christianity," Nicolosi said.

" 'Christianity' is a political moniker in Hollywood," she said. "It means you voted for George Bush, you hate gays and you're fanatic about fetuses. . . . It doesn't mean that in 95 percent of the rest of the world, but [it does] in this town."

In 1999, Nicolosi, a nun turned movie executive, helped found Act One to cultivate aspiring Christian screenwriters. Over six years, she has recruited 300 Christians to Hollywood, teaching them how to write movies based on Christian moral values, such as the "sacredness of human life," the idea that "good and evil are not equal" and the notion that "you're never forced to choose something evil," she said.

Realizing that it would not be enough for Christians to write screenplays if no one made them into movies, Nicolosi launched the executive program to train would-be Hollywood decision-makers.

Out of about 60 applicants, Act One chose 15 students to participate in its first executive seminar in Los Angeles. By day, participants go to work at internships at movie studios, production companies and talent agencies. By night, students learn about story development, finance and budgeting, leadership and ethics from visiting speakers who work in the entertainment industry.

"I feel much stronger being here," said Jonathan Strong, 29, an executive program student who interned at a talent agency. "I don't feel alone."

On a recent evening, a room full of young businesspeople, lawyers and even a pilot, gathered from as far as Madrid, listened to a lecture on marketing movies by Jonathan Bock, founder and president of Grace Hill Media, a public relations company that helps studios promote films to religious audiences.

"What we [Christians] have failed to remember is that if you build it, they won't necessarily come," Bock said, adding that it's not enough for Christians to make movies they want to make -- they need to make movies people want to watch. "We have to understand that this is show business," said Bock, who is consulting on the movie "The Da Vinci Code," scheduled for release next year.

The importance of understanding the business of film and television is a central theme of the Act One program, and the idea has taken hold in at least one student.

"I was unwilling to compromise when I came in here, because I'd been so intent on being a martyr," said Todd Burns, 25, who said he had been called by God to make movies in Hollywood.

Before Act One, Burns had been producing movies for Billy Graham, the Christian evangelist. Now, Burns is interning at a production company that makes horror movies. Previously, he had imagined he would end up "at some point where I would have to say no, walk away and give up all of this stuff." But "now, it's more like, I'm here, I've got to operate in this."

So Burns makes horror movies. But, he said, he makes them "less bad" than they would be if he were not involved.

The box office success of "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's 2004 epic about Jesus's trial and crucifixion that became one of the highest-grossing films ever made, showed industry executives the upside of appealing to a religious audience. Now, it is not uncommon for producers around town to talk about bringing in the "Passion dollars" by drawing an audience of religious viewers who typically do not go to the movies but who went to see "The Passion," Nicolosi said.

"Now is a good moment for the church to be waking up," Nicolosi said.

On the downside, she said, "The Passion" instilled in many Christians false hopes of becoming the next Mel Gibson. Instead of learning the nuts and bolts of the filmmaking business, amateurs are trying to make their own movies, said Nicolosi, who herself is collaborating on a Christian-themed screenplay with "Passion" screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald.

Having raised about $600,000 this year from a coalition of foundations, including the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Communication Campaign, Nicolosi said she is making plans. On the horizon, she said, are training programs for producers, directors and actors. A program for pastors would teach them aesthetic principles, so that religious officials could commission quality artwork.

The church needs to get involved in Hollywood, Nicolosi said, because movies and television influence the way people think.

"The biggest conversation now about meaning, what makes human life distinct and valuable, is being had in the culture," Nicolosi said. "And we've been missing from that debate."

Copyright 2005 The Washington Post
Emily Monday
1593

There came a Wind like a Bugle --
It quivered through the Grass
And a Green Chill upon the Heat
So ominous did pass
We barred the Windows and the Doors
As from an Emerald Ghost --
The Doom's electric Moccasin
That very instant passed --
On a strange Mob of panting Trees
And Fences fled away
And Rivers where the Houses ran
Those looked that lived -- that Day --
The Bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings told --
How much can come
And much can go,
And yet abide the World!
Sunday, August 28, 2005
New Orleans needs our prayers...
Five Hurricane:

Winds greater than 155 mph (135 kt or 249 km/hr). Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required. Only 3 Category Five Hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since records began: The Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, Hurricane Camille (1969), and Hurricane Andrew in August, 1992
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Another Letter I Hate Writing
[PREFACE: This is the kind of post that enrages lots of you, and earns me scads of sneering comments and emails. I can't help it. Every now and then, I just have to return to this same theme...not for myself (ahem...) but for my many friends and colleagues all of whom could write the same message. "Tis a far, far better thing I do..."]

At any given time, I have a dozen email messages in my in-box, and another handful of letters on my desk from folks who want to be actors or writers or "something vague" in Hollywood. (The "somethings vague" will generally say that they love movies, that they have tons of great ideas for stories, and then, that they are not sure where they should start with a Hollywood career.) Some of these folks are self-deprecating, some are haughty, some are flattering - all want something impossible from me. To know what they should do to have a successful career in Hollywood.

I always wonder if surgeons get these kinds of letters...

Dear Dr. Surgeon Person -

I have always wanted to be a successful surgeon. I love the idea of being very wealthy and respected, and of saving people's lives. I have read a book on Anatomy and my mother's cousin was a dentist. I was wondering if you could give me some advice about how I should get started in surgery. I would be willing to come and meet with you, and maybe meet some of your other surgeon friends, and even just hang around the hospital and see what happens. I know you are really busy, but look at this as helping out a future friend in surgery who shares your values!

You can reach me at home at ###-###-####. Or my cel ###-###-###.

Thanks -

LD in Cheyenne



Of course, these kinds of letters get placed on the bottom of everybody's stack. It isn't so much that they take a lot of time to answer (which they do), or that often people get annoyed with the answers I send (which they do), as much as it is that I don't really think I can help someone in an email or letter or phone call. There is no way for me to analyse someone's dreams or aspirations. If they have a script or a reel, they can try and get us to take a look - and if they pay us they move up in the pile. The advice is stunningly similar in the end: "Find out what you are good at. Do that. A lot. And spend lots of time and money in your professional development. Have your efforts measured by professionals. Don't give up if you love it."

Today I got two chiding letters from wanna-be screenwriters. One wrote me earlier in the summer for my opinion as to what he should do to jump start his writing career. I didn't have time to answer the letter because we were in the middle of running two programs for fifty assuredly talented students who paid for the privilege. Here is a composite of the letters I got this morning...


Hi Barb,

I sent a letter quite some time ago... You didn't answer. I thought certainly that you would respond to a snail mail letter as that would show more seriousness than an email message.

I know you are very busy but if I am being shunned for some reason, I would appreciate the courtesy of being told that.

To restate my situation, I went to film school twelve years ago but left after a year to support my growing family. I have completed three scripts and have many more ideas all of which are better than anything that ever shows at our local theater. I have prayed many times for God to release me from my certainty that I should be a screenwriter, but the stories I have just won't let me go. I have been told that my screenplays are too "on the nose." I don't know what to do with that.

I'm not even sure of what I would like from you. Maybe some advice? Some help? A referral to an agent? (Just kidding on that last...although if you want to...!)

I'm sure that you're very busy, but I know that you want other people in Hollywood who are committed Christians. I assure you that I am.


Best,

****


So, here is the answer I sent this morning...

Dear ***,

I am sorry you haven't gotten a response yet. Your letter is on my desk. I did read it (and wondered about the calligraphy...). Unfortunately, my time is so divided these days that unsolicited queries are invariably on the bottom of the pile.

I get many requests for general advice. There isn't much I can say to most of these requests without personal familiarity with every individuals skills and possibilities. That you have completed several scripts and yet not sold anything may mean several things. Either you aren't getting your work out there, or you aren't a good enough pitcher or writer. Or else you are writing stories that are not commercial. It is impossible for me to know what the problem is in your case.

You could certainly submit your scripts to our critique service - or someone else's service - for evaluation. You could also apply to Act One and if you get in, we can work with you much more seriously. Beyond this, work hard, be involved in a writers group, do everything you can to be around people in the business. If you don't sell anything within a decade, than it may be your writing will be more of a hobby than a profession.

Good luck to you and God bless -


Sigh.
Friday, August 19, 2005
See Barb in Seattle...and the Act One Roadshow!
-------------- FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --------------

ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD STARTS IN SEATTLE – SCREENWRITERS’ WORKSHOP PLANNED

Each year, hundreds of aspiring screenwriters flock to Hollywood with scripts in their hands and stars in their eyes. This year, Hollywood is coming to them. First stop? Seattle, Washington.

Act One, Inc., a Los Angeles-based training program for writers and other film industry professionals, is partnering with Third Friday Films and the Taproot Theatre Company to present the Act One Screenwriting Weekend, a conference for professional and aspiring screenwriters. The workshop, slated for September 16-17, 2005 at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, is an intense, practical overview of screenwriting basics and the current film market.

Participants will study the craft of screenwriting – from story development and structure to character, dialogue and screenplay format – with a panel of accomplished Hollywood professionals, led by Barbara Nicolosi, a screenwriter (The Work, Select Society), columnist, and Executive Director of the Act One programs. In addition to his teaching post at Azusa Pacific University, Dr. Thom Parham is a screenwriter and script consultant whose credits include JAG, Touched By An Angel, Steeplechasers, and Inside Out. Jack Gilbert, the head of Act One’s television program and former director of the prestigious Warner Bros. Writers Workshop, has consulted on numerous Hollywood scripts (including Batman Forever and The Addams Family) for companies like the William Morris Agency, NBC, and MTM Productions.

“Seattle’s longstanding reputation for quality and creativity in film makes it the perfect city for our first 2005-06 conference,” says Conference Coordinator Lauri Evans Deason. “And we’re thrilled to be working with Third Friday Films and the Taproot Theatre Company to provide new inspiration and community for local writers who share our common goals of excellence, artistry, professionalism, and spirituality.”

The seminar begins with a 7 p.m. Friday evening screening and panel discussion with the faculty, open to anyone interested in film and its impact on popular culture. The conference continues Saturday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. with the intensive screenwriting workshop. The registration fee (which includes study materials and breakfast and lunch on Saturday) is $175 for students and early registrants. After September 1st, the cost to attend is $195. Further information and online registration is available through the Act One website at www.actoneprogram.com . Space is limited, and early registration is encouraged.

Tickets for the Friday evening session only are $10 and are available in advance through the Third Friday Films hotline (206-524-7301 x330) or at the door.



MEDIA REQUESTS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Lauri Evans Deason
lauri@actoneprogram.com
206-851-5361
A Very Good Idea...
My dear friend, Zoe Romanowsky St. Paul, has just started a ministry as a life-coach to women who are believers. Besides being one of the coolest women of the 21st Century Church, Zoe has a Masters in Counseling from Steubenville. I would do sign up to work with Zoe myself, except that, as her friend, I get to bend her ear for free...

Here is the message she sent me about this new thing. Please pass it on to any women you know who might need some help discerning what God is doing in their lives, and how they might be cooperating better with Him...


Hi Barb,

Wanted to let you know that my life coaching business is officially launched: www.zoe-co.com

The site advertises my services and provides basic information on life coaching (and eventually on workshops, retreats and info products). I'm now taking clients and have begun to send out my new weekly e-letter (available through the web site).

My coaching focuses on women and their needs -- particularly in the age range of 18-50. But I am happy to coach anyone of any age - including men & couples. I'm also very interested in coaching writers and people in the arts industry. I hope my services can be a resource to the people you serve.

Life coaching differs from counseling/therapy in that it focuses more on goals, practical steps, creative problem-solving, and support. While it has therapeutic elements, it doesn't delve deeply into family of origin issues or psychoanalysis. It can be really helpful for people who need help in one or more area in their life but don't need therapy. (Or it can be used in conjunction with therapy and other health services.)

Please consider sending word of this to friends, family, colleagues, clients, pastors -- anyone you think might benefit from knowing about it. Keep in mind that coaching is usually done by phone & email so I can take clients from anywhere so long as they have phone and computer access.

[Deleted FEO: Personal message of high esteem and dire predictions about hurricanes in the Caribbean in the next few weeks.]

Love, Zoe
Thursday, August 18, 2005
From George Barna...
[Just passing it on...]

A Special Announcement From George Barna:

Over the years, outstanding films like Ben Hur, Chariots of Fire and The Passion of the Christ have captivated millions of Americans from all walks of life. Many other films might have had significant influence on people’s lives as well, but they got lost in the shuffle of life. Unfortunately, there has not been an organized and intentional means of making sure that outstanding films receive the attention they deserve

That’s why I am excited to introduce BarnaFilms Preview Night to you. We want to make sure that some of these wonderful films get discovered and enjoyed by families before they disappear. Beginning this December we will be offering a BarnaFilms Preview Night each quarter to give all Americans, including those involved in faith, civic and educational institutions, an opportunity to purchase tickets to screen a new film that we believe will educate, entertain and inspire. We will hold these previews in selected movie theaters around the US.

On December 9th, 2005, one of the most anticipated films in the history of cinema, the first film in C.S. Lewis' beloved Chronicles of Narnia series will be released in the United States. The day before, on Thursday December 8th, BarnaFilms Preview Night will be hosting a special preview screening for those who are interested in watching the film as a group. This will be the first in our on-going series of quarterly previews.

Any group* (civic, educational, religious, film societies, etc) is welcomed to join us for this special day. Simply e-mail the information requested above, including the location and time you'd like to view the film, along with the size of your group (must be 50 or more) and we will check on availability and get back to you to complete your purchase. The BarnaFilms Preview Night™ will take place four times per year and we look forward to having you join us in the future for other outstanding films.

Reserve your tickets early and be among the first to experience this wonderful film.

For more information or to make your ticket reservation go to:
http://www.barnapreview.com
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
It's All in the Details
Well, how about that! The feature on Act One in Details magazine came out pretty darn well, I'm thinking. (Don't cancel your subscription after all, Dan!) The reporter, Ian, did a very fair job. I don't think there was any discernible sarcasm in the piece. And - thank God! - the stero-typed staged shots of our students didn't make the final cut...at least in the on-line version of the story.

Anyway, go here to read the whole piece. (Although my on-line version has a funny line through the last quarter of every page....I hope it isn't making me miss any other brilliant comments I made.) Here's a me snip...

After the runaway success of the wholesome Warner Bros. drama A Walk to Remember in 2002 (when The Passion was just a twinkle in Mel's eye), Barbara Nicolosi, got a call from an exec at a production company who was sniffing around for similar scripts. "I said, 'But A Walk to Remember was a banal, badly written, superficial portrayal of people! Why would you want that?' He said, 'Well, the Christians liked it.' I told him the Christians liked it because it's about two teenagers who didn't have sex before marriage—but it's a bad movie! He said, 'Well, that's our problem now. We have to make movies we don't want to see.'" Nicolosi was fuming. "Do you know how demeaning that is?" she says. "How insulting to Christians? That we're so stupid, to entertain us—it's like feeding 5-year-olds?
Act One Book Report
Our upcoming Act One book is getting a "Starred Review" in Publishers Weekly's Religion Update on Monday, August 29. It's nice...


Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture
Edited by Spencer Lewerenz and Barbara Nicolosi. Baker Books, $14.99 paper (224p) ISBN 0-8010-6547-X

This thought-provoking collection of essays on Hollywood features contributions by Christian writers for both film and television. After a hard-hitting, impressively self-reflective opening piece on the history of Hollywood's tortured relationship with Christianity, essayists expound on a number of topics, from how to survive mostly-secular Tinseltown with one's faith intact to exploring reasons why the industry is so secular in the first place. Refreshingly enough, the book's tone is almost completely non-defensive; these authors are culture-makers who want to seamlessly integrate their beliefs with their work and art. One standout essay is Thom Parham's "Why Do Heathens Make the Best Christian Films?" It asks why, when non-Christians have been making faith-filled masterpieces like The Lord of the Rings, Chariots of Fire, and The Shawshank Redemption, believers are wasting their energy on "unwatchable" dreck like The Omega Code. Readers also shouldn't miss movie marketer Jonathan Bock's proactive essay "Love the Cinema, Hate the Sin." (Nov.)


P.S. Surely, with this kind of rave reviews, the book will sell out very quickly. You should rush HERE right away to make sure you pre-order a copy!...That's what I'd do...Right away...
Fr. Willy at WYD
Friend, Fr. Willy Raymond, Director of Family Theater Productions here in Hollywood, is off in Cologne with actors Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) and Clarence Gilyard (Walker: Texas Ranger)

Act One alumn and computer guru extroadinaire, Clayton Emmer, has created a blog and podcast (whatever that is...) for the trio to record their adventures. It's here.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Heads Up for Another Cool Doc

Here is the poster for a new documentary that premiere's Saturday in Los Angeles. It was produced by friends John and Ed Priddy in association with HBO/Cinemax.

The website for the film is here.
Bugtime Adventures

Bugtime: "Blessing in Disguise"

For the last couple years, I've been on the Board of a small Catholic non-profit that has been working on producing an animated Bible series for kids. The series, which alternates between a village of little bugs and the lives of Bible characters, is way cute and it is just hitting the street now.


David

We call it Bugtime Adventures. We have about seven episodes in the can (animated in Korea with scripts and talent done here), comic books and a cool web-site.

Go here to read a story from the Milwaukee Journal on the series.

If you have little kids on your Christmas list, Bugtime Adventures is a beautifully produced, positive alternative to one more Mario chip for the Game Boy.
Monday, August 15, 2005
ART WITHIN ANNOUNCES...
ATLANTA-BASED ARTS & MEDIA GROUP LAUNCHES NATIONAL SCREENWRITER SEARCH AND FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM

Art Within Accepting Applications for “Next Great Screenwriters of Faith” Through Sept. 2

ATLANTA, Ga., August 15, 2005—Do you have what it takes to craft a Hollywood screenplay that incorporates fine writing, snappy dialogue, and…faith? Atlanta-based arts and media group Art Within is banking on the fact that talented screenwriters from across the country are working on their own “Bruce Almighty’s,” and is conducting a search for five emerging screenwriters of faith to participate in the launch of the organization’s Art Within Labs fellowship program this fall.

Applications for the search for the “next great screenwriters of faith” will be accepted through Sept. 2 (www.artwithinlabs.org). The winners will be announced on Sept. 23.

Art Within Labs is a fellowship program where writers experiment and excel by doing. The program is committed to fostering the next generation of screenwriters compelled to explore with excellence the intersection of faith and storytelling, with writers following in the footsteps of C.S. Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, and others.

Art Within Labs is based in Atlanta, Ga., and is modeled after the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriter Lab in Utah, with the goal of creating a retreat center outside of Hollywood that is conducive to developing and nurturing a writer’s voice.

The idea for the Labs grew out of a desire to continue Art Within’s experimentation in blending topics of faith into its script commissions. “Through our development process, we have learned so much about how to encourage and challenge writers to take faith principles from their own lives and integrate them into their stories,” said Bryan Coley, artistic director of Art Within. “Art Within Labs now gives us the opportunity to do this on a national scale.”

Art Within Labs includes both an annual national search for the next great screenwriters of faith, as well as a year-long fellowship. This year, up to five writers will be selected, with each being awarded $10,000 for a year-long fellowship, during which, each will produce a completed screenplay. The screenwriters will be flown to the Labs in Atlanta four times during the process, beginning with an intensive two-week workshop this November with Art Within’s creative team. Industry professionals will also be brought in for mentorship and evaluation. The Labs program will conclude with staged screenplay readings at Art Within’s annual Showcase and Symposium.

Since 1995, Atlanta-based Art Within has been dedicated to integrating faith and art to impact contemporary culture. Working through the vehicles of theater and film, Art Within focuses on nurturing scriptwriters and screenwriters with a faith perspective and helping producers find high-quality new scripts through Art Within’s development process.

MEDIA NOTE: For more information about Art Within or Art Within Labs, contact Laura Swickard McGowan at (847) 328-8009 or laura@lauramcgowan.com.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Big Mouthed Bass Relax!
...for Barb "Scourge of Great Pond" has left the Belgrade Lakes Region.

Just coming from three days of fishing and splashing around in Maine with the Nicolosis and Pattons. (And, soory, AL, but that fish I caught the first night was the biggest of the week. It was too!) It was great, if a little too much Maine for my tastes these last few decades. When I was a kid, I was compelled to put up with Maine people's 'last planet before the Zondorian black hole' weirdness. But, now that I am adult, I can marvel aloud, that Maine people are too far off the beaten track to realize they are way, way far off the beaten track. And so I can return to Southern Cal where things are normal. Ahem.

Now, I'm in Orlando for a couple days talking Act One to tanned Legatans.

Meanwhile, my office is telling me that CNN and the Today Show are trying to track me down to talk about The Da Vinci Code. Here's my official position: "Oh, leave me alone! This is Amy Welborn's way to heaven, I believe, and I have no intention of trespassing on her cross. I will talk about Hollywood and culture, but right now, idiotic books that make Jesus into a hypocritical lying nymphomaniac are not my schtick of choice. Call me once I've seen the movie..."

You can quote me.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
A New Thing...ACT ONE SCREENWRITING WEEKENDS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE --------------

ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD EXTENDS ACROSS U.S. –
SCREENWRITERS’ WORKSHOPS PLANNED


Each year, hundreds of aspiring screenwriters flock to Hollywood with scripts in their hands and stars in their eyes. This year, Hollywood is coming to them.

Act One, Inc., a Los Angeles-based training program for writers and other film industry professionals, presents Act One Screenwriting Weekends, a conference series for professional and aspiring screenwriters. The workshops, which provide an intense, practical overview of screenwriting basics and the current film market, are slated to begin September 16-17, 2005 in Seattle, Washington. Additional conferences are scheduled in Hollywood (October), Fort Lauderdale,(November), Las Vegas (February), New York City (April) and San Diego, California (June).

Participants will study the craft of screenwriting – from story development and structure to character, dialogue and screenplay format – with accomplished Hollywood professionals led by Barbara Nicolosi, a screenwriter (The Work, Select Society), script consultant, and the Executive Director of the Act One programs. Primary instructors include Azusa Pacific University professor Dr. Thom Parham, a screenwriter and script consultant (JAG, Touched By An Angel, Steeplechasers, Inside Out); and Jack Gilbert, the former director of the prestigious Warner Bros. Writers Workshop and a consultant on numerous Hollywood scripts (including Batman Forever and The Addams Family) for companies like the William Morris Agency, NBC, and MTM Productions.

“Hollywood is hungry for great stories,” says Conference Coordinator Lauri Evans Deason. “And Act One is delighted to offer training and fresh inspiration to undiscovered writers across the country who share our common goals of excellence, artistry, professionalism, and spirituality.”

The seminars begin with a Friday evening session from 7-10 pm and continue Saturday from 9am-6pm. The registration fee (which includes study materials and breakfast and lunch on Saturday) is $175 for students and early registrants. After early registration, the cost to attend is $195. Registration is currently open for the Seattle conference through the Act One website at www.actoneprogram.com. Space is limited, and early registration is encouraged.


MEDIA REQUESTS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Lauri Evans Deason
Lauri@actoneprogram.com
206-851-5361
Friday, August 05, 2005
This is good, right?
You scored as Albus Dumbledore. Strong and powerful you admirably defend your world and your charges against those who would seek to harm them. However sometimes you can fail to do what you must because you care too much to cause suffering.

Albus Dumbledore

80%

Hermione Granger

75%

Remus Lupin

75%

Draco Malfoy

70%

Harry Potter

60%

Sirius Black

60%

Ron Weasley

60%

Severus Snape

40%

Ginny Weasley

35%

Lord Voldemort

20%

Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with QuizFarm.com


I'm a little bit troubled by the 70% Draco factor...but consoled that Voldemort is a far down on my list as he could be.
Almost Time to Exhale...
Today is the last official day of classes for the summer screenwriting program. Tomorrow evening, we will send off our 2005 class with a gala banquet with friends, faculty and alumni, an awards ceremony, entertainment from the students, and a keynote speech by theater and film producer, Doug Urbanski.

Doug has 25 years in the business and has garnered a truckload of awards including two dozen Tony Award nominations, British Academy Awards, Dramadesk and Cannes Film festival prizes. I know Doug in another context as the regal and solemn lector at our beloved 5:30pm Saturday vigil Mass at St. Victor's in West Hollywood. I was given the initial heads-up that Doug was a kindred spirit from, well, Peggy Noonan. (And yes, I did enjoy name-dropping that...) I am very pleased to have Doug meet the Act One community, and to hear the surely sage words of counsel and advice with which he will help us send our newest Act One alumns into the fray.

It's been a wonderful summer program, in my estimation, thanks largely to our new Director, Christopher Riley. And also to our amazing Act One faculty, staff and alumni who have been busy all summer brooding over this class, and making every sacrifice so that their experience would be as good as it could be. We have high hopes for this very talented group of young people.

We still have two and a half weeks with the Executive Program students, before sending them off into the streets and suites of Hollywood. Several of them have already landed jobs. It's very exciting to see how God is not wasting any time getting them in place. Do keep them and all of our students in your prayers.

I leave at Midnight Saturday for Maine, where I will spend three days with my family in the Belgrade Lakes region recovering. Then, I'm off to Orlando for another Legatus speech.

The 2005-2006 speech season is filling up. So, far, between now and March 2006, I will be in the following cities doing the various schticks: San Diego, Seattle, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Las Vegas, and good ol' Lehigh Valley, PA.
Narnimania
Friend, Paul Lauer, whose company Motive Entertainment is on the team to market the December 9th release, The Lion, the Withc, and the Wardrobe asked me to let you allknow about the cool new site they just opened to provide news about the film and all of your promotional material needs.

Go here for posters, web banners, IM characters, screensavers, postcards, group sales tickets, and to find out about any upcoming Narnia promotional events in your shire.

I find myself quite excited to see this film. Or, at least, to see how the assuredly astounding success of the films soldifies the real looming presence of "the Christian audience" in the corporate Hollywood brain. My prediction: Narnia will save the 2005 box office just in the nick of time. Without Narnia, the 2005 boxoffice is a state of being 'where it is always winter but never Christmas.'
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
The First Thumbs Up!
Here is a very encouraging review of our November release Act One book Behind the Screen.

Thanks to the folks at Hollywood Jesus for the kind words.
NYTimes on Da Vinci
I've got two pretty inarticulate ravings in an article that just came out in the NY Times about the upcoming movie version of The Da Vinci Code. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the article which I thought was very fair to all of us Christians.

When the journalist called me I asked her, "Is this piece going to be fair, or a typical NY Times Christian-hating kind of thing?" The journalist expressed horror at the suggestion that Christians feel like The Times hates them. "Yeah," I said wonderingly, "we kind of do."

I didn't have a lot of hope for the piece because at one point in our conversation, we had the following exchange...

Barb: I heard that the studio execs behind The Da Vinci Code are worried that some Christians are going to put them on a hit list. Someone claimed to have gotten death threats during the making of The Last Temptation of Christ. It's so ridiculous. We aren't the ones who throw bombs.

NYTimes Reporter: (paraphrase) Well, there are as many Christians out there throwing bombs as Muslims. Look at all the bombings Christians do of abortion clinics.

I didn't take it further because, well, it was such an astoundingly bizarre statement that I - for once - was rendered mute. Here's what I would have said if I could speak at the moment: "HUH!!? ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?! AS MANY CHRISTIANS THROWING BOMBS AS THE HOURLY SUICIDE BOMBING NUTJOBS WHO THINK KILLING MAKES GOD SMILE?! ARE YOU SMOKING CRACK?!"...or something erudite like that.

Anyway, in the end, I think the reporter did a good job. She could have made it sound like the Vatican is organizing a super-secret Opus Dei engineered underground plot to plant bombs on the set of DVC.

P.S. Carl Olsen was also interviewed for the piece and had a funny exchange with the journalist too. His account is here.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Peacocks!
In between Act One-ing, I am co-writing a screenplay with screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald. Along with having co-written The Passion of the Christ with Mel Gibson, Ben happens to be the son of Sally Fitzgerald, who was the best friend of one M. Flannery O'Connor. So, very often when we get together to work, we spend at least fifteen minutes or so with me picking Ben's brain about Flannery trivia like why she loved Emily Dickinson, and how Sally obtained the letters in Habit of Being painstakingly one at a time from regina O'Connor who didn't really like her daughters stories and couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

There is a point to this story.

So, this past weekend, Ben and I made our way to a retreat center to work on the project. (Which is actually another cool story, but will have to wait until I can talk about the subject of the screenplay....[Barb doing the happy impatient dance.]) And there we were, sitting on a bench outside the reception area waiting for the nun portress person to check us in, when all of a sudden, two large blue necked, aquamarine tail-feathered male peacocks came strutting and clucking around the corner.

Yeah, I KNOW! That's EXACTLY how we felt! (You either get how weird and cool this is or not. ref. Flannery's Mystery and Manners if you're really curious.)

The whole weekend, they were hanging around us - but the best was one conversation in which we were discussing Flannery's haunting moments thing - and then the two peacocks came swooping right around the corner to land right in front of us. Ben bowed and said, "Well, Madame O'Connor I presume."

We're thinking it is a good sign for the project.