Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dear Barbara,

It is with great pleasure that I announce the June 2010 launch of Act One's newly formatted 14-month Producing & Entertainment Executive Program.

The 14-month Certificate Program provides students with a strong foundation in producing and executive management for mainstream film and television to prepare them for entry-level careers in the entertainment industry that focus on becoming a producer or entertainment executive.

The program is similar to past Executive Programs, but offers more ways to connect. The summer begins with a two-week Producing Seminar, that can be taken as a stand alone class or as part of the summer long or 14-Month Program. The Seminar is followed by an eight-week Producing Workshop, including an internship at a studio or production company.

These new Master classes are open to Alumni as well as new students. Check out the website for further information.

Todd Burns, Act One graduate and co-founder of MPower Pictures says, “I have been a part of programs at UCLA, USC, and numerous other industry training seminars and by far, Act One’s Executive Program is the most thorough educational and inspirational program targeted to young professionals in the entertainment industry.”

Please forward this message to a friend you think would be an excellent candidate for the 2010 Producing & Entertainment Program. They can find more information about the program here and download an application for the 2010 Producing & Entertainment Executive Program here.

We cannot continue to provide expanded program offerings without your support. We ask for your prayers for Act One graduates, for those considering applying, and for the students who will enter the programs in June. We also ask for your continued financial support. We are just $4,000 away from reaching the $30,000 Matching Board Grant.

Click here to go to our website where you can give directly to our online giving page!

By giving to Act One you help fund our new programs and train a growing community of writers, producers, and Hollywood executives who are committed to following Jesus through artistry, professionalism, meaning, and prayer.

Together, we can bring the Light of the World to the most influential industry on earth.

Grace and great mercy,

Dr. Gary
Stratton, PhD
Executive Director, Act One Inc.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

See Barb in Grand Rapids, MI in 2010

I'm excited about this one.    I have wanted to attend Calvin's famous "Festival of Writing" since I first heard of it ten years ago.  They always have an amazing roster of writers, many from outside the usual suspects of Christian conferences.  It's an honor just to be invited...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Programs Brewing at Act One!

For Immediate Release July 30th, 2009

**Writing Program Info Night Sept. 2nd at 8 pm***

*RSVP at 323-464-0815 or

After 10 years of principally Summer programs, Act One is pleased to announce several new training formats for
 aspiring Hollywood screenwriters.

  Starting in January, 2010 Act One will be launching these NEW writing programs: 

Writing Program Certificate: Writing for Screen and Television  
 Dates:   January 4, 2010 – March 27, 2011 |  Applications due: October 1, 2009
               June 21, 2010 – August 27, 2011   |  Applications due: April 1, 2010
 The 14-month certificate program provides students a strong foundation in writing for screen and television, and 
prepares them for advanced alumni programs, such as Act Two, Act Three and Advanced TV Track. Students in the
 14-month program will write two full-length scripts under the mentorship of  professional writers. 

Certificate programs are offered in the following order:
   Feature Writing Track:                                    TV Writing Track:
Writing Seminar (2 weeks*)                              Writing Seminar (2 weeks*)
Writing Workshop (8 weeks**)                          Writing Workshop (8 weeks**)
Writers’ Spiritual Journey (14 months***)       Writers’ Spiritual Journey (14 months***)
Writing Group Mentoring (6 months***)          TV Spec Script Writing I (6 months***)
Individual Mentoring (6 months***)                 TV Spec Script Writing II (6 months***)

 *  These classes meet during a two-week retreat, with students in class “all day and night”
**  These classes meet on 8 consecutive Saturdays, to allow students to work a full-time job
*** These classes meet on weeknights or weekends to allow students to work a full-time job
          In addition to the 14-month certificate program (see above), incoming students and Act One alumni may also take the
following courses individually or, “a la carte” as opposed to consecutively as part of the 14-month Certificate Program. 
Please see for more information.

Writing Seminar for Screen and Television
Dates:  January 4 -16, 2010      |  Applications due:  October 1, 2009
              June 21 – July 3, 2010  |  Applications due: April 1, 2010  
Developed over ten years of training aspiring writers for mainstream film and television, the Writing Seminar
is Act One’s flagship program previously offered only in a 4-week format now offered in a two-week retreat 
where students hear from writers and industry professionals, who literally step off studio lots to teach. 
The Writing Seminar grounds students in the Act One values of artistry, professionalism, meaning, and spirituality.
 It includes over 100 hours of instruction in both the craft of screen and television writing and the spiritual journey
 of a Christian writer. Writing Seminar pricing includes all fees, as well as room and board.
While it is highly recommended to continue taking Act One courses, the Writing Seminar is designed to allow students
outside of the Los Angeles area to partake in the Act One experience, and opens the door to other alumni opportunities.  
Alumni of the Writing Seminar are eligible to take additional Act One courses and are granted entry into the Act One 
Alumni Association, which provides a wealth of resources and networking. 

 Writing Workshop for Screen and Television
 Dates:  January 23 – March 28, 2010 (Meets on Saturdays)
              July 10 – August 28, 2010 (Meets on Saturdays)
 Students who can spend ten weeks in Hollywood are encouraged to also take the 8-week Saturday 
Writing Workshop immediately following the Seminar for a hands-on writing experience.  The Writing
Workshop is a series of rigorous exercises designed to prepare students to write a full length script. 
(The 2-week Writing Seminar is a Prerequisite for this Writing Workshop.)

 Writing Group Mentoring: Small Group Mentoring for Screenwriters  
Dates:  March 29 – August 28, 2010 (Meets bi-weekly, during nights or weekends)
              Sept. 13, 2010 – March 12, 2011 (Meets bi-weekly, during nights or weekends)
Act One now offers improved mentoring programs designed to support students through the entire process 
of writing a full-length script.  Current students and Writing Program alumni are encouraged to take this 
course immediately following the Writing Workshop. Online programs may be available- contact Act One for
 more details. (The 2-week Writing Seminar and the 8-week Writing Workshop are Prerequisites for taking this
 Small Group Mentoring class) 

 TV Spec Script Writing 1: Small Group Mentoring for Television Writing
Dates:  March 29 – July 15, 2010 (Meets bi-weekly, during nights or weekends)     
               Sept. 13, 2010 – February 15, 2011 (Meets bi-weekly, during nights or weekends)  
The TV Track simulates a real writer’s room and mentors students through a full length half- hour (comedy) 
or hour (drama) spec script. (The 2-week Writing Seminar and the 8-week Writing Workshop are Prerequisites
 for taking this Small Group Mentoring class)

 The Writer’s Spiritual Journey: Spiritual Formation Community for Screen & TV Writers
Dates:  January 23, 2009 – February 15, 2010 (Meets bi-weekly, during nights or weekends)    
              July 10, 2010 – August 25, 2011 (Meets bi-weekly, during nights or weekends)  
A 14 month tutorial in developing an individualized road map toward spiritual vitality in one of the most spiritually 
challenging environments on earth. Through classroom instruction, small group interaction, and personalized
spiritual direction, students are challenged to grow in the spiritual disciplines of solitude, community and artistry 
in order to live lives of personal holiness so that through their lives and work they may be witnesses of Christ and
the Truth to their fellow artists and to the global culture. (The 2-week Writing Seminar is a Prerequisite for Writer’s 
Spiritual Journey.)
For more information, fee schedules and FAQS, please visit our website at 

Act One Annual Alumni BBQ and Film Festival

For Immediate Release July 29, 2009 - Act One Training for Hollywood  
Act One’s 10th Annual Alumni BBQ and Inaugural Film Festival @ AFI.   
WHAT:   Join us for Act One’s Annual Alumni BBQ, celebrating our inaugural class  of 1999. 
This year’s BBQ will be preceded by our first ever Film Festival,  including the initial 
installment of a year-long community conversation, “What  Is an Act One Film? (and TV Show).” 

 Screenings (10AM & 3:30 PM): Join the students in the 2009 Executive and Writing  Programs 
in screenings of award-winning features, shorts and network episodes  from Act One alumni: 
- Clare Sera (WP ’99), Pie ‘n Burger; 
- Rob Kirbyson (WP ’04),  Ctrl Z; 
- Ben Lobato (EP ’06), The Unit; 
- Scott Teems (WPNY ’01), That Evening  Sun.  
Each screening will be followed by Q&A sessions with the writers,  directors and producers.    

Discussion (1PM): The day will also feature a panel discussion entitled “What Is  an Act One Film?"
 led by board members: Dean Batali, David McFadzean, Barbara  Nicolosi and Chuck Slocum. This will
 be the first in a year-long series of Act One community conversations exploring this topic.  

BBQ (6:30 PM): The annual Alumni BBQ, celebrating the Class of 1999. 

WHEN:  August 1, 2009, 10AM – 10PM  
WHERE:  American Film Institute (AFI), 2021 North Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027 -1657, 323.856.7600  
HOW MUCH?:   $45 for an All-Day Pass (Two Screenings, Discussion, Lunch & BBQ  included) 
or $15 per each of the five events. (Seating for the Film Festival is LIMITED, and available on a first-come,  first-serve basis.  
Register NOW!)
WHO CAN ATTEND:  The Act One community and the general public.
TO REGISTER: or call 323-464-0815

Monday, July 20, 2009

Orange County Catholic Prayer Breakfast







Keynote Speaker 


International Speaker & Author 



"Daily Prayer" 


Wednesday, September 30, 2009 



Principal Mass Celebrant 

Bishop Tod D. Brown 

with all priests in attendance concelebrating 



 6:30 a.m. Rosary 

 7:00 a.m. Holy Mass 

 7:45 a.m. Breakfast & Program 

 9:00 a.m. Conclusion 



Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort 

12021 Harbor Boulevard 

Garden Grove, California 92840 



REGISTER online or by phone:     949.528.3223  




Single Tickets: $30          Table of Ten: $300 

All are welcome. Scholarships are available if needed. 







Orange County 


Prayer Breakfast 

Organizing Committee 



Bishop of Orange 

Bishop Tod D. Brown 



Terry & Kathy McGaughan 

Rob & Berni Neal 


Committee Members 

Msgr. Lawrence J. Baird 

Fr. Al Baca 

Fr. Joe Nettekoven 

Fr. Steve Sallot 

Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S. J. 

Sr. Irma Gomez, MESST 

Kathleen Beckman 

Ellen Buchanan 

Cheryl & Merrill Butler 

Jenny Cahill 

Cheri Coughlin 

Tony Di Nino 

Mick Fern 

Joan Jacoby 

Joe Kromanchly 

Pete & Jan Lauder 

Patti Ledesma 

Barbara McGuigan 

Manny Montanez 

Susan Miller 

Evie Pilkington 

Jill & Scott Richmond 

Lucinda Salinas 

John Scola 

Zita Sevilla 

Sherry Van Meter 

Meg Waters 




Founded & Organized by  

  Magis Institute 

  2532 Dupont Drive 

  Irvine, California 92612 


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Next Entertainment Industry Mass

The Hollywood Project of the Magis Institute, presents, 

A Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Rome Rite with
Gregorian Chant & Sacred Polyphony Music

For Your Current Projects and Your Special Calling as “ARTIST”

Music conducted and sung by members of
The Los Angeles Master Chorale

June 19th, 2009
8pm at St. Victors Parish
8634 Holloway Dr. West
Hollywood 90069

[Ample parking will be available across the street]

Reception with food, drink, and entertainment following the Mass
In lower level of the church

Entertainment afterward provided by Eric Genuis, composer, virtuoso pianist. (

The Hollywood Project – or

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Norris Harrington

Just married at the Gesu in Rome, June 9, 2009.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Never the Bride Released Today!

Seeing the theme of this blog lately is all things weddings....friend and Act One alumna, Cheryl McKay has a new novel being released today!  Here is some info about it and a link to it on Amazon.


“What girl can’t identify with Never the Bride? This is a fabulously funny novel with deep truths embedded in its pages.” –Kristin Billerbeck, author of What a Girl Wants

“I admire writers who employ words to paint touchable pictures, likable characters, introducing us to instant friends who lead us to unexpected endings. That’s why I love Never The Bride.” –SQuire Rushnell, author of the When GOD Winks books 

Product Description
“What girl can’t identify with Never the Bride? This is a fabulously funny novel with deep truths embedded in its pages.” –Kristin Billerbeck, author of What a Girl Wants

“I admire writers who employ words to paint touchable pictures, likable characters, introducing us to instant friends who lead us to unexpected endings. That’s why I love Never The Bride.” –SQuire Rushnell, author of the When GOD Winks books

Eleven Bridesmaid Dresses Don’t Lie

Since she was just a little girl, Jessie Stone dreamed up hundreds of marriage proposals, doodled the romantic ideas in her journal with her treasured purple pen, and fantasized about wedding dresses and falling in love.  She’s been a bridesmaid nearly a dozen times, waved numerous couples off to sunny honeymoons, and shopped in more department stores for half-price fondue pots than she cares to remember. 
But shopping for one key component of these countless proposals hasn't been quite as productive–a future husband. The man she thought she would marry cheated on her.  The crush she has on her best friend Blake is at very best…well, crushing.  And speed dating has only churned out memorable horror stories.

So when God shows up one day, in the flesh, and becomes a walking, talking part of her life, Jessie is skeptical. What will it take to convince her that the Almighty has a better plan than one she’s already cooked up in her journals?  Can she turn over her pen and trust someone else to craft a love story beyond her wildest dreams?

Cheryl McKay 
is the screenwriter for the award-winning film The Ultimate Gift. She also wrote an episode of Gigi: God’s Little Princess, based on the book by Sheila Walsh, and Taylor’s Wall, a drama about high-school violence. She’s been writing since the tender age of five when she penned her first play. Cheryl is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, and currently lives in Los Angeles. 

Rene Gutteridge is a critically acclaimed comedy writer and novelist. She is the author of fifteen novels including the Boo series, My Life as a Doormat, the Occupational Hazards series, and the novelization of the motion picture The Ultimate Gift. She lives in Oklahoma with her family.

Order it here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

June Rome!

Barbara Ruth Nicolosi and Norris Archer Harrington are pleased to announce that we will be married on June 9th, at the Church of the Gesu in Rome.  We will be spending our honeymoon in Rome and Sicily, and then beginning our life together in our little flat in the shadow of the famous sign here in Hollywood.  We are confident in the prayers of all of our friends and family as we take this exciting next step.

We will be having an open reception celebration on the evening of Sunday, July 26th at the Police Academy Rock Garden in Elysian Fields, from 7pm to 11pm.  If you are in the area and want to come and celebrate with us, we would love to have you!  RSVP to so we can keep the caterers posted.

Arrivederci!  Hopefully married people get to blog more than single ones...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Biz Mass



For Your Current Projects and Your Special Calling as “ARTIST”

[All Other’s are Very Welcome]


  Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Rome Rite with Gregorian Chant and Sacred Polyphony Music


When: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker – May 1, 2009 at 8:00pm

Where: St. Victor Church

(8634 Holloway Drive, W. Hollywood, CA 90069)


* Mass will be presided over by the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey


* Music conducted by a professional choir.


* Guest homilist will be Fr. Darrin Merlino, C.M.F (Hollywood Project).


*Special Blessing for Entertainment Professionals with Exposition of The Blessed Sacrament and Benediction will immediately follow the Mass.


* Reception in the Parish Hall following Mass & Benediction (located on 1st level, below Church)


In a gesture of love and support for entertainment professionals, and in an atmosphere of truth, beauty and goodness, The Hollywood Project is offering Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Also, a Special Blessing and Novena Devotion will be offered for those who wish to have their ‘special vocation’ as an entertainment professional and their current projects put under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


{This Hollywood Project Event is offered in collaboration with St. Victor Church and the 1st Friday “Holy Spirit in the Media” Group and in conjunction with Hollywood ministries [Open Call, St. Charles Borromeo’s Catholics in Entertainment, Family Theater Productions, , Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA), Catholic Underground, Bibles and Brew, Act One Inc, and Una Voca}


“An artist has a special relationship to beauty. In a very true sense it can be said that beauty is the vocation bestowed on him by the Creator in the gift of ‘artistic talent’”

-Letter of His Holiness Pope John Paul II to Artists (1999), n. 3.


The Hollywood Project –


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

See Barb in Simi Valley

SONscreen Film Festival

Scheduled Guests & Events

Sat. April 17, 2009
2:30-4:00 pm

Reel Community: Rediscovering the church's role in a place like Hollywood hosted by Melody George

...What if community--real, raw, genuine community--was still one of God's primary ways of reaching the world? Join our panel of filmmakers and church leader as we discuss Reel Community and what a community of artists & believers can create together...

Panel member: Barbara Nicolosi, Founder, Board Chair, Act One: Training for Hollywood

Ms. Nicolosi is the founding Executive Director of the Act One, Inc, a non-profit training and formation program for Hollywood writers and executives. Now in its tenth year, Act One keynotes artistry, professionalism, ethics and Christian spirituality.

Panel member: Ryan Bell, Senior Pastor, Hollywood SDA Church

Ryan has been a pastor for over 15 years. But for the past three and a half years, he and his new congregation have been active in the Hollywood community working for solutions to social problems including homelessness, affordable housing and human trafficking through advocacy and faith-based community organizing.

Panel member: Rajeev Sigamoney,, Comedy Writer/Director
JESUS PEOPLE movie & web-series

As one half of Ewald/Sigamoney, Rajeev Sigamoney landed on the map with "The Room," which was shot one weekend in 2004 on the CBS Radford lot...SONscreen is proud to have screened previous Ewald/Sigamoney films in past like 'Happy Wednesday,'

Panel member: David Magidoff, Artistic Director, Monkey Butler Comedy Company

David is the Artistic Director for the Los Angeles-based Monkey Butler Comedy Company, which currently hosts five free workshops in improv and stand-up comedy every week. David's vast and privileged career on the stage includes performing at The Oval Theatre (London), The Majestic House Theater (New Zealand)... The National Comedy Theatre (San Diego).. and more.

DEADLINE in 4 days: Next Week April 14

April 14 - Last Day to purchase tickets online
April 14 - Last Day to get hotel discount
April 16 - SONscreen Festival Begins!

FREE Admission...Become a Volunteer!

We're calling for volunteers in the following areas:

Production Asst.
Camera person (we'll supply the camera)
Blogging for the festival
Hospitality (ticket taking, etc.)
and Registration...

Contact Volunteer Coordinator Mark Thomas at

See ya next week at SONscreen 2009!

Contact Information:

Stacia D. Wright, Festival Producer/Co-Founder
SONscreen Film Festival

Monday, April 13, 2009

Off the Market

Sorry, I have been such a bad blogger friends. As Emily Dickinson wrote, "Real life has intervened." There is some news to report, however, particularly for all those friends and family members out there who stop by here.

I got engaged yesterday, Easter Sunday, at the Santa Maria Inn, in Santa Maria, CA to Norris Archer Harrington. My whole life has been the Blessed Mother and St. Paul, so it was perfect to say, "Yes!" in that place. Norris is a Texan, was a career Navy deep sea diver, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA,.....and is an Act One alumnus.

(So, I guess it turns out that the whole REAL reason I started Act One was just to find a husband? Ha! But really, God is so weirdly faithful....)

We are hoping to get married in Rome in June (the month of St. Paul) - during this wonderful Pauline year. And I just wrote and asked a priest named Paul to witness our vows.

Stay posted. Often God corrects my plans.

But please do send up a prayer for us. We are very happy. But I think poor Norris has no idea what he is getting himself into!

One of my friends said, "So, now you have a date for the apocalypse." Yeah, it's hard not to think of Jesus saying, "But in the end times it will be as in the days of Noah, when they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage right up until the rain started to fall." So this is my part in filling out Biblical prophecy for the last days?


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

See Barb in Vegas, uh, Baby

Christian Bound Ministries is hosting two Screenwriters sessions on April 25, 2009 in Las Vegas Nevada at the Watermark Executive Suites from 8:00am to 2:00pm. The cost is $25.00 per-person and includes a lite breakfast & snack. Limited seating in a private atmosphere. Call for more information & register today to hold your spot@ 702-485-5377.

Session One:
Barbara Nicolosi, Founder and Chairman of the Board, Act One: Training for Hollywood
Nicolosi has an MA in Film from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. She has been a director of project development, a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and a consultant on many film and television projects. She is an adjunct professor of cinema at Pepperdine UNiversity, and a partner at Origin Entertainment.

Barbara recently wrote the movie "Mary, Mother of the Christ" with Ben Fitzgerald (The Passion of the Christ). It is being produced by Aloe Entertainment for an MGM release in spring of 2010. The movie stars Al Pacino, Peter O'Toole, Jessica Lang, Jonathan Rhys-Myers and Camilla Belle.

Barbara’s topic 9-11
-Things to Think About Before Choosing Your Story
- What Aristotle Knew about Plot, Character and Saving the World With Stories
- What Flannery O"Conner Knew about Finding Mystery Amidst Manners
- What Does It Mean to Have a Story Be Universal, Irrevocable, High Stakes, Active and Visual?

Session Two:
Joseph &Charla Apana (Worship Writers)

Joseph & Charla traveled with “Isaiah” A Christian Praise and worship band evangelizing throughout the states. With over 17 years of experience in intimate worship. They Led worship for The International Church of Las Vegas Childrens Ministry for five years and trained children to lead worship. In Worship they found a call to write while in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

They’ve written numerous songs and devotionals and are coming out with their first book, “Forty days of Fasting”. Charla finished her first screenplay in 2006 “Beyond Blessings” and is now working on their second script “Hawaiian Cowboys”.

The Apana’s specialize in teaching intimate worship to writers and emphasize on bringing the Holy Spirit-Gods presence as the ink hit’s the paper. Being modern day scribes in this 21 century. They will worship and bring the presence of God and activate writers to hear God’s voice and write it out. The Apana’s will show examples of what it looks like to hear Gods voice in every area of life, especially in writing through a life style of intimate worship. Matthew 5:3-10 The beatitudes teaches us to have a humble heart to carry Gods presence everywhere you go.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last Two Weeks to Register!


What's the "Big Idea" in Movie Writing? Act One and world reknowned story expert, Bobette Buster, have the answer and you have only TWO weekends left to find out!

Participants of Weekend One are saying…

‘Through her love of cinema, Bobette draws you into the multi-layered craft of truly great films--it's a deeper journey than you'll get in film school or anywhere else. Bobette shows you how the master filmmakers create a richer story… inspires you to pick up new tools for your craft.’ – John F. Colorado Springs, CO

‘Bobette Buster makes you think about movies in a different way. The way she talks about story has inspired me to write every day. If you're experiencing writer's block, she can help you. If you need tips on how to punch up dialogue or improve character arcs while in rewrites, she can help you.’ – Kara H. Los Angeles

‘Bobette is right on target. This is the most insightful and valuable seminar I have been a part of. Her big picture thinking is exactly the kind of wake up call our generation of filmmakers and executives need.’- Josh R., Santa Monica, CA

‘This weekend writing class was amazing for me both as a Producer and a writer. Bobbette's style of lecturing is top notch... Bobbette has clearly defined the structure of cutting edge story telling. It truly has broken open my creative mind and given me a new sense of what makes a GREAT story.’ – Rochelle W. , Hollywood, CA

‘Bobette's lecture series is nothing less than fantastic! Her insights are profoundly interesting and valuable, I could have stayed another several hours. Can't wait to come back next weekend!’ – Martha L., San Diego, CA

Or check her out for yourself here.

Sign up TODAY for parts 2 and 3 of the Act One Lecture Series ‘What’s the Big Idea?: The Art of Cinematic Story-telling’ with Bobette Buster!

Only $250 per weekend:

Weekend 2: March 28/29 - Weekend 2 - Advanced Story Physics & Sound Design: Cinema is the orchestration of emotions. Learn how the master film storytellers create complex chords of feelings while creating clarity of insight.
To register - click here!

Weekend 3 : April 4/5 - The Future of Cinematic Storytelling: How Fractured Narrative Works. And Understanding Hollywood Economics and Target Audience: How to create smart scripts that connect with the right audience.
To register click here!

For more information or to register please contact Rosario Rodriguez at

Considered by many to be the next ‘Robert McKee’, Buster's course is taught at USC, Pixar and all over the world, and her students have gone on to write and produce international blockbusters.

"Bobette Buster's…insights and thoroughness in examining every aspect of a film; from structure to marketing, acting, cinematography, editing, and sound, have been immensely valuable to our ongoing commitment to learning and creativity," says Elyse Klaidman, Pixar Animation Studios.

“Bobette Buster is an absolute wizard at understanding story and passing that understanding along to others,” says Kathy Fogg, Associate Director, Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.

Visit our web site or contact Act One directly at | (323) 464-0815

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I come not to praise BSG, but to bury it."

Well, it's over. And I have lots to say as a requiem. Unfortunately, I am swamped for the next two days with legitimate writing work. And really, I think I am still a bit too grief stricken to write yet. I will soon, however, as I think there are some key lessons about bad storytelling, and the problems of sustaining excellence in television in general, that we can pick off the carcass of this once great series.

I'm opening a thread here for anybody to comment on the "Emperor's clothes" journey that has been Battlestar Galactica, Season Four, and particularly the last episode, Daybreak, Pt I and II.

Feel free to just write that you are heartbroken too. There is, as Emily Dickinson notes, a certain comfort in knowing you are not alone in your discomfiture.

More as soon as I can defend the time expenditure...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quote for the Day

From Marcus Tullius Cicero, on W vs. Obama?:

"I prefer tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity."

New Site Alert

I found some folks coming over here from a new site called Notes on the Culture Wars. It seems to be a clone of Drudge, only with a Catholic filter. I'm honored that this blog is under the list of selected columnists and I'm adding it to the side bar.

There have been times in the past in which I have vigorously opposed the phrase "culture wars," as it seemed to me that it set up "my people" (ie. my Christian/traditional Biblical values brethren) against my, um, "other people" (ie. my Hollywood artist media making elite brethren). I wasn't sure where I fit in to the world if both halves of my family were at war, and as long as there was still hope for detente between the two sides, I wasn't sure it was helpful to employ militaristic language in the relationship.

That, however, was before I woke up to the Connecticut State Assembly debating a "special" law last week, to rein in the authority of Catholic bishops in their dioceses. It was before the House passed a bill this week to make three years of mandatory service to the federal government, um, well, mandatory. It was before my parish church had human excrement rubbed all over the vestibule in vicious retaliation for our support of Prop 8. It was before the city of West Hollywood denied our parish the permit to have a preschool because of the assertion that "Catholic ideology" is dangerous to children. It was before Obama administration brown-shirts sneeringly dismissed the idea that Christian physicians should have a "conscience clause" exempting them from being forced to perform abortions. It was before the Treasury Department asserted that major gifts to charities(ie. churches and ministries) should not be tax exempt. It was before the member of a formerly oppressed group, President Obama, signed the execution orders for little humans to be grown in labs and mutilated for scientific research. It was before House disdainfully proclaimed a few weeks ago that "all doctors who care about their patients are doing it" about euthanasia. It was before the CA Supreme Court began brooding over whether there was any way it could AGAIN throw out the man and woman marriage passed by the voters, um, again.

In this moment it seems to me that as inflammatory as words like "culture wars" are, it is much more dangerous for any of us to assume the posture of critiquing the names by which others of us want to be called. When NY Sen. Chuck Schumer is comparing talk radio to pornography, it seems to me that First Amendment free speech is getting near to be toppled like so much other 18th Century idealism - freedom of conscience, religion, property and arms. And it all started by stripping the "right to life" guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence of its application to little humans. Weird how the 20th Century Popes have been so consistently right about that slippery slope, eh? How freakishly haphazard of them to all seize on the notion that the right to life is the pre-eminent foundation of all other rights? I mean, how lucky can a bunch of guys in white cassocks be?!

Anyway, so if you want to call yourself Culture Warriors or Freakin' Wild-Eyed Maniac Shock Troops for Jesus Christ, go for it. I expect a horde of us will die for your right to do so. So, do make it worth the sacrifice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Barb on Haunting Moments

Here is my talk about haunting moments in storytelling, from the Storytelling Conference that Act One hosted last October. Following my talk there is about thirty minutes of discussion with our panelists which included Dr. Peter Kreeft (Socrates and Jesus), Bill Marsilli (screenwriter Deja Vu), Karen Hall (writer Judging Amy), Christopher Riley (author, The Hollywood Standard) and Bobette Buster (studio story consultant), among others.

I listened to it yesterday and am humbly going to proclaim it a real blast to listen to. Very smart discussion...and, oh yeah, I wish it had gone on one more minute because I could have TOTALLY answered Kreeft's last question about the heart being more important than the mind. (The answer is that haunting moments appeal to both...)

Dr. Kreeft's talk and the discussion afterward is already online and can be heard here.

MEGA thanks to Clayton Emmer for making all this online stuff possible. You're my hero Clayton...wherever you are! We miss you...

We are gradually editing and transcribing all the talks from the two days for what will be an amazing and unique book. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Movie Warnings



Awful. Disgusting. Degrading. Vile. Barbarous.

The kind of entertainment the Roman mobs were watching just before the barbarians came over the walls.

Did I say depraved? I meant to.

If you let your kids go to this piece of absolute unmitigated garbage, you deserve whatever nightmare lives they end up inflicting on you.

I fear I haven't expressed myself strongly enough...

Ghost Town

We stopped watching.

After twenty five minutes when we realized we hadn't laughed once yet. And Tea Leoni still hadn't made an appearance in the movie. She might have saved us as viewers, but it wasn't to be.

This movie is a badly over-written rip-off of Ghost and The Sixth Sense.

Stupid. Lame. PASS.


We walked out.

Only after the mob of young fellows gave up and we were the only ones left in the theater and then we realized that if the Millenials had given up on the movie, it must truly, madly and deeply be a waste of time.

This weird mess of a movie comes from Icon Productions. What are they smoking over there these days?

Anyway, I went to see it just to get a glimpse of Camilla Belle on screen, as she is the one playing the titular role in Mary, Mother of Christ. She definitely looks good on screen.

But that was the only thing good about this stupid waste of millions of dollars and over an hour of my life.


Benjamin Button

We stopped watching.

After about an hour when we figured out that this whole movie is about its main idea and not about storytelling. And once you had seen enough of the big idea, than there was no need to watch more. I'm just not a big enough fan of the latest technology in 3-D makeup effects to hang in there for three hours.

I know I am really late to the party on this one, but I only just managed to get to the screener. This is one of those movies that got nominated because it happened to be a big stylish and pretentious study movie in a year when the best films were all small. And the best films were also not really that good. Hence, a big fuss over Benjamin Button.

See it or don't. I was bored and didn't make it through.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Obama Killing More Little Humans....But it's Just One Issue, Right?


Bishop Finn on President Obama's Executive Order

Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn issued the following statement today responding to President Barack Obama's Executive Order on Embryonic Stem Cell Research:

Statement on the President’s Order for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Most Reverend Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

President Barack Obama has kept another campaign promise today as he signed the executive order which will allow federal funds to be spent on destructive human embryonic stem cell research.

I join my voice to that of other Catholic leaders, and other men and women of good will, in denouncing this newest step by the President to eventually remove all legal protections for innocent, nascent human life.

The President boldly proclaimed that he was taking the politics out of science. Rather, it seems clear that he is only asserting “his politics” over life itself.

In the Fall of 2006, we proved in Missouri that if we teach the truth about human cloning and scientific experimentation with human embryos, more and more people will reject the pretense and false hope of this still unsuccessful research.

While breakthroughs continue to be documented in adult stem cell research, taxpayer money will now be siphoned into the coffers of medical researchers to fund projects so dubious that they would never waste their own money on them. These experiments on human embryos, while they have always remained legal, have never produced any medical benefits. The thing that differentiates human embryonic stem cell research from adult stem cell research is that, with embryonic experiments, there are no results. There are no cures. The great “hope” that was promised is an illusion.

Americans should urge the Congress to appropriate no money for such research. Missourians should urge their Missouri Legislature to quickly pass The Taxpayer Protection Amendment (SJR 17), to prevent Missouri tax-dollars from paying for these destructive experiments.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kudos for Act One Alumni!

A feature written and produced by Act One alumni Rajeev Sigamoney (WP '02) and Dan Ewald (WP '99) just got a  great review in Christianity Today.  

The project is based on their hit web series (which had more than 500,000 views).  It is a mockumentary about Christians and the arts and features a top-flight comedic cast including Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911), Jennifer Elise Cox (The Brady Bunch Movie), Joel McCrary (Princess Diaries), Octavia Spencer (Bad Santa), Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers), Tim Bagley (Knocked Up) and many others.  

Act One alumn Ryan Elliot (WP '06 and EP '03) served as production manager on the project.

Jesus People will be screened next at Plush Design Lab, 207 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA  92832 on March 6, 2009.

Go to for updates about the project.

Kudos Dan, Rajeev and Ryan!

Act One Application Season is Upon Us!

APPLY NOW for the Act One Summer Writing Program or Executive Program and SAVE $700!!

Fulfill your dream of becoming a FILM and TELEVISION WRITER or an ENTERTAINMENT EXECUTIVE in Hollywood.  Go here for more information about the programs.

Hurry! Time is running out!

Apply by March 1 and save $700 on your tuition towards either program.

Act One exists to create a community of Christian professionals for the entertainment industry who are committed to excellence, artistry, and personal holiness, so that through their lives and work they may be witnesses of Christ and the Truth to their fellow artists and to the global culture.

• SHERYL J. ANDERSON, writer, Flash Gordon, Charmed.
• RON AUSTIN, writer/producer, Mission Impossible, Hawaii Five-O, and Matlock.
• DEAN BATALI, writer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and That 70s Show.
• SCOTT DERRICKSON, director, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
• JOCELYN DIAZ, director of drama development for Lost, Grey's Anatomy, and Invasion.
• BARBARA HALL, producer, Joan of Arcadia, Judging Amy, Chicago Hope, and Northern Exposure.
• HOWARD KAZANJIAN, producer, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the Jedi.
• BILL MARSILII, co-writer, Déjà vu, with Denzel Washington; writer, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Captain Nemo.
• DAVID MCFADZEAN, creator, Home Improvement with Tim Allen, and What Women Want with Mel Gibson.
• BARBARA NICOLOSI, writer, Mary, Mother of the Christ, VP Origin Entertainment, Founder, Act One
• CHARLES B. SLOCUM, Assistant Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America.
• MICHAEL WARREN, executive story consultant, Happy Days, co-creator, Step by Step, Family Matters.
• RALPH WINTER, producer of the XMen feature film series.

• TODD BURNS, Founder and CEO, MPower Pictures.
• STEVE CHANG, staff, Mis/Guided (CBS).
• SEAN and TERRY DILLON, staff, Two and a Half Men (CBS).
• MELISSA GLENN and JESSICA RIEDER, staff writers, Leverage (TNT).
• CASSANDRA JOHNSON, Comedy Development, ABC.
• ROBERT KIRBYSON, writer/director, Snowmen, and Sundance Award-winning film, CTRL Z.
• MONICA MACER, writer, Lost (ABC), and Prison Break (Fox)
• CHERYL MCKAY, writer, The Ultimate Gift, starring James Garner, and Abigail Breslin.
• MEGAN NASH, assistant to executive producer, Medium (NBC).
• CLARE SERA, writer, Curious George, (Universal Studios)
• RAJEEV SIGAMONEY and DAN EWALD, writers/producers, Jesus People, with Kate Flannery (The Office), Joel McCrary (American Beauty).
• SCOTT TEEMS and TERRENCE BERRY, writer and producer, That Evening Sun, starring academy award nominated actor, Hal Holbrook.

2690 Beachwood Drive
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 464-0815 (Office)
(323) 468-0315 (Fax)

Lenten Prayer at Act One

Here's a message from Dr. Gary Stratton, the Executive Director of Act One, Inc.


Greetings on this Ash Wednesday,

Lent has been a traditional season of reflection in anticipation of the hope of Resurrection on Easter Sunday. I can`t help but notice that the hope of Resurrection is especially appropriate in our nation`s current economic crisis. We certainly need reflection and repentance on the greed and addiction to debt that brought us to this point as a nation. However, we also need hope that this season won`t last forever.

So from now until Easter, Act One will be hosting a one-our prayer service every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10 AM at the Act One offices. It will be a time of spiritual direction, fellowship and prayer.

I don`t think you have to be a genius to see that along with the rest of the nation, the entertainment industry is really hurting as a community right now. Jobs at Starbucks, let alone in the industry are in short supply. I`ve faced unemployment before and I know that just having someplace encouraging to be in the morning can be an incredible boon to start the day. I also know how hard it can be to get a writing project going when you are staring at a blank screen in your pajamas.

A mid-morning prayer time is designed to help you start your day in Christ whether you are writing, job seeking or just in between appointments. There will be coffee, tea and pastries and we are going to start TOMORROW!

Stop by for encouragement, prayer, and worship.

Grace and great mercy,


Gary David Stratton, Ph.D
Executive Director
Act One
2690 Beachwood Drive
Hollywood, CA 90068
(323) 464-0815 (Office)
(323) 468-0315 (Fax)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Getting Ashes in Hollywood

Here's something the folks at Magis' Hollywood Project made up for today.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Night Thread

I'm teaching today and then am going to have to disappear most of the week to work on writing commitments, but wanted to register a few thoughts about last night's liturgy for Hollywood's High Holy Day, the Oscar telecast.

Overall, I thought it was a great show. The only real way I can think it might have been better was to have perhaps a bit more comedy from Jackman (he's more of a showman than a comic), and then, of course, a slate of films worth celebrating. It was ironic to me that there was more overall excellence and mass appeal in the Oscar telecast than there was in most of the nominated films. This point underpinned Jackman's funniest quip of the night, in which he noted something to the effect that the nominated films had everything but fans.

In an annual viewing exercise that usually defines itself for me by cringe-producing embarrassment at my industry, I found last night's party was classy, fun and almost completely free of political lecturing by the assembled learned league of alumni from "Maimee Mulally's Discount Acting School - 6 week course and a headshot for $187.50." (Let's face it, the first five rows of folks at the Kodak last night have to be the best dressed, richest, most surgically altered group of non-higher educated brains on the planet.) The one damnable exception was the dour and haughty Sean Penn, who had to tell us how annoying he is, before he proceeded to irrefutably demonstrate it. Sean really, really, really hates people who (his brain has decided) hate.... so I guess all hate isn't completely bad? It was shameful hubris for him to think the general audience of the Oscars cares that he is glad Obama won, or to lecture us all on how our grandchildren are going to be embarrassed by the fact that for one brief shining moment, California voters have elected to go with thousands of years of Western Civilization's thinking on the nuclear family (you know, as opposed to Sean's.) But hubris is the rule of the day so it is certainly moot to make to big a deal of the audacity of dopes.

I loved the major acting award format of having the five past winners come out and say nice things about the five nominees. Really lovely and poignant for the most part and great television. (I am still amazed that Brad Pitt managed to not run screaming from the room in horror while Sir Anthony Hopkins described the chiseled Pitt as a"brilliant" actor. Sir Anthony is gracious.)

I was thrilled to see Jerry Lewis be honored, and to see how classy he was in accepting the honor, regardless of the fact that the comedy he is famous for is so loutish and goofy. (Earth to Robin Williams and Jim Carrey...)

I thought the acceptance speeches are still too long on names that mean nothing to the rest of us, and that it is long overdue for Oscar to figure out a way to adjust that part of the show. They should have a scroll of "People to Thank" alongside the winners so they don't have to sit there trying to remember the name of the grip and craft services guy from two years ago, at arguably the most emotional moment of their lives.

About the awards..... Kate Winslet would not have won if she hadn't spent half of the The Reader nude and deflowering a fifteen year old. This is the kind of performance actors think is brave.... Sean would not have won if Prop-8 had lost. Then, everybody could have happily voted for Mickey Rourke whom even Penn had to acknowledge in his speech was the real acting tour de force of the year.... Meryl Streep is the unabashed Queen of Hollywood, and everyone dutifully paid her obeissance from the stage. She is the greatest. There is no other.... Danny Boyle looks to be a lovely boy and he had the most fun last night. I loved him apologizing to the choreographer of the closing number for leaving him off the credits. Very sweet man. Much sweeter than his movies.... It's a bad year for music when two of the nominated songs are in Mumbaian dialect and accompanied by bongo drums...Hugh is cool, and a classy gentleman.

Again, the only real deficit in the show was that non of the films seemed to me to be that, you know, great. I mean great in a way that will transcend this moment and see them enter into the lasting canon of great films. (Wall-E is the exception. It will last as part of the Pixar canon.) But nobody, N-O-B-O-D-Y will be watching Slumdog in ten years. Or Doubt. Or The Reader. And certainly not Milk.