Thursday, September 18, 2008

TV & Me

I must apologize for being MIA as of late. I got a bitchin case of tendinitis from typing all curled up in bed in what yoga enthusiasts might dub the 'constipated fetus' pose. I know that fetuses can't be constipated and now I also know that pirating crappy mac dictation software and trying to use it in public leads to your yelling obscenities repeatedly at someone who isn't there, thus blurring any differentiation between you and a crazy homeless person- 

"It was a rather aggressive... "Not 'a grass lives.' Delete. AGGRESSIVE. Not 'agar is' goddamn it. Aggressive. Delete. Delete! No don't type delete, just delete. DELETE!"

And then it deletes your entire document. And then you shout "control Z! control Z! whilst tensing your fists up like... a constipated fetus. And then a policeman asks you if there is a problem. Needless to say that little experiment didn't last very long and I decided to let my tendons rest for a bit.

I spent the week at the New York Television Festival at which a reality pilot about me was premiering. I suppose what I should have guessed about reality television is that, instead of being a compilation of your most fantastically intelligent viewpoints and clever quips and humorous moments, it's more like letting someone take hundreds of naked pictures of you and then publish a hideous compilation of all the most hairy scaly blotchy dimply pimply patches for all the world to see. Over and over again when and wherever they would like. In fact I think most people would come off better in their secret sex tape than in their own reality tv show because you can't really be a whiny jerk or a jerky ditz or a ditzy fucktard when all you're doing is having an orgasm. 

That being said, my pilot Flying Solo was a pleasant surprise, and although they cut all my thoughts on positive female role models, and reforming education, and music as a means of cultural communication, and the creative unconscious, and the writing process, and the mark of our generation, at least I didn't look like a megabitch.... It premieres on in the next few days and I'd love to hear your thoughts. It's a hybrid reality show by P&G combining my footage with the crew's footage to detail my summer.

The festival was smashing and I met tons of creative filmmakers as well as comedy development folks and even the heads of Swedish television. Turns out Swedish television is totally cutting edge- they won an interactive Emmy for a recent project called The Truth about Marika which combined a TV drama with an online conspiracy in which fans were encouraged to uncover the truth about the 20,000 people who have gone missing in Sweden in the past few decades, and the part that blew me away was that in addition to the online hacking there were clues and meetings and surprises planted all over Sweden, blending game with reality, and completely immersing the viewer as a true participant in the mystery. They even had a game where viewers could drive to an actual set in the form of a war trench, suit up in battlegear, and wage computer warfare from within the game. And we think we're pushing the limit with text message American Idol voting...

I always loved those old maps in  history class from before all the continents had been mapped- the ones with big dragons and seamonsters dotting uncharted waters, daring explorers to journey into the unknown, and I was pretty bummed to discover at the age of 7 that the only things truly left to explore are the thick jungle, the deep sea, and outerspace seeing as I am an allergic claustrophobe with a fear of flying. 

But the NYTVF really inspired me to view the internet as a new frontier not only for entertainment and social networking, but for education, creative inspiration, and as a tool for empowering the oppressed. Never before have we had access to so much information from so many different cultures, and I can only hope that this, in the face of religious oppression and intellectual/social intolerance and economic fucking Armageddon, will pave the way for cooperation and innovation as it's done in previous incarnations of cultural renaissance. 

I was heartened to find a community of artists at the festival who were really just plain nice. They were hardworking passionate people who were excited to share their ideas and it made me hopeful about the future despite increasingly dire newspaper headlines. 

I also learned that everyone is desperate for good content, and that even for comedy geniuses only about 10% of ideas are great, and the collaboration leads to greatness, so in the spirit of the festival I'm posing the very first...
Collaborative Writinghannah Challenge!!!

Combine at least three of the following elements into a kick-ass TV series pitch:

Speculum   Kleptomania Beer  Byron  Bear-Baiting  Toddlers  Adultery
Jellybeans   Dr. Seuss Podiatry  Treasure-Hunting  Celebrities  Foot-Fetish
Drugs Collectors Vampires/Ninjas (must use both)  Dating  Amish
Sing-Along   Canada Time-Travel   The-80s  Tits  Fashion  DaDaism
Thoreau  Terrorism Feminism  Dragons  Psoriasis  Lesbians  Marsupials
Defenestration   Mendel Flesh-eating-bacteria Glitter  Lincoln  Dwight
Makeovers Prison Monarchy  Amnesia  Intervention  Japan  Gynocology
Octopi  Johnny-Cash Baking  The-1800s The-Mob  Nietzsche  World-Domination
Sun Tsu Jesus Fungus  Nuts   Ballroom-dancing  Fetuses  Aquaphobia 
Monkey Nymphomania  French Maids Basketball  Puppets  Hipsters

Prizes will be awarded by category and for originality.



  1. YES! okay... The Mafia genetically engineers a Dragon for the purpose of total world domination but it is a vegetarian and escapes and tries to start a baking empire.

  2. The tragic thing about this, is that this is the third time I'm writing this up.


    Time-travel machine deposits crew into alternate timeline of the 1800s where Britain remains an empire ruled by magic and religion. Frederic Nietzsche is one of the figureheads of a terrorist/freedom fighter organization that is against the monarchy. It's unclear whether they're a morally superior force, but they base their principles in science and philosophy.

    The crew decides to get the King's ear. They attend a ball in an attempt to explain their odd situation, and garner his support in returning them to their proper time. (Their invite is accomplished by a female member of the team seducing a young heiress who's in the court. Once accomplished, she explains their situation and gets her to take them to the ball.)

    However, for aligning themselves with science, they are perceived as traitors to the Empire, and thrown into fetters. But before they can be taken to prison, a rebel raid crashes the party, in an effort to assassinate high-ranked courtiers, and causes a huge firefight between the two factions. In the chaos, most of the crew is taken by the Nietzschean forces. The protagonist is left to languish in his cell, where he wakes to find his hand burning. Is it magic, or is he going mad? THE EPISODE ENDS.


    Additionally, I'm sorry to hear about the tendonitis! Sounds sucky. But, glad to hear about teh TV show. It sounds cool. Hope all else is well!


  3. Lesbian Japanese Hipsters witness a horrific crime which will be eluded to in grainy flashback, and must hide out with the Amish where they are sure they will die of boredom.

    But instead they befriend the Amish women, give them glamourous makeovers, and teach them the importance of Feminist equality, all the while learning the destructive consumerist Hipsterism they are victim to from the humble (possibly lesbian by season 2) Amish womenfolk. Tadaaa!

  4. Real World-type reality show. Meet the seven contestants:

    Contestant #1 is a beer-guzzling podiatrist with a foot-fetish and an insatiable jelly bean habit. He is dating a kleptomaniac who he’s quite certain is either a vampire or a ninja, though he’s not sure which. Contestant #1 has a skin rash that he thinks is either fungus or psoriasis, but what he doesn’t know is that it is actually a nasty flesh-eating bacteria. Fortunately his beer-and-jelly-bean diet has left him morbidly obese. His fellow contestants initially compliment him on his rapid weight loss.

    Contestant #2 is a lesbian gynecologist who uses not a spade but rather a speculum to go treasure-hunting. She is a militant feminist, pregnant by artificial insemination. Any conversational topic is liable to prompt a tirade against the oppression of the penis-wielders. Her young children, who make frequent cameos at the insistence of lawsuit-fearing network lawyers, have already developed a capacity for similarly barbed rhetoric, which causes frequent disruptions at their preschool. Contestant #2 grew up Amish but has been shunned since she was a teenager. This is a bit of a sore spot for her.

    Contestant #3 is an adulterous nymphomaniac with a special fondness for French maids who fancies himself a latter-day Don Juan. Until recently he was married to a Mendelian geneticist who was trying to splice the genomes of a kangaroo, an octopus, and a monkey to produce a tree-climber with eight legs and a pouch. Contestant #3, an amnesiac, cannot remember why she wanted to do this in the first place. Unfortunately for him, the excuse that he forgot he was married did not help him in divorce court. He signs up for the show just after losing the house.

    Contestant #4 is an aquaphobic born-again Christian baker who runs a front business making dough for the mob. She used to play in the WNBA, but her fear of sweat ultimately drove her nuts, requiring an intervention, years of therapy, and a radical surgical gland resection. Now she uses her extreme height to run triple-decker ovens and lead people to Jesus. She has been trying to proselytize to the mob bosses for some time and often slips communion wafers into their orders. However, her close connection to organized crime has made her neurotic, and when her housemates praise her ability to keep her cool, she feels ridiculed. Soon she will be back in therapy.

    Contestant #5 is an 1880s monarch bent on world domination who fancies himself to be the √úbermensch. He mysteriously arrives on set via some sort of time-travel device. After he cannot figure out how to return to his own era, he spends the duration of the show studying the art of war and trying to set up a puppet government in Canada. His plans are briefly derailed after he discovers reruns of a short-lived cartoon called Pinky and the Brain. Contestant #5 sees the Brain as a tragic hero and vows to learn from his mistakes.

    Contestant #6 is a prominent Japanese fashion designer who also hosts a popular celebrity makeover television show. She has hit a dry spell of late, and in need of new ideas she turns to chemical sources of inspiration. After puffing the magic dragon, however, she mostly talks of a Dwight Schrute vs. Dwight Eisenhower ballroom dance-off, the winner of which would be appointed as ruler of The Oval Office for the next four years. The loser would, of course, be defenestrated.

    Contestant #7 is a hipster collector of Dada art who drives a gaudy Lincoln Town Car and loves to sing along with bad Mariah Carey movies. Much of the crew takes to wearing earplugs on the set right around the time he learns that American Idol auditions will be coming to town. Contestant #7 thinks that all of our national security problems could be solved by bear-baiting with suspected terrorists on national TV. He argues that this practice, liberally applied, could be used to discourage all forms of civil disobedience. In order to promote the cause, he selects as his audition piece, “Folsom Prison Blues,” by Johnny Cash.

    With a cast like this, who needs a plot? The show would be, to put it mildly, character-driven. Moreover, the pitch includes every one of the suggested elements, either directly or indirectly. Can you find them all?