Articles:

For me, the best thing about journalism is that I get an ongoing education; I learn something with each new assignment. I've been lucky to get the chance to cover a wide range of subjects, from terrorism and the aftermath of the September 11 attacks to movie stars and extraordinary new world of visual effects in film and television.

Most of the clips below are from Variety, where I've been on staff for some time. I've selected some highlights below. If you want to peruse a more complete list, click here a list of the Variety articles that have appeared under my byline, in reverse chronological order.

COLUMNS AND ANALYSIS

Analysis: Visual Effects Awards Category Faces Identity Crisis
Effects are now so ubiquitous, it can be argued, that they deserve more than a single trophy
Variety Extra Edition, Dec. 11, 2014
It's time to blow up the visual effects category. The very idea of a visual-effects category has become not just meaningless, but downright misleading. Visual effects now comprise so many things that the category might just as well be called “stuff we see on the screen.”


Column: When It Comes to TVs, Forget 4K … It's the Brightness, Stupid
High dynamic range TV could give smaller TV makers a leg up
Variety, Jan. 11, 2014
High dynamic range TV is a leap forward in picture quality that anyone can spot from across the room, offering startlingly brighter brights, darker darks and more, richer colors.

Analysis: Does ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Glorify Criminals? No.
Why Scorsese's pic is this generation's 'Scarface' (the 1932 version, that is)
Variety.com, Dec. 31, 2013
I think “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the original 1932 “Scarface” try to do exactly the same thing, in similar ways. The two films even engendered some of the same controversies, yet – ironically – “Scarface” may have been rescued from those controversies, at least a little, by the film censorship of the time.

Analysis: Why Neill Blomkamp Is The Wrong Fit For Franchises
Helmer's blend of issues and action doesn't fit the likes of “Star Trek”
Variety.com, Aug. 5. 2013
With the sleeper hit “District 9″ behind him and “Elysium” coming up, Neill Blomkamp seems to have acquired the perfect cachet to take on a franchise tentpole. His stories have a strong social conscience combined with exciting action and visual flair. He hits the sweet spot where serious meets fun. That inspired speculation he’d take on a studio franchise, especially “Star Trek.” But he’d actually be an awkward fit with Gene Roddenberry’s earnest sci-fi legacy, and he seems to know it. His approach to science fiction is too personal.

Column: Guilds? Nah. Here’s Who the VFX Biz Needs
Agents are capable of the ultimate special effect: making it rain money for undervalued companies
Variety, April 2, 2013
Vfx pros could benefit from things collective bargaining might provide — health benefits, overtime, better working conditions. But a guild or union can’t address the problems bedevilling the companies those artists work for, or the industry as a whole. There’s one thing that can make these artist-driven companies into the stars they should be: Agents. That’s right: Moneygrubbing, mendacious, self-interested agents — bless their tiny hearts — are just the thing to rescue the vfx industry.

Column: Fadeout of Film Stock Reflects Biz Changes
Hollywood still struggles with transition to digital
Daily Variety, Dec. 22, 2011
A few weeks ago I moderated the Q&A that followed a Variety screening. The director said he prefers to shoot on film, and the audience applauded. Loudly. I was flabbergasted. "Yay, film!" Really? Why would a Hollywood movie audience applaud film stock? I think Hollywood's filmmaking community is grieving a world that appears to be rapidly slipping away.

Column: VFX Biz a Barometer of Bigger Debate
As pols ponder outsourcing vs. offshoring, biz is already living the consequences
Daily Variety, Aug. 30, 2012
As President Obama and former Governor Romney traded barbs over “outsourcing” vs. “offshoring,” I thought, “Hey! I know something about that.” And then I thought of the words of Nelson Mandela: “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” If your chair is behind an executive’s desk at one of the majors or in the management office at a vfx company, it’s a win. But you’re behind a monitor at a vfx workstation, and that workstation is moving to Hyderabad, it doesn’t matter whether the job is “outsourced” or “offshored,” it’s just as gone.

Column: Film and TV Have Done a Mind Meld
Tentpole movies are just old-fashioned series airing in slow motion
Daily Variety, March 31, 2011
The “Mad Men” season five contract flap somehow put me in mind of the original “Star Trek,” and how, after surviving one cancellation, it wheezed to its swan song after three seasons. In that ghastly last episode a woman switches bodies with Captain Kirk. It goes without saying she failed as captain. At the end, the body-switching was undone and the men of the Enterprise strode shoulder to shoulder into cancellation. I think TV and movies have done a kind of body-switch of their own since “Star Trek” left NBC. Today’s movies resemble the TV of my childhood, while TV series like “Mad Men” look more like movies used to.
Column: 'Transformers': A Splendidly Patriotic Film, If You Happen To Be Chinese
Bay, Spielberg and Paramount kowtow for cash

Variety.com, July 3, 2014
My first reaction to “Age of Extinction” was that it was an astonishingly unpatriotic film. But I was wrong.  “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” is a very patriotic film. It’s just Chinese patriotism on the screen, not American. ....
In America, you can lampoon the government and portray the all manner of death and mayhem, as long as you flatter the audience. In China, you can lampoon the audience and portray all manner of death and mayhem, as long as you flatter the government. And that is why you shouldn’t.

Column: High-Tech Entertainment Promotes Guns
Immersive pics influence audience behavior, sometimes inadvertently

Daily Variety, Dec. 20, 2012
Let’s remember there’s an active campaign against smoking in movies, because when smoking is glamorized onscreen, that is thought to encourage smoking by auds, especially among impressionable young people. Guns are glamorized onscreen far more.

Analysis: Foreign Incentives Help Crush Once-Booming F/X Biz in U.S.
While L.A.'s visual effects business may not be entirely lifeless, it's certainly bleeding out
Variety, Aug. 26 2013
It’s easy to blame the invisible hand of the market and the creative destruction that is capitalism. But markets are influenced by government policies both abroad and at home.

Column: Want Better Oscar Ratings? Play Up Visual Effects
Daily Variety, Feb. 5, 2013
To: The Academy You’ve nommed some very fine movies for both picture and visual effects over the years, pics that are nothing to be ashamed of. They show that vfx aren’t just for kid stuff anymore. They can support the kind of storytelling you admire and empower the best storytellers to tell tales in new and exciting ways. OK, sometimes the results don’t look like what you’re used to honoring at the Oscars. But that’s the hidebound thinking that’s sucking the life — and the ratings — from your show..

Column: Oscars an ugly tipping point
Acad's insults to visual effects

Daily Variety, Feb. 28, 2013
To: Hollywood and the Motion Picture Academy - I see that you didn’t take my advice about playing up vfx on the Oscars. Ratings are up anyway. Congrats! But before you pat yourself on the back too much, let me point out that without really trying, you’ve radicalized a swath of the visual effects industry that until now was splintered and chaotic.



Column: AT&T and Verizon Refocus TV Strategies as Landscape Shifts Underneath Them
AT&T U-Verse, Verizon FiOS entered fray when pay TV was a cash cow, but now consumer demand is shifting to mobile and Web delivery

Variety, Oct. 29, 2013
Tech CEOs like to imagine they’re playing chess, and if they study the game board hard enough, and they think far enough ahead, they can position their company to be ready for emerging trends. But I think they’re really playing a game that’s more akin to shooting pool by candlelight during an earthquake. Nobody can really see very well, and the darn table keeps rearranging itself without warning.

Analysis: ‘After Earth,’ Picking Up the Pieces
How did Will Smith’s bid for a franchise go so wrong?
Variety, June 11, 2013
It appears “After Earth” is on track to join “Battleship,” “John Carter” and “Cowboys & Aliens” in Hollywood’s Contemporary Hall of Shame. Although less expensive than those costly misfires, Sony’s $135 million sci-fier starring Will Smith and his son Jaden had a dramatically underwhelming debut and garnered some of the most poisonous reviews in recent memory from top critics. “Is ‘After Earth’ the worst movie ever made?” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern. Other notices were just as unkind.

Column: 4K TV Will Leave the Film Biz Reeling
Cinema tech better innovate fast to keep up with picture quality in the living room
Variety, April 16, 2013
Abraham Lincoln told the story of the sage who was asked for a piece of wisdom that applied in all situations. “This too shall pass,” said the sage. So too for technology and entertainment. Nothing lasts forever, and something new is always aborning. So in 2013, dear friends, we mourn the passing of 35mm film, the strip of dreams, while we marvel at the birth of Ultra High-Definition 4K television, which its creators dream will bring the film experience to the home.

NEWS: Investigations

Sony's Bad Rep Stymied Efforts to Lure “Lego Movie” Team
Bad reputation of Imageworks, Sony Animation hinders drive to create 'brain trust'
Variety.com, Dec. 12, 2014
Stolen emails from Sony Pictures reveal the studio tried and failed last summer to recruit Phil Lord and Chris Miller to take over its animation division. The duo rebuffed Sony, citing the bad reputation of Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks, along with those divisions' talent recruitment and retention problems and Imageworks' move to Vancouver, writing "It's too hard to do great work there," Lord wrote.


Accusations Fly in Kerner Bankruptcy
Owners blame one another for once-proud f/x company’s demise
Daily Variety, Sept. 11, 2011
While it's not clear if anyone got bilked (and if so, who did the bilking), some things are clear: a man who had been convicted of running a pyramid scheme became owner of a one-third stake in Kerner without putting up any money and with only the flimsiest relationships with his partners, from whom he hid his identity; that those partners entrusted him with courting investors even after they learned of his history; that the structure of Kerner came to resemble the structure of the pyramid scheme he once ran; and that investors lost millions in Kerner.
Mysterious Billionaires and Back-Door Deals: Inside the Sale of Digital Domain
VFX firm is now "well-funded," but its future in L.A. is clouded
Variety.com, July 29, 2013
The acquisition of Digital Domain 3.0 Saturday by a Hong Kong-based scrap-trading company is in reality just the public face of a complex, long-gestating deal financed by a mysterious Chinese investor whose name is rarely uttered by his associates and advanced by an investment bank that wants to turn DD into Hollywood’s gateway to China.

FEATURES: Profiles & Personalities

Alfonso Cuaron Returns to the Bigscreen After Seven Years With ‘Gravity’
Sandra Bullock, George Clooney starrer receiving early Oscar buzz
Variety, Sept. 3, 2013 (Cover Story)
When Alfonso Cuaron was first planning his marooned-in-space drama “Gravity,” the filmmaker imagined an action-drama set in orbit, most of it with just a single character who would be weightless for the entire picture. It would be filmed using his signature long, continuous shots. But there was one big problem: As fellow director David Fincher warned Cuaron and his cinematographer, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, the technology to make that movie simply didn’t exist yet. He advised them to wait five years. “We were stubborn, (and) said we’re going to make it work,” Cuaron tells
Variety. “But you know what? David was right. It took us 4½ years.” (This story won a 2014 Maggie Award for Best Feature Article (Circ. under 75,000)/Consumer from the Western Publishing Assn.)

Penn & Teller Find Magic in Clashing Styles
Disagreements forged odd couple into enduring team

Variety, April 2, 2013
“I came to magic absolutely hating magic on a very, very deep level,” says Penn Jillette. “Modern American magic, late 20th century magic, is tremendously disrespectful of the audience,” he says. So Penn & Teller decided to reveal how some of the popular illusions are done: “Not so much to give away the secrets, not for prurient reasons, not for the shock value, but as a peace offering.” That didn’t always endear them into their fellow magicians at the time, but almost four decades into their career as a team, their combination of ingenuity and skepticism has made them some of the most popular magicians of their generation.

The Bruckheimer Paradox
Variety's Showman of the Year lets his blockbusters and hit TV series do the talking
Variety V Plus Features; July 9, 2006
I'd interviewed Jerry Bruckheimer several times but still found out something new for this profile, which led Variety's 2006 "Showman of the Year" section.

Michael Bay, Seriously
Critics spot an auterist signature amid the mayhem
Daily Variety, June 28, 2011
Action auds adore him. Fussy cineastes revile him. Hardly anyone in either camp puts much thought into assessing his work. But even some critics — who regard him warily and risk ridicule from their peers if they praise him — are coming to admit that, love him or hate him, Michael Bay needs to be taken seriously.
Inside ‘Pacific Rim’ With Guillermo del Toro
How the pre-apocalyptic epic rescued the helmer in his darkest hour
(Excerpt from
“Pacific Rim: Man, Machines and Monsters”)
Variety, May 28, 2013 (Cover Story)
“Pacific Rim” put Guillermo del Toro back in the director’s chair after five years. He was loose, free and in total control throughout a grueling but successful shoot. So why did showing footage from the movie for the first time leave him terrified? (To view this story with photos, as it appeared in Variety, click here.)

Pacino Tackles Each New Role Like a Novice
AFI honoree arrives with desire intact
Variety V Plus Features; July 6, 2007
I'd written about Al Pacino several times over the years, interviewed many of his friends, watched his films, but never met him until it was time to write about his AFI honor. (Older stories on Pacino
here, here and here.)

Gale Anne Hurd Dives into the Deep End
Producer faces fears while maintaining composure
Variety V Plus Features; June 13, 2008
I have long found Gale Anne Hurd to be one of the more compelling personalities in show business and I was lucky to get to write the lead profile for Variety’s “Billion Dollar Producer” package on her.


Don Rickles Recalls His Career
Feb. 27, 2007
I spoke to the legendary "Mr. Warmth" about his persona, what he thinks of today's young comics (Hint: Not so much.) and his famous epithet "You hockey puck!"

Denzel, Inc.
'Gangster' Star to Receive BAFTA's Kubrick Award
Variety V Plus Features, Dec. 6, 2007
Denzel Washington has assembled a tight-knit team that guides him through his career.


SPOT NEWS:

George Lucas & Steven Spielberg: Studios Will Implode; VOD Is the Future
Moguls predict tentpole "meltdown," pricey pics and empathetic games.
Variety.com, June 12, 2013
Looking into their crystal ball, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted the imminent arrival of a radically different entertainment landscape, including pricey movie tickets, a vast migration of content to video-on-demand and even programmable dreams.

Chris Meledandri: Event Films Are Cannibalizing Each Other
Too many tentpoles, not enough training for storytellers, minion maestro tells VFX Summit
Variety.com, Oct. 26, 2013
Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri said Saturday that the feature film business has entered an unprecedented period of volatility and that it is losing — or has already lost — the next generation of potential moviegoers.

UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer: Studio Film Quality Has ‘Suffered’
Agency topper predicts return of story-driven features
Variety.com, Sept. 26, 2013
Spectacle-driven film franchises will decline and there will be renewed interest and investment in story-driven features, United Talent Agency CEO and co-founder Jeremy Zimmer predicted

Henry Selick Slams ‘Despicable Me 2,’ Animation Biz
'Coraline' helmer reaches out to Web giants with new projects
Variety.com, July 22, 2013
“It’s too homogenous. It’s way too much the same,” said Henry Selick, who directed stop-motion pics “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Coraline.” “The films aren’t really that different one from the other. ‘Despicable Me’ could have been made Pixar, by DreamWorks. It’s not a great time for feature animation if you want to do something even moderately outside the formula.”


Lucas tilts at studio tentpoles
'Star' man sees shrinking pic biz
Daily Variety; Oct. 4, 2006
George Lucas was in a good mood at the groundbreaking of the renamed School of Cinematic Arts at USC. His opinions on the state of the movie business were front page news in
Variety.

Iraq Won't Rock Oscar
Show will go on, Acad sez
Daily Variety, Feb. 7, 2003
Before I came on staff as a reporter, I got a freelance assignment on how the imminent threat of War in Iraq might affect the telecast of the Academy Awards. When it began to break as a news story I wound up writing it as a front-page story.
FCC Chairman Voices Clear but Cautious Support for Net Neutrality
CES 2014: Tom Wheeler says commission will act if markets get out of balance
Variety.com, Jan. 8, 2014
Speaking at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler offered cautious but clear support for Net neutrality.
When Consumer Electronics Assn. topper Gary Shapiro, who interviewed Wheeler onstage Wednesday, wondered if Net neutrality rules might become unnecessary, Wheeler framed the issue in terms of results, not rules, and warned the FCC would act if markets veered in directions that discourage competition and innovation.

VFX Industry Rescue Could Come From WTO Rules
U.S. f/x industry could benefit from existing anti-subsidy duties
Variety.com, July 25, 2013
Foreign subsidies on visual-effects work may be enough to trigger World Trade Organization “anti-subsidy duty” rules that would impose a tariff on those vfx when they’re imported into the U.S., according to a panel presentation at the Siggraph conference.

Digital Domain Gets Yet Another New Owner; CEO Steps Down
Longtime DD staple Ulbrich to move to creative consultant role
Variety.com, July 26, 2013
Digital Domain 3.0, the post-bankruptcy incarnation of the Venice, Calif.-based visual effects company founded by James Cameron, Stan Winston and Scott Ross, has yet another new owner. Sun Innovation, a publicly traded Hong Kong company, has acquired the parent company of Galloping Horse U.S., which bought 70% of Digital Domain in the bankruptcy auction last September. Reliance MediaWorks will retain the remaining 30%.

Steve Jobs Dies at 56
Apple mogul gave Hollywood a digital distribution outlet
Daily Variety, Oct. 5, 2011
Steven Jobs may have had the greatest impact on everyday lives in general, and showbiz in particular, of any technologist since Thomas Edison — and his impact on showbiz dwarfs even Edison’s.

FEATURES: Visual Effects, 3D, Production & Crafts

Bigger! Faster! Cheaper!
Blockbusters take toll on f/x shops
Weekly Variety, May 27, 2007
This article became required reading for visual effects pros around the world. One even told me it was "the most important article in the history of our industry."

Cameron Supercharges 3-D
'Avatar' helmer reveals the art & science of stereo
Variety V Plus Features, April 11, 2008
Director James Cameron's upcoming "Avatar" ranked as one of the most anticipated film projects in recent memory. This was the director's most extensive exploration of 3-D to date.

Peter Jackson: High Frame Rate 3D Look Improved on ‘Smaug’
"Hobbit" helmer took criticism to heart, toned down "HD-video" look
Variety.com, Dec. 11, 2013
In 2012, Warner Bros. and Peter Jackson were eager to show the world the latest innovation in filmmaking technology: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in High-Frame-Rate (48 frames per second) 3D. Reaction to the format was mixed. This year, HFR 3D is back for part two of the trilogy. The studio chose not to show the HFR version of “The Desolation of Smaug” to press this year, but Jackson isn’t backing down. He not only says HFR is the best way to see the picture, he’s promising audiences will see a better version of HFR, thanks to lessons learned on part one.

The Skinny on ‘Captain America’ vfx
Tech wizards made actor's 'before' body look scrawny

Daily Variety, July 30, 2011
The most startling visual effect in Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” isn’t any bit of superhero derring-do but rather the sight of star Chris Evans shrunk down to a proverbial 97-pound weakling.

Studios Have ‘Monster’ 3-D Vision
Majors exploring idea of reviving classic pics
Weekly Variety, April 5, 2009
With 3-D catching on as a popular and lucrative format, the movie studios are eyeing their libraries for titles that could work in 3-D. Page 1 story for Weekly Variety.

Tears and Loathing
Digital tweaks bring aid, angst to actors
Weekly Variety, Jan. 28, 2007
Digital alterations of actors' takes and choices are becoming more doable, and as a result, more common. And many vfx pros -- not to mention the Screen Actors Guild -- are uneasy about it. (This story was eventually picked up by newspapers around the world and NPR.)
The End
As print distribution winds down, collateral damage includes projectionists, shippers and film suppliers, but some companies have planned ahead
Variety, April 16, 2013 (Cover Story)
The end of print distribution of films brings with it not just the close of an era, but also the potential loss of livelihood for many who work both inside and outside of the entertainment industry. (Winner of 2014 SoCal Journalism Award for Best Entertainment News or Feature)

Actors Add Punch to VFX
Thesps needed to make effects
Variety V Plus Features; Aug. 2, 2007
Everybody writes about how dazzling visual effects are. I'm interested in how they're affecting everything else.


Digital Cinema Cameras Have Actors Reloading
High-def revolutionizes the craft of actors, director
Variety V Plus Features, April 12, 2007
Digital capture isn't just a revolution for cinematographers and colorists; they're revolutionizing the craft of film acting.

Gibson Digs Digital Action
Filmmaker finds new technology a dream
Variety V Plus Features, April 12, 2007
Mel Gibson talked about how shooting digital helped him make
Apocalypto.

Actors Embrace Performance Capture — Gradually
High-visibility roles breakdown old barriers
Daily Variety, April 24, 2010
Performance-capture acting, and the thesps who’ve tried it, are earning more respect these days. Yet professional thesps still lag behind the public in understanding the process and are just beginning to sort out what it means for the business of acting.


Actors' Chops Meet Techno Shops
New Techniques Make VFX More Actor-Friendly
Variety V Plus Features, Dec. 11, 2006
People said digital effects would spell doom for actors and acting. But it turns out motion-capture is making actors' lives easier and opening up new opportunities for them.

A Digital Nip/Tuck
'X-Men' thesps drink from Lola's fountain of youth
Variety V Plus Features; June 19, 2006
The opening scenes of "X-Men: The Last Stand" provided a rare chance for LolaFX to discuss one of the vfx industry's most hush-hush assignments: Digital Cosmetic Enhancement.

F/X Take Off the Years
Weekly Variety; July 16, 2006
Another, wider look at Digital Cosmetic Enhancement.


FEATURES: Technology

Ultra HD TV: Not Ready for Prime Time
4K TV gets big push at CES, but the industry isn’t prepared to deliver the full UHD experience
Variety, Jan. 4, 2014
For more than 60 years, the television business has been a ravenous wolf pursuing the feature film business and its audience. Now, the TV business finds itself the hunted, and is feeling the pressure to quicken its pace of innovation, just as the movies did, lest its networks, affiliates and cablers go the way of single-screen neighborhood movie theaters. But as industry momentum builds, some skeptics warn that in the haste to ignite TV sales and protect the business as we know it, UHD is being served to the masses without being fully baked.

4K Ultra-HD TV Faces Bandwidth Challenge to Get Into Homes
New video format could be in trouble without the compression technology it needs
Variety, July 30, 2013
UHD won’t get anyone excited if there’s no way to get the format into homes, or worse, if it looks no better than today’s HDTV.

Dolby’s High Dynamic Range TV Tech Delivers a Bigger ‘Wow’ Than UHD
Stunning new image tech could be the killer app for next-generation TV - with or without Ultra HD
Variety.com, Dec. 31, 2013
The Dolby demo was a startling improvement over even the best TVs available today, including the early UHD models. Metallic surfaces gleam like mirrors. Colors glow, luminous and rich. Highlights and shadows alike keep their detail. What’s more, unlike 4K TV, that improvement is visible even at a distance from the screen. It’s as striking and impressive a difference as the difference between standard-definition and HD video. If you see it, you’ll want one for your living room. Now.
3D TV: Not Dead Yet, and Getting Better
Though the oft-maligned tech seemed doomed, TV makers are focusing on a glasses-free model
Variety, Jan. 11, 2014
3D TV is like the ailing old man in the “Bring out your dead” scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” who protests to the corpse collector, “I’m not dead. … I’m getting better.”

Digital Proves Problematic
Weekly Variety, April 20, 2007
Digital was supposed to be the solution to scratchy records, fading photos and yes, decaying film stock. Just one problem: There are no proven technologies for long-term digital archiving, and today moving images are in more danger of being lost than at any time since the dawn of movies.

Back to the Future: 100 Years of Entertainment Technology
Variety's Centennial Issue; Oct. 16, 2005

A look at 100 years of entertainment technology, from the Nickelodeon to the iPod, and how new inventions changed performance styles — and audience expectations — through the decades.

EA says audience wants control
Future of gaming to be more customized
Variety.com, Aug. 6, 2007
At SIGGRAPH in San Diego, Electronic Arts' Glen Entis suggested that people crave the chance — and the tools — to entertain themselves by creating their own content.


Media Biz Must Master the Mobile Web or Face the Guillotine
Variety covers changing ways of consuming entertainment as magazine changes too

Daily Variety (final issue), April 19, 2013
Today you can carry your Daily Variety over to Starbucks and read it over a cappuccino. Starting Wednesday, the cappuccino and Variety’s daily news coverage will remain, but you’ll be reading it on your phone or tablet. It’ll be the end of an eight-decade era of print dailies covering Hollywood.


FEATURES: Writers and Writing


Winter’s Bone’ Author Daniel Woodrell on New Novel ‘The Maid’s Version’
His novel made Jennifer Lawrence a star; the author returns with a fiery new tale
Daniel Woodrell seems destined to be ranked alongside his own inspirations, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett and William Kennedy, as a “crime writer” whose tales transcend genre labels. But there was a time when Woodrell felt he was aping his heroes too closely. So for years, those books went untouched. But he has always kept them close at hand in his office. “I’m not a competitive guy, especially with the dead, so I’m willing to be in the company of greater talents,” he says.

From Script to Screen: Winter’s Bone
Script Magazine May 2010

From Script to Screen: Into the Wild
Script Magazine Oct. 2007
Sean Penn didn’t live up to his prickly reputation.

Authors Rocked By Roles
Characters have a way of wrecking writers' best-laid plans
Variety V Plus Features, Dec. 7, 2006
The premise of
Stranger Than Fiction — a character who confronts his author, refusing to die — is all to familiar to fiction writers. Characters act up, misbehave and even wreak havoc with writers' plans.

From Script to Screen: Precious
Script Magazine, Nov 2009
Geoffrey Fletcher had a bumpy ride to becoming the first African-American screenwriter to win an Academy Award for best screenplay

From Script to Screen: Superbad
Script Magazine, Oct. 2007
Seth and Evan on creating the roles of Seth, Evan and McLovin.

Novelists Second-Guess 2006 Scripts
Variety V Plus Features, Jan. 7, 2007
Authors' views on movies often differ from entertainment industry insiders.


FEATURES: Television:

Cast chemistry essential to hit shows
Shows click when actors mesh with roles
Variety V Plus Features, Aug. 7, 2007
Chemistry. Robin Williams had it as Mork from Ork and turned an old concept into a hit sitcom. George Clooney didn't when he was an actor-for-hire on several unsuccessful series, but found on "ER," and became a movie star. Casting directors make their living searching for such chemistry...
Writer-performers stage balancing acts
Hyphenates add fresh take to genres
Variety V Plus Features, June 5, 2007
Some of TV's hottest comedies are flourishing by abandoning the factory-line approach and having performers help as writers — and vice versa.


FEATURES: Miscellaneous Entertainment Industry:

Katrina's Wake
Actors Fund comes to aid of those in need
Variety V Plus Features; Sept. 14, 2007
Our 2007 look at the Actors Fund's 125th anniversary provided an opportunity to catch up with New Orleans musicians and actors still displaced and struggling in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The History of Pixar: Lucas Left The Party Early, Disney Came Late
Variety V Plus Features, March 13, 2006
In the beginning, nobody got it. It took long years of struggle for the founders of Pixar to convince the world that their vision of animated movies made on a computer wasn't a fever dream.

Execs say prayers for next 'Passion'
Faith-friendly theme no guarantee of success
Variety V Plus Features, April 3, 2007
I revisited the business side of Hollywood's newfound interest in faith-based entertainment for a special feature section in 2007.

Hollywood Gets Religion
Christians embrace formerly evil biz
Weekly Variety; May 28, 2006
Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" took many by surprise, but it reflected a profound shift in attitudes toward cinema among churches and parishoners who once shunned movies.

Uganda Builds Its Film Industry on the Fly
No infrastructure for filmmakers existed in country when 'King' came calling
Variety V Plus Features, Nov. 12 2006
The Last King of Scotland gave Ugandan pros a chance to prove they could support a western-style film shoot.

Career Kudos: Are We Overachieved Yet?
Now ubiquitous, lifetime honors spawn their own quirks and qualms
Variety V Plus Features; Oct. 29, 2006
Lifetime achievement awards. Enough already?


Oscar's Big Blur
CG Complicates Oscar Categories

Daily Variety, Aug. 2, 2005
The advent of digital filmmaking techniques are giving the Motion Picture Academy a silicon-fueled headache. As job categories blur, the Oscars are quietly getting the most extensive review of their categories since the advent of talking pictures.



Some of my profiles from the South China Morning Post are on the Older Articles page