You Gotta Meet This Guy

I’m going to introduce you to a really cool person. I am. But first you have to get through my set-up. (Which I tried to keep short, but you know me.)

In 1999 (I think it was 99. I have no head for time) I submitted a resume to Kathryn Falk, CEO of Romantic Times Magazine, saying, should she need a singer for any of her convention events, I was her man, er, woman.

If you’ve attended a Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, you know that there is a party and some sort of production show almost every night. Sometimes these shows feature singers. Offering my entertainment services was a way of networking with the writing community within my comfort zone. To my surprise, Kathryn called me. Only, instead of securing a singing gig, I ended up agreeing to co-write, coordinate, and direct a production show. I don’t recall if I mentioned that I’d never actually written a ‘script’ or directed. I think I was too bowled over by her enthusiasm and vision to say much of anything outside of a shaky, “Okay.” If you know Kathryn, you know there’s no saying ‘no’ to Kathryn. If you know me, you know I rarely back down from a challenge.

So I threw myself into the project and being the motivated, anal person I am, somehow pulled it off. That earned me another phone call asking if, the next year, I’d write and direct the Mr. Romance (read: contest to determine the next Fabio) Pageant. This was hugely scary, as it was on a much grander scale, but I didn’t say no. Instead, I roped my then writing partner/now critique partner, Cynthia Valero into being my co-everything. Amazingly, writing the script was the easiest part. I could fill pages with all that we undertook, including technical aspects—lighting cues, coordinating music, creating video and powerpoint, camera cues... (I know there’s more, but I think I’ve blessedly blocked it out) We did this for three years. I roped my other CP, Mary Stella, into doing the fourth and final year with me. The show grew and morphed through the years, involving special guests and skits. One year we had a cast of 65 people. Sixty-five. Some divas. Most wonderful. Oh, the stories I could tell.

Anyway, through all of this, I learned that I was pretty good at bossing people around. I was good at maintaining calm in a crisis situation—and there were plenty of them. I was good at rewriting sections of the script at a moment’s notice. I was good at clicking with the audio/stage techs and ‘calling’ the show. But I also sprouted gray hair and developed an ulcer. Directing was hard and stressful. Although I enjoyed certain aspects, I was hugely relieved to turn the reins over to someone else last year.

If I thought I had it bad

The kind of directing I did was a cakewalk compared to the kind of directing involved with a Broadway play, major film or TV series. Even though I knew it was a whole different ballgame, I harbored a fantasy of someday directing something I’d written, should I be so fortunate as to actually sell the film rights to one of my books. If you know me, you know I dream big. Anyway, I read a blog post the other day and, well, let’s just say I have one less dream. I still want to sell the film rights to one of my books, but I’ll happily remain the invisible ‘writer’. Thank you very much.

Here’s the part where I introduce you to a new-to-me blog. A blog that you have to visit. Daily. By Ken Levine. I got there one day via screenwriter/novelist Lee Goldberg’s site. I was already familiar with Mr. Levine, although I didn’t realize it at first. I read a few entries, thinking, “This guy’s a hoot.” Then I read his profile. Ah, crap. THAT Ken Levine. For crying out loud. Is it any wonder I found him enormously entertaining? He wrote episodes of some of my all-time favorite TV comedies. MASH, CHEERS, FRASIER, THE SIMPSONS, WINGS. For crying out loud. So I have to turn you on to this guy’s blog. A) Because it’s really entertaining. B) Because it’s informative. C) Because it’s really entertaining. Oops. Already said that. But it is. Really entertaining. You have to start with his ‘My First Directing Assignment’ post because A) It’s why I never want to pursue a career as director. B) It’s really entertaining.

After that check out his Superman posts and Oceans Levine and … Oh, just read them all. Hmm. If I ever sell those film rights, maybe Ken can direct. *grin*


Cyn said…
B, those posts by Ken Levine were a riot! Thanks for sharing and giving me a laugh between writing scenes. :-)
Beth Ciotta said…
C, you're more than welcome. They were a riot, weren't they? And what about the director post?! At least you and I didn't have to deal with someone screwing up our lines. Oh, wait. Yes, we did. But at least we didn't have to threaten to punch a cast member's lights out if he didn't say the line as written. At least I didn't. Did you? :-)
Beth Ciotta said…
Now that I think about it, I think Mary did some 'bodily harm' threatening when we corraled her into being backstage manager. :-) Yes, I'm talking Mary Stella, the sweetest, kindest writer in blogoshere. You really don't want to tick her off by screwing around and almost missing your cue. Heh-heh.
Cyn said…
Nope, no bodily harm threatening here. However, there is so much going on with so many people when you're doing a show. It's not right for one person to mess it up for everybody because they are being diva-like. I know that speaks to our sense of injustice, which can always get us roused. Do the right thing! :-)
Mary Stella said…
You mean when I threatened the cover models with my 12 inch thin cable "whip" from the laptop computer lock that I had to get hotel engineering to cut because I'd screwed up the combination? That time? *g*

Didn't work. The one gorgeous guy told me I couldn't threaten him with something he might enjoy.
Cyn said…
You're the best, Mary!
Anna Lucia said…
I do think you're very, very right to abandon the directing ambition, Beth! There are headaches you just don't need to add....


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