Tuesday, 29 March 2011

“Darrin Stephens; Bewitched Nights”.

With “Mad Men” off air till 2012, broadcasters have announced they may fill the gap left by the smash hit sixties series by showing the little seen “Bewitched” spin off series “Darrin Stephens; Bewitched Nights”.

While the popular 1960s sitcom focussed on the adventures of a beautiful young witch living in an upstate New York suburb with her handsome young Madison Avenue advertising executive husband, the spin off series had a darker tone.

Instead of magical high jinks, it focused on Darrin’s life at a Manhattan advertising firm. He is presented as a conflicted troubled man, torn between life at a cut throat Madison Avenue ad agency and his idyllic existance in the suburbs married to a witch. Viewers were however surprised and turned off by chain smoking Darrin’s affairs with secretaries, use of prostitutes and battles with booze.

Attempts to retain some of the parent shows lighter whimsical feel were unsuccessful. Episodes included a hilarious trip to a New York strip club where Darrin, unaware his mother in law has accidently turned him into a unicorn, fails to impress clients, the controversial mermaid forced abortion story arch and the clients dinner almost ruined by Darrin’s secret brother from his past life reappearing.

Audiences also rejected the new focus put on wife Samantha’s soulless existence in suburban America, her inability to reconcile inner demons with the barrenness of the American dream; all while being a witch. Memorably, her famous twitch was used to suggest substance abuse. The couple’s daughter Tabitha also became a more rebellious character, memorably rebelling against her mother’s coldness by masturbating on a couch during a during a goblin sleepover. There were also complaints that Darrin’s long suffering best friend Larry’s descent into heroin addiction in Greenwich village was sensationalistic. The series was axed after one season, with actor Dick York resigning in protest

Movie Pitch: Morrissey and Me.

hey guys! I don't really know a lot about the film industry but I have an amazing pitch for a romantic comedy. Is there anybody who can get it seen by the relevant people?! Grrrr!! LOL!!

Movie Pitch: Morrissey and Me.

Gráinne (Gráinne Maguire/Ann Hathaway?), a cocksure young comic decides that in order to write her musical “Girlfriend in Coma” A retelling of the African American feminist movement using songs of The Smiths she must go to extraordinary efforts to insure that notoriously recalcitrant musician grants permission to use his back catalogue. Determined to see her dream come true, she disguises herself as a young gay man and faints in front of his abandoned reclusive manor.

Next scene we see her awakening in a gargantuan living room to find Morrissey (Morrissey/Gordon Brown/Colin Firth?), awkwardly soothing her brow with a damp towel. She claims to have no memory of anything at all apart from being a gay man and a vegetarian. Morrissey, who lives alone with only a loyal retinue of browbeaten servants, agrees to look after his new guest until his (her!) health returns and the two begin a tentative friendship.

MONTAGE: (music-Someone Like You- Van Morrison/Leona Lewis cover?) Gráinne discovers his library- sees different side to him? Eating at long formal table; changing to informal snacks in kitchen; changing to food fights? Gráinne stands up to him/ argues back? Gráinne shows Morrissey how to feed birds? The two play fighting? Wide shot of the two sitting by open fire. Close up of Morrissey looking tentatively happy/ Gráinne looking guilty.

Eventually, haven fallen in love in a paternal way with his house guest, he arranges a surprise slumber party where he plans to officially sign over his fortune, including back catalogue to his young ward. Unfortunately as he excitedly prepares the guestroom with popcorn and a Clueless DVD, his accidentally knocks open her diary and discovers Gráinne’s secret plot in numbered bullet points. He also comes across earlier diary entries where she’s written that she actually thinks Oscar Wilde is over rated. Heartbroken, angry and distraught, in an emotional scene outside in the rain Morrissey reveals he knows her secret. Gráinne tries to explain that her earlier mendacity has blossomed into real friendship but, with a tear stained face; the former Smiths front man banishes her from his life. Shot of Gráinne falling in mud. (Coldplay/ Keane music?)

Gráinne stumbles through abandoned streets. More Rain/ Possible wind machine? There she bumps into Sebastian (Owen Wilson/Jack Whitehall?) her identical twin brother whom she always thought was dead.

INTR: cafe: Gráinne is amazed to discover that Sebastian has also been working on his own Smiths based musical “You’re the One for Me Fatty” A retelling Margaret Thatcher’s dealing with IRA hunger strikers also using the songs of the Smiths. He had disguised himself as an amnesiac young woman and had been staying at Johnny Marr’s (Ian Hart/Hugh Grant?) house. He had also been rumbled, but thanks to an unlogged out gmail account rather than diary. Both shake their heads, ruefully wishing that their mother was alive to see her twins finally reunited. Shot of waitress clearing table- hint that she is actually ghost of their mother?

INTR: West End Theatre. Following the advice of an eccentric old lady, who had both a degree in performers law and also, sadly, terminal cancer, the twins have discovered a loophole allowing them to perform their Smiths musical re-titled “Everyday is like a Sunday” about a young man’s struggle with long term memory loss. At the end of the final number as the smoke clears and the canons slowly roll off stage, we reveal Morrissey and Johnny sitting at opposite ends of the packed auditorium. They both spontaneously give a standing ovation, in doing so become aware of each other’s presence for the first time. A hush falls over the packed theatre and after a heart breaking pause, they embrace weeping. Gráinne and Sebastian (matching outfits?) look at each other, roll eyes and laugh (Lily Allen track?)

Final scene: Morrissey; Johnny, Gráinne and Sebastian all in Morrissey’s living room. His house is no longer cold and menacing; his loyal butler (Antony Hopkins/Miranda Hart?) looks on approvingly as they all happily watch a DVD of Clueless. Johnny suggests that they go out somewhere afterwards; Morrissey says he’d love to but he hasn’t got a stitch to wear. Johnny, Gráinne and Sebastian start to laugh and throw popcorn at the former Smiths front man, who frowns and then begins to laugh himself. Cut to bird flying out of window into the night sky (symbolic?)


Possible Sequel Opportunities: The gang discover a baby abandoned on their door step? Morrissey opens a Private detective Agency?

Monday, 28 March 2011

wooh! It's behind you.....

Do you think ghosts find Hallowe’en patronising? Do they roll their eyes and complain that actually there’s a lot more to their culture than that, it’s just patronising.

They must also get very fed up with how their community is portrayed in the media. They’re either predatory, aggressive ghouls moving into a home and dragging down the property value or bland, sexless Uncle Toms, Casper the sell out ghost, happy to be the living person’s token dead best friend. Whatever their personality or ability, always steroptypically defined by their lack of mortality. How they must yearn for the day that a TV series or mainstream movie is brave enough to cast a ghost in lead role or indeed any part where being dead isn’t their entire storyline and personality point; where they just happen to be not living but also have other stuff going on in their lives as well.

Ghosts don’t do themselves any favours though. Whenever you bump into them they prattle on and on about the same things, repeating the same actions, retracing the same steps. “I was a Victorian ladies maid, oohhh!” Yes, but you’ve been dead for over one hundred and fifty years, what have you been doing in the mean time? Why are you defining yourself by the ten or so years that you happened to be alive when by now that must be a diminishing fraction of your time on this planet? They are the ultimate child stars who have never moved on from their first burst of fame, touring the highways and byways of Britain with their one and only hit. They should say, yes, I was married to Henry the VIII for a few years but to be honest, that was a long time ago, now I’d much rather be known for my oil painting.

In their defence, it must be disappointing to discover that once dead, the only human beings interested in contacting you are drunk students, clingy relatives and Living TV. Imagine; you’re the ghost of a Norman soldier, think of all action, the excitement, the sex you could have had in your day and now the only one showing any interest in you is Yvette Fielding, and you’re supposed to be grateful for the attention? That has got to hurt.

I feel I can comment on this because I once nearly accidentally had sex with a ghost. I was furious. I have always made it very clear that the only dead person I would consider doing the deed with is a WWI soldier and only if I bore a striking resemblance to his long dead sweetheart, whose tragically unconsummated relationship helped him through his final weeks in the trenches and only if having sex with me helped him finally pass over to that great no man’s land in the sky and only if he looked like Jonny Lee Miller in “Regeneration”. Yet there I was, having a nap and minding my own business and there was the universe was setting me up on some sort of cosmic blind date with a spectral chancer. Luckily I woke up before things got out of control otherwise I could have literally had a phantom pregnancy on my hands. How could I have explained that to my parents? I could just see my mother rolling her eyes and sighing “Oh Gráinne, you have to be different don’t you?” I mean having a ghost baby would make me stand out from all the other young mums but what about schools?

My friends weren’t sympathetic either, when I groggily told them on the phone about nearly getting bumped in the night, there was just a nervous laugh, followed by a long pause and a swift change in the conversation. Later three of them independently emailed me links to Guardian Soul Mates; no pun, I hope intended.

I’m non-plussed my the supernatural, even as a child ghosts, banshees, the devil himself were as familiar to me as second cousins my parents got Christmas cards from every year. Satan and his constant attempts to steal my soul were just another problem to be faced and I developed the habit of saying out loud , whenever I saw something I really liked “I wouldn’t give my soul for it” just in case I accidently, subconsciously, made a barter I would later regret. It was like a form on insurance policy should I unwittingly promise my entire afterlife in hell in exchange for a chemistry set. I could just see myself, in my sweaty subterranean cell, stuck for all eternity with Hitler, the shark from Jaws and all the English soldiers my granny told me about, explaining that I was doing time for getting carried away before Christmas in Toys R Us.

At Secondary school, out of sheer boredom, my friends and I did the Ouija board at lunchtime for an entire week and I became convinced that I was communicating with the ghosts of three dead former students who had all died mysteriously in a locked storage room at the back of the lunch hall. The story unravelled itself in my mind’s eye, three girls killed one after the other after dabbling in the occult, a haunted room covered in crucifixes by the nuns in a vain attempt to exorcise the evil history that dripped from its walls, trapped souls only I could release.
It took our religion teacher arranging a special class to formerly deny that any students had ever died from falling downstairs, been run over by a driverless car or been found dead staring into a mirror, for my visions to end. The doomed cupboard of death was later found to contain old geography books.

Ghosts are everywhere after all, even if it’s just our hopes and expectations that though long dead, still stumble about with us, tapping us on our shoulder when we least expect it and rattling our graves. The ancient mistakes that send shivers down our spine, the bad choices that chatter our teeth and the lingering habits that lead up down the same dead ends like will o the wisps.
The missed opportunites that return in the dark of the night with a spectral grin and the new person or fresh opportunity that grotesquely decays to reveal the same old stupidities we thought we’d staked years ago.

With that in mind, I’d like to create my own scary ghost tour. It would involve drama students popping out from behind cobbled archways dressed as your teenage dreams, your weird depressed aunt popping up and whispering “You always reminded me of myself at your age” and at the end you meet your eight your old self who, blinking in horror, touches your face and whispers “Who are you sad old lady?” Then when you turn to your boyfriend for reassurance, he pulls off his face and he’s revealed to be every man you’ve ever gone out with ever. And it’s all done in Victorian outfits; terrifying.

I know how I’m going to die anyway. I’m going to either accidentally strangle myself with a curtain cord, electrocute myself with a toaster or mistake a French window for a sliding door and fall out a sixtieth floor window. My last thought will most definitly be – I cannot believe I just did that. I will meet my maker in one of those accidents electrical goods instructions warn you sarcastically about and people with too much time post on Darwin Award websites. My death will be so ridiculous and bizarre that my family will be too embarrassed to go into specific details at the funeral; my friends will have to avoid eye contact in case they laugh and strangers will assume I must have died in an erotic self asphyxiation act that went wrong. I shall die as I lived; absolutely bloody ridiculous.

Friday, 25 March 2011

My Top Ten life tips

When it comes to important scary emails; go by the Schrödinger’s cat rule. Remember, until you actually open it, it still contains both good and bad news; the script treatment is both accepted and rejected, the man is both interested and gently letting me down, the test results are both positive in a figurative and a literal way. Try to put off opening all icky emails for as long as possible. Wait until it either becomes irrelevant or until one of your friends agrees to read it while you hide, with your fingers in your ears, crouched in another room. Then get them to shout out the gist of it under your locked door. I imagine this is how Schrödinger ended his famous experiment, but then in his defence he did probably have an angry radioactive cat to worry about.

When starting a new job, always be in the process of breaking up with someone. This works for both men and women. It immediately endears you to the people you’re working with and will give you plenty to talk about during those awkward first few weeks. Remember to keep it light and breezy, so no tedious trauma just the inevitable end of something that was never really going anywhere anyway. Do throw in a few anecdotes about how rubbish they were to speed up bonding but remember; judge the room, you don’t want to come across as bitter or shrill. Something about a forgotten birthday should be enough to get everybody on side; you’re aiming for feisty and brave, not doomed and broken. If you are actually going out with someone, make sure you change the name of your imaginary ex partner in case they bump into your real one at a later works do and everyone is mad at you for getting back with them.

If you want to seen busy at your job always look worried about something, squint into the middle distance and sigh a lot. Every now and then rub your eyes, complain how badly run the place is and ruefully laugh how you’re amazed it hasn’t closed down years ago. Then return to facebook. Try to carry a lot of files around with you at all times.

If you find yourself in a situation that you know is going to be awkward always bring an attention grabbing prop. It should provide a distraction from whatever is happening and deflate some of the tension. A small child is good, an attention grabbing hat adequate or even, if you know it’s really going to be a right old cringer, a bandaged limb that may be broken. Once, when I knew I was going to bump into someone for the first time after drunkenly making a misjudged move on them, I decided to wear a Christmas wreath on my head for *the laugh*. There was nothing whimsical about my headgear; I knew exactly what I was doing. While everyone thought I was being my usual eccentric self , I was actually being icily cunning. I knew when I bumped into my erstwhile beau; all attention and conversation would be inevitably drawn to the table arrangement precariously balanced on my head and not the events from the night before. Unfortunately, he didn’t call around to the pub that night so I was left with a crown of fir branches on my head, but to be honest, by then, I was really working the look.

When flying home for the first time after moving to London for your triumphant- look at me living my life in the city, proving your parents wrong by how successful and independent you are - make sure you have the details of the airline and airport you are flying from correct. Do not arrive half an hour late, at the wrong airport and try to board the wrong airline. Gatwick and Stanstead are not as you may think “more or less the same” they are, in fact, very far apart. If this does happen, make sure you have enough money in your account to pay for a replacement flight. If this is not possible, make sure you have enough credit on your phone or change in your pocket to ring your dad for his credit card details. If again, this is not possible, try to be nice to the woman behind the desk when she lets you use their phone and apologetic when you have to enlighten your parents of the evening’s events. When you do finally arrive in your home airport long past midnight, after your flight has been delayed for two hours and your Dad is waiting in arrivals, try to drop the defensive I live in London girl swagger and give him a hug. He will have experienced his own share of disappointments that night too.

If you are already half way to the tube before you realise you have a massive stain down the front of top; instead of going home to change, just act surprised when anyone points it out to you, as if it has only happened moments before. Practice looking down and appearing surprised. This should convince everyone you are just a messy eater; ergo: probably good in bed, instead of being a lazy slob; ergo: probably not.

If something happens that you’re desperate to talk about but are scared of word spreading, find your most self obsessed friend and spill the beans to them. You will get all the release of getting it off your chest with the peace of mind of knowing they will probably never even remember the conversation. It’s the human equivalent of talking to the river. Be careful not to include their name in your story as that might trigger certain synapses in their brain to start working. Bookend it all with questions about them as insurance.

If people are talking about a book or film you know nothing about but you are keen to join the conversation pretend that you have seen it and say that it reminds you a lot of another book/ film that you have read. Then start talking about that instead.For example: “Yeah “My Own Private Idaho”, I loved that film. Spellbinding; just so…atmospheric. Keanu Reeves was almost as good as he was in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” They’re making a third film!! Alex Winter returns, now who do you think they should do about the part of Rufus? Recast or would that be sacrilege? Long Live the Wild Stallions!"

When somebody introduces you to a baby for the first time always assume they’re a girl. If they’re a boy, it will be taken as a compliment. The same applies to meeting people with North American accents; always guess Canadian first. Even if you are wrong, they will assume you are obliquely suggesting they had had the benefit of a good health care system.

Whatever happens always ,always remember that if you throw enough shit at a wall, eventually, eventually you will get a hand that smells of shit and a stench that will follow you around for the rest of your life, tainting everything you do, touch and taste with a constant reminder of the time you tried

Thursday, 24 March 2011

These things actually happen to me. Part 2

So today, I dragged myself out of my lovely warm bed to be at the gym for 7.15 for my first induction. I managed to be there for 7.30 which considering I had been up till midnight the night before watching “The Only Way is Essex” was a real achievement. I don’t like gyms, the instructors irritate me; I mean to say… jumping up and down for a living? What gasping chasms of low self esteem does that reveal? To want to do professionally what toddlers do on their lunch break? What sort of work stories you would have- “Oh, I did a really interesting exercise today…oh you should have been there, my knees bent and everything”.

Why are they so smug about being so fit, shouldn’t they be embarrassed about having obviously so little else to do with their time? I don’t wander into libraries, lean over someone reading a book I’ve already finished and smugly ask if they need help understanding the author’s subtext. I understand that getting excited about the finer points of Douglas Adams is probably something better kept to myself, yet in a gym we’re supposed to crumble in respectful awe at somebody who has probably spent a similar amount of time moving contracting and retracting stomach muscles. Why all the aggression; the stomach crunches, the blitzing of buts, the feeling the burn? We’re just doing a bit of exercise not trying to over throw Gadaffi.

I just can’t help thinking that dedicating their lives to such a monotonous and time draining pursuit is poor exchange for just being slightly firmer. Yes, you could spend an hour every day at the gym to fit into your clothes better or you could just wear something slightly baggier. No one notices or cares. But I wasn’t thinking about that yesterday when I joined up. Drugged by intoxicating aroma of chlorine and dazzled by the protein bars on sale in reception, I was too distracted thinking about the glamorous, organised, taut grown up I was suddenly going to become.

Anyway, to save time, I came up with the cunning plan of sleeping in my oldest tracksuit bottoms and taking a change of clothes for work. It was only later when I went to get changed. I realised that my sleep fuddled brain had managed to pack tights, change of shoes and even some body moisturiser; which just shows how ambitious about my new life my semi conscious brain was being, but no actual work clothes. I am now at my desk hoping no one notices I am basically wearing my pyjama bottoms. The elastic in the waist has gone and I’ve had to secure it with some staples and a paper clip. On my lunch break they kept slipping down and I looked like a really really really low rent prostitute. So I have seen what my new grown up self looks like and to be honest, she looks exactly like the mad homeless person I always suspected she would be.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Me and my office best friend

Photocopiers are the most melodramatic of modern office equipment; permanently collapsed in a corner, coughing and spluttering, it’s innards clutching onto a piece of chewed up paper like a delicately scrunched lace handkerchief.
I know this because I am very good at fixing them. My calm methodical approach to gently easing the jams from the over excited drums, and with gentle authority turning the puzzled machine on and off again, has, over the years, earned me the name the photocopier whisperer.

I don’t judge it; I understand that with a creative genius like that, neuroticism, hypochondria, even downright diva behaviour is inevitable. The photocopier was once the star, you see, that dropped into office life in the sixties, like displaced piece of futuristic debris fallen from the future and changed everything. With one downward release on pressure on a button, a flash of light and muffled thud, oceans of typing pools with tight sweatered secretaries in old fashioned glasses disappeared in puff of cigarette smoke.

Even in your own life time, remember how excited we used to be about the photocopier, the thrill of learning to copy double sided, the shiver of printing a booklet for the first time, the giddy rush of discovering the stapler worked? The heady smell of fresh ink in the primary school secretary’s office as, the clock ticking closer to home time, you proudly collected hot water bottle warm lice letters and rushed to proudly hand them over to your panicking teacher.

Now, the photocopier, large, squat and taken for granted malingers in the office corner, like a bitter first wife replaced in our affections by the new printer with its slim line scanner. We don’t even get drunk and sit on it at Christmas anymore. What else can it do but cough, whine and complain about paper jams? Yes, it has adapted, we can send scans to them now, most print in colour, some are even connected to the internet but we both know the excitement is over. Compared with the sophisticated swishes and zooms of computer graphics, its simple promise to enlarge or contract by a certain percent embarrasses us both. Its futile attempt to morph into its own replacement unravelling into an undignified and desperate gesture, sullying all the old good memories.

Every year the paper files get smaller, the letters fewer and the guilty recycling bin more prominent, like a sickly bastard child reluctantly included in the family photo. The promises of paperless office, the emails bitchily suggesting it doesn’t need to be printed, each a slow drawing down of blinds. We’ve moved on. It’s seen off the fax machine, but this feels different. That’s why I’m patient with it, turn it off when it’s too warm and try not to slam the doors to roughly when, it blinks desperately about another phantom unknown blockage in drawer two that I know isn’t there. It wants to know that I’m still there, that I still care and that I’ll be there when it gets switched on again. And like Atticus Finch. I always will be.