Friday, August 28, 2009

Here’s How We “Role”, Yo


I’m pleased to report that, shortly after last week’s entry here, Prometheus' grand poobah, Steve Wilson, emailed me his casting picks for the next season of SuperHuman Times. Nobody’s been officially asked if they'll do it yet, but no one’s turned him down, so that’s a good sign. Right?

“Excited” doesn’t begin to describe how I felt when I read his choices. Over the years, I have considered my scripts to be a foundation upon which the directors and casts put up the walls and d├ęcor with their suggestions and performances. (One cast completely reworked the ending of one of my plays and it was much better as a result.) I’ve found this to be much healthier than getting all artsy and possessive about the damn stories. Anyway, assuming everyone wants to play this season, it should be a lot of fun. Some folks who usually assay supporting roles in shows like The Arbiter Chronicles will get a shot at leads, and we’ll have some Prometheus actors who have never done Times before. I hope they’ll have fun recording it, and I hope you’ll find their work fun to hear.

This season should be especially challenging for the actors because I went out of my way to write scripts that don’t necessarily take place in America or have American characters. One script, “No Good Deed”, is set in England and has all English and German characters. Another, “Flight Risk”, has a central character in Arizona who’s a transplanted Iranian. How come? The Times Universe (Microverse?) was just getting kind of homogenous (Nataliya Tzone’s Roma heritage aside) and I wanted to tell stories of people with different backgrounds. I’m sure the actors will just love me for that when they try to deliver the required accents to Steve’s satisfaction. (He’s directing again, thank God.)

And I have been drafted for a supporting role in one of the stories, “Print the Legend” -- the two-parter based on “The Hot Property”, the graphic novel script that started me down this lonely road. I won’t say anymore about my part right now, but if you recall Paul Frees’s voice for The Thing in the old Fantastic Four cartoons, that’s the kind of voice I’ll be going for. (You’ll guess who I’m playing if you read the GN script, I guarantee it.)

And while all that’s going on, I’m renovating the Times website. Again. I’ll probably wait until next week to relaunch it so I have something to write about here. Til then, thanks for listening, and reading.

-- L.

PS: While you’re waiting for Times, be sure to stop by the Prometheus site and listen to Steve Wilson’s readings of his fiction. His latest one, Peace Lord of the Red Planet, is underway now. To me, it has the flavor of the John Carter of Mars stories and a Twilight Zone episode called “Execution”, in that both have men getting plucked out of their time, as does this. But despite that similarity, this is clearly in Steve’s voice (written and audible) and, like his other works, is filled with fascinating characters and plenty of (sometimes political) ideas you may or may not agree with (to paraphrase from Frasier, “He’s a Libertarian; we’ve decided to find it charming”), but he expresses them in an entertaining way that even a bleeding heart liberal like me can enjoy the story.

Okay, Steve, there’s your unsolicited plug, now where’s my show?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The "New Fall Season" is Coming, and (I Think) We're in It!


What can I say? Still no word on when the next run of SuperHuman Times episodes will begin. I guess this is a good thing in that, rather than being a “summer replacement”, we’re being moved up to the regular “fall premiere” line-up. At least, that's what I'm assuming... we'll stay hopeful for the purpose of our discussion.

Remember before cable and FiOS – I can see 2/3 of the people reading this already heading for the door with a click and a groan – when the fall was a big deal for TV watchers? When the then-big three would roll out their new shows with lots of fanfare all summer long, and TV Guide would be as big as a digest-sized phone book? And
the big fall preview specials with the stars touting the new shows? And the jingles?

Some from the '60s and '70s are still running through my head – “This fall, NBC has it all.” “This is the place to be, on ABC.” Strange that I can’t think of any from CBS, and we watched it a lot, too.

As an aside, to the surprise of everyone who’s ever known me, of all the fall season hype I watched as a kid, I NEVER saw THIS one until today, and I can't think of a more appropriate place to show it, seeing as it influenced me to write stuff like Times:

If the DVDs of this series ever come out in my lifetime, this BETTER be included. Now back to my show…

Most of the shows the networks debuted in September were gone the next year (not after two episodes, as is the case these days), but after three months of reruns, you were ready for ANY new stuff. We don’t have that kind of desperation now, thanks to the proliferation of cable channels and on-demand technology. There just isn't that much electricity in the fall generated between TV networks and their audiences. I miss that, but only a little.

Just because I’m a little nostalgic, I'm not complaining. TV overall is much better now in terms of variety and programming (scripted, not reality). I love being able to watch Penn & Teller: Bullshit during the summer and Dexter at my leisure. Still, the fall was, for kids in my era, a special time, when the drudgery of going back to school was offset by the new season.

So forgive me if I’m not terribly disappointed that Prometheus didn’t get around to putting Times on over the summer. As far as my deluded little mind goes, it's part of the new fall season now, and that’s exciting. For me, anyway. Hope you’ll think so, too.

(If not, I’ll talk Steve Wilson into dressing up as Robin while I dress as Batman and we’ll make a video introducing the year’s podcast line-up. That’ll get you excited. If you’re a shut-in.)

-- L.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Multimedia Cavalcade (with Guest Stars, Kind of)


Still no news to report vis a vis when we'll be hearing new SuperHuman Times episodes. Believe me, if anyone were reading this blog, I'd be just as eager to hear the new stuff as you are. It's no secret that one of my semi-flexible laws is to never be in the Prometheus studio when Steve Wilson records an episode (unless I'm in it), so I usually don't hear the final product until just before it's posted. I'm especially curious to hear how the two Dunbar episodes turn out -- and who ends up playing him -- seeing as he was the first Times character. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

In the meantime, I'm mulling over attending a unique fan show in the Baltimore area, specifically Aberdeen. The Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention will be held there in two weeks, and they have a pretty good line-up of older actors whose TV shows and movies I grew up on. We're talking actors like Lee Meriwether (Time Tunnel, the '66 Batman movie, Barnaby Jones), Celeste Holm (All About Eve and countless other classics), and Johnny Whitaker (Family Affair, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters).

But my main reason for going would be to meet one of my favorite character actors, Bob Hastings. If you're elderly (in your 40s) like me, you remember him from TV shows like McHale's Navy (where he played Lt. Carpenter opposite Joe Flynn's Capt. Binghamton), movies like The Poseidon Adventure (where he played the New Year's emcee -- I can hear you now, "Oh, yeah, THAT guy!"), soaps like General Hospital (I never watched it but I understand he was on there for a long time), and animated shows like the '90s Batman (where he voiced Commissioner Gordon). He also did quite a bit of radio during his career, including Archie Andrews (yep, based on the comic), X Minus One, and many others. That, plus the opportunity to see groups performing old radio scripts live, make this show a real temptation. If I go, I'll take photos and slap 'em up here.

I love character actors. Utility infielders like Hastings can always get work playing anything, yet when audiences see them, it's like seeing an old friend on stage or on the screen, one you know will turn in a good performance, even if the rest of the cast/production stinks. We have our share of those in Prometheus, actors who voice everything from superheroes to aliens. Their voices may always carry familiar elements in any incarnation, but you're glad to hear them. Listen to enough of The Arbiter Chronicles and you'll hear exactly what I mean. We have our share of Bob Hastingses, and I'm sure glad many of them are working on Times.

In closing, we move from radio to video, but it's comics-related, so the transition works: If you're into comics, you probably have a favorite comic shop staffed by a bunch of good folks who you think would make a great cast in a sitcom. Well, the folks at Zeus Comics in Dallas TX took that idea and ran with it. The result is their new web series, The Variants, and if you like comics, comic shops -- heck, if you just like a well-written, well-performed, and truly funny video series -- this is for you. They're clearly having a blast making it, which means you'll have a blast watching it. Can't wait to see the next episode!

Wonder if it'll get posted before the next Times does...

-- L.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beginnings & Endings


Well, preproduction on the next series of Times episodes continues. I think it’s a foregone conclusion that there will be no “summer” run, as I’d hoped. I never intended to lead you astray, and I hope you’ll forgive me and stay tuned when the episodes hit this fall.

Until then, I offer something that I hope will engage you: the very first SuperHuman Times script – for the SuperHuman Times graphic novel, "The Hot Property.". I’ve posted it on the Times web page, so you can download it as a PDF right here, right now.

There are three reasons behind my making this script available:
1) I want to have something legitimately Times-related “out here” while the shows are in production (branding, you see; it's a marketing thing);
2) all of the characters in the “The Hot Property” will appear in various episodes of the podcast in this run, and you may find it entertaining to compare the characters from the 2005 script to the way they’re portrayed in the new shows;
3) someday, if you get a kick out of this and let me know, I may post the Times radio scripts, too.

I think I mentioned this before, but if you're wondering why SuperHuman Times became a series of radio dramas instead of a series of graphic novels, the answer is easy: I can't draw. Used to, but can't anymore, even with a computer. Want proof?

The image at right would have been the cover to the "True North" online comic. It took me about a month to do in Adobe Illustrator and, as you can see, it's not a tough composition -- for an artist. If it took that long to do this, it would have taken me a few years to render Malvolio Nacht's attack. Thankfully, Steve Wilson offered me a spot in the Prometheus line-up, so this is all you'll see from my poison(ed) pen in terms of images. I'll leave those to your imagination. It draws faster and better than I ever will.

Enjoy reading "The Hot Property" – and, eventually, hearing the voices that came from it.

-- L.

Keep up with the Times here!

In Memoriam: The ‘80s were a special time for me. They were my 20s. In your 20s, all things are possible. You’re young enough to start pursuing your dreams (in my case, scriptwriting, which brought me here; so much for my 20s) and, even though you’re an adult, you haven’t been out of your teens that long, so you can sit through movies about teenagers and still empathize with the characters. That’s why I enjoyed John Hughes’s movies with young actors so much when they came out. I knew kids who acted and talked like they did. (We were a TV generation. Parents taught us how to talk; sitcoms taught us how to talk back.) Hughes’s kids were all believable on some level (even Ferris). That’s what made his movies so much fun to watch, and that’s why I wanted to mark his passing this week. Thanks for making my 20s a little more fun, John. Can’t wait to see if your movies do the same for my son 11 years from now.