Monday, November 16, 2009

SITCOM ROOM 4: An unbiased account from the guy who staged it

Thanks everybody for your anniversary wishes and feedback. It's great to know you're out there.
I think the attendees of SITCOM ROOM 4 are just now catching up on sleep. No one ran screaming from the event so I consider it an irrefutable triumph! Thanks to all those who participated. Hope you learned a lot, discovered some talents you didn't realize you had, and had FUN.

Some random thoughts:

For the first time we had more women attendees than men.

We also had three people from other countries. Austria, Australia, and one gentleman flew in from Ireland, arriving just an hour before the seminar began. He then stayed up late into the night rewriting thus simulating what it was like to be on the staff of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

One of our attendees was an Emmy winner. Well, an Emmy contest winner. She was the girl who sent in a video and was selected to be at the Emmycast and do a few on-air comedy bits like sitting behind the Harlem Globetrotters, that sort of hilarity. It’s a good thing she never read my Emmy review.

A few meeting rooms over was the Kevin Trudeau “Make Millions” seminar. The point man for publicizing that was someone named Ken Levine. That didn’t cause too much confusion. For a moment I thought of combining our two seminars – showing the way to make millions as a TV writer or pork belly futures speculator.

It was a busy weekend at the LAX Hilton. On Sunday the hotel also hosted the Christian Faith Fellowship Service and Glamourcon.

Glamourcon is essentially a convention hall filled with porn stars, Playboy Playmates, “models”, and “actresses” who sign autographs and (for an additional fee) will let you take a picture with them. Among the notables who attended were Ida Ljungqvist (2009 Playmate of the Year, otherwise known in the adult world as “Eyechart”), Hiromi Oshima, Irina Voronina, and Judi Dench.

It was not hard to spot these model/actresses wandering around the hotel. Rarely do you see a platinum blond in 8” heels wearing only a bikini top and anal floss just hanging out in the lobby espresso bar.

One of our writing teams reported there was some porno movie being filmed in the suite across from theirs. Sleazy-looking guys with camera equipment and lights would duck into the room, followed by heavily made-up trollops clad only in bathrobes. You try coming up with a story fix when you hear that kind of commotion next door.

During my Saturday morning lecture most everyone was on their computers. Two or three were actually taking notes. The others were Tweeting or playing Minefield.

The scenes the groups rewrote were performed on Sunday and all were impressive! Every one had good laughs and very imaginative ideas. One had a condom joke and they weren’t even the group next to the porn shoot.

As usual, the writing teams really bonded. After the event they stayed together, either down at the bar or at Glamourcon. I meanwhile, had to dash off and host a three-hour show on KABC radio, talking about the prize fight and all the football games I didn’t see this weekend.

Our panel discussion was a big hit. Tom Straw, Fred Rubin, and Marley Sims regaled the attendees with horror stories and sage advice on how to get into the business, what producers are looking for in specs, new media opportunities, advantages and disadvantages of partnerships, and what it was like writing for Captain Kangaroo. We heard how one showrunner and his star both had bodyguards to protect them from each other (“collaboration” Hollywood style), and maybe the line of the day was from Fred describing an actor who was so bad “he couldn’t say a line the same way once”.

Many thanks to my partner, Dan O’Day; the actors: Andy Goldberg, Barbara Howard, Mark Chaet, and Lucy Adden; the dreaded “studio”: Howard Hoffman; panelists Tom, Fred, and Marley; and production assistants: Dow Chemical & Brock.

All in all it was a great weekend. For me it had a “happy ending” but I’m sure that has a very different meaning at Glamourcon.

18 comments :

ks said...

Pretty accurate recap Ken...except during your lecture I wasn't playing Minefied. I was ordering crap from Kevin Trudeau's website.

It was fantastic and fun! I feel lucky to have been able to take part.

It was great watching you do a clinic on all of our scenes-- and the stories from the panel were invaluable.

I could go on, but I GOTTA get some sleep.

J S Swanson said...

Judi Dench!!!

Thanks, Ken, I needed that .....

Jim Stickford said...

ken you forgot to mention the Christian fellowship family meeting that was at the hotel on Sunday.

As for Judy you'd think she'd have learned her ;esson at Glamourcon 1.

Erin said...

I once attended a writer's convention at a hotel that was also hosting a scrapbooking convention and a meeting of the local chapter of the Hell's Angels. The comedy just writes itself, doesn't it?

Sadly, as we learned over the weekend, it does not. At least not without a lot of Double Stuf Oreos, Diet Coke, and pork fried rice.

Many thanks to you and Dan. I met some talented people and learned a lot, some of which I'm sure will come back to me when I get more than four consecutive hours of sleep.

emily said...

Ken,
I can't believe you still wear your Captain Kirk sweater.

VP81955 said...

Sounds like a lot of fun -- and one of these years, I'll have to make it over there. (Consider yourself warned.)

wv: "lamakil" -- something PETA rightly campaigns against. After all, we can find fiber for sweaters elsewhere.

A. Buck Short said...

Sure, NOW you tell me about the porn!

WV "subzcat": what you can defrost in a really upscale Korean kitchen.

Hollywood Runaway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbie said...

Hi Ken. I read your Emmy Review. Friendship over.

James said...

Felix is a prim and fussy comedy writer trying to break into television in Hollywood. Oscar is his best friend, trying to keep afloat shooting porn movies which won't be available on the internet for free. Can two grown men share an apartment in the Valley without driving each other crazy?

Sounds like a sitcom to me.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Who was the blonde in the first photo? Great stems. Couldn't you have posted at least ONE Glamourcon picture? I'm sure you took a few (thousand).

Kevin said...

I agree with the above post. Who's the good-looking blonde?

Oh, and another good blog, Ken ... all pictures aside.

Anonymous said...

Using this incredible thing called "The Internet" and this other thing called "my brain" I noticed that the blonde was holding a script in a manner suggesting she was, oh, performing.

Ken listed the actors who worked at Sitcom Room; a quick trip to Google found photos (but not Glamourcon photos, alas) of Lucy Adden, the object of your interest / lust / desire to sign to a major network sitcom (take your pick, maximum two of three).

VW: panglyzo. From the Italian translation of "White Fang"

ks said...

Wow. Just like Howard from the network, Ken.

Sylvie Rochon said...

A fantastic post about an incredible weekend. Being confined in a hotel room with a bunch of random strangers and allowing ourselves to get stripped to the bone was exhilarating, a bit terrifying yet extremely satisfying. Oh, and I heard the sitcom room writers across the hallway also had a blast.

Thanks again to Ken and Dan. I’m back home with incredible drive and energy and an arsenal (wink) of great stories. And fancy hotel shampoo.

If ever another porn shoot coincides with next year’s workshop, it would benefit them to hold a scene run through in front of the Sitcom Room attendees. Trust me. Yeah, the well-endowed cable guy just showed up. Feels a bit “stagey” to me.

Tom Quigley said...

Ken Said...

"It was a busy weekend at the LAX Hilton. On Sunday the hotel also hosted the Christian Faith Fellowship Service and Glamourcon."...


All right, 'fess up -- didn't even one of you guys get the urge to switch the signs for those two events?....

Paul Duca said...

You talk about being next to a room where a porn movie shoot is going on like it's a BAD thing...

Plus Howard Hoffman as a suit...was it the same one he was wearing in that picture circa 1976 on his Reelradio page?

Doktor Frank Doe said...

I actually see too many PCs at the writing table, I hope you told them all they'll have to trade them in for MACs or they'll get no respect in the industry!