On… Judith Krantz

I’ve been working hard, my friends. Writing and scheming and writing and plotting and writing and then writing some more. I can’t tell you details yet (as soon as I can… I shall), so instead, I shall tell you what else I’ve been doing: reading a good old-fashioned 1980s bonkbuster. Judith Krantz’s ‘I’ll Take Manhattan’.


What can I say. It helps switch my brain off.

When I’m writing something, I find it hard to read or watch something with a really intricate and surprising plot. I’m always thinking three moves ahead, rolling my eyes at the shitty characters or shitty dialogue. I imagine it must be like a chef trying out a new restaurant: I bet they spend entire meals assessing what this other chef is doing, what’s working, what’s not and why, and anticipating each subsequent course. It’s hard to just eat.

But Judith Krantz books have no big surprises. Nothing mind-blowing, no twists, no turns. They’re always happy and feminist in a good late-70s, early-80s way. And plot-wise, they’re delicious. Like a big glass of wine and a hunk of cheese. You can’t argue with wine and cheese sometimes. All you can do is enjoy it.

I wanted to share with you my favorite passage from ‘I’ll Take Manhattan’:

“Curbing her quick New Yorker’s pace, Maxi moved into the Casino with felicitous poise, with the self-assurance that can never be feigned, of a beautiful woman who is perfectly at ease without an escort. She wore a long, strapless, chiffon dress that was one shade lighter than the green of her eyes, and diaphanous to the point of cruelty.”

For real. How can you not love this book?

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On… Eh-440

I’m sorry for my silence, gang. I’ve been a busy little cougar the last month. Work trips to LA, constant writing (and rewriting), my lovely friend Caroline got married in London (and I did a reading and didn’t mess it up! yay me), we moved apartments in NYC, and hmm nope, that’s it.

ANYWAY. Last night Fox and I had dinner with lovely friends Joanna and Alex. We ate at RedCat, which we’ve eaten at before, but it’s worth mentioning because every single thing we ate was just perfect, especially the steak tartare which is the best I’ve ever had, anywhere, evah.

Before dinner, we went to Assscat 3000 at UCB, which is a famous improv night started by Amy Poehler and her UCB gang, and they get a lot of audience involvement. They called on someone in the audience who turned out to be the lead singer from a Canadian band commencing their US tour, and THEN they played their music, and they fucking rock. An acapella group, but like, hardcore acapella – some original stuff and some covers. They’re called Eh-440 and if you get the chance to go see them live, do it.

PS Back to LA next week, again. A big week. Network pitches. Wish me luck.

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On… pitching

So, I went out to LA to pitch two tv shows to producers a couple of weeks ago, and I’m heading back next week to pitch them again, this time with the producers, to studios and networks.

I’m excited.

I love these two shows. And I love pitching. I really do. It’s odd, because in most ways I am a total writery writer: I recharge when I’m alone. I think about things way too much. I have a rich inner life (in other words: I play a lot of make-believe in my head. Like a LOT. When I’m walking on the street alone you will catch me muttering to myself and doing pretend reactions… oh yah it’s seriously lame).

But I must have a latent showoff inside of me somewhere, because I love pitches. It’s probably the same showoff who liked to act in high school, until she discovered directing at college and the utter joy of being in charge of everything, and then in her 20s realized that writing was like breathing: easy, invigorating, and essential to life. (Though I often wonder what would have happened if I had actually pursued directing instead of assuming it was a club I would never be invited to join, and what would happen if I pursued it now… Never mind, that’s a thought for another post, or another year.)

Where was I? Oh right. Pitching.

Pitching is just so much damn fun. It’s a cross between a job interview and a date. I used to LOVE job interviews (a chance to talk about me? come on!) and I LOVED dating (a chance to talk about me, to guys who hadn’t heard all my adorable anecdotes? Again, come on!). I also really, really like meeting new people and talking to them about their lives and finding out what they think is interesting. I like telling people about the aforementioned make-believe stories that I made up in my head. Most of all, I like it when other people get as excited about the story as I am. That’s all that pitching is: connecting with the person, and telling them a story.

If they’re not excited about the pitch, then it’s probably because I lost focus and just plain told it badly. Or my accent got too distracting (I have a weird Hong Kong accent, somewhere between London and Australia but people think I’m Irish or South African or anything – but it’s a legit Hong Kong accent. My sister has the same accent, other expat brats have the same accent. If I hear someone in a bar with my accent I accost them like, ‘YOU MUST BE FROM HONG KONG or Singapore or maybe Dubai’, and I am always, always right. Okay sorry, back to the point). It might also be that they’ve heard something like it this season and thought it was stupid so my idea is tarnished by association, or pitched something like it a few years ago and failed badly, or bought a similar idea from someone else last week and can’t buy it again.

There is always, of course, the chance that the reason they’re not excited is that the idea is shitty, but I try hard not to not think that. I have a healthy amount of self-doubt and self-loathing, but by the time I’m in the room, I force myself to believe that the reason I flew all the way to goddamn LA and sat in traffic in a stupid Lyft and woke up at 3am with jet lag and adrenaline and got lost on the Warner Bros lot AGAIN and asked the security guys to give me a ride in the golf cart (side note: the moment I started hitchhiking around lots on golf carts, pitch life became a lot more fun and I got many less blisters, plus they get really excited that I’m there to pitch which means I get a LOT of high-fives) was worth it. Anyway, I’ve told (and sold) enough damn stories by now that I know that when an idea makes me tingle, it should make other people tingle, too. If the idea doesn’t land, it’s not the idea’s fault, it’s mine.

Another reason that a pitch doesn’t land is the simplest: they weren’t listening. Seriously: listening to a pitch is way harder than actually pitching it. It is very hard – practically fucking impossible – to listen to a WALL of words. And characters descriptions and background stories and plots and themes. I can’t imagine having meeting after meeting where you have to listen to some nervous writer stutter his or her way through a pitch and then assimilate every piece of it and rebuild it in your imagination, and then analyze it and really think about what it will look like, who will watch it, and what the advertisers will think. It must be beyond exhausting. You can tell when people stop listening – it’s like a little light in their eyes goes off. They nod a lot, but they’re clearly thinking about lunch, or needing to pee, or their boyfriend, or wife, or that new Winona Ryder show, or how amazing Leslie Jones is at tweeting the Olympics.

I can’t blame them. If you came into my office right now and told me about your eight best friends and how you know them and why you love them all, I would remember, at best, two or three of those friends. Wouldn’t you? But you can tell when someone is really listening: they go into a sort of trance. They write things down. They stare at you, barely reacting, but totally involved and engaged. They laugh at the right parts, and most of all they ask ‘so what happens next?’

That’s when you know it went okay. But you don’t always know. You can’t. You just smile, walk out, and hope for the best.

So if you need me over the next few weeks, that’s what I’ll be doing… walking out of pitches, and hoping for the best.




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On… Boygroup Boys, We Are The Boys

Just when you say to yourself ‘Germans doing a pitch-perfect 90s boy band parody song? Never!’, THIS happens. This video alone proves why Britain should have stayed in the EU. You think Welsh people are making perfect parody videos? Are they fuck.

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On… Oh Wonder – Lose It

Another fairly fucking terrible day for humanity. This song made me feel momentarily less sick.

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On… Love Stinks

The first twelve seconds of this clip make me laugh out loud every time.

WHOOPEDEEDOO pretty much sums up, oh, everything, sometimes. (It’s from The Wedding Singer, by the way.) (But you already knew that.) (Did you know that? We know that stuff here, right? It’s baseline knowledge.) (It’s not like I’m assuming you’ve watched Grown-Ups or whatever. I’m not delusional.) (But I AM growing increasingly attached to these endless parentheses.) (I might just keep writing in them forever.) (Even though I have a script to finish and it’s not going to finish itself.) (See? Still doing it.) (I wish I could train my scripts to finish themselves. It’s so EXHAUSTING sometimes, like running a marathon in my head. I’m basically hallucinating the last four or five miles.) (LOOK A SCHOONER!)) (This is why people have writing partners. Because otherwise they end up writing endless parentheses just to amuse themselves and procrastinate finishing the damn script.) (If I had a writing partner, this is when I would send off my script and think ‘find me a plot twist, biyatch’.) (Then it would come back with a spelling mistake or the wrong ‘their’ and I would be forced to kill them.) (Still doing it. Still doing the parentheses.) (It’s just a really good way to avoid having to make a point.) (Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Going now. No seriously. I’m hanging up. You hang up. Stop reading.) (Stop reading!) (Seriously!) (Bye. Mwah. Bye.)


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On… Shit I Know For Sure

Oh, man. What a horrible terrible awful week. Is everyone okay? No? Me either. Is the world batshit crazy? Probably.  

Here are a few things to get you through the metaphorical night.

The best banana bread ever. (I don’t use words like ‘best’ and ‘ever’ lightly, so you can trust me on this. I am also not an obedient cook - i.e.  I never do exactly what a recipe tells me, ever. Too boring. So with this one, I throw in chopped apples or blueberries or yoghurt or sour cream or kefir or great big dollops of jam or whatever else floats my boat, and the result is ALWAYS amazing. This banana bread is bulletproof. I also put sea salt and brown turbinado sugar on top before baking because, well, everything tastes better with extra salt and sugar.) 

The best vanilla cake ever. (I’m slightly more obedient with this recipe, but still mess with the number of eggs, or add coconut flakes or almonds meal, for fun.)

Pretty damn good chocolate chip cookies. (See? I didn’t say ‘best’ or ‘ever’ because that would be a lie. But they’re pretty damn good. Actually, cookies and I have a mixed relationship. Sometimes I just think they’re too crunchy and tiring.)

If you’re pregnant, you only need to wear Cos and Topshop Maternity. I love those posh brands but dude, I wouldn’t spend $250 on a freaking t-shirt dress that I’ll wear for a decade, let alone one that I’m only going to wear for nine pathetic months and then HATE the sight of immediately afterwards. (No, I’m not knocked up. This is just something that I often think about. When someone I know gets pregnant I text them ‘Cos! Topshop!’ and they reply ‘oh i’ll just wear my own clothes as long as possible’ and then I laugh so hard I walk into a wall. Then they text four and a half months later ‘I am HUGE’ and I reply ‘Cos! Topshop! And you’re not huge. You’re just pregnant. But you still deserve to look nice and feel pretty.’)

The only game I ever play on my phone is WordWarp. It is basically Tetris-level technology (millennials, Tetris is the caveman version of the entire Internet), and I only ever bother to get the six-letter word, because I’m writing out ‘tap’ ‘map’ ‘rap’ ‘tarp’ etc is a waste of my valuable time. 

When you have a newborn, get this. It will save your life.

I don’t know this woman, but her advice columns are BRILLIANT. 

If you get really bad stomach pains and/or bloated after eating certain foods but can’t figure out what or why, look into Fodmaps. It’s probably not dairy or wheat that’s bothering you, it’s probably the polyols: watermelon and peaches and onions. Those things are total bastards.  

Watch this movie and this movie and this movie and this movie and this movie and this movie and this movie and this movie and this movie and you will feel better about the world, which is very important this week. And hug someone. Hugging is even more important. 


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On… Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

This is the movie you’re going to laugh popcorn out of your nose at this summer.

And this is the song you can’t get out of your head.

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