Colleen's thoughts on writing, directing and coaching, and her unique take on life itself!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rick's working overtime at THE OFFICE!

THE WHOLE TRUTH's own Rick Overton ("Uri") plays the dad of Pam Beesly (Jenna Fischer) this coming Thursday night on The Office.

It's the episode millions will be watching because Pam and Jim Halpert (John Krasinski) are getting married!

We're so excited for Rick - that's us as the TWT premiere.

What a fine show to be in; hopefully the editing room does not leave too much of him lying on the floor - his first appearance as Pam's dad ended up without lines. Blasphemy! ;-)

While Rick is always working - he's been in half dozen big films this past year alone, I hope he gets the chance to become a program regular on The Office, or at least more of a recurring character than he is now, so audiences can get to know the great talent that he is!

Meanwhile, TV history would indicate that as soon as a pining, yearning, jonesing couple finally gets together, their programs die.

Mark my words - this will not happen on The Office.

The reason?

The other shows focused too much on the couple and their unrequited love and sexual tension. Like the goal was to do it, rather than be it - be a couple. Like couples who focus so much on getting married they do not focus on how to be married.

Pam and Jim's relationship is based on being a functional couple, their work, their sense of humor, the interaction they have with all the characters in The Office - not just one another. And their own interaction and dialogue is not so extremely sexually based; they talk and kid about everything and everyone.

Will and Grace made the mistake of making it a one joke show; all about sex. Funny for awhile, then like all functional relationships, we talk about something else.

More, Jim and Pam are good people, good representatives of their genders. They don't lie, cheat, drink, drug, deceive or denigrate others; they have fun; they respect one another and their priorities are in the right place.

They have no schemes of grandiosity, no ego maniacal melees - they leave that up to their boss Michael Scott (Steve Carell), and learn valuable lessons from his poorly pounded path.

I don't know about you, but I'll have popcorn at the ready to enjoy - and record - this week's episode.

Oh - good luck, Pam and Jim! Don't forget to put your dad in lots of scenes, Pam! ;-)

The only mistake the network could make with these two? Give them their own show.

Would. Not. Work.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Extras! Extras! See all about it!

I treated myself to viewing seasons #1 and #2 of Ricky Gervais' incredible, hilarious, Emmy-winning BBC/HBO creation, "Extras," about background, lineless actors - "extras" - and their struggles to make a living as well as get ahead in show biz as "real actors." Those who have lines.

Pictured here, the Extras core cast l-r: Ashley Jensen, Ricky Gervais, long time Gervais collaborator Stephen Merchant and Shaun Williamson.

Each episode features at least one A-level star put in the position of ridiculing themselves and their coworkers so sharply and over the top, I keep hoping that audiences actually know the megastars he casts are nothing like the characters they portray as themselves!

In the show featuring Orlando Bloom, Bloom "as himself" skewered Johnny Depp mercilessly, describing how horrendous it was to work with him and how he could not understand why people think Depp is such a great actor, making fun of his scissors props and other props his notable characters have used.

Kate Winslet as the chain-smoking naughty nun is priceless.

I do worry if the British show is a bit inside. I fall on the floor laughing at things I've seen, experienced, and know go wrong along the way working on or making a show or film, then wonder if real people in the audience understand how funny it all is because Gervais shows how just about everything *does not* work and why.

Typically, Gervais takes on all the verboten subjects in the most twisted way: racism, politics, homophobia, materialism, celebrity, classism, looksism sexism - all the "ism's," in fact, along with the usual deception, deceit, betrayal, failure, success and camp that is show biz.

One of the things I appreciate about this show in comparison to his original smash hit, The Office, is that Gervais' Extras character has a broader range of emotions, surrounded by people who don't share his depth or see themseleves realistically as he does (and despite himself ends up loving them anyway).

Unlike The Office, however, audiences were steeled for comedy when Extras hit the air. They didn't know The Office was a comedy until well into the first season. Viewers in the UK took it as a serious documentary about a typically dysfunctional office. When they realised it was a joke, they laughed long and loudly.

Suffering as his character does in every episode, we are left with the punch line of a very old joke: What? And quit show biz?

This response comes at the end of a very long story told by a circus clean-up man who follows the elephants and other animals in the parades, cleaning up after all the sick and bodily elimination in their cages, getting paid nearly nothing; worse, he's kicked around by everyone with whom he works - all of whom disrespect him.

Finally, the frustrated listener asks, "Good heavens! Why don't you get another job!?" (Review punch line.)

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

....a day at The Office

Multi-tasking, I played seasons one and two - 5 full DVD's - of the NBC-TV show The Office for many *hours* today. Time very well spent

I also watch the program live on thei air, but play DVD's or captured programs off the air to enjoy a marathon. I don't play any shows online to support the writer's strike; writers are trying to get paid for their work that plays on the internet. David Letterman's production company, Worldwide Pants, signed a new contract with the striking WGA (Writer's Guild of America) because he negotiated with the writer's union separately.

Hopefully other major production companies will also negotiate separately. WWP signed the contract that calls for exactly the same thing WGA leaders wanted to offer the studio Producers who refuse to talk with them.

Back to The Office - this program, IMO, is spectacularly written and performed. The casting is perfect, and every performer scores a *10* each time he or she appears.

Lead Steve Carell. playing boss Michael Scott, is a brilliant actor; Melora Hardin (along with her two outstanding, well-rounded, air-brushed co-stars) is spot on as his foil - playing his sometime squeeze Jan Levenson.

Jenna Fischer is a deceptively fine actor - I can see her star rising because of her excellent, nuanced performance here as receptionist Pam Beesly. The key to a long career for her is to do drama and comedy - and smart comedy at that. She can do it all - and should.

John Krasinski stars as affable Jim Halpert. Also a fine performer, he must be careful of being in low comedy duds like License to Wed. Just because a film features Robin Williams does not a quality project make. Much better to take roles that challenge him so he can show casting agents the full range of what he's capable of doing than doing roles he can simply call in.

The phenomenal, scene-stealing Rainn Wilson is hysterical as the dysfunctional control freak Dwight Schrute. Wilson's career is going the distance because he has chosen such an array of roles, indie and studio, over the past few years, to complement his great work in The Office. This highly disciplined actor can do *anything.*

As I say, each actor on the show deserves an individual mention here - but space must be considered. But on the show, in fact, each performer's talent and skill are so impacting that each of them is isolated with a close up for their scenes, thanks to the "documentary camera" production technique established by the genius of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant for the original BBC series.

The Office was developed for American television by Greg Daniels. Daniels did a profound job; being an ardent fan of the original British series, I was not sure the show could be properly translated for American audiences. In fact, in its own way, the American series has turned out to be a cut above the original.

As the sun sets, with several tasks accomplished along with sharing a day full of humor, social commentary and characters of The Office? I'm ready to do it all over again the next chance I get!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Essential emotional nutrients!

The World Health Organization should add two elements to our minimum emotional/nutritional daily requirements (MDR's):

Vitamins N (urture) and A (ffection).

Affection and nurturing help our bodies produce endorphins.

Those are peptides that help us feel better, recover more completely and faster from whatever might be ailing us (physical and emotional) and give us a sense of well-being.

Making certain we have ample doses of both daily assists us feel good about ourselves, creating a much more positive attitude, helping us feel more open to accept other solutions, which adds up to being capable of taking on whatever life hands us.

In addition to tons o' hugs from people I see daily - including clients; I get puppy and kitty snuggles and kisses galore (the latter a little sand-paperish); scalp massages, air waves, manicures and pedicures from my favorite students at the nearby Gene Juarez Academy of Cosmetology; facials and skin work from my friend Kelli; massages; and frequent social visits to Kelli and her four month old baby Brock - who is very much a kissyface boy.

I love great conversation with friends and people I know who are exceptionally smart, accomplished or insightful.

I'm lucky because I work out of my home studio, so my pets are around me all the time. The folks I coach tend to fall in love with them as well. When little Oscar passed away recently, friends and those I coach who created a separate relationship with him over the months and years came to say good-bye.

I also like to be affectionate with people by sharing hugs, making appropriate physical contact or showing my fondness in other ways - like telling people for whom I care that I care about them or love them or that they are important to me.

I like to express appreciation to friends and others who do things for me; I like to write messages of thanks and make other small gestures that essentially say thanks for being you.

I tell my pets, "You know why I love you? Just because you're you." Come to think of it, I tell the kids I know and work with the same thing. Oh, yeah - and the adults.

I take classes to nurture my craft and mind: writing, poetry, drawing. I read, watch documentaries, research, investigate, attend presentations, surf the net and whatever else strikes my fancy to learn. I'm taking my first online class about Writing Romantic Screenplays next month.

I meditate, read spiritual works, write all sorts of things for myself and others, play piano, sing, play guitar and entertain anyone who will watch/listen, view and create art, attend concerts and listen to every type of music to nurture my soul.

Come to think of it, perhaps the most nurturing thing we can do for ourselves is laugh. Laughter kicks in torrents of endorphins more quickly than any other means of feeling good. Fortunately, I spend a lot of my day laughing with the folks I coach, the pets are a great source of laughter and I prescribe TV shows for myself like The Office, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Desperate Housewives and Looney Tunes cartoons, as well as listen to Stephanie Miller for a hearty ha-ha.

I love to walk, hike, now bike, work out at the gym, and have started to actually work in my yard to nurture myself and my environment physically. Before this year, God was my gardener. Now .. I'm learning how to care for and enhance the beauty of the rather wild wooded area in which I live. That's also a spiritual experience, come to think of it.

Yep, vitamins Affection and Nurture=endorphin production, and part of my MDR's.

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