"I've been so proud to be a writer during the strike. I've really felt a great sense of community and belonging and felt we were doing something that was going to benefit so many people. That's not something you feel a lot in the writing community because we're all alone in our offices.
"I'm going to get to work on a new original, and I'm happy to know that I can go out there and pitch a movie and talk to the people I haven't talked to in a long time. I think they're gonna be happy to have us back too. Everybody's just greatly relieved that it's over. It's been like a separation, but everybody still sort of likes each other, so now we can come back together. I think it will lead to more appreciation of both sides.
"And I'm really looking forward to new episodes of 'The Office.' "
Bruce & Co. to the rescue
I had a conversation Monday with Oscar shaman Bruce Vilanch, who's been writing material for the telecast for 20 years. Vilanch called in from Las Vegas to discuss pulling together a show that all of a sudden must go on again -- a mere 12 days from now.
Scriptland: What's the battle plan?
We've unofficially started. We're divvying up the show. We're writing stuff as soon as they can confirm the bookings. That was a problem because nobody wanted to commit until they knew they were not going to have to cross a picket line. We try to match up the presenters with the categories, and that way we personalize what they say about them. Usually we have more of a head start, but we're going to just have to do it a lot faster this time.
Will you have a bigger writing crew?
We don't have a bigger crew. [Host] Jon [Stewart]'s got his crew in New York. There are three of us out here. I think Jon Macks and Buz Kohan will be doing it. We've all done it before, so we know what the requirements are.
Does that mean you're technically doing scab writing now?
I suppose. But I think most of the show runners are too. I think they're plotting the end of their seasons. At this point, I don't think they're going to haul us in there for trying to get a two-day jump on a show that is two weeks away.
Are you stressed, given that you've never had such little time before?
I'm relieved the strike is over. I'm sorry I have to go back to the treadmill from the picket line, because it's not nearly as much fun and I'll probably not lose any weight. However, there's less time to play politics. And that's what you do a lot at the Oscar show -- who's gonna present what, and everybody has time to mull stuff. Now everyone's going to have to pitch in and say, "OK, this is all being done on short notice," so perhaps they'll all be on their best behavior. Plus, they're all going to be too busy trying to get into the Governor's Ball because there's no Vanity Fair party.
Will there be any strike-related humor worked into the show?
There might be. I certainly think that Jon will be doing that. I think he'll be mining that vein -- it wouldn't surprise me at all.
Do you have a special mandate from Oscar show producer Gil Cates?
I believe the word was "fast."
Any other restrictions on the show or differences in approach?
It's the same show. We're approaching it at warp speed, that's the difference. And we all have to get up to speed on anything we haven't been paying attention to. If you haven't seen the movies, you'd better see them right away so you know who you're talking about.
Are you up on everything?
Yeah, sure. What else do you do during a strike? I went to see every movie.
Have you written material already that you like?
Yeah. Actually, I filed it away. I thought, "If we ever get to do this show, this would be a funny joke" -- never expecting we were actually going to do the show.
So now I have to see if any of that stuff is actually funny.
Well, good luck.
Thanks. It'll be much more fun than just a press conference. Even though that Golden Globes press conference was rollicking good fun.
Right, that sets you guys up to be even bigger heroes.
Exactly. Let's hope.
Scriptland is a weekly feature on the work and professional lives of screenwriters. Please e-mail any tips or comments to email@example.com.