We don’t generally think of TV writers as celebrities. No, we really don’t. Truthfully, TV writers (and I count myself among them) are generally not the most photogenic lot. We work behind the scenes for a reason. Also we often work from home, in sweat pants, sans make-up. If we do need to go out, we put in a modicum of effort to look a bit more presentable, but generally speaking fashion is not our forte.
Last night, however, I was in the presence of a true Celebrity TV Writer. No, he isn’t particularly photogenic or fashionable. But it doesn’t matter because he is Vince Gilligan, creator of my favorite series of all time (and the favorite for many), “Breaking Bad.”
Actually he’s kind of cute, isn’t he?
He was being interviewed as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival’s TV Forum. 1800 fans came out to see him. He was interviewed by another heavyweight L.A. screenwriter, Damon Lindelof of “Lost’ fame. It was a really terrific evening, marred only by a lone weirdo in tighty whities who tried to make the evening all about him for a few minutes. Kudos to Damon, who was an excellent moderator. We screened Vince’s favorite episode, from Season 4, “Face Off.” (If you’re a fan of the show and think about the title literally for a moment, you might remember which once it was). Then Vince answered questions from Damon and fans on Twitter for over an hour. He generously talked about each of the other writers in his room, and told us a lot about their process, without, of course, ever giving anything away. Clearly all the nice things people say about him are true. He’s the genuine article, and it was truly a great evening.
A number of years ago – gosh, probably at least 5 – I had another more intimate (no, not that intimate) encounter with another Celebrity TV Writer. My friend Norm Hiscock – whom I’d had the pleasure of working with on a series I did called “Alice, I Think,” based on the best-selling novels by Susan Juby – how we got him I’ll never know, this is a celebrity TV writer in his own right, having worked on “Kids in the Hall,” “SNL,” “King of the Hill,” “Parks and Rec,” and now “Brooklyn 99” – was moderating a panel with Paul Lieberstein, not only a writer for “The Office,” but also the actor who played Toby.
Norm and I had agreed to go out for coffee afterward, with my writer friend Jennifer Daley (who was working with me on “Robson Arms”). He asked if Paul could come along. Now, this was the at the height of the popularity of “The Office,” and Toby’s character. We sat at the local Starbucks with Norm and Paul, and Paul told us great stories about working on “The Office” – almost none of which I remember (nor does Jennifer) because I (we) were so star-struck. I do remember that he told us he got the part because it hadn’t been cast yet, and he was asked to read the part at their read-through, and everyone loved his delivery.
Lastly – I was one of those people who came to “The Wire” late, and got caught up by buying the first 3 or 4 seasons on DVD. (It is a very very close race between “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad” for my all-time favorite). I think I had just finished watching everything up to the final season, which I watched when it aired, when I was invited for the first time, with my first book, to the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival. I shouldn’t admit this story to the festival’s director, Hal Wake, or he may never invite me back. But I found out one of the writers from “The Wire,” George Pelecanos, was going to be there. Now, George is an amazing novelist as well. But I was a bit ga-ga over the fact that he’d written for “The Wire.” So when I saw there was a sign-up list for a harbor cruise – and that George had signed up – I signed up, too.
Un peu stalkerish, you ask? Mais oui! And it gets better (or worse, if you’re George). Because I confess that I kind of cornered him at one point and started asking him about “The Wire.” The guy looked really uncomfortable, which made me feel like a dork, so I backed off. But you know who George really liked talking to on that cruise was Sheree Fitch. Now, Sheree might kill me for saying this – she has since become a good friend and anyone who knows her, loves her – but it’s no surprise George was a bit google-eyed for her, because she is gorgeous (and very happily married). George is not chopped liver, either. Well, see for yourselves:
TTFN – Ta-ta for now!