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MAJOR PAYNE behind-the-scenes: Part 1

Meeting Damon Wayans

I first meet Damon Wayans in his cold, dark office on the Sony lot while he clips his toenails in silence. He does not seem pleased to see me. I’m very uncomfortable and I think: how did I end up here?

Months earlier, a Universal executive by the name of Barry Isaacson hires me to do a rewrite of a Charlton Heston movie from the fifties called THE PRIVATE WAR OF MAJOR BENSON. It’s a comedy about a tough major in the military who finds himself in charge of a group of kids. We talk about who could play Major Benson and think we’ve come up with the perfect person:

Clint Eastwood.

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ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT An Affectionate Look Behind-The-Scenes (Season 3) Part 3

If you haven’t read part 1 or 2 yet, you can find them here and here. 

EDITING ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

When shooting wraps on an episode, the toughest part of the work is just beginning.  Each episode of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT seems to require about twenty hours of intense editing work from Mitch and he often wants me to be a part of it.  Why?  Because I was there for the shooting, so I know all the footage and I also know where the good takes are.

This is more complicated than it sounds, because you rarely get a perfect take all the way through.  You get good pieces.  I find myself saying “I liked it when he said this line in this take and I liked this reading of this other line in this take…”

It requires a lot of patience.

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ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT An Affectionate Look Behind-The-Scenes (Season 3) Part 2

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you can find it here.

THE MAGIC OF RON HOWARD

I discover that the Ron Howard voiceover is what makes ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT possible.

There is so much story in a single episode of ARRESTED that there’s simply no way to cover it in full-length scenes and still have a 22 minute show. Instead, we write jokes and fun set pieces and use Ron’s voiceover to quickly connect the dots for the viewer. Months later, in editing, we will be constantly rewriting the voiceover to accommodate the changes we make based on different cuts of the episode.

healthy lifestyle and fitness concept with mount bike man outdoor

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT An Affectionate Look Behind-The-Scenes (Season 3) Part 1

GETTING A JOB ON ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

I’m Executive Producing and occasionally directing the Damon Wayans show MY WIFE AND KIDS when it gets abruptly cancelled. Luckily, my good friend, Jim Vallely, introduces me to Mitch Hurwitz — the creator and show runner of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.

We hit it off. Mitch is funny and likable and I love his show. He asks if I’d be interested in working on season 3 as a writer/producer and I jump at the chance. Who wouldn’t? It’s ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT — one of the most admired series of the decade!

But I’m terrified.

healthy lifestyle and fitness concept with mount bike man outdoor

FITNESS CONFIDENTIAL: Behind the Scenes

Part One: Writing with a Bat

(Part one of a two-part series about writing and publishing FITNESS CONFIDENTIAL — the new, hit book by Vinnie Tortorich and Dean Lorey.)

Firing Vinnie Tortorich was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I was not a healthy guy. ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT had been cancelled and I was traveling the country, visiting schools, happily promoting my NIGHTMARE ACADEMY series, but my diet and lifestyle had caught up with me. I was a good thirty pounds heavier, felt terrible — slow, lethargic — and wanted to stop feeling that way. So, on the recommendation of friends, I hired Vinnie as a personal trainer and was ready to do anything necessary to get in shape, as long as “anything necessary” didn’t involve changing my diet or having to exercise. I guess I thought that the very act of hiring someone would just “miracle” the weight off. Didn’t happen. It wasn’t Vinnie’s fault. My mind wasn’t right. I didn’t lose a single pound or get any fitter. I wanted to quit.

Which is when Vinnie discovered he had leukemia.