Pamela Harris

Posts in the TV Category

The finale of BREAKING BAD was incredibly satisfying. To see Walt lovingly touch his meth making apparatus while dying is to suddenly make him a scientist at work in his lab. Add to this his admittance that all he's done, he's done for himself because he liked it makes me question his morality, i.e. is there any? Yet the writer of the show, Vince Gilligan, makes sure Walt provides for his family in the most egoless way he can. Walt also saves Jessie and kills the one group of characters in the series who have no soul to lose. To want redemption means a heart beats inside, and that this show came full circle, and went back to its very beginning gives it a complete sense of closure.

I don't own a TV and watch shows on my computer, almost never when they air. We stream a lot and since the dog passed we've been ripping through the America version of THE OFFICE. Streaming means no break between seasons, no weekly pause between shows, no extended cliffhangers or to-be-continued's, so the viewing experience takes on a whole new dimension. Up until this year I watched BREAKING BAD weekly, but this season I missed weeks here and there and watched a few episodes back to back. What was amazing is it didn't matter how I watched it. The show was seamless, a slow build of expectation that in small beats circled back on itself before revving forward. BREAKING BAD could've ended a hundred different ways and the choices the writers made resonated for me far off the computer screen. When the final credits came up, I felt a real pang and couldn't watch anything else for a few hours.

If you need your BREAKING BAD fix forever, a lot of the props are being auctioned off, including the pink teddy bear. It's $7600 and rising, and you have 5 days left to bid. May Gus's Hazmat Suit be with you.

Reality Bits September 2, 2013

A very good friend, Mike Indursky, can be seen on 'The Pitch' on AMC this season (Season 2). He's the president of Bliss and is in Episode 2, 'Bliss.' You can watch it on demand. Click here for more info.

Another good friend's sister, Joanne Distefano (who's great) is in 'The Great Food Truck Race' on the Food Network. She had a restaurant on the Jersey shore and lost it in Hurricane Sandy. She's competing on the 'Boardwalk Breakfast Empire' truck. Was competing; her truck was eliminated in Episode 2, but you can read their exit interview and see stills here.

A Real Simulation February 7, 2013

(photo is from Area's photobooth)

I love seeing patterns on the street. Not in the design sense (I do, but that's not what this post is about) but in the people sense.

I've always seen patterns and started noting them a few years ago when the tranny hookers at Christopher Street and Hudson began to look like they had just gotten the baby to sleep and were dashing out to pick up a jug of laundry detergent. They'd be wearing gray collegiate sweatshirts that read Dartmouth or Yale, beat up pale pink sweat pants, and their hair was haphazardly tied up in a scrunchie. The kicker was they wore no make-up. I loved it, found it conceptually fascinating, and then poof! Make-up and size 12 stiletto's were back on the corner.

Then it was blind people. I saw them everywhere, for three days. Then people missing a limb; an arm, one leg, a hand. I'd see them all over town so it wasn't like there was a prosthetic convention going on in the neighborhood.

One of my favorite things to see is a tourist window shopping around the corner on Prince St., say - maybe their bag or coat caught my eye - then six hours later I'll see them in Chelsea. Sticking with tourists, I've had a week where all I saw were tourist couples arguing loudly. No-one swears like the French and I don't need to speak it to know that.

Occasionally the patterns show me things. This summer I was walking through Tribeca late at night and passed a woman outside Nobu wearing a micro mini paired with red-soled 8-inch heels. This isn't unusual to see since it's everywhere, all the time. This night though it hit me that she couldn't run if she had to. 8-inch heels and cobblestone streets don't mix well and if she was chased she'd surely be caught. Maybe New York is getting safer.

The pattern I see now is a broader one, not yet defined. It mostly involves people in their late 20's to mid-30's and it has to do with a desire for an '80's kind of decadence. Desire is the key word, since what really seems to be desired is a simulated decadence, a decadence that's safe and without an edge. Granted, I'm talking about a sliver of this age group: the sliver with money. Interestingly, in the actual 1980's this group made a bundle of money on Wall St. With this new faux '80's sliver, their parents - youth of the '80's? - make the money and support them.

What fascinates me is how accepting and even hopeful this group seems to be about being part of the status quo, the mass appeal. Even the hipsters, moneyed or not, seem eager to define their personalities through fashion that advertises brands from the 1970's, or their clothes co-op an entire ethos and lifestyle of a past generation -- any generation -- except their own. Their clothing choices isn't political: it's as if commercialism and identity have happily merged. The individual is no more.

Over the last five or so years a private club scene has blossomed here. The application process to join paints a picture of exclusivity, one where artists and creative types romp freely, yet this isn't the clientele and members know it. Anyone can join these clubs, something also known by members. The decor is simulated chic, the art offends or excites no-one, and even the personality of the crowd has a consistently homogenized tone. (Soho House is the one private club I've been to that has personality, plus they throw fun parties and from what I hear have a great breakfast scene.) These clubs do reach out to creatives with free memberships, but the comps I know are home watching Netflix or getting ready to take the dog out. (The art world has been turned inside out and culturally neutered, too, but that's a longer discussion.)

In the east village I'm seeing '80's hairstyles and dye jobs; fur is back on the street; drugs are being sold openly; there's a pile of new shows and movies in production that take place in the '80's; and music, even some EDM has hints of a Flock of Seagulls. All this isn't the point I'm writing about. What is, or what congealed all of this and turned an intuitive 'is it the '80's?' cog inside me was a company called Reviv.

A close friend spent the New Year at a fancy hotel in South Beach and one afternoon around the pool he noticed men and a couple of women sporting colored arm bands. Some had more than one arm band on. He asked his date what they were and she told him they had seen 'the doctor.' The doctor?

My friend wanted to better understand what she meant so his date took him upstairs to a lavish suite. Inside it had been turned into a spa, or more appropriately, a med-spa, called Reviv. Every bed and chair had a (mostly male) 30-something hooked up to an IV. Hot nurses tended them while a doctor casually roamed the room. Each client was receiving a personally tailored infusion, a doctor-concocted blend of saline and multivitamins and medications - some were getting oxygen - for whatever ailed them. All ailments were gotten by partying too hard.

Run by an ex ER doctor who threw around terms like 'Hydrating therapy' and 'MegaBoost' and 'UltraVive,' this was the womb you went to if you drank too much or snorted too much cocaine or needed to sober up so you could start drinking again. This struck me as real decadence, nothing simulated about it.

My friend isn't much of a partier and back down at the pool his date called over some of the armband wearers. This crew -- all trust funders -- ignored my friend and spoke to his date of how they wanted to start their own Reviv and make it global. My friend listened quietly, since he recently helped build a global brand which he sold for a huge chunk (and now heads another global brand). It was like this crew was playing at business, acting out what they'd do knowing full on they never would. And it wasn't because they didn't have to; talking about it was satisfying enough. Fantasy success has a built in safety net -- you never have to lose or fight for something. What struck my friend was that this crew showed no desire to go for the real thing. Simulation is sufficient.

I find it all disturbing. I know that change, ultimately, is good and I love when I see signs that we're moving into the future. Right now I can't understand or find purpose in how this sliver moves our evolution forward. Sometimes we gotta go back to move forward, so I'm hoping this sliver is the equivalent of an algae bloom, one that will eventually block its own sunlight and cut itself off at the legs.

(photo by Christopher Payne)

When the prod. co. with the first look with Sony showed interest (please see post behind this one, 'Starting Out') I thought Yay! I've made it! They introduced me to five agents and I picked one. I started looking at houses to buy. Four months in the prod. co. disbanded and I got the script back. I stopped looking at houses.

My agent sent the script around and suddenly it was hot. Aents at William Morris and CAA called - I went back to the real estate listings. My home would have at least three bedrooms.

Then just like that my script got cold.

I had been writing a new script, JOYVILLE, a dark comedy about competition. I gave it to my agent and she took it out. A V.P. at a dream production company loved it. He nurtured the project through the gears of his co. and at the top it came down to my script and an action pic. Action won. The V.P. called my agent and said,"I'm going to fuck my boss for not making this. I'm giving it to the competition." He gave it to a producer at Brillstein Gray. She read it and loved it. I was back to four bedrooms.

Two weeks later she left on maternity leave.

A manager liked my first script and wanted to rep me. "What can you bring to the table?" I asked. He brought me an Oscar winner. The Oscar winner's current movie opened and bombed. She got into bed and wouldn't get out. The manager vanished. My script , again, was cold.

My agent sent JOYVILLE to Howard Stern's production co. His head of development loved it, but not for Howard Stern. I told him I had another script and pitched the project the Sony group liked. There was a great part for Howard Stern in it, too. The HoD read it, thought the part was too small for Howard Stern, but was I interested in TV? I was very interested in TV. The HoD gave me a headline he saw on CNN that he thought was interesting. Could I do anything with it? I took the headline, blew it up into a show and when I finished we were happy with it. Finally, I had something moving in the pipe.

I saw a contest in The New Yorker in collaboration with HBO: write an episode idea for THE SOPRANOS. There would be five winners and I ended up being one of them. I turned the idea into a spec script and my agent gave it to a TV agent at her agency. Suddenly I had meetings with Dick Wolf's guy (LAW AND ORDER) for a new show they just shot a pilot for. The meeting went well, the show was something I could definitely write for, when would I move to LA? NBC dropped the pilot. The show was now dead. I met Sydney Lumet's showrunner/TV guy. We clicked, it was great, then his show didn't get picked up. Goddamn.

My TV agent came to New York, we had a strategy meeting, then he vanished. Literally. Rumor had it he had two wives and one of them found out about it. He was in Spain, Portugal, maybe South America. I was on Shit Street heading toward Fuck-You-ville.

I wrote a horror movie. Even for me it was a little too far out.

Painting and drawing had been going well and I got into a big show. This would be the one that would catapult me into the world. The show opened, my phone started ringing, I got reviewed well, it even sold okay. When the show came down and it got quiet again. Very quiet.

I had a studio visit with a major museum here. It was the worst studio visit I ever had. (Two months later the curator came back and bought a painting, for herself, not the museum. I still didn't get in the show.)

Part of my agreement with Howard Stern's production company was I would get the TV series back, sole owner, if it didn't go into production in three years. I got it back. Because I was focusing almost exclusively on TV, my relationship with my film agent ended.

I was brought in to adapt an Elmore Leonard short story for a TV director. A month later the financing fell out.

I could go on. There's a lot I'm forgetting, blips I'm leaving out, grants I was short-listed on, etc. Every time I got something I was sure it would rocket me into stratosphere, it would be the one. Instead it was just a baby step. I kept telling myself no matter what, keep going. So that's what I did.

Then then three years ago I didn't want to anymore. I'm hardy, a New Englander by birth annealed by New York City. I've been mugged at knifepoint by a tranny (she was better dressed than me); chased by a machete-wielding crackhead; was wrong time/wrong place for a suicide (he jumped in front of a subway); and had a neighbor hang himself from a landing above my door. I've seen things I wished I never saw and have done things I wished I never did. I've had as much inside chaos as outside, then seven years ago I punctured an artery cutting a bagel. Sitting in the trauma unit at St. Vincents pushed me to a bottom, which slowed me down enough to peer inside. I started sorting through the past and present and two years later my mother was diagnosed with lung, brain and bone cancer.

Two years into her illness was three years ago. If you've ever been close to someone with an illness like this there's a moment that gets crossed when you know they're going to die, for real, no matter what. Not next week, not next month, but this year will most likely be your last together. When I saw that point I was traveling nonstop to be with her, my career was stalled, I was stalled. One day I came back from visiting her and sat down in the middle of the path. That's how I pictured it, my life as a pine needle path through trees. I sat down and didn't want to get up. Wasn't going to get up. I felt done, with what I didn't know. Whatever it was, I was quitting.

I had never, ever done that. To sit down meant I was a failure, a loser, someone who had lost the fight. I sat there not caring. It was like I emptied out: worry, concern, care, angst, passion, fear and joy - it all became inert. I sat there feeling nothing.

Two days later Diane called. "What are you going to do about it?" she said, tough friend she is, then added "Get up and get going." I put my feet under me and stood up. I wasn't relieved or happy or sad or optimistic. There was no cheerleader saying This is good! You're back on your feet! I was still empty, simply up.

I roamed aimlessly around my house and the next day I roamed in a muttering, puttering and scratching kind of way. Which meant there was life brewing. I cooked dinner, put one foot in front of the other, watched traffic. I got an idea for a new project, a one-hour pilot about a group of teens that would be fiction, but personal. Very personal. Personal would be new for me. What was strange was how calm I felt even though I had just done the worst thing I could ever do, give up. The calm gave me a moment of objectively and I asked myself why it was the worst thing, why quitting scared the shit out of me. And it hit me that the calm I was feeling was lack of fear. I had given up, done the one thing I swore I'd never do, and now I was on the other side of it.

I wrote the pilot and a new world opened, personally and professionally. A head fuck got replaced with faith. I didn't see it coming. It so wasn't how I thought things went.

My Personal Dictionary November 14, 2012

Every so often I dig through the settings on my phone to get to my personal dictionary. This dictionary saves 'my' words - words I text, email or use to search - that aren't in the established dictionary. It saves misspells, too, which is why I go in now and then to clean it out.

I'm always surprised by how revealing the word list is. This week was a self-portrait: Amex, because I got hacked; Abeille is a restaurant where Dawn and I recently had breakfast; Addidas because I need new sneakers; blunch because we couldn't decide on breakfast or lunch and split the difference.

Scrolling down the list, ass is followed by asshat and I can't wait to get to shituation because I'll have to pass pooblem, a dictionary favorite. These etched their way in when I was struggling with something I was working on and texted Brian, a fellow writer:

Me: 'I have a pooblem.'

Brian: 'A shituation?'

Me: 'Deficately'

Brian: 'Ass me anything'

Me: 'I tip my shat to you'

I'm elegantly redeemed by Nauman, Guggenheim, Didion and DiSuvero, but barely, since suddenly there's fuckle. There's also Falafart, farted, Farticle, farting, Fartis and Harrfart. Stuck in the middle of this, next to Frankenstein, is Fluffyllis. I don't know what a Fluffyllis is, but I'm keeping it.

Chemo is still there from when my mom was still alive.

Dupchik is from THIRD ROCK FROM THE SUN, LoM is for the American TV version of LIFE ON MARS, there's NUMB3RS and FREAKS - egad we watch a lot of TV. And we eat: avocado, Babbo, Citerella, cockles, cupcake, donut, edamame, greenmarket, hummus, lychees - I hit rigatoni and still, the food keeps coming.

CAA, WME, Miranda, ProdCo and FTVS let me feel optimistic workwise, as does shortlisted. Musicality makes me feel smart, but then there's narraring. Prunes makes me wonder how old I am, but craption tells me it'll all be okay. It's a curated document of a life, this dictionary. It says I like to eat, work, watch TV, read, look at art, make up words that celebrate bodily functions, and spend time with my beau and friends. That's pretty much right on the truth.