Thursday, April 8, 2010

Twenty Years Ago

“I remember I went home and my dear, dear friend, Brandon Lee was over, and I said, ‘Watch this Lynch thing with me. They want me to do this TV show. Let’s sit back and watch this.’ So we opened up a couple of beers and watched the pilot of Twin Peaks. And it was unbelievable! We didn’t say a word to each other the whole two hours! It was just incredible. It was the kind of TV I had never seen. I’ll never forget that endless shot of the telephone cord. Oh, man! It affected me as much as any movie I had ever seen. The two of us just sat there and said, ‘Let’s watch it again!’ And we did! I couldn’t wait for Monday to roll around so I could call Mark Frost and just say, ‘God bless you. It’s phenomenal.’” --Miguel Ferrer, Wrapped in Plastic #35, p. 4

“So, we had shot the pilot, and then it aired. And I remember that night as if it were yesterday. We had a big party at our house and lot of the cast members and crew were there. It was airing on television and the phone started ringing. People on the East Coast had just finished watching it. There was this wave of people across the United States calling as soon as it finished airing in their time zone. It never occurred to me that it was going to air on other people's televisions! I thought it was only on mine! Very surreal!” – Sheryl Lee, Wrapped in Plastic #16, p. 5

“When we shot [Sheryl Lee] it was cold—I mean, it was so cold. And she lay out there, and then we’d have to take her away, where they had these blankets and heaters set up behind this giant log. So she’d run fifteen and go into this warm little tent and get her body temperature back up, and then go back and shoot. She was a great sport” – David Lynch, Lynch on Lynch (ed. by Chris Rodley), p. 172.

“When they screened the pilot at the Director’s Guild everybody laughed after I did the phone thing. Then, when I came on again, everybody cheered. Nobody else in the pilot got the same boisterous response as I did. I was completely shocked. I couldn’t shut my mouth. I have witnesses; they were there with me. Afterwards, David and Mark came up and said, ‘We’ve got plans for you.’” -- Kimmy Robertson, Wrapped in Plastic #43, p. 3

“I would say that generally a lot of the scenes from the pilot were shot from the hip. There was a lot of improvisation. So we might go into one scene with expectations we had from the script, and David would change the format and change the intent of the scene. . . . And, of course, he was influenced by the powerful setting up there. [ . . .] It was a wonderful experience, shooting that.” – Everett McGill, Wrapped in Plastic #44, p. 14

“All of a sudden this hastily typed-out three or four page scene is presented to me. And David says, ‘OK, that's your scene.’ I looked at it, and it's not just a three or four page simple scene—it's mostly written in poetry. In normal film dialog, if you can get the gist of it, you can kind of paraphrase it and make it work. But if you're dealing with poetry, you have to be letter perfect. Ten minutes later, they were saying, ‘OK, we're ready!’ It was probably the thirty years of training I had before, and the kind of empathetic sense I have with David, that allowed me to be able to do all that cold.” -- Al Strobel, Wrapped in Plastic #11, p. 3

“There’s this monologue that Bob has to do. And David's going, ‘See this? We do this scene. And see these four lines here? Well, that's a song, Frank. Those are lyrics. Make up a tune. Just make something up.’ I didn't know what I was doing. I thought, ‘Here I am, I'm a crew member. If I'm horrible, everybody's going to laugh at me. I'm going to be this big joke doing this scene.’ So every ounce of energy, every ounce of everything, was drawn up. I don't know how I did it.” – Frank Silva, Wrapped in Plastic #7, p. 9


“I asked [David Lynch] if the Twin Peaks pilot would be get picked up [as a network series] today. ‘I kind of doubt it,’ he replied.” – Tad Friend, “Creative Differences,” The New Yorker, 9/6/99, p. 67.

(Note: Most of the above quotes were first compiled in Wrapped In Plastic #46. See that issue for more observations abou the Twin Peaks pilot from the cast and crew.)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Notes and Notions: April '10

Well, I've been out of touch for some time and I apologize.

The twentieth anniversary of Twin Peaks is Thursday (4/8) and I had hoped to put together something to commemorate the occasion but it just isn't going to happen.  But, you know, 2010 marks the twentieth anniversary year of TP so there is still time to write a few things about the show.  (I've been asked by a few people to reprint my "Dreams of Deer Meadow" piece from Wrapped in Plastic, but the essay is too long and really won't work in this medium.  Still, I have thought about rewriting the piece in condensed form to make it more appropriate as a blog post.  That's my plan right now.  Let me know what you think.)

OK, I've been watching and reading lots of stuff.  So, a few brief comments.  (Please post or email if you would like to discuss any of these things in greater detail.)


LOST is amazing.  No show in history has been brave enough to depict two ongoing alternate realities.  I marvel at the two parallel plots every week.  Of course, there has to be some connection between the two.  Now that Desmond is back maybe we will find out what that connection is.  Desmond has always been a unique character (remember: "the rules do not apply" to him).  Could Desmond be experiencing both realities at once?  I think this might be a cool idea and one that fits nicely with his season three story, "Flashes Before Your Eyes."  (Not to mention season four's "The Constant.")  (Let's hope the re-appearance of Desmond also means the return of Daniel Faraday (who surely knows what's going on, right?).)

I've started watching Justified on FX.  The series features smart writing, atypical storylines, and a fine lead actor, Timothy Olyphant, who is superb in the role of Raylan Givens.  Justified has been a pleasant surprise.

The Pacific on HBO is also another riveting series.  Clearly, a great amount of time, effort, and money has been put into the series.  It shows--the production values are present in every scene.  But, at the core, the fine writing and acting are what give the show its emotional resonance.

I don't watch Caprica.  I stopped watching FlashForward.  I was disappointed with Big Love (the last season was rushed and hectic, and far less engrossing than seasons past).

But I tell you, I can't wait for Treme from David Simon.  It starts Sunday on HBO.  If it is half as good as The Wire it will be the best show on TV.


I never thought a comic with the title, Scalped, would appeal to me, but the Vertigo series from writer Jason Aaron (and illustrated, for the most part, by R.M. Guera) is one of the most complex, compelling and captivating comics I've ever read.  The story is essentially a crime drama set on the modern-day Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  The FBI has placed an undercover agent, Dashiel Bad Horse, into the crime operation of Chief Red Crow.  There are murders, drug deals and double-crosses.  No one is completely innocent; no one is completely bad.  I've finished the five graphic novels of Scalped (collecting issues 1-29) and I may have to buy all the subsequent issues before the next collection comes out.  I'm hooked -- immersed in the wonderfully-plotted story and thoroughly-developed world Aaron has created.  He is masterfully using the strengths of the comic medium:  devoting time to flashbacks, overlapping simultaneous storylines from issue-to-issue, and developing his background characters into significant players.  Aaron is not beholden to any formulaic story structure.  He pauses his story sometimes, suspending the major narrative for five or six issues to explore a side area of his milieu.   But nothing in the series is extraneous or out-of-place.  The pieces all come together. Trust me, Scalped is a rewarding series.


I've been reading quite a bit.  The most exciting book has been Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself by David Lipsky.  This is essentially a book-length interview Lipsky did with David Foster Wallace in February of 1996, just as Infinite Jest was published.  Lipsky was assigned by Rolling Stone to profile Wallace but his piece never made it to print.  Lipsky, however, had taped virtually every waking moment of his five-day visit with Wallace, and those tapes are transcribed here.  What an amazing book!  I found myself highlighting sections and taking notes.  Wallace discusses films, authors, TV and movies.  Though the book is rather dated (they talk about some stuff that has virtually been forgotten by now) there are some sections that are invaluable to the Wallace scholar, particularly those sections about the writing, editing and publishing of Infinite Jest.  Wallace emphasizes over and over again how hard he worked on the book and compares the end of the experience (before he knew it was to be published or well-received) to a really good physical work-out: "There's this kind of tiredness that's real pleasant, and it's real sort of placid."  Wallace knew that IJ was good and clearly the book was a transformative experience for him.  Lipsky's book is revelatory and no fan of David Foster Wallace should miss it.