The original post for this episode can be found here.

John August: Hello and welcome. My name is John August.

Craig Mazin: My name is Craig Mazin.

John: And this is Scriptnotes, Episode 127. The Female Directors at Pilot Season episode of Scriptnotes.

Craig: — Thrones.

John: Thrones. A podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Craig, this was a very big week for you. You had a life-changing experience from what I understand.

Craig: I did. This past Sunday for the first time ever I played essentially Dungeons & Dragons. Now, let me back up for a second. When I was a kid I played a Marvel Universe role-playing game, so I don’t want anyone to think I’m not a total dork. I am.

John: Rest assured, I think everyone understood that you’re a total dork.

Craig: There might have been one person out there who is still wondering, and they’re probably such a dork that they didn’t realize. I also played Top Secret, which was sort of a spy-based role-playing game, but I never played full-on “here comes a Cobalt” Dungeons & Dragons.

So, here’s who I’m playing with. I’m playing with Phil Hay, who has Ride Along coming out this weekend that he co-wrote with Matt Manfredi, this weekend meaning when we’re recording and will be out by the time you guys — and it’ll be a bit hit, which is awesome; Michael Gilvary who writes on the excellent show, Chicago Fire; Malcolm Spellman, a great screenwriter of note who has worked on a whole bunch of different movies; and Chris Morgan who is the auteur of the Fast & Furious franchise.

John: The good Fast & the Furious ones. Not the Derek Haas incarnation.

Craig: Not the Haas and Brandt ridiculous second movie.

John: Absolutely. We’re talking 3, 4, and 5. We’re talking quality.

Craig: Yeah, the one that everyone calls The Mistake.

John: So, these are a lot of like A, or high-level screenwriters.

Craig: Yes.

John: All playing Dungeons & Dragons together.

Craig: Right. And it’s great, because we’re screenwriters we’re pretty decent at sort of coming up with story. We’re weighed down a little bit by the dungeon master. The Dungeon Master, John August.

John: So, I DMd my first game in about 30 years, which was fun to have all these players here in my house to do this. We actually played Dungeon World which was a listener’s suggestion.

And so Dungeon World is a very stripped down version of kind of Dungeons & Dragons that really focuses on the storytelling. And you guys had to contribute a lot more to the narrative than you would normally have to do in classic Dungeons & Dragons.

Craig: Which I liked. I actually liked that. I mean, the rule book is — you can read the rule book in about 20 minutes as opposed to Dungeons & Dragons which I think requires an eight-year course.

John: It’s a commitment, yes.

Craig: Yeah. So, it went fast. You create your character really quickly and easily. And we had a great time. You were a very good Dungeon Master.

John: Thank you very much.

Craig: And we are very, very excited to get back in there and finish the business at hand.

John: Yes. Now, listeners at home are probably wondering what character was Craig Mazin playing. Because Craig, he could be a knight, a pilot and a champion sticking up for one point of order.

Craig: Or beyond that.

John: I was thinking a wizard of some kind with a sort of secret agenda.

Craig: Mm.

John: But what were you, Craig?

Craig: A thief. I am a thief. I’m a dirty, dirty thief. I’m a paranoid. I’m not particularly nice. I’m constantly making fun of the people that I’m with. And —

John: I also remember you’re running scams on your own party. That was a —

Craig: [laughs] That’s the other thing. Like I worked out a deal because my character is physically not particularly impressive, so he worked out a deal with the strongest member of our party that that guy would kind of have my back. And when I collect gold from things that I would siphon away 10 percent of it and split that between me and him, and the rest would be… — So, I’m cheating. I’m really —

John: You were basically the manager of this whole group. Basically you were siphoning off some money. You got a percentage for things you didn’t really earn.

Craig: I’m the Littlefinger. I’m the Varys of this group.

John: Yes.

Craig: That is relevant.

John: Yes.

Craig: How about that segue.

John: That’s an incredibly relevant thing because our guest this week — so our topics this week, we want to talk about this article that a bunch of people tweeted at us. It sort of went viral this week. This article that Lexi Alexander had written about being a female director in Hollywood.

Craig: Yup.

John: We also want to talk about the end of pilot season, which is a thing that Fox is proposing.

Craig: Again.

John: So, we needed to find a guest who could talk to us about female directors, could talk to us about television. We needed somebody to talk to us about Craig’s Littlefinger problem.

Craig: [laughs] So gross.

John: [laughs] Yes.

Carolyn Strauss: Venn diagram.

John: This Carolyn Strauss.

Craig: Carolyn Strauss everyone! Woo!

John: Carolyn Strauss, former president of HBO.

Carolyn: Entertainment.

John: HBO Entertainment. A producer in her own right. A producer on Game of Thrones.

Craig: The producer of Game of Thrones, I would say.

Carolyn: No, no, no, no, no.

Craig: I think so.

Carolyn: No, no, no.

Craig: That’s the way I think of you.

Carolyn: Oh, thank you, Craig.

Craig: You’re welcome.

John: Aw.

Carolyn: I’m still recovering from the dorkiness of this conversation.

John: It was a pretty hardcore dorky. She’s never listened to the show —

Carolyn: Which is perfect for Game of Thrones.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: Right. Exactly.

John: Yes. So, you’ve never actually listened to our podcast, so you have no idea how this all works.

Carolyn: No I don’t.

John: There’s no quizzes. There’s no nothing. We just talk about stuff.

Carolyn: I’m scared.

John: Don’t be scared at all.

Craig: Don’t be scared. You’re scared? Don’t be scared.

Carolyn: I’m scared.

Craig: Don’t be scared.

John: So, some backstory on you. I know you from television. I know you from HBO. Did you work in broadcast television before that, or have you been sort of the premium from the start?

Carolyn: I started in HBO as a temp in New York and I just clawed my way.

Craig: Littlefinger.

Carolyn: Yeah. Exactly.

Craig: Varys. I love that. I actually think it’s kind of cool that you have managed to insulate yourself entirely from whatever is going on in network. It seems like it’s just a clown party over there at times.

Carolyn: It’s definitely different. And I’ve been very relieved that I don’t have to dabble in that too much. We did have a couple of forays at HBO where we produced shows for network, but…

John: What shows did you produce for network? I don’t remember that happening.

Carolyn: Perhaps you remember a little show called Martin.

Craig: Martin!

Carolyn: Oh my god, that’s a big show.

Carolyn: Or Down the Shore.

John: I don’t remember Down the Shore at all.

Craig: I totally remember Down the Shore because when I came out here the first jobs I was trying to get were in sitcoms. And Down the Shore was a Fox show, I want to say.

Carolyn: It was a Fox show.

Craig: It was a Fox show and it was like ’92, ’93, somewhere in that zone?

Carolyn: Uh-huh.

Craig: And I was actually trying to get on that show. And so somebody invited me to go watch a taping of it and I was sitting there thinking, “Oh my god, I would love to get a job on the show. I do not like the show.” [laughs] “Boy, I would love to get this job!”

Carolyn: But the one show that was the big, big show for HBO Productions was Everybody Loves Raymond. That was —

John: Well, that’s a pretty successful show.

Craig: Boy.

John: I’ve heard of that show.

Craig: HBO is just making money hand over fist.

Carolyn: Fist over hand.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Fist over hand.

John: Yeah. And now they’ve got the little HBO Go app.

Craig: They’ve got the Go thing.

Carolyn: Which I still can’t figure out how to get. I have never — [crosstalk]

Craig: This, by the way, is why Game of Thrones is the most pirated program in the world.

Carolyn: Exactly.

John: Because Carolyn Strauss can’t get it to work on her iPad.

Craig: Well, if Carolyn and her mom can’t figure it out, what are the odds that anyone else can?

John: Well, let’s figure out the problems we can solve, because these are really simple, easily solved problems to just deal with in this one hour of our show.

Craig: That you’re going to solve for us.

John: And that’s why we brought you on —

Carolyn: We’re going to solve it together. Teamwork.

John: Well, yeah, we’ll basically listen to you solve it.

Carolyn: I’m a collaborator.

John: We’ll fill in the punctuation as you solve the problem for us.

So, women directors in Hollywood are underrepresented. And that’s sort of like an — you can’t really contest that.

Carolyn: Fact.

Craig: It’s a fact.

John: There’s no way — and we’ve talked about this a couple times on the show is that more than 50 percent of film school graduates are women. And yet you look at feature films, you look at network television, you look at any television, women are vastly underrepresented in those ranks of director.

Craig: Sub 10 percent, right?

John: Yes. And among writers it’s less but it’s not as bad as it seems to be among directors. That’s not a new phenomenon. It seems to have always been that kind of phenomenon. This last week —

Carolyn: Although it depends where you’re looking for your writers. I mean, I think if you’re looking on the TV staffs you will probably find fewer, or there may be more. I actually don’t know. It would seem to me there would be less represented on TV staffs.

Craig: It’s not good on TV staffs. It’s not good.

Carolyn: I don’t know.

Craig: The numbers aren’t good anywhere.

Carolyn: And screenwriter’s numbers aren’t fantastic either.

John: Yeah. So, this last week Lexi Alexander who is a director in her own right —

Carolyn: I’m not going to disagree with a thing she said, though, because she’s like a kickboxing champion.

John: Absolutely. So, by the way, we should stress from the very start —

Craig: I’m going to disagree with a couple of things, but I will just get —

Carolyn: You’re going to get the shit kicked out of you.

Craig: I’ll just get my box kicked.

John: [laughs] So, Lexi Alexander, who in addition to being a kick-boxer is also a director and has directed several feature films, directed an Oscar-nominated, I think it was a short, but she wrote a blog post that sort of went viral and passed around this last week about female directors and the underrepresentation.

And so a couple little quotes from there. She writes, “There is no lack of female directors. Repeat after me: There is no lack of female directors. But there is a huge lack of people willing to give female directors opportunities. I swear if one person even so much as whispers the sentence, ‘Women probably don’t want to direct,’ my fist will fly as reflex action.”

Carolyn: See, it was funny, because that was the one — one thing that she said — I’ve never heard anybody say that ever that women don’t want to.

Craig: Yeah.

Carolyn: I think there’s subterranean, I think misogyny is the wrong word, but discrimination. But I’ve never heard it so forthright, “Women don’t want to…”

Craig: Yeah, I’ve never heard that either.

Carolyn: No one’s — I haven’t come across anybody who’s that stupid really.

John: But I think subterranean is a fascinating way to phrase that because there are these things that you think about that you don’t actually say and they may influence your decision making based on like, “Well, she probably doesn’t really want to direct.” So, maybe that guy who was a good writer, who you’d say, oh, he probably wants to step up and direct, you may not say that same thing about a woman who could be next up to direct.

Carolyn: Yeah.

John: That’s a thing you could be thinking without actually saying it.

Carolyn: I think there are a lot of unspoken things that people think. And whether —

Craig: Let’s speak them. Let’s say them.

Carolyn: I’m not going to say them.

Craig: Darn.

Carolyn: I’m not in the fellow’s head, but I think there are definitely instances, I think, where women are looked at as first woman and then everything else. And I think that’s true of most — black directors. Black, then everything else. Gay, then everything else. I mean, it’s sort of the nature of people that they categorize things that way. But, I’ve never heard anybody say that. I mean, I think to me what she was talking about, which I thought was interesting, is basically let’s just be honest about what the situation is. Let’s not —

Craig: Yeah.

Carolyn: And then at the same time she’s saying, “I don’t want to be a part of quota,” so then you’re basically just saying, “I want people to change.” And can they change without forcing them to change?

Craig: John and I were talking how she kind of runs ashore of this strange kind of contradiction at the end of her piece where she says, “This is really hard. No one has figured out how to solve this.”

Carolyn: Except for Sweden.

Craig: Except for Sweden. And why is no one trying to figure out how to solve this. And that’s part of the problem.

John: What she’s pointing to is that it feels like it’s an institutional problem. That it feels like overall we’re not hiring enough women. There’s something broken with the system that we’re not hiring enough women. The challenge I see with Hollywood is that it’s not really kind of a system in the way that other things are a system. It’s not like a corporation.

Carolyn: Yeah. It’s not quantifiable. It’s all based on opinions. It’s not like — there’s no facts involved, like this one is better than that one. I like this one better than I like that one, but that’s not, you know, that’s just an opinion.

Craig: Just an opinion. Doesn’t work.

John: After the fact you can say, look at the last 30 movies and say, well, only one of those was directed by a woman. But it’s not like you’re making a slate of movies. It’s not like you’re lining up all your directors for the next 30 projects and saying like, “These are going to be the directors for the next ones we’re going to do.”

Craig: Right.

John: And then you would see that, “Oh my god, they’re only white men that we’re hiring here!” But instead what we’re doing is we hire directors one at a time. You are asking the question, who is the right director for this project?

And that’s where I think her logic is tripped up, because I think you could argue there is a lack of female directors because there’s a lack of female directors who say like that’s the right person to direct that movie. And so it’s the lack of those possible choices.

Carolyn: But also is it that women get categorized as a certain kind of director. Oh, this is more of an emotional, touchy feely director.

Craig: No question.

Carolyn: It’s not the one that we want for Fast & Furious, Good, Bad or Indifferent Fast & Furious. You know, so, they can’t — a chick could never handle that. I mean, I look at — I observe women directors working and I would say for sure that there is a different attitude towards crew, which is almost —

Craig: You mean towards the crew, or the crew’s attitude towards the director?

Carolyn: Crew’s attitudes toward the director.

Craig: Right.

Carolyn: I mean, every once and awhile it doesn’t happen, but they’re much tougher on female directors.

John: So, what’s an example of a behavior you would see from a crew towards a female director? Is it when she’s asking for the four extra takes and — ?

Carolyn: Yeah. It’s impatience. It’s snappishness. It’s assuming they don’t know what they’re talking about. Whereas the same question or whatever done by a man who might be — have the same personality of that woman would be received entirely different.

Craig: See, this to me — so much of the problem is one of a perpetuation. Because at least in features, usually when we’re talking about larger features when they’re asking who should direct this they’re looking for somebody with a lot of experience. If they don’t have a lot of experience directing feature films then hopefully they have a lot of experience directing commercials.

And so it becomes a feedback loop.

Carolyn: Yeah, exactly. And who’s going to get that experience? Well, someone who you keep hiring.

Craig: Right.

Carolyn: A director that we had dinner with the other night, you and I, who I won’t name, but had a pretty successful movie this year.

Craig: Very successful.

Carolyn: I was sort of shocked by her saying at dinner that she has had no work come off that movie. And —

Craig: Well, I’m not as shocked by that in the sense that there are certain directors, and I think she falls into this category, that are sort of genres onto themselves. And, frankly, don’t — the movies that they make aren’t commercially lighting the world on fire.

Carolyn: Yeah, I think that’s true. But I think in that movie’s niche it did pretty well.

Craig: It did.

Carolyn: And I think that — I’ll just say it — I think a man who made that movie would have —

Craig: More heat.

Carolyn: There would be meetings up the wazoo, you know, because it’s a yakked about film.

Craig: Okay, so here’s my question. And this is something John and I have talked about.

Carolyn: Whether they get work off it, I don’t know, but they certainly have a lot of meetings.

Craig: We’ve often commented that one of the strangenesses of this situation is that there’s not a lack of women in charge of the decisions.

Carolyn: True.

Craig: I mean, when you look at who’s — Sue Kroll sits on the green light committee at Warner Bros. Amy Pascal has run Sony forever.

Carolyn: Women are not always women’s best friends.

John: Donna Langley.

Craig: Donna Langley at Universal. Emma at Fox.

John: Let’s talk about that. You can say that.

Carolyn: She mentions that in the article.

John: Yeah. And you can say that. so, talk to us about that, because it would seem from the outside if you look, “Oh, it must be all white men running the studios and that’s why they’re only hiring white men.”

Craig: It’s actually white women running the studios, kind of.

John: So, do you think that’s a truth?

Carolyn: Personally I would never hire a woman director. Let me just say that. Flat out. Writer-director, what have you.

John: [laughs]

Craig: [laughs] Right. Only Jewish men between 40 and 60.

Carolyn: Exactly.

John: So, you’ve often been in the situation where you’re figuring out who to hire for different positions. How often does the gender question come up as you’re looking at a list of candidates? Are you always looking for who are some women who would be great for this spot? Or is always based on who is the right person to direct this?

Carolyn: Well, I mean, generally it’s who is the right person to direct it. If we have the ability to fold a woman director into that, I think that’s great. You know, I think, for instance on Game of Thrones the last two seasons we’ve had Michelle MacLaren direct who is amazing and we said, okay, let’s try and find a woman director, because we’ve had all these guys directing. But it wasn’t like we compromised on this, that, or the other thing. We knew that she total fit our profile. It wasn’t like we got to say, “Okay, we’re affirmative actioning you into the director slot.”

John: But was there a discussion at some point that we’ve not had a woman director. We want to have a woman director. Was that a discussion — ?

Carolyn: Yes.

John: And so you actually had to have that discussion.

Carolyn: Well, I think you have to push, simply by the numbers. There are a million directors that come up in front of you. I would say a small fraction of them are female. It’s not like there are tons of women directors that get pitched to you every day.

Craig: Yeah. I always feel like the best of these kinds of things is to be aware of a positive intention to employ people that don’t look like everybody else. But to then sort of, to have that at the top layer and then forget about it when you’re looking at individuals, because you don’t want to hire — and I know the TV staffs struggle with this all the time. They are required to hire say a certain number of people of color for their staff.

And those writers who come on are aware that they’re now the diversity hire. And the room knows that they’re the diversity hire. And it’s a problem.

Carolyn: But, that is partially a problem, but what’s the worst problem I guess in a way which is there are no writers of color out there. And I think sometimes unless you push it in that way people aren’t given the opportunity.

Craig: I agree.

Carolyn: Or they get to write on the black shows, or, you know.

Craig: You want there to be a philosophical alignment to say we are dedicated to the idea of being conscious enough that we don’t just fall into the rut of what’s the path of least resistance.

However, sometimes the solutions, and she points this out here, come with the law of unintended consequences. I mean, for instance, I know at the Writers Guild every year they spend $70,000 or so to do a diversity survey. So, we spend $70,000 of writers’ dues, and I always like to do the reverse math on that to see, okay, how much — our dues are 1.5 percent. So, how much money did writers have to earn to generate the $70,000 to spend on a report that will tell us what we already knew, what we knew last year, and the year before, and the year before, because the numbers don’t change.

Carolyn: Right.

Craig: And what I think something really important that she brings up, that Lexi brings up in her thing, is can we can out of just the patting yourselves on the back/window dressing/baloney solutions that go along with this stuff. They’re not working.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Craig: Let’s stop the reports. We get it. We know.

Carolyn: That idea of commissioning a survey to tell you what you know is —

Craig: Is just dumb.

Carolyn: Time tested and true.

Craig: Unfortunately I think it relieves a lot of people from, well, you know what we’re going to do, we’re going to get the survey back, we’re going to take a look at those answers, absorb them, and then we can come up with a plan. And by the time you get the survey back, you’re not doing anything, and then we’ll do another survey. [laughs]

Carolyn: Yeah, exactly. [laughs] It’s time.

John: So, let’s talk about what’s happening in the film and television industry right now, because I wonder if part of our way forward, and I do wonder if we’re sort of supply constrained. It’s not that we don’t have enough female directors. We don’t have enough great female directors that they’re obviously going to be on the list even if they weren’t women.

But I wonder if television is part of the way through it, because in television at least when you’re doing a series you are picking directors down the road. So, you can actually look at who is going to be directing these episodes and sort of recognize like, “I have no women directing these episodes. We need to make sure we get women in directing these episodes.”

Television is terrific now, so hopefully we can get more women directing these episodes and from television transfer through to features or transfer through to the other stuff they want to make.

To what degree do we also think it’s a genre situation? I do wonder if we were making romantic comedies whether our numbers would be higher. Because you see that women who are consistently employed directing features, it’s the people — it’s the Anne Fletchers who are directing romantic comedies. It’s the women who make those movies.

Carolyn: Nancy Meyers.

John: Yeah, Nancy Meyers.

Craig: Exactly.

Carolyn: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s true. But I think there are also women who have sort of gone out of their way, whether it’s Kathryn Bigelow or whatever to say most affirmatively that’s not what I do.

John: Exactly.

Carolyn: “I do something…” And I think for, you know, Kathryn Bigelow has kind of got to keep doing that because otherwise she’s going to slip into doing girlie shit and no one is going to…

Craig: Right.

Carolyn: You know, she’s going to…[crosstalk]

Craig: That’s a pretty decent title for a movie.

John: Girlie Shit.

Craig: Girlie Shit.

Carolyn: [laughs]

Craig: Kathryn Bigelow’s Girlie Shit. I would write that.

I have a theory to explain, because I think that Lexi is correct that there’s not a shortage of women who want to direct. She may not be quite as accurate when she says there is not a shortage of women who meet the qualifications, the sort of standard for like literally let’s strip gender out and just go gender blind and look at experience, all the rest, I think that the perpetuation is.

But here’s my theory of what’s going on. There are differences between men and women. They are not manifested in how good you are at directing a movie. But, for instance, here’s a difference that I think everyone can agree on: Men are more violent than women.

Carolyn: For the most part.

Craig: That’s just — that’s a fact.

Carolyn: Except for Aileen Wuornos. [laughs]

Craig: Sure. But, you know, generally speaking men commit I think the vast majority of say murders and physical assaults. There is a —

Carolyn: But women think about it more. We visualize it.

Craig: [crosstalk] And I do, too, because I am, you know, I’m a girl.

There is, my theory is that in order get jobs in Hollywood you are literally put in a situation where you must commit moral crimes all the time. And that men frankly are less moral. They are more violent in this nature. So, if there’s a difference between men and women, it’s not how good they are at their jobs. It’s how good maybe they are maybe at getting the jobs, if that makes sense.

Carolyn: Well, I think that’s definitely true. I think that there’s a certain way that a woman comes off, where she was saying bitch, difficult, whatever you’re either in terms of —

Craig: Right.

Carolyn: But I think that a woman sort of coming out in a forthright, as a director, this is boom, boom, boom. These are decisions I’m going to make — and which you have to be as a director. You’re making a million decisions all the time. So, if a woman is very assertive in that way, I think more people have a negative feeling about it than a man who presents him “boom, boom, boom,” that’s great —

Craig: He’s a leader.

Carolyn: Yes. So, I think those things are, you know, women have a more delicate — they run more risk of being judged for their assertive decision making than man do.

Craig: And do you think that woman are more concerned about that judgment? Because it seems to me like I’ve met so many men in this business who behave terribly and don’t care. And that’s this amazing weapon they carry.

Carolyn: They don’t care and it doesn’t seem to matter.

Craig: They’re shameless. Yeah, they’re shameless.

John: Well, but isn’t it true like most directors you know who are successful, they’re a little bit messed up. They’re kind of on the edge of a little bit psycho killer at times.

Craig: Or a lot of it.

John: Yeah, exactly. And so the fact that they can sort of like drive crew, you know, seven hours of overtime is because they fundamentally kind of don’t have a caring about people’s comfort or safety.

Carolyn: There’s no empathy there.

John: There’s no empathy there. And that is a factor.

Craig: It’s like a sociopathy. There is a value to sociopathy.

Carolyn: It gets a lot done.

Craig: Well, and even forget get — like I do believe, I honestly do believe that if you take a woman and you take a man and they’re both directors and they both have similar talent levels and all the rest, they will both run a perfectly good set. It’s the sociopathy I only think helps you get the job because you’re just willing to do anything. Anything. You’d stab your friend in the back and terrible things.

Carolyn: I also think, and this is just a guess on my part. I have no — it’s just an instinct. That people who are picking directors and picking first-time directors, because you’ve always got to start somewhere, are probably more likely to pick a male director. I don’t know, it’s just my instinct.

John: I think you’re right.

Craig: A paternalism kind of…

Carolyn: Just a sense of capability and just can do it, they can pull it, yeah.

John: So, I think I agree with Craig that just doing the annual report where we just look at the numbers and crunch the numbers is not a useful use of our time and money, but I think what would be a fascinating study would be to take a longitudinal study of like let’s just track a bunch of men and women from early 20s through their 40s who are trying to enter the film business, who all wanting to be directors and track sort of like what their path is.

Because I suspect that what we’re going to find is the reason there are fewer women directors may partly just be because of the difference paths their lives take. And you sort of see what jobs they got, what they did, what they did, what they did.

And I just feel like something is happening in the late 20s or late 30s for women where they would be getting their first feature where they’re not getting their first feature. If we can figure out what the gap is.

Carolyn: Are you saying they’re making life decisions? They’re having children?

John: They are making life decisions. They’re having children. That’s part of it. And obviously if you’re going to have a kid that is going to slow down your directing for awhile.

Craig: It took me out of the directing game, I mean, to be honest.

Carolyn: I mean, I have certain friends of mine who are screenwriters who are very — who definitely want to direct, but do not want to do that until their kids are over the age of 14.

John: Yeah, we’ve talked — Aline Brosh McKenna, had the same conversation with her.

Craig: That’s me. I’m the same way. But, I think that that applies to men, too.

Carolyn: To a point.

John: To some degree as well.

Craig: Although, men again, the sociopathy factor oftentimes just don’t care about their own children.

John: Yes.

Craig: I’m serious. They don’t give a damn.

Carolyn: Well, I think, yeah, it’s a very societal, you know, “I’m going to go out. I’m going to be defined by my job,” and this and that.

Craig: God. I am a female director. I feel like a female director.

Carolyn: So, hand in your penis please. [laughs]

Craig: Right here?

Carolyn: Right here, right now.

Craig: John, turn around.

John: The other analogue for directors is really I think showrunners. Because you look at showrunners, that’s the other sort of all-consuming job, and there are women who are showrunners and that is an established thing. But that’s, again, an incredibly tough job that’s taking up 100 percent of your time. The life balance of doing that —

Carolyn: It’s really, really hard.

Craig: It’s brutal.

John: It’s maybe the hardest job in Hollywood is running a show.

Craig: Yeah, because it’s like five jobs in one.

Carolyn: You’re a writer, you’re a manager of an enormous amount of people.

Craig: You’re an employer. You are a corporate relations person. You’re a director, an editor, a producer. You’re everything.

John: The amount of relationships you have to be able to maintain is insane.

Craig: It’s sick. It’s just sick.

Well, I would love for us to be able to get to a place where we don’t have to say, “Well, Kathryn Bigelow, and well, Shonda Rhimes.” And I think we’re going to get there, but my solution — because she’s asking for solutions — my solution other than chucking the fake take is that the women who run Hollywood need to talk to each other and just say we’ve got to be aware of this, we’ve got to stop this.

It’s crazy. I think that’s where the change is going to come. Men aren’t going to change it. They’re sociopaths and we’ve already established that.

John: I would also say I think she perceives there as being — or, she doesn’t perceive, she actually writes that — she points to this 1978 report showing that there was a lack of equal opportunity for women in Hollywood. And she writes, “The fact that there has been no improvement in 35 years can really only mean two things. Number one, those who promised to bring about change were insincere. Or, two, those who promised to bring about change were not very smart. You choose.”

And that’s clearly a false choice.

Carolyn: Yeah.

John: There’s many reasons why that could happen. And the analogue that sort of came up for me is that you look at — turn back the clock 35 years and you look at sort of what we thought we’d be able to do in 35 years. And we were wrong about a lot of things. We thought we could have like man missions to Mars. And we thought we would have flying cars. And it was actually just much harder than we thought it was going to be.

Carolyn: There’s still, I mean, look, ERA, whatever that was in the ’80s.

Craig: ’70s.

Carolyn: No, but it fell in the ’80s.

Craig: It did, under Reagan, right.

Carolyn: But women still make a lot less than men. I mean, there’s a lot of things that — I think that’s kind of a little simple.

Craig: It’s a lot simple. And I’m sympathetic to her desire to blame those who paved the path to hell with good intentions.

John: I’m sympathetic to her frustration. Because I feel exactly what she’s feeling.

Carolyn: But there are a lot of institutional things, not just within Hollywood as a business, but in the world as a whole. And not just institutional things but I think life things. Because I think when you just mentioned Kathryn Bigelow and Shonda Rhimes, it strikes me as I’m thinking about it those are two women, as far as I know, do not have children.

John: Oh, Shonda Rhimes has kids. She has a couple kids.

Carolyn: She has kids? Okay, I take that back.

John: But she has kids on sort of her own terms and her own way.

Craig: Hmm. That sounds interesting.

John: Shonda lives up the street. We can go knock on her door and ask.

Craig: I’m just wondering why I didn’t have kids on my own terms and my own way. I have them apparently on their terms.

John: Yes. My child is very much on her own terms.

Carolyn: And it sounds very retro of me to say, like, kids, but I know for a fact that it influences people’s decision making in terms of where they want to go, what they want to do. This is not to diminish the institutional barriers that are in the way.

Craig: No, they are there. Short of people in power making a big decision, I’m not sure where the answer is. I will say that I do take hope from this: these things rarely work out linearly. It always seems to me that there is an amount of energy that’s put in just to make a slight increment and then suddenly there is an explosion.

Carolyn: Yeah. Well, I mean, one of the things that I think, and I could be totally wrong about this, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a staff, a writing staff on television, that doesn’t have a female on, that are on staff.

Craig: Well, yeah, but one woman —

Carolyn: But, I think if you dial back a few years, it would be very easy — and not that many years — it would be easy to find.

Craig: Yes. I agree with you on that. I think that they have been incremental changes, but that big thing that’s going to actually move things —

Carolyn: A seismic shift.

Craig: A seismic shift. I think that really is what has to happen. And that’s kind of the way these things do happen. So, I guess anybody that thinks that we’re going to — that’s why I hate the surveys. Well, if you’re looking for a three percent improvement each year, that’s not the way social change works. It just doesn’t.

John: Yeah. To me it’s going to be Marvel hiring a woman to direct the next Avengers. Some big things that are going to happen so you can’t say like, “Oh, it’s the little niche things.” No, this is front and center. This is the big —

Craig: And also studios are going to have to commit to allowing failure to occur, because they allow men to fail all the time.

Carolyn: Well, that’s exactly. But I think the problem with the whole thing is that women have to be a million times, you know, they have to be sort of bulletproof.

Craig: You’re not allowed to — if you failed, well, we tried that woman thing.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Craig: That’s just a disaster. Well, speaking of disasters.

John: [laughs] Speaking of disasters, so another thing that happened this week, Fox announced — this is at the Television Critics Association, TCA, that’s what it stands for?

Craig: Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah.

John: Announced that, they were talking about their new shows, and Kevin Reilly, the head of Fox Broadcasting, said that Fox is going to be moving out of the idea of pilot season.

Carolyn: Not the fact of it, but the idea of it. [laughs]

John: The idea of it. Like the whole idea of it, of pilot season is gone. And this wasn’t the first time someone said something like this in the sense of like we’re going to try to do year-round development is a thing you’ve heard for a very long time.

Craig: Yeah.

John: But this was probably the most clear articulation of a plan to not sort of play the pilot season game.

Craig: To make pilots, but not to just schedule them all at the same time.

Carolyn: Well, actually he said they were going to try and not make pilots so much, sort of based on backup scripts and —

Craig: Go one-to-one.

John: And you’re a perfect guest for this because you come from the cable world which is sort of more like this, where you — rather than shooting a bunch of pilots you’re very specifically targeting like this is a series I think we’re going to make. And what I perceive to be the HBO model is we think we’re going to make this show. We are going to shoot a pilot for it. We’re going to look at this pilot. And if we like this pilot, this will be a show that we make. But it’s not that you’re making 15 pilots in one month —

Carolyn: And saying, okay, we can pick four. Yeah, we did that once in a blue moon, you know, like years — like Dream On and all that. There was a couple, like Rita Rudner and Dwight Yoakam had a show at the same time and Dream On got picked. You know, that kind of thing.

John: Oh, Dream On.

Craig: I want to live in a day when Rita Rudner and Dwight Yoakam both have shows going head to head.

Carolyn: Right. [laughs]

Craig: I want that now.

John: Yeah.

Craig: I want them on the same show.

Carolyn: That’s magic.

John: They would show up tomorrow. Write that show, they’ll show up tomorrow.

Carolyn: I think they would.

Craig: So good.

John: They’re coming from Vegas.

Craig: So, these guys, basically they’re looking at the way you guys are doing things and they’re looking at how successful you are creatively. And I think they’re feeling the heat. They know that their system — the question isn’t whether their system works. Everybody knows the system doesn’t work for everyone at all. The only question is this the best of all the terrible choices we have of how to do network programming?

Carolyn: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. Well, I think Fox in a way has an easier time probably doing it than the rest of the networks because they program fewer hours.

Craig: Fewer hours.

Carolyn: So, that’s — I think HBO has one night of programming. Every once and awhile they have two. So, I think the window is very small. And you don’t have to really sort of scattershot to try and fill it.

Craig: Right.

Carolyn: So, that’s definitely an advantage. I have always — what’s interesting to me is his thing about moving away from the pilot. I’m a big believer in a pilot. I think that every time I’ve worked on something where we haven’t done it, you need to take a break, you need to look at everything. Whether or not you actually call it a pilot or you shoot something and then take a little breath, to be able to look at something and say, “Yes, this is something I want to make a five-year commitment” or whatever, that’s really helpful to be able to go back and say, “Well, that’s not really working.”

Craig: But his whole thing is that by — he seems to be committed to pilots, but that by doing it in one season they’re essentially restricting —

Carolyn: He’s talking about going direct to series, though.

John: He’s talking both things, yeah.

Craig: Yeah, I guess that’s true.

John: So, let’s first talk about the idea of moving out of pilot season, because having developed a couple of network shows, this is incredibly appealing.

Carolyn: Totally.

John: But there are also some challenges. So, here’s what’s terrible about pilot season is you go in, everyone is incredibly stressed and overworked because they’re hearing a thousand pitches. They pick the pitches they want to hear. You go in. You write up those scripts. They read all the scripts over the holidays. They decide which ones they’re going to make. And then you are scrambling to get those actors, those directors. It’s a feeding frenzy.

Carolyn: And you’re driving the price up.

John: You’re driving the price way up.

Carolyn: Creating this feeding frenzy.

John: And you end up having problems like three things want to shoot at the same location. Like you’re going to be in city and you can’t even get like a bunch of crew. It’s madness.

Craig: There are six great shows for three slots, so you’re going to waste three of them or back them up for mid-season. You’ve got surpluses that are kind of unnecessary.

Carolyn: You have actors in second position, third position.

John: It becomes crazy. And, I think one of the other big challenges with classic pilot season is the people you want to do your shows most are the people who are really good at making TV shows. So, you’re pulling them off of a show that’s really good, their mother ship, so they can write another pilot, and shoot another pilot while they’re still supposed to be able to run their main show. And the established show is going to be suffering for doing that.

Carolyn: Something suffers. Definitely.

John: Something has to give. So, moving away from the calendar of pilot season is probably useful for some things. What is terrific about the current state of pilot season though I will say is that that ticking clock can be your best friend for forcing them to make a decision.

Carolyn: I agree.

John: Because otherwise if it’s just whenever, it could just be whenever. You can be sort of held indefinitely working on this project.

Carolyn: I think that’s definitely true. I think for Fox, certainly, and other networks they have needs. You know, they need to get stuff. They need to do — the idea is to do better than they’re doing now.

Craig: Right.

Carolyn: So, that clock, I think, may not tick as loudly, but it’s going to tick.

John: Although Jordan Mechner and I did a show for Fox, wrote a pilot for Fox — gosh, six seasons ago — and we were one of those shows that didn’t quite get an order, but they still loved and they kept us going. And we were just clawing the hook for them forever.

Carolyn: Which is a great feeling, isn’t it?

John: Yeah, it was great. So, we end up writing a new pilot. So, you got a little bit more and that was like, you know. This last time when I did a show for ABC, like we didn’t get the order to shoot the pilot and you were just done. You could walk away and that was lovely. That was a really good experience.

But let’s talk about the idea of shooting pilots or not shooting pilots, because one of the things that Kevin Reilly brings up here is that we may shoot some pilots but we’re going to read the read the scripts, we may bring in a staff.

Carolyn: Let’s not read them!

John: Oh, yeah, we’ll read the scripts. Oh, they seem good.

Craig: That’s new.

Carolyn: Ish.

John: Ish. We’ll look at the scripts. We may bring in a staff. We may write more episodes before we have shot anything.

Craig: Right, so that you’ve got three sort of backed up behind the pilot.

John: Is that an HBO model? Does HBO do that with backup scripts from the start before you even shoot something?

Carolyn: It depends. Once and awhile they’ll do backup scripts. Once and awhile they’ll shoot, you know, multiple episodes of something. I think now it’s pretty standard that they’ll look for a bible for shows and a fairly detailed one.

But, I think it’s definitely, you know, the question that always comes in is where does the show go. And so I think a lot of times people want to see that on paper.

Craig: Well, my question for Fox, listen, shaking up and disrupting the way things are done makes sense to me. We don’t live in a world anymore where they’re waiting for the new cars to come out in September and that’s why we launch seasons and all the rest of it.

But, if you’re going to reduce the amount of development and you’re really going to try and go one-to-one, then it seems to me that you have to do a very un-network like thing and that is actually believe in your shows and be willing to suffer with them until they catch on, which is something the networks used to do. I mean, remember when we were kids Cheers was saved by a letter writing campaign and then became this juggernaut that anchored one of the great nights of network television history.

Game of Thrones, it wasn’t like the first round on that pilot was like, hooray. You know, it needed work.

Carolyn: No, it was like, look, there’s a lot — we reshot a lot of the pilot. But I think everybody looked at the pilot and went, “We definitely have something here. It’s not 100 percent.”

Craig: But we’re not going to do that thing where we go —

John: Even the pilot that ended up airing, it didn’t set the world on fire.

Carolyn: No.

John: That’s actually been my experience with most HBO shows. The first episode is like, maybe. And then by the third episode like, “Well, this is the best thing on earth.”

Carolyn: Well, yeah, I don’t remember anybody coming off the first episode of The Wire being like in love with the show.

Craig: Right. Or the first episode of Breaking Bad.

John: I’m thinking True Blood. I’m thinking of Six Feet Under. All of them.

Craig: The point is that one of the things that they always way —

Carolyn: I think Six Feet Under had a pretty good pilot.

Craig: Yeah, that one.

The cable world, when they look at the cable world what they see is the quality and they see the freedom of it and they see the inventiveness. And they see these big shows attracting eyeballs. What they often, I think, miss is that when HBO says we’re making a show, they make it. And we’re here with you. We’re going to take bullets with you if we have to. We’re going to get this show going and it’s going to work.

And what you can’t do is have it both ways. You can’t do the old well I’m going to only make one-to-one pilots but I’m still going to look at pilots as disposable razors.

Carolyn: Yeah. I mean, the thing is that, I mean, going back to what you were saying about female directors is you need to make room for failure. You know what I mean? And you need to have a little patience for it. It’s impossible to be in a creative business and not fail.

Craig: Seinfeld is another great story. One of the worst tests, maybe the worst testing pilot in NBC history.

Carolyn: I remember seeing those test results in Larry’s bathroom, framed on the wall.

Craig: Just sort of a classic story. And it takes time.

John: It will be interesting to see if Fox really does make this shift how it changes the relationship between development and current. So, classically shows are developed through pilot season in development and then current is the people who take over the show and sort of do the weekly, weekly, weekly.

But, if you’re really going to go more straight to series, that development and current handoff is going to be a very different thing.

Craig: Weirdest division.

Carolyn: I mean, we never really had that. And I think it’s really — because you develop these relationships. You get the intent. You understand, you know, really sort of you’re in the bones of the show as much as someone can be.

Craig: It makes no sense to me. And, in fact, the very first thing that I ever —

Carolyn: And you lose your investment in it, by the way. I can’t imagine people in current have the same kind of investment.

Craig: No, no, they don’t. The very first thing that I did in Hollywood was between my junior and senior year of college I got an internship with the Television Academy.

Carolyn: You knew all the way. You knew.

Craig: I knew. I knew all the way. So, I got this internship and they placed me at Fox Network in the current programming department. And I spent a summer in the current programming department. And even as a 19-year-old kid, it didn’t make sense to me. So, you have people that figure out what the show should be, work with the writers, develop the show, work on the pilot, get it to a place where they put it on the air, and at that point those people are just gone.

John: Yeah.

Craig: They’re sent away and now new people that had nothing to do with that give notes on the show that clearly the people running the show don’t care about at all. But, we don’t do that in features. We’ve never even contemplated doing something like that in features. Can you imagine? I’m developing a script and then, “Okay, well green light. Bye!” [laughs]

John: “Bye, see ya!”

Craig: Now you can talk to this person.

John: Yeah, it would be madness.

Carolyn: Why do they do that?

John: Because the quantity. The quantity is so high and they need to —

Craig: The quantity was so high.

John: The quantity was so high. The other challenge is that the calendar is part of it, too, because there’s that pilot season those people need to be focusing on that stuff, so they can’t be running their other show because all they’re doing is —

Carolyn: Running from table read, to table read.

John: That’s what it is. They can’t be doing anything else.

Carolyn: Just read though…

Craig: That’s crazy.

John: It’s madness. One of the dangers of losing a pilot is something you sort of suggested is that you need that chance to breath or to say like, “You know what? Mostly great. But some stuff needs to be fixed. And this is not working.”

Craig: Right. Cast.

John: Cast. Whatever. And it’s also that reciprocal thing which is like we weren’t sure this was going to work, but this is actually great. And so you’re leaving out the chance that something will just surprise you. So, one of the advantages of sort of the research and development of just shooting 40 pilots is like something you didn’t really think was going to work is actually fantastic.

Craig: Right.

John: And that’s great. And so some of the shows we love right now, Seinfeld might not have happened. Cheers might not have happened. Well, those are actually — Seinfeld might not have happened because that was like who knew that he was going to work in a television way?

Carolyn: I mean, I think basically what this does I think is take your cover away. And you have to be as a network person working in a system without pilots and making fewer. And I would say the scripts leading up to it fewer. You have to really sort of believe — you’ve got to believe in the shows. You’ve got to go with your gut. And so the cover of “we did a million and we can’t,” more unhook your own person self.

Craig: Yeah, anybody can get five base hits if you have a thousand at bats.

John: That’s absolutely true.

Craig: I mean, the one great hope I have for, just now talking for writers and writer’s employment, is that if a system like this stays and, look, it’s been tried before and abandoned. So, we should also point out there is a damn good chance that they abandon this. But, if it stays and it engenders an improvement in the amount of scripted programming, that’s great for the employment of writers.

If it stays the same is bad, because I mean pilot season pays a lot for a lot of people.

John: That’s a crucial point I think you’re making is that pilot season is wasteful in a way that really helps writers.

Craig: Yeah, exactly.

John: Because honestly instead of hiring a bunch of people to write these things that shoot, and not just writers employed, but production employment, that wastefulness is really good for a lot of people.

Craig: Yum. Slop-over.

John: Totally. It jacks up actor’s salaries. And those sort of second tier actors who would never otherwise be a lead in a show are suddenly a lead in a show because that’s who was available.

Carolyn: But the wastefulness of it all then makes the bar — the success level goes up with that. Because if something costs $5 million as opposed to $2.5 million, it’s got to succeed at a much higher level than the show that cost half that much.

John: Although, but weirdly in network television I feel like in some ways the cost isn’t — the cost isn’t as much of a factor, just what the rating is. And so it’s just like what do we do this week, what do we do the next week. And if they’re doing fewer shows they’re not going to have the back catalog probably to fall back on.

Carolyn: I think that’s true. But I think there’s also a cost per rating point.

Craig: There is. Especially once fin-syn went away, and the networks, and the production companies, which were ultimately the same thing.

Carolyn: Which was the worst thing ever.

Craig: Pretty much the worst thing ever. Then at that point, I mean, it used to be, yeah, it wasn’t the network’s problem. The network’s only concern was ratings because the only revenue they made was from advertising. But now they also own the shows. Maybe not directly, but they’re kissing cousin owns the show. So, I never — it’s like, 20th Century Fox produces a show that runs on Fox Broadcasting and they have like a weirdly adversarial relationship, but not really.

John: Not really.

Craig: I don’t buy it.

John: No.

Craig: They all know. They’re just moving money in a circle.

Carolyn: Yes. Close your eyes.

Craig: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. Excellent.

John: So, I think it’s time for our One Cool Things. So, at the end of every podcast we talk about One Cool Thing that we like. So, if as Craig and I talk about One Cool Things we like, if there is some idea of something that you would like to share with the world —

Craig: A gadget. A thing. An app —

Carolyn: A gadget?

Craig: Mine today is an app.

John: Oh, mine is sort of app like. Go, you first.

Craig: This came to me through one of my wonderful One Cool Thing saviors on Twitter. My whole thing is that I never had a One Cool Thing, so I’m always like, oh god, and then so I ask people on Twitter to help me out and they do.

This one was legitimately cool. And every now and again I am reminded why I’m so happy to be alive now as opposed to during like the era of cholera, or mustard gas, or the plague.

Carolyn: [laughs] Exactly. Penicillin. Awesome.

Craig: Or Penicillin. Exactly. There is an app called Shakespeare and it is free. And dig this, it’s for your iPad or your iPhone, it has every single thing Shakespeare ever wrote. Every play. All of them. Plus the sonnets. They are in plain text or in like next scripty folio text like old school style.

John: And so you say has everything, does it have the contrasting versions between like Folio 1 and Folio 2? Or what does it do when there are conflicts between texts?

Craig: I think they probably just stuck with one, but they have character breakdowns for everything. They have scene summaries for everything. All words are linkable and definable, which is great.

John: That’s hugely helpful.

Craig: Yeah, sometimes you’ll run across a word in Shakespeare that you know, just not in the old context. It’s spectacular. And all of it — and it’s free! How do you not immediately just get this?

Carolyn: Yeah, no kidding. Don’t have to lug around that Riverside Shakespeare that I have with me.

Craig: At least, I mean —

Carolyn: My back thanks you.

Craig: I’m looking at it right now. She’s got one of those rolling —

John: Wheelie cart.

Craig: Yeah, a wheelie cart with all of her old Shakespeare.

John: It transforms her life.

Craig: Yeah, because now you don’t need it. It’s gone. So, anyway, Shakespeare, free. Free! And it’s really well implemented.

John: That’s fantastic.

Mine is also an appy kind of thing. It’s called WorkFlowy and it’s an outliner.

Carolyn: Flowy?

John: WorkFlowy, with a Y on the end. So, Work Flow with a Y on the end.

Craig: It’s not WorkFlowy [pronounced Flou-ee]? You sure?

John: No, I’m pretty sure it’s Flowy. Pretty sure. And it’s just like workflowy.com.

What it is, it’s an outliner that lives in your browser. And so as you start typing it does nice little indenting of things. It’s great for to-do lists and stuff.

What’s so smart about it is because you log in with an account it’s just always there. So, any browser you go to, or if you look at it on our iPhone, there’s an app for your iPhone and for your iPad. It’s just there. And it’s really smart and minimalist.

And so I’ve found it being great for just keeping track of the projects I’m working on. Right now I’m working on this project where I need to figure out like character names and sort of all the character stuff. And it’s been great for just organizing that stuff. It’s really, really well done. And so WorkFlowy.

Craig: Is it free?

John: It’s free.

Craig: Free!

John: And then there’s a pay for subscription for like the bigger storage of it all.

Craig: Oh, I see.

John: So, it’s sort of like Dropbox if it’s free and then if you cross a certain point —

Craig: Sure.

Carolyn: Until it isn’t.

Craig: They give you a little taste to crack and then suddenly…

John: Then like you can’t imagine life without Dropbox.

Craig: Cannot.

John: And I’m only a week in on WorkFlowy, but it’s really smartly done.

Carolyn: So far changed your life.

Craig: What about your, Straussy?

Carolyn: You know what? What am I going to say? I’ll say this book I just finished, The Orphan Master’s Son. Loved it.

John: Fantastic.

Craig: Tell us.

Carolyn: It’s a little dash of North Korea in my day.

Craig: This is the one that Dan Weiss was talking about.

Carolyn: Yes, exactly.

Craig: And David Benioff said he was going to read it even though it was a terrible title. He’s always got to attack. Always.

Carolyn: Yeah, he’s on — but Dan and I had not discussed it. But when I read it I said, oh my god, because Dan is obsessed with all things North Korea.

John: Who is not obsessed? North Korea is just such an amazing —

Craig: I’m so into it right now.

Carolyn: And then when I brought it up to him he’s like, “I loved it!” Of course he would be there first.

Craig: Did you see this, because I’m now over the last month, ever since the probably apocryphal story that he threw his uncle to the dogs I’ve been obsessed with North Korea. And there was this amazing video they showed of the speech that he gave where he sort of said, okay, that guy is gone. And this is a new dawning for North Korea. And America bad. The usual thing.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Craig: But, it’s North Korean TV so it opens on this crowd of people and then it goes to him talking. And then they cut away about 45 seconds in to show an exterior of the building, the big Pyongyang building. And they never cut back until the end of the speech.

Carolyn: They’re just on the building?

Craig: Yes. And it’s like a 45-minute long speech. And so you just scrub through the video and he’s just talking and there’s applause and it’s just a building. The entire time, static shot, until the last 30 seconds. And I honestly believe that somebody just forgot to hit the switch. There’s no other explanation.

Carolyn: But now they’re dead.

Craig: Totally dead.

Carolyn: Absolutely.

John: Absolutely dead.

Craig: Totally dead. Something happened and I would love to know what it was. But, that to me is the essence of North Korea right there.

John: Have you guys been to the DMZ? Have you taken the DMZ tour?

Craig: No.

John: So, we did this a couple of years ago. It’s really fascinating. So, if you’re in Seoul and you’re American.

Carolyn: Which I am quite often.

John: Are you actually in Seoul? No. Seoul is like the Los Angeles of Korea in the sense it’s huge, and sprawling, and spread out and it’s a city. It’s very close to North Korea for reasons that are problematic.

But, the fun thing is as an American you can go on the DMZ tour. You get on this bus and you go to the DMZ, the safe side of it, and then you can actually cross from North Korea because what you do is you cross into these buildings that are actually exactly on the border, and there’s a North Korean guard on the far side, and a South Korean guard on this side. And you can walk around the table and technically be in North Korea and then walk back out.

Craig: They let you do that?

John: They let you do that.

Craig: Oh my god, the guards the let you do that?

John: They let you do that. It’s just this whole weird kabuki thing that happens.

Craig: That’s so strange.

John: But they teach you on the bus you’re not to smile, you’re not to say anything, you’re not to interact with anybody, because every once and awhile someone will like try to defect and they will like run across.

Carolyn: Wow.

Craig: Run across, to North Korea?

John: To North Korea.

Craig: You’re doing it wrong! [laughs]

Carolyn: If somebody tries to defect to North Korea…

Craig: You’re doing it wrong.

John: So, I have a question for you guys —

Carolyn: Why doesn’t North Korea, I don’t understand, why doesn’t —

John: Come, take them.

Carolyn: Take them. Why is it a big — ?

Craig: Great. Bye.

John: Sure.

Craig: You don’t have to run.

John: No.

Craig: You can walk to North Korea.

Carolyn: Yeah.

John: When Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea, how — are we supposed to feel bad when something terrible happens to him?

Craig: No. Absolutely not.

John: I’m trying to figure out what the feeling I actually have.

Craig: I feel bad that something hasn’t happened to him.

Carolyn: I was amazed that he could actually get players to go with him.

Craig: Well, now what’s happening, I didn’t know if you knew this, but some NBA players aren’t quite as up to world global politics, geo-politics and so forth as you might have imagined. So, now it’s happening and some of them are coming back and going, “Wait, what? Oh no!” [laughs] Like just didn’t know. They just didn’t know.

Carolyn: That’s why we had to throw the game!

Craig: They’re like, “Ooh, that was…oh, North Korea is the bad one? Oh man, I thought the food was bad. I thought that was where Gangnam Style was from.”

Carolyn: I didn’t know that —

John: Everyone is like, I love Korea, as if it’s one.

Craig: It’s amazing because I’m sure you’ve seen Team America: World Police, one of the finest movies ever made. And so there’s this entire thing about how American celebrities get suckered by the North Koreans. He’s doing it. He’s actually doing that thing.

Carolyn: Maybe that is his whole playbook perhaps.

Craig: It’s totally not. It’s totally not. I’m more willing to believe that Shia LeBeouf’s playbook is to tweak everybody with his crazy plagiarism than I am to believe that Dennis —

Carolyn: Is that a theory that’s out there?

Craig: Well, that’s what he wants us to believe, I think.

John: He’s doing a Joaquin Phoenix there. It’s really all a performance art thing and then we’ll forgive him and it’ll all be good.

Craig: It’s so not working. Shia, it’s not working! It’s not working.

John: So, because you’ve never listened to the podcast before, all the boilerplate stuff I’m about to say is brand new to you.

Craig: And this is going to be fun. Get ready!

John: Wait till you hear all this good stuff.

If you are listening to this on an iOS device you can probably subscribe to us in iTunes, which would be great. And if while you’re there you could leave us a comment or a rating, that’s also great. But if you’re on iPhone or Android you could also get the Scriptnotes app which is free to download. And through that you can listen to our show. You can even access the back episodes, which is fun, because we have now 126 back episodes to listen to.

Craig: That’s right.

John: If you would like to talk to either Craig or I, or share with us —

Craig: Talk to Craig or me.

John: God, I did that again. I’m so sorry.

Craig: You’re never going to stop saying that.

Carolyn: Do you do that every week, because it’s the 127th?

Craig: No, it’s the second time in like three episodes he’s done it. And the only reason I say it is because I know he would do it to me. [laughs]

John: I would totally. I absolutely would. I always [crosstalk] snipe you. [Crosstalk] pronouns snipe you.

Craig: Yeah, you would pronoun snipe me.

John: You can reach Craig, @clmazin on Twitter. I am @johnaugust on Twitter. Do you care to share your Twitter? You don’t have to share your Twitter.

Carolyn: I don’t really twit.

John: She doesn’t tweet.

Craig: Twit.

Carolyn: I don’t really tweet.

Craig: Before you go, can you tell us anything about the upcoming season of Game of Thrones?

John: Where are my dragons?

Craig: WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS?

John: Is it good? Is the next season good?

Craig: [laughs]

Carolyn: It’s okay.

John: All right.

Carolyn: It’s all right.

Craig: Is there any chance that I can get on this show? And I’ve talked to the guys before.

Carolyn: I was on the show.

Craig: I know.

Carolyn: It’s the first time in 25 years.

Craig: Trust me, I know. And I’m willing to be like a guy slogging through horse manure.

Carolyn: What, they said no?

Craig: No, they’re like, they always laugh. They’re like, “Yeah, sure, if you want to come to Northern Ireland,” I’m like I’d absolutely come to Northern Ireland. They’re like, okay, and then they look at each other like, “What’s wrong with him?”

Carolyn: Believe me. There have been a lot of people who’ve been in it. Come to Northern Ireland.

Craig: Oh, great, now a lot of people have done it.

John: Exactly. You’re really nothing special at all.

Carolyn: You should come for a [crosstalk] or something. You know, they’ll put you in an unsullied outfit.

Craig: Oh, I would like that. Oh, no I don’t think I would —

John: Yeah, you’d fit in really well there.

Craig: They’re like, “That guy is sullied.”

Carolyn: Totally sullied.

John: They’re eunuchs, aren’t they? Are the unsullied? Yeah, so there’s also that.

Craig: That’s I’ve got covered.

John: Done.

Craig: It’s just the abs.

John: It’s just taking care of the abs. [laughs]

Craig: I am a field director, but my abs are not unsullied level.

Carolyn: Yeah, I feel like I think we can make it happen.

Craig: Definitely like to me, my guy is I’m in the Knight’s Watch. I’ve taken the black.

Carolyn: Because they have the big cloak.

Craig: Right! So, I’m really covered. It’s cold. I look dirty.

John: Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Done. Set. You have a little dragon glass, you can poke somebody.

Craig: I just need like one moment where I look, just where I notice something. That’s all. That’s all I ask for.

John: And then you’re just — like an arrow in the throat.

Craig: That would be the best of all time. If I could get killed onscreen and like actually…

John: Malcolm Spellman got killed onscreen.

Craig: So you know, our friend Malcolm, it’s the moment when what’s her face?

John: Arya.

Craig: Arya is with the Hound. And they’re walking along and she hears like three guys talking about how they killed at the Red Wedding.

Carolyn: And she goes…

Craig: Right. And one of them is named Malcolm. One of them is named Spellman. [laughs]

John: One’s Malcolm and one is Spellman.

Craig: It was the most amazing thing ever.

Carolyn: Clever. So, you mean, you actually want to be killed, not just in name.

John: Oh, not just in name. We want Craig —

Craig: I physically want to be killed on the show.

John: It would actually be fascinating, you know, if you love the show so much you actually wanted to die in real life. You wanted your death actually filmed. Not just like your character being killed.

Craig: I mean, I would consider it. It depends on —

Carolyn: I think we can work this out. I really feel like it.

Craig: Yeah.

John: It’s basically a snuff film fantasy. Carolyn Strauss, thank you so much for being our guest.

Carolyn: Thank you guys. It was a lot of fun.

John: So much fun.

Craig: Fantastic.

John: And we’ll talk to you guys…

Craig: See you next time.

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