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 the 200th episode of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

We are here live, recording this episode for the whole world to listen to. I was thinking back that our very first live episode was in a pretty small room. That was in Austin, right? That was the first live show.

Craig: Yeah. I think so. That’s right.

John: Since then we’ve done shows in Austin, Los Angeles, New York City.

Craig: Yup.

John: This time we’re doing it live for the entire world to hear at once.

Craig: Oh, my…

John: Yeah, I know. It’s daunting.

Craig: And we’re live streaming it, right?

John: Yeah, we are. There are 198 people as we recorded this show who are listening to this show as we are recording it.

Craig: And so while we talk, they can give us feedback in real-time —

John: Yes.

Craig: So they can complain about me instantly.

John: Absolutely. Keith Vacario says, “Hello world.”

Craig: All right.

John: So that’s absolutely the kind of thing to do.

Craig: God, you know what the funny thing is, you know, we watch things like this all the time. But when you do it, suddenly you feel like you’re the first person to ever do it.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: Like, “Oh, my god, I’m flying a plane in the air. Look at me.”

John: It’s amazing. We’ve landed on the moon.

Craig: Whoa!

John: And there’s no better person to be in the cockpit with us as we’re trying to attempt this moon landing than our own, very first guest, our Joan Rivers, Aline Brosh McKenna. Welcome Aline.

Craig: Yay!

Aline Brosh McKenna: Yay! You had to say cockpit.

John: I had to say cockpit.

Aline: You had to work blue.

John: I had to work blue. I had to bring it back to phallic humor.

Aline: [laughs]

John: Aline Brosh McKenna, you were with us at our last live show. And at our last live show, you described this TV show that you were trying to make with Rachel Bloom. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out. But we’ll get in to all of that stuff. We’re going to talk about TV. We’re going to talk about whether the quality of a movie affects its long-term prospects at the box office.

Craig: Yeah.

John: And we’re going to answer a whole bunch of listener questions including the ones that people are typing right now —

Craig: Right now.

John: Into the little field.

Aline: Type, type, type, type, type.

Craig: Type your questions. This is it. This is your chance.

John: This is the show. Aline, when we saw you last you brought Rachel Bloom with you and she sang for us and she described the show called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that was —

Aline: What month was that? It was Christmas, right?

Craig: Yeah.

John: It was the Christmas show.

Craig: Yeah, it was right before New Year’s.

Aline: Right. So what was happening at — do you want me to tell you the —

John: Tell the story.

Aline: Okay, so what happened at Christmas was we were feeling pretty good about the show’s chances. We had just delivered the cut. We were doing the show for Showtime and they’d been super encouraging. We had a great experience with Showtime. And they were kind of saying the things that you say when you want to take the girl to the prom. It seemed like they were really interested in doing it. And then in January, we kind of started to hear, well, in Christmas, we had thought we would already be hearing from them and we kind of didn’t. But we kind of thought, well, maybe he’s going to call us later.

Craig: Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they’re at church.

Aline: Yeah, they’re on vacation.

John: So, like, Showtime wasn’t ready to leave his wife.

Craig: [laughs]

Aline: Showtime was not showing up with the corsage. And, you know, I always say that in show business good news happens really quickly and the rest of it doesn’t. Anything that doesn’t happen quickly is basically bad news.

John: So when did you have a sense that things were not going to happen?

Aline: January.

John: Oh, really?

Aline: So in January I started to feel like, “Hmm, this is taking an awfully long time,” and I just could tell, you know, having done this for a while, you can tell when there is that level of enthusiasm in phone calls and it kind of wasn’t there and we had had such a good experience with them that it was one of those breakups that was like everybody really liked each other. We’d had a great time.

Craig: Right.

Aline: They were really sad. We were really sad. It ended up not being a good fit for them kind of tonally and brand-wise. And it was kind of great and difficult because I understood where they were coming from because the show ended up being a little bit more sunny and upbeat than it had seemed on the page. On the page, it had seemed very edgy I think. And Rachel is sort of a pretty naturally cheery, upbeat, lovable person. And try though we did to squelch that, we failed.

John: You could not break her spirit.

Aline: And we could not. So what happened after that was that we all went to what I have now come to see as one of the stages of grief when you work on a TV show is we’re shopping it to other networks.

John: Now, this is about the time that I ran in to Rachel Bloom because she and I were randomly both flying to Boston. We were seated next to each other on a Virgin Atlantic plane to go to Boston. And so, I had not seen her since the live show. I was like, “Hey, Rachel, what’s up with your show?” And she was at exactly the stage of like, I guess, it is past denial to bargaining?

Aline: But having to run into a lot of people who’s like, they have a busted pilot. And you say, “What are you doing?” It’s like, “We’re waiting to hear from Epics.

John: [laughs]

Craig: Is that a thing? Is Epics a place?

Aline: Yeah.

John: It’s a real place.

Craig: What is that? [laughs]

Aline: So what you come to find out which I didn’t know because I actually haven’t worked in television that much is that so many people do programming.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And our joke with my friend Kate who is our executive at CBS is that we were right at the point when we were thinking someone was going to call and say, “You know what, Eggo is doing programming now and it’ll be on your toaster and you’ll be in the morning making your Eggo and there’ll be a TV show.”

John: Yeah.

Aline: And we would have been like, “We’re perfect for them. We’re perfect for toasters and waffles,” and you got to this place where, honestly, they were places that I had never heard of that were considering the show anyway.

John: So at this point, you have the show.

Aline: Yes.

John: If you have the cut.

Aline: We have a pilot.

John: You have the cut.

Aline: We have a pilot and we have episode two and episode three written.

John: Oh, great. So, you are showing them this pilot that you’ve cut and it’s cut sort of for Showtime. They’re seeing that pilot and they’ve seen these two other scripts. They could theoretically come into the room with you if you guys wanted to talk.

Aline: Exactly.

John: But what was the conversation? Was it just your agent sending it out or were you doing — ?

Aline: They were sending the link and the scripts to people and we got a variety of reactions. And I guess it’s sort of like putting a movie in turnaround. We got a couple of instances where somebody liked it and then they would try and bump it up to someone else.

Craig: To the next level of approval.

Aline: Right. But TV is like — people are developing very specific products for their network and what they think is their brand. And so they don’t really, you know, it’s rare for shows to move. And so, you know, as —

John: And yet there are examples of like shows that did move and became giant breakout hits. CSI is I think the most classic example.

Aline: Was it shot though?

Craig: Who let CSI go?

Aline: No, it wasn’t. I don’t think it was shot though. I think it was a script.

John: I thought CSI was shot. I mean, I may be misremembering.

Craig: How can they let that go?

John: Isn’t that crazy?

Aline: Somebody should tell us right now live.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Absolutely. Someone who can do research live, tell us where CSI was actually shot for and who picked it up.

Craig: It’s about time these people paid us back.

John: Yeah.

Aline: There are a lot of instances of scripts being picked up by other networks but not that many of things being shot because people in TV in particular want to feel like they put their stamp on it.

Craig: So where did it end up?

Aline: So what happened was in the meantime while we were shopping it, I had gotten very into this show called Jane the Virgin.

John: Mm-hmm.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: On the CW because I had several friends and a bunch of them are our mutual friends who insisted that I should watch it and that it was great. And then I would love it. So I started watching Jane the Virgin and I was simultaneously obsessed with it and sort of broken-hearted because I felt like even though it’s not like our show, there’s something about it in spirit. I felt like it reminded me of our show.

Craig: Right.

Aline: So I called —

Craig: More wine?

Aline: Here is your half glass.

Craig: Thank you. Here is my half glass.

Aline: So I called our executive and I said, “You know, I know we’re only going to cable places but do you think there’s a possibility that we could send this to CW, what do you think?” So he sent it to CW. I’m going to make this story shorter. We sent it to the CW. They really liked it. We had a meeting.

Craig: CW is Warner Bros.

Aline: So CW is half CBS and half Warner Bros.

Craig: Got it.

Aline: It used to be UPN and the WB. They merged into The CW. They’ve recently gotten a lot of shows that are very popular and critically acclaimed. Two of them are superhero shows, Berlanti does —

John: Flash and Arrow.

Aline: Flash and Arrow.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And then they have Jane the Virgin which has done really well and won a Peabody and its lead won a Golden Globe.

Craig: Got it.

Aline: So they’re doing cool stuff. So they expressed interest in our show. They really liked it. They really dug it. The people there really kind of got what it was. We had a meeting with them and they said, “Can you do an expanded version of it?” So what we did was we took the existing pilot and we — in the script stage, not in the edit. You know, we just wrote what our scenes would be. And what I didn’t realize is that a network — how much longer — okay, so a cable half hour and a network hour, what do you think the time difference is?

Craig: A cable half hour, my guess is it’s probably like 26 minutes. And a network hour is like 43 minutes.

Aline: So the cable half hour is like, it can be 30, 31, even 32 minutes.

Craig: Oh, like a real half hour.

Aline: Yeah, a real half hour because they don’t have commercials.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And the network hours can be like anywhere from 41 to 44 minutes, something like that.

Craig: I wasn’t that far off.

Aline: Yeah.

John: You weren’t that far off, yeah.

Aline: So basically —

Craig: I barely know what TV is.

Aline: Right. So basically we had to add — we have to add about 10 minutes.

Craig: 10 minutes.

Aline: 10 minutes.

Craig: No big deal.

Aline: So it wasn’t double, which some people thought we were doubling the size of our script.

Craig: You know by the way the story about Game of Thrones? Not to interrupt.

Aline: Yeah, go ahead.

Craig: But I’m interrupting.

Aline: Interrupt.

Craig: Dan and Dave did their first show and they were having this problem because they weren’t hitting their time, you know. Like they had, basically, they had done like, I don’t know, they had shot now like nine episodes and they just weren’t timing out. They needed more time. So they had to set aside a week where they just wrote extra scenes to put in for all of the shows.

John: [laughs]

Craig: And then they just shot a bunch of scenes of like people talking to pad out the shows, but in a weird way those scenes where it was like it’s just two people talking were some of the best scenes of the first season.

Aline: That people enjoyed the most.

Craig: Right.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Because it was just what people wanted to see.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: They wanted to see two interesting people talking. But it’s like the whole timing thing is a fascinating thing.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: I know that Derek and Chicago Fire, they are constantly dealing with the breaks and all that stuff.

Aline: Right. And so it’s a different format. It’s also a different format because you don’t break obviously on a cable half hour.

Craig: Correct.

Aline: You don’t break. So we had to build in breaks. We did that. We lengthened it. And here is what happened which is funny, I think, and interesting for writers. So that was in April, we had that meeting. And they said, “We’re interested and can you expand it? And we are thinking about maybe you for off season development,” which I had never heard of before. And we were like, “Okay.” And they said, “But we don’t need to have the script back until later, until after we’ve finished with our development.” And so, Rachel and I had actually started working on something else and we sat down in my office and she goes, “You know what? Let’s just do it. Let’s just do the script. Let’s just expand the script and hand it in and just be done with it. We’ll know it’s done before we do something else.”

Craig: Smart girl.

Aline: Jew.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Jewish. That’s a Jewish mind at work.

Aline: Right.

Craig: Are we going to be in trouble if we talk about Jewish people like that?

John: No, I think it’s absolutely fine.

Craig: Because we’re Jewish.

Aline: Right.

John: Yeah, you guys can talk about anything.

Aline: We can do that.

John: I’ll stay silent here.

Craig: John, what are your opinions about the Jews?

John: As a German I feel —

Craig: [laughs]

Aline: So we did it. We turned it in. And I think it showed them that there was a show there that had some viability that didn’t involve a ton of changes.

Craig: Right.

Aline: We had profanity in the Showtime show and we had some sexy stuff but we were able to pull it back pretty easily. And so, what ended up happening was we went from being like something they were going to consider offseason to midseason to a show they were putting on the fall schedule.

Craig: Great.

John: Which is, congratulations. So you are now a show on The CW fall schedule which is nuts.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: It’s awesome.

Aline: And we’re going to be the lead in to Jane the Virgin —

John: Great.

Aline: Which is like a Cinderella story. I mean, it’s just like a happy thing for me because I am such an obsessed huge fan of that show.

Craig: Well, fantastic.

John: So, I think you’re allowed to say that you’ve sent me the link to see the show and it’s amazing. I just love it.

Craig: I’ve watched a bunch of it. Now, how did I watch a bunch of it?

Aline: You watched a — there’s like a six-minute trailer.

Craig: That’s what I watched.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: I watched a six-minute trailer and it was —

John: So I watched the whole show and it’s just great.

Craig: Okay, I’m not surprised because I love her. I love you. I love musicals. But also, in watching that trailer it really reminded of that segment from 500 Days of Summer that Marc Webb shot —

Aline: Yes.

Craig: Where Joseph Gordon-Levitt turns his problems and his joy into this outside Busby Berkeley dance number.

John: Yeah.

Aline: Oh, here’s the thing that I did not know which is that Marc Webb could go toe-to-toe with you on the musical theatre stuff.

Craig: Oh, I have no doubt.

Aline: He knows absolutely so much about musical theatre.

Craig: But is he having coffee with Seth Rudetsky this weekend? No. I am.

Aline: Well, he did, though, take us to Marie’s Crisis. Do you know what Marie’s Crisis is?

John: No, so therefore you’re much more knowledgeable.

Aline: OMG. So Marie’s Crisis is this bar in the Village.

Craig: I don’t live in the Village. It’s not fair.

Aline: Well, you go to New York.

Craig: I did meet him in the Village.

Aline: And they sing show tunes.

Craig: Well, that sounds pretty great. But I mean, I sing show tunes in my car.

John: Singing show tunes in a bar is —

Aline: But it’s a bar filled with people and there’s a piano in the middle and he sings show tunes.

Craig: So what you’re telling me is there’s a gay bar in the Village? Is that what you’re telling us? Is that the big news?

John: [laughs]

Aline: I’m telling you that Marc Webb goes there and took us there.

Craig: I would totally go there, by the way.

John: Yeah.

Aline: Yeah. You would love it.

Craig: By the way, Seth Rudetsky is, if you are in Los Angeles, I’ll just give Seth a plug.

John: Sure.

Craig: He’s playing Largo Saturday evening. He’s doing his Seth Rudetsky Deconstructs —

John: Great.

Craig: Broadway songs at Largo.

Aline: Oh, wow.

Craig: So go check it out.

Aline: I love him.

Craig: I’m not going to be able to make it myself, so I’m just going to have a special one on one. By the way, I talk about Seth Rudetsky like the way other people might talk about Tom Cruise.

Aline: Yeah. Right. [laughs]

John: Absolutely. [laughs]

Craig: Nobody cares.

John: You’ve named him so often that —

Craig: Most people don’t even know who he is.

John: Like Seth Rudetsky is like a —

Aline: I think he’s great.

Craig: By the way, you want to know how cool I am? I know Seth Rudetsky and people are like, “Ah, is that your rabbi or — ?” [laughs]

John: So let’s do some real-time follow-up. Stuart Friedel sitting off at the corner.

Craig: Yup.

John: Can you do a Google search through all the transcripts and see how often in johnaugust.com Seth Rudetsky shows up? For a person who’s actually not part of the show, I bet he shows up at least 10 times.

Craig: Stuart has leapt into action.

John: So —

Aline: Yeah.

John: You are going to be so busy.

Aline: So busy.

John: Oh, my god.

Aline: Yeah.

John: So because you were kind of late to this whole process —

Aline: Yes.

John: You had to race to get a staff together, correct?

Aline: Yes, yes.

John: You had to have a staff that could also like write songs.

Aline: Well, I had another friend who got a show picked up and I called her. And I said, “So what writers are you [laughs ]meeting with?”

John: Oh, no. [laughs]

Aline: And she said, “Oh, we’re done.” Because she knew from, like, weeks that they were getting picked up. So she had already staffed. So we’ve been staffing which has actually been really fun. I’ve read great people and that’s been really interesting. We do have original songs. So we’re trying to get kind of into our season early because we’re going to write — and for the first 13, we’ll have like maybe 25 songs. And Rachel is our primary songwriter.

John: Yeah.

Aline: So, she’s the sort of the showrunner of the song staff. But she, you know, has a million ideas. So it’s fun. I mean, I think for people who listen to this show, what’s interesting is that when you’re a writer of a screenplay, you have a completely different role from being the showrunner or the executive producer of a television show. You really are a producer and writing is your sort of, I would say, your main, your core responsibility. But there’s a lot of production stuff.

And I can’t remember who said that producing is the stuff that writers do to procrastinate.

Craig: Right.

Aline: Like making phone calls and taking meetings.

Craig: Right. So now it’s like they’re paying you for it.

Aline: And now it’s like a huge part of your job is a lot of phone calls, meetings.

Craig: Sure.

Aline: And meeting executives. We did have a —

Craig: You’re still going to have to write.

Aline: But we have a lot, a lot of writing to do. So I have people around us who really can help us, you know, get the logistics of the show going. We had an amazing, amazing line producer, Sarah Caplan, who did Lost and —

Craig: Jewish.

Aline: She’s British, though.

Craig: Oh, British Jewish. That’s barely Jewish.

Aline: So it’s interesting. She did Lost and she worked on thirtysomething. So she’s great. Anyway, we have a lot of people helping us. But it’s fun. You know, it’s a different role from being a screenwriter because as a screenwriter, your role is always mediated and mitigated through the director no matter how close you are. You’re really not the boss, unless you’re the producer, in which case you’re still not the boss.

John: Yeah. On the 100th episode which I just recut for like two episodes ago, we talked about this idea of like the screenwriter-plus. And we were talking about people like Simon Kinberg —

Aline: Right.

John: Who are sort of that screenwriter-plus. They are the person who’s essentially showrunning this idea of the movie.

Aline: Yeah.

John: And now you’re going to have that firsthand experience of showrunning an actual show.

Aline: Yeah.

John: And you will love it and it will also just drive you crazy.

Aline: Well, I know your experience. I remember your experience.

John: Yeah. So I’ve done a couple of these. And the one time we actually went to series, it was soul-crushing. But you are wiser and more mature and you have better people around you. So I think you’re going to flourish.

Craig: And you’re Jewish. I mean, I think it’s a huge thing.

Aline: [laughs] We keep going back to that.

Craig: I’ve got my own little series that I don’t, you know, I have yet to write anything. I still have to write the pilot. But if that happens, I would be in that position, along with our good friend and guest of the show, Carolyn Strauss.

Aline: Oh, right. Carolyn Strauss.

Craig: And, you know, I’m kind of looking forward to something like that. But it’s funny. Sometimes that, you know, even Simon who’s oftentimes the screenwriter-plus, there are probably jobs where he’s like, “No, I’m just the screenwriter.”

John: Yeah, absolutely.

Craig: It’s kind of a weird thing, you know. Like, “Oh, yeah, on this one, I’m just the — “

John: I’m just the words.

Craig: I’m just a guy.

Aline: Well, something —

Craig: Nobody really cares. [laughs]

Aline: Something that’s interesting is that, you know, we talk a lot about why there aren’t more female directors. And I think that if we shot a substantial amount of movies in Los Angeles, that that would change. Because if you look at, there are so many powerful, successful female showrunners —

Craig: Right.

Aline: And most of them shoot their shows in L.A.

Craig: Right.

Aline: Jenji is here, Shonda’s here.

Craig: Shonda’s here.

Aline: And, you know, you can have that, you know, whatever happens no matter how many hours — and I had been on the track to direct a movie which would have taken me to Eastern Europe for months at a time. And so even though my workload here might be difficult, I’ll still be able —

Craig: You’re here.

Aline: To be here. And I think if we —

Craig: They have that huge complex in Santa Clarita.

Aline: Yes.

Craig: Your show is set in the Valley anyway.

Aline: Yeah. We’re going to shoot it —

Craig: Is that where you’re going to shoot it?

Aline: We’re not shooting in Santa Clarita, I think. But we are going to shoot in a place like that. Our show is set in West Covina. [laughs]

Craig: That’s right.

John: [sings] West Covina.

Aline: Which is like a —

John: California.

Aline: Which is like a, you know, a sort of a sun-baked California suburb. Luckily, most of Southern California looks like that.

Craig: Right.

Aline: But I do think that if there were — it’s such a Shonda, just to keep it Jewy.

Craig: Oh, not Shonda Rhimes, but this is a different Shonda.

Aline: It’s such a Shonda —

Craig: That’s Yiddish for a sin.

Aline: That we don’t have more production here in L.A. where everybody is based. You would be —

Craig: I know. It’s a Shonda.

Aline: But wouldn’t you be? Yes.

John: Stuart did complete his research and found out how many mentions of Seth Rudetsky have occurred on the Scriptnotes podcast.

Stuart Friedel: Nine.

Craig: Nine.

John: Nine.

Craig: Well, now it’s up to like 20.

John: Exactly. We’ve mentioned Seth Rudetsky so many times.

Craig: Seth Rudetsky.

John: You’re basically his publicist.

Craig: Look, I would love that, you know. By the way, Seth Rudetsky [laughs] I’ll just say another thing. He has a show. It’s really, really funny, called Disaster. He’s trying to bring it to Broadway. It’s hysterical, hysterical.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So.

John: Broadway —

Craig: I will, yes.

Aline: You’re an uber fan.

Craig: I’m a huge fan.

John: Let us —

Aline: Let’s move on.

John: Congratulate Aline on her amazing show.

Aline: Thank you very much.

Craig: Well done, Aline.

Aline: Thank you.

John: And we’ll put a link to the trailer in the show notes so that people can —

Aline: Thank you. [laughs]

John: Our next topic is something that Stuart found. Stuart found this thing. It was a subreddit, which is talking about the relationship between a film’s quality and its box office. And so what this guy did, it was a Reddit user named tcatron565 which is like a totally Reddit name.

Craig: Yes. It’s the perfect statistical mean of all Reddit names.

John: I’m sure. It’s a subreddit called DataIsBeautiful. And he looked at the wide releases in 2013 and figured out what percentage of their total gross came from their opening weekend. And then he charted that against their audience score from Rotten Tomatoes. So he’s basically saying like, how much money did this movie make on its opening weekend versus total.

Craig: Right.

John: And do people like the movie. And intuitively, I think all of us here would agree that like —

Aline: Big multiple.

John: Big multiple. And so it was interesting to look through this subreddit because they didn’t have the same lingo that we would have for it. They were talking about like —

Craig: I loved it, by the way.

John: Yeah, I really loved —

Craig: Because I was that dork from college. I thought it was great. I actually thought that guy did a great job because first of all he picked two interesting criteria. One was that he picked the audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, not the critic ratings.

John: Yes.

Craig: Which one would imagine probably is more relevant to determining how a movie resonates with an audience. And I also like the criteria of what percentage of the movie’s total box office was earned in the opening weekend because the theory is, okay, well, if a movie earns most of its money in its opening weekend, there was a big drop-off, it probably means there was bad word of mouth.

Now, that’s not perfectly good because there are some movies that have so much pent up demand and interest they’re always — like if a movie opens to $150 million, there’s no way it’s coming back next weekend and doing another $75 million. It’s not possible.

John: What’s interesting looking through this is that they didn’t have the lingo that we would have for what that was. So Aline said it right from the start. What was the multiplier?

Craig: Right.

John: Basically, what percentage of its total box office came from that opening weekend. So if you opened at $10 million but you made it to $100 million, you have a 10 times multiplier which is crazy.

Craig: That would be awesome.

John: That would be amazing.

Craig: Right.

John: Almost unprecedented.

Craig: Right. And whereas like a 2.5 — I mean, the standard really you’re looking for is a 3 multiplier, right? That’s sort of middle of the road. And that’s exactly what he found. Roughly the average was around 3.2 or 3.3 multiplier was average.

John: The other thing we would talk about is what was the drop-off from first week to second week.

Craig: Sure.

John: And we would definitely weight that based on what kind of movie it is.

Craig: Yes.

John: And so if a prestigious art film drops off 50% in its second week —

Craig: Probably bad.

John: Doom.

Craig: Yeah.

John: But if something like, you know —

Craig: A horror movie.

Aline: Yeah.

John: A horror movie, totally expect that drop-off to be 50% or more —

Craig: Because —

John: Or a giant box office, you know, it made $100 million, it’s going to drop off hugely.

Craig: It has to drop off. And especially with real genre pictures that appeal to teens in particular, you’re always going to get that drop-off because teens are, as we know, they’re highly motivated to see movies opening weekend. So, horror movies, broad comedies, they tend to be really frontloaded just because the nature of the audience. It doesn’t necessarily mean when all is said and done that people didn’t like the movie.

But he did a really aggressive and thorough statistical analysis. He was talking about regression to the mean. He was talking about his R-values, his R-score. I mean, there’s all this like really good stuff in there. And buried in the thing, he sort of said, I was kind of surprised how loose the correlation was.

John: Yes.

Craig: Now, alternately, there was a very similar study that was done and posted on The Black List blog, and we’ll throw that link into the show notes. And that one I wasn’t as much of a fan of because that one, it was the same thing. On one sense, it was what percentage drop-off was — or what percentage of your total box office was your opening weekend.

But the other one was they used the Metacritic score, which as far as I’m concerned, is irrelevant. And, you know, then they charted out all these things. As far as I could tell looking through the charts —

Aline: What were the conclusions of the first Reddit thing?

Craig: Well, the conclusions of the Reddit thing was that there was a loose, a very — here’s the thing. Statistics. You can say anything you want in statistics, but it’s all about but how robust is the correlation. So if you flip a coin twice, you could say, “Well, it looks like this coin is going to come up heads all the time but it’s a very loose correlation.” So he was saying there is a loose correlation between —

Aline: Between the “quality” of the movie.

Craig: Between the audience’s affection for a movie —

Aline: Perceived quality, yeah.

Craig: And the box office multiple.

John: Yeah. You had sent me a link this afternoon to the second thing which is on The Black List. And what I found interesting about it is because this guy broke out movies by sort of like their total box office tier, it was useful to look at, you know, a tiny little indie movie, like the multiplier factor is really huge. When you look at the giant box office behemoths, they will make a tremendous amount of their box office that first weekend just because —

Craig: Of course.

John: Of the nature of the kind of movie they are.

Aline: Right. So that —

John: So that tiering was useful for me.

Aline: Uh-huh.

Craig: The tiering was, I mean, it’s the kind of movie it is, and then also you have to remember, huge budget movies have massive marketing budgets behind them.

John: Yes.

Craig: So of course they’re motivating an enormous part of the audience that might normally slip to week two. They’re showing up at week one because they’ve just been motivated. They’ve been bombarded. So it’s a little difficult to make this correlation. I think it’s fair to say that if people love a movie, it will have good word of mouth and it will do better. Duh, right?

Aline: Right.

Craig: There’s no big surprise there. I think it’s a mistake to try and equate good movie with, say, Metacritic score, or even with Rotten Tomatoes score because that’s a self-selecting audience anyway.

Aline: But I just think it’s interesting, you know, every weekend you have these postmortems where people try and figure out, and they’re doing it right now with Tomorrowland —

Craig: Right.

Aline: Trying to figure out was it this, was it that, is it original in content, is it not, is it… — And the truth is that, you know, it really goes back to the Goldman rule like, you know, we all do the best we can in a inexact science and you can’t really account for why certain things — you can account for a certain amount of these phenomena, but really, things break out because of a million reasons or don’t break out for a million reasons.

Craig: And Tomorrowland, correct me if I’m wrong, made mid-40s, right?

Aline: Right.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Made like $45 million. That’s good.

Aline: Right.

Craig: What happens now is people will say, “Well, it’s good but not good in light of its budget.” The audience doesn’t care about the budget.

Aline: Right.

Craig: The audience doesn’t care about your profit and loss sheet.

Aline: Right.

Craig: $45 million worth of tickets sold is good.

John: So the real conversation will be next Sunday or Monday as the second week comes through and everyone will take a look at like what was the drop-off, which will probably be a factor of what was the reception of the audience.

Craig: Sure.

John: And the audience reception was mixed. And so that will be curious to see sort of how it plays out next week.

Craig: Absolutely.

John: That’s the sort of normal conversation we would have. What’s so fascinating is to look at, you know, a person with a stats background who didn’t have any of our terminology trying to explain this phenomenon he was seeing.

Craig: It was interesting. There’s another thing that people forget sometimes when they do these analyses. And there are two movies come to mind, Austin Powers and Pitch Perfect. Movies that come out and kind of bomb in their own sort of way. And then find this life on video and —

Aline: And they’re also, I mean, they’re marketed. They have marketed themselves. I mean, Pitch Perfect had marketed itself for, you know, the months since it came out because people watched it over and over again. It caught on and that, so —

Craig: Right.

Aline: There was so much marketing that was beyond the marketing they were actually doing.

Craig: Exactly.

Aline: And so those movies have such built-in awareness.

Craig: If you just look at the point on the chart of how much money did Pitch Perfect 1 make at the box office. Austin Powers 2 made more in its opening weekend than Austin Powers 1 made its entire run.

John: Yeah.

Aline: Oh, I think that’s true of Pitch Perfect as well.

Craig: I’m sure it is. It has to be.

Aline: Right.

Craig: And so that’s really the lesson there is, well, box office isn’t necessarily the only test of success either, because some movies are discovered after. Office Space is the bomb of all bombs when it comes to theatrical release. And God only knows how many hundreds of millions of dollars —

Aline: Do you think if they made a sequel now people would go?

Craig: Oh, my god. If Mike Judge ever did it, and he won’t —

John: Yeah.

Craig: But if he ever did, it would be massive. No question.

Aline: That’s interesting.

John: I think that’s true as well. And it’s a thing we encountered with Big Fish because Big Fish was not a huge box office hit but it actually did so well in its afterlife that we continue to sort of get interested in doing more stuff with Big Fish because it did so well.

Aline: Right.

Craig: There you go.

Aline: Right.

John: And so that’s an example. Like that’s not a movie that lends itself to a natural sequel. There’s not a Big Fish 2 on the docks, but like it’s useful for things down the road.

Craig: Wasn’t Free Willy kind of in its own way a sequel? [laughs]

John: [laughs] Yeah, it really was.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Yeah.

John: It’s its own sort of unique thing.

Craig: It’s its own thing.

John: I think it’s time to open up for some questions.

Aline: Yay.

Craig: How do we sound, Stuart? Stuart, I’m check —

John: Oh, we got a thumbs up from Stuart.

Craig: Stuart gave us a thumbs up.

John: We have two questions that came in early, so —

Aline: [makes noises] That’s my alien voice.

Craig: I know. [makes noise]

Aline: [makes noise]

Craig: What have we got? Live questions?

John: Well, we had two questions that came in before we started the show at all. So I was wondering if Aline might read the first question from Molly.

Aline: Okay, the question from Molly is —

John: Because it’s a question from a woman.

Aline: Hi, John and Craig and Stuart.

Craig: Awww.

John: Stuart.

Craig: Stuart. If can’t get Stuart married off of this?

Aline: I’m writing a script that is an adaptation of the life of a former U.S. president. I strive for authenticity —

Craig: I hope it’s McKinley.

Aline: And historical accuracy. So I would like to use direct quotes from the president’s speeches, letters, and memoirs as dialogue. Is this an acceptable practice in biographical films or seen as unoriginal because the dialogue didn’t originate with me, or is it plagiarism? If it’s acceptable, do I somehow need to cite which lines are actually historical and not my own original creation? Looking forward to the show tonight, Molly.

Craig: Molly.

John: Molly.

Craig: That’s a really good question. I have an answer for you, Molly.

John: I do, too.

Craig: The answer in order is yes, no, no, yes, no, no. So, it’s absolutely acceptable. It is not plagiarism. It is part of public record. Presidents are public figures. Their speeches are absolutely reprintable in all ways, shapes, and forms. No, nobody would look at it as plagiarism. In fact, quite the opposite. Take an obvious example, if you were doing a movie about Lincoln, which of course has already been done, and you change the text to the Gettysburg Address, people would be angry.

Aline: But let me throw in a caveat.

Craig: Yes. What is your caveat?

Aline: With Selma —

John: I was going to say Selma.

Craig: Yes.

Aline: They did not have the right to his speeches.

Craig: Okay. I think they did. Here’s my point. My feeling is that they would have had the right to those speeches but they could also be sued and have to battle over it. And then they have a movie about Martin Luther King that is being sued by the estate of Martin Luther King, which is bad press. But I actually think an argument could be made that as a public figure delivering a public speech, that is now part of the public record and is absolutely public domain.

Aline: But she had to paraphrase them and you don’t think that she — do you think she just didn’t want to take the risk?

Craig: I think the studio combined with the — I’m sure the screenwriter initially had that in there completely. You get into trouble there where it’s like, okay, if we’re making a movie about Martin Luther King and the family is like, “Boo, you’re exploiting,” oh, it’s a nightmare.

John: Yeah.

Craig: But if you’re making a movie about McKinley [laughs], I don’t know why I like to go to McKinley always —

John: You should.

Craig: Somebody should make a movie about Franklin Pierce. If you’re making a movie about Franklin Pierce, go for it. I mean, obviously, A, everything is in public domain now anyway because of the age. So always check, you know, if you’re making an old — if you’re doing one about Ford, you should be fine anyway, I think.

Aline: But do you think like in the way that Martin Luther King’s speeches are owned as intellectual property by his estate, like if you were doing a John F. Kennedy movie where he has a lot of famous speeches —

Craig: I don’t —

John: Here’s a question. Like if you took something from Profiles in Courage, John Kennedy’s book —

Craig: That’s different. That’s different. And by the way, of course John F. Kennedy did not write Profiles in Courage.

John: But his name is on it.

Craig: His name is on it. It was ghostwritten. But that’s a novel and that’s expression in fixed form. But if you do a movie about Kennedy and you have him stand up and say, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” —

John: Well, of course that’s fine.

Craig: Well, you say of course that’s fine but really —

Aline: But that’s —

Craig: But that’s what the King family was saying is it’s not fine.

John: That’s true.

Craig: And I think that’s about avoiding an unpleasant battle in public opinion, especially on something as sensitive as Martin Luther King and the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. The last thing you want to be is like, “A white corporation going against the wishes of the family,” you know, like it just smells bad. It’s bad business.

John: So going back to Molly’s question though, she’s writing a movie about a president, which is awesome. Make the best presidential movie possible. If you think you need to use a lot of stuff from his speeches, then I worry that you’re not making the best possible presidential movie.

Craig: Or maybe there’s one speech or another.

John: Sure.

Craig: I mean, let’s say she’s doing like Teddy, you know.

John: Okay.

Craig: Teddy had some good speeches. But I guess even beyond that, regardless, you should write — this is the time where you get to do whatever you want. I mean, if the downside of being a screenwriter is that we’re not actually making a movie but we’re making a movie on paper, the upside is we can do whatever we want.

Down the road, some roomful of lawyers will give you advice on that stuff. But nobody will look down upon you for actually using the text of publicly delivered speeches by political figures.

Aline: And I’m assuming that Molly is going to be writing conversations with him and his spouse and his advisors. She wouldn’t have access to those anyway.

Craig: Right. Dramatize —

Aline: She’s going to be making that up. Especially, if they’re famous speeches, obviously people will know that she’s excerpting. But in general, she’s going to have to make up probably what consists of her dramatic writing, she’ll have to make up anyway.

Craig: Word.

John: Word. Craig, another question that came in before we started recording.

Craig: Yes. This one came from Cody Tannen-Barrup.

John: What a great name is that.

Craig: The best. Hyphenated, Tannen-Barrup. Hey, John and Craig. Thanks for everything you do. That’s weird, Cody didn’t thank Stuart.

John: Oh.

Craig: But I guess that’s just —

Aline: Also, I wasn’t thanked.

Craig: And also Aline wasn’t thanked. [laughs] You’re welcome, Cody Tannen-Barrup. Question. I was asked by an agent to send him a script. I sent it two weeks ago. What’s the etiquette of following up? How long do I wait? Do I just expect that if he liked it he would get back to me, unless I should move on? Thanks. Cody from Northampton, Massachusetts. Sent from his iPad.

John: Aline, tell us, when should you follow up?

Aline: Well, this is a great question. I’m glad that we can share some of this. I’ve been doing this a long time. I have never gotten any better at the waiting to hear part.

John: I haven’t either.

Aline: I don’t know what it is.

Craig: You’re human. [laughs]

Aline: There’s something about the minute you press — it’s like the minute you press send, you go back into the document and you find a typo instantly.

Craig: Always.

Aline: Instantly.

Craig: By the way, isn’t that amazing?

Aline: You press send —

Craig: Always.

Aline: You go back in there and you’re like —

Craig: It’s sick.

Aline: Yeah. That’s I think —

John: In the old days when we used to print out scripts —

Aline: Yes.

John: I would wait for the messenger to come and pick up the script and take it away. And then I would look through it, like, “No, typo.”

Craig: I know.

Aline: Always.

John: And now it’s a PDF.

Craig: I know.

Aline: It’s something, honestly, that I still work on when I hand in a script. My husband pretty much wants to get away from me. I have not gotten any better at this. In the beginning of your career, it’s so difficult and it’s so heartbreaking.

Craig: I mean, like we send a script in to some agent or whatever the hell we do, two weeks go by, maybe it’s slightly bad news. But when you’re trying to start your career and this is — well, one agent you know and the one person who showed you interest and now two weeks have gone by, it’s your whole world focused on that one return call.

Aline: But I think it’s fascinating. It’s sort of like, you know, when you’re driving and there’s a pedestrian in front of you, you’re like, “Move more quickly. I’m going to hit you. [laughs] What are you doing?”

Craig: Right.

Aline: And then when you’re the pedestrian, you’re going [makes noise].

Craig: Right. Yeah, easy car.

Aline: And it’s the same thing when someone —

Craig: I know.

Aline: Gives me a script to read. It’ll often sit in my inbox for a long time and I won’t respond or won’t read it. And it doesn’t mean I don’t like it or I didn’t it —

Craig: So what do —

Aline: Here’s the thing. You can’t read anything into the two weeks.

Craig: But what do we tell them? Like when should you write back?

Aline: Yes.

John: So I think you should write back with — if you sent it on a Thursday or Friday, you should write back on Tuesday to make sure that they have it.

Aline: Oh, interesting. Interesting.

John: So I would give them a weekend, which counts as sort of one day. Otherwise, you give them like just, you know, a few days to make sure that —

Aline: I might give them a week.

Craig: It’s funny, like I’m actually a two-weeker guy.

Aline: Yeah.

John: Oh.

Craig: Like I feel like email works. And so I would check in two weeks later. By the way, also you can always call the assistant.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: Like for instance for that one, like four days later, give the assistant a buzz and say, “I’m so sorry to bother you — “

Aline: I just want to make sure.

Craig: “I just want to make sure it came through and then I will leave you alone, I promise.” And they’ll say, “Oh, yeah. It came through.” Then I would give it two weeks and then I would just drop a quick line.

John: So I had a conversation with my agent, David Kramer, about this and he said that it’s one of his great frustrations is when people don’t send the email back saying, “Got it.”

Craig: Right.

John: Just acknowledge that you received it.

Craig: Right.

John: Because it honestly reduces your stress load tremendously to say like, “Got it. Thanks.”

Craig: Absolutely.

John: And so just this last week I had a situation where I sent something through and I expected like, well, it’s a long weekend, whatever. And then I get the email back today saying like, “Oh, because of Con, we didn’t send it through, so it’ll be like another week.” I’m like —

Craig: So frustrating.

John: Yeah. It’s like, oh my god, the whole time I was like —

Craig: It’s so frustrating.

John: I’m picturing all the bad news that possibly could’ve happened.

Craig: You know what the word for what you were doing was?

John: What?

Craig: Because this is what my therapist tells me I do all the time.

John: [laughs]

Craig: Catastrophizing.

John: I love that word.

Craig: You were catastrophizing.

Aline: Oh, and that’s what happens when you turn in a script, all you can do is picture them thinking, “Oh, my god. What do I do? How do I — what do I say to her?”

Craig: It’s catastrophizing. But not only does this draft not work, this person can’t ever work again in Hollywood or anywhere.

John: No.

Craig: And should be punished publicly. [laughs]

John: This person —

Aline: And it’s funny because even —

John: This person is an impostor.

Craig: Yeah. [laughs]

John: The impostor has now been revealed.

Craig: At last we know the truth.

Aline: But you kind of build up a thing where “You know what, I feel pretty good about this one. I’m just going to hand this in and go to the Grove and I feel great.” And it takes anywhere between two minutes and 11 minutes to go into the spiral.

Craig: It breaks everyone.

Aline: So if it makes Cody feel any better, it happens to everyone. I would say after a couple of weeks, you can lob in. And I would probably, if John’s saying a Tuesday, I would say the end of the following week, I would say lob in an email saying, “Hey, just checking in. I wanted to make sure you got it. Would love to hear from you about it. Would love to talk about it with you.” If you don’t hear from them way soon after that, I think you can just take that as being French for no.

Craig: Well, you could. I mean, the truth is that sometimes it takes time, and especially if you are a flier. An agent is like, okay, a friend of a friend and you come, whatever. You send me your script.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: It’s at the bottom of my pile.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So at some point, they’re going to pick it up.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: And then you just have to be patient. And in your mind, essentially you have to remove yourself from that sicko equation of this is going to change my life. You just got to keep going on with your life and assume that that’s not going to change your life. And then if a wonderful thing comes crashing in, like the letter from Hogwarts inviting you and telling you you’re a wizard, then that’s great.

Aline: But the thing I would also say when you’re starting out is give your script to lots of people.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: Give your script to a friend. Give your script to an agent. Give your friend who’s an assistant. And I always think of it as like you’re putting little paper boats into the Central Park reservoir.

Craig: I’ll tell you who I give my script to. Just the other day, one of the smart — here’s an unsung screenwriter — he’s sung. But one of my favorite people in this business and he’ll never come on the show because he’s like a weirdo shut-in and he’ll never listen to this, so I don’t have a problem [laughs] with saying —

John: So you can call him a weirdo shut-in and —

Craig: He’ll never know that I called him a weirdo shut-in. But Bob Gordon, do you know Bob Gordon?

John: I know Bob Gordon.

Craig: So smart. So Bob Gordon is probably most known for writing Galaxy Quest. Brilliant, brilliant guy. I met him in Nashville actually. And like you know when you meet someone, you’re like, “Oh my god, you’re like me [laughs], you know, but even weirder. This is great.” And I sent him my script and he had such a smart comment that was just so good and really —

John: Was it devastating?

Craig: No. That’s the thing. First I thought, well, because I really like to be open about these things, I thought, “Okay, well, if I took that on its face, it could theoretically be devastating to the structure of the story.” But then the more I thought about it, I thought, “No. You know what he’s getting at I can actually solve and it will make so many things better and I could do it in three pages at the start of the script.”

John: Great.

Craig: And it was so helpful that —

Aline: But, you know, you just —

Craig: This isn’t about praising Bob Gordon.

Aline: You put your little boats in the water, send them out, as many as you can.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And then try not to worry about them. And some of them will come in.

Craig: That’s what Seth Rudetsky would do.

John: [laughs] So a question from the feed.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Steve Bethers asks, “Craig, do you think Robert Mark Kamen is Writer X?”

Craig: [laughs]

John: Wouldn’t it be great if like these two threads came together? So Robert Mark Kamen was the unsung screenwriting hero that Craig brought up last week and Writer X was this screenwriter who — wouldn’t that be amazing? I think it’s impossible, amazing.

Craig: It would be shocking, obviously. It would shatter me in many ways.

Aline: Wow. Will Writer X ever be revealed?

John: I’m not sure there ever was a Writer X.

Craig: Writer X will never come back.

Aline: Do you think he’s not a real person?

Craig: No, I think Writer X was a real person. I think that —

John: Well, I think Writer X had no produced credits, so that was the issue.

Craig: Right. And so Final Draft was like, “Hey, Writer X, why don’t you do this and we’ll give you a hundred bucks.” I don’t know if they even paid him. But I think after the shellacking that occurred, Writer X probably will not appear again. No, I don’t think Robert Kamen is Writer X. At the risk of being a dick —

John: Isn’t that amazing?

Craig: I don’t think the writing was good enough to qualify as Kamen level.

Aline: Kamenesque.

Craig: Yeah. It was not Kamenesque.

John: All right. We’re going to scroll back through the feed and look for a new question. So if you have a question for us, put it in the feed and we’ll hit it. Stuart has one all highlighted.

Craig: Ooh, god, Stuart, you’re good.

John: We have a question here from G Red asking, “Aline, there was some discussion about dress codes in Hollywood for writers. ‘Don’t be the best-dressed person in the room.’ Is that true for women?”

Aline: Yeah, I remember hearing that and I giggled through that at the thought that Craig or John would be at all concerned about —

Craig: [laughs]

Aline: How they were dressed with respect to the others.

Craig: I think that was a Writer X thing in a weird way, wasn’t it?

Aline: It was a guy who’s saying that he shows up at meetings dressed in a suit and he feels more comfortable in a suit.

Craig: Whatevs.

Aline: I mean, I will say for women that, you know, I remember when I very first came out here I had bought a lot of fancy clothes and suits. This was a long time ago.

Craig: Like Hilary Clinton suits?

Aline: Yeah, kind of. And my agent said to me, “You’re a writer, wear Converse.”

Craig: Right.

Aline: I think that dressing well in Hollywood is a little bit different from dressing fancy. You want to show that you have some — well, for a certain type of writer, it’s not —

Craig: [laughs] Meaning not me.

Aline: Terrible to show that you have some taste and that you’re cool and that you’re — you know, I think dressing fancy, dressing up, wearing heels, wearing a skirt, wearing a blazer, that’s not really what writers do.

Craig: Don’t dress like a suit. That’s basically —

Aline: Don’t dress like a suit, yeah.

Craig: You don’t want to be corporate.

Aline: You can be cool and people can see that you’re making an effort in how you look. But fancy is not really du jour for anybody.

John: On the podcast, I had discussed Wes Anderson. If Wes Anderson showed up for a meeting, you kind of want Wes Anderson dressed like Wes Anderson. So if you were a female writer, a female director, it would be appropriate to dress up kind of like the person who you kind of are.

Aline: I know more people whose thing is that they do something odd in the other direction. Like they always wear hoodies or they wear pajamas or, you know, writers are more known for doing that kind of thing —

Craig: There is a writer, I won’t say his name but everybody will probably figure out who it is when I say it, who’s constantly just doing these very contrived things with his clothes. He wears a mask. [laughs] He’ll put on a clown nose. It’s just —

John: I know who you’re talking about.

Craig: You know who I’m talking about. It’s ridic —

Aline: I do not.

Craig: I just mouthed it.

John: Mouthed it.

Aline: Right, right.

Craig: It’s ridiculous and it’s just insecure and dumb. I mean my whole thing about — this is one area where there’s definitely sexism going on for sure. For a guy, you know, I always feel like I have the confidence of thinking, it doesn’t what I’m wearing. I’m going to be wearing something sort of schlubby because that’s who I am. But if I can start talking impressively, nobody will give a damn what’s on my body. I do think that people are judgy about women. I actually think that it’s — a lot of a women are judgy about women with clothes, and that’s a bummer but it does — I think if what you’re saying is don’t look like a not-creative person —

Aline: That’s right.

Craig: But don’t also try and look like some contrived example of a creative person, you should be fine.

Aline: Yeah. I don’t — I think it’s just — it’s we live in a casual city and people dress casually.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: And you can look cool. But it really isn’t a thing of dressing up. People don’t really wear suits, so you would look, you know, odd. That being said, there are some people who that’s their thing. Sam Raimi wears suits. Everybody knows that.

Craig: If it’s natural to them —

Aline: And if it’s — and if it’s your thing.

Craig: Paul Feig does it.

Aline: Yeah. Paul Feig is dressed —

Craig: Paul Feig directs in a suit.

Aline: Yeah, he is dressed to the nines all the time.

Craig: Which is crazy. That’s like taking a shower in a suit.

Aline: You’re right.

Craig: It’s nuts.

Aline: He’s dressed to the nines all the time.

Craig: Do you know who dresses great?

Aline: Who?

Craig: Sexy Craig. Oh yeah.

Aline: Sexy Craig. Sexy threads.

Craig: You like this velour? Yeah, it’s real velour, 100%.

Aline: This is from J.Crew.

Craig: That’s right.

John: We have a lot of speculation in the chat thread about who you were talking about when you mouthed off —

Craig: Oh, really? Who did they come up with?

John: Some of the things are fantastic. Carrot Top. Is it Nolan?

Aline: I read a great thing.

Craig: No, Nolan is a jacket and tie guy.

Aline: I read a great thing that somebody tweeted which is like, if you have a Carrot Top, shouldn’t your hair be green?

John: That’s a really good point. Wow.

Craig: Mind blown. Mind blown. Inception.

John: All right. Another question from Stuart from one of you listeners. Jason Bob Gardner II writes, can you break down the skill set difference or responsibilities between a showrunner for a show versus director of a feature film?

Aline: The showrunner for the show is the producer and the writer. So you’re doing really what a feature producer would do for a movie, you’re doing for every episode. And you’re the writer. And then you choose a director and the director figures out sort of how the thing is photographed.

John: Absolutely.

Aline: If that makes sense.

John: I think that makes a lot of sense. A director is still incredibly important in television because that director is Marc Webb in your case, who did your pilot, is figuring out the vision for sort of how the shots go together, especially on a pilot. But even on a given episode, like how you are going to make that day’s work work, how you’re going to put this whole thing together.

Aline: You’re translating the visual — translating the script into the visuals, yeah.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: And then editing that pilot together.

John: Absolutely.

Craig: At least the first stab at it.

Aline: Yeah.

John: And the real difference, though, is that unlike a feature screenwriter, the showrunner has tremendous influence and power in sort of deciding what the final cut of something is going to be.

Craig: True.

John: It’s hiring that director onboard.

Aline: It’s sort of like you’re in charge of the whole — and the whole is not the one episode. The whole is the series.

Craig: That’s right. The showrunner is going to be there later. So they have to be in charge of things like, you can say, “Well, as a director when you make a feature film, what are the characters wearing?” That’s your job. It’s not your job on television. It’s everyone’s job in television particularly the showrunner because the showrunner is stuck with that for when you’re gone.

Aline: Right.

Craig: In features, if a director is also the writer, then frankly they are kind of like a showrunner. In that regard, it’s very similar.

John: Yeah, they’re a showrunner who’s doing a pilot.

Craig: A showrunner doing a two-hour pilot. Exactly

John: Yeah.

Craig: So like, you know, Todd Phillips, basically is like a showrunner on his movies. He is the producer, he is the director, he is the writer or at least, you know a co-writer. And so —

Aline: And often, showrunners direct. I mean, Matt I directed the finale of Mad Men.

Craig: Absolutely.

Aline: I mean what’s interesting for me is that I had a big adjustment to make in being a screenwriter because I am fairly sociable. I like to be around other people. I like to talk to other people. So especially for the first 10 years in my career, it was very difficult for me to deal with the being alone in a room. I’m also, and this will be a surprise to everyone, a bit bossy.

Craig: What?

John: No, not true.

Aline: And so —

Craig: What?

Aline: I enjoy — working on a TV show is fun because it’s rather gregarious, lots of people. You have a crew, a cast, a family, a set. You know, I like to make decisions and I’m comfortable with extending the writing decisions into the production decisions.

Craig: So bossy. Just —

Aline: Just a little bossy.

Craig: Who am I scared of more than you? Nobody.

John: Nobody.

Craig: Nobody.

Aline: That says more about you than me.

Craig: It does.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Sure.

John: Completely.

Craig: [laughs] Absolutely. Whatever you want me to say.

John: Chris Percal writes, as someone rushing to finish a TV spec for the Fellowships, how important is it to follow a showrunner’s format? Specifically, if the showrunner has a few formatting quirks that are atypical? Thanks.

So Aline, you must have read a bunch of scripts.

Aline: I couldn’t care less about it for a minute, I think.

Craig: Yeah, you know, if you’re — you have to stick to the structure of the show.

John: Yeah.

Craig: If you’re — if the show that you are mimicking or writing an episode of starts with a cold open every time —

Aline: Right.

Craig: You’ve got to do that.

John: Yeah.

Craig: If the show has a certain amount of breaks, you got to do that.

Aline: I will say this. I know how you guys often say, you know, the first 10 pages of a screenplay are really important, blah, blah, blah. Wow, the first 10 pages of your pilot that you’re submitting for consideration —

Craig: Sure.

Aline: Couldn’t be more important because you don’t really have the time to read past and, you know, the people that I have read for staffing where I read the 10 pages and I’m like, “I’ve got to read this whole thing.” If you can do that, you stand out so much. You’ve got to grab people in the beginning.

Craig: So that’s more important than nailing the tiny little formatting, quirky, baloney, rules, baloney?

Aline: Also, do not save your good stuff for page 48.

John: Yeah. Right at the start. You must have read more in this last of couple of months than years.

Craig: What’s the state of writing out there? [laughs] Not good, huh?

Aline: Well, when you find somebody who can really do it, I think particularly for the beginning writers, it’s a bit like music. You know, I always love that thing when the first couple years of Idol where people would audition and Randy Jackson would say, “You know what, singing, not your thing man.”

Craig: It’s not for you.

Aline: It’s just not for you.

Craig: It’s not for you.

Aline: You know, what else you like you to do?

Craig: And he would say —

Aline: Remember, he would say, “What else do you like to do?”

Craig: “What else do you like to do? Do you have other hobbies?” And they’re like, “But all my friends tell me that I’m great.”

Aline: Right. And I think you can tell particularly with the emerging writers, right away, if they, you know, there’s a voice and a music. I mean the thing that really kills me and continues to kill me is, particularly in television, people writing things you cannot see.

Craig: I know.

Aline: She remembers the summer by the sea.

Craig: Makes. Me. Crazy.

Aline: But particularly like I feel like I will give more leeway to that in a screenplay where you’re setting a mood and maybe you write in a more of prosey style.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: But when you’re writing a television episode —

Craig: I know.

Aline: If you want to tell me, she smells hyacinth and thinks of her Aunt Lou, I got nothing. There’s nothing I can see.

John: She’s throwing your script across the room.

Aline: Yeah. It’s tough.

Craig: And by the way, these are people that have agents, have managers.

Aline: Oh, yes.

Craig: Are represented.

Aline: Oh, yes.

Craig: And still you’re —

Aline: And also, it’s a taste thing. I’m sure there are scripts that I don’t respond to that other people pick up and think are great.

Craig: I actually, I think that I’m pretty good at telling the difference between my reaction to a script. If I read it and I think, “This is not my taste versus you are bad. You’re actually incompetent. This is not right. This chair only has three legs and you’ve forgotten the back is upside down. And I can see glue blobs.”

Aline: Right.

Craig: There’s a difference.

Aline: Right.

Craig: And it is, I got to say, it is amazing. And this should be encouraging for our listeners out there, following along live as we stream. There are a lot of bad, bad, bad writers who have agents. And you can take them out. And by the way, a lot of people think I’m one of them.

Aline: So I have a bunch of friends.

Craig: So you can take me out, too.

Aline: I have a bunch of friends who are writers because they were readers.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And they were reading a lot of the scripts and they thought, “Man.”

Craig: I could do better.

Aline: Yeah.

John: Yeah, but it’s that shit plus one thing that makes me so nervous.

Craig: I know.

John: It’s making a —

Aline: What?

Craig: Terry Rossio’s crap plus one. Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So his crap plus one theory is that a lot of people look at Hollywood and they go —

Aline: Oh, right.

Craig: “Well, that’s a bunch of crap. All I have to do is plus one of that and I’ll be fine.”

John: Yeah.

Craig: But they don’t realize that —

Aline: Right.

Craig: The crap that you see eventually —

Aline: Right.

Craig: Has already been broken — like something started brilliant —

Aline: Right.

Craig: And then the process just destroyed it down to crap.

Aline: Right. But you can — it’s kind of glorious and interesting to see people who just have an ear and this is what they were put on Earth to do.

Craig: It’s fun. It’s great finding people like that.

Aline: And, you know, how much of it is learned and — but, you know, I have by and large enjoyed the process of reading. And I don’t think for a second about the format, is the short answer.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Great. One last question from Adam Alterburk. He writes, “Who decides when script is locked for production? And how does one handle the political side of this decision?” We’ve never talked about that.

Aline: That’s a great question.

John: Yeah.

Aline: What a good question.

Craig: Well, locking for production is something that you — if you are the writer now that’s sort of the production writer, and in fact I’m doing this right now for The Huntsman.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So I have to talk to the line producer, a woman named Sarah Bradshaw. And she and I coordinate. What I say is, “Look, I don’t — it doesn’t matter to me when I lock this. It doesn’t matter to me what we call the white draft. And it doesn’t matter to me what we call blue or if we should lock pages at this point or issue a whole new draft. What would make your life easier on your end?” And then she tells me and that’s what I do.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Because that’s not creative. That’s about a process. There are times when I’ll say, “Look, because of the way this last week went, we’ve just changed the second half of — there’s like every page, there’s a single asterisk gone and it’s super annoying. Why don’t we just not — why don’t we issue a whole new draft?” And then they’ll say yes or no. And that’s what we’ll do. And it’s as simple as that. You just coordinate with the line producer and get to know them. And it’s really important for you to be a master of your software.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: So you know exactly how to do it and you know exactly know how to not screw them up. They have all experienced screenwriters who have screwed them up.

Aline: Yeah.

Craig: And it’s huge mess. And they don’t like that. So know how to work your stuff.

Aline: It’s also great to find somebody who knows how to do it, too.

Craig: That’s the best.

Aline: You know, somebody else who knows how to handle the program. But the one thing, I have worked with people who hate revised pages. I worked with a director and a producer who want to keep the script as white as possible. And so they want you to lock as late as possible so you don’t end up with a script that’s stuffed with confetti.

Craig: Sure. No, I get that. But, you know, at some point you have to be able to —

Aline: Of course.

Craig: To move around. And so what I’ll do like, for instance, I know that there are some things I have to write that are for what’s coming up in the next three weeks of shooting. Rather than just send one thing at a time which would create multiple revisions.

Aline: Right.

Craig: What I’m doing is I’m saying, “Okay, look, here’s the new stuff, not in a script. Take a look at it, let’s get it approved by the director and the studio.” And then if everybody approves, then I’ll just say, “Okay, here’s a bunch — an aggregated bunch of approved stuff. This is now our green draft.

John: So I’m going to talk people back through who have not been through production drafts to understand what we’re actually saying. When a script goes in production, it has a locked draft. Basically, all those page numbers are going to stay the same.

Craig: Right.

John: That is considered the white draft. And then if there are changes that are made to that script, they release it as colored pages. And those colored pages will fit into the script that was already released and locked. So if you have change something on page 56, and you’ve added a page between 56 and 57, that is page A56 or 56a depending on how your numbering system works.

Craig: Right.

John: And those pages will go in there. So it’s a way of like not reprinting the whole script every time, which is a really good thing. The issues and challenges become, when do you close that down? And most scripts that I’ve brought into production, it tends to be about like two weeks beforehand, it has pulled the trigger and suddenly like, okay, that’s the white draft and everything from that point forward.

Craig: Right.

John: But what Craig is saying is really smart too, is that if it is just a small change and it’s not going to shoot really soon, you hold back on releasing those pages so you can release it as a block so it’s much less confusing.

Aline: You just to be careful because sometimes there’s departments that are waiting for those pages for some reason.

Craig: Oh, that’s why to me, there’s a sort of like two levels. When I try and do this stuff. I mean I would do this like with the Hangovers, this is how Todd and I would do it. We wouldn’t — because we were changing stuff all the time. But we wouldn’t just like every five minutes, go — we made sure like, “Okay, who needs to know this?”

John: Yes.

Craig: Here’s three pages that’s not script stuff. And it’s not like pulled from the script. It’s just a scene that we all now we’re going to be doing. Obviously, you never mess with scene numbers. That’s the one thing you can’t do. And then if everybody knows, then we can hold it and then we do an issue.

Aline: The funny thing about scene numbers, I know you guys have talked about this is that, people rush over to you and say, “Are you doing something to 56?” And you’re like, “What’s 56?”

Craig: What is 56?

John: Yeah.

Craig: How would I possibly know what 56 is? But they know — the crew —

Aline: Well, eventually you kind of learn.

Craig: Always knows.

Aline: Eventually —

Craig: I don’t.

Aline: Never?

Craig: I never once — I’ve gotten to the end of a movie and somebody’s like, “All we have left is 83a”

Aline: 73.

Craig: And I’m like, I still don’t know.

Aline: Yeah, once in while, there’s ones that become, you know, important or you know that scene is being revised.

Craig: I don’t have space in my brain. [laughs]

Aline: And in 27 Dresses, it was scene 69. And every time it came up —

Craig: How’d you remember that one, huh?

John: A question for you guys. I suspect you do the same thing. I always keep a printed out copy of the script so I will do like one last idiot check if I’m going to release pages to make sure they will actually fit in the real script. Do you keep a printout of your script or do you just trust that it’s going to work?

Craig: I don’t. What I do instead is I have the prior draft and the current one. So, for instance, if I’m working on, I don’t know, what’s the order, blue, yellow, pink?

Aline: Blue, pink.

Craig: Blue, pink, yellow. So I’ve got — let’s say I’m going to yellow. So I take my pink draft. I save it as. And now I got my pink draft on the left, I got my yellow draft on the right. And then when I’m done with my yellow changes, I just look back —

John: You’re looking at the PDF that you created out of it?

Craig: No, I’m looking at my screenwriting files.

John: And I would never trust that. I will always either create a PDF or literally print it just to make sure there’s no like —

Craig: That’s what a German would do.

John: Yeah.

Craig: That’s very German.

Aline: Brings it back around. There’s absolutely nothing worse than realizing that you’ve unlocked some page or not locked a page.

John: Oh god.

Aline: Or starred a page.

John: I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight, Aline.

Craig: Why would you do that? What’s wrong with you?

Aline: You’ve done five hours of work and not locked or unlocked or released or marked —

Craig: Stop talking. Please stop. Stop. [laughs]

John: I will have nightmares.

Aline: Because there’s no way you can go back and recapture all those keystrokes. That’s really — so when you’re doing —

Craig: I’m getting pee shivers.

Aline: When you’re doing production revisions, you have to turn on the part of your brain that is the librarian that can —

Craig: Yes.

Aline: Sort of monitor what you’re doing.

Craig: Because my god, they will hate you. And also, it’s not just hatred. It’s a hatred plus you’re an outsider who doesn’t understand our world. It just makes screenwriters look worse in that — as screenwriters, we have to be able to operate the way the crew operates.

Aline: Right.

Craig: Or they won’t respect us.

John: Yeah.

Craig: They don’t really care that we, “I invented everything. None of you would be here without me.” They don’t care.

John: They don’t care at all.

Aline: But the first time you do the job — the first time you’re the job, the writer in production —

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: There’s a little bit of like, “So okay, listen, I was just still wondering. Guys, what do I…?” You have to sort of — I guess it’s like any job. Anybody who’s ever worked in production, you kind of fake it till you make it. You kind of use your, you know, your wits. I, you know, when I —

Craig: Sure.

Aline: The first movie that I did that on, there was no Internet. Oh god, I can’t believe I said that. But I couldn’t Google like how do you lock that, unlock that, what did I do, what were you doing?

Craig: What year were you born? [laughs] The no Internet.

Aline: The first movie that I wrote when I was doing the production edits was ’99.

Craig: Oh, there was the Internet in ’99.

Aline: But I mean, we weren’t on there. Like you wouldn’t —

John: Yeah.

Aline: You weren’t going to Google and saying, “How do I lock this?”

Craig: No. That’s — oh that, yeah.

Aline: “Unlock this?” You know.

Craig: I mean my first production —

Aline: No, I feel like people now —

Craig: Was ’95.

John: Mine was ’98 for Go. Yeah.

Craig: Mine was ’95 for America’s favorite —

Aline: Right.

Craig: Classic RocketMan. And —

Aline: Well, I’d done TV stuff.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: I have another Cool Thing. I have Two Cool Things.

Craig: You have Two Cool Things?

Aline: Yeah, I just realized another one.

Craig: That’s not my Cool Thing.

Aline: I just realized two things.

John: Okay. Start us off Aline.

Aline: With our two things?

John: Cool Things.

Aline: Okay. I realize one, there’s a diet thing that I haven’t discussed with you guys, which is this — and I would like to put the — if we could find the study, put it in the show notes. There is a study that shows that it matters when you eat. So you should eat within a 12-hour span. And they did a study with mice or rats where mice who ate all of their food, no matter how many calories they had, in a 12-hours span, never gained weight. And the mice who ate the exact same amount of calories over a 24-hour span, gained tons of weight.

Craig: But who’s eating over 24 hours?

Aline: Well, but a lot of people eat from 6 o’clock in the morning until midnight.

John: Yeah.

Craig: Oh.

John: I’ve heard this general theory like you should only eat during —

Aline: So the general theory is you should eat from 7am to 7pm.

Craig: So explain why Spanish aren’t super fat.

Aline: They don’t start eating until — I don’t know.

Craig: They wake up, they eat breakfast.

Aline: Right.

Craig: Then they have like, they take a nap.

Aline: I am only —

Craig: Have a huge dinner. And then they eat dinner at like 11pm.

Aline: Well, I’m just reporting the fact. I’m just reporting the facts, ma’am.

Craig: And then they —

John: Twelve hours diet.

Aline: Twelve hours diet. And then the other thing is —

Craig: That sounds like baloney to me.

Aline: All right.

Craig: It smells.

Aline: I wanted to run it by you just to see how —

Craig: It smells.

Aline: How it went on the umbrage, because you know what? I want to tell you something. I totally believe it.

Craig: You believe it?

Aline: I totally believe it.

Craig: Something about it smells.

John: There’s science in mine as well. But go to yours.

Aline: Okay. So then the other thing is —

Craig: Mine is all about science.

Aline: So bone broth has gotten very trendy.

Craig: I’m sorry, bone broth?

Aline: Bone broth, do you know what this is?

Craig: No.

John: Do you make broth out of bones?

Craig: Is it broth out of bones?

Aline: So if you guys lived in Brooklyn or in Silver Lake —

Craig: I was born in Brooklyn.

Aline: You would know what these things are. So bone broth has become very trendy.

John: Stuart Friedel is from Silver Lake.

Aline: It’s a — you know what bone broth is?

Stuart: I’ve heard of it.

Aline: Yeah. Bone broth is a soup that you make by boiling bones for hours and hours and hours.

Craig: Oh, god.

Aline: And people distill it and they make, you know — and Kobe Bryant drinks it and it’s trendy.

Craig: Oh, then it must be good.

Aline: And when you go to a butcher, you can have bone broth.

Craig: Yeah, it makes sense.

Aline: But bone broth is —

John: Somebody in the thing just said, Aline Broth McKenna. [laughs] Congratulations, Craig McDiarmid. You won the feed.

Aline: Well done. So, but bone broth is something that Korean people have been eating for centuries.

Craig: Correct.

Aline: And we lived in Koreatown. And I found this place that makes authentic Korean bone broth.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And it’s awesome. It’s the only thing they serve.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And I love restaurants where it’s the only thing they serve.

Craig: We serve bone broth.

Aline: We serve bone broth. You go in. And you decide —

Craig: I’ll have the bone broth.

Aline: But you can have bone broth with flank, brisket, intestines, tripe and tongue or mixed. So you get a bowl with the bone broth and it’s supposedly one of the most nourishing things you can eat.

Craig: Oh, god.

Aline: And you choose the kind of meat. And then it’s unsalted. So you salt it and they bring you scallions and they bring you hot sauce and they bring you kimchi and rice.

Craig: Everything other than the bone broth there, sounds awesome.

Aline: It’s like a delicious beef soup. Anyway, it’s supposed to be —

Craig: If you boil bones long enough, you’ll get glue.

Aline: It’s supposed to be the most restorative wonderful thing. And I found this place in Korea that does it. It’s not a trendy place.

Craig: In Korea?

John: Koreatown.

Aline: Koreatown.

Craig: Oh.

Aline: Did I say in Korea?

John: You said Korea.

Craig: Because that’s a whole —

Aline: Wow, the wine is kicking in.

John: 1.5 glasses of wine.

Craig: Well, there’s South Korea —

Aline: The wine is kicking in.

Craig: And there’s North Korea.

Aline: Anyway, it’s called —

Craig: They would love bone broth in North Korea.

Aline: I sent the link to myself so that I can remember the name of it, and it’s in Koreatown. And it’s called, for the eight people who are going to drive over there, oh good lord, where is it?

Craig: [laughs]

Aline: Where is it? It’s called Han Bat Sul Lung Tang.

Craig: Okay.

John: Stuart will have that in the show notes. So everyone can like feast on bone broth there in Koreatown. Craig Mazin —

Aline: There’s also a line out the door.

Craig: I have a One Cool Thing that in many ways is just wonderfully oppositional to the nonsense we just heard about 12 hours and bone broth. This is a new Alzheimer’s treatment that they are working on in Australia. And it’s actually pretty remarkable and I have to say, very exciting because, I don’t know — do you guys have anybody with Alzheimer’s in your family?

Aline: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s the worst.

John: Yeah.

Craig: It’s the worst. My aunt had it. It’s the worst. And it’s just a brutal, brutal disease. So Alzheimer’s happens basically because there are these proteins that start to gather in the brain that should be cleared up by glial cells and they’re not. And so they basically become like sticky, tangled bone broth in your brain that are kind of blocking transmissions and disrupting memory and ultimately destroying you as a person.

So what these guys in Australia are doing is they’re actually using this kind of ultrasound — so they’re — it’s not invasive. It’s not pharmacological. They’re actually ultrasounding your brain and it’s disrupting those tangles of proteins. And what they found in rats is that they were able to restore 75% — they had rats with memory problems. I don’t know how exactly they get rats to have Alzheimer’s but they just do.

John: [laughs] They try to do the crossword puzzle and they can’t.

Craig: They can’t.

John: They can’t do it.

Craig: So they pulled them out. So they had rats with Alzheimer’s, 75% of them regained all of their memory after this treatment, all of it.

John: Great.

Craig: Which is astonishing. So it was so promising that they’re already kind of moving towards human trials which is amazing. They think they’ll be able to get human trials going in 2017. If this sort of thing works, you and I —

Aline: Won’t have to worry about it.

Craig: And Stuart will not have to worry. I mean I’m kind of hoping that we can hit the singularity and just be put into —

John: Yeah. I would say that Alzheimer’s is way up there on my list of overall fears because the idea of not being able to, you know, be myself and sort of have my memories and have my own personality is terrifying to me.

Craig: It’s terrifying. And if there’s something as simple as this to solve it —

John: That would be great.

Craig: That would be awesome.

John: Great. My One Cool Thing is also about simplification and science. So it’s a article that was in FiveThirtyEight this week by Emily Oster called Everybody Calm Down About Breastfeeding. And Emily Oster, she is not a doctor. She is an economics professor. And she was looking at the data behind breastfeeding and sort of like the real study is to see like what is actually really going on behind the scenes when they’re doing the studies on breastfeeding.

And because we’ve always been told that like breastfeeding is awesome.

Craig: Sure.

John: And I kind of believe breastfeeding is awesome. But I also had this sort of suspicion is like, but how are they really testing for that? And are they really taking care of all the other variables?

Craig: How do you measure awesome?

John: How do you measure awesome?

Craig: Right.

John: Because are you really like taking into account the age and background and economic setup —

Craig: Socioeconomic status.

John: Of all the people who are breastfeeding.

Craig: Sure.

John: And she was able to do that. So she took a look at all the studies. And when you actually filter out for all that other stuff, you find that a lot of the advantages of breastfeeding aren’t quite so pronounced or aren’t —

Craig: They’re not boob-based. They’re sort of related to other issues.

John: Exactly.

Aline: They’re correlative?

John: They’re correlative, rather than causal. So I bring this up because, you know, I think breastfeeding is still awesome and I’m a fan of people who want to breastfeed, I think we need to make sure that we make it an option for any woman who wants to and sort of create structures for that.

Craig: And not demonize women who don’t.

John: Exactly. Not demonize families that don’t do that because, you know, we’re a two-dad family. And so we did not have breast milk.

Craig: [laughs] Try as you did.

John: But we know other two-dad families who did like, you know, they would have —

Craig: They would buy it.

John: They would buy it.

Craig: I told my wife to sell it. We had a freezer full of this. She would make me freeze every stupid extra bag. She made so much — my wife is not a big bosomed woman.

John: Yeah.

Craig: She makes so much milk.

Aline: Making milk has nothing to do with the size of your boobs.

Craig: Apparently, I did not know that. I just went like, big, you know, like a guy, big boob, big, lots of milk. No. She made so much milk. And so our freezer’s full. So I’m like we should sell this. And she was like, “No, I can’t sell it.” She was weird about it.

John: Yeah, she totally could have. But I think the question is, you know, we had other two-dad families who ended up like, you know, having breast milk frozen and like FedEx’d and every day they were using that stuff.

Craig: And it’s probably —

Aline: So I think a lot of us, you know —

John: But according to science, it’s actually not necessarily —

Craig: It’s not worth all that trouble.

John: No.

Aline: A lot of this with parenting all these like, you know, strongly held beliefs that people have are just, you know, their talisman that they’re clinging to because it’s so scary and it’s so challenging emotionally. So people cling to things which are “we’re attachment pair, we’re not, we’re breastfeeding, we’re not…”

John: Right. Absolutely.

Aline: You know, it’s all sort of like things you tell yourself that is going to —

Craig: And then they go away.

Aline: It’s something that’s going to make you safe.

Craig: Like remember co-sleeping?

Aline: Right.

Craig: Co-sleeping, everybody had to co-sleep. So our baby, our first kid was born and we tried co-sleeping for two days. And we’re like, screw this. He’s sleeping, we’re not.

Aline: Right.

Craig: This is the worst.

Aline: And we just don’t have enough —

Craig: He doesn’t remember.

Aline: Of an emphasis on our culture in happy parents make happy babies.

Craig: Right.

Aline: And sort of do what works for you. And we cling to these things in a very anxiety-ridden, unrealistic way, punish each other. It’s the same thing with childbirth and natural child birth —

Craig: Yes.

Aline: And not. And there’s so many judgments attached to it. Whatever works for you.

Craig: Yes.

Aline: Whatever makes you a happy parent is what makes for a happy child.

Craig: I’m so with you on that. You know, we were like — I remember, we went to my son, our first kid was born at Cedars because we lived near here. And we went to this talk that the retired head of obstetric anesthesiology ran. He was no longer in practice, really old guy, he’s like 80 years old. And he was talking about epidurals and why and how, you know, why he thought it was a good idea. And this one woman raised her hand and she was very like and she said, “Well, I’ve heard from my friends that an epidural can prolong labor and I don’t want to prolong my labor because I don’t think it would be good for my baby.”

And he said, “Well, in my experience, actually, it shortens labor because when you’re in pain, you’re muscles tighten. When you’re not in pain, you’re relaxed, you relax and labor actually goes faster. Granted that’s only in my experience, I’ve never had a baby myself, but I have overseen the delivery of 70,000 babies.”

And that’s when I leaned back and went, “Okay, epidural.” [laughs] 70,000, that’s good enough.

Aline: You know, it’s funny my dad — but do you know there are some people who have like a very valid reason for not wanting that and that’s important to them.

Craig: Totally.

Aline: And they should do that. When my parents were raising me and they didn’t have a lot of, you know, they were living in a country they weren’t born in. And I remember my dad went to a lecture that a parenting expert gave. And, you know, everyone asking these questions about should you do this, should you do that and do that.

And the guy said, “You know, what’s really important, the most important thing is to love your children.” And my father thought, “Well, I’m doing that.”

Craig: Yeah.

John: Yeah.

Craig: So what could go wrong?

John: I think it’s really good on the 200th episode of this show that we’ve brought all the way back down to really the crucial fundamental issue of what Scriptnotes is.

Craig: Vagina.

John: Vagina. Female health.

Craig: We’ve always been a gynecological podcast.

John: Yes.

Craig: We have like a shadow gynecology podcast. We dress it up as screenwriting.

John: Yeah, but it’s really —

Craig: But we’ve always been about gynecological issues.

John: A pretense about that.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Two hundred episodes.

Craig: Unbelievable.

Aline: I can’t believe it.

Craig: John, congratulations.

Aline: How long ago did I start emailing you and saying, “What’s going to happen for the 200th?”

Craig: I know, I know. Aline was very excited.

John: Episode Four or five.

Aline: I was very excited. [laughs]

Craig: But I have to say, John, what an adventure we’ve been on. I mean, you know, I wouldn’t have foreseen this.

John: Not a bit.

Craig: I mean we — this is over — almost four years.

Aline: Wow.

John: It’s crazy.

Craig: It’s insane.

Aline: And I know I think I’ve said this before, but when each of you said I’m doing this thing with the other guy, I thought, “Well, that would be interesting.” [laughs]

Craig: That’s not going to work. [laughs] Well, that’s kind of why it does work.

Aline: It does, yeah.

Craig: I think, I mean if we weren’t an odd couple, it would be very boring.

John: We’re both strong personalities, but very different personalities and —

Craig: Well, you know what I think one of the things that helps us, we are both strong personalities, but I decided very early on — I don’t even think I decided. I just did it. I decided to be the beta male. [laughs] I decided to be the beta podcast male because it’s just — it felt right.

John: If people are watching the Twitter feed, I posted a photo of Craig and Aline and Teddy who is our summer intern. And Teddy, the dog is the alpha dog even though he looks like the beta dog.

Craig: Right.

John: And it’s crucial to see dogs in their own environment having their own sort of space.

Craig: I’m totally the beta podcast guy. Now, what’s — how many people actually showed up for this?

Aline: Yeah.

John: Oh, we had a total of like 250 people in our —

Aline: Wow. Nice.

Craig: Oh, thank you, everyone. Thank you. That’s awesome.

John: That’s amazing. So that’s like a big full house. So thank you guys very much for listening.

Craig: And we can kind of cull some of these questions for another Q&A.

John: Absolutely.

Aline: Yeah.

John: So we’re going to be saving the transcript of all the Q&A here.

Craig: Great.

John: So we’ll get back to some of those things.

Craig: Fantastic.

John: Guys, thank you, guys, so much for listening.

Aline: It was fun. Thank you.

Craig: Thanks. And thank you, Stuart. Two hundred — and Stuart, have you been here for all 200?

Aline: Oh wow.

John: Stuart Friedel has been here from the very beginning.

Aline: Wow.

Craig: Stuart just nodded.

Aline: And it was as if, yeah, it could have been grief. It could have been joy.

Craig: It was as if I had asked him do you like tuna fish. He just has one emotion which is mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Aline: I like tuna fish.

Craig: [laughs] Yeah.

John: He does like tuna fish. Our show is produced by Stuart Friedel.

Craig: Yes.

John: And is edited by Matthew Chilelli who also did the outro for this week’s show. Thank you, Matthew, and he did our intro and so much stuff for the show.

Craig: He’s the best.

Aline: Lala.

John: If you have a question for me or for Craig, you can write to us @clmazin for Craig, @johnaugust for me. Longer questions, go to ask@johnaugust.com. People who listen to the show know where we are.

Craig: Yeah.

John: We are on iTunes. We’re Scriptnotes. Look for us there. We have an app which is downloadable. You can find our show there.

Craig: {laughs]

John: It’s been two glasses of wine. It’s a lot.

Craig: John hit two glasses and has just fallen off —

Aline: Yeah, that’s it, it’s going off for a cliff.

Craig: Yeah, yeah.

John: Craig Mazin, thank you always. But Aline Brosh McKenna, thank you for coming by.

Craig: Aline. Thank you, Aline. You are our Joan Rivers, but alive.

Aline: I want to be Supergirl.

John: You could be our Supergirl. Did you watch the Supergirl trailer?

Aline: I did. It’s my friend Ali’s show.

John: Yeah.

Aline: I’m excited about it.

John: I’m excited for her, too. And I heard like negative buzz on it. And it was like — but the show is not for you. I mean like the show —

Aline: No, I think it looks like lots of fun. She’s adorable.

John: She’s adorable.

Aline: That actress is amazing. She’s the girl from Whiplash. Supergirl —

Craig: I have to recuse myself from discussing any issues regarding superheroes and gender. Thank you.

John: And thank you all for listening. Good night everyone.

Aline: Bye-bye.

Craig: Good night.

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