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 Episode 83 of Scriptnotes, a podcast about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.

Now, Craig, I think this is a first for us, because this is the first time where not only are we not in the same space, but we are not even in our usual home cities. We are both on the road.

Craig: We’re both on the road. This is a road game for both of us. We are in, I believe, the first and second great cities of this United States.

John: They’re pretty amazing cities. You’re in New York City, right?

Craig: Yes ma’am.

John: I’m in Chicago.

Craig: That’s right.

John: And I’m here in Chicago. We’re doing Big Fish. I don’t even know why you’re in New York. You’re just seeing musicals? What are you doing?

Craig: You know, took a little short, short three/four day jaunt out here just to see some friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. This is my hometown. And, also, yeah, I did want to see a couple of show and I’m visiting Scott Frank on the set of his new movie that he wrote and is directing called A Walk Among the Tombstones.

John: Very exciting. Tonight is also a special podcast because it’s the second ever podcast in which we’ve had a special guest here with us. Our special guest today is Derek Haas who is the screenwriter, along with his writing partner Michael Brandt, of movies like Wanted and 3:10 to Yuma. He co-created Chicago Fire. And also is a novelist. He has a book out right now called The Right Hand. Derek Haas, welcome to our podcast.

Derek Haas: I am thrilled to be here as a giant fan of this podcast. It is fun to watch the sausage get made.

John: So, I want to talk about Chicago Fire. I want to talk about screenwriting. I want to talk about book writing. We have a couple of things that were already on our agenda before you agreed this morning to be on our podcast, so you can join on these topics as well, all right?

Craig: No!

John: First off I want to talk about some comments that Amy Pascal made at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center about sort of responsibility in terms of using gay slurs in movies.

Second, I want to talk about refrigerator logic. Refrigerator logic is something we hear a lot in terms of movies and TV shows. I have sort of a special case with Big Fish that we’re doing right now called “balcony logic” that I want to talk through.

And then we’ll talk special stuff with our special guest, because we have a person here who has done movies, and now television, and writes books. And so I want to talk about the differences between those.

So, let’s get started. First off, Craig, you had emailed me this last week about it was a Deadline Hollywood article recapping what Amy Pascal said. It was the March 21 LA Gay & Lesbian Center Fundraiser. And it was actually a pretty long speech, but one of the things she said — the quote that started getting excepted — was, “How about next time when any of us are reading a script and it says words like ‘fag,’ or ‘faggot,’ or ‘homo,’ or ‘dyke,’ take out a pencil and just cross it out.” That was sort of the excerpted quote.

And so it raised the issue of responsibility and to what degree are filmmakers, writers, studios responsible for the kinds of words we’re using in our work. And since you highlighted, Craig, what are you thinking?

Craig: This is what she said that I thought was right. She said, look, there are a lot of moments in movies where gay or lesbian characters, or transsexual characters, or transgender characters are either a joke, or are pathological and are a punch line. And that words like “fag” are essentially a joke of weakness, and that’s true. That has been the case for a long, long time.

So, on the one hand, I think she’s right to say that joke should end. Now, is it the bravest stance to make now? No, because it’s not as funny anymore. The thing about comedy is that things stop being funny at some point.

When Don Rickles used to go out and make fun of people’s race in a way that was off, it was funny then. It’s less so funny now. Whereas somehow Lisa Lampanelli manages to still make it kind of funny because it’s almost like it’s meta, like I’m making fun of racism while I am racist. So, funny is funny, not funny is not funny. And just simply saying “fag,” that joke is done. It’s just not funny anymore.

But there is a question that I want to put back to you, because one of the things I thought was odd was that she was also calling out movies in which characters are gay but tragic in some way, and she was sort of saying, “And that’s no good either.” But, I don’t know, my thing is tragic characters are why we make movies. They’re interesting.

So, she was singling out Brokeback Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley, My Own Private Idaho. Some of these movies were made by gay people, like for instance My Own Private Idaho. And I’m not sure that we should be replacing casual homophobia and gay as silly and funny in a pejorative with an over-fastidiousness so that gay characters have to somehow be saintly. I don’t know if it’s worse, but it’s certainly no more desirable to me.

John: I would agree with you on many of your points. The challenge becomes how do you represent a group of people who historically have been sort of either underrepresented or poorly represented on screen without sort of deifying them in a way that doesn’t feel good and appropriate.

So, as a gay person, I guess I’m allowed to say all those words, but I get really uncomfortable seeing any of those words in our media. I don’t like to see them in movies. I certainly don’t like to see them on television. I get a little bit frustrated, but obviously any Deadline Hollywood comments section is going to be a disaster anyway.

Craig: [laughs] Yeah. For sure.

John: So, you don’t want to sort of go there for your insights into humanity, but I get frustrated with the cries of like, “Oh, this is censorship,” or “This is ridiculous,” or “It’s not reflecting reality,” where it’s like, well, no. If someone raises a challenge saying let’s not use these words because they’re really stupid words that aren’t helpful in how we’re going to portray — how we’re going to make our movies — that’s not censorship. That’s someone saying like let’s not use those words. And it’s not government coming in and saying you cannot use those words anymore.

Derek, you’re making a TV show right now. You couldn’t use any of those words in your TV show.

Derek: No, we couldn’t. But I do get uncomfortable with the notion that something needs to be crossed out of the script when it’s really — it’s not the author making a statement as much as it is sometimes a character that makes a statement. And you want to show a guy as a villain, or a guy as an idiot, or uneducated, and through the course of history you have the bad guy kick a dog, or you have the bad guy do something, you know, a bully to a student.

And to just say unilaterally we’re not going to do that anymore because somebody might get offended, I get worried about that kind of stuff. I remember I wrote in a book once that the train station in Naples was a toilet in a bathroom town, and I got an email from someone from Naples. And it said, “How could you say this about my city?”

And I said, “I didn’t say this about your city, this character said it in the book.” And it was that character’s point of view. It wasn’t my point of view.

Craig: Yeah. That’s the one area where we just have to make sure that our scruples don’t impact what we do. The job of Hollywood isn’t to create some sort of Disneyland of happiness where bad things don’t happen. Quite the opposite. Drama relies on bad things. Drama relies on bad people. And even if you’re not talking about villains, even if you’re talking about a hero, a lot of times drama relies on complicated human beings, anti-heroes sometimes who are difficult people.

And we are fascinated by that. We’re fascinated by the audacious. So, the one thing that she said though that I thought was correct, and this is hard, I think, for a lot of writers in particular is that sexuality and sexual orientation specifically doesn’t need to be some sort of defining characteristic. It doesn’t have to metastasize to become the point of that character.

Frankly, it was the two I guess you’d say lead characters in Go that were the first gay characters I saw who were gay incidental to everything about what they were doing, which was — and no surprise that it took a gay man to write those characters initially, I think. I mean, I’m sure there were characters before that, John, but those were the first ones I saw on screen where it was like, well that’s — in fact, it was so unique that I remember thinking, “Huh, it’s almost like a twist,” you know, that they were gay. And who cares?

So, I would love to see, I think as we as a society become so unconcerned with it, it’s almost like this latest thing over marriage and everything, everything that’s going on right now is the last gasp of an old way of thinking that we will all be so bored with sexual orientation as we ought to be that we’ll start to see this more and more as being gay will be right up there with wearing glasses, or being bald.

So, that was a good thing to sort of call out.

John: Stepping back from the gay conversation specifically and turn to what words we use, I know I’ve hit this, and I suspect both of you have encountered this at some point. If you have a character say “retarded” anymore, you will get an incredible outpouring of criticism for any character saying “retarded” anymore. It’s become one of those incredibly loaded words, to the degree where like even if, “A descent is retarded by air resistance,” I will get people saying, “You can’t use that word, ‘retarded.'” It’s like, no, that’s actually what it means; it means to be slowed down.

Craig: [laughs] It’s like there was a city councilman near Oakland who got in trouble, or it was an official who lost his job because he used the word “niggardly,” which is from a Swedish rude word that just means stingy. Oh, god.

John: Yeah, I’m very mindful that we have to be careful that we don’t set such fences around certain words that we can’t even have the characters say them anymore. That’s obviously a huge concern. And so it’s become to the point where like I don’t want to enter that fight anymore, so I won’t have a character say that word anymore. I don’t know that I’m making the world a better or a worse place for not using the word anymore; I just know I don’t want to deal with those conversations anymore, so I will find a way around that.

I don’t think that’s good for writing. I don’t think it’s good for — it’s just good for my choices in terms of what I’m going to spend my time fighting.

Craig: I don’t mind taking that fight. We’ll talk about, you know, I’m having my little Broadway week and just saw Book of Mormon. And even though it wasn’t news to me because I’ve listened to the soundtrack so many times, that’s a show that doesn’t shy away from words that otherwise people tell you you can’t use.

And I think we should not deprive ourselves of the right to be audacious, or to be transgressive. And so I’m willing to fight. I’m willing to fight as long as I feel like it is audacious. There’s nothing audacious about a gay slur anymore. It’s just old and boring.

John: And lazy.

The next topic I want to get to is refrigerator logic. And so refrigerator logic is one of those tropes that you can see if you go to you will see all the tropes that you sort of see in TV shows and movies again, and again, and again. And one of them is refrigerator logic. And that is the idea that something will make sense as you’re sort of watching it, and then later on, like a half an hour after the show has ended and you’re at your refrigerator, staring at your refrigerator, you go, “Wait, how could you have gotten from Melbourne to Los Angeles in half an hour?”

It’s the logic that makes sense while you’re watching it an then actually sort of falls apart while you’re looking into your refrigerator. And so I looked up sort of the history of it, and apparently it comes from what Hitchcock calls an “Icebox Scene.” And an icebox scene is something that after the fact you realize like didn’t actually make sense, but it worked in the course of the story at the time.

A weird thing that I am encountering right now as we’re doing Big Fish, and so we’re in our last week of tech rehearsal, and actually by the time this podcast airs, Tuesday is our opening day, so I will be a puddle of anxiety on the floor.

Derek: I’m going that night. Take that, Craig Mazin.

Craig: Wow.

John: Derek Haas gets to go there. Our first performance. One of the fascinating things I’m encountering right now is we’ve been though the show so many times and I’ve described it on the podcast before that it’s like a combination of production and post-production where every day you’re making new stuff, but you’re also just going back over the same thing again, again, and again. It’s like you’re looking at the Avid except it’s live people in front of you and you’re sort of moving around and making little tiny cuts.

But one of the things we’re encountering this last week is the difference between being in a rehearsal studio and watching something, and being like back in the audience, or in this case being on the balcony watching something, there are moments that make perfect sense when you’re ten feet away that make much less sense when you’re 50 feet away. And sometimes you have to change something because it doesn’t make sense from 50 feet away. So, I’m calling it balcony logic.

And it’s just such a different thing that we encounter in movies or TV because in movies or TV we cut to the close up or we add a loop line to make something clear. And here you have to make sure like is it clear what that prop that person is holding from a distance is? Is it clear that he is talking about his father who is that person over there? Do I need to change that pronoun back to “my father” so we clear up who he’s really referring to, because if you can’t really see who he’s pointing to or who he’s nodding his head to, that it’s the same character.

It’s been really fascinating to bump in to. And so I wanted to have a little conversation about refrigerator logic and those little things that you don’t necessarily notice when you’re writing on the page, that make perfect sense on the page, but are different in real life. And, Derek, maybe you can start with this, because you must encounter this all the time shooting episode after episode of your TV show.

Derek: Yeah, now with TV the thing that I wasn’t ready for, because this is our first year to ever do it, and we’re about to shoot our 22nd episode, so now I feel like an old hat — a year later. But how rapid the process is, and therefore how rapid the notes are, and how you’ll have to get a network and a studio’s notes with only a couple of days to spare before we’re going to go shoot this thing.

And what I’ve really tried to do in this refrigerator logic scenario is try to maintain the idea that I don’t care if the dumbest person doesn’t get what’s going on. And I think a lot of times the notes will default to, “Well, I understand what this is, but I’m not sure the dumbest person in America is going to understand what this is, so you guys need to put in a loop line that says he’s his brother.”

And one of the big fights that we’ll have is we’ll say, “We don’t care.” If the dumbest person doesn’t get it, that doesn’t matter to me. I want the smart people to be serviced in this idea. So, you’re always walking a thin line.

John: Well, I want to distinguish a little between you’re talking notes that somebody gives about this moment, like the smartest person in the room, there’s a line in The Nines saying, “I didn’t think we were making it for dumb people.”

Derek: Right.

John: And that’s very much the case. And looping is often kind of there for the dumb people, like someone might not get it. Or the argument that TV is sort of like radio with pictures and you should be able to understand it even if you’re in the other room making an omelet.

One of the things that I think has been great about TV over the last decade is we’ve gotten away from that. And so you really do actually have to watch the show in order to understand stuff and it’s more sophisticated.

Derek: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. We always resort to the “no one in the world is going to think that.” That’s what we’ll say back to the studio. “No one in the world is going to wonder whether or not he’s his brother. So, we’re just going to keep it as it is,” which is never a good thing when you get to that point.

Craig: Well, you know, there’s this book called Everything Bad is Good for You. And one of the theories is that the narrative of television and movies has become so much more complicated that it is good for your brain to keep track of it all.

You look at a show like Game of Thrones, and you find yourself actually doing the math as required at the speed it is required. If you were to actually sit down and write the names of every character on that show that you’ve been following, or The Wire, or The Sopranos, you would be shocked at how many storylines you can keep a track of.

And there’s two issues going on here. One is the teaching to the slowest kid in the room theory, because yes, it is very frustrating for dummies to not know what’s going on. It is also frustrating for plugged in audience members to feel like they’re being spoon fed stuff. There’s nothing worse than a character on screen telling you something you already know.

So, who are you pitching the movie towards? And that’s something that you have to figure out. There’s this other thing going on which is actual logic problems in a narrative. When we’re writing things, sometimes we want to do something. He’s here and we really — we know that what this movie needs is for him to be over here in the next scene doing this. The problem is it doesn’t make sense. It would be dramatically satisfying, if only it made sense. So, you have to figure out how to make sense of it, or not.

And now here’s the tricky part, because movies unlike stage, which is unfolding in real time, movies are elliptic –they’re dream like. And you can play around with things. And there are times when, frankly, you can just get away with it. It’s a saccade basically, and they won’t notice, or they don’t care. Then there are other times they will notice and they do care and you have to figure out the difference. You have to have a sense of what the difference is.

In general I find that screenwriters are far more — far more — interested and capable of logic than directors. I find that a lot of directors just think that if you just keep moving the pace, energy, vision, and sound will make the rest of it not quite as important. And sometimes I find myself arguing for logic, because I just feel like, “Well, but that just…”

And I’m kind of curious what you guys have to say about this. I don’t get into fights about much, but I will plant my flag if something is just incorrect. If it’s illogical to the point where anybody at home would say, “This movie didn’t need to happen because of that.” I just don’t want these fatal flaws in there. And I lose sometimes. I lose big.

John: I think the dream logic thing is a crucial argument because what you’re saying is you don’t want there to be such a fundamental flaw that pierces the little bubble of dream that you’ve created in the movie.

If it sticks out so much that you cannot continue to suspend disbelief in the movie, because like, “well that’s actually impossible,” then that’s going to be a huge problem. And other things you are willing to sort of let slide because within the course of the world it could possibly be true. So, a small example would be like your character is capable of flying a helicopter. It’s like, well, you haven’t set up that he can fly a helicopter, it may be a stretch.

But if the character is like an adventurous type of person it’s like, okay, you believe he can fly a helicopter. But if that suburban house mom is flying a helicopter, you’re not going to accept that. And it’s now going to be like the refrigerator that you’re going to have the question, “No way is that soccer mom flying a helicopter. I know a helicopter is too difficult to fly.”

Derek: But you as the writer, you have such an opportunity to go back and put in what you need to put in to make that scene in the second act, or the third act, work. So, a lot of times you’re such a slave to your outline that you think, “Oh well, I didn’t set up that she could fly a helicopter, so therefore no wonder the director is bumping on page 60 when I have her flying a helicopter.”

But you as the writer can go back in to page 12 and make it so that she has an army background, and you might not have known this but before she was a housewife she was a spy. Whatever you need to do to fix the logic, it doesn’t matter what you had in your outline; if you want somebody to get from point A to point B as Craig described, and it doesn’t make sense on page 60, well that’s usually a page 12 problem.

Craig: But, I’ll say though that sometimes the fixes are so awful because you’re attempting to fix logic, and you’re fixing it, but in doing so all you’re really doing is introducing a logic fix. And my favorite example is in Batman & Robin, which we all remember fondly; they wanted Mr. Freeze to be looking for a cure for his wife. His wife had a fatal disease called McGregor Syndrome. Terrible name.

Derek: Okay. Okay.

Craig: And she was going to die, so he froze her. And everything he’s doing is to find a cure for McGregor Syndrome so that he can thaw her out, give her the cure, and get his wife back. Okay. Fine.

They wanted very much to put Batman on some sort of ticking clock disease-wise to tie him into that whole story. So, they decided let’s give him McGregor Syndrome. The problem is, of course, if you give Batman McGregor Syndrome, he’s going to die, too, because there’s no cure. Ah ha!

Okay, so what should we do? We need to have a situation where they can be a cure for Batman for McGregor Syndrome but there can’t be a cure for Mrs. Freeze, because you know, it’s not going to happen.

Derek: “You’re a popsicle.”

Craig: “Everybody chill.” Now, it may have been Alfred that had McGregor Syndrome. Regardless, here was their logic fix: There’s a McGregor Syndrome Stage 1, and a McGregor Syndrome Stage 2. And Mrs. Freeze has McGregor Syndrome Stage 2.

Now, I’m sorry, but that just stinks. It’s so stinks. It stinks on ice!

John: Yeah. That’s story shoe leather. You’ve introduced a whole other sort of journey that we have to go on to accommodate one very small thing. But, Derek, you write books, and so I would say some of the stuff that we’re talking about here, it could be frustrating and challenging because we’re doing it in a very time-based sort of medium is much simpler to do in a novel. Is that correct?

Derek: Yeah, well, there’s no deadline. The deadline is of your making. I do remember in the first book that I wrote, The Silver Bear, I needed the main character to find this guy he hadn’t seen in 20 years. And when I got to that point in the book I went back into the earlier part of the book and I put in basically a mistake that the guy had said when they first met that would give away where his hometown was.

And it was one of those things where I didn’t — you know, refrigerator logic, I didn’t have an answer, and it would have taken me, you know, I would have had to manufacture a chapter of how to hunt this guy down, or I could back in and put a sentence in earlier that made it seem like, oh wow, he planned this all the way from the beginning, but, I didn’t…

John: I would just say like in a book you have abilities to do things we just can’t do in film and TV. Like in film and TV we’re limited to what you can see and what you can hear. You have introspection in ways that are just completely different.

Derek: Good point.

John: And so if you want to say that this guy can fly a helicopter, one sentence.

Derek: Exactly.

John: “Back when he learned to fly a helicopter in,” whatever, could do it, like in a clause you could take care of that problem. It doesn’t have to be a scene. It doesn’t have to be a line of dialogue. It’s actually just part of the book’s [power].

Derek: Craig, I have a question for you.

Craig: Yes.

Derek: How many years of doing this podcast did it take to get to a Batman & Robin example?

Craig: The entire length of it. So, however long we’ve been doing it we are now at T-minus zero, finally.

Derek: Okay, perfect.

John: The podcast officially began today with our Batman & Robin thing.

So, refrigerator logic, I want to go back to that definition. So, it’s the kind of thing which you’re willing to let pass as you encounter it in a story. And it’s only afterwards, like, “Huh? Okay.” So, one of the classic examples is Sydney Bristow in Alias, like somehow she’s able to get form place to place just sort of magically teleport. Like whatever plane/flight she’s taking are happening faster than the speed of light because she’s able to get around and stuff.

But you just sort of accept it because that’s sort of the thrill of the show.

Derek: They do those in the spy movies all the time, be it Bourne or in Bond where we want to see an awesome action sequence, but we don’t really want to see how this guy packed his luggage and got on the plane to Belize, and then went through the airport customs…

Craig: Right.

Derek: And then somehow he’s got his gun still. We don’t want to think about those things, so audiences have accepted that they can just show up.

John: And travel has sort of gotten cut out of movies almost all together, which is mostly a good thing. The old movies you used to see them packing their bags, and go to the airport, and fly the plane. We needed to have all of that stuff to fill in there.

But I think excerpting all those sequences, we’ve also sort of accepted the idea that it takes any time to go any place, which can be a little bit frustrating.

Craig: We also don’t watch anyone eat anymore. And we’ve never watched anyone go to the bathroom.

Derek: That’s why Pulp Fiction, that was such a great shocking scene showing Travolta sitting on the toilet reading a book.

Craig: Yeah. Right.

Derek: And that’s a good thing to your listeners from a screenwriting standpoint is, okay, if no one is showing us how somebody gets on an airplane anymore, well show us an interesting one, because that’s going to cut through the clutter of what everybody else is reading.

John: And the second topic, sort of the derivative topic, is balcony logic, which is really that thing where if you aren’t clear what somebody is doing you can sometimes just stop paying attention. If you sort of get off the train a little bit, like you don’t know what somebody is taking about, you don’t know who they’re talking about, you can just sort of slide off the train. And that’s something that we would usually do in post-production.

It’s like you’re watching a scene and it’s like, “I don’t remember — I can’t actually focus on what they’re talking about. I can’t see what that is — can you give me a close up of that thing?” We don’t have any close ups in theater, so it’s been really interesting to have to sometimes create the close up, either by re-referencing something, or literally just changing a prop, like, “That key is too small, I can’t see it from the balcony. We need a bigger key.”

Craig: We need a giant key!

John: Literally, the key now, the key to the city of Ashton is pretty damn big now. That’s the way it needs to be so you can actually see it in the back row.

Craig: There is…no, go ahead.

John: No, you go, Craig.

Craig: Well, there’s this other thing, there’s another phrase that’s also tangentially related to all of this called “pie talk.” And I don’t know if Gore Verbinski coined it or not, but I heard it first from Ted Elliott who heard it from Gore Verbinski. Pie talk is this: You see the movie, and then you go out to dinner with your friends and you have pie, and you start to talk about the movie over pie because there’s something you’re still trying to figure out.

And the difference between refrigerator logic, which is a “wait a second, that doesn’t make any sense,” and pie talk is “the movie does make sense, but they’ve left out certain things.” You can therefore retroactively explain it if you talk about it, because all the things are there for you to piece the mystery together, but they haven’t necessarily spelled it all out, so it’s not inconsistent; it’s just incomplete.

And I kind of like that idea.

John: There is a related concept to refrigerator logic called “refrigerator horror,” which is sort of as the story is finished, and you watched the story and enjoyed the story for what it was, that if you actually think about the repercussions of what it actually means for the world, it’s like, “Oh my god, that world is horrifying. That person’s father is dead forever!”

Craig: Right.

John: So, you recognize that all the stuff that is not sort of part of the story but as a natural consequence to the story that would happen can often be just kind of terrible. You watch people survive the story, but the world is irrevocably awful.

Craig: My favorite of those, and it’s not even the world, it’s just about one person. And I love Titanic. I love the movie. And she has this amazing romance on the ship with Jack and then he dies. And she goes on and lives this wonderful long life with her husband, and we see pictures of them going all over the world. I mean, whoever this man was, he was with this woman for 70 years, you know? [laughs] And then he died.

And she takes this little trip on the boat, drops the thing in the water, dies, and spends the rest of eternity with Leonardo DiCaprio. And where is this guy? He’s just like, “What?! I was faithful to you. I supported you. I loved you. We made vows to each other! And I’m alone for eternity, and you’re with a guy you knew for a day.”

John: Yup.

Craig: It’s not fair.

Derek: I always think about that kid in The Sixth Sense. He’s like, you know, he finally solves the mystery, or Bruce Willis find out, “Oh, I’m a ghost,” it’s cool. And then I just think about this poor kid who has to walk around town seeing ghosts…

John: The whole rest of his life.

Derek: …the whole rest of his life.

Craig: They addressed it a little bit because it seems like now he’s friends with all the ghosts, and he’s like, “Hey!” He’s like, you know, the guy who’s walking through a party like, “What’s up, Jimmy?”

Derek: Yeah, until the next one comes by with a severed head.

Craig: Yeah, but you know, it’s like, “I get it.” [laughs] He gets it.

Derek: [laughs] This podcast is making me hungry.

John: Mm, food.

Craig: Oh, really?

John: We’re in Chicago, home of great pizza. So, where should we get pizza here?

Derek: We went to Pizzeria Uno yesterday, and I know it’s a tourist trap, but man that pizza is good.

Craig: I’m sorry. This is disgusting to me.

Derek: Pizano’s is the best.

Craig: Chicago is the home of no-good pizza. Chicago pizza is…oh, maybe now some people will write in and be upset. Tough. Chicago pizza is disgusting. It’s not pizza at all. New York pizza is pizza. That’s it. Period. The end. I don’t care wherever you go.

Chicago makes me so angry, because they are so proud of their terrible pizza. Just don’t be proud of it. Just say, “Oh, we have pizza.” Like Los Angeles has pizza, they’re not proud of it. They’re like, “Yeah, I know. Okay, it’s whatever. Do you want it or not?”

John: Craig, you’ll be happy to know that we went to California Pizza Kitchen yesterday with the kid, just so she could have sort of her normal thing.

Craig: Terrific.

John: We didn’t even do pizza. She had like the terrible macaroni and cheese.

Craig: Fine.

John: We’re doing it right and wrong, just the way you like it.

Craig: Yeah!

John: Derek, because we have you here, we need to take advantage of the sort of special opportunity you give us. So, why did you do a TV show after never doing a TV show? How has it been? What’s the difference? Should people write TV shows? Should Craig and I stop trying to make movies and just make TV shows? Tell us the secrets.

Derek: We got lucky because Dick Wolf basically called us and said, “I’ve already set up a show at NBC this year, and basically all I have is it’s going to be about firemen. And we want you guys to do it.” So, we talked to NBC. We said we don’t know anything about firemen, but we should set it in Chicago because the city is born out of fire. It’s got such a rich fire history, so put us on a plane and let us meet firemen and get to know Chicago.

And so we came here and we spent three weeks riding around, doing 24 hour shifts with firemen. And we realized, “Oh, there’s a great opportunity for a show here in the vein of ER or Hill Street Blues, that doesn’t have quite the cynicism that Rescue Me had.”

And so we have been loving it. This is our first year to do it. All of the adages are true about that the writer is the boss and the writer is the king in TV, whereas in a movie you’re servicing the director. In television the directors are servicing you. And the speed from which it happens in that Michael and I will write a scene on a Wednesday, that they’ll shoot on Thursday, that will literally be on air the next Wednesday — it’s incredible.

I didn’t realize we could reshoot as much as we have, or fit in an extra — you know, if we see something in a cut and we’re a week away from shooting and we realize, like you said, your balcony logic, we realize, “Well nobody is going to realize he’s holding a key.” Well, we can quickly insert a shot of a key. And that’s something when we made and independent movie we just couldn’t do. You know, once we were done we were done. There was no redeeming it at that point.

And so the speed and the amount of words that I’ve had of mine on a screen in this year, it’s made it really worth it. And we have a great cast and crew. So, I’m just ecstatic about the whole experience.

John: I was nervous when you set up the show because I had not had a good experience working with Dick Wolf; you had a much better experience. I’m so happy that you’ve had a good experience working with him. But the reason why I thought you would do great at TV is you are incredibly prolific. So for people who don’t know, I mean, Derek writes a ton of movies, but independently of all that he also writes his books.

And so somehow you’re able to just keep generating words and the tap never seems to stop. And that’s what you need for TV.

Derek: We got lucky because we hired one of our best friends, Matt Olmstead, who had done four years show-running NYPD Blue and then four years of Prison Break, and then did the show Breakout Kings, and he just happened to be available at the same time as our show got picked up. So, we talked to Dick, and we got Matt. And Matt, Michael, and I have pretty much show-run the show for a year.

And we have a staff with five other writers and they’re great. But, yeah, the sheer amount of — the volume of which you have to… — We got 24 episodes, which usually you start with 13 and then you get a back nine, and then they want us to do two more. And I cannot believe how much work it is to do. Every eight days we’re shooting a new movie basically. And we have an awesome producer. And definitely the Dick Wolf machine helped because he’s done so much television that he already has the post in place, and the casting in place, and all of those kinds of things.

So, some of the things that you’d have to stress over, we didn’t have to stress over. But, yeah, it’s a lot of work, but I love it.

John: Talk us through the process in terms of from conception of an episode, to the writing, to the shooting, to the post. What is that process? And so how much time is in the room together? Who’s leading the room? How does that all work?

Derek: Yeah, we don’t have a room in the traditional sense of like a comedy room where you’re in there and everybody is spitballing jokes. We pretty much broke out the first 13 episodes all in a week or week and a half based on stories of us all — we brought all the writers to Chicago. They all rode around with paramedics and with firemen. And so we just put all of those stories up on the board and looked at our characters and said, “Okay, here’s 13 episodes, here’s 10 characters; how can they all interrelate?”

Once we had those, we assigned episodes to writers. And so Michael and I said, “Okay, we’ll do the second one, we’ll do the seventh one, we’ll do the 13th one.” And then other writers took other episodes. And then we turn in outlines just like you would in a movie. And then we work off of the outline.

John: How long is an outline for your shows?

Derek: The outline is usually like eight or nine pages. But, you know, a script is only 50 pages. So, it’s pretty much everything but the dialogue.

John: And are you four acts or five act?

Derek: We’re five acts. Yeah, a teaser and five acts.

John: Teaser plus five acts. So, in your outline you’re really writing towards — you’re figuring out what those act breaks are first, and then you’re figuring out how you’re going to get through your episode that way?

Derek: That’s exactly right. In fact, that was a new skill that I had to learn which was writing a wave towards an act break, or towards a commercial, where you really want them to come back on the other side of the commercial. So, you can’t just write a scene that isn’t going to have some sort of cliffhanger, or at least new information, something that teases somebody to come back to.

And those are all like ten page bites; ten pages worth of new scenes and then a commercial. Ten pages of new scenes and a commercial.

Craig: I have a question for you. This is the part of television that fascinates me, I guess, from an operational point of view. You’re a writer. You and Michael write movies. And then one day you find yourself not only writing a television show, but the boss of other people writing that television show that your name is on.

Derek: Right.

Craig: What is it like to be the boss of other writers? And I guess follow up question inherent to that: Does it make you like or hate writers? [laughs] I’m just kind of curious. Or both?

Derek: It was hard for me, at first, because I’d get really frustrated when somebody who had a long resume or had come in highly recommended and then just had basic screenwriting flaws, or just really generic, stiff writing. And so I’d get really down or disappointed and think, “Now I’ve got to spend a week fixing this,” where I was supposed to be working on my own thing.

But then at the same time you do have the victories where somebody will turn in a script and you’ll be like, “Oh my god, this is amazing. Why didn’t I think of this? Wow, they hit it out of the park.” And so they’re fun. I mean, it’s hard in a lot of ways, but when somebody achieves it’s exciting and when somebody fails it’s disappointing, so it’s like anything else.

Craig: It seems like it would have the potential to make you a better writer on your own, just because you’re seeing reflected back at you a kind of writing, and a kind of writing behavior that you don’t like, and a kind of writing and a kind of writing behavior you do.

Derek: Yeah. You spend a lot more time with other people’s processes. And anytime you can do that is a good thing, I think.

John: But one of the challenges, like everything you’re shooting, maybe it’s the second draft, maybe it’s been through it twice, but there’s never that time of like sit back, reflect, and then come back to it a month later. You don’t have that time. Ideally you want to finish a draft of a script, and set it in a drawer and not look at it, and then pull it back out. That does not exist in television. It has to be — the first time you write a scene you have to be able to shoot that scene immediately. Like you might go back and retouch it, but often you’re never going to retouch that scene.

Derek: Yeah. There’s no time for saying, “Okay, we’ll figure this out a month from now.” So, it behooves you to bring your A-game on the first draft. Whereas a lot of times I think screenwriters can get lazy and screenwriters, or movie writers, can say, “All right, I’m going to spend two month on this outline, otherwise it’s not real writing. And, boy, you don’t have that luxury.

John: So, how much of the planning for an episode has to — do you have to keep in mind what your schedule is going to be, what your locations are going to be? You have to plan for a certain amount of this episode needs to take place in locations that you already own and control, and a certain amount of time — you’ll be in for a certain amount of days, and you’ll be out for a certain amount of days. Is that your show?

Derek: They told us that at the beginning it was going to be that, but we haven’t found that to be the case.

John: You just had so much money and so much…

Derek: [laughs] We just write it. And I got to say, one of the fun things about doing a show about firemen in a city like Chicago is anywhere you point the camera in Chicago is architecturally stunning. There’s a lake. There’s a river. There’s all sorts of things to have fun with. So, almost as a challenge to ourselves we try to set things — I’ll write in “top of the Willis Tower, they’re having a scene on the observation deck,” thinking there’s no way they’re going to get this, and then they do.

And we have a great producer, John Roman, and great locations guy. And I’m always amazed at what we end up getting and what we don’t. And, yes, they’ll occasionally come back to us and say, “Hey, this scene takes place outside the firehouse. Can we set it inside the kitchen because we’re already going to fill out a day there?” And we’ll say, you know, “Oh, well let us look at it. Let us rearrange it.”

But sometimes we’ll insist and we’ll say, “No, this needs to be outside.”

Craig: I love that you guys are doing this primarily because it’s great security for me. I’ve always said if I have friends who need to create 22 episodes, or whatever it is, 26, whatever, some…

Derek: 24, yeah.

Craig: 24 episodes of television a year, year after year, because this show is going to be on for a long time; it’s a hit. That if I should hit the skids in movies, I know where I can go. At least I can get a paycheck, I could show up. I mean, other writers will be like, “Ugh, he’s just here because he’s friends with Derek.” Yeah…

Derek: “This is ridiculous.”

John: “Nepotism.”

Craig: That’s right. That’s right.

Derek: You two are two of the most successful writers in the world. Ridiculous.

Craig: Right now.

Derek: Ridiculous.

Craig: Right now! But who knows, in three years it all dries up, and I’m just there, and I’m saying stuff like, “Um, Derek, what if, um, what if Mouch, um…”

Derek: Craig, you have Hangover money. I’m learning about TV money. None of this compares to Broadway money. None of this compares to Broadway money.

Craig: I disagree. Like a hit TV show is… — Well, I guess a massive Broadway hit, like I hear that Wicked money is pretty amazing.

John: Wicked money is pretty good. The one thing that is different in Broadway is that I will own copyright on Big Fish, which is just kind of ridiculous. And so I’ve described it in a post that it’s like you’re making — a TV show is like a sprint. Each episode is a sprint. Making a movie is a marathon. Making a Broadway show is like a migration, where we’re here in Chicago. The whole circus comes to Chicago. We spend months making it here in Chicago, and then we’ll move to New York. And then we will move to other places. And that’s a strange thing.

So, the rest of my life will be rewriting this show.

Derek: Awesome.

Craig: Great.

John: Craig, you saw two shows just today, or the last few days. Tell us what you saw.

Craig: So, yesterday I saw Hands on a Hard Body, the musical.

John: Which sounds so pornographic and dirty, but it’s not at all.

Craig: But it’s not at all.

Derek: That’s based on that documentary that Matthew McConaughey did?

Craig: Did Matthew McConaughey do it?

Derek: Mm-hmm.

Craig: Really? I didn’t know. Well, I guess it makes sense.

Derek: He produced it.

Craig: Yeah, because it’s from Longview, which is his hometown. It was a documentary I think back in ’94. And I remember actually watching it on HBO because I saw the title come up. I’m like where is there bad HBO porn on at two in the afternoon? That just seems weird.

And, in fact, it’s a documentary, not at all pornographic, but a real life contest in small town Texas where eight or ten people basically put their hands on a truck, a hard body truck, and they have to keep their hands on it, and the last person standing wins the truck.

And the documentary became a very fascinating insight into the strength of personal conviction, religion, the question of why we’re doing something. It was existential. It was just a really cool documentary.

And now flash forward, it’s a musical. To be honest with you, I did not love the musical. There were some great performances. Hunter Foster plays a terrific villain. He has a great 11 o’clock song that, to me, was the highlight of the show. He was really, really good. And there’s a woman named — I don’t know if I’m pronouncing her name right — it’s Keala Settle, who plays this religious woman and she has this amazing number right before intermission that was spectacular.

But then, oh, then the show blows it and it’s sort of something you can’t really recover from. So, it’s this incredible, wonderful, up-tempo song, I think it’s called Feel the Joy. It’s a cappella; the whole group gets into it. And you’re just happy.

And then they immediately follow — they don’t even let it end. They immediately follow it with this really super downer song about this soldier who’s back from Iraq. And it’s just the song doesn’t work. And you’ve just lost all energy.

John: Was her big number, that was the act out? And the first number in the second act was this downer song?

Craig: No, no. That would have been okay. No. It was right before the end of the first act. She does her big number. And then they tack another one on. And the other one is a huge downer. And then they go to intermission. And I just wanted to grab the people making the show and say, “Cut that song!” Maybe cut the character.

Because here’s the thing: There are too many characters in the show. So, I believe when you watch a musical, to enjoy the drama of the characters I feel like there should be two, three, four people that you truly understand and care about. And then you have comic relief, and you have villains, and you have whatever. But this show is demanding you to care about eight or nine people, and they’re giving all of them equal weight. And everyone is equally, therefore, thin. So, it was tough to care.

There was also a couple — I thought they made some mistakes. They were trying to make the show about, I think, a little bit too political, rather than about sort of the personal things involved in hanging on to this truck. It became sort of a — there was a little too much “times are hard; we’re desperate for a truck.”

There was one bizarre song where the cast sang and lamented the disappearance of mom and pop stores which have been replaced by big box stores, which I just thought like, well, are we just going down a list of things that we complain about at Whole Foods now?

So, that didn’t quite work. But the one thing I’ve got to give a ton of credit to is it’s a very sparse production. It’s one set that does not change. And there’s a truck in the middle of it. And the truck is kind of the star of the show. It’s on some sort of moving platform that they disguise beautifully behind the wheels. And the characters are constantly turning and moving the truck onstage. The wheels don’t move; the truck is just sort of spinning and turning and moving around.

And they’re on it, and they’re in it, and they’re around it. And it’s very well choreographed. Music was by Trey Anastasio, I think, is his name, the guy from Phish.

Derek: Oh wow.

Craig: And so it’s not typical show tune stuff. It’s very rockabilly, bluesy.

Derek: Does the truck have its own song?

Craig: Believe me, that would have been awesome. It didn’t. I think there was only really two good songs. That’s the other issue. A lot of the songs just melodically were okay. Two of them were very good. I don’t know if the show will make it or not. Also strange: It jumped from La Jolla to Broadway.

John: That’s actually not uncommon. It’s a classic sort of try out city for productions. I think Jersey Boys was originally La Jolla. So, there’s a track record for that working sometimes.

Craig: Okay. I’m not sure it worked here. But, Hunter Foster, who is Sutton Foster’s brother, was great. Keala Settle was great. And also a woman named Allison Case, I thought, did a great job.

Then today I saw Book of Mormon and, well, that’s a classic. [laughs] They just do everything right. Everything.

John: I don’t think Book of Mormon is going to make it.

Craig: [laughs].

John: It rides a little bit of heat. But, no, it’s not going to make it.

So, Book of Mormon is also here in Chicago. Usually a show will do really well on Broadway, like Book of Mormon is doing, of course, very much on Broadway. And eventually there will be a national tour. It will like land at certain cities for a certain number of weeks. But I don’t know how many tours are sort of going on constantly, and some of them are just sitting down for a long time. Chicago seems kind of open-ended. It’s crazy.

And the great, but sort of frustrating thing about Book of Mormon is — so we’re at the Oriental Theater in Downtown Chicago which is a beautiful giant theater. But on the side of our theater there are three big billboards for The Book of Mormon. I’m like, that’s our theater! Get off our theater!

And then our box office is Broadway Chicago, so we share it with all of the other shows. And so I’ll see like people lining up to buy ticket, and I’m like, “Yay, they’re buying Big Fish.” And it’s like, “No, they could be buying Book of Mormon as well.” So, it seems wrong.

Derek: It’s nice for those guys to finally get a hit and maybe have some money.

John: I feel so good for them. I’ve told you my story about Matt and Trey, haven’t I?

Derek: No.

Craig: No.

John: On the podcast? So, way back when in Los Angeles, it was my first year of Stark, and we were out at a bar called Three of Clubs, which still exists as Three of Clubs. It’s in Hollywood. It’s a dive.

And I was out there with some friends and I got introduced to this guy who was from Boulder, which is where I’m from, and he’s a writer. And so I’m talking to him for awhile. And it’s like, oh, what are you working on? “We’re trying to make this video for this guy at MTV, like this Christmas card thing.”

I’m like, I feel really bad for him, because he’s clearly struggling. He’s sort of like me; he’s sleeping on the floor. And so at the end of the night I was like, “Oh, it was good to meet you, Troy.”

He’s like, “No, it’s Trey.”

I’m like, the only reason I know it was Trey Parker is because I said his name wrong. So, of course that video was South Park, the original thing, and it’s gone reasonably well for him.

Craig: It’s gone okay. It’s gone okay.

Derek: He’s done all right.

John: But, Book of Mormon is just so fantastic.

Craig: Yeah, everything about it is terrific. And, again, to loop back to our first discussion about Amy Pascal’s comments, it’s incredibly audacious. They don’t care. They absolutely go for it. They put this show on and there were so blissfully unconcerned about language, about potential accusations of racism, or anti-religiousness, or pro-religiousness, or anything. They were just like, “Screw you, this is what we’re doing. We don’t care. We are completely confident in every move.”

The songs are spectacular. There’s not one bad song. In fact, every single song is great. And I was — even though this is not the complete original cast, Nikki James, who is Nabulungi, the female star of the show, is still there on Broadway. She was amazing. I mean, she is so talented. And Lewis Cleale, who originated the kind of Mormon boss, and Joseph Smith as well — he’s still there.

And Matt Doyle and Jon Bass are the new guys. They did a great job. I just, yeah, it’s a great show. It’s going to be running forever.

John: Yeah, the secret behind Book of Mormon, I think, is that like South Park it does filthy things but is incredibly sweet about it. And so you have these — everyone in the show is actually really sweet and nice, and no one is sort of mean-spirited. Terrible things happen because of misunderstandings and horrible things are said. It’s just…

Craig: Yeah, but it’s sweet. And, you know, my favorite moment in the show, it’s a tiny little moment, but it explains why, for instance, the actual Mormon Church doesn’t seem to mind that this play is out there, which is actually the coolest thing about Mormons. Period.

In the song All American Prophet, Elder Price, who is the star of the show, is telling the story of how the Mormon religion came to be. And as he tells it, part of the joke is this is ridiculous. And Joseph Smith receives the Golden Plates from the Angel Moroni, and the angel says, “But, don’t show the plates to anyone. Even though if you don’t show them no one will believe you. Just translate the plates and write them down on regular paper, even though people won’t believe in you. That’s sort of what God is going for.”

And you’re meant to laugh at how stupid this is. And then later in the song Joseph Smith, they get to the part where Joseph Smith is shot by an angry mob. And as he’s dying he looks up and he says, “God, why have you forsaken me? You never let me show the plates to anybody. They have no reason to believe it; they’ll just have to believe it just cause.”

And then he goes, “Oh, I guess that’s what you were going for.” And it’s this really nice, sweet, kind of like, “Oh, I think I’m starting to understand the point of faith even though it’s challenging and a little crazy.”

The show is full of really smart moments like that that manage to balance the sacrilege of it all with the point, which is that forget the details. If the message helps somebody here in a positive way, maybe we can extend that.

Now, of course, there is a dark side to all of these things. And Turn It Off is a great song about how hard it is to be gay and a Mormon. Terrific stuff. It’s great.

John: Very, very good.

Craig, do you have a One Cool Thing this week? Or, are those your One Cool Things?

Craig: No, I do have a One Cool Thing. I have One Awesome, Awesome, Amazing Thing this week. But do want to go first because yours can’t possibly be as cool as this.

John: And, Derek, I didn’t even warn you.

Derek: I didn’t know.

John: You could think of one while I tell you my One Cool Thing. My One Cool Thing is actually how we’re recording this podcast here today is that, so we are on one microphone that we’re sharing between us, and I was trying to figure out how we would both have headsets. And it’s like, oh my god, I’m going to need to find a Radio Shack that’s open on Easter so we can split the headphone output jack.

It turns out a little Googling that even on any Macintosh, any modern Macintosh, you can actually set up a special mini-controller output thing, so you create a special mini group for multi-output.

So, you can use it for plugging two people’s headphones into different jacks. In this case I’m connected to the microphones. He’s connected directly into the little MacBook. And it’s actually very useful and potentially very useful for situations where you need to send to multiple speakers at once or you need to do some other strange things.

So, you can use it for multi-output, multi-input. So, I will put a link to the article I found which was hugely helpful and saved me an hour’s worth of time and purchased it at Radio Shack to make this possible.

So, a fun little thing that I Googled and will help you out if you have to do what we’re doing which is to share a microphone.

Craig: Excellent. I did not know that. I’m going to read that link. That sounds useful.

So, here’s my Cool Thing that started off as a terrible thing. Last week my dog got hit by a car.

John: Oh my god, Craig. I’m so sorry.

Derek: I was reading about this.

Craig: Yeah, now here’s the deal. If this had happened, I think, ten years ago, she would have just been dead. So, she was hit by a car and here’s what happened to her:

She had a fractured pelvis, she had a concussion, she had internal bleeding, she had a broken rib, and most dangerously, her lungs were very, very bruised and they were punctured. And when your lung is punctured, what happens is you get something called a pneumothorax.

So, okay, let me just step back for a second. And you know I love medicine, so I was reading this like medicine.

John: Yeah, you’re Dr. Craig Mazin.

Craig: Dr. Craig Mazin. The doctor’s in.

So, lungs are just sponges that expand with air and then contract and air goes out. As they expand with air, if there’s a puncture the air will, of course, start to leak out. So, you can be breathing, okay, fine, but the air continues to leak out. The chest cavity is closed. It is rigid specifically so the lungs to work. If it were flabby the lungs wouldn’t work because there would be nothing to expand against.

But, pneumothorax means the air is starting to leak out of the lung and slowly build up in the rib cage. As it builds up, what happens? It begins to compress down on the lungs, which cannot expand, and so you can’t breathe. It’s a very dangerous condition.

So, here’s my Cool Thing. Well, first of all Dr. Kym Mitchell at the Montrose Animal Hospital was awesome. She sort of did like an immediate, okay, you’re not going to die in the next five minutes. But, there is a place in Glendale called Animal Specialty Group. And we’re lucky because, you know, I live in La Cañada which is pretty close to Glendale. This is maybe ten minutes away.

It is the animal hospital where they bring animals from the LA Zoo. It is the — I don’t know what you call it — the Cedar Sinai for animals. And they took my dog and they saved her life. And I have to say what they had to do was remarkable. They had to put in a chest tube and they had to give her a blood transfusion. It was ridiculous. [laughs] You don’t even want to know. It was crazy.

I mean, again, ten years ago she wouldn’t have made it anyway. Forty years ago, somebody would have just put a pillow over her head or shot her, like Old Yeller, but they saved my dog.

And all I can say is to those guys: You are the coolest guys there at the Animal Specialty Group. They did an amazing job. She came home today. She was hit by a car on Wednesday, I believe, and she’s back home today totally fine.

Derek: I love that when you describe the doctors, I know as a kid growing up in Dallas and being like, “This is the guy who performs the knee operations on the Dallas Cowboys.” You know, like, “Oh, they must be the best.” And you’re like, “These guys are the ones who do the LA Zoo.” [laughs]

Craig: The LA Zoo! I mean, doesn’t that tell you something? You’re like, “Oh, well what are we going to do? The gazelle is vomiting. Um, I don’t know, there’s a guy down the street.” No. You go to ASG.

Derek: ASG.

Craig: That’s where you go. They are the best. 24 hours. Seven days a week. They actually — at one point they said, “Listen,” because the truth is when we brought her in they were like, I said to my — because my vet, Kym Mitchell, she came with us. And she looked shaken up. And I was like, “So, what are the odds here?” And she’s like, “She’s really hurt.”

And I was like, “Okay, so 50/50?” And she looked at me and went, “Um, yeah.” [laughs] Which means 10/90 kind of. You know? So, I was like, okay, this isn’t going to go well.

I mean, I had to tell my kids, like, there is a pretty good chance, you know, that she’s not going to make it. But they said, “Listen, um, if this chest tube thing doesn’t work and the puncture isn’t healing on its own, there’s a chance that we might have to put her on a ventilator, and even then that might not work. And that comes with its own complications, but we have to sort of talk to you about it beforehand. And you have to come here and sign papers if we’re going to do it because it’s so expensive.” And when they told me what it was I was like, oh my god.

And it actually was a great moment for me as a man, because I was like, yes, absolutely we’ll do that. And I didn’t have to do it, so it’s like a great Seinfeld episode where I should get credit for something that I just didn’t want to do but I said I would do, because oh my god, it would have been so expensive. [laughs]

But, we got our dog back. So, thank you, ASG. You are this week’s One Super Cool Thing.

John: Cool. Derek, did you think of something?

Derek: I did. There is a movie with Chris O’Donnell and Arnold Schwarzenegger called Batman & Robin. It’s my One Cool… — No, I’m just kidding.

John: One COOL thing.

Craig: It’s so COOL.

Derek: In Chicago there is something that you can get that you always think, I don’t really need this City Pass, but the City Pass, which gets you five museums and you get to walk right in and cut the line, is the greatest tourism thing you can get.

I took my kids to the Science and Industry Museum yesterday. Cut all the way to the front of the line. Took my kids to the aquarium, cut to the front of the line. Took my kids today to the Field Museum. And, again, get a City Pass when you come to Chicago and have a great time. It’s a great tourism town.

Craig: Awesome. And, this is a fact, although Chicago has terrible pizza, it is a great place to be in a fire because super handsome dudes come with their muscles.

Derek: It’s true.

Craig: And their perfect hair. And they’re like, “Ma’am, don’t worry, Ma’am, I’ve got you.”

John: Yes.

Derek: It’s true. The true CFD guys are an inspiration, really the inspiration for this show.

Craig: And handsome.

Derek: And handsome.

John: And handsome.

Derek Haas, thank you so much for being our second ever live in-studio guest. We’ve had, you know, Aline came twice, but you’re a friend who now gets to be part of the show.

Derek: I am thrilled. Thank you for having me.

John: And you’re the first genuine surprise to Craig Mazin.

Derek: That was hilarious.

John: So, I want to keep introducing new people from his life.

Craig: Well, I’m just glad that it was somebody good, because what if you had saddled us with an idiot?

John: I can think of a few writers that would be just amazing people to have on this show because you would have a tremendously good time with them.

Craig: Mm…

John: You’re thinking exactly the same person I am.

Craig: Hmm…

John: It would be amazing to have him here.

Craig: So much fun.

John: Oh, so good. And he’s an Academy member.

Craig: Yeah.

John: Craig, thank you so much. Derek, thank you so much.

Derek: Thanks for having me.

John: Have a great week. And we’ll talk to you next week.

Craig: See you later guys.

John: Take care.

Craig: Bye.

Derek: Thank you. Bye.