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

Now, Craig, last week’s episode was full of conflict so I think it’s really good that we have someone here to help balance this out, try to make sure everything is smooth and calm today. We have none other than our own Aline Brosh McKenna. Yay, wild applause.

Craig: Yay.

Aline Brosh McKenna: AKA, The Ref.

John: You are the ref. You are the one who’s going to achieve sort of a calmness of flow to all these things. But we actually were thinking about you last week because several things came up and we thought, well, Aline is the perfect person to talk about this because our topics today are the default male problem, which is sort of why characters are male unless they’re otherwise described. And you’ve talked about this on previous shows.

Aline: Hm-mmm, I sure have.

John: And we’re also going to talk about — so our second conversation is about Whiplash and really that’s about sort of that difficult teacher/student relationship which reminds me a lot of Devil Wears Prada, which is your movie. You wrote that movie.

Aline: I did indeed.

John: So we’re going to do those two topics and you’re also going to help me with some ethical issues that I’m having. So I think it’s going to be a fun show.

Craig: Great.

John: So let’s get into this. So, Aline, we’re so happy to have you here because this is how this default male topic came up this week. And so there was an interview with Raphael Bob-Waksberg from BoJack Horseman. And I think it was actually like a sort of online Q&A. But they were asking about sort of how in comedy, it seems like characters are male unless they’re not otherwise male.

This is what he writes back. “The thinking comes from a place that the cleanest version of a joke has as few pieces as possible. For the dog joke, you have the thing where the tongue slobbers all over the business person. But if you also have a thing where both of them are ladies, it’s like this additional thing muddles up the joke. The audience thinks, why are those characters female? Is that part of the joke?

“The underlying assumption is that the default mode for any character is male. So to make the characters female, there’s an additional detail on top of that. In case I’m not being 100% clear, this thinking is stupid and wrong and self-perpetuating unless you actively work against it.”

That was the creator of BoJack Horseman talking about — in his case, it was like we have these two animated characters and the illustrator said, like, well, why aren’t they both women? And he’s, like, well, that feels weird. Aline, help us out here.

Aline: I don’t actually totally disagree with that in so far as I think that, you know, our job is to depict the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. That being said, we do a terrible job of depicting the world as it is, which is that women are more populous than men. I think that, you know, as he mentioned in a scene, you want to weed out extraneous elements. And, in fact, one of the signs of a rookie writer is having just too much stuff in there. They’re trying to set up too many things and say too many things.

If you have a female character in something which is anomalous, which is going to cause you and stop and think about it, it may bump your scene a little bit. But that would be in a case where it’s a female Sumo wrestler, something that we just don’t ever see women doing. I think there are a lot of instances where you can just have it be a female character and not have it interfere — create radio interference with a scene. I have been more of an advocate for taking stock characters that were male, and by making them female finding something more interesting or more dimensional in them because they’re not as expected.

But, you know, one thing I would say is that if you really want to populate your scripts with different kinds of people, you have to stipulate because if you don’t stipulate then people do make assumptions. For instance, in the pilot that Rachel and I did, there was a character who was Asian. We gave him an Asian last name and we stipulated that he was Asian and then that’s who the casting department — that’s what they have on the sheet of paper. And if you don’t stipulate, then the casting department doesn’t know who to look for.

I just think there are a lot of opportunities where, you know, if it’s a cop, if it’s a lawyer, if it’s a, you know, a passerby, you can just mention it unless it’s something that will actually do what he’s suggesting, which is detract from the logic or the flow of the scene. I think that’s actually less of a concern than people think. But I wouldn’t make a huge point of sticking in ladies where they’re wildly anomalous and you’re not doing it for any particular reason.

John: Craig, talk us through from the comedy perspective because this point of you’re looking for the cleanest possible joke, is that something you think about as you’re writing?

Craig: Well, sure. That’s where the expression a joke on a joke comes from. You don’t want a joke on a joke. So, you know, in Aline’s example, if you’re doing a bit where a Sumo wrestler is being — this is a terrible joke, but a Sumo wrestler is distracted from his opponent by a sandwich. If the Sumo wrestler is also a woman, which is anomalous, then you’re not sure where’s the absurdity in it, right? You only want one absurdity.

If there are multiple absurdities, then the world is absurd and the joke starts to fall apart. That said, I don’t really understand what he’s talking about here. I agree that we shouldn’t default to males but I don’t understand his point. Like, he seems to be saying that if a dog slobbered on a lady, we would be thinking, why is that character female. Is that part of the joke? No, we wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. I don’t get that.

I actually think — I mean, this is not humble-bragging. If this is a problem, I don’t have it. I’ve never defaulted to a male or a female for any particular character. And I don’t think that being a woman is an element of a joke unless, as Aline says, it’s anomalous. Similarly, I don’t think of men as an element in a joke unless it’s anomalous.

If I’m writing a scene in a kindergarten and the kindergarten teacher is a 70-year-old man, that’s anomalous. That’s an element, right? That’s a choice.

Aline: Let me interrupt for one second. So in, let’s just take Identity Thief because I’ve seen it a couple of times. Melissa is a woman. Amanda is a woman. One of the bad guys is a lady.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: And then a lot of the default characters like cops and — are there other, like — the hotel clerk, was that a man or a woman? Can’t remember.

John: And there were other business people as they’re sort of going into the corporation. So —

Aline: Like if I looked at your character breakdown for that script, do you think it comes out — what percentage do you think it comes out?

Craig: I’m not sure what the percentage is but I know that, for instance, in the hotel there was a male clerk and a female clerk. So in two different scenes, there was a character in — when they break into an office building, there’s a character that’s male but that’s a specific choice because I wanted that to be the mirror image, like basically another Jason Bateman. I wanted him to meet himself in another place. The office was very male. I wanted it to feel really male because I wanted it to feel very old-school and kind of repressive.

But yeah, one of the bad guys is a woman. She’s, yeah, seems like the most dangerous one of them. I just remembered that I made a very specific choice for Jason Bateman and Amanda Peet to have two daughters. I don’t think I defaulted at all. You know, when I’m writing a screenplay, I don’t know, maybe this is different in TV. I think gender is something that you have to be specific and really intentional about every single time.

Aline: Once in a while, you’ll say the hotdog vendor, you know, you’ll say the hotdog vendor, the cab driver, the policeman, and if you don’t stipulate that it’s a woman, casting will come to you with men.

John: And I want to go back to something you said earlier. If you don’t stipulate that a person is a certain — is not white —

Aline: Yes.

John: That person will be white. And that’s the thing I sort of found again and again as you sort of go through the casting. So I do that thing what you talk about where I will deliberately give a person, you know, a Chinese last name so that they will look at Chinese actors for that part, because if you don’t do that, the default just tends to become white. And that’s no slam on casting directors —

Aline: Well, we had a funny thing once where we put in — I put into the script any ethnicity and every person that they brought in was a person of color because —

John: Yeah. Maybe that’s good.

Aline: They assumed that any ethnicity meant I was looking for something that was — and I just wanted them to hire — I mean, you’d like to be in a circumstance where they’re just hiring whoever is the best person. But if it is important to you and it won’t distract from the scene, it’s not a bad idea to stipulate there’s two clerks at the hotel desk, one’s a man and one’s a woman. I mean, or just name them, just the act of naming, as you said. Just naming one of them Trish, just naming one of the cops Betty is — then people get it.

So you can do things which are — I think what he’s pointing to is you don’t want to — if you stipulate it strongly, then people wonder why you’re doing that.

John: Yeah. And so there’s always that fine line between do you give a character who’s only going to appear in one scene a name and if they’re only going to — if they’re going to have, like, one throw-away line, I often won’t give that person a name because then it signals to the reader this person’s really important and they’ll show up again. But a person who’s going to be, like, really helping to drive a scene, scripts are full of like Dr. Gutierrez because it makes that person a little bit more specific and, of course, the advantage to, you know, a name with some ethnic heritage to it is it can stick in your head a little bit longer so you can remember that person was — you remember that character. That character shows up 50 pages later, like, oh, yeah, there was a Gutierrez. That’s helpful.

Amine: Right. I mean, one of the reasons I thought of Identity Thief is because the bad guy — those two bad guys, and often, in a movie like that, it just would be two generic male thugs and there was this lady in there.

Craig: Well, yeah, there was a lady in there and she was Latina and there was also — for instance, the character that John Cho plays was not singled out to be Asian-American. So I didn’t single out race there. I do think that default race being white is a problem and that’s something that we do watch out for a lot. But what this guy’s talking about, a lot of, like, for instance, the issue of the hotdog vendor, the cop, the cab driver is an issue for writers to be careful about in television because oftentimes they’re the ones doing the casting.

In features, I don’t want to call out any specifics about the hotdog vendor or the cab driver because if I do, as John says, I’m putting story weight on it for the reader that I don’t want to put there. Sometimes you do want the most bland thing. You want the thing to say meter — you know, a parking enforcer. And then it is up to the producer and the director and the casting director to get out of this mindset of automatically white, automatically male.

You know, when Aline says any ethnicity, the truth is they see the word ethnicity and they go, well, white’s not ethnic. So what she means is anything that’s not white. All of this stuff, this kind of what you would call default thinking, I think is far more serious when it comes to race at least in features, at least for me. Like, I know. I’ll be honest. Like, I am affirmative in my mind about not defaulting to white, meaning I easily default to white.

And so I work to not default to white. But I don’t feel any gear-grinding to work to default to female. If anything these days, that’s kind of where I start with a lot of characters. I prefer it. But I definitely did not understand his example. I don’t understand how in his example the — maybe he just gave a bad example.

John: Well, I can understand his example especially coming from an animation point of view where you’re literally having to draw every person. So it’s not like you’re going through and casting. It’s, like, oh, let’s put out a wide net. How are you going to draw those two characters? I think in his specific example, it was that a strong wind was blowing the slobber from a dog onto a business person. And so I can see where in his example are we thinking that there’s a different context because it’s spit going onto a woman versus spit going onto a man?

There are always specifics to these situations. But I want us to go back down to the default male situation because there’s two anecdotes I heard this last week from other writers as this was being discussed. The first was from a writer who said that she literally — all she had changed for this one character was the character’s name from like a Bob to a Barbara. And the note she got back from the studio was like, oh, the character’s so much more complex now.

Aline: Yeah.

John: Like literally nothing had changed other than the character’s gender and name and suddenly every — all those same lines seemed so much different because we apply a complexity to that character in that role if it’s a woman.

Aline: And that’s what I was saying if you just go through and look at stuff, especially stuff that you’re feeling like is just functional and not interesting and you start thinking about other genders or races or just doing something that makes that character more interesting. But to be honest with you, I have trouble getting too exercised about this because we just need more female leads. We need more female big roles.

And, you know, with women and minorities, there’s a lot of cops and judges and DAs going on. And I wish that instead of — it’s a much bigger problem than the default thing, I wish that, you know, if you’re doing a buddy movie that you think of a woman and a man, you know, if you’re going to do Ride Along and you could do it with a woman just as easily, that’s the kind of thinking that’s, I think, ultimately going to be more impactful.

And that’s why somebody like Melissa McCarthy, she takes movies that could’ve been two men easily and you just put her right into it and you don’t miss a beat.

John: I think Tilda Swinton is the same situation.

Aline: Yeah.

John: Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton. And that’s a role that didn’t need to be a woman. There’s nothing — her gender doesn’t actually factor into any aspect of Michael Clayton. But her being a woman changes that role in sort of a strangely fundamental way in that you rarely see women making those kind of ethical, horrible moral judgments. And that’s what’s fascinating to watch.

Aline: Made it more interesting. I mean, once —

John: The same in Snowpiercer. I mean, she doesn’t have to be a woman in Snowpiercer and it’s great.

Aline: One just small thing. I sense a segue coming. But one small thing is that in Devil Wears Prada, the character that’s played by Stanley Tucci, it’s never said that he’s gay. We never make reference to it. It’s not in anything to do with the story. Stanley played the character a certain way. And it’s funny people assume that he is and it comes up frequently. And it wasn’t ever — it’s not in — it’s not written anywhere. And I don’t know that he is or isn’t.

John: Yeah. Yeah, that’s great. All right, I have questions for you guys because you both have strong opinions and —

Aline: [laughs] No!

John: And you’re willing to share your opinions and you’re also — you’re very confident in your opinions. And so I look to you for some confident opinions on a couple of ethical questions that have sort of come up for me.

Let me raise these. So as we’re recording this, this is the day the Oscar nominations came out. And one of my stipulations is that I will only vote in a category if I’ve seen all the nominees because that only seems fair. But is that really the right idea or am I sort of doing a disservice to all the nominees if I haven’t — if I don’t vote in a category I haven’t seen?

Aline: You voted to nominate having not seen every single movie in the category.

John: Absolutely true, because it’s impossible. It’s an infinite set essentially.

Aline: Okay.

John: But when it comes down to the actual Oscar voting or the WGA voting, I’m only going to vote in categories where I’ve seen all the possibilities. Craig Mazin, I come to you first. What is your feeling about that as an approach?

Craig: I mean, of course, you want to say, look, if you have to choose between five movies and you’re picking who the best director of those five movies are, you — naturally, it is ideal for you to have seen all five. But really, underlying all this is the silliness of the voting itself. You’re voting on five that other people have agreed you should vote on. All those people agreed that these are the five based on some movies they saw, not all.

Look, you know my whole feeling about the Oscars is that it should be more like AFI where it’s like it’s a celebration of the five best directed movies of the year. [laughs] I just don’t understand this pick one thing. But yeah, I mean, ideally, you would, sure. I mean, it seems weird to say well, I didn’t see — I saw one of them or two of them and I didn’t see the other three, but I like this one. I’m voting for that one. That’s a bummer to the people that did the other stuff, right?

John: It is. Aline, I want your opinion.

Aline: I mean, it’s definitely the ideal. You know, I usually have seen all the movies in my category basically. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s better to focus on ones where you feel like you’ve really surveyed the landscape. I think it’s an ideal — I think people do the best they can. And then I think, you know, sometimes people just feel really strongly about one movie and they feel like it’s the best movie they’ve seen among the movies they’ve seen and they’ll just vote for that one.

Craig: Yeah.

Aline: So —

John: All right. That’s actually a more ambiguous answer. I was expecting a sort of a strong firm one. So now, I want you to tell me if I’m a hypocrite or not a hypocrite based on this exception I’m willing to make. The Transformers movies. I don’t like the Transformers movies. I can’t watch a Transformers movie. They’re too loud. They’re too noisy. They’re too chaotic. I don’t care to watch a Transformers movie. And yet they’re always up for sound mixing or sound editing. And so am I a hypocrite if I vote in that category not having seen those? If I make an exception for Transformers movies, is that a hypocrite?

Craig: I would say yes. I get the you don’t have to watch the whole movie. You can watch a sequence. You’ll know which one is the one that the sound guys would hope you’d be listening to and just watch that sequence with an ear on the sound and ignore the other stuff because that’s the point of that category. You and I both know the sound guys, they’re — it’s done. They get the pictures locked. Someone wrote the script. They shot it, da, da, da, da, da, da. They’re just doing sound. So you can’t punish them for the content of the movie. You can only reward them or not reward them based on what you hear.

John: All right.

Aline: I mean, I feel bad for these guys because their work is being watched not the way it’s meant to be viewed. A lot of it is not being viewed in theaters anymore. So it’s not really what they do in those categories.

John: All right, so a more specific question that’s aimed at us, at screenwriters. So we have the nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay both for the Writers Guild and for the Academy Awards. But are you reading all the actual screenplays? Are you basing that vote on what you assumed the screenplay was underneath this movie you saw? Aline?

Aline: I don’t read the screenplays.

John: Craig?

Aline: But I probably should.

Craig: I mean, I’m not in the Academy. They’re never going to let me in. [laughs]

Aline: [laughs] You’re in the Writers Guild.

Craig: Yeah, that’s true. I don’t believe that you should be giving awards for documents. Our job is not to write a document. Our job is to write a movie. And so I watch the movie and I discern from that movie the narrative, the dialogue, the structure, the sequencing, all the characters’ characterizations, all the things that go in that we provide a movie. And I experience it through the movie. That’s our job.

John: All right. Next ethical question. There have been times when people, producers or studio executives have come to me with a project to work on or to adapt. And I’ve passed based on saying, like, I’m unavailable or, like, that just doesn’t really spark for me when the truth is I just know I will never work for that person. And so I’m unavailable. Is that an acceptable lie to tell in that situation? Aline Brosh McKenna?

Aline: Well, you know, Hollywood is really a triumph of Mandarin communication. You have to, like, get a dictionary when you start to figure out what people are actually saying to you. And my favorite story was I had written this script that the main character was in the IRS. And somebody passed on it and they said to me we already have an IRS movie in development. And I walked around repeating that as if that was really the reason they passed on it for like a good year until I was talking to someone else and they said oh, yeah, they were interested in my basketball script.

And then I realized — then they told me they had another basketball script in development. And it hit me like a bolt of lightning [laughs] that that was a lie.

John: That’s a thing you say.

Aline: Yeah. And so there are things that people in Hollywood say that are code for other things. And there’s a lot of screenwriting ones like “lot of good work here.” You know, there’s a lot of things that people say that are not exactly what they mean. And I think in terms of passing on things, you know, this is something that I have talked about with people which is I will often pass on things by saying I’m not going to be able to do a good job on this.

And that’s usually what I feel. You know, if I’m really excited about it, it’s palpable to me. And if it’s not, then I won’t do a good job on it. I don’t think you ever really need to tell people why you’re not taking on their project. It’s sort of like if you don’t want to go out with somebody, you don’t have to say I don’t like the way you look in pants. You can just decline.

Craig: I agree. I mean, this is just basic human stuff. We’re allowed to do it. You know, white lies have value. If you’re not going to be completely honest, then I think all bets are off. You’re never going to say to somebody, “Oh no, no, I wouldn’t do this because I don’t like you. I think that this is stupid. I think you’re stupid. It’s insulting that you would even think I’d want to do this.”

Well, that’s honest but you’re not going to say any of that so you might as well just, you know, go the extra mile and say, “Oh my god, I can’t. I’m so busy.” But, you know, like Aline, I’ll also say to people, particularly people that I have worked with before, people that I do like, then I will. If I don’t want to do something, I’ll just be super honest and say I just don’t get it. It’s probably me, you know.

And God knows that there’s a decent chance that three years from now I’ll be sitting at home kicking myself. And I really do feel that way. And I can’t do it because I just don’t feel it, you know. Everybody respects that.

John: So my last two questions are about friendship. This is a situation that happened to me and I suspect it’s happened to both of you as well. A friend is so excited because they just started working on a new project with this person, and a person who I know to be a terrible person or that I had a terrible back history with. Do I say what happened or do I just keep my mouth shut? And at what circumstances do you say something and what circumstances do you not say something?

Again, it feels like that relationship question. It’s like where, you know, if your friend is dating a monster, do you tell your friend that they’re dating a monster?

Craig: Well, the thing is, one man’s monster is another man’s savior. I have been in this situation on both sides. And I remember I was doing something with someone. And somebody that I like a lot and respect and whose opinion I value said that person is the worst. On a scale of one to ten, they’re an eleven of terribleness.

And I got along great with the person. Great. And it went fine which just goes to show you some puzzle pieces fit together and some don’t. So with that in mind, unless I know that somebody is criminal, they cheat, they steal, they are abusive, you know, stuff that’s really dangerous that I think they need to know, I’ll tell that. But if it’s just I really did not like them, I didn’t like their taste, I didn’t like their work process, I didn’t like their face, whatever it is, I just keep that to myself because they might love them.

Aline: I’ve had something which was strange, which was somebody really heartily recommending someone to me and saying this person is my muse and my angel and everything they say is a pearl of wisdom. And I just had a terrible time understanding what they were saying, getting anything on the boards. And so it’s so personal. Again, I hate to be the chick who keeps bringing up dating stuff but it’s also like that. Like you can have chemistry with someone.

And I think we all have people that we like that other people don’t as much or people that everyone else likes but us. It’s human nature. I mean, in terms of telling someone, I think you can always say, “I had this experience. You may not have this but I just…” It depends on how close they are to you. If it’s a super close friend, I would say, “Listen, just have your eyes open. This is where I think their defect is. And so if you see this red flag come up, there might be more of that where you think there might be more.”

John: In the real life cases where this has come up, I’ve tried to frame it — the conversation saying — in both cases, I think I did say, like, there was a problem. This is what the actual experience was. This is where I think I probably was at fault. Let me explain sort of what the whole scenario was and why this person was under pressure.

And I sometimes describe it as like this is a storm we all endure together. That said, I will never ever work with that person again. And it segues back to the earlier question of why are you passing on this because you’re unavailable. It’s, like, because I had just an absolutely horrible time with that person and I will not forget that.

All right. My final ethical question is at what point is it okay to say in a conversation to refer to somebody as your friend when you’re not sure that the other person would refer to you as a friend? And so there’ve been cases where I’ve heard myself saying, like, oh, yeah, he’s a friend. And then I’ve said that in a way to sort of try to be inclusive, to sort of explain like how I know this person, blah, blah, blah.

And then I realize, oh, wait, would that person actually refer to me as a friend? And it often comes with relative levels of fame. So if I refer to somebody who’s like much more famous than me as a friend, am I being a douchebag? It’s a weird situation. And we all know really famous people so it’s —

Aline: Well, that’s so interesting. You know, there are a lot of writers that I know so slightly. Like I was on half a panel with them or I, you know, met them in some really oblique way and I will refer to them as my friend. I had this with Chris Morgan who I’ve met once. And Chris Morgan — I’m always like, oh, we’re friends, we’re friends. He comes up and I’m like, we’re friends. [laughs]

And now it’s like a thing when I see him. I’m like, hey friend. And that’s so interesting because with actors, I think, I would probably have to have, like, had a solo social engagement with them before I would say that’s one of my friends. That’s kind of interesting. I think maybe I just consider writers default —

John: Yeah we’re all —

Aline: Friends.

John: In the same boat.

Aline: But same with moms, like moms at my school. I might say that I’m friends with her even though we just sort of like stood next to each other in the classroom for two seconds.

John: Craig, what do you think?

Aline: I think I’m rather whorish with this. I think I’m rather slutty and —

John: You’re a promiscuous friendster?

Aline: I am a promiscuous user of the word friend.

John: Craig, where are you at with this?

Craig: I’m the other way. I’m a little stingy you with the word. I’ll say if somebody asks me about somebody I’ll say, oh yes, I know them. You know, we’ve hung out. I might say I know them. But to me, when you say someone’s a friend, you are implying that you have a relationship with them. They’re a part of your life. You’re a part of theirs.

I mean, look, I spent months and months with Bradley Cooper in multiple countries. And I can email him and if I see him we will talk. He’s not my friend. I know that. I’m not his friend. I know that. So I would never say, oh yeah, Bradley’s a friend.

Aline: What about Chris Morgan?

Craig: Well, Chris Morgan is my friend [laughs] because I —

John: Chris Morgan’s a friend to the world.

Aline: Not a good test.

Craig: No. Yeah, because Chris Morgan lives in my town and I know him, his wife, his kids, and we hang out. But I feel like if I were to say, oh Bradley Cooper’s a friend, I am being a douchebag. I’m boasting. It’s boasty. Even when I am actually friends with somebody — like, I’m actually friends with Amanda Peet or Jason Bateman, I’ll say oh yes, you know, we’re actually — we’re close. Our families are close or something like that.

Because to me, if I’m really like friends with you, then you know my wife. You probably have met my kids. Anyway, it’s that kind of thing. So I do think it’s a little douchewaddy. If I’m familiar with somebody, if I know somebody, I’ll just say oh, yeah, I know them, you know, we’ve spent time together. I’ll say something like that.

John: It is interesting with actors because like Ryan Reynolds is genuinely a friend. I’ve been to both of his weddings. He was at my wedding. So that kind of stuff is really there. But there’ve been other actors who I’ve just helped out on a thing or they’ve been in a workshop and so I know them.

Like Hugh Jackman I know really well. I know his wife. But like I’ve never been to their apartment and we’ve never hung out. Same with Will Smith. Like you’ve hung out, you’ve dealt with Will Smith. And so I like him. I mean, he’s an acquaintance. I think he would probably recognize me but he has no idea about my life.

Maybe the test is that he would never — like, Will Smith is never going to text and say like, “hey, what’s up? How’s your day going?” And a friend maybe would more likely do that.

Craig: Yeah. You know, in a weird way, if you play Words with Friends with someone, they’re your friend. [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Aline: Well, it’s funny. I just saw somebody that I play this game, Wordbase, which I’m obsessed with. And I just saw this woman who’s a friend of mine and she said — we were catching up with some other people and she said, oh, I don’t need to talk to you, I see you all the time, which is not true. We just play Wordbase every day. [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Aline: So it seems like we see each other every day. So it’s slightly another one of those Hollywood Mandarin things about who you say is your friend. And actually, as you’re talking, I think that when actors come up that I know, I think I say something like we’re pals or something. I think I use another word. [laughs]

John: [laughs]

Aline: Just to — that captures like we’ve spent time together and they probably know me by sight and —

John: Yeah. I was in a conversation where there’s a director who I haven’t made a movie with him but we worked together on a project. And so he was on the list. And it’s, like, oh, yeah, I really like him. And I didn’t say friend because, like, that would be completely inaccurate. Like, I’m not sure — I have his correct email address now, but I know that if we were in the same room together, we’d get along great.

And so there is that weird middle ground with people you know but they’re not — I mean, they’re acquaintances but it’s a different thing.

Craig: Even somebody that I’m legitimately friends with, if I think it’s going to make me sound douchey — like I’m really friends with Melissa McCarthy and I feel douchey about it. If somebody says, oh, you know, what’s Melissa McCarthy like? Oh, well yeah, she — we’re friends. I’m sort of saying, look what she — she’s my — she likes me. I don’t, like — so what I’ll always say is I love her. I wish I put the arrow the other way, you know. I just like, I love her, she’s the greatest.

Aline: I’m going to use this opportunity to point out that you guys have both name-dropped a bunch of actors that you’re friends with.

Craig: Well, we have to, that’s the topic.

John: That is the topic. What actors are you friends with? Oh, Rachel Bloom.

Aline: Yeah, well, you know, I’m going to be discreet.

John: All right.

Craig: I will tell you that I know that’s, you know, I love these guys. But Zach Galifianakis would never call me his friend. Ed Helms isn’t going to call me his friend. Now, Mr. Chow, yes. But, Bradley — it would be so cool if I could walk around be like, “Well, yeah, Bradley Cooper is my friend. We’re friends.” But we’re not. I love the dude, he’s awesome. But I know that he doesn’t think about me ever. [laughs]

Aline: But it’s partly the actor thing because it really — I’ve done roundtables with writers. And then, you know, after that, I consider them friends of mine.

John: Yeah, you aloud a script together and you pitch jokes. That’s really —

Aline: Yeah, and we have professional camaraderie. So I think I am very loose about it with definitely with writers because I consider them all sort of my friends.

Craig: You are looser than I am because —

Aline: Hooray.

Craig: For instance, I’ve spent time with Simon Kinberg. I love it when we bump into each other at something. But we’re not friends because, you know, he doesn’t call me, I don’t call him. I’ve never been to his house, he’s never been to mine. So it’s weird to say that you’re not friends with somebody because it sounds like you’re in a fight with them. I mean, I think the guy’s awesome.

It would be fun to be his friend. But I know I’m not, it’s not enough for me. I have to, like, actually have a relationship with somebody. What is the value? Why are we talking about this? [laughs]

John: [laughs] Well, if you want to know more about Simon Kinberg, you can go back to the episode in the premium feed where I talked to Simon Kinberg for an hour about writing and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Aline: This is just going to be a long podcast where we go through everyone we know and say friend/not friend, friend/not friend.

John: Weirdly, Simon Kinberg like runs the gamut for us because like sort of not friend to Craig Mazin. Not enemy but not friend. I’ve been to both of his houses, his house in LA and house in New York because our kids were in preschool together. But you are genuinely friends because you’ve like written movies with him.

Aline: Yeah, he’s one of my besties.

John: It’s the range of Simon Kinberg. Let us segue to our third topic for today which is — we started talking about Whiplash and sort of that dynamic of teachers and students which I think is so compelling.

I think maybe for writers, especially because, I think, I know I had writing teachers who were — they didn’t throw symbols at me but they were difficult and demanding and that became part of the process of doing stuff. And Aline Brosh McKenna wrote The Devil Wears Prada which has in some ways a similar dynamic of this person who’s such a perfectionist who’s driving the ship. And you’re trying to please her and there may not be any pleasing to her. So, you saw Whiplash. Did you feel that connection to your movie in seeing in it?

Aline: I did feel some of that but only in so far as I think that Whiplash is basically a horror movie. And I think The Devil Wears Prada is also a horror movie. They’re monster movies. And so, you know, he’s playing a much more — that character is a much more overt monstrous character.

I think that also Prada is a Faust story. So in Prada, she gets pulled towards the monster and becomes a little bit the monster. And that’s not really the case in Whiplash. He doesn’t really start to compromise his values towards — he keeps trying to live up to this guy and then he repudiates him.

So, yeah.

John: But I would argue whether he does fully repudiate him. Because I think what’s actually fascinating about the movie of Whiplash is that he is like the Andy character in Devil Wears Prada is like attracted moth-like to this bright burning flame even though that he keeps getting burned by this bright burning flame.

But there’s a vindictiveness to the teacher character in Whiplash that does not exist in your story. I remember having a conversation with you about The Devil Wears Prada where you were so insistent on trying to find who is the human being underneath the Miranda character. And why was she doing what she was doing? What is the beauty underneath there? And I guess Whiplash does that to some degree as well. But it ultimately leaves the question ambiguous. It’s sort of like why is this person doing this.

Aline: Well, I think one of the fantasies that in mentor-protégé movies, one of the fantasies is that this person is ever going to notice you. And I think in Prada we made a big point of the fact that even after that, you know, through that whole movie, I don’t even think she is totally registering who this other person is completely. She doesn’t really remember her name.

And then, so that scene towards the end where she actually — you see, that she has thought about her. She has noticed that they have similarities. And at the very, very end when she smiles after seeing her, I think what’s enjoyable about that is thinking that this person who is so, so outranks you is noticing you at all.

And I think Whiplash has a great moment — spoiler alert — Whiplash has a great moment where you come to understand that he doesn’t really know — the Miles Teller character doesn’t really know whether J.K. Simmons has really registered his existence. And at the very end of the movie you’ve come to realize that he’s really been thinking about this kid.

And I think that’s what’s part of the perverse pleasure of it is being around this monster who so outranks you. They’re not paying you any attention. And then all of the sudden they focus their gaze on you. I think there’s something. And it has to do with the parents, I think. It has to do with this sort of allure and fear of a small child in front of its parents.

The movie that we really — I did not think about all weirdly when I was writing. But then of course realized very much afterwards was very similar to ours was Wall Street.

John: Oh yeah. Well, let’s talk about movies that sort of fall into this general category. And we could talk about movies that have good teachers and movies that have bad teachers or sort of bad mentors. And so some of the ones we’ve listed as we were making up this list before we started — good teachers: To Sir, with Love, Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Mr. Holland’s Opus, School of Rock, The Miracle Worker. In each of these cases, you have a teacher who recognizes there’s something special about this kid.

Aline: Dead Poets.

John: Dead Poets Society. Oh my god, a great one. There’s something special about this kid. I will single out this kid and make sure that the sun shines on this kid. And I may push the kid but I am pushing the kid to a place of safety. And oftentimes, the good teacher is sort of working in opposition to a bad parent. And essentially like things aren’t perfect at home but I’m the person who’s going to elevate you and be that father figure.

Aline: Right. And Whiplash has the opposite.

John: Yes.

Craig: I actually think that one of the hallmarks of the good teacher movies is that they don’t zero in on any single kid, but they actually zero in on a bunch of kids. The formula is I’ve got a bunch of kids, none of whom are reaching their potential, each for different reasons. And I’m going to figure out why and inspire all of them. School of Rock, Dead Poets Society, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Dangerous Minds, Stand and Deliver, they’re not elitist teachers. They’re actually egalitarian teachers. It’s the bad mentors, I think, that are very elitist and zero in on one person because they see something in them and then attempt to essentially make them blossom by trying to destroy them.

John: Another thing I noticed about the teacher movies, the good teacher movies we singled out here, good meaning like the teacher is good, not that the movies are good because these are all really great movies, is in most of these cases the teacher is the outsider who’s come in to a situation. So it’s an outside teacher who’s come in to a classroom and therefore transformed the classroom and brought to it.

But as we look at these bad mentors, these bad teachers, it’s usually the opposite. Let’s list some of these movies: Amadeus, Black Swan, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Wall Street, The Devil’s Advocate, Whiplash, Devil Wears Prada. In these situations, the mentor was already in that world and we’re looking at a new person who’s come in to this situation and is — come in optimistic, hopefully, and with dreams and visions, and this teacher character is crushing those dreams.

Aline: God I love Amadeus because the agony of realizing that this guy, this flibbertigibbet is more talented that he is, that he’s witnessing this incredible talent. And that the child is not worthy — the kid is not worthy. It’s so great. It’s such a good one.

John: So you referenced Faust, so talk us through the Faust of it all. So what was the dynamic in there that you saw with Devil Wears Prada?

Aline: Yeah, I mean we don’t have her. She doesn’t ever instruct her for the point of instructing her. When she tells her, the speech about the blue sweater, she’s insulting her. She’s saying, you’re stupid. She’s not doing it to edify her. She just wants her to stop saying stupid things in her presence.

And then, you know, she’s putting up with a lot of stuff. Anne’s character is putting up with a lot of stuff. Until the end when she realizes that she’s becoming this person that she thinks is not a good person; that she did something to her friend which is similar to what Miranda does to her friend. And it’s the mirroring. It’s the scene where she says, I see myself in you that causes her to quit.

And it was interesting because in the book it was much more a repudiation. It was much more of like you’re terrible and I’m going away from the terrible thing. And what we wanted to do was more of a story about somebody who says I see the kernel of this callous disregard for others. I see it in myself and I don’t wish to nurture it. I want to turn my back on it. And that’s why she throws the phone in the fountain. So we we’re hoping for something a little bit more nuanced. Whereas in a monster movie, you just need to kill the monster.

John: The Beauty and the Beast is sort of the example of like you need to find the wonderful character underneath the monstrous feature. Or King Kong is sort of you’re coming to love the thing underneath the monstrous facade. But in the case of Whiplash, the case of I’d say Black Swan as well, like there’s not a good thing underneath there.

Aline: Right. I mean, one of the things about writing these movies is that they’re really a swampland of clichés. They’re really difficult. They’re very tried and true. And so I think we really appreciate movies that have a spin on them. And I thought Whiplash was sort of transfixing from the very beginning because the drive of the junior character was so powerful. And what he was up against with was so intense.

So I really have to hand it to him for making that really, you know, refreshing that. Because I think it is a tough genre. Sometimes when you — particularly the good teacher. Sometimes when you see the good teacher come in you feel like you can map out the beats of that, don’t you?

John: Hm-mmm, absolutely.

Craig: The thing about Whiplash that I think sets it apart is that it had — that Damien Chazelle clearly made a decision to not have the devil be the devil. It’s no coincidence that two of our bad mentor movies have the word Devil in the title. And in Platoon, you can see clearly that Tom Berenger is the devil. And in Wall Street, you feel that Michael Douglas is the devil. And in Black Swan, the devil seems like — the devil’s emerging, and so on and so forth.

In Whiplash, what he chose to do is say, look, I’m going to actually have you — I’m going to make you hate him and also agree with him. And then I’m going to force this question on you which is is it worth it? Is it worth this toxic relationship if you get better at a thing? And particularly better at an art. And then underneath that is is great art worth the suffering that goes into it, is the suffering necessary? Could this have happened without this relationship? Was this man doing this in order to inspire greatness or was he doing it simply because he’s a sadist who’s out of control and he happens to inspire greatness?

All these wonderful questions are there for you to decide for yourself. But I think what sets Whiplash apart at least in terms of its characterization is that it did not answer the question in any way.

John: And what’s also I think smart about I think both Whiplash and Devil Wears Prada is it puts those thematic ideas in the mouths of the characters who were best able to speak them. So in the case of Whiplash, you know, the Miles Teller character asking where is that line? Like, where do you go — you know, when do you push somebody so far that they actually run away from the thing that they’re great at? In the case of Devil Wears Prada, you were able to have Meryl Streep’s character really express what it was that she was trying to do and then really be able to speak those things.

And so often, you get very nervous about sort of putting thematic lines in a character’s mouth but you sort of have to. It’s that elegant way of sort of stating it without making it clear that you are really stating it. Or getting to that sort of emotional punch line so that you’re ready to hear it. It’s like, oh, yeah, I get that. And everything else frames around that question.

Craig: I think that that’s one of the great things about this genre is that you can have characters pose those thematic positions because they don’t necessarily resolve easily. It’s easy for the character Fletcher in Whiplash to say, listen, Jones throws the symbol at Parker’s head. Parker becomes The Bird, right? He becomes Bird. Sorry, not The Bird, Bird. The Bird was Mark Fidrych, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers as you both know.

So there’s this kind of thing that then is unspoken. It’s for the audience to then ask. Okay, he stated a theme that is an argument. But did he need the symbol thrown at him or would he have been great anyway? And also, hey, Charlie Parker died young of an addiction. He was tormented. And so the movie casually introduces in an interesting way and then kind of twists the details of it. Another suicide, right? The movie is reminding you of this.

So these characters make these statements. But we understand that the movie is saying don’t necessarily buy this. You know, question even what this character is saying because this character is not giving you the truth. They’re only giving you their truth.

John: Another thing I’ve noticed about these bad mentor movies is we think of them as being two-handers. I think in my recollection, I think of Devil Wears Prada as being Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. But of course it’s really not just those two characters. You have to have ancillary characters out there who can provide other viewpoints. And so it’s not just the same fight over and over again.

So in the case of Devil Wears Prada, you have Emily Blunt’s character who’s a version of what Anne Hathaway could become. You have Stanley Tucci’s character who is sort of the fairy godmother, sort of showing you like, helping you make that transition.

In the case of Whiplash, you have Paul Reiser’s character who’s asking those questions like this isn’t worth it. I’m here to protect you, let me protect you. And it was interesting reading through the actual screenplay for Whiplash. There was a lot more there and a lot of that got cut out. I think they recognized in the edit that it’s, you know, ultimately they want it to be more than two-hander. So there was a lot more that Paul Reiser’s character was trying to be the voice of, you know —

Aline: Man, I love that scene where he goes home and — are those his cousins?

John: Yes.

Aline: Yeah.

John: The scene with the cousins. And to be able to make your lead character really kind of a dick and not even kind of a dick, saying truly dickish things. But it really got you into his perspective on things.

Aline: But it’s smart because it also shows how the monster is kind of rubbing off on him and how this pursuit of greatness that is sort of a religion, how it’s distorting his interactions with everyone.

John: Yeah. And, you know, Amadeus has that aspect as well where the desire to prove yourself, to achieve something is what ultimately pushes Salieri to these points. It’s that weird case where Salieri is the protagonist/villain sort of your story. I love those things where you feel like there are just those two people but there’s actually a whole world around them.

And I think it’s also interesting that in each of these cases with these bad mentors, they’re very specific, unusual worlds. If you look at Amadeus, like we know nothing about classical music, but we’re being taught this whole world.

In Wall Street, we’re being taught the world of Wall Street. We’re being taught the world of fashion in The Devil Wears Prada. I don’t care at all about jazz or drumming, and yet I was introduced to this world and found it fascinating and believable within Whiplash.

Craig: Also, I would say that the movie would not have worked if nothing had changed other than the instrument. There is something about drumming that we understand to be physical and inscrutable. We don’t know why reaching a certain tempo is so important.

And by the way, I have to say, a lot of the technicals of the movie about jazz, for instance, like the bleeding hands and the tempo and the speed isn’t really true. I mean, it’s not true to life. If your hands are bleeding and you’re holding your sticks wrong, and speed is not the be-all-end-all.

But even the pieces they’re playing aren’t really what you would call like the kind of true crucible pieces for advanced jazz musicians. But if it’s a trumpet, we’re going to listen to it and go, “That sounds pretty good. Right?” Or, okay, I mean either it’s you can play the trumpet or can’t play the trumpet. We can kind of hear that.

But in drumming, there is this like weird spiritual magic to it. It’s the only instrument in the band where you can sweat and bleed on your kit. And it’s physical, and it moves at a speed that seems impossible. I’ve got to give Damon Chazelle an enormous amount of credit for shooting Miles Teller playing that kit and making me believe he was playing that kit. I mean, obviously he was playing it to some extent but not all of it.

Aline: I just also want to talk about two things which are not really on this topic. But one thing I — because I’ve been watching so many movies recently, there’s two things that I know we’ve talked a lot about on the show. I really noticed that your movie’s just got to be about something. It has just got to be about something. And one of the reasons Whiplash is so successful is because it’s just — it’s about that idea of what will you sacrifice to be successful. You know, how much will you bleed, what’s it worth, where you’re going with it. You know, what’s the ultimate for that. It’s just about one thing.

And then the other thing is the thing Lindsay Doran talks about a lot which is what is the relationship here? And it doesn’t mean that that relationship needs to be in every scene or all scenes but, what is the relationship outcome that I’m rooting for?

And I find that when movies don’t work for me, it’s one of those two things. It’s like who did I care about? What relationship did I care about? And also, why did I watch this? More than anything, I think I’m willing to forgive so much narrative shagginess, but if I don’t know what the movie’s about and if the filmmaker doesn’t know what the movie’s about —

John: You feel it.

Aline: And it devolves into what I call a “stuff happens.”

John: Hm-mmm.

Aline: We’re trying to keep it G, a “stuff happens movie”. And I think that the movies that have really been — we have an enormously good crop of movies this year, and I think if you go through them, you could pretty easily, even a non-pro, could tell you pretty easily what they were grappling with thematically.

I think Imitation Game is a really good example of that. It’s really about do we need outsiders, what’s the value of an outsider, how it’s difficult to be an outsider, who’s an outsider, and what their value is, and how we treat them. I think all the movies that have really worked are about something clean thematically, and I know we’ve talked about that so much on the show but, can’t be stressed enough. Know why you’re telling this story.

John: Great. All right, it is time for our One Cool Things.

Craig: You know what, John, I don’t have a One Cool Thing, as always. So, Aline, you’re taking my One Cool Thing.

John: So my One Cool Thing is a thing called Scannable by Evernote. And it’s so, so slick. And so Aline is here in person so I can actually show it to her on my phone. But what you do is if you have a document that you want to scan, so like it could be a receipt, it could be something you hand-wrote, it could be a letter. You just open the app, you aim the camera on your phone at it, and it scans it, it senses that it’s a page of paper, and it scans it and saves it to Evernote, or you can send it to somebody.

So, so often, I’ve had like just something I just don’t want to lose, and so it’s like written down on a piece of paper. I can just aim this app and record it and save it to my Evernote. It’s a really sick, smart system.

Aline: I don’t use Evernote.

John: You can also save it, send it in an email, you can send it —

Aline: So it turns it into type?

John: No. It turns it into a picture, essentially.

Aline: Oh, okay, okay. Because I have this thing that scans documents and turns them into what looks like pieces of paper.

John: Yeah. So this is just a slick version of that.

Aline: Okay.

John: I’m going to show this to you right now. So we’re actually just going to scan a page of Whiplash. So I’m holding this up here.

Aline: All right, okay.

John: And it’s going to see —

Aline: Oh, so it’s like a credit card thing, where it’s looking to see —

John: Yeah. It’s looking for a piece of paper.

Aline: Right. Oh, there we go. Wow! Whoa! That’s much better than the thing I have. That’s amazing.

John: So the tagline for this is, “That’s much better than the thing I have,” by Aline Brosh McKenna. So it’s really slick, and so because I hand-write first drafts, usually what I’m doing is if I’m away some place, I write on paper and I do a scribbled pass first which is unreadable by anybody but me, then I write a cleaner version which Stuart types up.

And so that clean version, I’ve been taking photos on my iPhone and then sharing them with Stuart just by sending him the email that — this is much slicker. It will go right into —

Aline: Will we eventually have something that will take that document and put it in a screenplay format?

John: Probably. Yeah. It definitely — if it was a typed document, it could easily scan that. That’s really simple. My handwriting will never be perfectly scannable.

Aline: Right. Some day.

John: Some day. What are your two One Cool Things?

Aline: I have two Cool Things. I’ll do them really quickly. Are you watching The Comeback? Did you watch Season 2 of The Comeback?

John: And so I have two episodes left of The Comeback. So I did not love the start of it, and then it got so good.

Aline: My mind was blown. I agree the season took a little while to get rolling. And then once it gets rolling, it blows my mind. And I’m actually in that situation where I’m jealous of you because you haven’t seen those last two. The last episode is one of the best episodes of anything I’ve ever seen.

And someone was just telling me yesterday that they had read something about how Valerie Cherish is one of the most nuanced characters of the last ten years and I love that season so much, the end of that season particularly, so much, I went back and watched Season 1.

John: Wow.

Aline: And it is so prescient. That show blows my mind. So if you still have not seen it, I would recommend starting with Season 1. But if you watched Season 1 and you don’t quite remember it, finish Season 2 and go back to Season 1. It is sublime.

John: Yeah. Honestly, I was stalling because I did not love the first couple of episodes of this new batch. They were setting stuff up, but I also feel like they could have maybe made some cuts. But then suddenly it got to this moment where she finally just like unleashes on this one producer and like just really speaks to this thing like, you are awful, terrible people and, you know, you can’t keep doing this to me.

And it was just such an amazing monologue that was great. Because so often that show is sort of making fun of her and she’s sort of half-aware of the joke and she’s sort of not half-aware of the joke. But when she finally just like opens out, it was just great.

Aline: Part of what makes her so nuanced to me is that line where you’re not quite sure how much she understands. But the other thing is, it’s kind of one of the very few things, if not the only thing I’ve ever seen about Hollywood that is dead-on accurate. It’s how it’s done.

And when I went back and watched Season 1, it’s like obviously Lisa and Dan worked inside that world and they have it dead to right. I mean, it is just everything from the table read to the — it really sent chills as how accurate it is.

John: I love the script supervisor in the show is Winnie Holzman, the writer of Wicked.

Aline: Is that right?

John: She’s the script supervisor. And it’s like that can’t be. That’s Winnie Holzman!

Aline: It’s beyond. And then the other thing, my friend, just an exciting day today because Jason Hall, who got nominated for Best Adapted for American Sniper today, is an old, old friend of mine and an old friend of John Gatins. Actually, much closer, very close friend of John Gatins. And we picketed together in 2007. He was on our picket team and he was just kind of, he had been an actor and his writing career was just starting to take off then. He was making his first movie.

He was just about to get married. Now he has a bunch of kids and he’s got this Oscar nomination and he’s really one of just the good guys of the Guild. He’s just a really smart, really cool, really funny, really interesting guy. And the story of how he got this movie made and what he went through in terms of getting to know Chris and getting to know Chris’s family is riveting.

And so, he has spoken about it in a couple of places. He wrote an article about it for Written By. But just so happy for Jason Hall. It’s one of those things where I feel like it’s a big win for us all in a funny way. And you know what? Great, great noms this year. I thought everyone was great. He’s just an old buddy of mine and I’m very happy for him.

John: That’s awesome. So we’ll have a link to some articles about Jason Hall’s story getting into American Sniper and links to all things we talked about on the show notes today. So you can find the show notes at johnaugust.com/scriptnotes.

If you have a question for Craig Mazin, you can tweet at him, he’s @clmazin. I am at @johnaugust. Longer questions, go to ask@johnaugust.com, that’s the place to send them. Aline is not on Twitter so you can find her on Instagram?

Aline: No.

John: No. Don’t even look for her on Instagram.

Aline: Nope. You can find me by going to Craig or John’s Twitter and asking them a question.

John: And we will hand-write it down and send it over on a passenger pigeon to Aline Brosh McKenna.

Aline: I’m thinking of going retweet only. Thoughts?

John: Oh, that would be fun. Yeah, that’s nice.

Aline: Do people do that?

John: Yeah. You can do that.

Aline: Are there people whose Twitter feed is just retweets?

John: Yeah. There are.

Aline: Is it irritating?

John: No. It’s actually just fine.

Aline: Yeah.

John: You can do it. Where you’re just endorsing something —

Aline: Yeah. Or like, something that really strikes me as funny.

John: So you actually probably read Twitter but you don’t actually have an account. Is that correct?

Aline: Yeah. Exactly. I read Twitter but I don’t ever tweet but occasionally you find something on there that’s such a gem that you want to retweet it.

John: My friend Ryan Reynolds, I can just say his name 15 times this episode, he’s finally on Twitter. So there have been all these fake Ryan Reynolds accounts. So he finally got on Twitter because he was sort of forced to. At a certain point they just like come to your door and say, “You are now on Twitter.”

And so I was trying to give him advice about sort of how to do it and I basically said do the least possible because basically anytime you say anything as a celebrity on Twitter, it just gets blown up beyond all proportion. You just have to lock that down.

Aline: It’s sort of the same rule as email, and then some, which is if you’re thinking, “Uh, should I?”

John: The answer’s no. Yeah. It’s always no. If you are on iTunes and you’re listening to this in iTunes or you happen to stumble by iTunes, please look for us on iTunes — Scriptnotes — just search for us, and leave us a rating because that helps other people to find the show.

While you’re on iTunes, you can download the Scriptnotes app, which is a way to get to all the back episodes in the premium feed. It’s $1.99 a month if you want to get to all the back episodes and bonus episodes, including our friend, Simon Kinberg.

The show is produced by Stuart Friedel. It is edited by Matthew Chilelli, who often does our outros. I’m not sure who the outro is this week but it’s going to be great. If you have an outro that you would like to put at the end of our show, you can write in to ask@johnaugust and just give us the link to where we can find that outro.

Craig, Aline, thank you so much for being on the show.

Craig: Thanks.

John: And Craig, bye, good luck with all.

Craig: Thank you.

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