“Wired” to Fail: Info Overload

Last night while lying in bed, I had an anxiety attack. My mind went into overdrive, running through a checklist of things I had to do this week. I stopped it by repeating a mental mantra: One thing at a time. That one thing was to shut down my brain and get some sleep.

It worked, sort of. In the morning, I made my to-do list, which really was a rewriting of last week’s to-do list. But this time I stuck to the “one thing” mantra and began finishing off small tasks I had put off. Do the easy stuff first, and the more involved projects won’t seem so daunting later, I figured.

One of the easier tasks is providing links to useful info for our http://www.CareerChangers.TV site visitors, who are looking for jobs or starting their own business ventures… or perhaps you’re a writer too, trying to break into the entertainment biz like me. Well, I’ve got some interesting articles for you!

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or want to be in entertainment, you should make a point of subscribing to Wired magazine. Many times I’ve clipped Wired articles that seemed like sci-fi or movie thriller material — and sure enough, those stories were bought by Hollywood companies or turned into best-sellers.

More importantly, Wired is on the cutting edge of high tech trends and news. It makes you think about the future and could give you ideas for improving your business. It can also inspire you to be more creative.

The January cover story is “FAIL: SCREWUPS, DISASTERS, MISFIRES, FLOPS… Why LOSING BIG can be a WINNING STRATEGY.” There’s a bunch of pieces related to that topic.

Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s what THIS blog is all about! And I started it before I had any inkling Wired would be doing a feature on failure. But that’s been the story of my life as a screenwriter. Many of my “weird-concept” scripts were based on developing trends I anticipated from my readings and social observations. However, Hollywood likes to stick with tried and true formulas or copy successful hits. In some ways, my screenplays and TV series ideas were ahead of their time…

For instance, back in 1994 I pitched an idea for a TV show called REHAB, about fictional counselors — who were recovering addicts themselves — working in a Hawaii treatment center that dealt with all types of addictions and compulsions. Studios and producers rejected it, saying they didn’t think there was a market for a drama/comedy about such a dark subject. Too much of a “downer” I was told by an insider.

However, one company later asked if I could turn it into a reality TV series. I said it would be tough because a key component of most recovery programs is anonymity. What legitimate treatment center would put real patients on TV?

I failed to consider just who would be willing to air their darkest, saddest secrets and stories of addiction: destitute people who might be offered free help in exchange for their cooperation… and publicity-seeking celebs!

A&E was the first cable channel to strike ratings gold with “Intervention.” That series focuses on addicts’ substance abuse problems, which leads to them getting into treatment at the very end of the show (or not as is sometimes the case) after the climactic intervention scene.

It wasn’t that much like my REHAB concept, so I kept pitching my idea as a fictional TV series — which coincidentally had a cast of characters that was very similar to GREY’S ANATOMY, a series that came out after my REHAB proposal was shopped around to the studios.

Other reality shows about addictions appeared on MTV and HBO, and I started seeing more TV series that featured recovering alkys and addicts in their story lines. But my jaw dropped when I first heard about Dr. Drew’s CELEBRITY REHAB series!

That was the one angle I completely missed. Even though I had outlined episodes in my series proposal that were “ripped from the headlines” about celebs winding up in rehab for various misdeeds, it didn’t occur to me that washed-up actors and D-list celebs would want to air their dirty laundry on prime time.

Of course, the show has become a huge hit for VH1, and Dr. Drew has now spun off a CELEBRITY SEX REHAB series from it, as well as follow-up reunion specials. Unfortunately, I don’t think the series does a very good job of portraying what actual recovery and treatment is really all about… and that was the original goal of my failed TV series idea.

Oh, sheesh — this post was supposed to be about the Wired mag “FAIL!” issue and another interesting article I came across related to writing…

Here’s a somewhat depressing Wall Street Journal story about how it’s gotten nearly impossible for aspiring writers to be discovered through “slush piles.”

The Death of the Slush Pile

Even in the Web era, getting in the door is tougher than ever

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