Work

One Week To Book Release / Debt Ceiling Debacle

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This is my book. It comes out August 2nd.
It is a nonpartisan look at politics in the U.S.A. – hence the title.
In fact, it’s kind of ironic that it releases on the same day Washington politicians plan on imploding the country for the sake of partisan politics. Woo!
You can pre-order it on Amazon. Or get it at Barnes & Noble. And until they went Bankrupt last week, Borders was an option.

A Primer In Politics For The Incredibly Disenchanted

Alas, I’m afraid my blog is more neglected than one of Charlie Sheen’s children. There are several reasons. Babies, busy, ran out of funny. One of the bigger reasons for this extended neglect has been that I’ve been working on another book. The final edits are on their way to the publisher, Simon & Schuster. The book will look like this:
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Please sear the image in to your memory so that you recognize it when you stroll into a book store. Assuming book stores still exist when the book comes out.
Speaking of: It will come out in June 2011. Or July 2011. Or August 2011. It’s hard to say. Every time I ask someone I get a different answer. The good money seems to be on July. Let’s just say July.
As you can see, it is called The B.S. of A: A Primer in Politics for the Incredibly Disenchanted. The assumption is you are among the incredibly disenchanted. Like my last book is a humor book. Unlike my last book, which was ostensibly directed at my son, it is ostensibly directed at everyone.
It’s about politics, as the title suggests, and I tend to poke fun at a lot of things. There’s a good chance I poke fun at some thing or politician you like. I hope that doesn’t make you mad. It’s all for the greater good of being as objective and non-partisan as possible, which is what we’re sorely lacking these days.

Reading at KGB

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Tonight I will be reading at KGB, an East Village bar named after Russia’s hilarious secret security apparatus. My last reading here was for In the Event of My Untimely Demise, and it was a heck of a lot of fun.
I will be reading a chapter from my new book which is a non-partisan primer in American politics. Since Congress has an 8% favorable rating, that means that 92% of the crowd should find it enjoyable.

A Tour Of Glenn Beck’s Office




This is a tour I did of the offices of Glenn Beck. He is the most loved man in the pundit business. He does not have a single detractor – which is amazing considering his enormous reach and outspokenness.

Deposition at the Durango Independent Film Festival

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Do you live in beautiful Durango, Colorado? Are you going to the Durango Independent Film Festival this weekend? OH MY GOD! That’s completely awesome because my short, swear-laden, kind of violent mob comedy The Deposition of Lou Bagetta will be screening there this Friday and Saturday.
The Durango Telegraph’s Willie Krischke declared Deposition “my favorite short in the festival” and there’s a lover-ly photo of lead actors Patrick Gallo and Dan Olivo in the Durango Herald. So they’re totally famous there now and they can walk around saying, “Yeah, that’s right.”

Must Be A Good Casting Director

A “breakdown” is industry parlance for a list of the characters in a script that a casting director is looking to cast. Actors and their agents read the character descriptions in a breakdown to see if there are any roles they should audition for.
Breakdowns can range in size from one sentence to a whole paragraph. Here’s one:

DENNY – Male, 18 to play 15-18, open ethnicity. Asthmatic, heavy breathing, loud, overly nerdy, & socially awkward. He could tell you what Captain Kirk said in scene three, line two, of episode 43. Improv experience preferred. Knowledge of comic books, video games, computers, & anything geeky preferred.

And here’s another one. It’s shorter, but you still can get a sense of what they’re looking for:

JONES – African American male. Age late 30’s to early 50’s. He is Taja’s ‘bad boy’ boyfriend.

And here is the worst, laziest breakdown I’ve ever seen:
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Deposition at Connecticut Film Festival this Saturday

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The Deposition of Lou Bagetta, the short film I made that I won’t stop talking about much to your annoyance, is screening this weekend at the Connecticut Film Festival. The film is traveling the country screening at festivals now as part of the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival’s Best of Fest program.
It’s on this Saturday the 13th at 3:00pm in Old Saybrook at the Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center which Connecticutians call The Kate for obvious reasons.
I understand that you’re probably all good and liquored up by Saturday afternoon, but if you can find a designated driver go check it out:
Here’s the link.

Deposition in the LACSFF “Best of Fest” Tour

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My short film The Deposition of Lou Bagetta will be making the film festival rounds again as part of the LA Comedy Shorts “Best of Fest” program. They’re touring festivals showing off favorites from the 2009 festival, and Deposition is one of them.
Ultimately I’d like to release the film on iTunes or Amazon as a cheap-o download. Problem: Wang Chung. I made a Wang Chung song an integral part of the film and securing the distribution rights beyond the festival rights that we already have is cumbersome. I’m just hoping Wang Chung will go easy on me, although a legal case titled Brian Sack v. Wang Chung would be totally awesome sounding.

My Swear-Laden, Violent Mob Comedy Is Busy

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The Canadian premiere of Deposition took place on Thursday, July 23rd at the Just For Laughs film festival, which is part of the enormous Just For Laughs comedy festival. Montréal goes absolutely nuts for this festival, which features comedy acts from around the world – meaning the US, Canada, England, Ireland and Australia. No offense to aspiring Bangladeshi comedians. During this festival, Montréal has more neurotic, miserable, angry, lonely comics per capita than any city in the world! Louis C.K. was wandering around the hotel with a bottle of Gold Bond medicated powder in his pocket. I didn’t ask why. Caught his show one night at the festival, and it was everything I expected. Brutally funny. The stage was set by comedian Jimmy Carr who was invited at the last minute to open the show after running into Louis on the street. An Englishman in a suit telling some of the most wonderfully vulgar jokes I’ve heard in a long time.
The Just For Laughs screening was followed by a screening on Friday at the LA Shorts Fest. Since the director Tommy and I were in Montréal, not going to its many strip clubs, we sent actor Dan Olivo in to answer questions after the show. Dan is the most supportive actor ever. If there was an Oscar for Best Supportive Actor he would totally get it. If you don’t have a marketing budget, just cast Dan in your film and he’ll take care of the rest.
That was followed by another LA screening on Saturday and Sunday at the SSG Summer Shorts Fest.
At this point we’ve had six screenings in LA, and I think we’re likely done there for a bit. Unless you’re industry, in which case we’ll come to your house and play it for you.

Common Sense Man-On-The-Street Interviews


For this, we wandered around Bryant Park with a tiny camera and a karaoke microphone, giving us a nice “public access” feel. We figured Bryant Park was a good place because you’d get a mix of folks as opposed to Washington Square Park where everyone has dreadlocks and pierced genitals.
Because I am shy we forced two interns to make the initial contact and screen people. I don’t know what criteria they used to screen because one lady was visiting from the Philippines and didn’t know anything about U.S. affairs.
As expected, most folks identified themselves as democrats though one guy had actually voted for McCain. The “liberal realist” was one of my favorites. Very bright guy. The best reaction came from the woman whose views were the polar opposite of her husband, a rabid Fox News fan. The English woman was lovely and I was thrilled to learn a new insult, “Essex Lad.”
Most folks passed on keeping the signed “We Agree!” headshot of Glenn which I think was a mistake, because even if you loathe him you can still sell something like that on eBay. One man’s trash is another man’s 8×10 glossy of joy.
Obviously this survey has no scientific merit and the margin of error was absolutely ludicrous.

The Deposition of Lou Bagetta – Trailer


Hooray. This is the trailer for The Deposition of Lou Bagetta, the short I wrote that’s currently doing the festival circuit. If you have the HQ (high definition) option in the YouTube menu bar, I recommend that.
Many people have asked how they can see 100% of this 19-minute film and not just the 5% you get in the trailer. The deal is this: With festivals you don’t really want your film out there in its entirety right away. That’s because the festivals want to screen it so people go to the festivals. Once we’re all festivaled-out, we’ll figure out a way to distribute it – either as a video on demand, iTunes download, or old-fashioned DVD in a box. Until then, we’ll keep you posted and make sure everyone knows where the next screening is.
In the meantime, you can follow the film on its Facebook fan page (be a fan, come on!). Or its Twitter page. Or its website.

Deposition: Sarasota Film Festival Screen Times

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The Deposition of Lou Bagetta screens at the Sarasota Film Festival this Sunday and again next week. This is the film I wrote and Tommy Smeltzer directed. It is very funny according to people who have watched it – and that’s good because it was intended to be a comedy.
Lead actors Dan Olivo and Patrick Gallo are fantastic, as is Evan Arnold, who took a small role and totally owned it. Evan has awesome screen credits including West Wing and Spiderman but I’ll always remember him as having been in Garfield.
Sarasota Film Festival – Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20
Sunday 29 March @ 1:30pm Theatre 10
Wednesday 1 April @ 2:30pm Theatre 11

Advance tickets can be purchased here.

Not A Doctor But Play One on Glenn Beck – 03-19-09

Watch more Glenn Beck videos on AOL Video


I love the automatically generated transcript, which the Fox site warns “may not be 100% accurate.” I’d say. More like the ramblings of a guy wandering down the middle of Fifth Avenue. This is what it thinks I said:

O’Reilly and Hannity don’t even weep in private now to an absurd your very different than a typical Fox News host — with the exception of shepherd who is gentleman has — stuff where he called robo.


There’s an argument for out-sourcing transcription to India there.

In The Event Of My Untimely Demise – Bendable Version

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It seems like only a year ago that my book, In the Event of My Untimely Demise, came out in paperback form. But it was about 11 months. On April 28th the paperback will be released. Although the hardcover version will always have a place close to my heart, the paperback is really swell and I look forward to spending $200 to have it framed for my self-indulgent Wall of Accomplishments.
Pros: Softer, cheaper, has additional material including an essay called “Every Generation’s Hardships.” That piece got a ton of laughs at a reading and people kept asking why it wasn’t in the hardcover – for which I had no good answer.
Cons: Will not shield you from blows.
If you feel cheated that the hardcover you own does not have the hilarious extra essay in it, feel free to go to Barnes & Noble and read it for free. Just do me a favor and laugh uncontrollably before placing the book in a highly visible location.
COVER DESIGN
They re-designed the cover and I have to say I really like it. I loved the hardcover’s bright red Alert! Alert! design, although it really did remind me of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Facism because it was red with a geometric shape in the middle.
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I think the new keepsake box design stands out. Any publisher’s main objective is to get you to look at the book and pick it up. In the case of the keepsake box treatment, you look at it and hopefully say “Maybe that’s a box with money in it.” Then you pick it up and even though you’re disappointed there’s no money in it you maybe flip to the chapter about waking up naked in a hostel and decide this book’s for you.
Also, this design makes me think of pirates and although the book has absolutely nothing to do with pirates I think we can all agree that pirates are considered playful and fun, even though they raped and killed and looted anything they came near.
REVIEWS
I have several great reviews on Amazon and I didn’t do any of them. But I’d love more. In fact, if you’re the kind of person who writes reviews on Amazon please feel free to do so if you read the book and liked it. If you read the book and didn’t like it, please review Encino Man, starring Pauly Shore.
HAVING IN ADVANCE
The book can be pre-ordered on Amazon. Much better than post-ordering. Did I mention it has a bonus chapter?

Deposition @ San Luis Obispo Film Festival

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The Deposition of Lou Bagetta, my film which you will be hearing about for the better part of a year while it dos the festival circuit, will screen at the San Louis Obispo (California) Film Festival in a block of shorts called Best of the LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival. Is that confusing? The screening will be at 10:00pm on Saturday the 14th after some screening thing with director John Waters in it. So if you’re in San Luis Obispo, you should totally San Louis Gobispo.
And if you’re not in San Luis Obispo, you can always see it somewhere else. Assuming it winds up in a festival near where you live.

Film Festival Tips

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I learned many things at the recent LA Comedy Shorts Film Festival where we premiered The Deposition of Lou Bagetta. This was my first such event attending as a filmmaker and it reminded me of being a young kid in a new school standing with a tray full of food in the lunch room, wondering where to sit. But it wasn’t a school, it was a theatre. And I didn’t have a tray full of food. And I knew where I was going to sit. And I had friends and I wasn’t a pimply virgin in Sears Toughskins™ jeans.
THE WHOLE POINT
Film festivals are about networking. Indeed, many folks are using their films as “calling cards” in the hopes of introducing themselves and their hoped-for talents to other members of the film and entertainment community.
For that reason it’s wise to actually bring calling cards. I kind of understood this but too late – and ordered business cards three days before I left for Los Angeles. They arrived the day after I returned from said city. So, I met lots of great folks and handed them my outdated cards with the wrong email address and website info. Nothing makes an impression like, “Here’s my card, but first let me write stuff all over it because everything on my card is wrong.”
UNDERSTANDING THE RED CARPET THING
This is where you have your picture taken in front of the logos of all the sponsors. One thing that is very noticeable is that when famous people stand on the red carpet there are lots of flashes and activity. For the non-famous it’s a different story. Some ladies on the carpet ahead of us were taking way, way too much time. We asked them what the delay was and they said the photographers told them they needed to get more film. Film! That was a nice LA way for the photographers to say “You are not famous and we will not take pictures of you.” So, don’t take it personally when you approach the carpet and the photographers decide that’s when they’ll go swap out their batteries or take a cigarette break. Just make sure you have a friend with a camera.
INTERVIEWS
If you are interviewed, it’s always good not to say stupid things that will never make it to air. Short and simple sound bites. It’s harder than you think. You should probably practice at home, even though the thought of you standing around your house alone, pretending to be interviewed, may seem like the saddest thing in the world.
Regardless, have fun with your interview because the reality is that unless you’re famous, the interviewer is just kind of humoring you and/or honing her interviewing skills.
DRUNK FRENCH GUY WITH BAD BREATH
If you are a drunk French guy with bad breath, do not fall over a table and spill whiskey on me. Even though you told me you loved my film several times, the most I’m going to take away from this encounter is that you had bad breath and spilled whiskey on my leg.
PARTIES
Parties seem to be what the festival thing is all about. After all, if you try networking during a screening you’re going to be shushed.
Parties involve drinking a lot of alcohol, especially if the sponsor is a vodka company. In New York this is never a problem because you stumble out of a venue, wave your hand and a man from Pakistan will stop his yellow car and bring you home for about $8. In LA you have no such luck. I had two glasses of wine, asked the restaurant to call us a cab and spent $50 to have a Persian bring us to the festival venue. That’s more than 1/3 of what it cost me to fly the 2,818 miles from New York to Burbank.
THE MINGLING
This is what happens: People approach you, look at your nametag, and see what film you worked on. If you’ve done a film they really liked, it’s great. They say, “Dude, I loved your film!”
Mingling with filmmakers is, for the most part, great. You have something in common: a desire for attention and/or a love of filmmaking. There are only two times when mingling with filmmakers is not great: when you haven’t seen their film, or when you’ve seen their film and didn’t particularly like it.
If you missed the filmmaker’s screening, you need to come up with an excuse and make an effort to show you’d like to see the film in the future. You can request a DVD or ask when it will be screening again. In the case of some short films, they might even be up on YouTube so you can tell them you look forward to watching the film in a tiny window on your laptop.
But if you saw the film and didn’t like it, that’s a whole other problem. It can be very awkward. One time I went to a screening of the really bad film 13 Ghosts. An actress from the film was sitting in front of me, and I spent the whole screening worried that at the end she was going to turn around and say “What did you think?” at which point I would have had to kill myself. Fortunately for us she had an ass-kissing sidekick girlfriend who leapt to her feet when the lights came on, started clapping and shouted “You were great!” We used that time to get up and slink off.
But if you’re not so lucky, you may have to talk to someone whose film you didn’t really care for. This is when it pays to be Paula Abdul. One technique is to focus on what you did like. Perhaps the story and acting were awful but it looked gorgeous. In that event you can mention how much you liked their technique, framing, lighting or make-up. If an actor stood out you can always focus on him or her. Or talk about the budget and how much they made the film for. If a film was truly awful and you find yourself hard-pressed to come up with anything to say, you can excuse yourself for cheese cubes.
One way to gauge whether or not your film is a success is if people make an effort to approach you to tell you they liked your film. I tracked down the gentleman who made Miracle Investigators because it was wonderfully smart and funny.
DISHEVELED OBESE MAN WITH LONG, STRINGY HAIR
If you are disheveled obese man with long, stringy hair do not point your finger in my wife’s face and say, “I don’t like you because someone like you would never give me the time of day.” First of all, pointing is not nice. Secondly, my wife is very nice and would have given you the time of day up until you came across like a drunk, insecure misogynist.
HORS D’OEUVRES ON TRAYS SERVED BY SEXY WAITRESSES
Just stand near the kitchen. That’s where they come out, and they never make it more than 12 feet away from the kitchen.
AUDIENCE FAVORITE AWARD
The organizers told us we missed the Audience Favorite award by a factor of 0.2. That means that if we’d had just a few more folks in our screening we’d have been handed a glass statue by a sexy girl dressed up as Supergirl. Never underestimate the importance of getting people to go to your screening.
TALKING TO PEOPLE YOU’VE SEEN NAKED
If you find yourself talking to an actress who you’d just seen naked in a screening, try to pretend that you didn’t just see her naked in a screening. Even if she has perfect, natural breasts. And wonderful genitals. Just focus on the other things. But definitely not the breasts and genitals because that’s not important.
CONCLUSION
Film festivals are a lot of fun. For maximum networking, have business cards that don’t require you to correct them with a pen. Don’t be an insecure fat guy or drunk French one. Stand near the kitchen at parties if you want to eat. And naked girl.