Orange is the New Black

Writing: Fiction Must Be Stranger Than Truth

Midway through a pitch at Showtime a few years ago I literally lost the plot. I’d flown in to Los Angeles from London that afternoon. I never sleep flying east to west, so I compensated for my fatigue by over-caffeinating. The caffeine mixed with the adrenaline rush of performance. I became a blithering idiot, human Jell-O right there in the meeting with the network’s top execs. I couldn’t remember the plot or the names of characters I had created and written myself.

Luckily, I had two seasoned producers on either side of me. “The story is autobiographical,” one of them said, trying to pick me up and carry me across the finish line. I shot him a surprised look; that was an outright lie, wasn’t it?

Eva Green in Penny Dreadful

Why ‘Penny Dreadful’ Gallops to the Top of the Class

There are at least fifteen TV shows I follow now. That’s up from one, Six Feet Under, ten years ago. To make room and not spend all of my downtime watching filmed content — I do heave features to track as well — I’ve been ditching some quality shows, namely Girls and Looking; the former is too repetitive and whiny, the latter too cliché for this gay man living in a gay ghetto as it is — I have no interest in walking back from the gym to engage in a conversation with my monitor that I just overheard.

While I admire all of the shows, none of them — not Mad Men, which is about the world I was born into, nor True Detective, which up until now was the most intellectually satisfying — can I say I wish I’d written and created.

Math Bass

SCARLETT’S LETTERS — Reality Is Just Collage

Dear James —

It’s so nice to be back in La-La-Land, to bask and see my face glow from the sunny rays Angelinos love to hate and Europeans hate to love. Being cheerless here is a crime.

There is a buzz going on in L.A., and it’s not coming from the massive electrical lines that grid the hills to the valleys, or found amongst the flashing lights of a red-carpet calamity. It’s happening in the young and vibrant art scene. Perhaps I am biased — I’m seeing many of my peers come into their own, flourishing into a thought-provoking conceptuality that juggles humor with irony. This is what I love; it’s unique to the creative expression of these bright groves.

Joel-Peter Witkin

SCARLETT’S LETTERS: Dancing in the Garden of Earthly Delights

Dear James —

It’s been brought to my attention recently, or maybe I should say I have recently been reminded, why I don’t drink hard alcohol. You might have seen me — unluckily or luckily, depending on what you fancy — a couple fashion weeks ago at the Yoyo Club in Paris. I drank vodka as if it was spring water from Lourdes, then got on the DJ stage and danced a kind of striptease in my pink ruffled silk Rick Owens dress. The security guard gracefully tried to remove me from my adoring audience,

Scarlett Rouge Backstage Rick Owens

SCARLETT’S LETTERS: A Secret Homelessness

Dear James —

I am walking. Walking. The runway is endless. Literally, it’s a marathon with only one row of seating, and mass of bodies clustering behind it. We were told to run, twice through, while keeping our cool. I’m wearing what hasn’t been seen before. Slightly afraid the Egyptian-esque tubular hat will fly off my small head. This is not my first time strutting down the catwalk; still, adrenaline kicks in, helps me keep up pace.  Adrenaline encourages me. All you got to do is walk. The world’s fashion elite are watching me. Watching as I walk. Flashes from their little snappers.

The gods of Bali

SCARLETT’S LETTERS: Baliesque

Dear James —

I am on holidays, holidaze, and holy days!

The last time I went on adventure like this was twelve years ago, backpacking though Europe. I think I’ve left my brain and wit back in Paris. I rarely get out of my enchanted bubble or beyond my traveling comfort zone. Yes, I am a bit scared. Okay, let’s be honest: scared shitless.

So, so much has happened here in Bali. So many new vistas, smells and experiences. I’m still absorbing it all, or maybe truer to say is I’m still absorbed in it all and yet still have the distance to depict it.

Karl Lagerfeld Quentin Tarantino

EXCLUSIVE: Lagerfeld Pitches Script to Tarantino

I have done it! I have pulled it off! I am a hit!

How do I know? Vogue says so. WWD says so.

It’s true that Chanel, the maison de couture for which I design, is one of the few remaining big advertisers in fashion. Therefore, all the important publications are my bitches. Big deal! The fact remains that I have reinvented haute couture. How? With the sneaker.

Yes, the common sneaker used for cardio training, which as you know I don’t advocate because it makes you hungry, and being hungry makes you fat, like Adele. But if you are buying the Chanel couture sneaker you won’t be running around a bigger space than your closet. Okay, okay, maybe your bedroom, or an art gallery. If the normal Chanel prêt-a-porter sneaker starts at $600…

Katey Sagal Charlie Hunnam

TV Shows: Why We Love the Essential Bitch

My latest random connection is wacky, but it appears from a viral test currently making the rounds of Facebook that I’m almost entirely right-brained. I’m now allowed to be random and wacky with impunity. According to Sommer-Sommer.com I am congenitally creative, chaotic, intuitive, imaginative, curious, and fantastical. I would add tangential to that list of adjectives.

Where was I? Oh, right…

Young Orson Welles

Filmmaking: It Never Pays to Be an Asshole

I had a blast yesterday on the set of what should have been an arduous student-film shoot I was mentoring. The location was outside Barstow, in the high desert midway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was total Breaking Bad territory — you almost expected the occasional BOOM! of a meth lab exploding in one of the trailer parks that dotted the lunar landscape.

A lot of the fun was set early in the day by Tabi Farnsworth, the owner of the “picture car” that was being driven on camera by the protagonist of the short film. An eighty-one-year-old former hairdresser who has redefined ‘flamboyant’ by being the human equivalent of a fizzy ice cream soda, Tabi insisted on driving it to the location himself,

Kimberly Peirce

Nobody Sets Out to Make a Bad Movie

There was a silent cheer that went around the collective hearts of all my fellow creators of drama content after the Carrie remake bombed last weekend. We’re an impoverished, underworked segment of the entertainment playground, given to drooling schadenfreude in unseemly ways when the more popular, bullying genres fail. It didn’t matter that this misfortune happened to one of our own, Kimberly Peirce, the writer-director of Boys Don’t Cry, a film we all cried over,