Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Better call Saul...

One thing I missed while back on the Home Planet was a new addition to KCRW’s lineup of show-biz related programming – an hour long garage podcast called WTF created by stand-up comic Mark Maron to interview a wide variety of industry talent. Not all the interviews are Maron's fellow out-of-work stand-up comedians, either -– the first couple of shows on KCRW featured interviews with Conan O’Brien and Judd Apatow. This past Sunday’s show had two half-hour interviews with actor/writer Bob Odenkirk and stand-up comic Maria Bamford.

Uh, who? Truth be told, I’d never heard of either of these people, but with a big load of dirty dishes to wash, I turned on KCRW at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning anyway and got to work. Through all the suds and rinsing, something about Odenkirk’s voice began to sound familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it – until he mentioned appearing on “Breaking Bad,” my own favorite television offering the past few years. Sure enough, Bob Odenkirk has played the wonderfully oleaginous character of lawyer Saul Goodman on that show over the past couple of seasons. Odenkirk describes how he landed that role, and talks about the rest of his heretofore hidden (to me, at least) career.

It's a good one.

As for Maria Bamford, well, she seemed like a nice young woman; kind of funny, kind of vulnerable, and kind of crazy, too. Listening to her portion of the show (recorded in a car) brought to mind Nelson Algren's famous advice: "Never play cards with a man called Doc. Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never sleep with a woman whose troubles are worse than your own." Maria Bamford is a cute and lively, but this interview makes me wonder if whoever gets involved with her tightly-wound bundle of neuroses had better keep his-or-her eyes wide open.

I'm just sayin...

There’s a catch, of course. Unlike most KCRW podcasts, listeners cannot freely access the entire spectrum of WTF archives. Listening to some of the bigger names (ie: the Apatow interview) requires signing up for WTF’s “premium” service at their website, which then allows all manner of digital streaming straight from the source. It’s not free, but at $2 a month, $5 for six months, or $9 a year for anywhere/anytime archive access, it’s certainly affordable. Not all the big names fall under the “premium” umbrella, either – there appears to be free access to the Conan O’Brien interview – and the no-cost option is to simply tune in to KCRW FM or stream the program live via the internet on Sunday mornings.

WTF has been around for a while now, so maybe I’m just the last person to hear about it. I don’t know if every podcast is worth listening to, but the two I’ve heard thus far were certainly worth my time. Hey, I got a lot of dishes washed while listening to Conan and Saul Goodman tell their stories.


KCRW's The Business had a great interview this week. Rather than bore you with my own recap, here's the setup from their podcast site:

"Well before The Help was a bestseller and a major motion picture, Kathryn Stockett -- who'd racked up 60 rejection letters from literary agents and as yet was unable to get a publisher -- gave Tate Taylor the movie rights to her unpublished manuscript. The two talk about how she did this despite everyone in her life having told her not to, how the contract they wrote was far from formal and yet how committed they both became to making this movie happen that way. In fact, they were so committed and stubborn that once Hollywood got interested Dreamworks studio had no choice but to make the film with Taylor as the writer/director."

This is an exceedingly rare exception to the usual process of getting a book made into a Hollywood movie -- especially a best-seller -- and from the interview, it's clear that Kathryn Stockett and Tate Taylor (no relation, I assure you) pretty much broke every rule in the unwritten book to get the deal done. I have no idea whether theirs is a good movie or not, but you have to admire these two for demonstrating that there really are no rules when it comes to succeeding in this town.

That's a very useful lesson for all you film students and recent grads to absorb.

And remember folks, in times of trouble...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I only discovered the WTF podcasts about four months ago, but I think it's safe to say that every episode is pretty damn good.