Choose Your Weapons Carefully

I’ve been seeing red for the past week. Literally. I discovered a few days ago that my entire upper body had broken out in a massive rash, because I’m apparently allergic to the codeine that was in the cough syrup prescribed to me for the sinus infection that still won’t die. But that wasn’t the only thing that got under my skin.

I was offered an opportunity recently to pitch a script idea. This could be a huge step forward for me in terms of giving me a screenwriting career. I came up with an idea that I liked only to discover I was the only one who liked it because it didn’t check off the right buzzwords. It had a strong lead character and a positive message, but that didn’t matter because it wouldn’t sell. At first I got legitimately angry about this and then I realized that there was no point because if I changed anything, I’d be doing it for the wrong reasons. I would rather die with something I’m proud of than live on something I can’t stand behind. And that’s how I live my whole life.

This week was the Television Critics Association press tour, so I took my anger and my allergic reaction and my sinus infection up to Pasadena to support my friends on Chicago Justice. Philip Winchester and I have known each other for the last six years and that’s the perfect example of what I’m talking about. This will be the third show on which we’ve worked together, and the last two never really got their due respect. I took so much crap for championing The Player, to the point where I almost punched somebody a few months ago because she decided to be negative about it to my face.

But it never mattered to me that the show wasn’t successful. What mattered to me was the joy I got out of working on it with a very talented cast and crew. Philip is honestly the best actor I’ve ever seen before I met him, and I sometimes can’t believe that we’re friends. Sometimes I just stand there dumbfounded like I did on Wednesday looking at him and realizing he was noticing me. The executive vice president of NBC told him I was there, and then told me that Philip was so happy to hear it. That’s not counting the high-five he gave me when I told him about the launch of One Chicago Center or the hug we shared after. This man is amazing, inside and out, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to help him. That’s what I hold onto, not whether we win or lose.

I’m already excited for Chicago Justice because I can see the potential in it. Not just Philip, or my other friends Monica Barbaro and Joelle Carter, or holy crap Carl Weathers and Jon Seda are in this. But I sat across a table from the show’s executive producer Michael Chernuchin and we just started talking. Talking about how he wants to tell stories that affect people and how far the medium has come since Law & Order launched in 1990. That’s the kind of stuff I’m passionate about. I want to do something that challenges people, that affects and inspires them, and I believe that Justice can do that. So I’m already along for the ride.

After I went through that, after I talked to Michael and laughed with Philip and got hugged by Monica, I realized I really don’t mind what happens next. If I’m able to come up with an idea that works and get a movie made and my next blog is telling you all about it, that’s great and I’ll be grateful. But not if I have to change what I believe in to do it. If this still winds up being me writing pages in the middle of the night and cheering for Philip from the sidelines, I’m okay with that too because at least then I’ve stayed true to myself. I’m here to change the world, not to change myself. Love has always been my only weapon, and I’m not putting it down any time soon.

Storming Into 2017, And For Once I Won’t Apologize

I’m taking a cue from the fabulous Patti Murin and trying to blog at least once a month this year. Which is probably a good thing, because 2017 and I have already thrown down.

On New Year’s I decided to chop off most of my hair and donate it to cancer patients. I was getting tired of looking exactly the same as I did in my high school yearbook photos and also, charity.

The next day I started on the biggest project of my career. One Chicago Center is a FanSided site devoted exclusively to Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Chicago Med and Chicago Justice. I have the keys to the kingdom. After spending months last year trying to convince the FanSided higher-ups to make this site happen. I was dropping hints and pleading and arguing. I think the only thing I didn’t do was make them cookies. But they finally said yes and now this is easily the biggest thing I’ve ever done. I’m responsible for every aspect of this site, by myself. 24/7/365.

More importantly this is my platform to help some amazing people. The reason I do anything is to make a difference and I wanted this site to get the backs of the many wonderful folks from the Chicago shows I have met and fallen in love with. Except Jeff Hephner, because Jeff knows I already adore him as one of my best friends. And Philip Winchester, who is my other best friend and equally worthy of adoration. But there’s Joe and Colleen Chappelle and their whole family, and Randy Flagler and Tony Ferraris on Fire, and Monica Barbaro who’s working with Philip on Justice. And not to keep name-dropping Patti but I so admire her and her strength, and she’s married to Colin Donnell, who I’m pretty sure is basically a unicorn with all the things he can do and who has graciously put up with me while I’ve squealed in his direction..

These are great people aside from being amazing talents, and I’ve made it my mission to make sure they get the support and attention they deserve. That’s what I do. I help people.

One Chicago Center is a huge weight on my back. I now write for four different FanSided sites (, Hidden Remote, Local POV and 1CC) as well as TV Fanatic, and Pure Fandom. That’s a lot of articles. No one in the entire FanSided company writes for more than three sites. And I’ve had some of my friends tell me that they didn’t think I could do it. So you know what I did?

I wrote 70 articles this week. In 4 days since we got Monday off as a holiday. That’s 13.5 articles per day. Suck it, skepticism.

And you know what? I feel good; well, not totally good since I’m now into my third month with bronchitis and a sinus infection and on three different prescription drugs, but I’m not exhausted. My hands aren’t falling off. In fact I’m ready to keep writing. I don’t know what’s gotten into me (maybe it’s the codeine) but rawr.

Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie/SyFy
I love this photo. I call it my action hero shot. Thanks to Steve Wilkie from SyFy for making me look so badass.

So I’ve decided I’m just going to run at things this year. You may know I spent most of 2016 writing a half-hour sitcom project for Jeff, because I am that kind of person. I write 36 half-hour scripts just to entertain my friends. Anyway, that went really well and I kind of cried at the end of it, so for 2017 I’ve decided that I’m going to do it again. There is an hour-long TV show I created when I was 15 and have wanted to revisit for years because I love the idea even if I really sucked at it, and so I’m going to rework it and start it from scratch. If you need me I will be buried under books about the FBI and NYPD and probably texting Jeff to see if he wants to play a role in this show too.

What 2016 did was remind me how much I love screenwriting. Like, love it. It’s the thing that I was probably put on this earth to do. I had the most amazing time putting together those 36 episodes and making myself laugh at jokes and writing parts for my friends and then texting them to see if they’d actually say that weird thing I just made them say. So I’ve had this idea I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m going to go and do it, even if it’s twice as long and five times more complicated because clearly I’ve proven I still know how to finish a script.

This is going to be that kind of year. I’m going to take on every challenge and see what happens. I probably won’t get to 36 hour-long episodes by December but I’m going to at least get a few. I may not write 70 posts every week but I’m going to do a lot.

Most importantly I’ve decided to stop apologizing. One thing I’ve learned from spending time with and around the likes of Patti, Colin, Jeff and everyone else I met last year is that I’m pretty awesome. I’ve accomplished a lot and I’ve found people who actually want to spend time with me. People who I think are way too cool for me. So if they obviously like me the least I can do is like me and stop apologizing for stupid little things that don’t matter.

I’m doing stuff I was never supposed to do. Like breathing. And breaking writing records. And having Adam Levine sing part of “Misery” to me on New Year’s Eve. So screw it, I’m just going to run at all this already.

And if this is what the first couple of days hold for me, I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store.