A few years ago, Kevin Collins was a writer on the Showtime series Soul Food.
He started out as the assistant to the Executive Producer and
transitioned to Writer’s Assistant, which led to a freelance job (and subsequent membership in the WGA) and then to a position as a Staff Writer.

Right now, there is nothing that Kevin would like more than to grab a picket sign and join the ranks of his fellow screenwriters in Los Angeles. But he is physically drained.

And there is nothing that Kevin would like to do more than network with the other writers on strike. But he is mentally exhausted.

Because right now, Kevin is battling a rare form of thyroid cancer. He just completed week 5 of radiation therapy, and has 2 more weeks to endure.

His pencil is down, but his medical bills are on the rise.

though Kevin is undergoing treatment as we speak, he very kindly took the time to
answer a few questions to provide his perspective about the
current writer’s strike.

Jo: What are the benefits of being a member of the Writer’s Guild of America?

Being a writer is much like being an independent contractor. The Guild
is out there negotiating to make sure you are handled in a professional
manner. This ranges from pay to health and retirement benefits. The
Guild is also responsible for tremendous programming of seminars and
events for writers who want to grow creatively and professionally.

Jo: Do you receive residuals from the many episodes of shows that you’ve written?

Kevin: Yes, residuals are great, in particular for most writers who work on and off.

Jo: Is your medical insurance being covered by the WGA?

The WGA covers medical insurance for writers who are working. When I
was employed as a writer, I was covered, and my coverage spanned for a little more
than a year after my last job.

Jo: What is your overall opinion about this strike?

Kevin: I see our strike as the canary in the mineshaft that is the entertainment business. The ‘industry’ is and has been rapidly changing, but the business models are not keeping up. There is a great need for reform throughout and writers are simply trying to push that along.

Jo: Do you see the potential for a quick resolution?

Kevin: For the potential to be there, all involved parties must have some common ground. So far, that doesn’t seem apparent.

Jo: How do you feel about the digital distribution of TV and film?

Kevin: In recent years, we have seen Netflix grow into a great business model, mostly due to the convenience. It’s no longer necessary to go out and wait in line at a store. The future of that business is on the demand/downloading ability. What would be easier than coming home and having it already on your TV?

Jo: How has the writer’s strike affected your career?

Kevin: It has affected
every aspect of my life, not just my career. Certainly, getting treated
(surgery to remove the thyroid and 22 lymph nodes, followed by radiation) has required an almost complete interruption of
everything I was doing. At the same time, this kind of event is
inspirational, in that it makes you reflect on all aspects of your
life. I am sure there will be evidence of this in my future projects. But you can’t work during the strike. Even if you have the greatest idea, you just have to sit on it.

Jo: So you are honoring the Pencils Down Means Pencils Down credo that Writer’s Guild members are encouraging/enforcing?

Kevin: Absolutely. It is strange that the strike is coinciding with my radiation treatment, because it truly has been a reflective period for me to “think.”

Jo: What were you working on before the writer’s strike began?

Kevin: I was working on several scripted TV show concepts and a screenplay.

Jo: After the strike is resolved, what will be your first move?

Kevin: To go out and begin pitching my ideas.

I only met Kevin once, several years ago through a very good mutual friend. I find his positive outlook and spirit, in the face of illness, mounting bills and an industry on strike, to be quite inspiring. And I wish him great health and recovery.

So keep your eye out for the name Kevin Collins on future small and big screen endeavors, because he is one of the many thousands who are responsible for the entertainment that we take for granted, and he deserves our support. While you’re at it, add some Soul Food to your Netflix queue, my friends.

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It was inevitable that the cast of Deadwood would move on to new shows and films. I am a huge fan and they deserve the exposure. But to be perfectly honest, I have not adjusted to seeing them all so…clean.

We’ve spotted many Deadwood regulars (and memorable characters) in movies and on other TV shows, and clearly there are casting directors out there who share the love for the now-defunct HBO series and its stars:

  • Silas Adams: Gone Baby Gone, Jericho, Law & Order, NCIS, Numb3rs, Shark
  • Blazanov: CSI NY, Chuck
  • Martha Bullock: Boston Legal
  • Sheriff Seth Bullock: Catch & Release, Hitman, Live Free or Die Hard
  • Johnny Burns: Cold Case, Criminal Minds, CSI
  • Calamity Jane: The Good German, Law & Order SVU, Life, Lost, Numb3rs, Things We Lost in the Fire, The Unit
  • Dan Dority: Numb3rs
  • Ellsworth: Big Love, Criminal Minds, CSI, John From Cincinnati, Supernatural, The Unit
  • EB Farnum: Life
  • Alma Garret: Hollywoodland, The Wicker Man
  • George Hearst: Jericho
  • Hostetler: The Bill Engvall Show, Daddy Day Camp, General Hospital, How I Met Your Mother, Norbit
  • Leon: Hollywoodland, The Riches, State of Mind, Two and a Half Men
  • Harry Manning: In the Valley of Elah, Life, Without a Trace
  • Tom Nuttall: Gridiron Gang, Saving Grace
  • Con Stapleton: Desperate Housewives, Dirty Sexy Money, John From Cincinnati
  • Sol Star: American Gangster, CSI, Without a Trace
  • Steve: Life, The Unit
  • Joanie Stubbs: Lost, Numb3rs
  • Al Swearengen: Hot Rod, We Are Marshall
  • Cy Tolliver: 24
  • Trixie: Cold Case, Criminal Minds, ER, John From Cincinnati, Lost
  • Charlie Utter: CSI, John From Cincinnati
  • Frances Walcott: The 4400, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Damages, ER, John From Cincinnati, Law & Order, Life, No Country For Old Men, Numb3rs
  • Wild Bill Hickok: Dexter
  • Mr. Wu: Crank, John From Cincinnati, The War at Home, The Young and the Restless

So tell me, fellow Deadwood fanatics, who am I missing and where did you spot them?

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I’ll be honest and brief.

The next few weeks are going to be hectic, both professionally and personally. So I decided to sum up my entertainment agenda, and of course I had to share.


  • Into the Wild soundtrack
  • Raising Sand (Alison Krauss & Robert Plant)


  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Watching (Movies):

  • An Inconvenient Truth
  • Art School Confidential
  • Blood Diamond
  • Hard Candy
  • Munich
  • Volver

Watching (TV, in addition to the usual):

  • Kathy Griffin: Straight to Hell
  • Nip/Tuck, Season 4 (Disc 1)
  • Tin Man (miniseries with Zooey Deschanel & Alan Cumming; a sci-fi update of The Wizard of Oz)

Writing (reviews):

  • American Gangster
  • Into the Wild

Don’t forget that my movie contest is still open! You have until this Saturday to recommend a film that I have not seen. If I watch it in December and your choice was my favorite, I will buy you a DVD. Here are the details and rules.

Have a good week, virtual friends.

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It has been reported that the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) will be meeting with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) tomorrow in an attempt to discuss and negotiate the terms of the writer’s strike. Ideally, this could lead to a quick resolution. But from what I’ve read, that won’t be easy or likely.

I will keep you posted, but of course your best bet for updates are United Hollywood and Deadline Hollywood Daily.

In the meantime, here are the fantastic ‘Speechless’ videos that the WGA created to illustrate how actors are at a loss without their writers. All are now posted on this site, but here are the first few. I think you’ll recognize most of the talent that volunteered to star in the series…

Kate Beckinsale, David Schwimmer

Andre Benjamin

Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss

Jeff Garlin

Holly Hunter

Harvey Keitel

Laura Linney

Eva Longoria, Nicolette Sheridan

Sean Penn

Cast of Ugly Betty

I hope you all had a nice long weekend and holiday. Stay tuned and bookmark for more strike updates, movie reviews and contests in the coming weeks!

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Do you ever make a statement that you can’t believe is coming out of your mouth? I am about to repeat something that I said after seeing Hairspray earlier this year…

James Marsden is the best part of a film. Again. And that’s kind of sad.

Enchanted is cute. I knew that going in. We took 1 niece and 4 nephews to see it yesterday.  The matinee was sold out, filled to the rim with hyper kids and semi-patient parents.

The movie is also quite cheesy, but that was not entirely unexpected. Disney makes fun of every fairytale they’ve ever manufactured, which the adults acknowledged with laughter (but went over the head of most kids; my eleven year old niece whispered “I don’t get it” at least 3 times during the film).

I will say that Amy Adams was the perfect choice to play the princess, both in animated and live form. I have been a fan since she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Junebug two years ago, and I look forward to her role in the upcoming Charlie Wilson’s War with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Some may also recognize her as Jim’s girlfriend during the first season of The Office.

As for Loverboy McDreamy…eh. Patrick Dempsey is pretty. That’s all. Poor guy. I wonder when he’ll break out of the romantic leading man and Grey’s Anatomy mold. His next film endeavor is not indicative of such change; in next year’s Made of Honor, he will be playing a guy who is in love with an engaged woman. Sigh.

The saving grace of Enchanted really is Marsden. I have been pleasantly surprised by both of his campy performances this year. His stint as the emotionless Cyclops in the X-Men trilogy certainly never tipped me to he fact that he was capable of song, dance and comic relief.

Of course Enchanted will be the number one movie this weekend. And of course your children will love it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I am more of a Pixar girl myself, when it comes to choosing a film with youthful spirit and suspension of disbelief.

Did any of you see it?

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