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in Filmmaking
on Jan 6, 2008

The tour de force blog posting of the day is playwright and television creator Jon Robin Baitz’s second half of his “Leaving Los Angeles” essay on the Huffington Post. This part two deals with Baitz’s final feelings about the city he’s worked in the past few years (he compares L.A. to Johannesburg in the ’70s), his romantic life, youth culture, the WGA strike, identifying oneself as an artist while working in TV, and the struggle to create a show that reflects and not obfuscates the realities of life in America right now. (Part one, which details some of the details leading to Baitz being “ousted” from Brothers and Sisters, the show he created, is here.)

Here is a brief excerpt of Baitz’s long piece, which picks up after he discusses leaving his show:

But I am no longer the SOURCE for any of it, no longer the instigator of plot, and no longer the voice of the thing. It is no longer in my dreams. I do not wake up and make notes about future episodes. I can no longer argue for tone and can only watch as the demographic demands that have turned America into an ageist and youth-obsessed nation drives the storylines younger and younger, whiter and whiter, and with less and less reflection of the real America, which is made up, to the sorrow of the research departments, of people over 35 years of age and of many ethnicities and incomes. Then again, I will never again have to do a notes call wherein the fear and sea-sickness of the creative execs always prevails over taking a risk, resulting more often than not in muddy and flattening or treacly-sweet compromises after a stolid and pointless series of writerly objections. (And note to execs on my next show: you won’t wanna be giving me too many of them. Sorry, I shan’t roll over ever again.)

This leads rather well to what I did pick up under the palms: knowing how to fight. Fighting was something I DID learn at Brothers & Sisters. I was not good at it before I got there. I demurred, deferred, moped. Not anymore. Doesn’t work in TV. So I learned. Fighting to build something that gives people jobs is worth it. Hundreds of people, at that. Crews. Writers. Actors. Directors. Ask anybody who has created something from scratch, a Barry Diller or a David Geffen, to use people I know personally and admire for their fortitude (and bellicosity). They never give up. They fought and fought until they had built something irrefutable. Grand. Making TV taught me: Die trying. Try harder. And never, ever stop. Do not be the reason it fails. Be the last man standing, until the building is UP, the lights are on, and people are in it, working.

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