Mar 31

the originals episode 403: ‘haunter of ruins’

During Season 3 of “The Originals,” our executive producer and creator Julie Plec kept a diary of behind-the-scenes tidbits on for every episode. She’s not doing that this year, so I thought I’d use this space to share some thoughts on the episodes that I co-wrote this season. This is all very stream-of-consciousness — just random stuff that pops into my mind as I scroll through my behind the scenes pics.

Tonight’s episode, “Haunter of Ruins,” was co-written with Declan deBarra. I’ve been looking forward to working with Declan forever because he had a lot to learn from a master of words such as myself. While we were writing this episode, Declan literally quit the show, so obviously my extraordinary talent overwhelmed him. Juuuuust kidding. Declan is an actual genius and he left “The Originals” (after starting with us from day one!) to go create his own show because he’s just that good. It was a great learning experience to write with him. (I mostly learned weird new ways to say “fucking” in fancy Brit-speak, but still.)

Warning: this blog will contain spoilers. [Read more…]

Mar 11

goodbye, brother: my final vampire diaries recap

Shall we do this one last time?

For those of you who don’t know, I got my start in TV by writing “Vampire Diaries” recaps. I was working as an assistant in a job that I hated, and my roommate worked at the LA Times and mentioned that they needed someone to write weekly recaps of a new CW show. When I learned that Kevin Williamson, my all-time hero, was at the helm… I jumped at the opportunity. That evolved into a full-fledged career as a very serious and important television journalist, but no matter how many shows I covered, “The Vampire Diaries” always had my heart. I still don’t really know why, but Kevin and Julie Plec took me under their wing in an extraordinary way, and the cast let me tag along to drinks after wrap and made sure I got into the cool parties at Comic-Con. At the beginning, I felt like an impostor. Like I’d snuck into the cool kids’ secret clubhouse and any day now, someone was going to notice that I wasn’t supposed to be there — even more so when I joined “The Originals” as a writer. It took a while for me to realize that everyone felt a little bit like that, and we were all in it together. As “The Vampire Diaries” draws to a close, I don’t feel like an impostor anymore. I feel like a member of a big, sprawling family.

It’s been a magical ride. I’ve grown up with these people. I’ve become myself with these people.  We’ve watched sunrises after long nights and we’ve poured each other into Ubers and we’ve taken embarrassing polaroid pictures and we’ve kicked our shoes off at fancy parties and danced until we were sweaty. We’ve drawn treasure maps with Zach Roerig’s daughter Fiona and we’ve raced boats around Lake Lanier and we’ve been freezing cold and blazing hot and we’ve said things we shouldn’t have and we’ve forgiven and we’ve laughed about it later. We were all together at our favorite bar in Atlanta when Candice King texted to let us know her daughter Florence had finally arrived. We cried while we lit paper lanterns and sent them off into the sky together in memory of our friend Sarah Jones. It’s been really, truly epic, and to say that I’m grateful is an egregious understatement. The thing is, though, we don’t actually have to say goodbye. At the wrap party last month, I felt like I was about to lose something so massive. I didn’t go to bed until the sun came up because I so badly didn’t want the night to end. Then… I got back to Los Angeles, and that week celebrated Hillary Harley’s birthday with Lane Cheek and Nina Dobrev and then ate salmon with Phoebe Tonkin and then spent an hour on the WB lot talking about TV with Paul Wesley and then had a three hour sushi dinner with Julie Plec. The family and the friendships aren’t over, they endure.

What is over, however, is the story. Eight years ago, on a strangely foggy day in Mystic Falls, we watched Elena Gilbert write in her diary. Today will be different. It has to be. And we fell in love. “The Vampire Diaries” bowed tonight, with a masterful episode written by Julie and Kevin and directed by Julie. And what an epic ending to such a consuming, sprawling, artful story.

So, I thought that the best way to say goodbye to these characters and this world would be to return to my roots and, for the first time in four years, write one final moment-by-moment recap. My perspective has shifted a lot since I learned what really goes into writing and producing these episodes, so hopefully I’ll have some insight to share. Here it is.

[Read more…]

Jun 25

bad advice, part two.

A couple years back, I was asked for advice/thoughts on how I got started in the TV journalism business. 

Things have changed a lot for me, since then. Recently I’ve been getting a lot of emails asking for advice on how to get into the TV writing business, so I thought I’d write another post. Please keep in mind… I give bad advice. I hardly take responsibility for my own choices, much less your choices. But, that said… here’s what I’m thinking.  [Read more…]

Aug 31

eternal night: the playlist

Have you all downloaded your copy of Eternal Night yet? I’ve been so pleased with the response! I was scared to read any reviews at first, but even the criticism has been really cool to read. It’s like getting to sit in on an honors English class picking apart something that I wrote. (Though I won’t feel like I succeeded until someone writes erotic fan fiction, but whatever. We all have our measures.)

Anyway, I was asked to put together a playlist for Eternal Night. These are songs I listened to while writing, songs that inspired me, or songs I could hear as a soundtrack to the Eternal Night movie playing in my brain. A lot of them are specific to certain characters or scenes — see if you can guess which ones.  I linked to YouTube versions, but some of them aren’t awesome, so you should download them on iTunes and support the people that made my life suck less while I wrote.


1. Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers (YT)
girl, you and i will die unbelievers, bound to the tracks of the train

2. The Damnwells – Let’s Be Civilized (3. Dame – Holy Moly (YT)
call me when you’re at the right time in your life, i’ll be here

4. Wakey! Wakey! – War Sweater (YT)
i’m in the mood to say shit that will change people’s minds

5. Brett Young – Don’t Panic (YT)
please don’t think i don’t know what we stand to lose

6. Noah Gundersen – Ledges (YT)
i drink a little too much, it makes me nervous
i’ve got my grandfather’s blood

7. Tyler Hilton – Loaded Gun (YT)
i’m gonna be your next tattoo

8. Matt Hires – Restless Heart (YT)
i wish i had seen what was coming for me
but you wear such a lovely disguise

9. Tegan and Sara – Burn Your Life Down (YT)
nothing is lost in the end when you burn, burn, burn your life down

10. Matt Nathanson – Earthquake Weather (YT)
i’d kill anyone who’d treat you as bad as i do

11. OneRepublic – Something I Need (YT)
in this world full of people, there’s one killing me
and if we only die once i wanna die with you

12. Taylor Swift – Treacherous (ACOUSTIC) (YT)
i’ll do anything you say if you say it with your hands

13. The Damnwells – Texas (YT)
you’re cheating on the weather with me

14. Sara Bareilles – Chasing The Sun (YT)
it’s a really old city, stuck between the dead and the living
so i thought to myself sitting on a graveyard shelf

15. Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers – Dying Wish of a Teenager (YT)
i know it doesn’t seem like i’m trying
mostly ’cause i feel like i’m dying

16. Something Corporate – I Woke Up In A Car (YT)
i met a girl who kept tattoos for homes that she had loved
if i was her i’d paint my body until all my skin was gone

17. The Killers – Flesh and Bone (YT)
we are the descendants of giant men

18. Augustana – Hurricane (YT)
you can only pray when you’re waiting out the hurricane

19. Amy Kuney – Appreciate Your Hands (YT)
you’re a hero gone to waste, untouched, unused
but i’ve never been this beautifully rescued

20. Dawes – When My Time Comes (YT)
i thought that one quick moment that was noble or brave
would be worth the most of my life

Aug 26

what a ridiculous day.

My book came out today.   Isn’t that such a weird thing to be able to say?   I am not an emotionally stable person by any measure, so I basically spent today trying to work while climbing walls and having regular crying fits in my office because my friends were just so awesome, all day. Messages and flowers and calls and emails and most importantly, signal boosting. I was so overwhelmed by how much support I got from the people I love and admire.   The first week of sales for a book are important, and since I’m a first time author without a huge marketing push, I was (and am) really relying on word-of-mouth. I was blown away by the number of people who took the time to help me with that today. Being a fan is such a huge part of my identity — it has been since I passionately decided to devote my whole entire existence and every corner of my heart to JC Chasez at age eleven — and so I spend a lot of time shouting from the rooftops about the things that I think are awesome. It was pretty incredible to have a little taste of that support turned back on me today by the people that I love and admire most.   Basically… thank you. Thank you thank you thank you.   Now’s the fun part. I can’t wait to hear what you guys think of Eternal Night, so tweet me, email me, etc! I really hope you have fun reading it.   P.S. Happy national dog day! Pacey doesn’t give a shit that I wrote a book.   Double P.S. JC Chasez, I’m still here. Colton can give you my number.

Aug 3

playlist: summer in los angeles, 2002.

Today, I stepped out of that new Starbucks on Sunset and Vine and had this really bizarre moment of déjà vu. Or maybe that’s not the term — maybe it was just nostalgia. Either way, some inexplicable thing about the exact combination of sounds and smells — music from someone’s car or the coffee in my hand or the muggy, cloudy heat — at that particular moment transported me, whiplash-fast, back twelve years to the first time I was in LA.

I was fifteen, my parents were at the messiest point in a very messy divorce, I’d left Connecticut in the awkward middle of a weird first-love adventure, and I was in a new city. I was at UCLA for an eight-week college program — we lived in the dorms and took a couple college courses and did lame touristy things like window-shop Rodeo Drive and take the Universal backlot tour. My sister joined me a few weeks later, but for the first few weeks, I was truly alone — there wasn’t a single person there who I knew from back home. It was the very first time in my life that I was in that position. 

I think I’d kind of expected it to be easy to make friends — like summer camp, where you fall so in love with everyone you meet and swear you’ll be best friends forever — but it wasn’t. There’s a big difference between the hopeful adolescent idealism of a sleepaway camp cabin in Vermont and the high-pressure competitive fervor of a dorm full of fifteen- to eighteen-year-olds trying to get good grades and look hot and hook up with college guys in Los Angeles.   It wasn’t easy to make friends, but I wanted, badly, for that summer to be an adventure. It was my first time away from my parents, other than the aforementioned sleepaway camp, and I wanted to feel independent and wild and free. I remember things in fits and starts. I dyed my hair red from a box I’d bought at Rite-Aid (it didn’t go well, as you can see from the picture). I took diet pills — and ephedra was still legal then, so I dropped weight quickly, but I’d gained it all back by the end of the summer. I drank three sips of vodka at Disneyland and cried during the parade. I let a really pretty girl from Long Island named Alanna copy all my Psych 101 assignments because she seemed like the kind of person it’d be good to be friends with.

I took a yoga class and wore the same pair of UCLA sweatpants like, every single day. I illegally downloaded “Life as a House” from Limewire or something and watched it a zillion times on my laptop with my roommate. I saw a bunch of kids put on a production of “Chicago” and one of the guys in it was named Nathaniel, and everyone was in love with him.   Mostly, for the first time, I just let myself be alone. Honestly, I was really sad about what was going on at home, and the sadness made me quiet, so I wasn’t much company for the people I did manage to connect with. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever felt like a true introvert, and I think that was just what I needed that summer.

Last year, I saw one of the girls from my floor in the dorm at the airport, and I started to wave hello — and then I realized she wouldn’t remember me, because I’d barely talked to her, because I’d barely talked to anyone. This was pre-Facebook. Generally you have to actually have made an impression, to be memorable to people who only knew you pre-Facebook.

I spent a lot of time that summer wandering the campus, writing in a journal, listening to music. I had a shitty MP3 player that had come with my lime green Dell laptop. It held 15 MP3s at a time. In addition to Psych 101, I was taking a History of Rock and Roll class, which was introducing me to a lot of new stuff. New to me, extremely old to the rest of the world. I wrote my final paper about “Gimme Shelter,” and I made my AIM away message lyrics from Led Zeppelin’s “Fool In The Rain.” (another ten minutes/no longer/and then i’m turning around) but that was also the summer that I fell in love with Something Corporate — “Konstantine,” obviously — and Jack Johnson. I think I listened to John Mayer’s “Love Soon” about 47 million times because a guy I liked from home had emailed me the lyrics.

I was into a lot of emo bands, too, though I don’t think I knew at the time that they were emo, and I definitely wasn’t tapped into the subculture — or even aware that it existed, as far as I recall.   Anyway — the music is the point of this entire post. After I had that weird time-travel/déjà vu moment today, I went back to my office (I was working on a Saturday, because I’m annoying) and started digging through Spotify trying to assemble that 15-song playlist that I listened to so obsessively that summer.

It’s a weird mix — and some of it is really lame — but it brings back such a vivid time for me, such a specific kind of healthy, introspective, peaceful aloneness.

1. Jack Johnson – Mudfootball

2. John Mayer – Love Soon

3. The Rolling Stones – Gimme Shelter

4. The Juliana Theory – If I Told You This Was Killing Me Would You Stop

5. The Animals – House of the Rising Sun

6. Something Corporate – Konstantine

7. New Found Glory – The Glory Of Love

8. The Spill Canvas – Sunsets and Car Crashes

9. The Beatles – Revolution

10. Guster – Rainy Day

11. The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving

12. Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit

13. Switchfoot – Let That Be Enough

14. Counting Crows – Hard Candy

15. Led Zeppelin – Fool in the Rain

Talk to me! What songs bring back specific moments for you? Have you ever had a weird time-travel moment for no particular reason? How blatantly terrible is that New Found Glory cover of “Glory of Love” and why did I listen to it three times today?

May 11

i’ve got a good mother

I wrote this a couple of months ago and never posted it, but I figured today would be a good day to do it (with a few edits). I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

I can’t sleep. Tomorrow afternoon I’m getting on a plane to fly to Atlanta to film my first episode of The Originals — my first episode of TV ever — which I wrote with Julie Plec. I’m so nervous and excited and insane right now. And I feel SO extremely lucky. Which is kind of weird for me, actually.   When I was a journo, TV fans on Twitter used to tell me how lucky I was all the time… lucky to get to write about TV for a living, lucky to meet celebrities, etc etc. I realize how bratty this sounds, but I kind of resented when they said that, because I didn’t feel lucky. I felt like I’d worked my ass off, made sacrifices, and taken scary risks. I felt like I worked from the moment I opened my eyes to the moment I went to sleep every day — and if I woke up in the middle of the night, you bet I was signing online to make sure no work could be done before I rolled back over and went to sleep. Getting to do a job I liked was about preparedness and care and work and relentlessness. I don’t want to short-change myself and say it was about luck.

But the truth is, I am lucky. This last year has made that very clear. Because I wouldn’t be able to do what I love, to take big risks, if it weren’t for one stroke of extraordinary luck: I have the best mom ever. That’s where I have been the luckiest.

Last May I gave my notice at Zap2it before I had another job lined up, and that was really scary. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck, so up and quitting a steady job (that I really did love, 90% of the time) was terrifying. But I couldn’t move forward with TV writing while I was still a journalist, so I had to take the plunge. I absolutely positively never would have done that if it wasn’t for my mom.

Part of that is because I knew she wouldn’t let me end up homeless, but mostly it’s because of the example she’s set. When I was a kid — as soon as my youngest sister was old enough to function more like a human being and less like a mom-dependent blob — my mom started working with a charity called Heart Care International. In short, they arranged missions to developing, impoverished countries, bringing a team of the best heart surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and specialists to perform open-heart surgery on dozens of children with heart defects who otherwise would never be able to receive the essential care. A few years later, my mom left Heart Care International and moved on to create her own organization — Heart Trust, Inc. The spirit of the missions are similar — a lot of world-class experts use their vacation time to go save the lives of these children and their families — but at Heart Trust, Inc, there’s a special focus on the “teach a man to fish” model. They spend time teaching doctors in third-world countries new techniques, and when they leave, they donate a lot of their top-notch equipment to the facilities there. In doing so, they change the paths not only of the kids they operate on over those two-weeks, but of countless children after that.

My mom’s been doing all of this for over fifteen years. It’s a full-time job, and she’s never made a penny off of it. She founded and runs the entire organization, but she’s not a doctor. She took a plunge into a field that she knew very little about, educated herself, surrounded herself with the very best people and wasn’t afraid to ask questions until she became an expert in her own right. She does it because she’s passionate about it, because it makes her feel like the person she was supposed to be all along. And she still made it to all the lacrosse games and dance recitals.

This has been the best year of my life, but it’s also been the hardest. Being a writer’s assistant for a TV show you love is awesome. It cool and creatively stimulating and exciting, and it should really be an easy job, but it’s been difficult for me, really just because of my personality type. It’s really tough for me to sit three feet from where I actually want to be, because I’m so completely consumed with wanting to take the next step and be better and do better and impress everyone. All the time. Every waking minute. As much as I love being a writer’s assistant, the first thing I think about every morning is “what can I do today to not have to be a writer’s assistant anymore?” and, because I am who I am, the last thing I think about every night is “let me count the ways I royally fucked that up today.” 

On top of that, this year I was also working on my book every weekend, and I didn’t want to screw that up either, so I never really cut myself a break or had a day off. For the first few months of being a writer’s assistant I basically unraveled into a tangle of anxious nothingness until I was keeping myself up all night with panic attacks on a regular basis. There was one night right before Labor Day where I convinced myself I had made a terrible mistake and I was a crappy writer and a crappy person and I was way behind where I should be in life. I literally stayed up all night long just completely freaking out. I couldn’t get a deep breath. I actually paced. I didn’t know people did that in real life.

If I didn’t have the kind of mom who I could call at five in the morning crying about nothing, I think I would have given up and become one of those people who runs away from their perfectly acceptable lives and is found a decade later living on a beach in Nova Scotia covered in a three-inch layer of dirt and sweating stolen vodka. As it is, I do have the kind of mom I can call, and by 6 AM I was fully convinced that everything was going to be just fine and that the sky was not going to fall on my head. (My mom keeps the sky from falling on my head a lot, and somehow I still haven’t learned that the sky is never actually falling.)

I’m 27 years old and I call my mom every single day to maintain sanity. As soon as I get in my car after work, I call my mom. I spend a lot of evenings circling a three-block radius around my house, just… talking to my mom. My family lives on the east coast, but my mom never really lets me feel like I’m far away from them. Those end-of-the-day phone calls have replaced family dinner, for catching each other up on the details of our lives. She knows all my friends’ names, she knows who all my coworkers are, she knows lots of The Originals spoilers. When Will Gardner died on “The Good Wife” I was freaking out because my mom was on a ski trip and hadn’t watched it and it was killing me not to talk to her about it. And we’re three thousand miles apart.

I think if you’d told me when I was a kid that I’d be so close to my mom as an adult, I’d have been skeptical. Not because she wasn’t a great mom when I was younger — she has always been a great mom — but because I was a nightmare teenager. I threw parties I was absolutely not allowed to throw, I slammed every door in my house in her face, I think I probably made her already difficult divorce a lot more difficult by choosing that year to morph from a nervous bookworm into a whirling dervish of angst and fury. In short, my mom has forgiven me for a lot. I’m very lucky.

(I also was one of those mind-boggling kids who found it embarrassing that I even had parents. Like, I think I secretly wanted my peers to believe that I sprouted from the earth and walked into my freshman geometry class. Fully cooked, no need to be, you know… raised by people. I hated when my friends were around my parents. Sometimes now, when my mom comments on my Instagram posts about how much she hates my pink hair or how well she raised me I think about how embarrassed that kind of thing would’ve made me when I was fifteen. These days, I mostly just want everyone in the world to see how funny and weird and cool my mom is.)

So anyway. Tomorrow, I’m going to go to Atlanta and shoot an episode of television that I wrote. True to form, I have convinced myself that I’m going to screw everything up spectacularly, that everyone is going to hate me, and that my bosses are just humoring me by letting me go on this one trip before they tell me I’m in the wrong line of work and to have a nice life. I’ve kind of accepted that that’s just how my brain works, and it’s probably how my brain is always going to work. But I have a mom that is always, always on hand to counteract that annoying brain chemistry by saying the right thing and being the ever-present safety net that’s made me a person who is absolutely afraid to take risks but who takes them anyway. I’ll probably call her on the drive to set and the drive from set every single day, and she will convince me that the sky is not falling, and I will believe her until the next day, when I will make her tell me again. And she will.


Feb 22

you’ve gotta hear this one song

For the last few weeks I’ve been buried under a mountain of writing. Writing is super fun when you’re feeling inspired and plugged-in and super not fun when you’re feeling insecure and fumbly. I find that the best (and only) way to snap out of a major funk is music.

 Soooo I thought now would be a great time to remind you guys (again)  about one of my faves, Dame. She’s super underrated and crazy talented, with such a unique pop-rock vibe that always feels huge and epic and anthemic. Her songs feel like some of the best female-driven tunes of the 90s, but with a really fun, relatable modern sensibility. (Who doesn’t love a good rant about seeing your ex’s new girl vomiting pet names all over his Facebook page? That is the absolute worst. Which makes Dame’s song “Sugar Muffin” the absolute best.)

It doesn’t hurt that she’s a fantastic human being too. Dame is Michelle Armstrong, who I don’t get to see NEARLY enough but who has a tendency to make my whole week better when I do bump into her at Whole Foods. Michelle and I met through her guy Matt Lauria (another one of those people who brightens up a room ridiculously), who I used to interview all the time when I was doing that TV journalism thing. When Matt introduced us at ATX Fest (more on that another day) a couple years ago, I became instantly obsessed with Michelle. Like, in a borderline weird way. She just gets it.

Download her EP, Preventions of Heartbreak, on iTunes, and just rock the hell out to it in your car. “Holy Moly” and “Sugar Muffin” are my faves. Keep an eye out on her Facebook for new stuff coming, too. I got an early listen to her new song “California” and I can now die happy. 

Here’s “Holy Moly.” This song needs to play on a TV show. Neeeeds.



Photo courtesy of Christel Robleto

Feb 8

what we talk about when we talk about woody allen

This is sort of a stream-of-consciousness ramble, but I keep thinking about this shit, so I thought I’d write something. Unless you’ve been living deep, deep under a rock, you’re probably familiar with the Woody Allen scandal that has reared its ugly head again after a couple of decades of quiet. If you have just emerged from such a rock, here’s the required reading list: 

“Mia’s Story”: The 1993 Vanity Fair profile on Mia Farrow that details the allegations that Woody Allen molested their daughter, Dylan, when Dylan was 7 years old.

An Open Letter from Dylan Farrow: Now 28 years old, Dylan recounts the incident in her own words in an open letter published by the New York Times, in response to the renewed public interest following Allen’s Golden Globe award and “Blue Jasmine” acclaim.

“The Woody Allen Allegations: Not So Fast”: A defense of Woody Allen written by Robert Weide, who directed a PBS documentary about Allen.

10 Undeniable Facts About the Woody Allen Sexual-Abuse Allegation: Thoroughly researched (and fact-checked) information about the situation from Vanity Fair. (At the bottom, there’s a link to the judge’s ruling in the case, which is fascinating but lengthy.)

“Woody Allen Speaks Out”: An open letter from Woody Allen with his side of the story.  As he writes, “This piece will be my final word on this entire matter and no one will be responding on my behalf to any further comments on it by any party. Enough people have been hurt.”

“Dylan Farrow Responds to Woody Allen: ‘Distortions and Outright Lies’”: Dylan’s response to Woody’s response.

So, now that you’re up to date, have all the facts available to the public, and have heard both sides of the story… you can draw your own conclusions.

But the thing is, your conclusions do not matter. None of our conclusions matter.

We don’t know these people. We, as a public horde of scandal-vultures, can’t draw conclusions about their trustworthiness, based on their art or their writing or their mother’s sexual history (seriously, that is apparently a factor here in bizarro world). Undeniable evidence will never exist. The way you feel about Woody Allen might influence your movie theater choices, but that’s about as harsh as your punishment might get.

So what does matter here? Not the conclusions we draw — but the conversation we have. Whether it’s on social media or around your office water cooler, the conversation is the thing that is important. So what kind of culture do you want your conversation to contribute to?

Because at this point, the conversation is so huge that Dylan is not just the alleged victim, she is every alleged victim. Woody is not just the accused sexual predator, he is every accused sexual predator.

I know it sounds like something a Tumblr activist made up because they were bored and wanted to be outraged, but “rape culture” is not a hyperbole. It’s where we live. Women and girls and other victims of sexual crimes are failed so consistently. When there’s a big high profile case like this, we should make every effort to direct the conversation away from rape culture. Which means away from accusing the victim of anything… including having a wild imagination. 

“Innocent until proven guilty.” That term, which rolls off the tongue so easily, and is used so often, is applied only to the accused. Always. But we don’t apply it to the victim. Why not? Why is a seven-year-old girl who accuses her father of violating her presumed to be guilty of lies and manipulation, when the presumption of innocence is granted so freely to the accused attacker? The presumption of innocence for the accused is very important if you’re the judge or the jury in a trial. But if you’re just a spectator to someone else’s personal tragedy, nobody needs to prove anything to you. All you are is a voice in a conversation. So why not presume that the victim is innocent, first, and have a conversation about that, just in case any other victim is listening?

So many victims are afraid to come forward when they’re sexually abused because they don’t think someone will believe them, they think someone will call them names, they think they’ll get ricocheted around a flawed system until they’re completely battered and still have no justice to show for it. So many parents are afraid to get loud in support of their kids because the sexual predator has more power or influence or money than they do. Let’s do our best to make it so that our conversation about Woody Allen doesn’t contribute to that environment of fear. Slut-shaming Mia Farrow, who is a mother who has stood unwavering by her daughter for 21 years, even as her own reputation was dismantled and incinerated, is just not the kind of conversation we should be having.

When you’re tweeting about this shit, people are listening. So decide how you want to use your voice. To support the rich white male celebrity, or the little girl who grew up to live in secret, under an alias, to avoid the pain of her past. People are listening. What kind of people do you want to hear you?

In the cacophony of noise engulfing them, my voice is not going to matter to Dylan Farrow or to Woody Allen. But maybe my voice will matter to another person who was hurt by someone who should have taken care of them. So I’m going to conduct myself in the conversation as if THAT person is the one who will hear me.

Jul 14

a quick thought about cory montieth

Yesterday, a friend of mine in Vancouver texted me that there was a rumor that a “Hollywood actor” had been found dead in town. I was out with some friends in LA. I sent a few quick texts to my actor friends whose shows film up in Van, and they all wrote back right away that they were fine, and I was relieved. Then I got another text: Cory Monteith.  

I never covered “Glee” very extensively when I was a TV reporter, but I did cover it on occasion, particularly in the first couple of years that the show was on the air. When I was brand new to the business, so was “Glee.” They used to throw parties a couple times a year in LA to promote the show, and that was back when I was so excited to get invited to fancy LA parties (basically, before I had a dog and realized I don’t like going out). I’d be nervous and weird and so so so excited, every time.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is this. When you’re a member of the press (however loosely you use that term) some actors are nice to you because you’re a member of the press. They do exactly the bare minimum that they’re supposed to do: They answer two questions and then they move along, they never remember your name, and the whole time they’re talking to you you can just tell that they’re itching to be done talking to you so that they can go stand in the roped-off VIP section and… do whatever people do in roped-off sections.

And that’s fine. At a party to promote a show, it’s not an actor’s job to make a reporter feel like their new BFF. It’s an actor’s job to promote their show, and then go back to their actual life. 

Cory Monteith wasn’t ever like that. When nobody knew who I was and I had 12 Twitter followers and was two weeks into my first real job in that field, he was nice to me. And not just obligatory-nice. He was happy to take pics and never made you feel like an asshole for asking. When he went to get a drink, he asked if anyone else wanted anything, and came back for more conversation. When you were done asking him questions, he asked you questions. He patiently endured long awkward pauses while I figured out how to work my flip-cam. He remembered my name. He never stood in the roped-off section.

 At the time I was a newbie. Now, after four years of being a TV reporter, let me tell you… there are very, very few lead actors on hit TV shows who are like Cory Monteith. Like, almost none. And that’s okay! They work hard to get roped-off-section access. But at those parties and events, it’s a breath of fresh air to talk to someone and not feel like you’re standing between them and the thing they’d rather be doing. Cory went out of his way to be kind and that’s a rare thing, not just in the industry or in Hollywood, but in 2013 in general.

When we got the news, I was sitting with a bunch of friends, many of whom are TV reporters. E!, TVGuide, TVLine, THR — we were all together, and we all kept saying the same thing: He was such a good guy. None of us knew him personally or spent any time with him outside of work, but the impression that he’d left on all of us was strong and good. The fantastic Kristin Dos Santos over at E!, who spent far more time with Cory than I ever did, wrote this nice piece.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you are a fan of Cory Monteith you have good taste and it’s okay to be very sad today. It’s okay to mourn someone you didn’t know — empathy is a good thing. Don’t let people make you feel embarrassed for that. I’m not. He was good and this is sad.