a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sometimes, It Just Boggles The Mind

So I was reading a TV pilot spec last night, as a writing sample for one of the companies that I work for. And this gem appeared on page 1.


A female with died blond hair leans over to do the first line of coke. (This is PAULA JOHNSON)


It's hard to know where to start. The fact that doesn't end in a period is dumb, the parenthetical is awkward, and I don't know when it become cool to write "female" rather than "woman" (I think people have been watching too much CSI).

Of course, it's the "died blond" that really jumps out. Even the blond bothers me, because it should be "blonde".

Why am I picking on this writer?

Because he's repped by CAA. And they are sending this out as a WRITING SAMPLE. With all of this crap on the first page.

Yeah, if the story had been great, it probably wouldn't have mattered. But it isn't.


At 11:01 AM, Blogger Scoopy said...

Well, now, not to defend this hack, but "blond" is not incorrect.

But everything else is. :)

I agree about the "female" misuse. What I hate even more is "woman doctor" or "woman engineer." It's "FEMALE doctor" and "FEMALE engineer."

Jeez. Could you imagine reading "man doctor"????

At 11:08 AM, Blogger Tom said...

So, it's a sitcom, right? I knew the Olsen twins would return to television. Get to the part where they mix up their dealer's beeper number with their wacky neighbor's escort service number.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Huh. I always thought "blond" referred to men and "blonde" to women, like "fiance" and "fiancee". But my dictionary makes no distinction.

Learn something new every day.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Was it written by a retired cop? Reads that way.

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous kristen said...

i don't want to whine "life is unfair", but i think i will anyway.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Grubber said...

"i don't want to whine "life is unfair", but i think i will anyway."

Kristen, look at it another way.....if THIS can get repped, it gives hope to us all. :)

Scott, thanks again for the little pep there. Will take boosts wherever I can get them.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

I think describing her dark roots or something along those lines would have been better than just saying it was died blonde.

But that is just the opinion of a man screenwriter.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger s.warren said...

I think that male is onto something. I'm going to start using CSI-ish language and following my sentences with clunky parentheticals. I'll be repped by CAA within a month. (Wish me luck)

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Scoopy said...

"I always thought "blond" referred to men and "blonde" to women, like "fiance" and "fiancee". But my dictionary makes no distinction."

I didn't say it was a classy usage. If both are technically interchangable, then why not use the classically feminine "blonde" for a female character?

But Hacky McScribe obviously has bigger problems to worry about...

At 2:37 PM, Blogger Matt Waggoner said...

Good or bad as my storytelling and dialogue may be, one thing I can guarantee is that you will never find more than an insignificant number of typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors in my screenplays. That is the easiest part of writing, easier even than script formatting. There is zero excuse for leaving those kinds of errors in a professional screenplay. (Blog posts are another story.) Good Godzilla.

</end arrogant rant>

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous cwmagee said...

Scott, do you ever post any brilliant or clever exerpts?

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'm wary of posting anything good, because in theory I could get into trouble if I ever posted anything that someone actually stole.

Plus, good writing is a combination of a lot of things, that often a single line won't capture.

(If you want to steal "died blond" though, feel free).

That's not to say that I don't read good stuff. In the same CAA batch was a really very good writing sample.

So it's not all tripe. It's just that the tripe is more fun to post about.

At 4:58 PM, Blogger writergurl said...

Why didn't he use use "bottle blonde"? Everyone KNOWS what that means and it's more descriptive.

Whatever, if THIS dude can get repped, I can.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Patrick J. Rodio said...

Hello? Wouldn't it be DYED? Not Died.

At 6:10 PM, Anonymous cwmagee said...

maybe I'll use it in my next title...


At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Lucy said...

Intriguing. I thought it was "blond" in American English and "blonde" in UK English full stop, neither interchangeable on the basis both countries actually speak different forms of English - Americans say "dove" by turning the verb "dive" irregular for example, whereas we don't, that sort of thing (spot the English teacher, sorry!).

To quote UK comedian Eddie Izzard: "(Americans) say "ERB", we say "HERB"...because there's a f****** "H" in it!" ; )

At 6:03 AM, Blogger Georgi Rimsakov said...

I am Swedish, but even I know it should be "dyed."

At 6:42 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

You know. I thought "died" looked wrong, but I just marched along assuming I was having one of those stupid moments. Now, I look like an idiot for recreating the error. If Bill Gates isn't telling me how to spell, I'm lost.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Julie O. said...

This writer obviously meant to write A DEAD female with blond hair leans over to do the first line of coke.

Cut the guy some slack, huh?


At 1:43 PM, Blogger Matt Waggoner said...

Actually, now that I think about it, the whole "died blond" thing reminds me of the lyrics from the Foo Fighters' song "Stacked Actors":

Stack dead actors
Stacked to the rafters
Line up the bastards
All I want is the truth

Hey hey now, can you fake it?
Can you make it look like we want?
Hey hey now, can you take it?
And we cry when they all die blonde?

Although in this case, I'm pretty sure Grohl was making a deliberate pun...

At 8:01 PM, Blogger wcmartell said...

Yeah - "blond" is male and "blonde" is female...

And almost every producer I have ever worked with has claimed that the worst scripts in town come from CAA. I think it's a symptom of the bigger problem - referrals. Instead of judging a script on its merits, it’s judged on who the writer knows. This means Tom Cruise’s pool boy has a better chance than some really good writer who has no connections at all. I think agencies should strip the title pages off scripts and judge them *as scripts*.

- Bill

At 2:03 AM, Blogger Eleanor said...

Julie O said: "This writer obviously meant to write A DEAD female with blond hair leans over to do the first line of coke."

Oh shit!!
Now that's a funny film!


At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely. Cokehead zombie whores.

Go write it, Julie.

-danny boy

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought that 'blond' was the adjective and 'blonde' the noun.

I checked the dictionary and it turns out that in UK usage the noun is spelled 'blonde' and the adjective either 'blonde' or 'blond'.

In American English the word can be spelled either way, both as noun and adjective.

But one thing is for certain: the noun is reserved for women. 'A blonde walks in' means a blond woman walks in. Men are never described as blondes.


At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

she was a dead blonde sounds more appropriate for that story

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Wamba said...

You're right about blonde with an 'e' being female, and blond without and 'e' being male.

According to Webster:

Etymology: Middle French blond, masculine, blonde, feminine

Of course, according to Downtown Julie Brown's song in Earth Girls Are Easy:

'Cuz I'm a blonde


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