- - Monday, June 12, 2017


Into each life a little rain must fall, as ancient wisdom teaches, and sometimes, when the season is right, the rain turns to snow. Many of these precious snowflakes fall on campus, but not all, and sometimes the snowflakes (mostly fragile millennials who imagine themselves, like snowflakes, unique) fall on unlikely places. Southern California is the last place to expect a heavy snowfall, but it happens. We can blame President Trump, apparently not global warming.

A group of television “creators,” to use their word, collected in Austin, Texas, the other day to commiserate about how the president is making their jobs difficult. They even put on a show, with panels, testimonials and lots of mutual applause, to talk about life in the pothole lane.

“How can I possibly focus?” complained Javier Grillo-Marxuach, a writer for the show “Lost.” He confides to Entertainment Weekly that he suffers from the worst affliction in Hollywood. “There’s a lot of stress eating involved.” Oh, dear. Food is full of calories and who knows what calories can do to a midsection. “More than anything else, the torrent of news and information is about the stuff you do to mitigate your stress to be effective.”

The director of “Royal Pains” agrees, and observed that he imposed a rule that no computers or cell phones are allowed in the writers’ room when snowflakes are communing with their muses. “But the moment there’s a break, we’re all talking about how horrendous and depressing it is, then we’re back to work trying to be funny.”

The production supervisor of “The Vampire Diaries” says the November election brought about “absolute sorrow, horror, and depression” and produced untold misery behind the scenes of the show, which a naive observer might think would be a good thing behind the scene of a drama about vampires. Count Dracula, after all, was never a bowl of laughs. The good thing is that Julie Plec, the supervisor — or “showrunner,” in the argot of television — says she feels a heightened responsibility to “double down on making it OK to be inclusive and not OK to be a bigot in her storytelling given ‘the current culture.’”

Beau Willimon, identified as the “creator” of “House of Cards,” a popular knock-off of the original British drama, says he early on recognized catastrophe coming. “It felt like the whole country was slapped across the face with a two-by-four.” Anyone who recognizes a two-by-four — a piece of lumber measuring two inches by four inches — probably wouldn’t use it to slap anyone across the face. A two-by-four is a bludgeon, best used on contrary mules, and only when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is not looking.

When the moderator of one panel asked about the observation of many conservatives that “the Hollywood creatives” live in a bubble where they keep out of touch with real people, the producer of “House of Cards” disagreed.

“We have a president who has never known what it means to hold a real job and to struggle,” he says. “I think some stereotypes are true, Hollywood does lean left, but ask yourself why it does. Artists are people who read a lot.” What could a man who built a billion-dollar business and employed hundreds of men and women, know about a real job. Has he ever written a script?

One of the panelists tried to be philosophical. “There’s a strong possibility that great art can come out of [the Trump catastrophe] and we can all be OK. The only way we survive is being the most honest version of ourselves and tell the world to [go have sexual relations with itself] if they don’t like it.”

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