Positive Gender Change

I decided on the topic of this Blog before the subject of the Ghostbusters gender change hit the fan. I think I was a day or so ahead of the curve. But a day or so late posting it. We’ll blame it on Rock and Roll. My band, The BSides, had great gig this weekend at the largest Art and Wine Festival on the West Coast. Three hundred thousand people over two days.

We got up on the stage and played some kick ass music for an hour and a half. Played Mad Dogs & Englishmen’s version of “The Letter” for the first time in public and nailed it, thank you. It was, on the music front, a Triumphant weekend. But it kept me from publishing the Blog over the weekend like I wanted to.

We can start on my opinion about Ghostbusters. I LOVE the film. LOVE IT. Loved it from the first time I saw it when it came out and loved it every time I’ve seen it since. I see no reason to remake it, period. But… saying that… if you were to remake it, why not with women?  New dynamic. New directions in story. A whole new feeling. It could be great. It could suck. Just like any other remake. But it’s not something to pull hair out over. I’m sorry it’s a big deal. It shouldn’t be.

It worked with the Odd Couple, as one example of many, very well. I’ve seen a couple of all female versions of it and it was very successful. So why not Ghostbusters, if they want to do it?

And I’ve already Blogged in the past about my love of great female characters in film. I love writing strong women and stories that center around them. More now than when I first started writing.

I think I wrote my TV pilot script while I was still working on Nash Bridges, between my third and fourth feature scripts. It was a new take on a police procedural, something that still hasn’t been done by the way, and a couple of Producers thought it was great. Nothing happened with it, but c’mon, nothing happens with TV pilots when you’re a tiny small recurring actor on a series and not a writer. Or what they see as a writer. So it went back in my pile of unsold scripts.

When I got my manager, he asked for all my scripts, well… not at once. He wanted them sent in order that I thought they’d sell... (boy, was a wrong about that, too). I never mentioned the pilot. Then one day we were talking about pilots and I told him I had one and pitched it. Like everyone else who heard the idea, he loved it and asked to read it. And since I hadn’t even read it in ten years, my guess was it needed some updating. I was right. So, with ten more years of writing experience behind me I read it and found it lacking in a lot of ways and proceeded to rewrite it with a more 21st Century feel to it.

He loved it and now so did I. The one thing I didn’t notice, that I should have, was that the females were all background players. It was a Boy’s Club of monstrous proportions. I took what I had written twelve years before and updated the story, but not the diversity that it desperately needed. My bad. Despite that, it’s gotten some really nice reactions so far, but no bites. A couple of pretty front lines actors have championed it, but again to no avail. Then a woman exec at a network told my manager she liked it but they were looking for female centric series right now. And that brought about a conversation between my manager and me about maybe turning the pilot on its head and gender changing the main character.

It would immediately make the script kind of controversial because of the subject matter and the main character’s occupation. A woman in an extremely man-centric job. I couldn’t wait to do it.

The last two weeks have been spent doing just that. Turning the pilot on its head. Rewriting. Rewriting. And rewriting. His name was Jack. Her name is Althea. He was tough and strong. She’s tough and strong, but in a way more dynamic way. He was begrudgingly welcomed into a man’s world. She’s not going to be at all. His wife was understanding, but concerned at what he was getting into. Her husband is having all kinds of problems with it.

I’ve never had so many wonderful things open up in a script. Storylines have blossomed. I have two seasons worth of ideas of ways to make this woman singularly different from anything on TV now and that’s pretty exciting. It’s been a revelation.

Was I an idiot for not thinking of this in the first place? Maybe. But it was also twelve years ago and they probably would have told me to make it a man. Who knows.

All I know is that I love the pilot now and I can’t wait to see the reaction to it. It has a feeling of new to it, not just to me, but to the genre. A nice feeling if you’re the writer.

One thought on “Positive Gender Change

  1. Patrick S. Poplin

    Simple rule in writing: if something that you are writing/have written, for whatever reason, isn’t working, turn it upside down. I’m following your success Bob, and I’m very happy for you.

Comments are closed.