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Merry Xmas to All, and to All a Good Max

Our week-long M-M-Maxathon concluded on Satuday night at the Jean Cocteau with a staged table reading of "Xmas," my thirty-year-old unproduced (until now) MAX HEADROOM script. And I have to say, we went out on a high note. We had a sold-out theatre, and the audience seemed to enjoy every moment of the performance, laughing and applauding at all the right places.

After thirty years, I was not at all sure how well my old script would hold up... especially with an audience of Max Headroom fanatics, many of whom had just sat through an entire week of Max, watching every one of the produced episodes. MAX HEADROOM was a really smart show, with some fine writing... tough acts to follow. But most of the viewers seemed to think "Xmas" was just as good as what had gone before, which gratified me no end.

One of the things that brought me back to books in the mid 90s, after ten years in television and film, was the sour taste that unproduced scripts left in my mouth... and in my soul. I was making good money during those years in "development hell," but I came to realize that a paycheck was not enough. I hated spending months or years writing and rewriting a script, creating a world, a story, and characters I inevitably came to love, only to have some network or studio decide to pass. I wanted my stories told, and I wanted my teleplays and screenplays performed. Scripts are not meant to be read; to come alive, they need to be staged, acted out...

"Xmas," written in 1987, was actually the first time in my short television career that I tasted the disappointment that so many screenwriters come to know so well. I had been writing for television for less than two years, after all, and up to "Xmas," I'd had a charmed career. My only previous gig had been on TWILIGHT ZONE, where I wrote five scripts, every one of which was greenlit, produced, and telecast (though, okay, "The Road Less Travelled" got butchered on the way). "Mister Meat" had been a stumble, but I never went to script on that one. With "Xmas," I went all the way, and the script had been delivered and slated, scheduled... only to have the show cancelled abruptly.

It's been said that a writer's characters are his children. If so, then unproduced scripts are a screenwriter's stillborn children, and I have far too many of them (for my taste, at least -- those who have worked longer in film and TV have many more). To have the oldest of those, "Xmas," brought to life at long last... to hear the lines spoken, to hear the audience laugh... well, it meant a lot to me.

My thanks go out to our wonderful cast of local actors, especially Elias Gallegos, who played the starring role of Edison Carter. And to Lenore Gallegos, who did such a splendid job of putting this all together and directing. And especially to Michael Cassutt, who made this all happen, to "Max Headroom's Daddy," Steve Roberts... and to the one and only Matt Frewer, who graced our stage at the Jean Cocteau and brought M-M-Max to life one last time, hilariously.

Everyone had a good time on Saturday night, I think. But no one had a better time than me.

Merry Xmas.

Comments

( 9 comments )
sourbillytipton
May. 23rd, 2017 05:18 am (UTC)
Random Question
Have you ever met Gene Hackman? He's also a resident of Santa Fe and he's written a few historical fiction novels. Figured he would make a great guest at your theater and you could end the night with The French Connection.
wazat
May. 23rd, 2017 11:32 am (UTC)
Xmas
Was the reading of 'Xmas' videoed for the viewing pleasure of people who live in the land downunder?
I love your enthusiasm for your script. Obviously wonderful to have it brought to life after so long.
John Vizcarra
May. 23rd, 2017 04:09 pm (UTC)
Please tell me this was video recorded
It sounds like the kind of nostalgic hoot that should live forever.
Frede Veloz
May. 23rd, 2017 04:56 pm (UTC)
Nebulas
Will you write a post with your opinion about the Nebula Award winners? :)
Adam MacKenzie
May. 23rd, 2017 07:33 pm (UTC)
Pronunciation
Hi George, very important question here. How do you pronounce the family name of Harren Hoare? I imagine he would impale anyone who called him a "whore" or "son of a whore".
caravaggio2012
May. 23rd, 2017 07:39 pm (UTC)
Ghost
Sorry to hear about "Ghost" George. :(
Simmy San
May. 23rd, 2017 08:44 pm (UTC)
its heartening to hear that even you faced disappointments that can turn around on themselves later in life. that sounds bad but seriously, its nice to hear.
aleahkate_4ever
May. 24th, 2017 12:45 am (UTC)
I'm sorry Xmas never made it. Thanks for giving us a few enjoyable moments with The Twilight Zone. These are awesome classics!
Christopher Frazier
May. 24th, 2017 01:43 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
As an Author myself, it's hard to imagine investing in a world and the characters for years - who you love; then suddenly are told they will never see the light of day.
I would imagine after enough times it could break any writer's spirit. Much worse than agent rejections and publisher rejections. Really hit home with me thank you for sharing it.
It's easy to look at you now, Stan Lee, and my personal heroes list. See nothing but shining beacons of success. Easy to forget for fans like me about all the dark times heroes of mine struggled through had before success was reached.
A great reminder never to give up as a writer. Because you easily could have.
( 9 comments )

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