Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 11.24.11 PM

201

Today the production goes on location for the first day of shooting for “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street” season 2, episode 1, or “episode 201″ as the cool kids call it.

I’ll be back at the office, however. There’s still much writing to do. This is the hardest part — feeling like all my friends are at a party, and I have homework to do.

Making a show is hard work creatively for sure, but it’s also hard work physically and my hat’s off to everyone today who is hauling equipment and cables and lights and chairs and monitors and props and doing all the other millions things I probably take for granted.

We had a marathon table reading of four episodes last week and it was the first time the cast was back together. It felt like no time had passed at all. It was great to hear Gortimer’s voice again, even if it is sounding more like a teenager’s voice and less like a kid’s.

I can’t say anything too specific about season 2, other than you will see all your favorite characters back in action. We have to acknowledge of course that the kids are a bit older, and taking tentative steps into teenage-hood. But as always, there is much fun, adventure, laughter and, yes, magic in store. And maybe a few tears. Most of all, we’ll continue to experience the enduring friendship of three very smart and resourceful kids. I hope to share more soon.

 

 

 

Version 2

Season 2 Begins

A few months ago, Amazon Studios announced they had picked up GORTIMER GIBBON’S LIFE ON NORMAL STREET for a second season. This is thanks in no small part to the huge audience response to our show. So thank you. Everyone wants more, and more everyone shall have.

The writers have already assembled and we’ve all been busy stockpiling scripts. We’re back at our old studio lot in LA. We almost went elsewhere, but I’m glad we ended up back here. It feels like coming home.

This week things start to change. Where before there were mostly writers, now there are costume designers and art directors and producers and set medics and DPs and casting directors and gaffers and grips and, well, you get the idea. The troops are arriving.

Tomorrow is our first table read of the season, the first time the principle cast will all be together again, and the Amazon Studios execs will be here and all the production heads. Some people I’ve already had a chance to reconnect with, some I will be seeing again for the first time in a long time.

I’m excited but I’m also feeling weirdly nervous. “Nervous” might not be the right word exactly, but it’s a strange kind of energy. It’s like the first day back at school after a long summer vacation. All your friends have been off living their own lives for a little while. You’ve been out of touch and you just aren’t sure what to expect. It’s a little weird. I don’t know. Maybe I personalize too much. Maybe I’m the only crazy person who has ever felt this way. It’s just been too long, and I’m eager to get back in the groove. Regardless, I’m sure tomorrow will be a very happy day.

My Favorite Day

Wake at 11:30 because no one was making noise, nudging me or insisting we get out of the house and do something.

Pull on some underwear, a t-shirt and one sock. Decide that’s enough for now. These items have been previously used and were carefully stored over night on the floor.

Think about taking a shower and brushing my teeth. Briefly.

Play some Xbox. Notice my toenails need trimming and do exactly nothing about it.

Spend a half-hour in the bathroom uninterrupted. Because I can.

Drink a half glass of soda left on my desk from the night before, refill the same dirty glass.

Read a graphic novel on my iPad while slouching with terrible posture in my easy-chair. Hook one leg over the arm of the chair and continue reading. Scratch any itch I feel like scratching.

Adjust air-conditioning to sub-arctic temperatures. Stand under vent until neck skin goes numb from frozen blast of air. No one complains.

Carve up a ham for lunch. Only ham. Leave the plate in cupboard and just walk around with a fistful of ham. Wipe ham water off my hand with my shirt when I’m done.

Sudden urge to use the bathroom. It’s free.

Tuxedo cat walks through my front patio again. I make kissy noises. It quickly trots away, vaguely wondering why I smell of ham.

Stretch out on the unoccupied couch and prepare for nap. Try to think of any way my life could be improved by a relationship. Fall asleep before I can think of a single one.

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 3.31.33 AM

2014 – The Year of the Series

Dusting off my trusty old blog meme for another year-end wrap-up. You can read about 2013 in a previous post.

The Year in Dave History, 2014

1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?

It’s hard to believe all that’s happened has happened within the space of a year. In March, my TV series Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street got the green light for a season order of 12 episodes. In April I moved to LA to begin writing on the series. In June we began shooting. By September, we wrapped principle photography. We had a red carpet premiere and the series went live on Amazon Prime in November. That’s one heck of a year.

This was my first TV series, and thus, there were many, many firsts for me this year. Among them:

  • Being in a writer’s room
  • Having an office on a studio lot
  • Seeing sets built on a soundstage
  • Collaborating on a script
  • Editing
  • Doing an on-camera interview
  • Walking a red carpet at the big screen premiere of a TV show I created – mind boggling

I’m sure I’m forgetting many, many things. It’s been a whirlwind.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I wouldn’t call it a resolution, but I completely and utterly failed to lose weight or improve my health. Quite the opposite.

Before I moved to LA this year, I knew I’d be facing a lot of challenges on that front, a lot of temptations. If I’m in a groove, if I have a routine down, I can stay on the straight and narrow. But moving to a new town and starting a completely new way of life — going from teaching preschool to writing and producing a TV show — well, there’s just no familiar ground to anchor myself to. In fact, food was the only constant comfort I could depend on.

I knew it would be tough going in, so I deliberately tried to establish a regimen of sorts before moving, and enrolled in a serious medically-surpervised weight-loss program a few months ahead of the move. I lost about 30 pounds in three months, which is impressive but typical of what I can accomplish when resolved. But the life changes were too big, and my new routine not well-established, and LA is full of food and stress. After the move, I crashed and burned.

I’m pretty ashamed of myself and for everyone who was rooting for me, I was doubly ashamed of letting them down.

Basically every challenge in my life I face right now is directly tied to my weight. I’m not done fighting yet, but sometimes the prospect of failure, of letting people down, of letting myself down, is more daunting than the idea of giving up a donut or a plate full of pasta. There’s a certain amount of safety and comfort in remaining a failure. If you lower people’s expectations enough, you can live a life relatively unbothered by anyone. And you can indulge your vices. And further shortcomings are just part and parcel of the whole package. And it’s easier to rationalize personal rejection, too. Giving up on most forms of social interaction is just a natural extension of giving up on yourself. What most people don’t understand about being overweight — really, really overweight — is that the weight part itself is almost the least of one’s problems.

Anyway, it’s a new year, and the stars are aligning and my routine seems to be firming up and I think I’m in as good a position as any to start again. So I’m going to start again. And I hope people forgive me for failing, and I hope I forgive myself, and I hope I can find a way out of this hell.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes. My 2nd Cousin Heather, who I never had a chance to meet in person, and who loved and supported the show but never got a chance to see any of the new episodes, died suddenly from a blood clot.

5. What countries did you visit?

None. I’m not fond of travel.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?

My sleep patterns are not really patterns as they are utter chaos. I would like a little more discipline to maintain a routine during hiatuses and what have you. That, and a little progress on the health and wellness front would be nice.

7. What date from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

So much happened this year, hard to pick one date.

Not to exclude any other incredible moments, but one day that stands out most for me is the first table read where I saw Sloane, Ashley and Drew again for the first time after far, far too long a time.

My birthday was a huge deal to me. It meant a lot.

The biggest day of all, the one that sort of encapsulates 2014, is November 17th, the day of the red carpet premiere of Gortimer at the Arclight in Hollywood.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

The series in general, but I’m particularly proud of my collaboration with Luke on the season finale script. The script turned out great, and the episode itself is amazing. Great way to end the whole season.

9. What was your biggest failure?

See above re: health.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

A slew of annoying maladies, again all traceable back to my weight. Back issues, sleep issues, fatigue issues. High blood pressure scare. An infection in my leg that almost sent me to the hospital. Crap like that.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

People are under the impression sometimes that I have a swimming pool full of cash that I regularly dive into. The good news is that I have money, I can live on my own in LA, I don’t worry too much if I can afford food or health care or fill up the tank with gas. It’s a huge mental relief, it really is — and a big change from most of my life. But I’m not exactly buying a house in the hills just yet, I still drive the same car, and I’m not taking any fancy trips. I have a small pile of money but I don’t know for how long I have to make it last — that’s the fun of being a writer, especially at the start.

I did splurge on a few items. I have a small splurge budget. Otherwise, what’s the point of having your own TV show?

712hV6YjqGL._SL1500_I bought a Shun 7-Inch Sumo Santoku knife and it’s seriously badass. I’ve never handled anything this sharp. I’m surprised I haven’t lost a finger yet.

71vEVvGP5+L._SL1500_Something else I really enjoy – this Corningware Soup Mug. I like soup, and a mug is ideally a perfect soup containing device. Bowls are too broad and sloppy – they let the soup cool too fast, and they spill the second you even look at them funny. But most mugs are too small to hold a Dave-sized portion of soup. The Corningware mug is perfect – holds generous portion of soup, keeps it hot, has a nice large handle, and the vented lid is perfect for keeping the microwave clean when heating.

71Mn4TY9l1L._SL1500_Probably my favorite purchase this year — which was partly a housewarming gift from Mom — is my turntable set-up. In moving to LA, I rediscovered a treasure-trove of 30-year old vinyl records but of course had nothing to play them on. Enter the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB Direct-Drive Professional Turntable. Even back when vinyl was the primary way to listen to music, I never owned anything close to this quality of turntable. It is rock solid and well-engineered. I added a pair of Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Andrew Jones Designed Bookshelf Loudspeakers — they are a bit bigger than I expected but the sound is big, rich and clear. Of course, you don’t plug speakers directly into the turntable, you need an amp. The biggest surprise in the setup was the smallest and cheapest component of all — the Lepai LP-2020A Amplifier, small but mighty and just right for my little bookshelf setup.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Every judge who finally said enough with the thinly veiled homophobia, it’s time for marriage equality.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

The Supreme Court. Worst court since Dred Scott, and that’s really saying something.

I also find PETA unforgivable.

Anti-vaxxers, you have blood on your hands. If you don’t vaccinate because blah blah blah chemicals you are an idiot.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Taxes. Food. Commissions. Food. Rent. Food. Moving expenses and furniture. And Food.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

  • Season 1 Launch of Gortimer.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?

No one song really captures it, but I listened to “A Rainy Night in Soho” a lot while writing, it has a sort of wistful, nostalgic, yearning for time and friends gone by quality that fit with the show.

The Pogues

“A Rainy Night in Soho”

Lyrics in part:

I’m not singing for the future
I’m not dreaming of the past
I’m not talking of the first time
I never think about the last

Now, the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there’s a light I hold before me
You’re the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

  • i. happier or sadder? – How is it possible to be happier? But I am.
  • ii. thinner or fatter? – Fatter. sigh
  • iii. richer or poorer? – Richer. For once. Wow.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I wish I had been in better shape just so I could enjoy being with friends more. I wish I had done more unpacking and settled into the apartment sooner so I could enjoy relaxing at home when I had some downtime. I wish I had made better use of my downtime.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Less worry and anxiety. Less fretting. Less stuffing my face. Less sitting on my ass.

20. How will you be spending New Year’s?

Quietly relaxing in my apartment with a crystal goblet full of apple cider and a good book.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?

That’s the last thing I need.

23. How many one-night stands?

What kind of meme is this?

24. What was your favorite TV program?

Game of Thrones. 

Doctor Who. 

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Hate is too strong a word and I don’t really waste my energy hating people besides.

26. What was the best book you read?

I’m not so sure I even read one single book last year. That’s terrible.

27. What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?

80s hits on vinyl! Ultravox, Duran Duran, Oingo Boingo, Thompson Twins, Adam Ant and so many others.

28. What did you want and get?

You know.

29. What did you want and not get?

No complaints.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

I still haven’t seen a lot of 2014’s movies. Of the movies I’ve seen — nothing stands out.

30a. What was your favorite podcast of this year? 

I’m really enjoying WITS and NPR’s Ask Me Another. I often turn in a bit early and listen in bed.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 46 this year and had the best birthday I’ve ever had.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Getting everything unpacked and really having my apartment set up. I’m still living half out of boxes, and it’s kind of annoying me.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

At my size, you just don’t think about fashion. Gortimer’s awesome costume designer Alison Freer picked me out a couple of nice shirts and had them altered for me. That was nice.

34. What kept you sane?

My friends.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Uh….

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Oh boy. Mostly, I’m tired of seeing selfishness held up as a virtue.

37. Who did you miss?

We had a great wrap party for Gortimer but I didn’t really enjoy it — I was in a lot of pain, because it was an ending and I knew I might not see anyone again, and even if I did, well, there’s only ever one Season One, and the kids grow fast and they are different people every year. I wanted to stop time.

Only I could be so stupidly lonely and sad in the middle of a huge party like that.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Gah! I met so many new people this year. So many. And they’re all great.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014

Don’t wait to unpack. Settle in. I think this applies to all of life. Settle in with new relationships, new jobs, new circumstances. Get comfortable and own it. Don’t wait for a magic moment, an alignment of stars, and forget baby steps. Life is way too short and moves too fast for that. Whatever you do, do it all the way. Don’t wade in. Dive.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year

It’s about holding on even when you aren’t sure you can. This year was the payoff to a lot of holding on through the dark.

Boomtown Rats
“I Can Make It If You Can”

Can I hold on that long
Is it worth the same old stringalong
There’s been a few rights but there’s plenty wrongs
I can make it if you can.

GG-TW_111314_v1_00003

Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street NOW PLAYING on Amazon Prime!

On May 6, 2012 (I know because I still have the email) I sent a note to a friend of mine and wanted to know what he thought of my idea for a TV show about a boy who lived in a slightly off-kilter world full of quirky characters. I worried it would be a hard sell. He wrote back:

NORMAL STREET sounds like it could be awesome. You should totally try to develop this one — I can really see the potential. 

And the rest is, as they say, history. Two and a half years later, that idea has become Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street which debuts with six episodes on Amazon Prime today. You can go watch Gortimer right now!

If you have kids or have ever been a kid, this show is for you. Besides, who doesn’t love competitive robots?

But how exactly can you watch this show? 

Chances are, whatever device you are reading this blog post on can stream an episode of Gortimer right now. The first episode is free! You’ll need an Amazon Prime membership to see the rest but you can sign up for a free trial on the spot.

Here’s a very handy, step-by-step guide to setting up whatever device you might want to use to access Amazon Prime video — TVs, tablets, Blu-ray players, game consoles, and more.

I watch most of my Prime videos via my web browser on my iMac and sometimes via the Amazon Instant Video app on my iPad.

Now go watch Gortimer and have fun. You can follow the conversation with #GortimerGibbon and follow me on Twitter @davidanaxagoras.

Gortimer_Stars_and_Creator

One More Day

One more day to go, and then Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street bows on Amazon Prime. And if you don’t have Amazon Prime, get yourself a free trial — it’s easy.

Reviews are coming in and they are extremely positive.

The New York Post calls the series “smart, a little zany and never pandering“.

SFGate says “there’s an unabashed quaintness about “Normal Street,” reminiscent of a time when kids TV was all about fun and homemade adventure“.

From Time: “Amazon says it’s aimed at children 6 to 11…but this adult found himself gobbling the four episodes Amazon sent as if I were raiding my kids’ Halloween candy“.

And Variety says “in terms of kids’ TV, this sort of genuinely clever alternative is anything but normal“. 

update: Here’s another thoughtful review, this from Channel Guide Magazine:The show is mysterious, and whimsical and fun; like Pushing Daisies for tweens.”

Seeing so many of my Amazon family at the red-carpet premiere the other night was the best thing I could ever ask for. But now I miss everyone even more. So I’m thinking back on good times as we wait.

Some of my fondest memories from the production:

  • After months of writing before production began, the day for our first table read arrived. That meant finally being reunited with the cast. I’ll never forget the three smiling, beaming faces of our young stars as they raced into the soundstage to greet me. One of the best days, just for that reason.

  • And speaking of the first table reading — it was a blast. Those first two scripts were proof that our writers could pick up the ball and run with it and that we had a show. They weren’t just good, they were great.

  • Not a single memory but I’ll always have a fondness for the days — some of them very late days — in the writers room. You just can’t put that many intelligent and incredibly funny people in such close quarters and not have the time of your life. So much laughter.

  • Collaborating with Luke on the season finale script. We spent a lot of time cooped up together making that script shine, and somehow still came out of it friends and not wanting to kill each other. And the script turned out pretty good too.

  • I remember walking onto the soundstage for the first time — our first day of shooting interiors, and Luke took me into the observatory set, which is Mel and the gang’s hangout. It was stunning. So much detail. This wasn’t your typical sitcom kid’s bedroom. The observatory had layers of history built up, it felt alive and had a real sense of identity. I wanted to move in and live there. No single shot will ever capture its entire glory.

  • By the time a rough cut is assembled, I’ve seen many versions of the script, I’ve seen a lot of the footage as it was being shot on set, I’ve seen all the dailies, and so it’s hard sometimes to look at things with fresh eyes and not be numb to the jokes or the drama. Also, first cuts can be clunky. But I was absolutely moved to tears when I saw the first cut of the season finale in the editing room.

  • The wrap party was bittersweet and I was in a lot of pain because it was so hard to say goodbye. But there was a moment when I unexpectedly received a standing ovation and I was incredibly touched and so very humbled.

These and so many other moments I will never forget. I hope the series brings you as much pleasure as it has brought me.

10377388_413255042156022_3727622307938414306_n

Gortimer at the ArcLight

As I write this it’s a little after one in the morning. I’m in the quiet and dark of my apartment. It’s just me and the gecko that lives in a terrarium on a nearby stand. It’s so quiet now I can hear Cherry Coke bubbles softly fizzing inside the can on my desk.

Monday night was the big screen premiere of my TV show, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, and I’m still trying to process everything. It was a bit like being blown into a tornado. Lots of whirling about, people whizzing by, lights flashing. I really didn’t know what to expect. I’d never been blown into a tornado before.

It’s not unheard of these days for a TV show to premiere in a theater, of course, but of all the fantasizing about my success that I’ve done — the Oscar speeches, the sprawling beach house, the robot monkey butler — the possibility of a Hollywood-style premiere just never occurred to me. And I have to say, Amazon Studios went all out. All. Out.

There was a red carpet that no one warned me about. But I wasn’t the only one intimidated by it and that was a huge relief. It’s always best, if you have to get blown into a tornado, to hold on to someone as it happens. So the red carpet became a group shot with the three kids who were there from the start, the ones that mean all the world to me. I believe I could brave any force of nature with them at my side.

The really good thing about the premiere of course was seeing my Amazon family again. The night was really a celebration of everyone’s talent and hard work, and it’s humbling to stand among so many amazing people.

There were unexpected pleasures and surprises — seeing old friends, bumping into former professors, having people — strangers even — come up to me and praise the show, hearing my story told to the audience and feeling grateful, again, for the unlikely chain of events that lead to me sitting among an audience of 400 or so people in the ArcLight Hollywood auditorium number 3 about to watch two episodes of the TV show I created.

It was also a special night for my family, and I was lucky to have my mom, step-dad, sister and niece there and to be able to share this with them.

Maybe I’ll get better at premieres if I have more practice. It seemed like every time I started a conversation with someone I got swept away, or they got swept away. Sometimes the only moment I had with someone was when they were saying goodbye. I’m not good with the high-speed social interaction things. I’m not good with social interaction to begin with. I hope people can forgive me for being a little mixed up and overwhelmed and befuddled and maybe starting conversations I never finished. Hopefully I’ll get better.

Once I got home from the screening and the afterparty, once I noticed just how quiet it was, once some of the goodbyes hit home I think everything hit me, emotionally, all at once. It’s still a lot to process. I know a few things with certainty at this point. Monday’s premiere was the high-water mark so far of my writing career. I’m very fortunate that Amazon Studios picked up Gortimer because they believe in it so fiercely and everyone I talk to at the studio is as proud of the show as I am. I’m still a writer first and foremost, but there is nothing so satisfying as being part of a creative team and working alongside incredibly talented people to make something awesome.

Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street debuts on Amazon Prime this Friday, November 21st and you can watch the first episode right now. I hope you enjoy.