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Saturday Hot Links

The 130th installment of Saturday Hot Links.

Today: The Charlie Chaplin Turned 125 Years Old This Week Edition.

Summer box office forecast: Studio-by studio breakdown.

The world’s dumbest idea: Taxing solar energy.

Last week, James Cameron did a Reddit AMA which you can read here.

How far does Mario have to run and swim in Super Mario Bros.

How 15 famous screenwriters got their break.

Bryan Cranson threatens prom date with menacing Walter White voice [video].

How to safely store your movie posters.

How to survive an internet apocalypse.

5 things you might not know about The Big Lebowski.

5 things you might not know about Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

20 things you might not know about Ghostbusters.

25 things you might not know about Say Anything.

25 fun facts about A League of Their Own.

Newspaper reporter now only second worst career.

Cannes announces 2014 short film and Cinéfondation program.

Do bees really die after they sting you.

We are very near the end of civilization as we know it [Sharknado related].

Hendrik Hertzberg: The Late Stephen Colbert.

Watch an animated John August and Craig Mazin talk about… well, you just have to watch it [video].

“My year at a standing desk and why I’ll never go back.”

How to skip through a TV series without getting lost.

The U.S. Navy just announced the end of Big Oil and no one noticed.

Are these the top 10 romantic movie couples?

6 cautionary tales that terrified kids of yesteryear.

10 teenage angst films you might have missed.

How sleep protects the brain.

The 25 best music documentaries on Netflix.

25 Samuel Beckett quotes that sum up the hilarious tragedy of human existence.

Benedict Cumberbatch rules himself out of Star Wars: Episode VII.

24 signs you’re a writer.

Hollywood play money: WME with $2.45B deal to acquire IMG.

Related: Relativity Media tries to outflank Disney with late $900M bid for Maker Studios.

Related: David Fincher out of Steve Jobs movie in a $10M fee fight.

Related: CBS head honcho Leslie Moonves buys Paul Allen’s Malibu spread for $28.8M.

Are these the 10 greatest YA movie characters.

What Disneyland looked like in 1957 [video].

10 films that can teach you everything you need to know about cinematography.

What to think about during exercise.

Cannes workshop to focus on women directors and screenwriters.

Toronto mayor Rob Ford slams home 2 penalty kicks… against a kid [video]. Jackass!

The difficulties and realities of producing movies at $1M and below.

9 books on reading and writing.

10 weird and wonderful bird nests.

Everything you missed in the 2014 MTV Movie Awards.

These confused kids have no idea what a Walkman is [video].

10 craziest “Jurassic Park” book scenes that should have made the movie.

11 things you might not know about weddings.

Harrison Ford weighs in on “Greedo shooting first” controversy.

TED partners with Simon & Schuster to publish TED books.

Related: 6 independent bookstores are thriving… and how they do it.

Sex and censorship in Indian cinema.

Maps of what the Earth would look like if all the ice melted.

The 10 gayest movies ever made.

7 ways to quickly become a master at anything.

The 50 greatest tweets about last week’s “Game of Thrones”.

Related: Tribute to [redacted] from G.O.T. [video].

Google buys drone maker to boost internet access from space.

Why do people lose their minds over television series finales.

Pulitzer Prize winners announced.

You know you want it: Another “True Detective” parody [video].

20 excellent IKEA hacks you should try.

Memo to women screenwriters: Man up!’

US Airways apologizes for X-rated Twitter photo.

Why sports movies have become their own underdog story.

11 words for people who hate certain things.

A serial killer expert analyzes “Mad Men” for links to the Manson family murders.

Relate: All of the women Don Draper doesn’t sleep with on “Mad Men”.

You’re doing Kegels wrong.

Hollywood’s growing faith in religious movies.

Incredible photo of L.A. night sky with Venus, Jupiter and the Blood Moon.

“The Grapes of Wrath” is 75 years old and more relevant than ever.

14 dining-related taboos from around the world.

Studios still leaving money at the table by failing at diversity.

How to set goals like Google.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is now Wes Anderson’s biggest ever moneymaker.

Can elephants be save? The tragic price of the ivory trade.

Watch: “My Name is John Ford: I Make Movies” [video].

10 weird tax deductions other people got away with.

Walt Disney made a cartoon about menstruation [video].

Building a Smartphone the DARPA way.

“Fargo” creator Noah Hawley: How I made it in Hollywood.

There’s happiness. Then there’s life-satisfaction [video].

Hollywood’s biggest names on their favorite films.

42 facts about Jackie Robinson.

James Gunn sticks up for remakes.

The commercial allure of the 80s.

Film execs talk shifting the focus to TV.

Missing boy found in claw machine [video].

11 most illogical movie endings.

If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington D.C., what should you do?

Vince Gilligan reveals abandoned, bloodbath ending to “Breaking Bad”.

Here’s what the average full-time professor made last year.

Kevin Costner’s 14 best sports truisms.

Related: Mets’ minor league team hosting “Seinfeld” night, complete with puffy shirts and cereal.

Related: Phillies fans taunt batter… then he hits a grand slam. Their reaction? Priceless. [video].

Jon Hamm shows all the emotions in “Sesame Street” clip [video].

According to science: Why we can’t stop procrastinating.

To reach millennial viewers, Pivot unveils scripted drama and ‘docu-comedy’ series.

The parts of the U.S. where nobody lives [map].

10 movies turned into TV shows.

New Domino’s pizza uses fried chicken as crust.

Kids deserve more diverse superhero movies.

10 fun facts about “It’s a Small World”.

Happy 20th Birthday, Turner Classic Movies.

15 ways to cure the hiccups.

20 masterpieces of Ingmar Bergman every film fan should see.

Nirvana is planning a reunion with [blank] as their lead guitarist-vocalist.

12 trailers that spoil the movies.

Quester Brandon Cohen with introduces a new sports column: The Ten Types of Sports Fans.

50 incredible novels under 200 pages.

Matt Oswalt reminisces about the time he and his girlfriend went to see K-9 in a movie theater…

7 traits humans inherited from reptiles.

This has to be a joke, right? Right?!?!

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel Laureate author, dies at 87.

Related: 5 magical realism films in the spirit of Gabriel García Márquez.

Cannes unveils 2014 official selection lineup.

Is there anything Elon Musk can’t do: SpaceX and NASA news.

Thank God for TV… or else women in Hollywood would be largely unemployed.

10 words to cut from your writing.

At recent LACMA Live Reading of The Graduate, guess who played Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson.

Why Larry Flynt’s name was replaced on Hustler’s headquarters.

10 year anniversary of Kill Bill: Watch 2004 interview with Tarantino and read the entire script [here].

25 essential graphic novels.

How movies have envisioned singularity since 1927.

1981 Saturday Review feature on John Huston.

Realer than reality: The new hidden camera movies.

And finally thanks to @NatalieHatch: Norwegian finds large orange dildo inside stomach of cod.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone – if possible – Jew, Gentile – black man – white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness – not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.

Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost….

The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men – cries out for universal brotherhood – for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world – millions of despairing men, women, and little children – victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.

To those who can hear me, I say – do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed – the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes – men who despise you – enslave you – who regiment your lives – tell you what to do – what to think and what to feel! Who drill you – diet you – treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder. Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men – machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate! Only the unloved hate – the unloved and the unnatural! Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!

In the 17th Chapter of St Luke it is written: “the Kingdom of God is within man” – not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people have the power – the power to create machines. The power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure.

Then – in the name of democracy – let us use that power – let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world – a decent world that will give men a chance to work – that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will!

Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to fulfil that promise! Let us fight to free the world – to do away with national barriers – to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! in the name of democracy, let us all unite!”

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: Here is an opportunity to learn about two archetypes that are generally the most important characters in your story — Protagonist and Nemesis — in two upcoming Craft classes I’ll be offering in upcoming weeks:

April 28: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist

Making your Protagonist “sympathetic” or finding your Protagonist’s “flaw” is all well and good… if you want to write a surface level character. In this 1-week online screenwriting course, you will learn how to dig deep into a Protagonist to discover personality dynamics that can make a multidimensional lead character.

  • See why the Protagonist represents the very soul of your story and how their psychological journey is the source of the script’s emotional meaning.
  • Workshop your story’s Protagonist to uncover not only their unique persona, but also how their Want and Need define the narrative arc.

Seven lectures, forum feedback, insider tips, 90-minute teleconference, and the opportunity to workshop your story’s Protagonist [or Protagonists].

Plus if you’re a fan of the movies Bridesmaids, The Social Network and Up, we’ll be using those as our study scripts. They offer a diverse set of Protagonists and yet the approach we will study next week shows how a writer can craft such compelling and different lead characters.

May 12: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis

There is nothing like a well-drawn Nemesis to enliven a screenplay by functioning as a worthy foe to the Protagonist. In this 1-week online screenwriting course, you will discover key principles to help you craft a Nemesis who goes beyond the stereotypical Bad Guy to a living, breathing, and powerful antagonist figure.

  • Learn how to think of the Nemesis as a projection of your Protagonist’s shadow and why this relationship is pivotal on so many narrative fronts.
  • Use proven principles to workshop your Nemesis, discovering their world view, and learning how to embrace it when you write this character.

Seven lectures, forum feedback, insider tips, 90-minute teleconference, and the opportunity to workshop your story’s Nemesis [or Nemeses].

Plus we will be analyzing movies such as Jaws, Fatal Attraction, The Silence of the Lambs, The Apartment, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Die Hard and many others to delve into the subject matter.

You can take just one of the classes, but I crafted them to be partner courses with complimentary content. So register now:

Create a Compelling Protagonist (April 28)

Write a Worthy Nemesis (May 12)

As I always say, you don’t need to spend a dime to learn the craft of screenwriting. Watch movies. Read scripts. Write pages. That can get you where you need to go.

However I can speak with confidence that SMC courses can expedite your learning process, provide you with key principles and practices which elevate your writing, and give you insights into the business of Hollywood to help prepare you for working in the industry.

As always, I look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

Onward!

Saturday Hot Links

Time for the 129th installment of Saturday Hot Links.

Today: The “If You Haven’t Discovered Rhett and Link, Now’s The Time” edition.

“The Simpsons” pay tribute to David Letterman [video].

Related: Grantland on the departure of David Letterman.

Related: CBS hires Stephen Colbert to be Letterman’s replacement.

Related: Analysis of Colbert’s hiring. Thumbs up!

Related: Jon Stewart gets giggly talking about the Colbert move [video].

Related: 50 best Homer Simpson quotes of all time.

According to science, how to raise happy kids.

Watching at home as the new “fear of movies”.

7 fascinating facts about narwhals.

NBCU prevails in epic “Ghost Hunters” legal battle.

8 ordinary photos hiding mind-blowing details.

Jon Hamm (age 25) lost a 90s game show… and you can watch it [video].

The mainstreaming of mindfulness meditation.

20-minute “Siskel & Ebert” special on the films of Stanley Kubrick [video].

For those who have everything… DIY moonshine.

The 25 greatest movies never made.

Can Pussy Riot conquer Hollywood.

13 awesome and quirky commercials directed by Wes Anderson.

Technology’s man problem.

Why The Conversation should be required viewing at the NSA.

25 amazing facts for National Beer Day.

The Wolf of Wall Street as told only through the use of its 500 F-bombs [video].

Here’s something you don’t see every day: An Islamic sex cult.

Related: North Korea’s huge role in global meth trade.

The pilot episode of HBO’s new comedy series “Silicon Valley” available online for free [video].

This family went sugar-free for an entire year.

Veteran Hollywood actor Mickey Rooney dies at the age of 93.

Why scientists are trying to map every single neuron in the brain.

George Lucas’ lack of faith in Star Wars earned Steven Spielberg $40M.

Related: Peter Mayhew returns as Chewbacca in SW: EP VII.

Related: SW: EP VII reportedly already into production.

Real headline: “Boat full of marijuana washes up in Malibu.”

Related: “Massive flooding forces cancellation of Noah screening.”

10 female superhero movies Hollywood needs to greenlight right now.

How to avoid getting sick.

CAA promotes 8 to agent or executive.

11 fun word lists to drill your vocabulary on.

Why are Hollywood’s animated movies fulled of “racist stereotypes”.

The tune you will be hearing all summer: The Official 2014 World Cup Song.

Francis Ford Coppola: What I’ve learned.

A brief history of the movie post-credit sequence.

Your chance to own the K.I.T.T. car from “Knight Rider”… it’s for sale.

How crowdfunding helped rescue this NYC indie movie theater.

Related: Indiegogo is rebranding.

Best, Brightest and Rejected: Elite colleges turn away up to 95% of applicants.

50 movie sequels that were radically different.

Syfy orders “Olympus” mythological series.

Scarlett Johansson went to her high school prom with Lena Dunham’s boyfriend.

Yahoo making a move toward original programming.

The challenges of building a colony on Mars.

Same old, same old: White men directed 90% of this summer’s movies.

Related: Japanese female directors making their mark in a patriarchal industry.

6 traits humans inherited from fish.

Screenwriter James Dearden didn’t like the ending of Fatal Attraction, so he wrote a play with a new one.

Next month, a book with 145 drawings by Kurt Vonnegut to be released [slidewhow].

17 movies based on magazine or newspaper articles (and where to read them).

In honor of National Library Week (April 13-19), the Oxford University Press is making all of their online resources available for free.

Hot damn! Amy Poehler to play Tina Fey’s sister in upcoming movie “The Nest“.

Why the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival is more relevant than ever.

Related: 7 tips from for documentary filmmakers from the Full Frame Film Festival.

Related: The best films of the 2014 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

The flip sides of famous album covers.

25 things you didn’t know about 2001: A Space Odyssey.

23 fun facts about “Firefly“.

20 things you might not have known about Gone with the Wind.

10 essential talking points for banana enthusiasts.

15 important films shot with a hand-held camera.

Scientists say Gospel of Jesus’ wife probably not fake.

Ah, Hollywood: Producer sues actress for refusing to film nude sex scene.

Prison crisis, Dutch style: Too few prisoners. So… legalize prostitution and pot?

15 years later, John August looks back on his movie Go.

Dozens laid off at Al Jazeera America.

Screenwriters and Mentors announced for the Hamptons International Film Festival Screenwriters’ Lab.

Why positive thinking may be harmful for some.

50 greatest fantasy movie characters.

Here are all the nominees for the 18th annual Webby Awards.

Emily Blake (Bamboo Killers) on the fear of failure.

11 unexpected reasons to cook with booze.

Which 2014 movies could reach $1B in box office revenues.

Determine which famous writer you write like. [I write like Cory Doctorow.]

Our favorite Heathers slang.

11 old golf rules that no longer exist.

Sony closes slate co-fi deal with Lone Star Capital and Citibank.

Related: Sony Pictures’ resident executive-minister reveals how religion has helped his career.

15 short stories you can read in 15 minutes.

Paramount is developing a Truman Show TV series.

9 great filmmaking tools for indie filmmakers from NAB.

Columbia University announces Blue List screenwriting competition winners.

Troubling trend continues: The third Divergent book will be split into two movies.

The whole surprise “OMG! S/He died!” trend has now reached the hallowed panels of… the Archie comic book series.

Weird trivia: Tarantino did an uncredited rewrite on It’s Pat.

Tribeca Film Festival expands online programming, announces free streaming titles.

Finally, it’s been nearly a year since poet and long-time friend Kurt Brown died. The Cortland Review just published this wonderful tribute to him. Photos, poems, essays. I miss you, dear friend.

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: Here is our schedule of classes through the end of May:

April 14: Pages II: Rewriting Your Script (Scott Myers)

April 21: Prep (Tom Benedek)

April 28: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist (Scott Myers)

May 5: Craft: Rewrite Boot Camp (Tom Benedek)

May 12: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis (Scott Myers)

May 19: Pages TV: Original Pilot Script Workshop (Tom Benedek)

May 26: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling (Scott Myers)

As always, we look forward to the opportunity to work with you on the next chapter in your creative adventure!

Saturday Hot Links

Time for the 128th installment of Saturday Hot Links.

Today: The Memorable Bill Murray Moments Edition.

Bill Murray performs “House of the Rising Sun” karaoke style [video].

50 greatest Bill Murray moments [video].

David Letterman announces his retirement in 2015 [video].

Related: Late night hosts react to news of David Letterman retirement [video].

Why Kurt Cobain was the last rock star.

Interview with Jan Harlan, longtime producer for Stanley Kubrick.

10 pasta recipes every cook should know.

Amazon greenlights 6 series and renews “Alpha House”.

Watch liquid boiling and freezing at the same time [video].

25 fun facts about Back to the Future.

The 24 most bizarre injuries in baseball history.

J.K. Rowling writing HP spinoff trilogy “Fantastic Beasts”.

These U.S. colleges and majors are the biggest waste of money.

5 things you should know about the making of No Country for Old Men.

Why college basketball teams cut down the nets.

5 unfilmable novels that became movies and 5 more on the way.

9 historical methods of detecting pregnancy.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes releases first TV spot [video].

Over 80 photos from Monsterpalooza 2014.

5 tricks for managing your email inbox.

How do we drag indie film into the 21st century.

Dozens of planes have vanished in the post World War II era.

50 dating tips from the movies.

The 30 best “How I Met Your Mother” moments.

“How I Met Your Mother” killed the Big Romantic Gesture, then forcibly resurrected it.

Why this fan’s ending to “How I Met Your Mother” is the right way to end the series [video].

8 old Prodigy ads explaining why you need the Internet [videos].

Old Hollywood homes for sale including Bela Lugosi and Janet Leigh.

10 painful rejection letters to famous people proving you should never give up on your dreams.

Loyola Marymount University recently hosted The Exorcist director William Friedkin [video].

Can silence actually drive you crazy.

11 movies based on poems.

11 fantastic French phrases for baseball.

50 scariest horror movie houses.

Watch a table tennis champ take on world’s fastest robot [video].

ESPN’s soccer announcer Ian Darke calls a date [video].

Eric Heisserer tweets about how to pitch.

11 surprisingly smart birds.

Joss Whedon apologizes for filming in South Korea [video].

Why make short films? Filmmakers and jurors at the Bermuda International Film Festival say why.

Can atheist audiences enjoy Darren Aronofsky’s Noah?

Watch adorable cats react to viral videos [video].

Watch “The Birth of the Lightsaber” featurette [video].

Warner’s CEO is bullish on the big screen.

“This American Life” considers self-distribution.

1o movies to see in April.

WGA and producers reach a deal for new MBA.

How about a helmet-shaped Darth Vader toaster that cooks the Dark Side onto your toast.

Debuting in May on Syfy: The Wil Wheaton Project.

KCRW’s “The Interview” with David Itzkoff, author of “Mad As Hell” about the making of Network [audio].

25 things you didn’t know about The Shining.

22 things you might not know about The Breakfast Club.

Since 2005, Disney has spent $18B on acquisitions (Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilms, etc).

Related: Marvel movie map plotted to 2028.

Why did Halle Berry’s Frankie & Alice take so damn long to get into theaters (shot in 2008, released this week).

What’s the difference between flotsam and jetsam.

“I was a Hollywood personal assistant.”

41 years ago this week: The first cell phone call.

April Fools: The 10 Best Movie Idiots.

Billy Mernit gets in touch with his inner requiem: “Romantic Comedies Banned in the USA.”

Another requiem: “A Brief History of the Death of Cinema”.

21 things you might not have known about Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Has found footage horror entered a new stage.

Watch the first 7 minutes of the new TV series “Fargo” [video].

6 secrets to the perfect reality TV pitch.

Pele gives an emotional Jon Stewart an autographed jersey [video].

Why Hollywood people never say “no”.

Ron Howard, Brian Grazer to launch digital studio with Discovery Communications.

New from Monty Python: “The Silly Walk Song” [video].

MGM, James Bond producers sue Universal over “Section 6″.

Sony Pics looking for other suitors for slate co-financing deal.

Bryan Cranston writing a memoir about his time on “Breaking Bad”.

Here’s what Kill Bill looks like in chronological order [infographic].

Say goodbye to “True Detective” with all the music from the series [videos].

Finally: RIP Roger Ebert, one year later.

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the Week: A reminder that you do not need to spend one dime to learn what you need to know about the craft of screenwriting. Read Scripts. Watch Movies. Write Pages. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. That is one path to Hollywood.

However you can expedite the process by learning screenwriting principles and practices from proven professionals like Tom Benedek and myself. We have worked on the front lines of the movie and TV business for over five decades. Plus we have learned the ins and outs of online education over the last twelve years. Combine that with our passion for storytelling and you really get your money’s worth with SMC classes. Our next two course offerings:

April 7: Breaking in – Network Hollywood (Tom Benedek)

April 14: Pages II: Rewriting Your Script (Scott Myers)

As always, we look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Saturday Hot Links

Time for the 127th installment of Saturday Hot Links.

Today: The We Remember Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr. Edition (1923-2014).

THR: Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of TV’s “Batman,” dies at 91.

Variety: Creator of TV’s ‘Batman’ Lorenzo Semple Jr. dies at 91.

TheWrap: Lorenzo Semple Jr., creator of TV’s ‘Batman’, dies at 91.

Yes, Lorenzo Semple Jr. created ‘Batman’. But he was also a successful screenwriter. Featured here today are clips from just three of the many movies Semple wrote. Check out his IMDB page to see all of his credits.

Superman with a GoPro [video].

14 year-old proves U.S. can save $370M just by changing fonts.

How Television Without Pity shaped pop culture.

Little-known second verses of 10 children’s songs.

Building the next Pixar.

The math behind Pixar movies.

The real-life inspiration for Pixar’s Up.

We are very near the end of civilization as we know it.

Ranking the 20 most celebrated long movie takes.

See how big the universe is [video].

50 movies where the main character dies.

Is there a new planet in our solar system?

10 stories of excess from the production of Heaven’s Gate.

How negativity can make you happier.

Read this: Christopher Nolan’s comments at CinemaCon.

Early instructional videos on learning to use rotary phones [video].

Morgan Spurlock’s “Seven Deadly Sins” gets series order at Showtime.

What happens if I survive the apocalypse and only have one pair of contact lenses.

Upcoming genre movies that aren’t remakes, sequels or reboots.

Here’s what the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament looked like.

John Singleton says studios “ain’t letting black people tell stories.”

Dude starts with $9K… 6 weeks later, he’s built a dream house.

50 horror movies based on true stories.

Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner the subject of a new biography.

10 outrageous movie theories you didn’t see coming.

20 fun facts about cats.

Charlie Chaplin blooper reel [video].

13 ice cream secrets from Ben & Jerry’s flavor gurus.

Number of frequent young moviegoers plummets in 2013.

The neurological similarities between successful writers and the mentally ill.

Hollywood to test discount movie ticket prices for weeknights.

Is marijuana the future of Big Tobacco?

Madison Square Garden company buys 50% stake in Tribeca Films.

Worldwide box office hits record in 2013.

“Game of Thrones” characters as Muppets.

20 amazing musical numbers from “The Muppet Show” [videos].

Use this infographic to build your own iron throne.

Patton Oswalt returns as host of this year’s Webby Awards.

The 12 weirdest experiences you can have in Canada.

The 13 best and worst movie title changes.

One-woman band covers an uncoverable Nirvana song [video].

New Kurt Cobain photo released by Seattle police.

Did you know R2-D2 and C-3PO appear briefly in Raiders of the Lost Ark?

The first tweets of 25 writers we love.

The science behind our insatiable desire to binge-watch TV.

Why does inhaling helium make your voice sound funny.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of “Beowulf” getting published.

Watch four deleted scenes from American Hustle [video].

10 questions that define you as a music fan.

Star Wars: Episode VII to begin filming in May.

7 ways people humiliated each other 100 years ago.

Finally, here is how not to interview an acclaimed movie director.

Screenwriting Master Class tip of the week: One of the reasons Tom Benedek and I founded Screenwriting Master Class was because we kept hearing from writers who had taken courses and workshops from other outfits, and been dissatisfied with the experience. Common complaints:

* The instructors did not have much insight into how Hollywood operates in large part because they themselves had no experience as a professional screenwriter.

* The instructors showed little motivation to teach and were hard to reach.

* The instructors provided sketchy feedback, often not helpful.

* Other participants rarely got involved in discussions and their interaction was minimal, if anything at all.

* Many participants simply dropped out before the end of the class.

* The experience left the participants more confused about their story and screenwriting in general than when they began.

There are some good screenwriting instructors and outfits such as UCLA Extension’s Writers Program of which Tom and I were a part for several years. But there are plenty of others who apparently do not provide nearly the value they should.

If you have been frustrated by a previous screenwriting class experience, consider one of the SMC courses Tom and I teach.

We are committed to teaching. We actually enjoy working with writers and thrive on the creativity generated in our class settings.

We are passionate about storytelling. Movies and TV are the very center of our professional and personal lives, and there is nothing more fulfilling to us than to work on stories, our own and those of others.

We know the business. Between us, Tom and I have over six decades of experience working in the entertainment industry and have written projects for every major movie studio, many of the top producers, and each broadcast TV network, a front line understanding of the business we share in each of our courses.

We know how to engender a lively class environment. I have taught well over 100 classes during the last 12 years and have learned numerous ways to facilitate a vibrant, creative experience.

We provide detailed professional feedback. Through weekly teleconferences, individual one-on-one calls, workshopping and/or written analysis, we make it our business to dig into each participant’s story in a deep and thorough fashion.

We craft lectures to enlighten and clarify. Our written lectures represent distilled knowledge from decades of working in Hollywood, providing proven principles and practices, and shaped in such a way as to be readable and understandable.

But enough from me. How about observations from some writers who have taken SMC classes:

Scott’s teaching style and curriculum leads you to a process that worked for everyone regardless of their writing style. I can’t recommend Scott highly enough. – Joe Mihalow

Of all the classes I’ve sampled around the web, NOBODY draws the crowd you do, and NOBODY gives as much useful information. It’s your infectious enthusiasm that gets us all going. – Cyd Madsen

You can either write something shallow or with depth and Scott offers depth. With Scott at the helm, I took his classes and now I have a better grasp of writing a script. – Alex Tran (MFA from NYU)

Joining Scott’s class is one of the best decisions anyone could make. His passion for teaching and screenwriting could not be more inspirational. – Theodora von Auersperg

Value for money, solid understandable notes, a teacher who’s been there and done it plus swapping ideas with fellow writers – it doesn’t get any more real. – Philip Brewster

Scott’s thought-provoking insights inspire both debate and creativity, while simultaneously anchoring the content in the reality of an insider’s view of today’s screenwriting industry. – John Hörnschemeyer

Finally consider this: In the current round of Craft classes I’ve been leading, over 50% of the participants have taken other SMC courses. In fact for the upcoming Character Development Keys class which begins Monday, that number is currently 75%. My takeaway from that is writers keep enrolling in SMC classes because they are deepening their understanding of the craft, advancing their stories, and are inspired by and enjoying the experience.

So if you’ve had mediocre to poor experiences in other educational settings… or perhaps you’ve never taken a screenwriting class before and have reservations about the quality of experience you may have, I encourage you to check out one of the many courses we offer at Screenwriting Master Class.

We look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

As I always note, you don’t need to spend a dime to learn the craft. One of the reasons I run this blog is to provide free content to everyone. Between resources like Go Into The Story and others, along with this mantra — Read Scripts, Watch Movies, Write Pages — you can discover on your own what you need to know to write great scripts and develop what it takes to succeed as a professional screenwriter.

However if you feel the need to jump-start your understanding of the craft and receive professional guidance in how and what you learn, check out Screenwriting Master Class.