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February 26, 2010

Heroes: Neely Swanson's No Meaner Place

No Meaner Place will highlight writers and writing that for one reason or another have pushed aside, shoved to the curb, and abandoned; wonderful scripts that have never made it to the big screen or to the small screen in series form.

--Neely Swanson, August 11, 2009

Writing Well, Hollywood. Here's why I personally admire directors, actors, producers and their writers:

Business executives, professionals, government officials, politicians, physicians, lawyers, academics, accountants and other generic white collar dweebs can--and do--make it big in their worlds and disciplines without being extraordinarily creative, gifted or otherwise talented. Or being talented at all.

In the West, we reward (a) fitting in, (b) moderate energies, and (c) making the right moves. There is nothing wrong with that. But is it enough?

In the scheme of things, most of us just slip by. We escaped the more discerning judges. We worked for other mediocre people. We surrounded ourselves with people who made us comfortable rather than challenge us. We were a bit energetic--and a lot lucky. We did the "right things", on safe paths, often chosen by others.

Next, we pretended that we, our firms or our colleagues, are smart or excellent or brilliant. On those days--the ones when we believe our own press releases--maybe someone should, you know, get the net.

Big Talent in the West's entertainment industry? I've been around or worked with some who have it, both known and inexplicably unknown, since I was fairly young. The rub: Big Talent, the kind attracted to and simmering in our LA and NYC-based entertainment industry, as well as places like London, Manchester, Paris, and Berlin, is merely a prerequisite.

It is rarely enough.


"Hollywood is the one place in the world where you can die of encouragement." -Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

Even if you have Big Talent, and hit big once--the odds are greatly against that--you might not work again. You must, like Faulkner's Dilsey, endure.

Big Talent and Big Moxie. You need both to make it.

Sometimes unsung quality, even when coupled with the verve it needs to be noticed, gets its day. Maybe even another chance. First, however, it needs a Champion--a discoverer and advocate. This blog--about Clients, about "Paris", about Old Verities--is simply about Quality, and the values you can't get from family, school or church. You get them on your own.

And that's precisely why we like No Meaner Place, an unusual, nuanced and important new site by Neely Swanson, former Senior Vice President for Development at David Kelley Productions (L.A. Law, Ally McBeal, Boston Legal, Lake Placid). Here is brains, toil, courage and magic--in writings by skilled storytellers that never reached the public.

Of the talented writers Swanson now interviews, and their writing that was "pushed aside" in the past:

Some of them were produced to pilot, poorly, some were entirely ignored, some were too original, some were, well who knows what they were...but all of them deserved better fates.

During my many years reading and recommending scripts, projects and writers to David Kelley, I read thousands of script submissions, books, short stories and plays, and among them were some truly terrific potential projects.

It is my intention to be entirely positive and only write about scripts that transported me, in one way or another; I will not write about bad or mediocre scripts.

Whether or not you can create or write, go to this site if you have dreams and grit. Swanson, who knows good scripts as well as anyone, has created at No Meaner Place her own narrative about talent, heart and struggle that inspires. Many of the writers she interviews have had past writing triumphs. See for starters "What’s Your Story? by Jack Bernstein". Even Bernstein, a well-regarded mainstream television writer-producer, who has also scripted three feature films you've heard about, doesn't shoot out the lights on every writing project.

Disclosure: While we at Hull McGuire do know Neely Swanson, she has no idea that we're writing about NMP. But we're not the first to notice Neely Swanson's new blog.

Posted by JD Hull at February 26, 2010 06:10 PM


Dorothy Parker once explained a missed deadline by telling her editor that she had been "too f--king busy and vice versa." Her spelling was better than mine.

Posted by: Catherine Mulcahey at February 25, 2010 11:12 AM

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