'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Discussion about the "My So-Called Life" books. NEW: "Dear Angela", a collection of essays about the show.
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asb813
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'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by asb813 » Jan 7th 2020, 1:16 pm

Hi all – Hope it's OK to post this here. I'm currently working on a book called "So Beautiful it Hurts: The Making of 'My So-Called Life,'" and would love to hear your thoughts on what such a volume should include. Please also feel free to suggest any questions you have about the making of the show – there's a good chance I can get them answered if I receive them in the next few months or so. (To date I've interviewed nearly 30 members of the cast and crew, including Winnie and Marshall, Devon G. and Devon O., AJ Langer, Bess Armstrong and Tom Irwin.)

You can follow the book's progress here:

Blog: https://www.aaronsberman.com/blog/categ ... -life-book

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/msclbook/
All the best to you,
Aaron

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Sascha (sab)
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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by Sascha (sab) » Jan 18th 2020, 11:44 am

I'm still excited about your upcoming book and I'm sure I'm not the only one looking forward to reading all the interviews. Unfortunately, this site and forum has quite died down over the past twenty years, so you'll get more feedback from the groups at facebook.

Your list of interviewed members of the cast and crew is really impressive and I hope you can get in contact with more people involved in the show, especially of course Claire Danes. But I guess it's not really that easy to get an interview with her :) It could also be interesting to hear some voices from the "other side", like Ted Harbert, who was chairman of ABC entertainment at that time if I remember correctly. I think at one time he even chatted with the fans online on AOL in 1995 to answer questions which was highly unusal at the time.

I personally liked how Scott Ryan's "oral history" of "thirtysomething" presented the essence of his interviews with cast and crew, with behind-the-scenes photographs and excerpts from scripts, so I'm looking forward to see how you will put all the interviews together.

Anyway, thanks for doing this, it will be great to revisit the show after that many years.
Sascha A. Beck (sab) :: MSCL.com
www.mscl.com :: www.sablog.de

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by asb813 » Jan 19th 2020, 11:01 am

Thank you so much for your kind words, Sascha – they're really greatly appreciated.
so you'll get more feedback from the groups at facebook.
Are there any that you would recommend?
But I guess it's not really that easy to get an interview with her
That would be fantastic – I'm hoping that she will have some time to consider talking to me once the launch of the final Homeland season winds down. Having heard so much about her from so many people who worked with her on MSCL, that really would be amazing.
t could also be interesting to hear some voices from the "other side", like Ted Harbert
I've made a few attempts to get in touch with people who were at ABC at the time, but it turns out they're the hardest to get contact info for. I'm especially eager to give them a voice in this book because I think they've gotten an unfair wrap over the years for cancelling the show. The cancellation is seldom given any context in terms of the business of television and how much it costs to keep a show on the air if you can't show advertisers decent ratings. (I didn't really appreciate this until I wrote a book on the '70s sitcom Soap and saw how that show's edgy reputation affected the rates ABC could charge for ads.)
I personally liked how Scott Ryan's "oral history" of "thirtysomething"
I'm a big fan of that book, too – it was one of the few times I feel like someone got the "oral history" format right in book form; it's so much easier to pull off in a long-read magazine article (e.g., the one Elle did about MSCL and the most recent one Hollywood Reporter did for Homeland).

That said, "So Beautiful it Hurts" is going to be written in a more traditional narrative form. There are just so many third-party details you have to include to get a deep understanding of how MSCL developed over time, I don't think it would work with interviews alone. Hopefully everyone will enjoy the result.

Thanks again for your support of this project :-)

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by Sascha (sab) » Jan 27th 2020, 3:45 pm

asb813 wrote:
Jan 19th 2020, 11:01 am
Are there any that you would recommend?
Not really, I don't use Facebook much. But I'm a member of https://www.facebook.com/groups/2236955522/ and then there`s a page at https://www.facebook.com/My-So-Called-L ... 902985955/
Sascha A. Beck (sab) :: MSCL.com
www.mscl.com :: www.sablog.de

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by asb813 » Jan 28th 2020, 9:01 am

Thanks, Sascha!

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by Jody Barsch* » Feb 1st 2020, 1:28 am

Hi asb813, I saw your original post here several months ago and visited your website, etc. It sounds like a really cool project. I'd be super interested in reading the finished project, I'm just not sure what actual questions I have. Over the years I've gotten to meet/interact with 5 people from the show, but really I mostly just said "thanks"... and never had questions. (Most things would be small and nit-picky; like, why did their set dressing involve a "roommates wanted" flyer in "Betrayal" when it's set in a high school, but I would never expect those sorts of questions to be asked or addressed.) I guess one thing I've always found curious is the decision more than once to mix mystical elements (e.g. "Halloween" and "So-Called Angels") into a show that took great strides toward bringing realism into the family drama arena. Clearly, especially with "So-Called Angels", it's a callback to Bedford Falls Productions' namesake, but it'd be interesting to hear them expand upon what they've said already about embracing reality and still deciding to tell the stories of these two episodes. That's about it. It'd be interesting to hear who Winnie pictured Tino to be. Did she have a fully formed character in mind or just a disembodied enigma that they attached random traits to when needed, i.e. loving hospitals and one with the forces of darkness?
As Sacha said, the activity on this site has definitely slowed, but people do still stop by and read new posts. I'd encourage you to keep posting updates when appropriate. Best wishes as your project proceeds. Thanks for doing it!
Sometimes I write a little MSCL fanfiction: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1039807/Jody-Barsch
Also, after multiple V. Mars reiterations, and finally a Deadwood movie, still wishing for some continuation of The Riches !

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by asb813 » Feb 3rd 2020, 8:20 am

Thank you so much for writing, Jody. Love to hear whom you met from the show. Also, great question about the magical realism in those two episodes. I must admit that those two have always given me a little trouble as a fan. I asked Winnie Holzman about the So Called Angels episode specifically during one of our talks. I found her reply very fitting for MSCL - this show that is less concerned with plot and logic and more about the emotional truth of things:
I feel like there is that other realm in life that is the realm of the mystical, the invisible realm that we’re not normally able to see, but that sometimes sort of pierces through ordinary life. I wanted to find ways to talk about that. I guess for some people it’s going to really work for them, and for others maybe not. You just take that chance because you have to do what feels right to you.
I think Halloween is different in that it follows a long tradition of Halloween-themed episodes of TV shows – an excuse to break from the everyday world of a program to just have fun. (Geek that I am, I always think of it as being like the old Marvel comics annuals from the '80s that would take the same characters and send them on nonsense adventures completely out of continuity, just to have a little fun.)

Not sure if that answered it, but please do keep in touch - Aaron

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by Jody Barsch* » Feb 11th 2020, 4:06 am

Thanks, Aaron, for sharing. That was super interesting.
In answer to your question, I met Wilson Cruz after I saw him in a performance of Tik Tik Boom, Tom Irwin after a play I saw him in, Jared Leto (briefly) at the Spirit Awards the year he won for Dallas Buyers Club - we did speak, but definitely not about MSCL, and most significantly, Winnie Holzman and Paul Dooley. Twice. Once for a complete bombardment of gushing, the second time, at the reception after a three-person play they performed in together that she wrote, for a little bit more of an actual conversation.
Sometimes I write a little MSCL fanfiction: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1039807/Jody-Barsch
Also, after multiple V. Mars reiterations, and finally a Deadwood movie, still wishing for some continuation of The Riches !

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by asb813 » Feb 11th 2020, 10:50 am

How cool is that?! :) Do you remember the name of the play that Winnie and Paul were in. The only one I can recall off hand was a two-hander called "Assisted Living" (and that eventually went under another name, I believe).

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by Jody Barsch* » Yesterday, 3:14 am

Yikes, you're right. Three characters, two actors. It definitely was Assisted Living. Produced at The Odyssey - a key theater in my life. I may still have the ticket in my stub box. It was a great show, and so tenderly and humorously performed. It was so weird for me that it ended up having a storyline on fanfiction since I literally had been working on my final edits on one of my MSCL fics while sitting there in the audience waiting for the show to begin. As I spoke with them afterward, my 35k word fic, all printed out and stashed away inside in my bag, longed for a little acknowledgment. After seeing her play out a ff scenario on stage, my little 10 chapter story was whispering, "Maybe..." But in real life, I knew better. I had by no means brought it there because I knew Winnie would be there; it was simply a project I was trying to make time to complete. The story never produced from my bag, I definitely did a better job this time around of actually talking to them, as the first time I spoke to them I spewed fannish nonsense which amounted to praising Mr. Dooley for, of all things, his work in Don't Eat the Pictures. Regrettably, I had said nothing about his work on Curb or with Christopher Guest, etc. It made her laugh at least. I wonder if they ever remembered afterward that decades after making that ultra-bizarre Sesame Street film a grown child of the 80s cited it as their point of reference for fandom. :mrgreen:
Sometimes I write a little MSCL fanfiction: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1039807/Jody-Barsch
Also, after multiple V. Mars reiterations, and finally a Deadwood movie, still wishing for some continuation of The Riches !

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by asb813 » Yesterday, 5:24 pm

What a fantastic story – it's kind of like an episode of MSCL, now that I think about it ;) Would you mind if I included it in the book?
I wonder if they ever remembered afterward that decades after making that ultra-bizarre Sesame Street film a grown child of the 80s cited it as their point of reference for fandom.
I must admit that I'm not sure what Sesame Street film you're referencing here. What intrigues me is that Paul Dooley was one of the key creators of The Electric Company...

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Re: 'Making of MSCL' Book in the works

Post by Jody Barsch* » Yesterday, 9:28 pm

asb813 wrote:
Yesterday, 5:24 pm
Would you mind if I included it in the book?
Feel free.

Don't Eat the Pictures is a 1983 Sesame Street movie filmed on location at the Met museum. It has this crazy subplot of the ghost of a little Egyptian boy being trapped in the museum. (This, along with The Red Room Riddle, The Dark Crystal, and The Last Unicorn really imposed a macabre sensibility into my young life in the mid to late 80s.)

Title song
Wikipedia page
Opening sequence
The resolution to the Egyptian boy's story

Mr. Paul Dooley as the museum's bumbling night security guard:
MV5BYWM2ODY2MGMtZjdlYy00MTlhLWEyMjQtNTcxZmI1MDcxNmE4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzMyODMwMTI@._V1_.jpg
Sometimes I write a little MSCL fanfiction: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/1039807/Jody-Barsch
Also, after multiple V. Mars reiterations, and finally a Deadwood movie, still wishing for some continuation of The Riches !

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