I would have voted for you, John McCain

There was a time during primary season in the 2000 election, months before the Pretendsident hijacked everything, when–in my eyes, at least–you were the man.  You were tough but likable.  You were the guy that walked the fine line between conservative and progressive, and you did it with style.  You were strong and solid on the issues, but you were willing to listen and be swayed when people on the opposite side of the fence made sense.

Had the 2000 primary season gone another way, I would have voted for you.

I feel bad what happened to you after that election–how the Bush administration castrated you and beat you into submission.  And though I shook my head over the last few years at what a hollow shell of your former self you’d become, I was secretly heartened when you tossed your hat in the ring this time around.

Maybe, I thought, we’ll see a glimpse of the real John McCain for a change.  Now that he will, presumably, be out from under the thumb of the Bush regime, maybe he’ll reassert himself.  Maybe he’ll disavow and speak out against the politics of divisiveness, corruption, and hate that have gained a death-grip strangle hold on his party and our country.

Alas, I was to be sorely disappointed.

I don’t know what happened to you, John McCain.  What happened?  When did you go from the man to "the man"?

And when did you fall so far that the value of your word and your integrity was lost forever?  I thought they had gotten your body and your mind…but your soul, too?

Take a look at this memo from McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, dated March 11, 2008 (courtesy of Time Magazine).  It pledges a "respectful campaign" from your camp, John.  One in line with the "highest standards" you have held yourself to throughout your life.  And finally, this…

"Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from
the big differences between John McCain’s vision for the future of our
nation and the Democrats’. This campaign is about John McCain: his
vision, leadership, experience, courage, service to his country and
ability to lead as commander in chief from day one."

Do your constant attacks on Barack Obama’s character since he’s become the presumptive Democratic nominee jibe with the commitment you made, Mr. McCain?  And is your wife guilty of a bald-faced lie when she said on the Today Show (on May 8): "What you’re going to see is a great debate.  Which is what the American Public deserves.  None of this negative stuff, though.  You won’t see it come out of our side at all."

If she wasn’t lying and you weren’t lying, then how do you explain this ad?

As if the comparison to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton wasn’t enough, you set the stage for the ad using (I believe) footage from Obama’s recent speech in Berlin accompanied by ominous chanting that made the event look like scene straight out of Triumph of Will.  There’s even a moment when you seem to have Obama mouthing the word "war".  So…in total, what you’re really implying is that Barack Obama is the irresponsible, reckless, and dumbed-down celebrity that Spears and Hilton embody AND Adolf Hitler to boot?

It’s too much, John McCain.  Too much.  You have gone too far.  Fallen too far.  Too low.  Shame on you and your smug countenance at the tail end of this disgrace of an ad.

I gotta tell you, I am an Obama man.  I believe in his message; I believe in his vision, which I think might actually deliver on a promise George Bush the first made years ago–of a "kinder, gentler nation."  One that is prepared and able to operate in the 21st Century world.

But even in 2008 there was a moment.  When I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.  When I thought that maybe the John McCain I was proud to support in 2000 would break through the crust.

I am sorry that didn’t happen.  Mostly, however, I am disappointed.  Deeply disappointed.

UPDATE — August 2, 2008, from Reuters:

"Republican John McCain‘s
presidential team mocked Democrat Barack Obama on Friday as an
overconfident, Messiah-like candidate with a tendency toward
exaggeration in a Web ad that closed out a week of attacks.

"The ad, e-mailed to supporters, refers to Obama as ‘The
One’ and uses rhetoric from some of Obama’s high-flying
speeches, making fun of quotes such as, ‘We are the ones we’ve
been waiting for,’ and ‘This was the moment when the rise of
the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.’

"’It shall be known that in 2008, the world shall be
blessed,’ the announcer intones. ‘They will call him: The One.’"

And the finale:

"McCain, at a news conference, smiled as he talked about the
new ad.

"’We were having some fun with our supporters,’ he said. ‘We’re going to display a sense of humor in this campaign.’

"He said he was running a ‘very respectful campaign.’

"’I don’t think our campaign is negative in the slightest,’
he said.

Really, John McCain?  Really?

What color is the sky in your world?

Dalton Trumbo and me

Strange that there should a mere two degrees of Kevin Bacon between this legend and me.

Filbert Steps‘ (RIP) follow up to RUNAWAY was TRUMBO, a documentary based on letters Dalton Trumbo wrote from prison, courtesy of McCarthy-era blacklisting.  The letters were assembled by his son, Christopher, who got a who’s who of Hollywood to read them on stage during a very successful Off-Broadway run.

My good friends Al Klingenstein and David Viola met Christopher and his directing partner, Peter Askin, at Sundance in 2006.  I don’t think the guys were thinking their next movie was going to be a documentary, but life takes you in strange directions.  One of the draws, I believe, was that they were going to be able to attract a stellar cast (which they did, as many of the actors who did the play in NYC signed on to the movie) and make a movie that had an upfront chance at a decent distribution deal for a change.

Sitting on the sidelines of this production, I had an interesting vantage point.  There was more than one pound of flesh sacrificed to the cinema gods in the name of bringing the letters of Dalton Trumbo to the screen, but none of it was mine.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  My "sacrifice" for this movie was that the guys were so distracted once the shit hit the fan that they pretty much had to forget that RUNAWAY existed for a year or so.  Any and all of the progress we’d made in late-2005/early-2006 to get the thing released was abandoned.  And there I was, just the guy who wrote the thing, screaming in an empty yard.  Eventually, I stopped screaming.  RUNAWAY’s prospects sort of vanished after that.

On a side note–someday I will share the whole "RUNAWAY release that never was" story.  If you’ve ever read Peter Biskind’s book, Down and Dirty Pictures, you’ll know what I mean when I say that the RUNAWAY distribution saga could be a chapter in the book.  I am not certain what medium is best for sharing this tale, though, and for now I keep it pretty close to my chest because blabbing it to the world when I am still feeling a little bent outta shape about the whole affair feels like a career limiting move.

The silver lining in all of this (though I am not certain I am supposed to spill the beans…so keep it to yourself, please) is that I have been reassured as recently as last Friday that the company managing rights for RUNAWAY is on the home stretch in finalizing a deal to get the movie out in the world–where it belongs.

Anyway…I admit that for awhile I was upset over the whole "TRUMBO supplants RUNAWAY" business.  But I was happy for my friends and even happier when the movie started getting rave reviews.  Made my "sacrifice" feel worth it.  A least a little bit.  The spotlight was gonna shine on this amazing man who is not only one of the great screenwriting talents of all time, but a bonafide hero who put it all on the line to do the right thing.

Now, I have the honor of announcing that TRUMBO is playing in limited release around the country.  It either is or will be in most major markets at some point over the next 3-4 months.  Here is a link to the cities, dates, and theatres where it is/will be playing.

There’s Oscar buzz on this one, folks.  You’re going to want to make a point to see it.

Good job, Al and David!  Congrats!

Follow up on INCARNATION reading…

This got posted all around the globe this morning…more later from the OLU angle.  We gots lotsa catching up to do.  I promise that in the next day or so, as the smoke starts to clear, we’ll be kickin’ it again OLU-style.  ~B

– – – – – – – – – –

Dean and I want to express our sincere and heartfelt thanks to Robb Mitchell, the Screenwriters Workshop, and the great actors who lent their talent to the recent reading of INCARNATION at the Ritz.  We also want to thank the folks who came out last Tuesday night to experience this stage in the script’s evolution.

Feedback sheets have been compiled and scores tallied on the INCARNATION reading.  The first question on the sheet was: "How did you feel overall about INCARNATION?"  Respondents were asked to rate it on a scale from 1-5, with 5 being "excellent".

I am happy to announce that INCARNATION received an overall rating of 4 on the surveys.

Of course, Dean and I would have loved it if the script would have garnered 5s across the board on this survey, but neither of us expected that.  In fact, I think either of us would be hard-pressed to rate it there, ourselves.  We know that it is a work in progress, and we appreciate all of the constructive feedback the ScriptNight process has yielded.

Three weeks ago, I was having lunch in LA with a former studio exec at Paramount who is starting up a production company with the former head of Paramount Classics.  This person, by the way, loved the current draft of INCARNATION (though he was far less fond of even the last draft), and is one of several Hollywood folks interested in it.  Anyway, he told me that as a writer, you know you’re on to something when people either absolutely love or absolutely hate your script…if all of your feedback is just okay, you’ve failed artistically as well as commercially.  This is one of the "truths" this man believes has been revealed to him over 25 years in the Hollywood development trenches.

Well, I am happy to say that it looks like INCARNATION successfully passed another milestone.  People love it, and people hate it.

I guess we’re on to something.

As I write this, Dean and I are considering opportunities presented by at least three players with Hollywood ties to produce INCARNATION.  And these are just the expressions of interest that came to us as a direct result of the reading.  Again…what a debt of gratitude we owe to Robb and company for providing us a venue to make that happen.

We’re in the process of compiling and considering all the great feedback we’ve received, weighing it against what we experienced and the feedback we’ve gotten from Hollywood production companies that have expressed interest in the project.  The next incarnation of…well, INCARNATION already feels palpable, as you’ve helped us to see a number of ways to make it a better movie.

One person that attended the reading had, I believe, the most insightful perspective on INCARNATION in its present form.  He had read the script two drafts ago and wanted to see how it had changed over the two subsequent drafts.  His comment was that he really liked the “quiet and touching art house version” of the script he read before, and he also thought that we would like the “emerging Hollywood movie” that the current draft represents.  His take, however, was that it felt like the script was still in transition—wanting to be one or the other, but not quite deciding which one it wants to be yet.

That comment made perfect sense to me.  It’s what I knew, what I felt, but it was an amazing thing to have someone else speak it back to me.  The cool thing about this script right now is that there is so much commercial interest and audience interest from both sides of the fence—art house and mainstream—that our job now is to land on one side or the other, then to hone the thing to a sharp edge.  Because that’s all part of the process.  We know that the company and the people we opt to work with to bring INCARNATION to the screen will help us in that, and we’re excited to take that next step in this journey.

So…INCARNATION.  Thanks for loving it, and thanks for hating it.  Thanks for sharing this moment with us.  It means everything to us.  And everything to our project.

And thanks for your encouragement, for your voices, and for your ongoing support of filmmakers who decide to live here.

Umm…this is cool.

Quite cool (click to see it full size)…


All that, and I have yet to take a breath and update y’all about Robbye’s, Dean’s, and my grand adventure at the Great American Pitchfest.  I will do that, but it’s gonna take a little time, as there’s a lot to tell.  Look for that tomorrow or Friday.

In the meantime…we’re sittin’ here in hog heaven in anticipation of next Tuesday night.  There will be press in the Minneapolis StarTribune, the Mpls./St. Paul Magazine website, and other publications over the weekend.  Because you, however, deserve the scoop straight from the horse’s mouth, here is the press release:

Minnesota Screenwriters Workshop






Hollywood Meets the Twin Cities: Upcoming ScriptNight Reading of INCARNATION to Feature Local and National Talent

Minneapolis, MN – The Minnesota Screenwriters Workshop
is proud to announce it has chosen Incarnation, a new project by
award-winning Minnesota-based filmmakers Dean Lincoln Hyers and Bill True, to
be part of its prestigious ScriptNight Reading Series.

The script, written by
True from an original story by Hyers and True, will be read by professional
actors hailing from both the Twin Cities and Hollywood
this coming Tuesday, July 8, at 7:30 PM at the Ritz Theatre, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, MN.  The staged reading
will be directed by Hyers

Hollywood actors John Ashton (Beverly Hills
and Gone Baby, Gone), who appeared as the title character in
Dean’s debut feature, Bill’s Gun Shop, and Chris Mulkey (Cloverfield) are scheduled to appear
side-by-side with some of Minnesota’s top actors, including Sue Scott (Prairie Home Companion), to bring voice
to the script.

The event is open to the public, and tickets are available at the door for

There will be a Q&A and reception immediately following the reading, so
everyone will have an opportunity to discuss both the script and the experience
with the filmmakers and actors.

The ScriptNight reading series, produced by Robb Mitchell and Mark Gallagher,
runs 3-4 times per year.  Recent presentations include scripts from John
Carrol Lynch (Zodiac), Shawn Otto (House of Sand and Fog),
and Christine Walker (Factotum). The Incarnation event is being sponsored by Best Buy, the Minnesota
Film & TV Board, Fredrickson & Byron law firm, emixie.com, and

Incarnation focuses on the story of Harry Bayer, who, after
years of searching, stands at the brink of confirming a seven-year-old girl,
Shanice, is the reincarnation of his wife.  But his only avenue to reach
her—Polly, the girl’s fractured mother—just lost custody.  As Harry helps
Polly pick up the pieces of her life, they unexpectedly fall for each
other.  Then FBI agent Artie Neckman arrives on the scene and raises
suspicions that point to Harry being a potential danger to Shanice.

True and Hyers are collectively in development with at least four film and TV projects for both Hollywood and independent production
companies.  In addition, along with their partner, communications expert
Pete Machalek, M.A., they formed SagePresence, a consortium of filmmakers who
specialize in bringing the professional equivalent of “stage presence” to
organizations such as Target Corporation, Prudential, Symantec, and The
Department of Homeland Defense.

(screenwriter) was named one of New Mexico’s premiere new playwrights in the ‘90s for his
play Hell is a Diner.  For the
next seven years, he worked as an actor, writer, and director for various
community and professional theatre companies, including the American Southwest
Theatre Company and the Guthrie Theatre Lab.  He was hand-picked by
Tony-Winner Tim Rice to play the title role in the American Premiere of his
rock opera, Blondel. For nearly a decade, Bill was a Product
Director and Director of Communications for Fortune 200 Express Scripts.

Bill’s debut feature, Runaway,
premiered to universal accolades at the Tribeca Film Festival.  Since
then, it has gathered an impressive bouquet of laurels, including screenings at Toronto, Woodstock,
Vail, and Avignon.
Bill also won the top prize at the prestigious Austin Film Festival and
Screenwriters’ Conference for his work on Runaway,
which is slated for release in 2008.

More information: www.billtrue.net.

(director) was already showing feature films he wrote and directed at film
festivals around the nation by the time he was 18.  Upon graduating from Gustavus Adolfus College,
Dean launched his own interactive media company, Digital Café, as his entrée
into the movie business.  Through Digital Café, Dean directed and
distributed electronic promotions for mainstream Hollywood blockbusters like Godzilla, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: the Movie,
and Die Hard III.

Upon selling Digital Café to advertising heavy-hitter
Campell Mithun in 1999, Dean returned to the director’s chair with his debut
feature, Bill’s Gun Shop, which Dean
also produced.  Dean took top honors at the SMMASH Film Festival and won Minnesota’s top
directing prize, the DL Maberry Award, for his work on Bill’s Gun Shop, which was subsequently released through Warner

More information: www.deanhyers.com.