Badass Writer of the Week: Debra Hill

Debra Hill

Debra Hill

By Sean Tuohy

Despite only having a handful of writing credits to her name, producer/writer Debra Hill did more to change Hollywood than most. During her 30-year career, Hill helped bring some of the most beloved films to the big screen.

Hill started off her filmmaking career as a script supervisor. She found herself on the set of an ultra-low budget film “Assault On Precinct 13,” which was being filmed by first-time director John Carpenter. The two struck up a friendship and partnership that would last till the end of Hill’s career. They ended up working on a script about babysitters being terrorized by a masked serial killer on Halloween.

“Halloween” became a surprise box office smash when it was released. The film’s success transformed John Carpenter into a well respected and sought after director and Hill into a top-level producer. The pair also worked together on cult classics like The Fog”, “Escape from New York,” and “Halloween 2.”

When not working with Carpenter, Hill was busy producing films of her own. “The Dead Zone,” “The Fisher King,” and “World Trade Center” are some of the 30 titles that she helped produce. Her body of work is even more impressive because she came to fame during a time when women in film were mostly relegated to hair and makeup.

Hill also produced films that most people assumed woman would not like, including horror, action, and thrillers. She is also credited with helping to create the booming “teen slasher” subgenre.

In 2004, Hill discovered she was had cancer. At the time of her death in 2005, she was working on “World Trade Center.” We assume she’s twirling a knife somewhere, crafting new, unsuspecting victims for Michael Myers. 

Badass Writers of the Week

Badass Writer of the Week: Ian Machintosh

Ian Machintosh

Ian Machintosh

By Sean Tuohy

Could an award-winning British spy writer have been a spy himself?

Ian Machintosh—author of five spy novels in the late 1960s, early 1970s—created his first television show while serving as a naval officer. He proposed the show to his superiors as a way to modernize the British Navy in the eyes of the public.

“Warship” premiered in 1973 and featured British warships during peacetime. The program mostly focused on the officers’ personal and professional lives.

Macintosh was still employed by the government when he began working on his next series—a cutting edge spy show about the dirty side of British intelligence. Macintosh was very coy when it came to his career. He never denied being a spy, but never admitted to it either…

“The Sandbaggers” premiered in 1978. Dark. Gritty. Realistic. Nothing like it had been seen on TV before. Following a group of highly trained operatives on deadly secret missions, “The Sandbaggers” went places few shows did at the time. Because Machintosh was a government employee at the time, he had to submit each of his scripts for review. Several episodes were pulled and were labeled “missing” because they contained sensitive marital.

Machintosh was the sole writer on “The Sandbaggers.” During the third season, he was on vacation with his girlfriend and friend in Alaska when his single engine plane went down. The wreckage was never found.

There has been plenty of mystery surrounding Machintosh’s death. His plane went down in area that was not monitored by either the United States or Russia. Also, he made a stop at an abandoned airfield just before the crash. Had Machtinosh still been a spy while also writing a TV show!? Did a hostile government fear he knew too much?! We will sadly never know.

The producers of “The Sandbaggers” decided not to carry on with the program after losing its only writer.

We assume Machintosh faked his own death, assumed a secret identity, and is pumping out hit TV shows in an underground bunker.

Badass Writers of the Week Archives

Badass Writer of the Week: Screenwriter Robert Towne

By Sean Tuohy

Until the screenwriter does his job, nobody else has a job. In other words, he is the asshole who keeps everyone else from going to work.
— Robert Towne

Some writers can set up a small blaze with their words, but very few can ignite an entire decade with their work. Screenwriter Robert Towne spent most of the 1970s blowing up the screen with his jaw dropping scripts including the classic "Chinatown," "Shampoo," "Mission Impossible." Towne's writing fused the classic form of storytelling with an extra punch that Hollywood needed. He mixed the old school with the new school in an intoxicating cocktail that audiences loved to watch.

Born and raised in California, Towne got his start working in film with the master Roger Corman. Towne worked on a script for a B-movie horror film that was never made (the screenplay is sadly lost in time). He eventually moved into television and worked on the "The Outer Limits" and "The Man from U.N.C.L.E" before moving into film full-time. His stylish noir film "Chinatown" starring Jack Nicholson rocked the box office in 1974. Taking a look at the Los Angeles water wars of the 1930s, the film looked and felt like a Chandler film, but with a darkness smoldering in the background.

Towne followed up “Chinatown” with the classic "Shampoo," which, despite its title, has more sex in it than you might think. He was declared the finest screenwriter in town and his films have made millions. He would go on to write scenes for huge films like “Orca,” “The New Centurions,” and “Frantic."

In 1985, Towne was so dissatisfied with the rewrites of his script for “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes” that he changed his name to P.H. Vazak (his dog’s name). The film ended up being nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and a screenwriting pooch nearly walked away with one of Hollywood's highest honors.

Without Towne's groundbreaking and badass work, we would not the likes of Lawrence Kasden, David Koepp, or James Vanderbilt, and Hollywood would be a less brooding place.

Badass Writer of the Week Archives

Badass Writer of the Week: Rudyard Kipling

By Sean Tuohy

With Jon Favreau’s "The Jungle Book" currently roaring through the box office, it’s time to look at the badass who first brought us the story about an orphan in the jungle. 

Rudyard Kipling. 

Kipling's work changed the landscape of modern storytelling. Born to an English father stationed in India, Kipling absorbed lessons from his ayahs (nurses) and the native tongue. He was sent to study in England, and during his time there he worked on his craft. He created wild stories that took place in world filled with science and thrilling plots. Kipling's work is often cited as the first form of modern science fiction.

Returning back to India, Kipling worked as a journalist and his writings quickly gained international attention. By the time he returned back to England once again, he was already a literary celebrity. After marrying an American woman, the author moved with her to Vermont where he worked on his first installment of The Jungle Book

At the outbreak of World War I, Kipling pushed for England to enter the conflict. When his son John was denied military service, Kipling used his power and status to allow him to join the army. Kipling's tone about the war changed after John was killed in battle. Kipling spent the remainder of the war working for the Graves Commission, which was in charge of maintaining military graveyards. Kipling was known to mark the graves of unknown soldiers with a marker that read:

“A Soldier of the Great War, Known Unto God.”

Kipling continued to write, and even became the first Briton to with the Pulitzer Prize. He was also the youngest man awarded the Nobel Prize. 

We should mention that Kipling made a fanboy stop in America in 1889 to meet his literary hero Mark Twain. According to Brain Pickings, Twain became enamored with Kipling’s work. At age 70, Twain is quoted as saying,

“I am not acquainted with my own books but I know Kipling’s books. They never grow pale to me; they keep their colour; they are always fresh.”

Kipling passed away in 1936. We assume he and Twain are drinking and smoking heavily while viciously editing each other’s work.  

Badass Writer of the Week Archive

Badass Writer of the Week: Joel Edgerton

Joel Edgerton

Joel Edgerton

“Time...time and the world swallows events. And it's sad but that's how it is.”—Detective Carl Summer

By Sean Tuohy

Australian screenwriter, director, and actor Joel Edgerton is a triple threat. He is able to bring fully formed characters to life on the page, the screen, and from the director’s chair.

Edgerton’s credits include “Warrior,” "Smokin’ Aces," “Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones,” and his 2015 directorial debut “The Gift.” As a screenwriter, Edgerton as created some of the most tension-filled stories in recent memory. His characters are pushed to the brink and forced to examine themselves while the audience watches in wide-eye shock.

Edgerton’s 2013 script “Felony” presented us with a story that asked, “What would you do?” When a good-hearted police officer accidently hits a child with his car, he works with a cynical co-worker to cover up the crime while a rookie tries to uncover the truth. Edergton makes us feel for a man, who really isn’t a bad guy, ripped to shreds by a tragic mistake. It also doesn’t hurt that the dialogue flows smoothly out of his well-formed characters’ mouths.

Edgerton also wrote the screen story for 2014’s “Rover,” one of the best films of the year. “The Gift,” the film that marked Edgerton’s directorial debut, makes you squirm in your seat and brews a sick feeling at the bottom of the stomach. The story was well paced, the characters felt real, and the lingering moments of tension left viewers breathless.

As much as I like to watch Edgerton lighting up screen as an actor, I would love to see him stretch his badass screenwriting muscles more in the future.


Badass Writer of the Week: Fred Dekker

“You never set out to make a cult movie.” Fred Dekker

“You never set out to make a cult movie.” Fred Dekker

By Sean Tuohy

It takes true writing ability and a twisted mind to blend together zombies, aliens, and tough noir detectives. This week’s Badass Writer of the Week, filmmaker Fred Dekker, pulls it off with the right amount of style and fanboy glee. Dekker’s stories are filled with classic adventure, monsters, and pop culture. His early films, such as “Night of the Creeps” and “Monster Squad” were forerunners to what would become “nerd culture."

As a child, Dekker made films at home. His passion for storytelling brought him to Los Angeles, where he befriended soon-to-be screenwriter Shane Black. The two struck up a friendship on a shared love monsters, tough guys, and films.

Dekker’s first produced movie was the horror classic “House.” Using the funds from that film, Dekker went on to write and direct his own film, “Night of the Creeps.”

A true gem for any movie buff, “Night of the Creeps” seeps with nerd culture. When an alien toxin infects a college it is up to a timid freshmen and a tough-as-nails detective to save the day. Over the top but fresh, “Night of the Creeps” is a horror film that screams for the cult following it now enjoys.  

Soon after, Dekker teamed up with Shane Black to create “The Monster Squad,” a love letter to Universal’s monster films. When Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster, and other things that go bump in the night team up to control the world a group of kids come together to fight them. Where “The Goonies” featured innocent kids on an adventure, “The Monster Squad” had tough kids toting shotguns and spouting awesome one-liners. Dark and funny, with touch of humanity, “The Monster Squad” was golden.

Dekker’s films flopped during their original releases, not because of the quality but because they had no real niche to fill. They seemed too kiddy for adults and too adult for kids. They were stuck in a weird silver screen limbo. It wasn’t until nerd culture came into vogue that people noticed these films for what they were: a movie fan’s love letter to his youth. Dekker never set out to make a David Lean film. He set out to make his own film with a strong personal voice.

Even “Robocop 3,” which is part of a giant franchise, still featured Dekker’s distinctive voice. Every time a movie buff sits down and watches a Dekker film there is connection, a moment when you say, “This was made for me.”

And it kind of was because of the badassery of writer and filmmaker Fred Dekker.


Badass Writer of the Week: Leigh Brackett

By Sean Tuohy

Name some of your favorite action hero moments. Han Solo’s cocky and roguish turn in “The Empire Strikes Back” is on that list, right? Why not throw in Philip Marlowe (played by the eternal badass Humphrey Bogart) in “The Big Sleep” and John Wayne in “Rio Bravo” for a dash of wit and swagger.

Well, gentlemen, lace up your jockstraps because you’re about to find out all those characters that stole your hearts with blaster fire were written by a woman. And not just any woman. Badass writer, screenwriter, and sci-fi author Leigh Brackett.

Brackett wrote about tough, wisecracking manly men for decades. She helped George Lucas bring the next chapter in his “Star Wars” story to life by adding a little tough muscle to it. When Hollywood wanted Raymond Chandler’s famed private eye Philip Marlowe to fill a movie screen, they called upon Mrs. Brackett. When John Wayne needed to face off with some nasty villains in a shootout, Brackett was busy typing away. She helped design the modern movie leading man through her words. Hawks was once asked how Brackett was such a great writer and he replied, “She writes like a man.” Sexist? Yes, but it is probably as close to a compliment as a woman was likely to get from a male director in Hollywood at that time.  

Brackett was raised by her mother and grandparents after her father passed away in a flu pandemic. According to io9, Brackett wrote a prolific amount of sci-fi, space adventure novels (check out some of the badass titles on this complete list) and was called the Queen of Space Opera, which the post claims was not always a compliment.

In a 1976 interview with her husband Edmond Hamilton, Brackett explained her approach to fiction:

I think even the most flagrant escapist fiction is not entertaining unless it makes at least an attempt to have real people in it. I mean unless you get into the emotions of the people and try to present it like something that would really happen.

Brackett’s talent eventually caught the eye of director Howard Hawks. After Brackett’s detective novel, No Good from a Corpse, was published in 1944, Hughes hired her to pen his screenplay and the two developed a solid working relationship. It was during this time that Hollywood decided it was time to bring hard-boiled detective Philip Marlow to the screen. Who better to write this noir film than a female sci-fi writer from northern California? Her skillful screenwriting, as well as her passion for Chandler’s work, helped to make the movie a hit.  

Now, let’s teleport to Brackett’s most well known screenwriting credit. She penned the first script for a little caper called “The Empire Strikes Back.” Yes, the movie that made us all want to utter, “I know,” to our lovers in response to, “I love you,” first came to life through Brackett’s imagination. As io9 points out, Lucas didn’t end up using a lot of her script and she died of cancer before she could do any rewrites for him. However, her original script is well worth the read for its originality and earnestness.

Brackett's legend is still strong in Hollywood and in the sci-fi community. The sheriff in “Halloween” was named after her and many authors still hold Brackett’s name above all other writers. We assume she’s in another dimension, wielding a lightsaber and keeping alien civilizations safe from harm.


Badass Writer of the Week: Frederick Forsyth

Frederick Forsyth

Frederick Forsyth

By Sean Tuohy

This Friday's Badass Writer of the Week has seen the brutal conflicts of Africa, been an ace fighter pilot, met with gunrunners, worked along side the most elite special forces, and was once a journalist.

No, this isn’t the background of some classic adventure hero; this is the real life of best-selling author Frederick Forsyth, the father of the modern thriller novel. Forsyth is known for his in-depth research, which has helped him plan the assassination of a President, the overthrow of the government, and how to track down international terrorists. In addition to setting the bar that all thriller authors must meet, Forsyth has been reviewed by several governments because of the security risk his novels offer.

Born in Kent, England, in 1938, Forsyth became the youngest pilot in the Royal Air Force, but he decided to leave the great blue skies behind and become a reporter. Forsyth bounced around Europe for years as a journalist before deciding to write his first novel.

Using the turmoil of France, Forsyth created a highly trained and deadly professional assassin hired to kill the country’s President. The Day of the Jackal became an international best-selling book and Hollywood film. The book became the gold standard and has been studied ever since because of the realistic approach of the would-be killer.

Forsyth, now 76 years old, continues to write and publish mystery and suspense novels (his most recent, The Kill List, came out in August 2014). We will assume he will continue to do so until one of his main characters breaks free from the page and hunts him down.

In August 2015, Fredrick admitted to working for the British intelligence while working as  a journalist and novelist. Yes, the badass writer is also a badass spy!

Badass Writer of the Week: Rory Flynn

The nicest badass writer we know: Rory Flynn

The nicest badass writer we know: Rory Flynn

By Sean Tuohy

Few authors can run through the seedy back alley of crime writing and come out clean on the other side like Boston-based author Rory Flynn.

A former punk rocker turned writer, Flynn takes his skewed view on the world and injects it into his novels. His first crime novel, Third Rail, features Harvard cop Eddy Harkness and grabs readers with a death grip from the opening line. Flynn is currently working on his second Harkness novel, which will be coming out soon. You can also check out work under his real name, Stona Finch, but we suggest keeping a light on...

But we’re not going to spoil everything here. If you want to learn more about Flynn, listen to our first interview at J.J. Foley's (below) and come join the Writer’s Bone crew at our live podcast recording with the author at Trident Booksellers and Cafe on June 25th at 7:00 p.m.

To learn more about Rory Flynn, visit his official website, like his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @MrRoryFlynn.


Badass Writer of the Week: Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard

We're switching it up a little bit this week. Rather than provide you with a biography of Elmore Leonard, we’re recommending our favorite Leonard yarns.  The reason we picked him as our badass writer of the week should be pretty self-explanatory.   

Rum Punch

Sean Tuohy: Rum Punch is the first book that I thought really captured what living in South Florida is like. Elmore captured the vastness of the area and threw in some wicked, but oh-so real characters that leapt off the page. Leonard's characters always speak like real people and none of his prose feels forced. Rum Punch tells the story of a flight attendant stuck in the middle between gun runners, the FBI, and an honest bail bondsman Max Cherry. Cherry is one of the best characters to ever come from a Leonard book and brought to life on the silver screen by the great Robert Forster in Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown.” In the book, Cherry is a man who wants to do right by his pushy wife and an upstanding guy overall, but he is stuck working with scumbags who jump bail and ends up falling in love with the flight attendant. Drama, gunfire, and an ill-planned heist ensue. Rum Punch is a quick read that feels like an epic, which is why it’s one of Leonard’s best.


Daniel Ford: I’ve read Riding the Rap, Fire in the Hole, and Raylan, but my favorite Raylan Givens story penned by Elmore Leonard will always be Pronto. Harry Arno gets in trouble with bad people (the man is a Leonard criminal through and through: dopey, desperate, and money hungry) and runs off to Italy to hide. Raylan takes a vacation to track him down and keep him safe from Tommy Bucks (who has one of the best villain nicknames of all time: the Zip). Like all Leonard novels, the plot is less important than the colorful characters spouting terrific dialogue at every turn. Raylan, as always, is constantly exasperated and is constantly foiled by Harry’s enemies and by Harry himself. The bad guys do Leonard bad guy things, and Raylan does Raylan things, and people are shot and bleeding at the end. The novel’s finale, in which Raylan warns the Zip to leave Miami in 24 hours or he’ll shoot him, provided the recently concluded television series with plenty of earthy source material for its pitch perfect pilot. Pronto also includes what could quite possibly be my favorite Elmore Leonard lines of all time: “Raylan shot him” and a paragraph of description later, “Raylan shot him again.” What more do you need?

My edition of Pronto also included an interview with Elmore Leonard from 1998, in which he was asked why he kept writing. Here was his response:

“It’s the most satisfying thing I can imagine doing. To write that scene and then read it and it works. I love the sound of it. There’s nothing better than that. The notoriety that comes later doesn’t compare to the doing of it. I’ve been doing it for almost 47 years, and I’m still trying to make it better.”

We should all strive for such work ethic and humility. 

Here are a few YouTube clips of Elmore Leonard that further prove he's much more of a badass writer than you are:

Badass Writers of the Week: Broken Lizard

By Sean Tuohy

They came. They saw. They made us piss ourselves with laughter.

From bored state troopers to beer-guzzling athletics, Broken Lizard has proven themselves as true humor gods. Now, following the announcement of the long-awaited sequel to the beloved ”Super Troopers,” the fellas of Broken Lizard are ready to mustache ride again (You can contribute to the film’s crowdfunding page here)!

Steve Lemme, Kevin Heffernan, Jay Chandrasekhar, Erik Stolhanske, and Paul Soter formed Broken Lizard while attending Colgate College. Their first film together was the ultra-low budget “Puddle Cruiser,” which they filmed on campus. Following that film, the troupe took Manhattan much like Jason Voorhees.

The troupe’s second feature, “Super Troopers,” is an off-the-wall, goofy comedy featuring five Vermont state troopers hell bent on shenanigans (as well as Linda Carter still looking damn good). To promote the film, Broken Lizard took a bus across the country to interact with fans. The film became a smash cult hit and carried the fellas on to their next films.

The guys proved two things: You can make a funny slasher movie, and drinking insane amounts of beer is safe. Wait, that second statement may be incorrect. With “Club Dread,” Broken Lizard mixed shrill screams and laughter. 


They also brought beer drinking to a new level with “Beerfest.” Let’s face it, we have all tried to drink as much as these guys did in that movie, but ended up with a busted bladder.

Broken Lizard is now coming back with “Super Troopers 2.” We’ve all be waiting for it, but as the troupe says, “the time is right meow.” And the best part is, their fans get to be an integral part of the film! Donate so that the Vermont highways are once again safe for comedy, and we can all find out what Farva is doing in the trunk.  

You should also check out our past interviews and podcasts with Steve Lemme, Kevin Heffernan, and Erik Stolhanske:

You Can’t Have a Fist Fight Alone: 12 Questions With Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme of Broken Lizard

Badass Writer of the Week: Tina Fey

Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” alter ego,  not  talking to Oprah.

Liz Lemon, Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” alter ego, not talking to Oprah.

“Be yourself. No one else can be you.”—Tina Fey

By Sean Tuohy

Tina Fey is our queen. 

We’ve all known it for a while, but now it’s time to accept it in our hearts;  Fey is here to reign over us.

A “Star Wars” nerd, a writer and author, and a hell of a comedian, Fey has proved beyond a doubt she has serious chops. She was the first female head writer on “Saturday Night Live,” she landed her own primetime television series on NBC (which became a beloved classic), starred in blockbuster films, and wrote a best-selling memoir.

The Bossypants scribe was born to be a comedy writer. At an early age, she soaked in late night sketch television, “Ghostbusters,” and cartoons. After college, Fey made her way out to Chicago to become part of The Second City comedy troupe. Making it to that comedy club is like being tapped to lead SEAL Team Six. Fey then moved on to the mecca of sketch comedy: “Saturday Night Live.”

Fey started out as a behind-the-scenes writer, never planning to make her way on screen. Producers quickly saw that Fey was meant for the camera and she became a regular player.  In 2004, she became the first female head writer of “SNL” and wrote and produced the iconic “Mean Girls.” Fey also created backstories for all of the characters in the movie, none of which were presented to audiences, just in case an actor had a question. 

Let’s be honest who doesn’t love “Mean Girls?” Right, Dan? Dan… (Daniel Ford: I’ve sadly never seen it, but I date someone that can recite lines from the film with ease.)

Two years later, Fey gifted“30 Rock” to the world. A show within a show! Fey played overworked Liz Lemon who tried each week to produce a live sketch show while trying to have a love life and be a nerd at the same time.

She also gave us tools something to say whenever we want to quit whatever soul-sucking job we're suffer through in order to pay rent, buy food, etc.: #shutitdown

Fey also wrote a hilarious memoir titled Bossypants in 2011. The book dominated The New York Times best-seller list for weeks and has sold more than one million copies in the United States. Her childhood was scarring, but charming and filled with angst, confusion, bad haircuts, and sweating, proving yet again that there is hope for us mere mortals.

After “30 Rock” ended, Fey starred in several blockbuster comedies including “Admission,” ”Muppets Most Wanted,” and “This Is Where I Leave You.” However, she returned to the small screen in 2015 as writer and producer of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmit,” which has garnered high ratings and much love from critics and viewers alike. The show has also burrowed its theme song deep into our brains.    

There appears to be no limit to what Fey can do, but I’m really hoping she ends up starring as a Jedi in the new “Star Wars” films. 


Badass Writer of the Week: Michael France

Michael France

Michael France

By Sean Tuohy

The Name is France. Michael France.

You may have never seen his name before, but you know his work. James Bond fan boy-turned- Hollywood screenwriter Michael France penned films that have grossed nearly a billion dollars. Yes, you read that correctly, billion with a big ole “b.” France brought James Bond back to life on the big screen, unleashed The Punisher, and hung Sly Stallone off a cliff.

As a movie nerd growing up in South Florida, I was thrilled to discover that France was not only from Florida, but lived in the Sunshine State while writing Hollywood blockbusters. It’s no surprise that he was one of my idols. France started out in Saint Petersburg, Fla., where in school he was the president of a magazine devoted to James Bond (for our younger readers, a magazine has glossy pages filled with pictures and words). France went off to University of Florida and then moved on to Columbia to finish his degree.

He caught the limelight early with his spec script sale to a major Hollywood studio in 1991. Within the next year, the film had a major star, a big name director, and the green light to start filming. “Cliffhanger” ended up as one of the biggest hits of the year.

France then began pumping out screenplays for major Hollywood studios. He penned the first drafts of “The Punisher” and “Hulk.” His early insight on the scripts made those films pop, but it was his next project that really cemented his legacy.

In 1994, James Bond was a relic of the Cold War. The last film had been produced in 1987 and the franchise had been in limbo ever since. France was hired to pen the draft the newest installment of the saga. He obviously knew Bond well from his schoolboy days, so he gleefully took the assignment. France attacked the script as if it was his version of War and Peace. His research for the film included traveling to the former Soviet Union in order to tour army bases, KGB stations, and a even a casino! To write a worthy James Bond film, France became Bond.

“GoldenEye” was a smash hit and one of the highest grossing films in the series. France also penned a good chunk of “The World Is Not Enough,” but did not get a credit.

A guy with salt air and sunshine in his veins stayed close to home and eventually bought a movie theater in Saint Pete for $800,000 cash that for many years ran classic films.

In 2013, Michael France passed away at the young age of 51, likely from throwing a martini in someone’s face and instigating an epic gunfight.


Badass Writer of the Week: Stephen King

Stephen King

Stephen King

By Sean Tuohy

Boo! Are you scared?


Then go read a Stephen King story because for the past 40 years, the Maine-born writer has been causing readers to wet their beds out of fear. King's works can also regularly be found being turned into a movie, television show, or mini series. The man pumps out books like Babe Ruth hitting homers.

We couldn't summarize King's massive and impressive career. We'd have to shut down Writer's Bone for a year to do that. In the spirit of Halloween, we're going to share a couple of key frighting moments from some of King's adapted works. However, the selected scenes do appear in the original work.


They All Float Down Here

Best Bartender From Portland, Maine to Portland, Ore.

Not Going Anywhere

That Bathroom One

Pay Back

Badass Writer of the Week: David Ayer

David Ayer

By Jonathan Merrick

From street kid to one of Hollywood’s elite screenwriters, David Ayer has had one hell of a ride.

Ayer, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, had his newest film, “Fury” starring Brad Pitt, hit theaters this past weekend to rave reviews and took the top spot at the box office. He’s made his stamp in Hollywood for writing gritty, character-driven movies that audiences can’t get enough of. In a world of play-it-safe writers, he makes it a point to write on the edge, earning his status as our Badass Writer of the Week.

Ayer spent most of his early life as a street kid in South Central Los Angeles (in later years, the city would become the backdrop for many of his films). He dropped out of college and found himself in the U.S. Navy. After he left the service, Ayer lived in a tough area of Los Angeles, struggling to break into Hollywood and dealing stress from his time in the military. He comitted petty crimes and spent his days adrift with his friends. Ayer eventually channeled his energy into screenwriting and wrote “Harsh Times,” which he would later go on to direct.

Following the success of the movie, Ayer was able to get away from the streets and become a script doctor. He worked on “The Fast and Furious”, “U-571”, “S.W.A.T,” and other high-end action films. On a personal note, I should mention that his commentary track on the “S.W.A.T” DVD is one of the most useful writer’s commentaries of all time. He’s brutally honest and speaks freely about his style and work ethic. Anyone who wants to pen screenplays has to check it out immediately.

Ayer’s big break came with “Training Day,” the film that Denzel Washington would win an Oscar for. Form here, Ayer began making his own films, including “Street Kings” and “Sabotage.” From what I’ve seen and heard, “Fury” could end up being his masterpiece.

For all of the above reasons, Ayer is a true badass in Hollywood. He stays true to the craft of writing by writing what he knows.

Oh yeah, go see “Fury.”


Badass Writer Of The Week: Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith

By Sean Tuohy

"Don't be afraid to do weird stuff, so long as you do it cheaply and cover everyone's bets. Be bold. Be stupid. People have been telling me I'm a failure and that I'm doing it all wrong for 20 years now. Never trust anybody when they tell you how your story goes. You know your story. You write your own story." Kevin Smith

The above quote should be tattooed on the arm of every struggling writer in the world. Translate it to another language if you have to. Kevin Smith sums up what every writer in the world should be doing: Writing their own stories.

And who knows better then Smith, director of award-winning films such as "Clerks" and "Chasing Amy." His newest film "Tusk", based on an episode of his own podcast SMODCAST, is in theaters now. Smith has always stood out in Hollywood for his voice, original story telling, and the fact that he always made movies that were close to his heart.

Smith, a comic book and movie fan boy from the Garden State, decided that he wanted to make his own movie that showed what his life was like. That movie became the cult classic "Clerks." Twenty years later, Smith has created an empire that includes movies, television shows like "Comic Book Men" (coming back to AMC Oct. 12 after "The Walking Dead"), books, comic books, and podcasts. Despite his critical acclaim and legions of fans, Smith has always stayed grounded in the real world and has always told the stories he wanted to tell.

I always recommend people watch "Snowball Effect: The Making Of Clerks," which covers Smith's early years and rise to fame with his small black and white film. The movie captures how a dreamer was able to make his dreams come true with hard work and by never giving up.

Listening to one of Smith's podcasts is a great way to charge your creative battery. Smith is a beacon of creative hope in a waste land of failed dreams. He is a reminder that as long as you believe in what you write and you put in the hard work you will fulfill your desires.

How badass is that?

Sean is on the left, we mean right, we mean left, right, left....

Sean is on the left, we mean right, we mean left, right, left....

Badass Writer of the Week: Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly

By Daniel Ford

“Who is Nellie Bly?”

This question was poised to me by someone after I mentioned her in the latest installment of The Newspapermen.

I figured it was only appropriate to give everyone a refresher on the ground-breaking female journalist by honoring her as this Friday’s Badass Writer of the Week.

Bly was actually born Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864 in Cochran’s Mills, Pa (which was named after her father). Unfortunately, her father died when she was 6 years old, and the family was left without an inheritance. Seeking financial security, Bly’s mother re-married. However, the man was an abusive thug and Bly’s mother sued for divorce (which in the mid-1800s was pretty rare, even for abused women). According to PBS, Bly testified at the trial saying, “My stepfather has been generally drunk since he married my mother. When drunk he is very cross and cross when sober."

So, like many of the badasses on our list, it wasn't a great start for our heroine.

Bly didn’t let her tumultuous upbringing get her down. In fact, in 1885, Bly read an editorial in The Pittsburgh Dispatch entitled “What Girls Are Good For.” It was the 19th Century’s version of trolling. Essentially, the article told women to stay in the home. Bly did what badass writers do; she penned a terse and sensational reply that so impressed the paper’s editor that he urged the “Little Orphan Girl” to come forward so he could give her a job. She accepted. According to The New Yorker, the newly christened Nellie Bly spent a year working on stories that fell into “the pink ghetto—pieces on fashion, decorating, entertaining, and gardening.” Unsatisfied, Bly decided to hightail it to Mexico and file dispatches as a freelance writer.

She made her way back to the United States and got a job at The New York World, which was owned at the time by Joseph Pulitzer (there’s a minor writing award named after him). Rather than being cornered into writing about women’s issues, Bly was at the frontlines of the newspaper wars between Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst. She convinced doctors and judges she was insane and was committed to Blackwell's Island, a nefarious New York City mental institution, for 10 days. Following her experience, Bly wrote “Behind Asylum Bars,” a series that “showcased her reportorial skills and her wry way with language.” She also caused somewhat of an uproar in New York City and the local government was forced to spend additional funds to improve conditions at the mental institution. This was muckraking journalism at its finest.

Here’s an excerpt:

We were taken into a cold, wet bathroom, and I was ordered to undress. Did I protest? Well, I never grew so earnest in my life as when I tried to beg off. They said if I did not they would use force and that it would not be very gentle. At this I noticed one of the craziest women in the ward standing by the filled bathtub with a large, discolored rag in her hands. She was chattering away to herself and chuckling in a manner which seemed to me fiendish. I knew now what was to be done with me. I shivered. They began to undress me, and one by one they pulled off my clothes. At last everything was gone excepting one garment. "I will not remove it," I said vehemently, but they took it off. I gave one glance at the group of patients gathered at the door watching the scene, and I jumped into the bathtub with more energy than grace.

Bly lost a little steam as a reporter after everyone starting duplicating her style. Determined not to be a forgotten byline, Bly decided to take on Jules Verne’s Phileas Fogg and travel around the world in less than 80 days. The newspaper brass took some convincing. According to Mental Floss, Bly had an answer ready when the paper suggested they send a man instead: “Very well. Start the man and I’ll start the same day for some other newspaper and beat him.” Bly got her way.

She set out on the journey alone; just one badass writer against the world. Bly returned from her journey in only 72 days, six hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds. Bly wrote that upon her arrival back in the United States, “I took off my cap and wanted to yell with the crowd, not because I had gone around the world in seventy-two days, but because I was home again.”

Needless to say, her account detailing the trip was a sensation. Chapter 1 is entitled, “A Proposal to Girdle the Earth.” Here’s how she recounts coming up with the idea:

What gave me the idea? It is sometimes difficult to tell exactly what gives birth to an idea. Ideas are the chief stock in trade of newspaper writers and generally they are the scarcest stock in market, but they do come occasionally.
This idea came to me one Sunday. I had spent a greater part of the day and half the night vainly trying to fasten on some idea for a newspaper article. It was my custom to think up ideas on Sunday and lay them before my editor for his approval or disapproval on Monday. But ideas did not come that day and three o'clock in the morning found me weary and with an aching head tossing about in my bed. At last tired and provoked at my slowness in finding a subject, something for the week's work, I thought fretfully:
"I wish I was at the other end of the earth!"
"And why not?" the thought came: "I need a vacation; why not take a trip around the world?"
It is easy to see how one thought followed another. The idea of a trip around the world pleased me and I added: "If I could do it as quickly as Phileas Fogg did, I should go.

Following her historic trip, Bly married a millionaire, became a leading female industrialist when her husband died, became the country’s first female war correspondent during World War I, and continued to write a column for The Evening Journal until her death from pneumonia in 1922 at the age of 57.

So now if someone asks you who Nellie Bly is, you can reply, “She was a complete badass and could write circles the size of the globe around you.”


Badass Writer of the Week: Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

By Daniel Ford  

I saw Joan Rivers live at Foxwoods Casino last year with Stephanie Schaefer.

I wasn’t supposed to go. Stephanie only had two tickets and she was taking her mother. I was tasked with palling around with her grandmother while she played the slots. I was looking forward to a few free drinks and some conversation about the good old days when an elderly couple shoved an envelope in my hand.

“You want to see Joan Rivers?” The old man said.

“How much are you selling them for?” I asked.

“Take em,” he said.

So I did. Stephanie’s grandmother reluctantly agreed to be my date and we settled in for Rivers’ act.

Holy cow did that woman put on a show.

For an 80-something-year-old, Rivers had no fear of physical comedy or offending every race, gender, and sexual preference known to man. I laughed my ass off the entire time.

Sadly, the trailblazing comedian died Sept. 4, 2014 at the age of 81. Here at Writer’s Bone, we could think of no better way to honor her than naming her Badass Writer of the Week and discussing some of the highlights of her career (Stephanie Schaefer is going to handle Rivers’ "Fashion Police" era for obvious reasons).

“I’m Wearing 1965 Hair”

Joan Rivers got her break on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show.” She was named Carson’s permanent guest host in 1983. She made people fall out of their chairs with her biting humor and quick wit. She did all of this in an era defined by white men treating women (and most of the rest of humanity) like a public toilet. Rivers told them to shut the fuck up. And did it while make them soil themselves from laughing too hard.

Rivers would eventually “betray” Carson by launching her own late night show in 1986. He never spoke to her again. The rift would in large part define her narrative for the rest of her career, but from the above clip, one can see she was every bit his equal and would have never settled for being his second banana. Rivers explained why she thought Carson got so upset in an article she wrote for The Hollywood Reporter:

“I think he really felt because I was a woman that I just was his. That I wouldn’t leave him. I know this sounds very warped. But I don’t understand otherwise what was going on. For years, I thought that maybe he liked me better than the others. But I think it was a question of, “I found you, and you’re my property.” He didn’t like that as a woman, I went up against him.”

Predictably, Carson’s show wiped the floor with her. But a glass ceiling had been shattered and Joan Rivers proved women were every bit as funny and conniving as their male counterparts.

“It Doesn’t Get Better. You Get Better”

It doesn’t get more honest than this. Louie CK has a wonderful ability to get pitch-perfect performances from his guest stars on “Louie.” Joan Rivers was no exception.

“It’s a calling," she says, "We make people happy.” There’s a beat there where you realize how miserable comedians can become despite bringing joy to others. Her monologue is both inspiring and soul-crushing. 

And then Louie totally ruins the moment by trying to make out with Rivers. She’s appalled at first, gives it a second thought, and then shrugs. “Why not. But don’t tell anyone. No one likes a necrophiliac.”

Can you imagine any other comedian delivering that line?

“It Looks Like She Just B$%^ the Grinch” 

By Stephanie Schaefer

I’ll admit that over the past few years while most 20-somethings were out taking shots on a Friday night, I was more often than not sitting on my couch laughing out loud from the witty, hilarious, and usually off-color jokes of an 80-year-old.

Rivers gained a whole new generation of fans (#JoanRangers)myself included—when her television show “Fashion Police,” which critiqued red carpet looks, premiered on E! in 2010.

No matter how rough a week I was having, up until last week I could count on Rivers to make me laugh with her sassy sayings and fearlessness to say what everyone else was thinking (or wish they were clever enough to think of).

RIP Joan Rivers. You were one of a kind and you will be missed.

“If there is a secret to being a comedian, it’s just loving what you do. It is my drug of choice. I don’t need real drugs. I don’t need liquor. It’s the joy that I get performing. That is my rush. I get it nowhere else.”—Joan Rivers, The Hollywood Reporter, 2012


Badass Writer of the Week: Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien

Conan O'Brien

By Sean Tuohy and Daniel Ford

Tall, lanky, self-deprecating, and the red-haired beacon of late night, Conan O'Brien is a household name for his whacky off-the-wall TBS comedy show.

O’Brien has been making late night stoners pee their pants and given college co-eds something to be pretentious about for nearly 20 years, but started out as a humble comedy writer. He was born in Boston to a lawyer and a doctor and went to Harvard like any good lad with a proper, erudite upbringing. But instead of rubbing elbows and earning gentleman Cs, the red-headed prankster made a name for himself by pulling off several high-profile pranks, including stealing Burt Ward's Robin costume, and becoming the head writer for National Lampoon.

After college, O'Brien received his first writing gig on a little show that’s about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. It was at “Saturday Night Live” that O'Brien's love for comedy and writing came together. O'Brien was even showcased in a couple of skits early on in his career. He was naked in one of them!

His work on “SNL” landed him a job on a new cartoon show. Oh, you want to know which show? “The Simpsons.” Yeah, the show that FXX is currently broadcasting all 552 (!) episodes of and that is showing no signs of being culturally irrelevant anytime soon. It was with everyone’s favorite yellow-skinned family that O’Brien would stamp his presence on pop culture forever.

"Marge vs. the Monorail" premiered during the show’s fourth season and featured with a slick con man selling the town of Springfield on the idea of building a monorail. How did he do this? Singing and dancing! Who wrote it? Sean did. Wait, that’s not the right answer. That’s what Sean tells his dinner guests. It was Conan O’Brien of course!

And the rest is history....

What? It's not. Shit. Okay, well, um, I guess we'll skip through the rest of this. O'Brien became the host of the "Late Night" after David Lettermen left for CBS to torture Jay Leno. He did this job for 16 years (Oh, yeah, Louis CK worked on the show as a writer. Even more badassery for your buck!)

He then became the host of "The Tonight Show" until Jay Leno pulled a reverse Fredo and convinced NBC his chin could continue dryly reading jokes for another billion years, and sent our fair-skinned badass packing.

Smart and talented people don’t stay down long though. O’Brien licked his wounds, formed Team Coco, started a new late night show on TBS, and won Twitter.

I hope I never discover a genie when I’m really hungry, tired, or unhappy with my cell phone reception.
— Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) August 27, 2014
"Nothing like that's ever been attempted before, and probably never will be again." - #Conan#Scrapisode
— Team Coco (@TeamCoco) August 22, 2014

There! Done!


Badass Writer of the Week: George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin

By Sean Tuohy

He's portly. He wears glasses. The man can wear the hell out of a vest. He plays Dungeons & Dragons in his free time.

George R.R. Martin is nobody's geek grandpa. He's a complete and utter badass.

Who else creates vivid fantasy worlds that he quickly filled with characters that you fall in love with and then kills them off in the most bloody gruesome way he can think of.

Martin is responsible for this:

Was that not the most brutal death imaginable for someone named Ned?

Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series was already popular, but the critically acclaimed HBO series brought the novels and their author to a higher level in the zeitgeist.

So you might expect someone that's killing off beloved characters the same way you brush your teeth in the morning to be covered in tattoos, causing Twitter outrage on a daily basis, and driving a Harley at 100 mph without a helmet (Not that any of our other Badass Writers of the Week fit that description or anything...). However, Martin is still the down to earth nerd he started out as.

You know what else makes him a badass? He doesn't give a White Walker about whether or not he lives long enough to finish his novels. He's writing this series as much for him as he is for his readers and is doing it at his own pace. Check out Martin's reaction to an interviewer when he's asked about whether he's worried about dying before he finishes or not:

He's not just giving humanity the finger; he's flipping off the Grim Reaper. We feel pretty confident that Martin is going to live long enough to end A Song of Fire and Ice with a comet smacking into Westeros and incinerating every single last character.

In that spirit, let's joyously watch some people get brutally murdered and appreciate the true badass genius of George R.R. Martin.