Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.
January 29th, 2011 by Mere Smith

#1 Draft Pick

Ever wonder how it must feel to be the #1 draft pick in the NBA?

Fucking fantastic, right?

Being the #1 draft pick of the year means that everyone — everyone in the whole goddamn business — thinks you are the absolute cream of this year’s crop.  Thinks, “Man, this fella is the bomb-diggity on toast with grape jelly.”  Thinks, “Wow, if I could only have that guy on my team, we’d beat the holy living snot out of everybody — and perhaps create enough self-esteem to keep the rest of our players from diving headfirst into traffic.”

Because hitch being, of course — who gets to pick you?

The worst team in the league.

And then… well, you get to be the best player of the year… for the worst team in the league.

Hi, John Wall of the Washington Wizards.  Hi, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Ciippers.

After all, that’s how the draft works: if you’re the lousiest team in the NBA, you get the Pity Pick for next year (i.e., the first pick), since everyone else knows that, good Lord, if any team needs a #1 guy to drag its pathetic ass out of the gutter, it is your team, brother.

Unfair to the rook, maybe, but suck it, Rook, you’re about to make more money in a year than Average Joe makes in a lifetime, so just shut your moany mouth and play, motherfucker — and don’t forget to be (very publicly — and repeatedly) grateful for what you’ve gotten — even if you have to go to therapy to cope with losing consistently for perhaps the first time in your life.

Not that I’m knocking therapy, now — it worked for me and Ron Artest (a first-round draft pick [#16] who went to the Bulls after their dismal 13-50 record in lockout season), didn’t it?  Hell, Ron’s therapist was one of the first people he thanked after winning his Championship Ring with the Lakers.  Did you catch that?  Championship Ring.

Well, sometimes the same goes for Hollywood writers.

A writer can be good — in fact, really damn good — in fact, really, really damn good — but somehow they often get hired by the crappiest shows on the air.

But why?  How does that happen?

Because the Suits (studio and network execs) think that maybe — just maybe — that damn good writer could pull the crappiest show on the air out of last place (before the show’s even on, mind you; before it even has a chance to prove that it is the crappiest show on the air – thus proving the Suits already know they’re putting crap on the air), and so they heartily discourage (or outright nix) a good show EP’s wish to hire that writer.

Which, if you ask me, is a bit like getting Mark Twain to stop writing “Huckleberry Finn” in order to write for “Guns & Ammo.”  What the hell could Mark Twain bring to “Guns and Ammo”?  Humorous metaphors about extended clips?  Amusing biographical sketches of deer-gutting nutballs?  “A Connecticut NRA Lobbyist In The Supreme Court”?

What it essentially comes down to is your agent telling you how fantastic you are — and then you having to schlep off to write about alcoholic gay teenage vampires from space.

Now, I may not be a #1 draft pick — though I flatter myself by imagining I’d go in the first or second round — and yet I’ve still written for a few shows that I deliberately omit when reciting my resume to prospective employers.  Why is that?  Should I be ashamed that I played for the Wizards for a time?  That I whored myself out to the Clippers?  I was a starter; I got paid — amounts I’m ashamed to recall, given the quality of what aired — but for the very first time I’m hoping to go in the third round this year, maybe even the fourth.  Sure, it’s a dangerous proposition (maybe you don’t get drafted at all, and if you do, you’re in for major bench time, and therefore very few highlights on ESPN) — but it’s a proposition that presents the opportunity to work with a team knocking their asses out to produce the best results they can.

That’s the kind of show I want to work on.  That’s the game I want to play.

I could give two shits about ratings (I leave that to the Suits, who I doubt would be very fond of my saying, “I could give two shits about ratings”), but to write with a team whose hearts and passion are invested in and devoted to constantly bettering the show?

Yes, please.

I’ll even mop up the court-sweat.

Don’t misunderstand me — I’ve been relatively lucky so far.  Aside from my aforementioned stints with the Clippers, et al, I have also enjoyed a season or three with the Lakers and the Celtics.  But after spending two years in Development Hell — aka, on “Satan’s Own Injured Reserve” — I want to get back out and play again with a group.  Especially since my game’s been improved by all the solo practice: I can now dunk like LeBron on steroids and my free throw percentage is sick, y’all.

But therein lies the conundrum.

There’s a ubiquitous Suit-saying in Hollywood I’ve always hated: “S/he’s too smart for the room.”

At first this sounds like a compliment, but then you realize it’s the same kind of compliment that horrid bitchy girl in high school gave you, rolling her eyes and saying, “Gee, I looooove your new haircut….”

What it basically boils down to is, “We acknowledge you have mad skillz, but we don’t think you can dumb it down for Real People.”

These are the same Suits who think the phrase “flyover state” (see recent posts) is OMG HI-larious, and think Real People can only be fed Gerber’s Strained Peaches.  Try to feed ’em the real deal, they say, and the dumb hicks’ll just choke on the stones.

My response to this attitude is, always has been, and will consistently remain, quite politely, “GO FUCK YOUR MOTHER.”

I don’t need to be a #1 draft pick — but I can hold my own on a team.

And it takes a whole team to get a Championship Ring.

Just ask Ron Artest.

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