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Author Topic: Union Dues may be coming to television!  (Read 50411 times)

Swamp

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on: January 08, 2010, 11:45:00 PM
Here is a transcript of Steve's big announcement regarding Jeffrey R. DeRego's Union Dues universe on Escape Pod ep. 223:

Quote
I've been going crazy trying to keep quiet about this one, but they finally told me I can talk about it.  So, a while ago, I was contacted by Doug Nabors, one of the producers for the T.V. show “Monk”.  He and his associate, Darren Bell have optioned the T.V and film rights for the Union Dues universe from Jeff DeRego, and are pushing hard to pitch this as a major television series.  This is not a far out theoretical.  They’ve hired concept artists who’ve worked on stuff like "Farscape" and "Fallout".  Darren Bell was a visual effects producer on "Watchmen".

They’re putting this in front of agents and writers and studios, and at the core of their pitch is the fact that Union Dues already has an existing fan base, thanks to this podcast.  I got to contribute a paragraph or two about this myself.  So the project is real.  That’s not the same as “yes, there will be a series.”  A lot of cool stuff gets pitched in Hollywood and goes nowhere, but it could happen.

And they’re asking for your participation and feedback.  There’s a site being developed at 1800gounion.com. and you can follow Union of Supers at Twitter, and of course you can comment on our forums.  Doug asked me to tell you that they welcome any fan art, suggestions, favorite characters, and most importantly, comments on the following question:

(This is a direct quote)
"Historically, costumed hero shows have failed, or have been perceived as juvenile camp.  Why have they failed?  What content/story/ angle can Union Dues provide that other live action super hero shows have not been able to?  Although "Heroes" has been a commercial success, it has failed critically.  We are pitching this series as the antithesis of this type of glossy, bubblegum hero fiction.”  

I’ll have more to say about this later on I’m sure, and by the way, just to make clear, their option is with DeRego.  If this succeeds, he makes money.  Escape Artists doesn’t stand to get any benefit financially from this at all.  It would be good publicity, but mostly I’m promoting this because it would be So Damn Cool.  If you agree, help spread the word.

So what do you think?
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 06:14:24 AM by Heradel »

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gelee

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Reply #1 on: January 09, 2010, 01:38:07 AM
Wow.  This is beyond awesome.  Not only is this phenomenal for Mr. Derego, it's great to see someone out of Hollywood actually pursuing quality work material.  I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for this to go to production.  Consider me a pre-built viewer.



Zorag

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Reply #2 on: January 09, 2010, 02:31:30 AM
I've already started whoring it up on Twitter.  Let me know anything else I can do to make this happen.

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Swamp

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Reply #3 on: January 09, 2010, 02:56:49 AM
I just talked it up on my blog.

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Zorag

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Reply #4 on: January 09, 2010, 03:08:15 AM
What do you want for attribution, Swamp?  I'm thinking about just copying and pasting your blog.

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Zorag

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Reply #5 on: January 09, 2010, 03:11:15 AM
We need a hashtag for Twitter so we can make it a trending topic.

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Swamp

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Reply #6 on: January 09, 2010, 04:39:31 AM
What do you want for attribution, Swamp?  I'm thinking about just copying and pasting your blog.

Consider it creative commons.  Do what you want with it, just don't change it, or sell it, and make sure to state where you got it from.  :)

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Talia

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Reply #7 on: January 09, 2010, 06:07:01 AM
Holy crap. Awesome. Crossing my fingers. (and gonna tweet about it).



Zorag

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Reply #8 on: January 09, 2010, 06:07:57 PM
Am I the only one who actually dialed 1-800-GO-Union?

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jrderego

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Reply #9 on: January 09, 2010, 06:18:48 PM
Am I the only one who actually dialed 1-800-GO-Union?

LOL, no. When All That We Leave Behind was first published, several others did as that's the first mention of the Union recruitment hotline. Strangely, I never dialed it but I've heard it's a sex chat line.

Sorry about that.

Also, join the Union Dues fanpage on Facebook :)

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Also, please buy my book - Escape Clause: A Union Dues Novel
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FamilyGuy

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Reply #10 on: January 09, 2010, 07:14:44 PM
Following on twitter, fanned on FB, awaiting website!  Congrats!

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Kaa

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Reply #11 on: January 09, 2010, 07:38:30 PM
Wow! I've been a fan of Union Dues since the very first story when I realized that it was very different from the standard "super heroes" story. I'm absolutely thrilled for you, Mr. DeRego, and I can't wait to see it on the big screen (my TV is large :)).

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Doug

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Reply #12 on: January 09, 2010, 10:17:41 PM
We've been building the presentation for the pitch for the past three months. 

As Steve gracefully mentioned, the value in this property is that it has a loyal fan base that has already been established here at Escape Pod.   It is obvious to  us all why we love the Union Dues stories.  The challenge is translating that love to those who may not have been exposed to the UD world.

Our attack is two-pronged.

1. Activate and energize this fan base, and INVOLVE them in spreading the word, creating buzz, and turning this grassroots following into a raging wildfire.

2. Developing a pitch with accompanying concept art,   talent attachments, and a unique angle on the  subject matter.

The combination of these two fronts is what will peak interest in Union Dues as a television concept, and entice networks (on-air, cable or otherwise) to sit up and take notice. 

Selling a show is very much like pulling the lever on a slot machine, and hoping for cherries.    Currently, we're trying to rig the game a bit in our own favor- and your favor.

In the near future, you will start seeing concept art, an interesting web concept, and notifications of our progress.   We really need your help in maintaining the momentum.








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Reply #13 on: January 09, 2010, 11:17:54 PM
I didn't listen to the episode, but I went back and listened to the outro and I wanted to wish the best luck with this to Jeffery and Doug and anyone else involved in the project. I've made no secret here in the past of the fact that I don't find Union Dues particularly to my taste, but I certainly can tell that it has what is necessary for an excellent television series. I probably won't watch it, b I have several friends who I think would love it; once there is something a bit more developed on the web I will direct them to it.ut



CryptoMe

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Reply #14 on: January 10, 2010, 05:36:19 AM
I would be very curious to see how Union Dues stories play out as a TV series. Good Luck!!
Joined the FB group (saw BDoomed there ;).



Bdoomed

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Reply #15 on: January 10, 2010, 07:46:26 AM
Joined the FB group (saw BDoomed there ;).
:D
'course I joined it, a UD tv show would quite possibly be one of the coolest things ever, especially since I'm part of the community that nurtured it's growth.  I've loved UD since the first story aired, and seeing it culminate into a television show would blow my mind.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


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Reply #16 on: January 11, 2010, 12:44:45 AM
RE: Feedback on television show concepts

One of the big strengths of the Union Dues series, in my opinion, is the way the characters find themselves so often helpless.  I think "The Shield" and "The Wire" would both be good models for running a Union Dues series.  Basically, a cop show with superpowered people rather than a "superhero show."  Colorful costumes and whiz-bang villains just don't translate well to the screen. 

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Zorag

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Reply #17 on: January 11, 2010, 10:32:35 PM
How to make it a good show? 

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The Union cares not for its members.  The Union cares for itself.  The Union is Mother, The Union is Father...

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Kaa

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Reply #18 on: January 11, 2010, 10:53:39 PM
Zorag (and others) has a point that I'm going to take a step further. Perhaps the question should not be "How can we make this a good SUPERHERO TV show?" or "How did the other SUPERHERO TV show(s) go wrong?" but "How can we make this a good TELEVISION SHOW, period?"

Here's a big tip: The audience is quite a bit more astute, in tune, and intelligent than most of Hollywood seems to understand.

Consider: For years, all we had for sci-fi were things like Star Trek or Quantum Leap or Sliders. Almost every episode wrapped up nice and neat, with a bow on it, and the "reset" button was pressed so that the viewers didn't have to remember much of anything from episode to episode. Worf mad at Dr. Crusher? Not after this one episode, he won't be. What that said to viewers was "Don't worry your pretty little head. If you miss one--or two, or ten, or thirty--episodes, it won't matter. You can pick it right up without any difficulties." And maybe that was true when we didn't know any better.

But! Then along came Babylon 5. With a FIVE YEAR arc. With characters who lived and died. And Farscape. And Firefly. And Battlestar Frakking Galactica. (I'm sure there are others I'm leaving out. Stargate Universe...is trying. We'll see how it works out.)

What those shows did RIGHT (IMHO) is to treat their viewers with a little damned RESPECT. "You actually have an attention span!" those shows cried. "We can ask more of you!" And ask us, they did.  They gave us characters with more than one dimension. Who had problems and flaws and, by golly, FAILED once in a while. They had episodes separated by weeks or months that referred back to events in prior episodes.

That being SAID, as good as Mr. DeRego's stories are, it would be a mistake to try to turn them into a cavalcade of special effects at the expense of the STORIES. That would be an hour-long "grit-com" with no substance.

How do you get us to get behind the show, should it eventually come to pass? Make us CARE. Treat us like intelligent people.

</soapbox>

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deflective

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Reply #19 on: January 11, 2010, 11:10:32 PM
another good model would be dressing room scenes from Mickey Rourke's the wrestler.  outside they put on outrageous larger-than-life personas but behind the scenes we see the human damage.  one of the hardest things to do in a show like this is to create emotional sympathy for a massive bodybuilder in fabulous tights, the wrestler is a good place to start.

visual queues that show a character is in or out of the union persona could be effective.  this is used in both st:tng and bsg, when Picard or Adama are off duty they undo the top button on their uniform (costume equivalent of loosening a tie).  masked heroes that push back their hood when behind the scenes would give more full face exposure without always having to create silly excuses for it (really, how many times did spiderman lose his mask during the movies?).  characters that choose to always keep their costume intact, like Johnny Toruko would, gives another kind of insight into the character.

in order to be taken seriously most shows like this tone down and darken the costumes (as per x-men & watchmen), i'd be interested to see if it's possible to take it to full on florescent tights and still pull it off.  maybe use filters to really make the colours pop during media event scenes, create that shiny shampoo commercial effect used in aeon flux & the island, then dampen back to reality when the characters step out of the spotlight.  the costumes could even be made from some unrealistic material (in show) that looks great in performance but quickly smudges and picks up dirt in practical circumstances.  i like me some visual metaphor.



YAY

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Reply #20 on: January 11, 2010, 11:24:34 PM
The biggest problem i can see with this would be the story. Shows like lost and Heroes were great the first season but their lack of a planned end created a meandering plot that is hard to follow. If this is a show like heroes or lost and not CSI or Friends it needs to be a set number of shows with a storyline that is followed.
Tell me what you think

« Last Edit: January 11, 2010, 11:26:59 PM by YAY »



Bdoomed

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Reply #21 on: January 11, 2010, 11:36:41 PM
I agree with YAY (yay by the way on the name).
A set number of episodes, a neatly wrapped up story, sort of like Cowboy Bebop (but hopefully longer haha).
You need to know when to stop, that's where Heroes failed, IMHO.

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Kaa

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Reply #22 on: January 11, 2010, 11:40:23 PM
Re: "Previously" segments:

I've seen "previously" segments that worked. For instance, on Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe, they use "previously" segments that do a quick recap of what has happened but focusing on what will be relevant to this episode. As long as it doesn't go on for too long, it can work in small doses. Especially if, say, there is a long hiatus between two episodes. *cough*Leverage*cough* *cough*Stargate: Universe*cough*.

In my opinion, the way Babylon 5 did it was better. When the viewer was expected to remember some trivial fact from 20 episodes ago, rather than make you sit through three minutes of scenes from previous episodes, they just inserted a small flashback so that we saw that bit again, in sepia, in the place where it was relevant.  It was very effective.

Dexter also uses the "previously" segment rather well, I think, although if you watch it like I do--back to back on DVD--it gets annoying fast. :)

Dexter! There's another excellent example of how to do characters right. The main character is a SERIAL KILLER. And yet, we sympathize with him. Want him to succeed. Get anxious when he might be found out. Surely, if a serial killer can be made sympathetic, a bunch of people with superpowers can be. :)

(Notice how I said "people with superpowers" and not "superheroes"? Emphasis on "people." :) Not to belabor my point. (he said, belaboring his point.))

And put me down as another vote on "knowing where to stop." Have an arc, not only for the world, but for each character. So that the world changes as the characters change with it. 

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Reply #23 on: January 11, 2010, 11:54:21 PM
I'm very excited about the possibility of a Union Dues series.  You asked what the Super-Hero genre is missing, I have some observations.

Battle Star Galacta was amazing.  I know nothing of military life, and just a little about politics.  However, seeing that show, it certainly felt like the writers and production staff had researched the workings of military and civilian organizations.  It also seemed that they must have had some real understanding of how such groups, as well as individuals, have responded under high-stress circumstances.

Similarly, I know nothing about working as part of a First-World corporation in a developing nation, nor what it is like to be a refugee living in Africa.  It certainly felt as though the folks who put together District 9 had developed an understanding of those topics before they set out to work.

The results of those shows are much preferable to those of X-men, for example.  Not that the X-men aren't fun, but one comes away from it, and most of it's ilk, feeling more like you've learned something about the fantasies of a 14 year old boy than gotten a taste of reality-based speculative fiction.

So for my first request:  Do some serious homework.

Get a solid understanding of real life unions and how they work. Good, bad, ugly, etc.

Then get a solid understanding of real life "Super-Humans."  Bruce Lee, Bjork, Wayne Gretzky spring to my mind.  Maybe you'd prefer Olympic Atheletes, (who have the added bonus of being take out of "normal life" at a young age, much like most of the Union characters), or maybe historical and present day geniuses.  Whatever seems inspiring.

Add a bit of knowledge about the characters of a few political or business heavy hitters.  Doesn't have to be huge, but develop a bit of a sense of what it would be like to know the kind of person who might lay off a few thousand workers or send a lot of soldiers to their death just as a matter of course in their work.

Second request:  Trust the creative process / team.

Doing the background work should be a source of inspiration and provide a solid foundation for you, and the audience, to really latch onto.  It shouldn't overshadow the fascination of the super powers or impose unnecessary limits on the plot.

The only hard limits I'd like would be that nobody who thinks or acts like an immature idiot (Heroes springs to mind) lasts long in the real world, so don't let it fly in yours.  And nobody comes back to life.  Dead people stay dead, and the consequences of one show permeate those that follow.

Third request:  Ice the cake!

This is my favorite gimick idea:
In the story, the Luminaries work with a PR team to re-tell actual events as larger-than-life Super-Hero events.  Do the same thing by having a "Previously on Union Dues" section for every show, and use that as an opportunity to show events the way a comic-book author might.  Where the main show should feel like you are leaning on real life for inspiration, the "Previously ..." should be re-shot with bigger, bolder colors, actors hamming it up just a little bit, and the whole thing coming together so that it feels like the preview for the next summer blockbuster, a corporate PR statement, and a public service announcement all rolled into one.

The real trick is to start off having it just be an amusing piece of the show, with the in-show characters occasionally being shown as they go through the paces of putting together the PR retelling.  And then, just when everybody is used to the entertainment of the "Previously ..." section being used to make fun of all the cheesy Super Hero movies, do Something Horrible.  In my head, somebody who we thought was a main character dies as a result of the Union deciding they were expendable, and when the next "Previously..." comes out, everyone suddenly leaves their seat, points at the screen, and says "THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENED!" And we watch in horror as folks are simultaneously grieving their lost companion and being made to participate in a vile cover up for their superiors.   While normally fun, there should be a few "Previously ..." sequences that are about as ugly and dishonest as would be a US government campaign that claimed JFK died driving drunk or MLK Jr. over-dosed on heroin, and we should take their lives as a precautionary tale against drug abuse.

Hope this is useful, good luck and thanks!



contra

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Reply #24 on: January 12, 2010, 12:25:30 AM
Heroes failed on making things stick.
It would do things, and then try desperatly to undo it and make a mess.

Mr Bennett is a perfect example of this.  He's a bad guy, no wait... but he is a bad guy, no wait... but ... no ... wait...
After the original reveal we liked the character.  Everything he did up to that point suddenly made sence.
But then continued to try and make him be morally dodgy, to try and make us not like him again.  


Union Dues.  Have a set arc for the characters.  But then know when to let them go into the background.  You don't have to kill or get rid of them, but you can move onto other people, and tell that story.  
But first it is the nature of comic books that people move in and out of the story, so the Union move people around  a lot to keep up with that.  Also injury and so on.  Heroes isn't willing to let its characters go.
Second it doesn't have a scope.  You have no idea how big the Heroes universe is, despite it being set across America.


Now I've rewritten this multiple times.  Mostly because many times I have written lots about heroes flaws, and oh the many flaws it has.  But this is the core of it.

The only other thing I'd add is remember what you have done previously.  Heroes forgets the past on a regular basis often ignoring or contradicting what happened previously.  

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