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FROM THIS EPISODE

This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

Right now, right this minute, as you're listening to this, I'm in Africa. I mean, I'm not in Africa recording this, I'm in Santa Monica, at KCRW. But when this is broadcast, I'll be in Mali -- or, maybe, Burkina Faso -- on a wild, three-week once-in-a-lifetime trip through the Sahara and North Africa.

Oh, and I have two scripts due. Which are going to be late.

When I signed up for this trip -- meaning, when I made the whopping non-refundable deposit -- it never occurred to me that I'd have two scripts due ever again. Well, that's not exactly true -- I know I'd have scripts due; I knew I'd have some pilots in contention for the Fall 2007 season -- if only because a couple of years ago I signed a studio contract and pretty much promised, that in exchange for certain monies, I'd really really really try to sell some pilot scripts, and in my personal experience, when you really really really try to do something because someone's giving you money, and if you do it, then they'll keep giving you money, well, you know the way the world works.

So I have two scripts due and when you factor in Thanksgiving, Christmas, and three weeks in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, Libya, and Tunisia, well, there's not a lot of time to do them and get them in when everybody wants them in, which is soon. Which is next week.

I wonder who this person is who's going to Africa for three weeks? It certainly isn't the me I've been for the past 16 years in the entertainment business, when I've been fairly diligent -- for a writer -- and fairly productive -- for a writer -- and fairly respectful of deadlines -- for, you know. Maybe it's turning 40 or something, but for some reason I'm not really all that concerned -- the scripts will get written, they're going to be really good, but they're not going to arrive on the desks of the studio and the network exactly precisely when they want them.

Two weeks ago, as we were walking out to the parking lot of one of the networks, after having pitched and sold a pilot script, everyone was on a high.

"Great job!" the studio executives said. "Congratulations! When can we see the draft?"

And that was when I told them about Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan and Libya. You should have seen their faces.

"Why are you going there?"

And I told them about the trip, and the unique opportunity to see the Sahara, the Tuareg people, Timbukto, Khartoum, the ruins at Leptis Magna.

"Well, how are you going to get the draft in to us in time to get our notes, and then do a second draft, have us look at it again, and then get it into the network in time?"

"Parts of the process you just described," I said slowly, "may have to be truncated. Or eliminated altogether."

"Are you saying that you're going to some of the most dangerous, violent, disease-ridden countries on earth just to avoid getting notes from the studio?"

Now, I've been in this business long enough to know that there are some questions that are best left unanswered. So I smiled. And we all looked at each other for an awkward moment.

Really, you should have been there.

Well, that's it for this week. Next week, we'll work on a passion project. For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.


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