The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Libby and Pixar

I, for one, am disgusted by Bush’s commuting of Libby’s sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice. Is this hypocritical, considering that I thought Clinton’s impeachment on similar charges was a boondoggle? Perhaps, but my reasoning went as follows: a lie is as bad as the offence it conceals. In other words, lying about a surprise birthday party is no sin at all. Lying about murder is almost as bad as the killing itself.

So the question ultimately has to deal with the seriousness of the underlying offense. In Clinton’s case, it was the nature of the relationship with an intern, and whether oral sex is “sex”. An interesting discussion that certainly predates Clinton’s problems. I won’t rehash that argument here, except to say that I can see both sides of it: he wasn’t exactly lying, but a President needs to be held to high standards when it comes to helping an investigation.

Was Valerie Plame an undercover operative, and did “blowing” her cause damage? The spin machine is underway on radio and in newspapers across the country, claiming “no.” But I’ve heard four different ex-CIA operatives say “yes.” And if I’m not mistaken, Bush senior weighed in very early saying it was a very serious matter. Hasn’t said much recently, I notice. If anyone knows of Bush senior commenting that the case has no import, please send me a link.

Or: if anyone has heard a commentator identified as ex or current CIA by any major news outlet state that Plame was NOT covert (and that therefore this is all a bunch of crap) I would like to hear that as well.

But what I wanted to do was ask one of my personal sources, a man who has been in the intelligence community for thirty years, his opinion. And it is that
1) Either all of this was a deliberate disinformation program, designed to accomplish something he knows not what…
2) Or Libby should be doing thirty years. That if this is what it looks like, it will/would cause a level of distrust in our leaders that would cause serious damage to recruitment in the intel community. A lifetime career can be blown, and no one will pay, ever. Would YOU participate in such a game?

He doesn’t know which it is. But that was his opinion.
Saw “Ratatouille,” the new Pixar wonder, and have simplified my impression of the company. Simply put, they are now what Disney used to be, back in the day. There is a single moment, when a critic takes his first bite of a particular dish, that defines and changes character with such incredible, crystalline clarity that I am almost speechless. I’ve never seen it done better in anything I can ever remember seeing in my entire life.

Brad Bird is a genius. THIS is storytelling at the master’s level, and not to be missed.
I have to admit to being a bit woozy the last few days. The accumulated emotions of two years of daily stress connected to THE GOOD HOUSE, giving up on ever having it happen, and then having it come together in the same week CASANEGRA’s PR is ramping up, and Atria made a damned fine offer for the second book…well, it’s a little overwhelming.

I feel such gratitude…and a little anger that it all took so long. And trepidation about the path ahead. Now we move to the next level—serious development.

But meantime, in-between time, I have my first major script sale, to a major studio. And if I can keep my #$@$ together, I have a chance to make up for the lost years while raising Nicki in Washington.

This is a strange and wonderful time.
Meanwhile, the next six months are killer. I have to finish, polish, edit, plan, or execute FIVE DIFFERENT BOOKS:
1) Proofread Assassin’s Creed #1, THE INVISIBLE IMAM
2) Polish Assassin’s Creed #2, THE EYE OF HEAVEN
3) First-draft and polish Assassin’s Creed #3, THE SWORD OF SOLOMON
4) Finish and polish the sequel to GREAT SKY WOMAN, SHADOW VALLEY
5) Plan, write and rewrite as much of the sequel to CASANEGRA, IN THE NIGHT OF THE HEAT as possible before December 31. All the other writing SHOULD be out of the way by then. I have January and February marked out on my calendar for this critical project.

Did I mention rewriting my script THE PACK? How about THE GOOD HOUSE, which needs to be re-written for Searchlight, and represents as important a project as anything I’ve ever done in my life? And pitching the movie of CASANEGRA?

I knew this would happen, and there seems no way to avoid the crush. Last year I took on ASSASSIN’S CREED because it looked interesting (I’d never written about the Crusades, or done a video tie-in book) and the money was useful. Now, I face 30 days of absolute hell, followed by three months of killer stress, followed by two months of joyous but gut-grinding work. Then, if all goes well, in January and February Tananarive and I finish NIGHT OF THE HEAT, which has to be better than CASANEGRA to set up the series.

Oh. My. Gawd.

Ah well, I knew the job was dangerous when I took it.

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