Discover more from LegalDispatch
Greetings from merry ‘ol England. I’m here for Star Wars Celebration — my first such con — and it’s an absolute blast. So much Star Wars. So many Star Wars fans. So cool.
If you’re in the area, I’m doing a signing with fellow Star Wars writers Alyssa Wong and Ethan Sacks at the Forbidden Planet booth (S910) at 11 AM on Saturday. I’ll also be participating in the Star Wars comics panel on Monday (4/10) at 12:30 PM.
As you know, I’ve been working away on a comic project I’ve been referring to as PROJECT HOURGLASS. I can now say that it’s a mini-series timed to the 60th Anniversary of the X-Men entitled: X-Men: Days of Future Past - Doomsday wherein I attempt to cover three decades in four issues to tell the story leading up to the iconic/seminal X-Men story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne known as “Days of Future Past.”
The book is penciled by Manuel García, inked by Cam Smith, and colored by Too Dead To Die colorist Yen Nitro. It’ll be out in July. You can read the official announcement at Marvel.com.
I know it seems like every week I talk to a different reporter. I don’t know why they’re calling me — or, for that matter, how they get my contact info — but I’m always happy to chat about stuff that interests me, like AI and its impact on the entertainment industry.
The latest missive comes courtesy of The Guardian. You can read it here.
In addition to working away on the surprisingly-tricky third issue of
PROJECT HOURGLASS X-Men: Days of Future Past - Doomsday, I’m deep in the thick of it on PROJECT MARBLE, typing away in a (potentially) hopeless attempt at completing a draft by May 2nd, when writers potentially turn into pumpkins (or something like that).
Earlier in the week, I turned in revisions on Star Trek: Echoes #3 and the Star Wars project I’ve been teasing — which may or may not get announced on Monday?
Yesterday (April 6) was the anniversary of Ep. 418 of Arrow. That episode saw Laurel Lance (played by Katie Cassidy) being the latest in what was then a long line of Arrow characters to meet the grim reaper. But even though Laurel was hardly the first — or the last — Arrow character to die, almost every year around this time my Twitter timeline gets, shall we say, colorful.
When I started this newsletter, I toyed around with the idea of marking the anniversary of Laurel’s death with an explication of the full backstory of the creative choices behind that episode. An instinct to let sleeping
dogs canaries lie had won out until I saw the following tweet:
The above tweet is extremely representative of a small but vocal group of fans in that it completely misunderstands the whys and wherefores of Laurel’s death. So, in the hope of clearing things up once and for all, here’s the true story behind Laurel Lance’s death and her doppelgänger’s (re)introduction.
The first thing I should probably say is that a good rule of thumb to follow is that any explanation for why a creative decision is made in a television show is almost always (like, 99.999% of the time) wrong. (The corollary of this axiom is that the person providing said explanation will always be 99.999% confident that their speculation is right.)
Next, I should make clear that in those days (i.e., the days of Arrow Season 4 when Laurel died) there were still a lot of cooks in the kitchen and very few decisions were made by a single person. This is true for the decision to kill Laurel.
Now, to be clear, I’m not looking to shift blame. For one thing, I don’t believe the creative decision to kill of a fictional character is something that is worthy of blame in the first palce. For another, I was in all the meetings where the decision was discussed and debated. All I’m saying is that the decision wasn’t mine and I didn’t agree with it at the time.
That being said, numerous fans have speculated that Laurel died so that Oliver’s romantic relationship with Felicity could live. (Normally, I try to write these newsletters so that they can be understood by people without prior knowledge of my work, but it’s late here in London.) Believe me when I tell you that Laurel’s death — even by those who advocated for it — was never, ever, EVER related to the fact that Oliver and Felicity were, by that point, a romantic couple. And the way you know that is because, well, Oliver and Felicity were, by that point, a romantic couple. The creative decision to put Oliver and Felicity in a romantic relationship had actually been made over a year earlier, at the start of the third season. The idea that killing off any character would somehow service a romance that was already a year and a half old (or longer if you count chemistry and flirtation) just doesn’t add up.
(Yes, Laurel gave her “endorsement” of Oliver and Felicity’s relationship with her last breath, but neither the characters nor the writers needed Laurel’s seal of approval by that point. We just thought the sentiment was in keeping with her character.)
Full disclosure: I share a writing credit on Laurel’s final episode. Now, you might ask, if this was a creative choice that I wasn’t on board with, why did I ask to co-write the episode in question?
The answer requires the deep-dive knowledge of my love of the show Wiseguy. Wiseguy is one of my all-time favorite series and my work on both Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow is replete with Easter egg references and other tips of the hat to the show.
(I’m gonna make a point here, I swear.)
Wiseguy was a show that was ahead of its time in many, many ways. It was about an undercover agent for the FBI named Vincent “Vinnie” Terranova, played brilliantly by Ken Wahl, who won a Golden Globe for his performance.
Anyway, at the start of Wiseguy’s second season, the decision was made that Vinnie’s character journey would be best served if his brother, Pete Terranova (played by Gerald Anthony), was killed. Wiseguy’s showrunner, David J. Burke, wasn’t behind this decision and, therefore, insisted on writing the episode. His rationale was that Pete was to die, David was going to dictate how it was going to happen. I’d always admired David’s impulse in that regard and I suppose you could say I took a lesson from it.
Now, one could argue that because David was the showrunner, he’d have written the season premiere anyway, but I think you see where I’m going with this. I chose to follow David’s example insofar as if Laurel was to die, she was going to do so at my hand.
CUT TO (as we say in the TV biz) the next season. We were in the writers room breaking out what was the mid-season finale of Season 5. We had a variety of moves we wanted to make already, but we were lacking a cliffhanger, something that would bring the audience back after the holiday-related broadcast hiatus.
Then one of the writers, Brian Ford Sullivan, pitched a brilliant idea: At the end of the episode, Oliver returns to his “lair” to find… Laurel. Waiting for him. Alive and well. The pitch had us revealing in the subsequent episode that “Laurel” was, in fact, Laurel’s doppelgänger from Earth-2, a character who had been established on The Flash as “Black Siren.” (Again, apologies if you’re unfamiliar with the Arrowverse and are still reading this. In which case, why are you still reading this?)
Black Siren would, of course, be played by Katie Cassidy, reprising her role from both Arrow and The Flash. To no one’s surprise, Katie knocked it clear out of the park. To the point where we knew Katie was giving us gold and we simply had to bring Katie-as-Black Siren back for future episodes.
We were already in the process of doing just that when we got a phone call from then-CW President Mark Pedowitz, who said, “So when are you bringing Black Siren back?” Of course, our response was, “We’re already on it,” because we were.
Ironically, almost this exact conversation transpired five years earlier when Mark called to ask “So when are you bringing the blonde back?”
That “blonde” was Emily Bett Rickards and the character was Felicity Smoak.
SOMETHING I LIKE
I recently saw the revival of Camelot with a new book written by Aaron Sorkin. The truth is, I’m not objective because I love everything Aaron writes. But the magic trick of taking a beloved musical and writing a completely new story around its songs is the writing equivalent of taking the New York Times’ Sunday crossword puzzle, erasing half the answers, and writing in new ones. And Sorkin makes it look easy. As he does with everything. The bastard.
I also saw a revival of Parade starring Ben Platt and Micaela Diamond. It tells the true story of Leo Frank, a Jewish man falsely accused of the rape and murder of a 13 year-old white girl in Atlanta, Georgia in 1913. Per The Guardian, “the wave of antisemitism that led to his conviction and lynching two years later [spoiler alert?] spurred both the formation of the Anti-Defamation League and the resurgence of the KKK.” It’s not what you would call a “feel good musical,” but it’s brilliant and, unfortunately, particularly resonant given the recent surge in antisemitism in America today.
Be good to each other.