Thursday, December 23, 2010

I'm BackFrom Beyond the Grave

Yes, it's true! I was in the hospital on my way up a tunnel of my memories and that was swirling around me heading toward a light where I could see my dad and my dog who are both deceased. I was actually heading there very happily. Even though I'm quadriplegic, I have had a very blessed life. I've gotten to do more than most able-bodied people do and I have a family and friends who love me. What more could I possibly want out of life?

I was in the hospital for having a blood vessel burst in my brain. Fortunately, there has been very little residual effect, and I was told by my neurologist that the chance of that happening again is about as likely as it happening to anyone else. If you have any personal stories where that is shown to be untrue, please keep them to yourself so I can stay in my blissful ignorance.

Obviously, I didn't cross over though I'm certain I died three times. Every time I was awakened by one of my friend's smiling faces. The final time, I opened my eyes to see Geri Jewell, star of Facts of Life and Deadwood, a longtime best friend. Normally, that would be a wonderful way to wake up, but when you're expecting to see God, it's just not the same. To top it off, she was wearing a Barack Obama hat. Not being a big fan of his, you can imagine how I felt about seeing God, who looks like Geri Jewell, wearing a Barack hat. We both enjoy a good laugh over it, but I was disappointed.

Since then, I have been recovering at home and this is the second day that I am back writing on my computer. I've spent most of the time since I last entered anything in my blog in recovery. Mostly watching Netflix and

Anyway, now that I am back among the living and working on projects I have something positive to talk about. I'm waiting to hear back on several projects that I submitted to various writing contests that, if I win, (when I win), would greatly enhance my career.

I am also working on a project called Inside the G-String, which is a reality series about strippers and what makes them do what they do. I interview several of them and we find out that there are many, many misconceptions.. It has been very interesting so far and I've found out a ton of stuff I never knew. I would share it with you here but I'm saving all the good stuff for my pitches to Hollywood powers that be.

I thought I would include this sample. It is of a stripper named Tiffani I told her to imagine how she feels about what she does rather than putting on her usual smile that makes her lots of money. I would like to get some feedback about how you think she did. She is a sweetheart with a very interesting story that both of us are looking forward to sharing with the world.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Spent the Weekend at a Cool Seminar with BattleStar Galactica Director Michael Nankin

Weekend before last, about 25 lucky attendees and I enjoyed a two-day seminar with famed TV director Michael Nankin. My favorite shows he's directed are multiple episodes of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and CAPRICA, he has also directed CSI, HEROES, FLASH FORWARD, TRAUMA, and numerous others. Michael was also a showrunner (executive producer) and his credits as a writer-producer-director include CHICAGO HOPE, PICKET FENCES, LIFE GOES ON, and tons of network pilots.

Though I have directed, most recently "The Hollywood Quad," and a short play presented at ABC in front of a group of producers, I don't consider myself a director. It is a unique talent that I don't yet possess. However, as an actor and writer I found his seminar invaluable. I learned volumes about what directors are looking for both in the casting process and during filming. It is nearly impossible for me to put what I learned into words because it is mainly experiential. You have to be there and experience it.

For example, he showed dailies (all the film shot and printed on a particular day) and showed the edited final product that went on the air. One of the sets of dailies was from BattleStar Galactica, the other was from Caprica. The dailies from BattleStar Galactica included Edward James Almos as Admiral Adama, and Mary McDonnell as Laura Roslin. It was a scene that favored Mary McDonnell and he showed three versions of it, all of which were amazing. (She is one of my favorite actresses). He talked about why he chose which pieces of which scenes to piece together into what we saw on television. Very informative.

The second set of dailies were from Caprica and included three actors, Esai Morales as Joseph Adama, Teryl Rothery as Evelyn Adama, and 11-year-old Sina Najafi as Young William Adama. Michael showed us with this set of dailies how he used camera angles to continue the "uncovering things that are hidden" aspect, which is such a big part of the series. Very interesting.

It was also very cool that Esai Morales was there and answered several questions about choices he made and choices Michael made.

I also got to enjoy dinner with Michael and others in the group where we got to know each other a little better and was an extreme pleasure.

The seminar was produced by Marc and Elaine Zicree as part of their SuperMentors series of classes and seminars. I have attended several and highly recommend you take part in one or more of them if you are at all interested in furthering your career in the entertainment business.

Here is a shot of Marc with Michael.

HowTo Make It in Hollywood as a Quadriplegic Actor/Writer/Producer

As the only quadriplegic actor/writer/producer in Hollywood, the only successful one at any rate, (by successful, I mean has made money doing this and is a member of at least two of the three unions SAG and WGA, I haven't yet made it into the PGA) I consider myself an expert. Over my many years of doing this I've come up with Jim's rules of how to make it in Hollywood if you're quadriplegic.
1. Forget you're quadriplegic. Nobody cares. Everybody will expect you to do an able-bodied person's amount of work plus 10% because you're quadriplegic.
2. Remember you're quadriplegic. It is both the aspect about you that will open doors and close them. It will make people remember you as well as scare them away from you. It is your biggest asset as well as your biggest detriment. However, if you don't make it, don't you dare blame it on the fact that you're quadriplegic. Too many people have worked much too hard getting performers with disabilities opportunities in the media for you to blame your lack of success on your disability.
3. You had better be talented. Not just talented, have multiple talents. So many damn talents that they can't afford not to hire you. I'm talking a three ring circus of talents. If you don't have them, develop them. I'm not saying that a young, good-looking quadriplegic guy could never make it here with no other talent than acting. I did it. The reason I didn't go any farther for many years was because I was a one trick pony. I thought acting would do it for me. I started writing projects for myself. Told producers a zillion ideas for projects that would include me as the lead. It wasn't until I started writing projects with out me that I started getting notice. I started becoming known as a writer, I stressed the actor part of me less and less.
4. If you are quadriplegic, think twice before you bring that up on the phone. Quadriplegic can be a very scary word. Show them your talent and get them to love you before you drop the Q bomb.
5. Wherever you live, try to make a name for yourself as an actor or writer or whatever it is you aspire to be. If you are an actor, do as much community theater as possible. If you're a writer, write plays, get them produced. If you're a director, direct plays. That way when you get to town here, you will have a track record. It will help you get an agent.
6. This is the most important rule if you are a quadriplegic with dreams of making it in Hollywood. Do not become direct competition for me. I will kill you. It will look like an accident; after all, I am a writer. You may laugh and think I am teasing... There is a reason I am the only quadriplegic actor/writer/producer in town.
7. This is the other most important rule. Don't forget you're quadriplegic and try to do everything. In other words, look after your health. At times in my career, I neglected mine to get ahead, and though I did edge ahead slightly, I paid for it. Get a good doctor, and stay healthy.
8. Forget all of these rules and make your own way. Because the truth is, there are no rules in Hollywood... except of course, rule number 6.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Okay, So Being the Only Successful Quadriplegic Actor/Writer/Producer in Hollywood Does Occasionally Have Some Pretty Cool Perks!

The hot blonde on my left is Nicole Hiltz from the popular USA crime drama "In Plain Sight." Though I was introduced to them, I don't quite remember who the other ladies were because the event we were at was sponsored by Gray Goose Vodka, and had an open bar where the booze flowed like blood from a fresh vampire bite. We were also treated to wonderful food and outrageous desserts.

As a voting member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the group who presents The Emmy Awards, I'm invited to a lot of meet and greets of the actors, writers and producers of television shows. Not only is it way cool, I am generally the only guy in a wheelchair, certainly the only quadriplegic guy at most of these functions. When I contact people I've met there, if they don't remember my name they certainly remember the "guy in a wheelchair." More importantly, my wheelchair makes my presence obvious and producers and writers are reminded that people with disabilities exist in all facets of society. It is a topic I bring up often to them, not only to promote myself, but to promote the idea in general. It's getting a little better, but there are still very few examples of accurate portrayals of us on television or in the movies. They could almost be counted on one hand.

As a member of the WGA, the Writers Guild of America, specifically the Writers with Disabilities Committee, former national chair of the Performers with Disabilities Committee in AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and a former member of the SAG, Screen Actors Guild Performers with Disabilities Committee, and it is important to me to constantly remind the movers and shakers in the entertainment industry about the importance of including disabled characters on television shows and in the movies.

When I was first injured, there were no people like me on television. No quadriplegics and barely any paraplegics, no one who looked like they were in the same boat I was. Occasionally, there would be a "sickness of the week" TV Movie about a quadriplegic, but generally they were pathetic characters who were victims. Yes, there are quadriplegics who are victims of crimes or whatever, but the dialogue wasn't realistic and the roles were not true to life, they were written by able-bodied people based on stereotypes.

To tell the truth, there were no quadriplegics on television until I appeared on Highway to Heaven. Not that I'm looking for a pat on the back, I was just happy to work and just happened to be the first. I first got on television in 1984, 26 years ago. I was sure that by now there would be plenty of us on television. I was positive that roles played by disabled performers or at least about disabled characters would be prevalent.

Oh well, I guess I will have to attend a lot more Hollywood parties and be surrounded by gorgeous women to promote positive images of people with disabilities in the media. If it must be done, it must be done...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pre-Advance Publicity

Hopefully about this time next year you will be picking up a copy of my autobiography,"Don't Make Me Get Out Of This Chair." As you might expect, it is about my life!

It is not my first autobiography. I finished the first one in about 1986 or 1987. It was a straightout timeline of my life from my accident in 1971, to getting on television in 1984 and ended with my divorce in 1987. It was written in the style of; this happened, then this happened, then this happened. There were plenty of long conversations that took up many pages, some timid sex scenes, and a blow-by-blow (so to speak) of my life and loves at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Center in Downey, California where I lived for almost a year after my accident. (note: details about my accident, the one that left me paralyzed, exists somewhere on this blog. I will probably repeat it the whole gruesome story in a future blog).

That epic volume of my memoirs also included an epilogue, yes, an epilogue that somehow drew a correlation between the steps I took to become a success, and a ladder of success the reader could take to improve their lives. It bore the ungodly title, Dare to Dream.

You've never heard of it?! It wasn't on the New York Times best-seller list, you say? You never even tripped over it at the $.99 store? Probably because it was never published. Excuse me while I give a silent "thank God" that all of the publishers I sent it to turned it down. I would hate to have it out in the world as a sample of my writing. Schlock and dribble would be a compliment although my mother liked it. But then again, she was excited over my first poop. There is an analogy there somewhere.

Anyway, "Don't Make Me Get Out Of This Chair" will, I promise, make for much better reading. It contains my guts. It contains the real me. As you may have gathered reading this blog, I have a well developed sense of humor (read warped). I honed that sense of humor in the hospital It was my defense in the face of a cornucopia of horror (sounds like a Roger Corman film). In addition to learning at 14 that I would never walk, or do any of the things I enjoyed ever again, I watched friends die and grown men plead for death.

It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. it will make you re-examine everything you've ever thought to be true in your life. Liberals will become conservatives, Republicans will become Democrats, dogs will become cats, and the entire makeup of this planet will become disassembled and reassembled in a manner none of us could have ever conceived. (I swear to you there is absolutely no hyperbole in that paragraph)

I promise you will enjoy it though. When it comes out, please buy enough copies that I can leave a generous inheritance to my grandchildren who have yet to be born.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Explosions vs. Emotions

A lot of my gripe with Hollywood is that there are way more explosions than there are emotions up on the screen. I can only wonder how many times that sentence, or one similar to that has been written in a blog.

I can tell you from personal experience it is because it's way easier for the writer. Knocking out explosions scripts spew out about as fast as you can type. Knocking out emotion scripts is gut-wrenchingly difficult. I am working on a script right now, a twist on the classic story of Faust, about a guy who sells his soul to the devil to further his career. My story could very easily include a lot of explosions and CGI. It might even be fodder for a summer blockbuster. A summer blockbuster that would leave you cold. You would not leave the theater having learned anything about yourself or the human condition, nor would you care if the main character won or lost whatever his goal was.

Although it is tempting to make your audiences hearts flutter while the main character defuses a bomb, it is far more gratifying for the writer and the audience, if you make their hearts flutter over some emotional obstacle the main character has to overcome. The hard part is opening up my soul and filling a hundred pages with my joys and sorrows. The real ones, the emotions we never admit to anyone, sometimes not even ourselves.

So, a few years from now when you are in the theater laughing and crying over the roller coaster ride that will become that year's best movie, and will garner me a multimillion dollar, multi-picture deal, and make my name a household word, remember this blog, and the angst that spilled out of Jim Troesh's blather.

Live long and help me prosper,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Troesh

I often feel like there two completely different sides of me. So different are these two sides they are almost at war. One side is the public side; the Jim Troesh you see on TV, the me that schmoozes at Hollywood parties, meets with executives, hangs with famous people like Jack Black, promotes Jim Troesh, and performs on stage. The me that goes to the store, talks on the phone, pays the bills, writes the screenplays, magazines and other things like this blog.

Then there is the quadriplegic Jim Troesh. (I was 15 in this picture) That is the part no one knows too well. The part of me that deals with muscle spasms, manages caregivers and their multitude of personalities, deals with nursing registries, doctors, medications, and intense regime of morning and nighttime care, as well as depression, anger, jealousy, envy, and everything else that goes along with being paralyzed from the shoulders down. The part of me that tries to connect with a body that I cannot feel. The part of me that thinks I should have dealt with all of this years ago.

Occasionally, these two opposing forces meet on the pages of my screenplays, and I'm able to spew out my feelings. That is when I am writing at the top of my game, writing stories that someone without my disability couldn't possibly write because I have a unique perspective. When I'm in that zone I feel that it's all been worth while. Maybe like war veterans turn screen writers must feel.

On any given day, one or the other Jim Troesh may be in charge. Most of the time, quadriplegic Jim rides in the back seat and public Jim takes care of business. Occasionally though, quadriplegic Jim takes over because things like bladder infections, muscle spasms or a unique gift God saved for quadriplegics called autonomic dysreflexia force themselves into the forefront. On days like that, I wonder about my ability to make it in this business at all.

I guess that is why I'm here. Mine is the unique blessing of having the gifts to share this feeling, these thoughts with the world. As hard as it is to say, I guess I am thankful for all the adversities I'm given, because I've also been given many blessings. It is those qualities that I share with readers of this blog, and any and all who have ever read or seen my work.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Website Building, my regular job.

My "regular job," one of the beasts that drag me away from writing is building websites, and designing ads and posters. Here's a few samples. I've mentioned many times before that the hardest thing for me about writing is clearing everything else out of the way so I can work. Number one on that list is doing things to make money. I can't wait until I can earn my living with my writing, but until then I do what I have to do Sometimes I get pulled away so long I lose my motivation. Especially after all the hours of quadriplegic bullshit. It takes three hours for my caregiver to get me up in the morning and two to four to go to bed. Between that and all the drama that everyone has, I get burned out.

It seems though that just when I'm at my lowest, something comes along and remotivates me. It might be seeing a movie like "Shutter Island" that is still under my skin, (how does a writer do that?), watching a well written show like "Modern Family," or I sometimes have the pleasure to meet writers whose work I genuinely admire. One of those is Vince Gilligan, the executive producer on "Breaking Bad." I am a huge fan of the show, partly because it stars Bryan Cranston, who was kind enough to guest star in my TV sitcom pilot "The Hollywood Quad," but mainly because of the incredible stories he's written. I hope some of his talent rubs off on me.

I ran into Vince Gilligan at several functions this last year and found him to be a very nice man. I've heard the same thing from a lot of people who've worked with him. By the way, I've been lucky to meet several top people in the entertainment business, most of them with names you'd recognize and was very happy to discover how nice they were. I know that goes against everything written in the tabloids, but it's still true.

I've digressed. Vince Gilligan has inspired me not only with his writing, but with his personality. He has always taken time to answer my questions, as does his assistant Kate Powers. Previous to "Breaking Bad" he was exec producer on "X Files."God, I would love to write on a show with him. He has a way of making his audiences feel exactly what his main characters feel. Amazing stuff.

Please tell your friends to visit m blog. I will update at least once a week. My hope with this blog is to inspire new writers, especially those with disabilities, and to share with you the entertainment business from my point of view.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Motivation Smotivation! Writing's A Pain Sometimes!

You can't really talk about writing or a career as a writer without discussing motivation. There's nothing like the fire that burns inside me when I launch into a brand new script or article. But, there are days, today for example when sparking up that kindling is next to impossible. In my head I always know I'll need to edit it, send it out for notes, rewrite it a few more times, send it out again, and start work on my next project long before I can see any money.

Perhaps that's why this edition of "My Perspective" has been so long in coming. Sometimes, I must clear everything else off my plate before I can start. It is very easy to think you're having an active career by writing something, submitting it, then waiting for the bucks to roll in. I have found myself guilty of that many times.

Especially as a quadriplegic writer. It takes me two to three hours to get up in the morning, so after breakfast I often go in my office and reward myself for the hours of repetitive bullshit I've just gone through by diving into and watching all the latest TV shows. I tell myself I'm keeping current on all the latest productions. After all, I've got to watch for trends and stay current. I don't want to be sending out specs of shows no longer on the air. That argument is especially powerful when I've spent all morning training a new caregiver. I have to push past my overpowering urge to procrastinate and start committing words to digital screens. I'll be honest, some days are better than others.

I post pictures of people I've met and others I've worked with, and often forget how important it is to stay in touch with them. Sure, I post a picture of Elton John, or gloat about successes, but do I jump back into writing the next day, or spend several days basking in the afterglow?

I've been an afterglow basker for years, which is why I'm signing off until next time. I need to write some new stuff.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's Been Happening?

A bizarre medical complication happened last May and put a serious crimp in my career, but that's water under the bridge, I prefer to stay focused on the present.

NBC recently held a showcase to promote the talents of actors and writers from diverse backgrounds. I submitted a 5 minute comedy called The GIMP and the GILF, about a guy in a wheelchair who hires a prostitute in her seventies because history turns him on. NBC diversity exec Karen Horne loved it and put in the showcase where it was performed in a huge room of TV and movie execs by an actor in a wheelchair and an African-American actress in her 70's.

The result was two high-placed execs who emailed me, interested in reading other things I've written. Who knows what wondrous things can spring from that?

I've learned during my nearly thirty years in show business that there is no one way to success. It is a process of keeping yourself out there all the time. I recently spoke with Peter Farrelley, (left) producer of "Something About Mary", "Me, Myself, and Irene" and tons of other highly successful movies. He said that right now, the best way to be discovered is to produce projects that highlight whatever it is you do best. It is so inexpensive to produce projects these days, if you're not creating something you're falling behind.

I agree whole-heartedly! That's why, in addition to writing a horror script, I'm in the process of producing a web-based reality show, and a short film starring me and possibly a famous actress.

I am truly blessed. I sometimes feel like the luckiest man alive. Not always though. Sometimes I feel like that unidentifiable stuff you scrape off the bottom of your rain boots.

Drop be here often. I'll have tips for success as well as a chronicle of my journey toward success in Tinseltown.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Long Time No Blog

Not unlike a bear in hibernation, I've spent the last few years asleep in a cave.

Isn't that a wonderful excuse? A shame it has no bearing on the truth. Actually, I've spent the last two years producing my own sitcom pilot, "The Hollywood Quad" guest starring two time Emmy award winner Bryan Cranston, meeting multiple stars like Elton John, and highly placed entertainment executives like Peter Farrelley, working on screenplays, and writing my biography, "Don't Make Me Get Out of This Chair."

I'm back in the blogosphere and over the near future will be updating my blog at least weekly writing about all the cool and not so cool stuff going on with my life.

Since I have the picture here to refer to, meeting Elton was awesome! I was at the back of the Leonard H. Goldenson Theater at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood where Elton was talking about Speckle, a TV series he is producing starring Elvis Costello. After it was over he heard I wanted to meet him but couldn't get down the stairs where was, he hurried up the stairs to meet me. We spoke for a few minutes, during which he listened to me pitch my new sitcom and directed me to follow up with his associate.

When it came time for the picture, my friend Linda couldn't get my camera to work. I was freaking until Elton said "guys" to one of the entourage he came up with and the guy took my camera, fixed it, and took this picture. I was shaking the whole way home.

My beard and long hair are gone BTW. I'm back to my normal look.

Come back soon for more blogs about my exploits in my journey toward success in show biz!