Angelina Jolie

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  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

  • Angelina Jolie

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Angelina Jolie

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Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

  • Anna Farris

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  • Anna Farris

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Anna Farris

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The View From Up Here (17sep11)

    The daily Reuters news galleries – all these images are from Reuters photographers and all rights reside with them and Reuters – are always an unsettling window on the world. Here’s a selection from today’s spreads, without attribution or explanation.

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The View From Up Here (17sep11)

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    In January 2011 my wife, our son, and I moved out of a flat in Toxteth into a house of our own, just a mile or so from that of my parents. My mum and dad still live in the same 1930s semi they moved to shortly after I was born. My sister and her family live a mile or so further on, just a fraction over the border of Liverpool. A circle drawn on a map with my parent’s house at the centre, my home marking one edge of the diameter and my sister’s marking the other, would cordon off an area in which I attended Nursery school, Infant school, Junior school, Secondary school and Sixth Form College. Within that circle I learned to ride a bike; I had my first kiss; I got served in a pub for the first time.

    Inside that circle my grandparents met while air-raid sirens droned panic and fire rained down from above. Within its bounds they courted, and were married in the very same church whose Italianate bell-tower casts an afternoon shadow across my back garden. Inside that circle, six doors down from where my parents live today, my grandparents set up home and raised their children. There they stayed long enough for the children to leave and the grandchildren, and then great-grandchildren to arrive. Inside that circle their bodies were cremated – gran’s last year, granddad’s this – their ashes scattered partly in their own back garden, partly on the grave of gran’s parents who are themselves buried inside that same imaginary circle.

    And as easily as these words connect those events so too do physical paths link their settings. The hypothetical circle is divided up not just by modern streets and roads but also by more ancient thoroughfares. Narrow brier choked, ivy curtained corridors that might be faerie paths, or corpse roads, link the abundant cemeteries, parks, playing fields and hidden green-spaces that wait impatiently for the moment when they can reclaim the circle. Centuries old roots ripple through tarmac, absorb railings and bow walls. Stop-motion brambles wind cunningly around fallen sandstone slabs, spider-walk through skull-socket knotholes, cascade over weatherworn fence panel and post in a prickled, black-fruit foamed spray. Looking out from the crest of a suburban hill where an Iron Age fort once stood, the thin veneer of civilisation can be seen, almost heard, crumbling one driveway-fracturing dandelion at a time.

    Pre-adolescent weekends and school holidays were spent exploring the circle with friends: clambering over ornate iron railings into the overgrown grounds of a Victorian Convalescent home to eat square crisps in its long abandoned chapel while dust motes danced in its ruined-roof sunbeams. In a deserted factory two streets behind my parent’s home: the words NO DOG FIGHTS spray-painted in two foot high dripping red letters on an inner wall; a flight of concrete steps leading directly down into the inky waters of a flooded cellar. Racing mountain bikes through a two-hundred-and-thirty-three acre cemetery, slaking our thirst at the taps meant for filling memorial vases while headless angels knelt beside us in prayer. In the cricket pavilion of a closed down secondary school – a row of showers turning themselves on. One. By. One. A black collie sleeping peacefully on its side next to a railway track turning out to be only the matting of indigestible fur covering a skeleton picked clean by creatures from the dark, damp earth below. All of it terrifying, all of it wonderful, seen now not so much through rose-tinted spectacles as Instagram or Photoshop filters. Add Dust & Speckles. Add Grunge. Fuzzy focussed, faded edged, and un-really vintage.

    Nightmarish is the right word for such pre-adult horrors – like nightmares, though ominous and threatening, they could never have harmed despite all appearances to the contrary. Bikes lead to cuts and bruises, and early onset anxiety about theft. Kisses begin a cycle of want, and need, and heartache. Beer turns to hangovers, to lost time and borrowed money. All those supposed pleasures summoned so eagerly from within the circle so many summers ago had their costs, but consequences are an adult’s neurosis.

    Back there, at the very cusp of adolescence, as the days of let’s pretend drew to an end and genuine fear and risk became reality, the meshing of the child and proto-adult psyche created something incredibly powerful and truly beautiful. Knowing just enough, understanding just enough to take things seriously but still not knowing exactly what it is you’re supposed to be taking seriously – allegorical fears flickered temporarily into un-deconstructed, un-questioned existence.

    Here tonight inside the invisible circle an ancient oak creaks gloomily in the wind just beyond the floodlights of a pub car park; a tattered black tracksuit top caught in a cemetery brier hedge flaps frantically; a car’s headlights flash momentarily in the eyes of a fox, or cat, skulking in the roadside shadows. Everything crackles with potential unreality like a two day old acid trip on the tip of the brain.

    This is the place where my son is already growing up day by day – family, as always, at the circle’s centre. Here his mum and I will teach him to ride a bike; here his first kiss sleeps soundly somewhere close by; here half a dozen struggling pub landlords are already counting on him buying his first pint from them. And here inside this circle where his great-grandparents lived and died, for an all too brief time, my son will have the most wonderful nightmares that will stay with him the rest of his life.

    John Reppion is the co-author, with his wife Leah Moore, of many wonderful graphic novels, and the forthcoming online motion-comic THE THRILL ELECTRIC. John also writes non-fiction, such as 800 YEARS OF HAUNTED LIVERPOOL, and short fiction like the marvellous ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER JORDAN.

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LEVERAGE #305 "The Double-Blind Job" Post-Game

    During one week in June Pfizer 1) agreed to pull its 10-year-old leukemia drug Mylotarg from the market because it caused more, not less patient deaths 2) Suspended pediatric trials of Geodon two months after the FDA said children were being overdosed 3) Suspended trials of tanezumab, an osteoarthritis pain drug, because patients got worse not better, some needing joint replacements (pattern, anyone?) 4) Was investigated by the House for off-label marketing of kidney transplant drug Rapamune and targeting African-Americans 5) Saw a researcher who helped established its Bextra, Celebrex and Lyrica as effective pain meds, Scott S Reuben, MD, trotted off to prison for research fraud 6) was sued by Blue Cross Blue Shield to recoup money it overpaid for Bextra and other drugs 7) received a letter from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) requesting its whistleblower policy and 8) had its appeal to end lawsuits by Nigerian families who accuse it of illegal trials of the antibiotic Trovan in which 11 children died, rejected by the Supreme Court. And how was your week
    (h/t Balloon Juice)

    The numbers thrown about in the Evil Speech of Evil payoff are exactly those from another famous pharma case. You'll find it in two minutes flat with Google.

    Although most major pharmaceutical companies act in good faith, it seems that those that go south, go south hard. I'm a little surprised we didn't do one earlier, but it's a weirdly institutionalized bit of nastiness. Hard to find the Original Sinner in a system so geared for, if not corruption, neglect.

    The Wonder Twins cracked it by finding just the right kind of CEO -- again, names withheld to protect the Bastardly -- a guy who loved to hop from company to company, with the sole intention of grabbing a massive CEO gig at the end of a twenty year span. I think corporations can do a lot of good and are a crucial part of the modern economy, but even at their best they suffer from a distillation of accountability. When you put a guy in charge who doesn't even have any loyalty to the loyalty-free construct he helms, well, bad shit happens.

    The whole "holy shit, we've been doped with our own poison" ending came from an original version of the season opener, where our accountant vic had stumbled across data he really didn't understand, but other people were worried he did. Glenn and Rieder grabbed that loose bit of plotting and built a very sweet little episode around it. Nicely done.

    Some viewers noticed a resemblance to The Fugitive in the liver-damage plot, but that, oddly enough, was created because we worked backwards from the episode ending. We needed a poison or effect that was both irrevocably fatal and took a while. I vaguely remembered the death cap mushroom from some British mystery, and we just grabbed its liver-damaging toxin as the model for our flawed medicine.

    In further illustration of how these episodes never quite go in a straight line, this episode was originally about Nate's sister. At the risk of future spoilers, she was a drug rep who was researching the drug she was selling and got in over her head. Dean vetoed the idea, not because he didn't like it but because it was, weirdly , what we would ordinarily do for the second appearance of Nate's sister, if we were going to use the character the way we wanted in the Nate arc. So Nate's sister went away, Parker took over a small part of her role in the drug rep con, and yet another white card went up on the board marked "TBD".

    This episode also had us advancing the Parker/Hardison arc (which is neither Pardison or Harker, but ParHardikerson). No one quite writes Parker like the Twins ... anyway, at the risk of opening the race-issue can of worms from back in #304, we actually spent a lot of time deciding if the vic was black or white. (like I said back then, we do spend rather a lot of time trying to be responsible about this stuff). Were kind of jammed. On one hand, we didn't want to imply that Hardison doesn't find women of color attractive. On the other hand, we wanted Parker to have a very unexpected, hostile reaction because of her displacement, but we were uncomfortable having her, well, for lack of better words, having her hate a black woman. After a fair bit of discussion, we found some middle ground. Hardison was enjoying having a girl crush on him; the girl could see at the end it wasn't going anywhere.

    My favorite epsode opening in the whole three years, by the way.

    Okay, let's see what you guys have for me this week:

    @Christine Lollobrigida: If Eliot only sleeps 90 minutes a day... what the heck does he do all day? It's probably too much to ask for, but I'd love a basic rundown of his personal schedule for a non-on-the-job day.

    He may have been exaggerating for effect. Assume his spare time is spent working for Miranda Zero.

    @tgvcomic: Script for 316? Season 3 is more than 15 episodes?!?

    16 in Season Three. The run now goes 310 "The Underground Job" written by Glenn & Rieder, #311 "The Rashomon Job" (originally slated for later, but moved up) written by yours truly, "The King George Job" written by Christine Boylan, "The Morning After Job" written by Chris Downey, then the summer break, coming back in the winter with just "The Ho Ho Ho Job" by Colton & Aboud and the big year-end two-parter 315 "The Big Bang Job" by Chris Downey and Geoffrey Thorne and 316 "The San Lorenzo Job" written by myself and Scott Veach. 315 and 316 will probably air back to back, like a Leverage movie. makes sense, as it's that frikkin big.

    @Miranda: I'm sure you will find some "non-suits" crimes to inspire you for next season. How about evil mechanics? Who hasn't had the unfortunate luck of taking their car to a bad mechanic? Just please don't do an evil veterinarian or evil animal shelter story. Even if they get taken down, I just couldn't watch an episode about pets getting hurt. @Sarah W: I agree with Miranda. Why is it that abuse at an animal shelter feels worse than, say abuse at a Serbian orphanage (which was breathtakingly awful)?

    One of those quirks of human nature. Jesus, we barely made it through the adoption scam research. The whole room was in a black funk for a week. I can't even imagine how brutal a pet story would be.

    @Murasaki_1966: As someone working a hospital (abet as a librarian), I have known about Big Pharma and their nasty secrets for some time. I am so glad you are doing a story on them. I always hoped you would.

    You know, we have very good whistleblower laws in this country ...

    @Christina: 1.) When you write the episodes, do you imagine the actors saying the lines and doing the stunts, or the characters as you imagined them when creating the show? 2.) You now have writer, actor, producer and director under your belt. Is there another job on Leverage you would like to try? Such as in the lighting or sound departments; maybe assistant to Tim Hutton?

    1.) It's a mix. At this point, we're writing the actor's version of the characters, although they work very hard to protect the characters arcs and personas as they were originally pitched. This evolution is the fun of television, at least for me. 2.) I could never be Tim Hutton's assistant. I have enough of my own bodies to bury ...

    @Jen_Ann_W: The lifts & handoffs are so smooth, how often does the team have to practice to get the moves just right? (In other words, how many times did Christian hit the gal in the boob before he got her badge?) :-)

    They're pretty smooth now. It's interesting to see how stuff they used to need coaching to do we can now toss into a script at the last minute, sure that they can pull it off. Beth still has the best hands of the batch, though.

    @jarodrussell: As much as I like seeing my phone, the HTC Excalibur, in the lovely hands of Beth Reisgraf, don't you think it's time she got an upgrade to something with a real front-facing camera?

    It's just an HTC shell, custom hacked by Hardison.

    @Anonymous: Did anyone else hear "loves you" when Sophie stated that she was the only one who "likes" Nate? I love how explicitly she is calling him out and how the rest of the team is at least commenting on his actions (Hardison - "Prison has...changed him."). Whole ep was made of win - thanks!

    As stated, they are much more peers now. Which is good, because Nate is much more of a bastard now. Although, let us note, he's making a point in this episode that he would never ask any of them to do anything he wouldn't do himself. Whether that's sincere or egomania, well, that's up to you.

    @Sean Fagan: It wasn't terribly clear to me, at the beginning, whether they ran into Ashley by accident or not.


    @Jennifer: This has been bugging me this season - Where is the great team aspect that we had in Season 1 and 2 and it seems to be gone this one. Now it is all about the couples (Hardison and Parker and Nate and Sophie) and Eliot all alone.

    I'm not really seeing it ... we tend to shoot them in twos now because it's just easier to schedule, but not so much twos based around the couples. Unless you think we're doing Hardison/Eliot as canon now.

    @deanangst: This was the first time the team ever had to deal with a dead body. Is this something that will be happening more often? Also Eliot knowing that they had faked a heartattack, and knowing where to check for injection sites, is this another hint of his past. That thought is kinda scarey.

    We don't usually have them doing dead body detective work, and you won't see much of it in the future. And yes, Eliot's past is unpleasant. And beginning to catch up with him...

    @zenkitty-714: Okay, question - there's no way the settlement was reached in a day, so did the crew give her an "advance" on the money they expected to be awarded to her?

    Exactly. Part of Hardison's job is managing millions of dollars of semi-illicit money spread over dozens of cons. Cash flow to vics is his responsibility.

    @DaveMB: Re the money they gave Ashley at the end -- I agree any FDA whistleblower reward could not possibly have gotten to LC&A's bank account so quickly. But mightn't Hardison have shorted the company's stock before the takedown, as in the pilot episode? Or are they now too nice to take advantage of the general investor community in that way?

    You raise an interesting point -- that the team was taking advantage of the general investor community in that way in say, the pilot. For those of you who need refreshing, the team got revenge on their first bad guy, Saul Rubinek, by shorting his company's stock, creating a public scandal involving his company, and then cashing out.

    Now, some people went "boo hoo, what about the people who worked at that company?" But what they seem to be missing is that the company was overvalued based on Saul's original lie -- he'd stolen another company's plans and had seized market dominance based on that lie. At that point, everyone else in the market was being cheated by this lie. His competitor's stocks were undervalued, the investors who held those stocks being cheated ... etc etc. All they did, really was create a perfectly legitimate market correction.

    @Video Beagle: Oh, and on the Nate getting worse before he gets better...I know the season's written..but what say we forgo that plot for a know..for a change of pace.

    Nate's fallen about as he can fall. For this year.

    @briddie: Thanks for the shoutout to libraries! And the evil speech of evil was beautiful; Michael O'Keefe was a brilliant choice. How did you decide to cast him?

    We love librarians. As to the other point, we'd been wanting to cast Michael O'Keefe for a while, and it was a sweet role.

    @MacSTL: So - the team has an office in the poker room now? Is that because Cora KNOWS what the team does? Are we going to see Cora again? Will we see the poker room in use more that Nate's apt? Glad that the wonder twins got their wish (yup- listen to the commentaries) and we get Eliot in a suit again!

    We kind of fell in love with the poker room as a set. Planning in there is a bit of a throwback to Nate's father's ways, as we've now seen.

    We wanted to keep the vic around, and as Hardison has reminded us: "You do not let Vicky Vale in the Batcave." This seemed like a good compromise.

    Cora absolutely knows what the team does. We won't see her any time soon, but assume she's very much staying out of the way of the legendary Nate Ford.

    @Brittney: My favorite scene this episode was Sophie talking to Parker and telling her "you are jealous" ... For me it was a very big sis/little sis moment. Those scenes really for me ground Parker, takes the crazy away and you just see Parker for that moment. So my question is: are we going to be getting more scenes like that between Parker and Sophie?

    There's definitely some Sophie/Parker bonding (for the slashers, that couple should be SoParphiker) in "The Three Card Monte Job" and "The Underground Job". As you're now on episode 310, you can see that the group rotates through pretty much all the combos over the course of the year.

    Now, how did writers for this ep come up with the town name Arcadia? And why did they have Parker's alias, Laurie Sprang, come from Iowa? I found that very funny, seeing that there is an Arcadia, IA, with a population (estimate) 200 or less. Just happens that I live not even 15 minutes from there. Just thought that was funny....

    Basically because there's no Arcadia, MA, to dodge clearance issues. I think the Iowa thing is just a coincidence.

    @USRaider: 1) How close is Nate to working off his probation with Sophie? She didn't seem impressed that he put himself on the line for the team. 2) Was it intentional to write the Eliot/Drug Rep relationship as it was? She's looking for a "dangerous" man and he's stuck in a con. Seems like we might see her later on... 3) We've been very Parker-centric lately. Is the season going to be more directed (early on) with Parker/Hardison/Eliot (yeah, think that the dude is going to get in somewhere) and more on the end with a Nate/Sophie track (after he's proven himself again)?

    1.) He put himself on the line in a dumb, arrogant way. He's making slow but steady progress. 2.) We won't see her again. The Wonder Twins wrote a great classic comedy throughline, so we may enjoy it for what it is. 3.) It's a pretty even split, although P/H/E get a little extra love because we had to spend extra time to cover Gina's pregnancy last year.

    @Calla: The only bit I didn't like - which is the only bit I was confused about - was the switching of the cases. Which case was which and where each one was.... made my head spin. Then you thought in the flashback show that YOU had conned US and then I had no freaking clue what was the read case and what was the fake case. I think maybe you were being a little more clever than you needed to be??? I'm not sure - I'll definitely have to watch that bit over again. It was funny, though, that Alec has to MAKE Parker trip the alarm - she so hated doing that - and that's adorable, too!

    Parker went in with a switchable case. Let it get recovered in the "empty" setting. After it was opened to fool the bad guy, it rotated around to reveal the "full" setting. Not a hard gimmick to fix.

    @Calla: What decisions led to your choosing to film in Portland (vs. LA, Vancouver, or elsewhere)? Was it just down to basic production costs/incentives or did you consider living conditions for the people who would have to move there for filming, etc.? Thanks!

    The state of Oregon offered a competitive tax incentive; the city has an amazing talent base both in front of the camera and on crew; it has unique shooting geography both in the city and just a few minutes from downtown; it's in the same time zone and a short flight; and it's a great frikkin' place to live. Honestly, if the state would bump up its incentive cap or switch to a straight tax rebate, it could replace Vancouver and become Hollywood North in a heartbeat.

    @Dawn/StL-MO: John or anyone who can enlighten me – Am I totally missing it or what is the connection with Manticor, Duberman, Dubertech, Wakefield, Moto, JRP Pharmaceudicals, Pallagen Laboratories, & Darren Hoffman to Damien Moreau? Nate said in “The Jailbreak Job” that the team would still help the underdogs, but ones with connections to Moreau. I know Moto had a file on ‘The Italian’, but that did not necessarily connect Moto with Moreau.

    Not all the cases are linked. As a matter of fact, because of the way actors and scripts ran, the Moreau arc pretty much plays out in the last four or five.

    Note how I said not all the cases are linked. Not "none."

    @TayaR: Loved the Eliot and Hardison coffee run scene. Do they make it a habit of heading out on the town?

    They would not admit it, but yes.

    @Michael: a more general writing-related question: does the existence of tvtropes make your life as a writer easier or harder?

    As I've said before -- you say "trope", I say "well-honed narrative tool."

    @lavendergaia: General question, would anyone on the team ever want to get married, or, in Nate's case, remarried? Did Maggie ruin him for other wives? Sophia seems to have some maternal instincts, but are any of them truly the parental type?

    Hmm. Nate's the marrying type, but I think he's done. And you're assuming none of the rest of the team have been married before. That would be ... a mistake.

    @JoJoDancer: Last question. Are these guys working off a group account? Elliot should have been able to expense that tour with the pharmy chick.

    Hardison makes Eliot file his expenses in triplicate. Just to annoy him.

    @Lisa: 1.) Why was Hardison unable to find any information about the victims in Arcadia? Shouldn't he have found a death certificate, or some kind of record? Or did the company completely erase all trace of them? 2.) What exactly is the Cairo Flyer con and the Swedish rail? 3.) How does Eliot know about the 9 spots professionals go for? 4.) And when Nate was in the office with Hoffman, was the two security guards Eliot took out the same two who spilled his coffee in the beginning? 5.) I'm assuming the poker room is the poker room where they took down Doyle in The Bottle Job? 6.) Loved the bits with Eliot and Dr. Pearson. The real Eliot seems to be his type, but was she his? I couldn't really figure out at the end if he really liked her. In the beginning, he didn't seem thrilled about being stuck with her, but at the end, he seemed shocked that he got dumped.

    1.) The Internet is data, not connections. Arcadia was a small town, and although their hard copies existed, the pharma humans did a nice job of wiping any Internet traces away with one of those fine worms available form hackers in your favorite Eastern European hackerspace. Not everything's on the 'net. 2.) The Cairo Flyer is a complicated little smuggling con, based on a real one with a boring name. We made up the Swedish Rail, I think. 3.) Oh, I think you know why. 4.) Yes. 5.) Double yes. 6.) I think he'd gotten fond of her, but it was much more about being dumped for being boring. Even Eliot can be surprised.

    @tori-angeli: 1.) Will we ever get enough background on Eliot to have a context in which to put the events of the series? It's still hard to see, sometimes, why he's with the group (beyond "he likes these guys") or what purpose they serve in the story of his life ... It's hard for me to tell how to take his developments if we don't know what he was like before. 2.) Is Hardison really willing to wait for Parker to get her heart sorted out? Don't get me wrong--I think it's the sweetest thing ever and I actually squealed when he said he'd be there for her when she wanted him, but I found myself sort of wishing he would hook up with the client, just because I wanted him to be happy. Not that romance is the key to happiness or anything. 3.) On the flip side, does Parker really expect to hold him to his promise? It seems a bit unfair of her to expect something like that of him, even if he did offer. 4.) Will we ever see some remorse from the crew regarding past immoral actions? They've all slowly been doing good things less because it feels good and more because it's the right thing, but will any of them see things they've done before as wrong? 5.) And because I have to ask: If Eliot is Batman, does that mean he can breathe in space?

    1.) Oh. Oh yes. 2.) Hardison won't wait forever. But everyone defines forever differently. 3.) Parker's still working out the whole emotions thing. Timetables are tricky. 4.) Oh. Oh yes. 5.) No. He requires the use of his power ring. Whoops, wrong superhero.

    @d: Now for my question. Am correct in guessing that Parker’s rather unique mindset means that she didn’t get the metaphor of Hardison telling her that the “pretzels” are there waiting for her whenever she wants them? That’s the kind of comment that my Parker-meter says she’d tend to interpret literally

    You'll get that answer soon enough.

    @Oona: 1.) Hardison has been pining for Parker since the pilot, and for two seasons, she has been totally oblivious. Now, all of a sudden, she gets it - and I haven't seen anything to justify why within the span of 5 episodes, she's slow dancing with him and getting jealous. It feels a little rushed and I would have preferred to see Parker growing into this over the course of the whole 3rd season hoenstly. 2.) Why would Nate manipulate Hardison and take chances with Parker's safety? He's never done that kind of thing before - well, maybe with Tara from S2, but she wasn't really "team" to him and he was in the process of coming unhinged. Are we supposed to believe that he didn't learn anything from the last half of last season? Are we supposed to believe that its like Hardison said and "prison has changed him" (cuz from what we saw, he was not having exactly an "Oz" experience in there)? Is he prepping them for the biggest job EVAH that's coming up with Moreau?

    1.) Not sure I'd say Parker's "bombs away" on the romance. One slow dance and a sudden burst of jealousy aren't THAT far along in the romance chain. But let's assume some other stuff happened during that last six months we didn't see. Also, as some of the other Commenters noted, Beth has a way of playing Parker as "oblivious" to cover "freaked out." She knew what was up, and she couldn't quite deal with it. 2.) I don't think Nate thinks he's taking risks with them. He's just more comfortable with the idea of what constitutes "acceptable risk."

    @Rob: one thing that has repeatedly hit a slightly sour note with me is how matter-of-factly the evil suits talk about the most unseemly details of their schemes. "Hi, I'm going to start a worldwide famine to make a buck." "People are going to start dropping dead in a few years but I'll be working someplace else." There's just no sugar-coating it at all. No meaningful looks and "do whatever it takes"-type statements. It's just loud, proud evil.

    I can't decide if that's a bit of moustache-twirling on the part of your villains or if I'm just too darned Neutral Good to recognize evil verisimilitude when I see it. ("I knew evil was bad, but that's just wrong!") I suspect I know the answer, but are you sitting on top of a pile of research that would jeopardize the fragile little remnant of my faith in humanity?

    Consider the fragile little remnant of your faith in humanity shattered. Need I remind you of "A senate seat is a valuable fucking thing"? A shocking amount of our villain speeches are action-ably similar to wiretap recordings and actual testimony. The mayor's speech from "The Three Strikes Job" was word for word from a similar case.

    @Stacy: 1.) Nate has always been an asshole, but it seems that this season he is an asshole with no redeeming qualities. Are you intentionally trying to make the viewers not like him? If so, I hope its just a big set-up for some huge heroic feat that will make everyone love him again. 2.) I absolutely loved the irony of the first commercial break being "brought to you by Lyrica". I'm guessing the advertisers did not get an advanced showing. 3.) I really loved the character beat of Eliot being dumped for not being dangerous enough. Well done. 4.) As others have pointed out, I miss the team meetings. There's just something special about them all being together in planning a con. I understand the first episodes have been rather "real time" and these particular jobs had to be rushed, but I really hope you haven't done away with the planning meetings.

    1.) Um, you don't like him as an asshole? I like him. The writers say he's based on me ... anyway, this is Nate the Thief. 2.) Did that happen? 3.) The Wonder Twins thank you back. 4.) I think there are more team meetings coming up. But you'll note that there tend to be mid-episode team meetings now, once the momentum's already up.

    @lily: What a great episode! Two quick questions ... First, did Hardison figure out at some point why Parker was treating the victim so oddly throughout the job? Second, why was Eliot wearing gloves when he went to the old guy's house? He sometimes wears the fingerless gloves, but we don't often see him in full-on black leather gloves.

    1.) Yes, he did. In between acts three and four. 2.) Eliot had a pretty good suspicion of what he was going to find.

    @Mandi: Is TNT airing the episodes out of order again? And if so, when can you tell us the actual production order? When I watched Season 1 in production order, it made so much more sense. I know why the network does this, but it's kind of annoying for regular viewers.

    The episodes are slightly out of order, but nothing arc-breaking. Based mainly on them liking certain episodes and pulling them up in the order.

    @Maya: What I don't understand is why you make Nate such a jackass all the time and Nate/Sophie fight as a result. I've had enough of angst between them in the first two seasons, I really don't need anymore. I hope this doesn't further escalate this season. Give the characters a break, they deserve to be happy after all they've been through.

    Happy characters are boring.

    @briddie: Is the actress who played Ashley another of your brilliant Portland finds? She was great!

    The amazing Katie Lowes -- whom most of the crew developed crushes on -- is from LA. And if there is any justice, she will be superfamous soon.

    @Kristin: When can we get an ep where Nate's bad choices don't work out and the team has to fix one of his plans? And no, Maltese Falcon job doesn't count because his plan ended up working as he planned on going to jail to get his team off. Even if they didn't agree with it.

    Well, he is the Mastermind. I'll leave this one up to the Comments to see if anybody thinks any previous episodes count.

    @Rebecca: Boy, I was pissed at Nate when he kept Parker too long in a tight spot. Turned out he was right, and she handled it. Were we supposed to forgive him because he was right? Was that supposed to show that the Brains knows the abilities and limitations of his team better than they, or the others, know? Either way, I was still pissed at him.

    I'm really kind of okay with you guy being pissed at him. If you care either way, means we're doing our job.

    @JoJo Dancer: If I had any complaint about this show and it's not really a complaint but a preference; but, I prefer the LA office of S1 over the Boston office. LA just feels like a city where top con men would operate out of. It just has a glamour about it.

    The Boston Professional Criminals' Association is hurt. And that is a mistake.

    @briddie: Question 1 - Sophie and Hardison didn't like Parker being pushed to the time limit, but did Parker mind, really, or did she accept it as a nod to her abilities? Q2: Is the replacement of the living room meant to show that Nate broke the family dynamic?

    1.) She didn't mind. But she's odd that way. And as we've seen, sometimes has to be protected form that part of herself. 2.) Nope, we just never liked that couch.

    @SueN: In both this ep and "The Inside Job," she seemed much more personally horrified by the sheer mendacity of the marks. At both Dr. Hannity (still love that, btw) and Hoffman's evil speeches of evil, she seemed much more appalled than in previous seasons. Before, she's known what the marks were doing was bad, but now it's like she actually understands how truly depraved it is. So, is that something y'all planned, as a sign of Sophie's growth/evolution, or is just Gina being spectacular? I mentioned in the "Scheherazade Job" post that it seems Eliot is growing a conscience, but now it looks like our lovely Queen of the Grifters is, as well.

    A mix of us arcing Sophie and Gina making some choices. You see it even more in "The Three Card Monte Job" and then in "The King George Job."

    @jamesmith3: I know you folks have your system down, but I do have to say that this was the one ep where I didn't need any of the flashback/reveals. Somehow I knew she'd made the switch, then set of the sensors, etc. Have you guys ever played around with doing a script without the reveals?

    I think "The Three Card Monte Job" is flashback free.

    @Paige Roberts: Why does Eliot stay? I'm enjoying the discussion and speculation, but look forward to hearing from the guy who invented the character.

    Well that wouldn't be any fun. You'll get a better sense of it by the S3 end.

    @adc1966: 1) As a grifter, Sophie often has to feign romantic interest in various skeevy and often hateful people. How far is she willing to take this in pursuit of a job? I know Nate and the others would never construct a con that called for her to actually sleep with someone, but I wonder what she's done in the past when faced with the choice of either following through all the way, or losing the con. 2) Hopefully, Hardison knows Parker well enough to know that a relationship with her would carry a lot of challenges, and that he's willing to deal with that. Has Parker ever had a real romantic relationship before? Is that something that will be dealt with in the story? 3) Should we assume that Sophie really did tell the others her real name, and it's not just an elaborate prank by all of them to mess with Nate's head? And if so, did she tell them her *real* real name?

    1.) Whatever you think most interesting. 2.) Parker's never had what you'd call a real romantic relationship before, and we leave her sexual history intentionally vague. That relationship isn't going to move too fast, so assume we'll deal with it when appropriate. 3.) They know her real real name.

    @Emily2214: 1) In the "Reincarnation of Angie" episode of The Rockford Files, Jim tells the client that he knew the FBI badge of the man following her was fake because the background was the wrong color; the guy probably just pasted his driver's license photo on a badge. When asked how he knew, Rockford replied "Because that's what I did" and showed her his own fake badge. Did Hardison's experience at creating badges for the team allow him to spot an inferior fake so quickly? 2) Where does the Evil Speech of Evil at the end of the "Pandorica Opens" episode of Doctor Who rank - better than or about the same as the Leverage ones? 3) Any closer to getting Ed Quinn on the show? I was hoping they'd find a way to bring him back on Eureka this season, but no such luck. You're my last hope.

    1.) Dead on. 2.) Pretty high, but not of the same structure, so hard for a straight on comparison. Now, Amy Pond's wedding speech -- that made me straight up cry. 3.) Ed Quinn -- who is filthily funny, btw -- is on the list.

    @Nonniemouse: Two questions: Are you deliberately trying to cast Eliot as Captain Jack Harkness!Lite, given the whole Eliot and girls and Tenth-scolding-Jack vibe you've got going every time Nate chides Eliot about the girls? Second, any chances you could land John Barrowman as a guest star in your newly minted fourth season?

    1.) Eliot is Eliot, Captain Jack is a magnificent bastard who is not Eliot. 2.) I'm not sure who would fangirl worse, me or Boylan. Let us also remember Eve Myles will be in America soon ...

    @Kate: Parker throughout this entire episode had me and my gang of Grifters guffawing like crazy, and we have to know who gets to take credit for the positively genius bit at the end where she's crushing the beer bottle? And Beth didn't hurt her hands, did she? We were a bit worried about her when we got done laughing. (a smidge contradictory there, we know)

    And may I say Thank You, capital letters, for all the education you offer on Leverage about the kinds of scams and practices, illegal, and, horrifyingly, legal, that are common practice in so many corporations. I'm 19 and have always stayed more informed about things than most my age (I had a debate about the sub-prime mortgage crisis with my History teacher pre-October-meltdown, sadly to the blank stares of my classmates) and I know Leverage has helped me teach and talk to some of my friends about topics that just wouldn't enter their peripheral any other way.

    All the credit goes to the Wonder Twins. They really write Parker the best of all of us. And I'm glad you're being informed by our little pulp show. Make sure you also picked up Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and his upcoming For the Win, for more subversive fun.

    @JGossard05: It seems like (Hardison)'s the most underrated & underappreciated member of the crew. Like he says in his own words "Does anybody respect the van?"... Do the team actually realise his importance & appreciate his role on the crew? Or are they just messing with him since hes not that involved as much physically on the jobs as the other team is?

    The team by now knows both how valuable he is, and how insecure he is. And, as noted, they're not all nice people. Kind of hard to resist yanking his chain every now and then. Not to mention, taking him down a peg occasionally is a healthy thing. He can get a bit carried away with himself.

    I think I got everybody. Look for #306 midweek, and next week, well, that may well be my magnum opus. "The Rashomon Job" is the one I've been waiting to write for three years. I look forward to seeing what you think.

Post Title

LEVERAGE #305 "The Double-Blind Job" Post-Game

Post URL

Visit no47-mia for Daily Updated Wedding Dresses Collection

LEVERAGE #308 "The Boost Job" Post-Game

    This episode was actually written fairly early in the season. Albert Kim came in with the story of how stolen cars are being cloned and stolen interstate, along with a ton of research about car theft rings. It was a great Leverage pitch. Clear bad guy plot set in an interesting location with naturally dangerous threats. We'd actually scouted the speedway the year before, and had it up on the board in the "To Do" column of cards. Once written, though, its scope demanded that it be moved back, to where we'd built up a little safety room before tackling something this big.

    Every writer breaks story different ways. Downey has the high concept premise in his head. I pitch plot. Boylan comes at it purely from charactery goodness. Veach also likes high-concept, while Geoff comes at it almost from a wish-fulfillment "what would be fin to watch the Leverage team do?". The Wonder Twins and Albert are both research hounds. Both pitch up so much solid info about the real-life crimes that story and character fall out of reality. It's worth noting these different styles because it's worth reinforcing that there is no one right way to break a story (except mine) or be a television writer. Know your toolbox. Work to expand it. But at the end of the day, as my grandfather said -- "A man's got to know his swing."

    This story allowed us to homage our favorite Rockford Files episode "Never Send a Boy King to Do A Man's Job." This one is the ur-Rockford. Richie Brocklemaan. Rockford saying "I'm not going to get involved"... and then laying out the whole con in a "if you were gonna do it" scene. Multiple long cons, shady characters from Rockford's past, Downey's favorite scene -- the "audition" of con men, like a casting call -- and the infamous "Get Hittite pot" on Rockford's "con to-do" list.

    He has a to-do list. It's hilarious.

    And Rockford hooks the bad guy by out-racing him. Seriously, all that's missing is the silver racing suit.

    We were very pleased to have Bill Engvall for a bad guy. We'd been talking about having him on for ages, and his schedule finally worked out for us on this episode. I used to do stand-up with Bill back in the day -- never hung together, but bumped into each other often enough that we recognized each other at the upfronts. There, among the professionally pretty people and powerbrokers in suits, I asked him "You ever think you'd be standing here?" He shook his head and said "No way." He's a good, honest, hard-working funny son of a bitch. Pleasure to see him doing so well, and beginning to stretch into one hours. I think his performance on Leverage shows he's going to have a great career doing dramas.

    Also ridiculously lucky to have Malese Jow. Because I am a cranky forty-year old, I had no idea who she was. On the first day of dailies, I emailed Albert and said "Good GOD, does she have a development deal?" He then had to explain to me that Malese was ridiculously famous and was doing far better in her career than I ever will. Ah, obsolescence, I welcome your sweet embrace.

    The EMP car-killer is, of course a lot bigger than what we built, but it's real enough. As are the "cheat codes" and about 90% of the tech we throw around in this one. It really is amazing how little we know about cars now, and how high-tech they are.

    This is also one of the places where we establish the limits of the earbuds. Not that the limits are consistent, of course, but that sometimes they don't work. They were getting a little too reliable, and we really need to make sure not everything works for the team all the time.

    Other than that it was a pretty straight-up Leverage episode. Oh, and Hutton really drove the racecar. And Kane did his own car hit. So other than the cast trying to kill me with stress, very ordinary episode. Let's jump into the questions.

    @Jennifer: Was the Shelby Cobra on tonight's episode an original or a kit built?

    Kit built, but for legal reasons we couldn't name it in the episode. Which meant we had to come up with another name; we chose "Veronica". In theory that was a pain in the ass, but serendipitously led to one of the best jokes of the night: "Who knew Betty was the fast one?" Always something good in the barrel.

    @Anonymous: My question - what are we seeing exactly between Parker and the teen - mentor, older sister, seeing "herself"?

    Seeing herself, and acting on her nascent sense of family. Hell, five years ago she probably wouldn't have been self aware enough to see the resemblance.

    @Sherri: What's with the humanizing of Parker? Seriously, I love the development, but it's playing with my head.

    I think it's just the natural reaction to having people in her life that care about her. Don't worry, she'll never be quite right.

    @Anonymous: Have we ever seen Eliot kill someone? I don't really recall we did, but it seems like we are going to, real soon.

    No, you have not seen him kill anyone while working with the Leverage team. Yet. Considering his headspace, they would have to be in real, real trouble before he'd kill anyone again.

    Very, very bad trouble.

    @Andy: "They hit me with a car!" If I remember my Venture Brothers dialog correctly, there was a line from the first episode (not pilot) that went, "They hit me with A TRUCK!" Has Eliot entered Brock Sampson levels of resilience?

    He is the Leverage-verse Brock Samson.

    @Whimseyrhodes: when Eliot zapped the cars on the big rig, how did he avoid hitting the rig itself? Are we to assume it was a very-super-ultra-uber localized beam like a bullet, and wouldn't stray from it's trajectory?

    It is indeed a tight linear beam, just like the real one.

    @Rick: The EMP Cannon; Ledger or Black Box?

    See above.

    @Oona: 1.) Nate has been fairly easy on Parker, both in the Inside Job and here, when she made rash decisions that turned out badly. Is Parker sort of the "favored" baby of the family to him or is he just feeling the most protective of her because he knows she (seemingly) has had the toughest time of it or something else? The ending with the big dinner was awesome - such a nice throwback to the Wedding Job. 2.) Was that scene fully scripted or did the cast just riff?

    I don't think he's gone easy on her. I think being a good manager is knowing when to let the horse run. And he is much, much more cognizant of his own failings this year than last. 2.) As Albert notes in his Twitter feed, the final scene was a Gina pitch. We're now at the point where the actors have very canny senses of who these people are and what we need to see them do. Making the show is far more interesting at this point in a show's arc.

    @Bethia: At the beginnning, the guy in the truck was said to be a school teacher on the "newscast". At the end, Nate said something about the client's landscaping business. I'm confused. Thanks!

    He does landscaping part-time to pay the bills, as we criminally underpay our schoolteachers. The victim was named Mantlo, btw, after ROM writer Bill Mantlo. We have a bit of a ROM thing int he room. I will torture the writer's room for hours with my "Rom-com".

    @SueN: 1) Why didn't Eliot zap his truck's system when he zapped the cars? (Oh, and much love for Eliot with a raygun! *g*) 2) The Challenger was Eliot's. So, did he trade in his truck from last season, or does he collect vehicles? (And will he get the Challenger back from Nate? *g*) 3.) For two and a half seasons now, we've heard Eliot bitch and bark at Parker and call her crazy (and tonight threaten to kill her). And, granted, annoyed!Eliot is funny!Eliot. To us. But what about Parker? Does she take his barking and bitching and "there's somethin' wrong with you" seriously, or does she understand that anger is Eliot's particular kind of craziness?

    1.) Noted above. 2) He collects vehicles. Which he occasionally gives away, to prove he is not attached to them. 3.) She both takes him literally and interprets him differently than normal people. There is something wrong with her.

    Ian: I just wanted to say that the decision to make the EMP gun have the same warm-up sound as the Ghostbusters' proton packs -- and then have Hardison say "this chick is toast" -- was pure genius.

    I believe that was our creative post humans riffing off the dialogue line. They're like little comedy elves. We show up for the first cut, and there are the bonus jokes, under the tree, utterly unexpected.

    @Marquis: I'd like to ask if the Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start for cars really exists but I'm kind of afraid of the answer.

    Not quite that combo, but yes, those cheat codes exist.

    @Courtney: Gonna take a guess here and say that Eliot has had dive training at some point? I'm starting to wonder if he wasn't a Navy SEAL in another life.

    Army boy. But yeah, he can handle himself in a variety of settings.

    @MacSTL: One question for now - We have seen the team use the bar much more for the con. We know Hardison owns the building. Did the team work out some special deal with Cora? What is the relationship now?

    Cora still owns the bar, but the Leverage team are trusted friends. Family, practically. If no one's using the place, it's theirs to use how they will.

    @USRaider: My question is: you probably write at least a half an episode more than what we see on the screen. What are the decisions that go into what actually makes an episode and what happens to the material you don't use?

    Good Lord, we're too lazy to do more work than necessary. Now, although we often wind up with more story than we need when breaking an episode, we are writing to a specific production budget, which means a certain number of shooting days and certain number of pages per shooting day. Our scripts run from 50-55 pages, generally. 56 if they're dialogue-heavy. When shooting, we're rarely more than a few minutes long on the first cut.

    @USRaider: Noticed that, after the job was finished and Nate and Sophie were discussing Parker's "punishment," when Nate called Parker over, she seemed to have that "revering" look that she had with Archie at the end of "The Inside Job." Does this mean that Parker has accepted Nate as her new tutor or is it more of the familial dynamic that the team has created?

    I think it's more that Beth Riesgraf admires Tim Hutton for his magnificent leadership and ... oh, never mind. I think it read more as a reserved attitude, sort of an emotional waiting space you can read a lot into.

    @Joe Helfrich: "You can hack anything with a battery, right? ... You now have 1 minute thirty seconds." This is how Parker flirts, isn't it?

    The poor boy is doomed.

    @LawMonkey: Interesting to see the 360 on the evil duo of evil (plus potential proto-Parker). Was that a first, or did we have a 360 on the 2 Live Crew Job?

    ... you know what? Great catch. I think that was a first.

    @Rebecca: Parker told Eliot she'd been a thief since she was 9. Now we find out she was boosting cars at 12 and was a getaway driver before that (sometime between ages 9 and 12). She was a pickpocket when she met Archie. How old was she when she met up with Archie? We know she lost a brother as a child, will we ever see what happened to her real parents and why she was in the foster system? In the pilot, did she blow up her real parents' home or her foster parents'?

    Remember, on Leverage you will never see Wolverine run into the woods in a poncey nightshirt. Or, for those of you who have lives, we will never nail down their backgrounds in one linear narrative. Although I will say those were (one set of) her foster parents she blew up in the pilot, I'm not going to confirm or deny that the boy who died was her real brother or one of her foster brothers.

    @Odie: I also enjoyed the final scene with the team eating together. Which leads to questions: 1.) why wasn't Eliot eating? 2.) In scenes like that, where they're all talking at once, or like the one where Nate told Sophie to stall, are their lines scripted, or do they just improvise? 3.) Who hit Eliot with the car?

    1.) He had his 500 calories for the day. 2.) It depends. They usually improv when so many of them are talking, it's very hard to script that. 3.) A drunken pensioner who then raced off to hider her sin.

    @Moxie: If Hardison's EMP gun was directionalized enough that it could disable the cars without disabling the auto-carrier, how is it that it knocked out Eliot's earbud (which was in the opposite direction)?

    The earbuds are more sensitive, and were closer to the gun. EM bleed. If he wore a watch, he would've noticed that it stopped. (And no, he doesn't ever wear a watch.)

    @BobRoland: John, First I wanted to thank you both for Leverage and the comic Blue Beetle. I took my son to a comic book store last week (he just caught the bug) and found back issues of the book. I bought them all, and both my son and I loved him. The humanity you brought to the character was refreshing.1.) I recall reading some talk about a live action Blue Beetle show. If there was such a show, would you ever have an interest in writing for Jamie again? 2.) About the episode, I loved it, but I had some concerns about the EMP gun. I get that technology in the Leverage universe is a bit more magical than in ours, but are you worried about having to explain away in future episodes why they just don't use this device on a regular basis? It seems to me that having access to a magic "make electronics not work for a half hour" device would we too easy a way out for many stories.

    1.) I'd love to write for Jaime again. We'll see what happens if the show goes forward. 2) The EMP gun has very specific uses -- and you will actually see it again.

    @jimbo: Brief question - was Gina saying "nicking" in the script, or her addition? On a similar note, do you have anyone in-house to help with the English slang or is it just Gina?

    "Nicking" was in the script, but we've had Sophie use the word before. There's probably a reason she prefers that word. Although our amazing Mary Mac helps with accents, we write the slang and Gina tells us if it's off or not.

    @Lily: I've noticed in all the episodes Eliot always gives Parker the fed up look or just the I can't stand you look. Eliot gave Hardison the high five for morale in the last episode so will there ever be a time when he actually supports/tolerates Parker?

    He and Parker have a very different, very professional relationship. if anything, he gets along with her better 80% of the time. Watch the pairing scenes when we break them off in episodes. Eliot always feels he has to keep an eye on Hardison. He relies on Parker.

    @Nina May: (question about Sophie's rings that is incredibly complex and well though out)

    Although Gina has Sophie wear different rings for different personas, I'm not sure it's as codified as you think it is. Kind of a halfway point between the methodology you posit and Gina and Nadine Haders coming up with what feels right for the persona.

    @jenks: I know this question should have come with the Inside Job, but we've now met at least one person from everyone's past except Hardison. Is that ever going to happen? (Please say yes. . . )

    Season 4

    @Katie: I'd like to chime in about when the heck we're going to get to see more of Sophie's background. In my head she's actually a girl from a very small, very poor mid-western town that chose an English accent and a French name to make herself feel more sophisticated. Far fetched I know, but I'm just throwing it out there, would explain a few things, most specifically how well she understands the American high school system. And also it makes me giggle a little. 1.) But for serious, when do we get to see her background story? 2.) Will we ever get to see more flashbacks of Nate chasing the team. If my memory serves we've only seen him actually chasing/catching Sophie, but it could be fun to see more of their past that led them together.

    1.) You got big hints of it in "The King George Job" as you know know. And she is, indeed, British. 2.) I think "Rashomon" counts, but we'll see what else comes up in S4.

    @babysmoke: Come to think of it, maybe I do have a question for Mr. Rogers. Has a crossover ever been tabled or carded for future shows/seasons? If yes, which shows have been tossed around?

    Well, the main problem is that all the other shows on TNT are made by giant studios, who may or may not want to play nice with our little indie studio, by which I mean the crazy guy financing the show. But yes, we've discussed it, and I'm not going to name names because I don't want to queer the deal if we try to do one for S4.

    @Katie: One more question, how much of Nate and Sophie's stalling fight (kneeing him was brilliant btw) was Sophie legitimately being pissed at him and airing her grievances while she had the chance? The comments about him being drunk and her paying made me think she was being serious. And what's with Sophie being violent with Nate lately? There's been a couple slaps and now a junk-shot. Oh, and was Sophie honestly pissed about him slapping her ass? Did Nate do it just to cop a feel? He seemed pretty unashamed about it...

    Sophie works Method.

    @Sullivan: Your twitter tease re. the "Saint" story is tantalizing. But, now I'm wondering if I can reread all of my Saint collection before the finale airs. Do you realize that there were over a hundred "Saint" stories? So can you narrow it down a bit? Was it post-Patricia Holm? Pre- or post-WW2? Was Teal or Fernack involved? Please don't keep us in suspense forever - as the bishop said to the actress.

    For those who don't know, I mentioned on Twitter that my half of the season finale is inspired by an old Simon Templar story -- hell, I think you can point to the Saint as a direct influence on the birth of Leverage. I will say the story is from later in the series.

    @Dawn?StL-MO" Has there ever been a scene you wrote that ended up being totally unworkable - one or two you would have loved to have pulled off?

    Most of the time we find ways to do at least SOME version of the scene. There are a few times where physical production stops us -- there was a zipline beat in the Christmas episode that was cut. But generally, no, we find a way to do almost everything, just to scale.

    @AMY:This is a more general question, but will we ever see how people come to find the Leverage team? You have episodes w/ victims from all over the place and I've always wanted to see at least one of them show how they found the crew.

    The Leverage team tends to find them, as mentioned in "The Homecoming Job". Hardison has trackers set up with both the news feeds and with legal aid departments, etc, that help them find clients.

    @Anna: 1. A 12-year-old as a getaway driver? Was that like the world's worst foster father (and most definitely the stupidest)? 2. Those laser transponder car thingies don't seem like they should've been around during Parker's stint as a car thief. I thought she was exclusively a diamond thief when she joined up, so does that mean she had a 'thief' relapse during her time with the crew? Or did she just steal cars and tell no one? 3. NLP again! Yay! Will we see other characters using this technique as well?

    1.) There have been dumber criminals. 2.) Parker stays up on her thief tech. She's a hobbyist at least in that stuff. 3.) That tends to be Sophie's territory. The rest lack the subtlety to use it.

    @Heather: what happens to the employees of the big corporations that the team takes down? Like the sexting dude from the wheat company or the receptionist that Eliot flirted with in the pilot. They were able to send the rival mom and pop salespeople to Tahiti or Hawaii or whatever, but they can't do that for everyone. Is this ever going to come back to bite them in the ass? Are they going to be contacted by someone who's been unemployed and gotten in debt and then find out the client lost their job because of something the team did?

    As I noted a while ago, they usually take down individuals. The times they've dinged a whole company is when the company itself has been based on a lie, and so is hurting the integrity of the free market system. (Don't snicker, I take that seriously). Sexting dude from the wheat company didn't lose his job, and even if he did, it was because of the layoffs already coming, not ones that the team initiated. Our guys drifted in behind those facts on the ground, using them for cover.

    That said, they've definitely left some collateral damage around them. They just see it as acceptable when considering the damage done by the bad guys. They may be wrong. They are not always very nice people.

    @mad: While I love happy endings the teacher just taking Josie on as a landscaping assistant was a little too neat...and somehow a little creepy. He just took the race car and the girl and was going back home to his family?? And Josie just blithely went along with him? There must have been a long conversation we weren't in on!

    Yes. A long, boring conversation devoid of drama, and hence unworthy of your valuable entertainment minutes.

    @Codger: And I just thought of a question from the way-back machine. In the pilot Nate was about to fly out of Chicago, which happened to be where Sophie was living and Nate knew where she was working. Was Nate in Chicago to try to work up the nerve to go see Sophie and chickened out before Dubenich came to hire him?

    No, but he certainly knew she was there. And if he got the job, well, no harm in calling...

    @lily: (1) to what extent was the emp gun based on feasible technology? and (2) was Eliot truly upset with Parker? i wasn't sure how much was him deciding that he was sick and tired of her being crazy and untrustworthy as opposed to him just being understandably pissed about getting hit by a car and giving her shit because it *was* her fault. and (3) did Sophie's talk with Nate actually influence his decision to give Parker a break? or did he appreciate for himself how significant Parker's screwup was in terms of her interpersonal skills?

    1.) See above. 2.) See above 3.) Sophie has a huge influence on Nate.

    @RevTrask: Wasn't there a big risk of another "Cousin Jimmy" complication cropping up? With Penzer's history as a race driver, it would seem as though he'd have had the sources and connections to check out Nate's cover.

    There's always that risk. But he did check out Nate, and this time Hardison's cover held.

    Crescent: Twice Parker says "Outta my way, you old bat!" and in the Gone Fishing Job the wallpaper on one of the computers Parker is using is a cat saying "Outta my way, you old bat!" Is this an in-joke with the writers?

    Nope, that's the computer guys having a bit of fun, having seen the upcoming script.

    @ACK: 1) Why did the car alarms not ring when the cars were initially stolen at the parking lot? 2) If they had the keys to begin with, why go through the scene of them breaking in and hotwiring the cars? 3) Why didn't the gun kill the big rig?

    1.) Because those were very ordinary alarms, and so easily circumvented by Parker. 2.) They didn't have all the keys. We just shortened the sequence/montage in the edit. 3.) Answered above.

    @Anonymous: Can Hardison hack a PS3? The whole "hack anything with a battery thing" got me thinking of the deemed unhackable device.

    Sure, but why?

    @Heather: 1-Hardison hacked Sterling's car in the Two Horse Job, so why was he so freaked out when Parker asked him to do his thing on the one in the Boost Job?
    2-If they had the keys, why did they have to break into all of those cars? Did they make the keys later, or yoink them from a valet board?

    1.) Sterling's hack wasn't that difficult, or carrying a death sentence 2.) answered above.

    @ChelseaNH: At the race track, Hardison reacts to Penzer's protest that no one could be his record by 15 seconds. Did the team put the bug on Penzer or his pit crew?

    Nope, the track guy.

    @Kris: Random question: That accent Sophie used when she was getting the dealership owners out of town--I guess I'd call it her go-to American accent? Is it supposed to be region-specific? Just curious. I don't have a great grasp on that sort of thing, and that's just one of my favorite Sophie voices. Something about it is very... not exactly calming or soothing, but reassuring, I guess? Definitely a voice you want to trust.

    No, not region-specific. Generic newscaster American. You'll see that when she's not doing a specific regional accent, she has about three she cycles through depending on the social status/con role of the person she's doing.

    Right, let's see if I can blow through another one of these tomorrow and at least get into double-digit episodes before the summer finale. As always, thanks for your time and attention.

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LEVERAGE #308 "The Boost Job" Post-Game

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Guest Post: No Idea Is Wasted: Nicola Morgan

    I am a big smug show-off because I have lots of writer-friends. But I almost never ask my friends to discuss their own books on my blog because it gets embarrassing when I don't like their books.

    There's no danger of that happening today. When the wonderful Nicola Morgan (who we all know, right?) asked me if I'd host one of the stops on her blog tour I was pleased to say yes because I knew it would be a good book; now I've read Wasted, I know that it's a fabulous one. Wasted is one of the best books I've read all year and if you feel even slightly put off by the idea of reading a book for young adults, don't be: if ever there was a crossover title, Wasted is it.

    Right. Nicola now owes me at least a tenner. Over to her.

    First, thanks so much to Jane for letting me visit her blog! [I should hope so too! -J] I've never done a blog tour and it feels like a lot of fun. Since Jane's blog is about publishing and how it works, I thought I'd say something about ideas and how they work before publication - and if any of you writers are at that horrible stage of feeling that your idea just isn't going to work or isn't going to be published, I hope you'll take heart from what I'm about to tell you.


    In theory, I don't believe that "everything has a purpose". In practice, I make damned sure it does.

    It was a simple chance event on a London underground station that got me thinking about luck, chance and randomness and led many years later to my new novel, Wasted. It wasn't an earth-shattering event but it got me thinking. Obsessively. So, I began a novel for adults - I'd two unpublished ones languishing already - about chance, quantum mechanics, and unpredictability, involving repeated multiple possibilities. The idea was that if there is a god - which I know there isn't - he will either play dice or at least have a lot of fun observing. But halfway through, a completely different idea hit me, this time for teenagers. I abandoned god and quantum

    That new idea became my first published novel, Mondays are Red. And then came others and suddenly I was a YA novelist and left the adult stuff behind. The other book lay half-written somewhere. But ideas are never wasted. They become other things. They strengthen the foundations of our writing lives. Sometimes, later, they seek sunlight. So, after 15 years, thedormant seed sown randomly in a London underground station began to grow and I began to write it. I didn't look at the first version because this one would be different. I was different by then, though still fascinated by chance and luck.

    A bit of my heart is in all my books, naturally, but Wasted has all of me. When I started it this second time, I didn't care about publication. I decided not to show my editor and or get my agent to ask for a contract. It was a case of, "If you like it, you can have it; if you don't, I'm writing it anyway and sod anyone else." This was my story and no one could stop me writing it.

    She loved it, as did my agent. It was a wonderful feeling: writing the book I always wanted to write. And although I want some people, enough people, any people, to love it too, the odd thing is that I slightly don't care if lots of people don't. Obviously, I hope readers don't say horrible things...

    I guess you want to know about the incident, the random event on a London Underground station? I had travelled from Edinburgh, where I live, to London for my first ever business-trip, first public-speaking event. (I was a dyslexia specialist then.) I'd done the event and my head was spinning; I was high on adrenaline and seeing things in a brighter light. For some reason which I will never understand, I decided to take a different underground route from the obvious one. So, I was on an escalator at Charing Cross station, when I should have been at Victoria.

    What happened was trivial really, the sort of thing that happens all the time: you see someone you know, somewhere they shouldn't be. So, I saw a friend from Edinburgh, on the same escalator. We were both shocked, laughed, and had that "fancy meeting you here, 350 miles from home" conversation. Nothing happened - we didn't have an affair or even a drink!

    Now, maybe it was my heightened adrenaline, something getting the creativity going, but I had a light-bulb moment, a kind of "thought experiment" which has absolutely obsessed me ever since. It was: "What if there was something like a god, who could observe every human and know everything about them; and what if he could see everyone passing and meeting and mostly not meeting and weaving unpredictably from place to place, NEVER aware how narrowly they had just missed an important encounter with someone they knew or someone who might influence their lives? What if humans could be tracked like radioactive particles, bobbing around in a kind of Brownian motion, in patterns, and that the god was sitting there cackling at the powerlessness of these poor humans as they went down that street or took that turning or missed that train or smiled at that person or had this thought caused by that sight or sound or breath of air on their face? What if he could show us all that, and we could observe the almost happenings, the near-misses, and if we could, just by observing, change the tiniest things that affect lives invisibly? And what if we could then tell the story of some of those things, show the inner workings of our world?"

    And that, essentially, is the idea behind Wasted. And if it hadn't been for that trivial coincidence on a London escalator, in my state of heightened adrenaline, I would never have written it.

    To all writers: when you have to give up an idea - if it wasn't working, didn't get published, whatever - it's not wasted. One day, you might see how to write it entirely differently, and better. If not, the seed can lie dormant for as long as it's needed, and when the right time comes you will find a way to grow it. Or if you don't, it will still strengthen you. So, never view an idea as wasted.

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Guest Post: No Idea Is Wasted: Nicola Morgan

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    TIANNA for Genlux Magazine
    Photography by CAROLINE SCHIFF
    Styled by SHARON MALONEY

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