A few years ago I went over to a South Beach hotel where Julian McMahon and Dylan Walsh were shooting some promo material for Nip/Tuck. We were chatting about some of the story lines for the upcoming season, which ones they liked and which ones they didn't, when Walsh -- who played Dr. Sean McNamara on the show -- began to get nervous. "I don't want to go down that road, acting like I'm running the show," he said before changing the subject. "Because then I might get a real surprise in the next script: 'Sean, standing on a corner, is suddenly run over by a runaway beer truck'."
It turns out that wasn't a fanciful fear. The Wall Street Journal has a fabulous story about how TV screenwriters use their scripts to avenge personal and professional slights. That bitchy high school girl who wouldn't give you a second look? Write her into Frasier as an alcoholic. A boss treated you badly? Put his name on a tombstone in The Sopranos. Michael Moriarty wants too much money on Law & Order? Wow, suddenly his character Benjamin Stone is resigning from the prosecutor's staff in disgrace. My absolute favorite was the writer who was crossed by comedian Elayne Boosler. And years later, a character on Boston Commonis have trouble with airport security after making a wisecrack about a bomb. "You're going to arrest me for telling a stupid joke?" he demands. "Then why don't you arrest Elayne Boosler?'"