An Earful of Loeb
Jeph Loeb joined the writing staff of Smallville, after its first season, with some impressive credentials. Not only had he blown open the doors of what you could do with Michael J. Fox and a bunch of hair in Teen Wolf, but he'd also helped to make Arnold Schwarzenegger a star with Commando (and however inadvertent it may have been, probably had something to do with the subsequent slang "going Commando"). Over the years, Loeb wrote extensively for comic books, including the acclaimed Superman storyline Superman For All Seasons. Sometime before now, he also hooked up with Joss Whedon to work on the Buffy animated series, which he left to work on Smallville. Jeph Loeb was in Austin for a commencement speech at St. Edward's University. (Omar's proposed speech title: "No Flight, No Tights, But You Can Still Follow Your Dreams!") Unfortunately, a planned short meeting didn't work out because of work commitments (Omar's, not Loeb's). Still, that didn't stop a lively email exchange of questions about the show in advance of his speech, in which Loeb proved to be gregarious and an awfully good sport:
Omar G: Not a lot of "Smalllville" fans know this, but you wrote the definitive teenage-basketball-player-who-happens-to-be-a-werewolf movie, Teen Wolf, in the 1980s. As a hirsute youngster myself, the film was nothing short of inspiring and helped me realize my dreams. Which is to say, "How did you first break into screenwriting?"
Jeph Loeb: I went to film school. I graduated from Columbia University both undergrad and graduate with a masters in Screenwriting. I moved to Los Angeles and started looking for work. My (then) writing partner Matthew Weisman and I wrote Commando on spec (for free as a writing sample), and it sold to 20th Century Fox with Joel "The Matrix" Silver producing. I always wondered if the name "The Matrix" had its origins in Arnold's character John Matrix! That same year (actually, it happened almost at the same time), a small production company that had made Valley Girl called and asked if I had any ideas for a teen comedy. I pitched them Teen Wolf. They paid us all of $4,000 to write the script in three weeks, we shot it in twenty days for $1.2 million, and it made $70 million around the world. Having two big hits in Commando and Teen Wolf got the career jump-started, and the rest came as it came. It's been a wonderful ride.