Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Relationship Management 201: Expanding the Web

It's Tuesday and school is back in session. That's right, time to talk about relationship management again.

Back in July and August I posted what I have learned about developing relationships through my career in a completely different field. The lessons I've learned are easily applied to networking in Hollywood and I decided to share those realizations. The articles were well received -- I got a lot of positive comments and e-mails about them but I didn't feel I had enough to say to warrant another post. Time passes, and I've learned a little more in these last few months. Hopefully it will be of some use to you.

I do recommend reading the other posts first if you haven't already, simply to have an understanding of what I've covered in the past. I called this '201' because I do feel like this is about taking it to the next level. Once you start practicing the advice I've already given, you'll be ready to 'expand the web'.

Okay, so first, let me tell you about what I've been up to the last few months in regard to relationship management. I have my 'finger file', basically a Word document where I keep information about all of my screenwriting related contacts. I recently reviewed my entire file and updated it with new fields of information. It started to get a little more robust, so I decided to move it to Excel (if it gets too much larger I'll have to create an Access database!) What information am I collecting? I know it sounds weird, but you tend to forget things about people. If a computer file seems too complicated, get a recipe box and index cards -- it serves the same purpose. On each card (or in each row of your excel document) put the following basic information:

  • Contact's Name
  • Contact's address or e-mail address (I try to use both if I have them)
  • Contact's phone number(s)
Those are the basics. No matter what else you do, you need to list the contact and how to get in touch with them. Here are some of the other pieces of info I collect, if I can:
  • Contact's profession
  • Contact's agent or manager or boss (if it is an assistant)
  • Contact's birthday
  • Contact's family names (spouse and kids, if applicable)
I'll tell you why I collect those last two items in a minute. You may notice that I haven't put any projects related to these contacts in my file. This information is readily available on IMDB if they are a working writer, producer, etc. If the contact is NOT yet a professional (meaning paid for their work) I may note that information on the card, along with the names of any projects they are working on. I try to keep this miscellaneous info to a minimum, unless I cannot find it easily by searching on the web.

The birthday and family names information is someting I learned to do in college. I'm pretty good at putting faces to names, but I don't always remember who is married, who has kids, etc. I have 6 cousins and they all have 2+ kids each. Every year I have to learn the names of all these kids running around when I go home for the holidays and it is exhausting to remember them all. Imagine trying to do that with all of the contacts you have! You want to have things other than screenwriting to talk with your contact about. When you engage them in conversation you want to ask about his/her spouse ("How is Kathy?") or kids. If you want to be really good at this, I recommend starting to log information like hobbies, the school the person went to, the kids' ages, and anything significant about that contact ("Been golfing lately, I know you love to go to Pebble Beach.") For people you know very well, you may not need the file, but for those contacts you don't have a really close relationship with, it can mean the difference in how you build rapport with someone. If you are up for a job along with other candidates, who do you think the person is going to feel more comfortable with, the person who just answers questions or the person who engages in conversation, asks questions which get the contact talking about his or her activities and life? Yes, this works in ANY profession.

So, how much is too much? Don't be a stalker. You don't need to know everything. Again, each contact is different, collect the information you feel is valuable.

For example, I recently visited a new colleague (day job again) and had never met this person before. I was looking for something to talk about with him and scanned his office for clues (this is something that is critical in job interviews and meetings with people in their offices). I noticed that this colleague had a large photo of a sports stadium on the wall. When I looked closer, I recognized it as the football field of my alma mater! Instantly I had a connection with this person. I mentioned the school to him and that I had also attended and we were able to strike up a good 5-10 minute conversation just about the school. If I hadn't attended the school, I could have asked him about football, since he had a picture of the field and must like sports. Either way, it was something I could note about this person and use to break the ice and build rapport with him.

Clues to look for in an office: pictures of family and/or pets, trophies and awards, anything related to hobbies, etc.

What if you aren't in an office? How else can you collect information? Well, the obvious answer is to LISTEN to the person. Do they mention a wife? Ask a follow up question about her (what's her name, what does she do, etc). Does the contact have an assistant? Talk to the assistant (always) and learn their name. When you visit your contact or call, make sure to take time to converse with the assistant too -- this person is the gatekeeper to your 'key' contacts and you want them on your side, maybe even mentioning you or talking about you to their boss (in a good way). Besides, that assistant may someday be a creative exec. Wouldn't it be nice to have a good relationship with that person already?

Okay, so you have your finger file. Now what?

Now you build the web.

Some people may be able to do this on a computer, but I actually do this one the old fashioned way -- on paper. Visio would be the best tool for this exercise.

The purpose of the web is to show connections between yourself and your contacts. Sometimes you meet people through associations with existing contacts. Other times you will realize that you know two contacts through different means, but those contacts know each other. The best way to see these connections is to make a map, or a web. You may want to keep IMDB or Google handy for this exercise, but typically the web grows over time -- as you learn more about your contacts!

Let's start simple. You know a working writer. Let's say he's a writer on a TV show named Ned. You start with yourself in the center of the web. I usually box or circle the names on my web. Draw a line, like a spoke, from the circle around your name to Ned's name on the web. Leave lots of white space around it like this:

By the way, these should be first/last names, but for the purpose of this demo, I've just used first names. So, now you have a connection to Ned in your web. Now, let's say that Ned knows another contact of yours, Joel, but they do not work together (this is important). Send a dotted line from Ned to Joel's circle, like this:

If they work together in some capacity, use a solid line. Now, here's the fun part of expanding the web. Let's say there's someone you want to know in the future through that contact, someone they know well or work with. You add that person on another level of the web with a blue line:

You continue to build your web like so. You can create your own legend, color coding, etc to read it, but you want to include your contacts, their relationships to each other and to people you want to know. Sometimes your web can start looking like this:

That's okay if it does look a little confusing -- it's just a visual representation of the connections between people. I use it as a map to see who is well connected and who may provide me with a way to meet other people. This is targeted relationship building. Most of the people you meet may be quite random, this is a tool to help you control how you build relationships a little better. I have been able to use it to some success this year and hope to improve my methods in the next few months.

This is pretty long, so I'll follow up with some additional information in another post. Until then, start your finger file and your web!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Dreaming

It's that time of year when I, like many others, turn introspective, pondering what has passed in the last twelve months, thinking about the next twelve and what may come. We start to formulate our 'resolutions' for next year. Of course, first, there's the holiday of your choice to survive -- in my case, Christmas.

My parents kept badgering me about what I wanted for Christmas this year. Sometimes they forget that I'm a grown woman who doesn't need to be showered with presents, like I did when I was eight. Still, I know they like to keep up tradition (and in all honesty, so do I), but I was at a loss as to what I wanted materially for Christmas this year. I'd already gotten a box of brads from my sister and I had bought myself a new laptop last month. I don't often have time or inclination to listen to music so an iPod or other mp3 player would be wasted on me. I tried to think what I wanted and I kept coming up empty.

But there are things I want for Christmas. They just happen to be things my parents can't buy me in a store.

I want to become a better writer. Sure, they could buy me more screenwriting books and software, but those things won't make me a better writer. Only writing and more writing on my part will get me what I want.

I'd also like to stop being a procrastinator. It's been my lifelong bad habit, wait until the last minute, work like mad to meet a deadline...I envy people who get their work done with time to spare. Maybe someday...

I'd like a Mustang. Parents aren't going to buy me that one, and I've just paid my Sentra off, so I won't be buying one either for quite a few years yet.

I'd like to see less bitterness, hatred and spite. I'm pretty proud of the fact that I don't hold these kinds of emotions myself, but I see it everywhere around me. L.A. is a cynical town and it can be hard to keep these kinds of negative emotions at bay and some folks have just given up the fight.

I'd like to get an agent. Again, something that won't be gift-wrapped under the tree. This one I'll get myself when I have my second spec ready to roll.

I'd like more time with friends. Sometimes it feels like I barely have time to e-mail, call or visit with the few friends I have. I was blessed with meeting a lot of new people this year, and I hope to develop some long lasting friendships with many of these folks. Hopefully I'll find more time in the next year to nuture those friendships.

I'd also like to quit being president of the HOA. Ain't gonna happen, unless by some miracle, one of the new owners decides to take a crack at it.

Finally and most importantly, I wish for all of you to get the things you want and need. Regarding screenwriting, may your cool idea develop into a great story to tell and may your great story become a fantastic screenplay.

Merry Christmas to all. And for those of you not celebrating the day, happy holidays to you. I'll be off tomorrow, but articles should pop up every day next week.

God bless us, every one.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have

I used to hear this at the office all the time -- if you want to move up the ladder, you have to act like you already have the job on the rung above you before they'll think you can have it.

This also applies to screenwriting.

I appreciate all of the comments and encouragement regarding my recent 'rejection', but let's face it...contests aren't writing jobs. Contests don't make careers...well, maybe the Nicholl, but that's different. No, if I want to be a working writer, I have to BE a working writer...even if I'm not being paid for it. I have to "dress" for the job I want, not the job I have.

I do not want to be perceived as a hobbyist or amateur. I am not those things. I am a working writer who is not yet being paid to write. The more I reinforce that for myself, the more likely I am to actually become a paid writer.

Have a game plan. Don't just write your spec, figure out what you are going to do with it.

In my most recent class, I was asked to list the 5 things I was going to do in the next year to work toward my career goal (and of course, I had to state that goal). Fortunately, I could think of more than 5 things I was going to do, but the benefit of this exercise is it gives you small goals to achieve. So, in 2006, I'll be doing the following:

  • Writing a 'Cold Case' spec
  • Rewriting my 'Lost' spec
  • Continuing to maintain and make new contacts in TV and film which can help me...
  • Get an agent.
  • Meanwhile, I'll keep writing. I'll finish my pilot spec this year.
What is your gameplan? If you are working on a spec, when do you want to finish it? When do you want to rewrite it? When do you want to send out query letters or the script itself. Stop preparing for contests that may get you nowhere in terms of a writing career...unless, that's your interest. If you are writing just to enter writing contests, well, then, you are on a different path. If you are writing because you want to BECOME A PAID WRITER, you need a plan.

Screenwriting isn't a hobby for me, and I'm no longer going to treat it as such. What are you going to do?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Rejected from Writer's Arc

Just got my rejection call. Unfortunately, my cell didn't ring, so I got their voicemail. Probably just as well.

I'll write more later... good luck to the others!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Odds and Ends

Today is the last day for any real business in Hollywood. It will turn into a ghost town after the weekend. Since there won't be much news to post, I have some articles I've been writing just to fill the lull in news commentary.

Next week while Hollywood assistants get their (probable) only vacation of the year and the bigwigs go to Aspen or Mexico or where ever they go, you'll be able to read up on the following:

  • What I want for Christmas. In case you were wondering.
  • Rundown and Review of the Various Screenwriting Forums/Message Boards
  • Networking 201 - how to expand your web
  • Special end of year review of the major script purchases -- what trends have developed this year?
  • Midseason Report -- What's coming in January

Of course on Monday I'll get the VERDICT on the Writer's Arc Fellowship, so come back late Monday/early Tuesday for all the scoop on my fate. Hope everyone has a great holiday and please leave any information you are dying to have here in the comments...want an update on a particular show? Need to know what I'm up to? Need the snow report in Illinois (where I'll be until the new year)? Maybe you just want to say hi, do it here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Glimmer of hope for Arrested Development

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Showtime is interested in picking up 'Arrested Development' from Fox, if Fox really does shut down the show, as it has strongly indicated. Variety also reports that ABC has shown interest in picking up the show.

Hopefully this is not false hope, but it sounds like the talks are happening for the show to get a new life elsewhere.

Hey, it happened for 'Family Guy' -- why not?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Pitching in a sedan

To begin this tale, I'll start with my preparations for my interview for the Writer's Arc Fellowship.

First, I scoured the 'net. I have a post I've been working on (and will hopefully finish in time for my holiday break next week) about the various screenwriting forums (Wordplay, Done Deal, Artful Writer and Two Adverbs) and their pros and cons. I found that one of the previous fellows who kept a partial journal on the Writer's Arc website kept a more detailed and comprehensive journal on one of these forums. I then proceeded to read EVERY POST he wrote regarding his entry to and experience in the program.

That was Saturday.

There are pieces of my strategy and preparation I will not reveal, because I don't want some other resourceful finalist (who isn't one of my scribosphere friends) stealing all my ideas. This IS a competition after all.

However, there are relevant pieces to this story. Let's just say that the former Fellows names were published, easy to find, and I MIGHT have contacted one of them to get some insight into the process.

Oh yeah, I'm ruthless. Take no prisoners.

On Sunday I talked to former Fellow who was not the journaling guy, mostly e-mail though we had a brief phone conversation on Friday. Found out what I needed to know.

Sunday I went to Creative City Cafe and worked on my pitches.

I'll post all the details of how I constructed my pitches next week, particularly if my method nets me a fellowship (otherwise, I'll be posting my method for feedback on how I could have improved it).

Finally, on Monday night I met with good, trusted screenwriting friend (and blogger) who I will not name because he might not want me to. Anyway, he let me try my pitches out on him, he gave me feedback and helped me figure out what order to pitch my ideas.

So, I spent a lot of time working on my pitches, preparing for this pitch meeting.

Monday afternoon the Writer's Arc sponsors called me.

Hi, this is the Writer's Arc. Is this Shawna?

Yes, hi! How are you?

Good, I was calling to see if we could move up your interview tomorrow.

Milisecond of panic. Can hear a pin drop.

Sure, when would you like to move it to?

(In my head: 'please don't say today, please don't say today...')

Are you available an hour earlier, at 11 AM?

Of course! (In my head, I hope I don't have a meeting!')

Great, we'll talk to you tomorrow at 11.

Looking forward to it! (Crap.)

I had a 10 AM meeting, which I don't really remember much of because I kept looking at my Blackberry to see what time it was. My perfect plan for the noon pitch was to go out to my car in the parking lot, give myself some time to get into the right frame of mind, and casually scan my notes before the call starts.

What actually happens:

The meeting hasn't ended and it is 11:02. The phone is going to ring, I KNOW it is going to ring. 11:03. PHONE RINGS. Crap!! I answer -- false alarm, it's a work related thing, but it gives me the excuse I need to jump out of my chair, dart out of the conference room without even giving my boss a glance and head out to my car. Meanwhile I'm on the phone with this lady who wants to schedule a 12:30 meeting and can I call in for it...look lady, I'm waiting for a very important call, I'll give you the moon if you will just hang up RIGHT NOW. Instead I said, "yes, sounds great, talk to you then, thankyouverymuchgoodbye."

11:05 I'm in the elevator, headed down from the 9th floor, and WE ARE STOPPING ON EVERY FLOOR.

11:06 I look like some weirdo rushing through the lobby of the office building as I head to the parking deck. I take the steps two at a time, which, by the time I reach the 3rd level, I realize is really really STUPID, since I'm about to take a phone call with people and very much need to sound like I have not just run up 5 flights of stairs.

11:08 I'm in my car. I pull out my laptop and load up my pitch notes. The sun is shining brightly into my car and the screen on my laptop is pretty dim, so I mess with my coat, trying to drape it over the back of my seat the block out the light, and fail miserably. Can't sit the laptop on my lap because it is too wide in the driver's seat. Had I been thinking, I might have considered sitting on the passenger side, but I had just run up 5 flights of stairs and hadn't really given a lot of thought to how I should sit in my car.

11:13 I accidently shut down my computer. Reboot, relaunch...now I'm thinking I'm near the zone, they are going to call any second. Though it is nice out, my car has heated up and I start sweating.

11:18 I finished scribbling some last minute reminders to myself, things I want to make sure I mention and I keep glancing at the time on my Blackberry. Panic sets in. Maybe they have the wrong number? What if they tried to call when I was in the elevator but I didn't have a signal? Maybe I have the time wrong? The day wrong? Maybe they aren't calling me at all and it is all part of an elaborate joke? I try to shake off the nervous thoughts by playing Spider Solitaire, but it is hard with the touchpad when your finger is shaking slightly.

11:20 Phone rings. I'm on. Showtime. And it is like I'm back in high school, ready to go out on stage during the play. I drop my panic like a bad habit and close up the solitaire. I segue into my chitchat and eventually the pitch.

Total call time: 32 minutes and 22 seconds.

The pitching went well, I think. I know I didn't completely bomb out and I didn't sound like a blithering idiot, but oddly I felt I started strong and ended weak, which sucked, because I saved my best pitch for last and I felt I muffed it, I know I've pitched that story better. Sucks.

Good news: I ask how many Fellows...could be more than 5! All depends on how the interviews go. They felt they could handle a group of 6 or 7, which is good news for all of the interviewees. Confirmed that the program is 16 weeks.

So now, we wait...until Monday. My aunt told my mom that she put in a good word for me with God this week, so I've got that going for me.

Thanks again to everyone for the encouragement. Win or lose, I feel pretty darn good about myself, particularly as this was my first time entering a feature screenplay contest of sorts. Nicholl here I come! :-)

Weeds gets second season

Weeds, the hour long Showtime series got some Golden Globe love today and as a result is renewed for a second season.

I may go ahead and add this to the watchlist. Congrats, comedy writers, you now have a different show to spec!

More Globes

The official Golden Globes site listing of nominations (including TV).

Apparently they had no room at the inn for '24', 'House', or 'Deadwood' as best dramas...

Golden Globe Nominations

Can be found here. I'll have commentary later.

Today is my pitch for Writer's Arc (at 11 AM). I'll report back this afternoon!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Posting a page.

Per Red Right Hand's Page Posting Challenge, I post page one of my 'House' spec below. But, I'm gonna do one better -- I'm posting a link to the 10 pages I wrote for Round One of the Writer's Arc fellowship, in .pdf. I hope you enjoy it.

To set the stage for those pages, the rules were to write a 5-10 page scene including the specific character names, a location of 'station' and an object 'board' somehow had to be worked into the scene. (oh, note to parents and family -- I used a bad word in my pages. I hope you'll forgive me if I win a Fellowship. The rest of you, don't judge me.)

Films to warm your cockles...if you have them.

Kira posted her favorite holiday/Christmas films, and I responded, not realizing I had a long list myself. So, I decided to cross post my comment here with appropriate hyperlinks to Amazon...

Yes, yes, we all love the obvious Christmas traditions (Grinch (animated), Ralphie, Rudolph, Alistair Sim's Scrooge, Ernest Saves Christmas...okay, maybe not the last one), but how about some of the more obscure or less celebrated Christmas movies? Here's my list of required viewings in the lead up to December 25.

Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas (1977)-- this Henson production is still one I love. Just try to listen to Ma Otter sing 'When Mountain Touches the Valley' and not tear up.

One Magic Christmas (1985) -- another one for the heartstring tugging. Mary Steenburgen plays a grinchy mom who with the help of her kids and Harry Dean Stanton as a guardian angel learns to love Christmas again. Love it, love it.

The Christmas that Almost Wasn't (1966) -- this one is hard to find. We discovered this one as kids when they would play it on that new cable outfit HBO. Dubbed from Italian with a couple of Americans involved, it is trippy and tunefully wonderful.

Mystery Science Theater presentation of "Santa Claus" (not the Dudley Moore atrocity by the same name) (Santa Claus, 1959, MST, circa 1995) -- this Mexican film is horrible, but who can possibly resist the showdown between the devil and Santa Claus? Santa's use of child workers in his workshop is a little unsettling, as are the maniacally laughing wind up reindeer which pull his sleigh. The MST episode is best known for it's "Politically Correct Christmas Song" which is now a holiday favorite in my household.

Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) -- this can be enjoyed starting at Halloween right on until Christmas.

White Christmas (1954) -- Holiday classic starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. My sister and I love it for the Rosemary Clooney/Vera-Ellen duet of 'Sisters'

A Christmas Carol (1984) -- made for TV with George C. Scott...I know Alistair Sim is the best Scrooge, but I can't help but love George C. Scott who doesn't really try for a British accent, but still is wonderfully Scroogy.

Mickey's Christmas Carol (1983) -- Because who doesn't love Mickey Mouse as Bob Crachitt?

Blackadder's Christmas Carol (1988) -- If you don't know Blackadder, then you don't know that this is the Christmas Carol tale turned on its head. And it is wonderful.

Honorable mentions to John Denver's Christmas with the Muppets and Christmas Eve on Sesame Street which I have fond memories of, but I can't say I watch them really any more...though I did buy the Sesame Street one on DVD last year...

Add your own favorites below (I could have mentioned Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, but I just don't enjoy it much).

Breaking! Night Stalker may stalk again on Sci-Fi!

Wow, I feel cool -- I've never really had breaking news before...this is SO breaking, I don't even have a link for it yet. Well, I sorta do. This morning's Cynopsis (a great TV resource, if you don't get the newsletter or podcast, sign up!) reports this morning that Sci-fi Channel may sign a deal with ABC to show all 9 episodes (only 7 aired on ABC before it got spiked) AND it could end up getting new episodes ordered for Sci-Fi for the summer.

Once news is confirmed, I'll add a link.

UPDATE 12/13: Story finally confirmed. Link here.

TV writers rejoice!

Ken Levine has a blog! (Who is Ken Levine? Get thee to IMDB, neophyte!)

Oh, and the man knows how to get his blog out there...just check around the scribosphere and EVERYBODY knows about him. Good going, man.

Update: Link to IMDB fixed (thanks Tom).

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Short Story Contest

Wanna win a t-shirt? Paul Guyot is holding a short story writing contest. Winners will be decided by the blog readers.

Flex your storytelling muscles!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Made it to the Finals!

...of the Writer's Arc Fellowship. Now to pitch 5 story ideas. Of course, I know I have tough competition in this round (I see you fellow scribosphere finalists!!)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Partly sunny

You are all magnificent people. I thank you all for reading, commenting, emailing me regarding my last post. I was definitely a little bummed about not making it in either program, but you all jumped to make me feel better, and for that I'm grateful.

I am a realist. Yes, contests are subjective in nature, but I know when my skills aren't at a level to really compete and stand out in this arena. I believe wholeheartedly that I WILL be a professional writer. I know I am still growing as a writer right now.

I'm not letting the rejection get me down. I'm back, ready to write, ready to improve, ready to rumble.

As I said, you are all magnificent people. I won't forget the generosity of kind words you bestowed upon me. Today I feel a part of the screenwriter brother/sisterhood.

Friday, December 02, 2005

What can I learn from rejection?

Since this is going to be a staple of my screenwriting diet from here on out, I figure it's a good idea to think about how I'm going to approach the acceptance of rejection.

I know, it isn't personal. That's rule number one. Divorce yourself from your feelings. The rejection of your script is not a rejection of you as a person. It's your material.

The biggest challenge with the Disney/WB rejections is I have no idea why my script was rejected. Was it unitersting? Did I not emulate the show well? Was it the writing, the story, the dialogue...? Did the reader have a bad day, not know the show that well...? I only know two things:

1. My script was not as good as others.
2. See #1.

See, I really only know ONE thing. I know it wasn't as good as others. I still don't know the why. Sure, I can guess at the why (I freely acknowledge that my 'House' spec is far superior to my 'Lost' spec because I wrote Lost first. Had I finished House in time for those deadlines, I would have submitted it instead. But then, it wouldn't have been as good, since I learned from writing the 'Lost' and applied those learnings to the 'House'), but I won't know REALLY WHY.

It doesn't really matter too much in this case, since I'm planning to rewrite the 'Lost' spec anyway, but it would be nice to know.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Newsflash! NBC not dead yet!

NBC has set their winter schedule. Joey goes on hiatus (and will probably play out its last episodes come March) and Will & Grace bumps to the 8PM slot (so family friendly!) followed by some new sitcom at 8:30. Earl moves in at 9 and The Office also slides to Thursday at 9:30. Scrubs will have 2 new episodes aired back to back on Tuesday night followed by Fear Factor.

The Donald will return after the Olympics. Joey can now be considered MIA, presumed on death's door.

Huzzah! NBC may almost compete with Survivor/CSI!


Got my rejection letter from the Warner Bros. Workshop yesterday, and since it's been a couple of weeks since people got calls from Disney, I'm guessing I'm out there too.

Oh well, always next year...

...still waiting to hear back on the Writer's Arc. The website says we'll hear Dec. 5, so keeping my fingers crossed.

Fox finally stops toying with NBC, cancels Killer Instinct

Fox announced its Jaunary schedule and there is some good news in there for NBC.

'American Idol' will stay on Tuesday/Wednesday nights. More surprising was Fox's decision to keep 'House' on Tuesday (it was originally supposed to move to Monday after 24) and 'Bones' will air out of the 'Idol' results show on Wednesday. 'Prison Break' will be paired with 24 on Monday starting in March. Before it comes back Fox will be showing its ABC inspired 'Skating with Celebrities' (Mediaweek also has a story).

NBC can now with good conscience move 'My Name is Earl' to Thursday night, kicking Joey to another time slot or to hiatusland. CBS smiles, knowing that the Survivor/CSI juggernaut probably stopped Fox from moving American Idol to Wednesday/Thursday. While there may be room for the two giants of reality programming on one night, it's best not to tempt the TV gods.

UPDATE: Fox is so sneaky! I had to read the article AGAIN to catch that they have indeed cancelled "Killer Instinct". It's last episode will air Dec. 2. Watch List will be updated and bumped...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


My brain's going a million miles a minute tonight. Can't seem to slow down and get myself to bed.

I'm sitting at this crossroads trying to figure out what to do next. I suppose the wise course is to wait until Dec. 5 when I'll know if I've made the cut to the final round of the Writer's Arc fellowship. But, my brain is spinning with all these ideas, things to do...but I can't focus on one...I keep flitting around from idea to idea, like one neuron firing right after another, never stopping long enough to really work through a story.

Look, over here's the graphic novel idea you have...

...and over here a comic series (both to be turned into features someday)...

...but wait, what about that half finished comedy you have lying around...

...nope, work on the horror spec...

...or the dramedy...

...or the new TV spec...

...or rewrite the other one you have...

...or the pilot, you must work on the pilot...

...or the [blank]...

Nope, just swirling around in the eddy of imagination, spiriling down into the pool of paralysis.

Okay, now I can go to sleep. Maybe. I'll do a crossword puzzle.

Reunion and Hot Properties join the Graveyard

Here I am, your harbinger of cancelled shows...ABC and Fox finally pulled the plug on "Hot Properties" and "Reunion" respectively. They are cancelled, not renewed, no back nine pickup, ex-parrots.

Read for yourself at Hollywood Reporter.

Watch List updated and bumped. Aren't too many shows left for the fall season. I'll be adding the mid-seasons to the list before too long...

Monday, November 28, 2005

The trouble with NBC

TVWeek has a great article on the woes of the Peacock Network (the article may be subscription only, but subscription to the site is free).

Here are some things we learn from the article about the current state of affairs at NBC:

  • NBC ordered six new episodes of "Three Wishes" and then cancelled the order days later when CBS moved "Close to Home" into the Tuesday 9PM timeslot. (yes, I need to update the Watch List with this info). "Three Wishes" isn't yet cancelled, but there is some confusion as to the state of the show.
  • NBC's 10PM shows (which provide the lead-in to local affiliates' news programs) ratings are down 35% in the 25-54 Demo this year. Bad news for the affiliates.

Mediaweek reports today about the midseason schedules of the nets, and in particular the problems Fox is causing for everyone else. Fox is debating moving "American Idol" to Wednesday/Thursday from its current schedule of Tuesday/Wednesday. If the results show is moved to Thursday, it would definitely cause problems for CBS. NBC is mulling over moving "My Name is Earl" to Thursday nights, where it would be killed by the Idol juggernaut. So, until Fox makes a final decision on where Idol lands, NBC waits them out to decide how to program the rest of the season.

Poor NBC, can't catch a break.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Blogroll adds for November

It's nearing the end of the month, so I've got some backlogged adds to make to the blogroll...

Lots to choose from. You people keep making blogs! Of course, the rules around here are you get linked a) if you link to me first (I'm all about sharing the love) or b) I've been reading you regularly for at least 2 weeks or c) you e-mail me and ask to be added.

In all cases the same rule applies: Post or you're toast! I've been kind to some folks, but those of you who insist on letting your blogs stagnate will find yourself off the SITW blogroll if you neglect entertaining me for more than 30 days (exceptions are made for those who at least warn people of an absence).

Okay, with the rules out of the way, let's see who we have this month:

Want to learn about running marathons and someone's efforts at becoming a writer? Read Chad Darnell's Untitled Project.

Tim Clague in the U.K. writes and has been nominated for a BAFTA. That's a real award, people!

Julie O. is my friend. She is very cool and I've met her! It's true! A blogger I have met that doesn't live in Los Angeles...oh and she writes like a woman on fi-yah.

I'm a big supporter of Dave's shirt, so I guess that makes me a supporter of Dave's blog.

I'm a nearly daily visitor to Silly Pipe Dreams and to The Big Woo. Good blogs, funny people.

People I met at the Screenwriting Expo Blogger meet up but for some reason didn't link to their blogs before: Ras and Writergurl.

Two Scribosphere favorites I have not meant to leave off the list but have been unintentionally neglected: Velociraptors on the Space Shuttle and Julie Goes to Hollywood (things they don't tell you in film school).

Finally, because they link to me: Dave Grubber, Hollywood Fun Camp, Matt Courtney, Danny Stack (in the UK), John Cairns (another Canuck), Write Brother and Brett in Texas.

Okay, that's a lot of adds for this month. Hopefully that takes care of most of my backlog. If I've left you off the addlist, e-mail me and let me know so I can get you on next month.

Follow the rules kids! Blogs are serious commitments, not frivilous ways to procrastinate...oh, wait.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Goin' home to Los Angeles

Boarding my plane in a few minutes. Looking forward to getting back home.

Warren, go ahead and spec 'Entourage'. May not help too much with getting a drama job, but I hear the comedy writers are speccing it because they don't have much to choose from.

And who knows, maybe there are some drama shows reading 'Entourage...'?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Alias and Threshold get their walking papers.

Found the story on Yahoo! News...Alias will end its 5 year run in May. The last line of the article mentions that CBS is pulling the plug on Threshold, so it is cancelled, axed, ceased to be, and any other search term you folks are plugging in to find the news.

Watch List will be updated with the latest victim.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Screenwriter connection

** Bumping to top while I'm on vacation. I'll try to post while I'm away, but hey, use the next week to meet new people!

I get a lot of visitors. Not John August levels or Artful Writer hits, but I get my fair share.

So, I want to help my visitors.

I also notice a lot of people from the same areas of the country cruising through. It occurred to me that many of you may be virtual neighbors and may not even know it.

I hearby start the SITW Screenwriter "Groupmatching" Project.

Here's how it works:

Post a comment below with your region of the country. You do not need to post your e-mail address, but if you want to, feel free. Consider this a bulletin board where you can possibly find others who are working in your genre, medium (TV or Feature), or live in your area that may be interested in swapping scripts. Here's an example for me, if I were going to comment on my post:

My name is Shawna and I'm located in Los Angeles. I am primarily focused on writing TV specs, but I also have several feature projects in various stages of development (well, my mental development) and I am working on a TV pilot idea. I'd be interested in meeting other writers, need not be located in Los Angeles, who share my interests. Will read specs and provide minimal notes.

Now, you might have a specific interest or maybe you are trying to get a writer's group going in Pittsburgh (hey, why not?) Let people know below! If I get a lot of comments on this post, I'll keep it bumped to top (right near the Watch List) to aid people in finding other writers to collaborate with, trade scripts for notes or just talk to.

It's an experiment. Let's see where it goes. Who's first? Don't be shy, now's your chance to put some of that networking advice I've given you to good use!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Close to Home gets full season, Threshold waits decision

So, Threshold might have to get bumped to the 'on the fence' category if CBS keeps putting off the decsion to order a full season. Meanwhile, Close to Home benefited from Threshold's former time slot on Friday night and was able to improve the ratings after The Ghost Whisperer. So, Watch List will be updated...

Hollywood Reporter has the story.

Friday, November 18, 2005


So, my spec is done for the Writer's Arc Fellowship Round Two. Here's hoping...

So, now what, you ask? Well, I'm polishing my rewrite of my 'House' spec (which, those of you who offered to read it, I'll be sending it to you soon). Next up is a rewrite of my 'Lost' spec, and I'll be starting a new TV spec, probably of a cop procedural. Not tellin' which one yet...

As far as features go, I'm going to continue working on my outline for Sleeper Cell (yes, I know Showtime has a show on soon with that title...I'm keepin' my title for now). I also have a side project with a co-writer, which should be fun.

If I should make it to the Final round of the Writer's Arc, I need 5 ideas to pitch. I think I have 3 solid ones now, and I'll be working on 2 more...just in case, you know...

So, I'm booked up for awhile. I'll be out of town next week, but I'll try to keep the blog current. I have a couple of articles I'm cookin' up and hope to finish so I can throw them out any time I'm away and still have some current content.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Expo 4 Pictures

Warren has more pics at his site, but here were the ones taken with my camera...

What? Who's this? Why, it's Nathan Fillion, my future boyfriend. (Matt Damon isn't returning my calls since he got engaged.) This man is so damn handsome. And I got his autograph.

No one was around to snap a picture of me, so I did it myself. Hey, I promised Dave Olden photographic evidence that I wore his shirt at the Expo. I got a lot of compliments on it and one prominent vendor even asked if Dave would like to sell his t-shirts in their store.

The Scribosphere meetup. It's okay to be jealous, but next time, join us!

Prison Break Accountant found Dead

UPDATE: The guy who died was not a producer, as previously reported, but rather the accountant for the show (IMDB credits support that, even though Prison Break wasn't listed in his credits).

(Hat Tip: Defamer)

Matthew Houbrick was found dead in his Chicago hotel room yesterday, apparently of a drug overdose.

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter...

So I'm working on my rewrite to submit my script for Round 2 of the Writer's Arc Fellowship.

If you are in any way connected with this fellowship, please stop reading now.

Okay, now that they're gone, let me tell you, this script is a MESS. I wrote it when I barely knew what I was doing. Dialogue is clunky. Narratives aren't vivid enough, my protagonist lacks clear definition as a character, some beats no longer play right in my head...

I can't do this in 4 days. Can. not. This makes me sad. I want it to be this other thing, and I can't make it that thing, not for this.

I'm hoping I can get it to a better state, but it is no where near good. I guess if there's a happy note in this, it's that I know what to do to make it good, I just lack the time.

This sucks.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Night Stalker Cancelled, E-Ring given full season

So, another one bites the dust. Hollywood Reporter gives the (scant).

People's Choice Awards are stupid.

I just looked at my options for voting in the People's Choice Awards. Just when you think the Emmys or the Oscars get it wrong, you see what comprises this year's nominees for the PCAs and realize, maybe we're too hard on the academies. Take a look:

Favorite New Comedy

  • Everybody Hates Chris
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • My Name is Earl
Favorite New Drama
  • Commander in Chief
  • Criminal Minds
  • Prison Break
Favorite TV Comedy
  • Everybody Loves Raymond
  • That 70's Show
  • The Simpsons
Favorite TV Drama
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
  • Desperate Housewives
  • Law & Order: SVU
Okay, I don't disagree with the first category. I mean, at least they didn't try to sell Freddie as a favorite new comedy. I don't even take much issue with the favorite new drama list. But these Favorite existing show lists are absurd. At least the PCA overlords figured out Desperate Housewives belongs in drama, but SVU? Lost has better ratings than SVU! And I think you can make a case that people love Grey's Anatomy. So this three options in a category thing is really too limiting. Apparently we are all too stupid to pick from more than 3 things.

I'm cranky. I need a nap.

It's a good thing?

Martha's Apprentice is no more. After the finale, it will not return for another series.

Watch List will be updated in the morning...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Headin' down to the expo

Hope to see some of you there...If you see me (I'll be the writer wearing a black turtleneck...that should narrow it down SOME), please stop and say hi. I'd love to meet some of my readers (and I know there is more than 3 of you out there -- unless someone is jetting all over the world to read my blog from several locations a day).

Tomorrow I'll be wearing Dave Olden's Screenwriter Shirt. But probably a sweater too.

I have no idea what I'll be wearing Sunday, but you can find out if you attend Warren's and Fun Joel's Post-Expo Screenwriter Meet-up.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

TV news dump

So, lots to report, all from a single Hollywood Reporter article.

Arrested Development: cancelled (as expected, will only air 13 episodes, not 22)
Kitchen Confidential: cancelled (again, expected. Did not get back nine)
7th Heaven: cancelled (will end in May)

Freddie: back nine pickup

I know, the obvious question is, in what universe do we live where Arrested Development gets cancelled and Freddie gets picked up?

It's a cruel cruel world...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

WB wants more Related and Twins

Neither one has been given a traditional 'back nine' pickup, and WB is saying they are cutting costs by not ordering full seasons, but Related gets 6 more tries to find an audience and Twins gets 5. Story in Hollywood Reporter.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Writer's Arc Fellowship

Sent e-mails to those making it to Round Two today.

I'm in.

Problem is, my script is...well, it needs a lot of work.

Ten days. Page one rewrite. Bring it on.

Close to Home and Threshold swap time slots / Love, Inc picked up

Variety has the story (subscription required). I'll link to a free article, which I'm sure will become available on Monday. ** Update 11/7 Zap2it has the details on the time period swap.

Watch List will be updated with the Love, Inc. info.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Out of Practice gets its pickup

CBS gave Out of Practice it's full season order.

Watch List will be updated and bumped to top.

Killer Instinct lives!

Defying all predictions to the contrary, Fox has ordered more episodes of Killer Instinct. It hasn't been officially renewed, so the Watch List stands pat...for now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

ABC finds new ways to exploit hit TV show 'Lost'

Found this story on Yahoo! News...basically, ABC is teaming with corporate sibling Hyperion to produce a book which will be featured on the show and then be written and sold in bookstores. A "mystery writer" has been tapped to pen the novel entitled "Bad Twin".

I'm thinking they can do this with all of their shows! Genius! Now, who did they get to write the book?

NBC Universal launches Sleuth

The TV news keeps rolling in today!

TVWeek reports that NBC Universal will launch a new network next year dedicated to mysteries, crime stories and reality programming called "Sleuth". It will be available in 5 million households to start.

Three Wishes and The Office not dead yet

Buried in a story about the pope biopic going to ABC, Variety reports that NBC has ordered 6 more episodes of Three Wishes and three more of The Office.

Sci-fi Channel has ordered another season of Battlestar Galactica for next year, which will be season 3.

Strong Medicine was cancelled last week, but the box set of season one can be yours soon!

Will & Grace is still cancelled. So NBC is holding fast.

CBS tries to boost "Threshold"

TV Week reports that CBS.com will begin streaming previously aired episodes of Threshold in an attempt to lure new viewers to the show.

Don't know if it will work, but it is nice to see them supporting their show and trying to build a stronger audience for it.

Over There gets axed

Story in the Hollywood Reporter this morning. So, no specs for 'Over There' on FX...

Monday, October 31, 2005

Leavin' on a jet plane

I've got a business trip to Orlando this week, so I'll have limited internet access. I'll try to post while I'm gone, but if I don't, just remember I'll be back on the 4th.

Have a great week and get some writing done while I'm gone!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Halloween Costume Pictures

I went as a script in development hell for Halloween.

Here are some pictures:

The front of the costume, which says "Resident of Development Hell". That's a pencil stabbing me through the heart there (and I added some "screenwriterish" glasses, even though I had Lasik surgery on my eyes last year)

This is the back. I tried to make it look like a script title page, with brads! That's the producer's knife plunged in my back there.

Finally, a halfway decent picture of me with my friend Catherine. She was a gypsy.

Most people thought the costume was pretty funny. Certainly other writers related to it well.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Film Friday October 2005

Another month closes, so it is time to round up all of the remakes, sequels and TV to film adaptations Hollywood deemed more likely to make a buck than a new spec screenplay. Actually, this month there were a lot of literary properties acquired and fewer remakes/sequels/updates than we have seen the last few month. Still, they never let us down, do they?

  • In-Utero - remake of Hong Kong sequel (a double whammy!) Jian Gui 2.
  • Creepshow - remake of the 1982 film. I guess 23 years is a long time ago...
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth - remake of '77 film.
  • Rambo IV -- because Rocky VI alone wasn't enough for a true Stallone revival.

Believe it or not, that's it this month. I know, really light. Well, I noticed there were a lot of new rewrites and projects which had originally been setup at some point in the last 2 or 3 years getting new life, so it parallels what I've heard, which is that the spec market is tight (duh), studios and prodcos have acquired so many properties/scripts in the last few years that in an effort to save money they are going back to the pile and pulling out existing properties to develop rather than keep buying new specs or pitches (that isn't to say some haven't sold, but most seemed to be from established writers, directors, producers and actors).

Well, I say it every month -- keep working on the specs. You never know what will happen these days...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The monthly blogroll adds

It's that time again...adding to the blogroll, and man have you guys been busy! I can hardly keep up with all the new screenwriting blogs out there.

This is a pretty big add month, but I know there are still others out there I haven't visited. I'm certainly not going to be the 'one stop shop' for all screenwriting blogs, but I may need to do some reorganizing someday...

Okay, so who's added this month?

First, is our good friend 'Master Shake' and his blog You're Entering a World of Pain. I like him because he thinks I'll be a paid writer soon. I can only hope. He's also very funny and as obsessed with Lost as I am.

Next up, a nice Australian boy, Xander, and his blog Chained to the Keyboard. He actually gets paid to write, so you might want to check him out.

Up until yesterday The Wry Writer linked to me. I don't know why she killed the link, but I like her blog anyway, so go check it out.

I'm fond of Webs, so check out his blog.

Since Shecanfilmit is also a former tech worker, I feel a strong affinity, what with being a current sorta tech worker.

I'm finally getting around to linking Assistant/Atlas. He is must reading.

Longtime reader/linker/blogger Splinster finally gets to the blogroll. Sorry for the delay!

I thought I had already added Screamwriter but apparently not.

Billy Mernit has a blog and teaches screenwriting at UCLA (and has written a book on writing romcoms)! Hopefully I'll be able to take one of his classes one of these days...

That's it this month. If you'd like a link and you have a blog (and you intend to update it regularly), drop me a line. I usually do my blogroll adds once a month, near the end of each month, so if you don't get added right away, look for one of these updates.

Thanks everybody for the linking love and keep blogging and (most importantly) KEEP WRITING!!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Film/TV Panel @ The Liberty Film Festival

I attended the panel yesterday, which was subtitled "Rebels With a Cause." The "rebels" in this case would be conservative writers and producers in Hollywood, who are often on the outside looking in on the industry today. It is a pretty established fact that sometime around the 1970's a sea change began. Studios, writers and actors that were predominantly conservative grew stagnant and a new wave of liberal filmmakers entered the fray with their visions of Vietnam disillusionment and Watergate malaise. The prevailing attitude since that time has been that liberal ideology reigns supreme in this town. If you are a conservative, you are either a square, a greedy corporate overlord, or Hitler. Maybe even all 3!

The Liberty Film Festival was established to provide a mechanism for conservative filmmakers to be heard and have their films seen. So far the majority of offerings have been documentaries, but there were some narrative short films in the mix this year, including a screenplay contest, so I expect this event to continue to grow and become the alterna-Sundance. Based on how the event has grown from last year (its first year) and this weekend, I'd say the future looks bright.

Anyway, back to the panel I attended. It was moderated by Michael Medved. Participants in the panel included Frank Price, a former studio head at Columbia and Universal; Joel Surnow, creator of 24; Cyrus Nowrasteh, writer of The Day Reagan Was Shot and the upcoming 9/11 TV miniseries for ABC; Warren Bell, executive producer of According to Jim; Scott Gardenhour, producer who works with Michael Bay; and Doug Urbanski, producer of films including The Contender.

Quick note: the questions/answers below are paraphrased as I took notes at the event. If I find a transcript, I will post it.

Michael's first question was "What can conservatives contribute to Hollywood?"

Cyrus Nowrasteh: Conservatives can start by "telling the truth." He thinks shows like 24 show how conservative (or traditional) values are relayed in a story. He also felt that the docudramas he has written have not had many problems and when he has wanted to include elements of the 9/11 story which are rarely told, ABC has supported him.

Joel Surnow pondered whether the truth can sell. He felt that the truth can be rather ambiguous and the key is to tell a good story and don't be afraid to tell the story the way you want to tell it.

Frank Price agreed, adding that you have to make a good picture that someone wants to see. If you are driven by a political agenda, it will be apparent in the writing. He cited The American President as a film which starts and ends with a political agenda and it alienates half the audience because of it.

Warren Bell gave voice to the capitalists stating that 'we are all in the business to make money'. He felt that a return to traditional entertainment means giving people entertainment they will enjoy. He cited Napoleon Dynamite as a family friendly film that seeks to entertain its audience. He can watch it with his kids because it has no sex, no profanity, no violence [well, unless you count being hit with a steak violent] and its funny.

Scott Gardenhour noted that the material needs to be resonant, that for it to be made it has to have a voice...[I may have missed something about his comments here, sorry]

Finally, Doug Urbanski laid it out; Conservatives are the butt of jokes and it isn't the executives that keep perpetuating this. It's the rank and file, the disconnect happens in the front office. 100% of the companies passed on The Passion of the Christ. Producers have to stop practicing moral relativism and cutting off half their audience in the process. If they do that, they will see a box office boost.

Someone (don't remember who) said that Hollywood is starting to wake up to the fact that not everyone voted for John Kerry. They actually need help reaching out to conservatives, since they don't really know how to do it.

The next question from Medved: "What is your favorite RECENT film or TV show which illustrates respect for traditional values...and you didn't create it?"

Cyrus: The Passion of the Christ and To End All Wars

Joel: I have young daughters and shows like That's So Raven and Gilmore Girls are great entertainment.

Frank: The Passion and Farenheit 9/11 (audience laughs) It isn't that Michael Moore's film illustrated traditional values, but both of these films had passion behind them from their makers and that is what makes them interesting (He also noted he probably would have passed on The Passion also).

Warren: The Incredibles which wasn't afraid to entertain adults as well as kids, but had strong messages and illustrated a healthy marriage and 24, his vote for the best show on TV.

Scott: The Incredibles

Doug: The Chorus, a great French film and Batman Begins which was filled with clearly good people and bad people.

Question to Scott Gardenhour about The Island -- was it a pro-life movie?

Scott: Definitely a pro-life, pro-human movie. He talked to Dreamworks (who distributed domestically) about tapping into the same groups who showed up for The Passion, but they didn't know how. Also, Dreamworks complained the movie was late and there was nothing the marketing department could do to publicize it properly (which Scott called B.S. on because Bay has done this with all of his movies and they have all made large sums of money). Scott also noted that it did well overseas, where Warner Bros. distributed it. He did note that Dreamworks was afraid to reveal the film for what it was and decided to keep the cover on it instead, which may be another reason no one saw it.

Question to Frank Price -- what happened to Cinderella Man, which has a very traditional values message?

Frank: It's a bad title, bad marketing. The movie was great, no one knew what it was.

Questions from the audience:

"Is the American actor completely screwed?" [Because of reality TV and more work abroad]

Joel: I don't think so. There are more channels than ever and a need to fill the pipeline with programming. The danger is shrinking budgets, but new technologies may be able to solve that problem.

"How do you get more conservative views on TV?"

Scott: It isn't all about money, it is about good material. Write a good script.

Doug: It starts with getting conservatives in the executive suite who recognize the audience wants this kind of viewpoint expressed on TV.

"Is Hollywood afraid of showing Islamofaschists as 'bad guys'?"

Cyrus: At least as far as the 9/11 movie goes, no. They are using their [the terrorists] own words. There will be no actor portraying Osama Bin Laden.

"On Into the West mini-series how did you [Cyrus] deal with showing the times America was wrong [in treatment of Native Americans]?"

Cyrus: I can't speak for the other writers, but on the episode I wrote, I focused on the wagon train and the hardships of moving out into the frontier.

"Does the power of the international box office [which presumably likes some of the leftist slant of films] work against conservatives?"

One of the panelists, I didn't note who, thought no, because box office is not the big picture anymore. The future is in alternative distribution, DVD and VOD.

"Do you have advice for film students/new filmmakers?"

Scott: Use the internet. That is where the future is in terms of getting your work seen [presumably talking about short films].

"What one project would you like to get made if given unlimited money/resources?"

Cyrus: I have a project about "The Battle of New Orleans" which I feel is a great allegory for the War on Terrorism.

Joel: I've been talking to Ann Coulter about doing something about the REAL Joe McCarthy.

Frank: Two projects, one about the a turning point in the French and Indian War, which cemented the 'Indians as savages' meme in America for the next century. And he has a project about the Mayflower Pilgrims, because he feels that story has never been properly told.

Warren: Project about John Brown and he pitches to Scott G. a Robin Hood project, where he feels the Sheriff of Nottingham is the good guy!

Scott: The 50 States Media project he is working on.

Doug: Working on a Joe McCarthy project [hey, maybe he should talk to Joel!]

Someone mentioned (may have been Medved) that any biographies of the founding fathers do big business and Doug Urbanski noted that HBO has a series on John Adams in development.

That was it, I hope you found the info interesting. Certainly was a fascinating look at the business by some pros.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A look ahead to midseason

So, I've already said that I don't think we've seen THE one new 1-hour drama to spec this year. If we haven't seen it yet, will we see it in midseason? Let's take a look at what the networks have already announced we'll see come January (or sooner/later depending on scheduling and events):

One Hour Dramas:

  • What About Brian? (ABC) This show from J.J. Abrahms will air on Monday nights after football ends at 10 PM.
  • In Justice (ABC) A drama about an ethically challenged lawyer and a cop out to get justice for those wrongly accused of crimes.
  • The Evidence (ABC) Apparently the audience will see all of the evidence in a case presented at the top of the hour and then we'll see how that evidence works into the case. I'm still not clear on this one, but it sounds like at least they're trying something different with a procedural.
  • The Unit (CBS) This is the one to keep an eye on. It is brought to us by David Mamet and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan. The show is about a special ops group and their families.
  • Book of Daniel (NBC) Aidan Quinn plays a minister. NBC doesn't have anything on their website about it and I didn't feel like googling around for more info. ** Update wouldn't you know it, 10 minutes after I post this, I see an article that NBC has cut the midseason order from 13 episodes to the pilot plus 7. Not sure what that means (is NBC going to reup E-Ring?)
  • Windfall (NBC) If done correctly, this is the show I think NBC will have some success with this year. It's about 20 people who win the lottery. Naturally, tons of spec ideas come to mind with it too...
  • South Beach (UPN) I have no idea of this show will be any good. It sounds like an O.C. ripoff, but then, what do I know.
  • The Bedford Diaries (WB) I think this is supposed to get the Felicity crowd. It's a drama set in college. That's all I know. Oh and something about the characters all being in a human sexuality class. Uh, ok, whatever.
  • Pepper Dennis (WB) Rebecca Romijn plays the title character who is a Chicago based reporter. Reading the notes on it, sounds like someone has watched Broadcast News a few times.
24 will also return at midseason. I'll cover the midseason 1/2 hour comedies next time with the returning sitcoms and reality shows.

'Invasion' gets its pick-up from ABC

The Hollywood Reporter has the story. Watch List updated AGAIN.

So far, a lot of shows have been picked up for a full season. This by no means guarantees them another season, but for now, it's a positive development. Invasion will probably end up moving so Lost can be better utilized as a lead-in to some other show (Invasion has lost about 45% of its lead-in's viewers, never a good thing). However, I'd say things stay as they are past sweeps and maybe even until the new year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Commander in Chief gets vote of confidence from ABC

This hit the trades late: ABC has given a full season pick-up to Commander-in-Chief

I'll update the Watch List and bump it in the morning.


From Fox News:

DES MOINES, Iowa — Ticket buyers played their kids' birthdays, their wedding anniversaries, even a set of numbers taken straight from the TV show "Lost," in hopes of winning $340 million Wednesday in the second-biggest lottery jackpot in U.S. history.

The Powerball jackpot has been snowballing since mid-August, with 20 straight drawings in which no one won the grand prize. Stores reported heavy sales in all 27 states selling Powerball tickets.

"We're swimming in it today," said Marianne Ward at the Cash & Dash in Little River, S.C. "We've sold more than $2,000 in tickets since 6 a.m."

Mary Neubauer, spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery, said hundreds of ticket buyers were playing a set of numbers from the ABC drama "Lost," which featured a character who won $156 million by playing a string of digits obtained from a patient in a mental institution: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.

"I just think it speaks to people's fascination with numbers and the what-if factor," Neubauer said.

The odds of hitting all six numbers were 1 in 146 million.

Now, if the numbers actually win, that would not only be creepy but really wrong. Plus, the winners would get, far less than $156 million each. More like half a mil, max, if that many people are playing the numbers...and if a few more join in, they'll be down to ten bucks.

How much bad luck can you have winning ten bucks??

Another interesting success story

I don't know why I didn't blog about this in August, when the story came out, but Michael Feldman landed himself a pilot deal, even though he was only looking to get staffed.

He wrote a pilot spec and sent it out to producers, hoping to get staffed on a new show. One of the producers liked his script so much, he decided to try to get it picked up. And now Feldman, who's previous credits include "That's So Raven", "Yes, Dear", and "The Gregory Hines Show" has a show of his own.

Here's the best quote in the article, from producer Brad Johnson, of Watson Ponds Prods (based at 20th Century Fox), "the story behind 'Dr. Freed' -- as well as Cherry's experience getting 'Desperate Housewives' set up -- are signs that 'good writers are everywhere.'

'People shouldn't judge credits; they should judge writers,' he said."


Don't forget the scary stuff

Some good advice if you are thinking of writing a Supernatural spec.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Success does happen and LFF

Okay, I know most of you reading this are not of the same political persuasion as I am, but put that aside for a moment. I want to point you to a post on Libertas, the blog of the Liberty Film Festival (this weekend in L.A.) One of the site contributors has just gotten a deal with a veteran producer and is now getting his film made. He has a great story and a very important message that relates to my mantra here at SITW (It's all about networking). I highly recommend you check it out and if you have time to take in any of the events of this weekend's festival, it is a chance to see some independent films that happen to be of a conservative slant, unlike most of the documentaries and small films out there today.

I plan to attend the Film and TV Production Panel on Sunday October 23. It is part of 'Event 10', which includes the film "Entering Zion" and the Q&A following that film. The panel will be moderated by Michael Medved and include panelists such as Frank Price (former President of Universal Pictures, Chairman Columbia Pictures, Chariman MCA Motion Pictures Group), Joel Surnow (Exec. Producer of "24"), Cyrus Nowrasteh (Writer, "Into the West," Writer/Producer of ABC's new 9/11 miniseries), Warren Bell (Executive Producer, "According to Jim", "Ellen"), Scott Gardenhour (partner in Michael Bay's production company), Doug Urbanski (film producer and Hollywood manager).

I'll report back on this event next week.


So, I'm not a very trendy person.

I tend to be a classic Banana Republic/Gap girl when it comes to fashion. Oh, occassionally I'll pick up a piece that screams out as trendy, but usually I'm on the tail end of trends.

That's why I go into picking trends VERY CAUTIOUSLY. Now, anything can happen between now and May. The TV season is far from over. I'd dare say we are probably playing this game a few months too early...

...but then again, networks are already buying pilots and prepping projects, so maybe not.

First off, let's remember that we still have mid-season shows to air. "Grey's Anatomy" was mid-season. So was "Joe Millionaire". We still have good and bad to wait out before the dust settles. That being said, I'm gonna go out on a limb and make a prediction or 2:

New show specs:

The sitcoms are easy. They've been dwelling in the cellar for so long, that ANY renewed sitcoms automatically provide spec material. Comedy writers everywhere breathe a sigh of relief that they no longer have to push their spec of "Two and a Half Men" or "Yes, Dear". Now they have (for sure) "Everbody Hates Chris", "My Name is Earl" and "How I Met Your Mother." If NBC is benevolent, you might even get to spec "The Office", but I personally consider that sacrilege.

Okay, so dramas. It's been a pretty weak season for drama, but there are some positives. Genre writers can now spec "Supernatural" (though I would urge you to use this as a second spec and not your primary). But you want to know the ONE new show you can spec this year?

So do I.

Sorry for the cop out, but I don't think we've seen it yet. I was being honest when I said there's still mid-season to wait out. As long as the show doesn't fall apart, "Commander in Chief" will be a good spec...but now we have to see what Bochco's writers do with the show and what direction it will take. That means putting specs on hold for that one? "Criminal Minds"? I don't doubt that it is a decent show and if you must write a procedural, at least it isn't "CSI" but I think it goes in the "NCIS" pile. "Bones"? Well, I don't know what the cred of the show is, but I don't really like or respect the show enough to recommend. "Prison Break"? Right now, until the break out of prison, pretty much unspecable. Any of the episodics are tough too (and currently not renewed, except "Surface" and I laugh at you if you spec that.)

But here's an interesting trend I note: Female viewership is really driving the top shows. If "Gilmore Girls" goes the way of the dodo (which isn't out of the question), "Charmed" hits the dirt nap, and "Alias" finally dies, we will have lost 3 female driven shows this year. We might pick up "Threshold" or "Close to Home" yet, and there's still hope for those chick sitcoms the WB has, but overall female lead shows lose (and that's if "Veronica Mars" and "Crossing Jordan" live...jury's out). Right now we are +1 for "Commander in Chief" and I'll grant a half to "Surface". I'm interested to see if more female-centric character shows get pushed for next season to fill the gap.

Like I said, I'm not the trendiest person, so I could be wrong. I just note what I see...

NBC picks up Surface

Inexplicably, NBC has given Surface a full season pick-up. (Watch List will be updated and bumped).

Friday, October 14, 2005

Reminder: Scriptapalooza TV deadline tomorrow

I may go ahead and enter my 'House' spec...even though I'm in the midst of rewrites. Why not, right?

Weekend homework assignment

Okay TV spec writers: for those of you in my boat wanting to write a kick-ass TV spec, here's your homework for the weekend:

Pick ONE of the new TV shows (which has not been cancelled) that you feel is going to be THE show to spec come January.

Feel free to post your show choice and justification below. On Monday, I'll tell you what I think, based on watching the fall season AND what I think the 'hot trend' next year will be (this year is supernatural/spooky/alien, the year before was reality...what will next year bring??)

Oh and write, by God, write!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New CBS fall season pickups

CBS has picked up 'The Ghost Whisperer', 'Criminal Minds', and 'How I Met Your Mother' for full season orders.

The Watch List updated shortly.

The next wave

Steve Jobs announced the release of the Video iPod today. There will be 2 versions, one that holds 30 GB and one which holds 60 GB retailing for $299 and $399 respectively.

He also announced a deal with ABC which will put new episodes of shows like 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives' on the site, commercial free, the day after they air for $1.99 each.

This is huge. TV, films, straight to iPod video even? The options for content are getting larger, not smaller. And it's a real win for shows that don't get huge Nielsens, but have rabid fan support.

Will this cut in to DVD sales? Maybe some, but what they make on selling the episodes online should make up for some of it. To get the iPod video users to buy DVD sets it will be more important than ever to stuff the discs with special features, never seen video, etc to get people to buy.

The media world is changing right in front of our eyes...blogs, podcasting, VOD...it's all changing.

Current Projects

I haven't talked much about what I'm up to these days, so I'll just give you a quick update. I have not been slacking off...

I'm taking the 'Market Ready' class I mentioned last week and putting my 'House' spec through a full rewrite via the class. I expect to have my script shiny enough to send out to agencies in a few weeks time.

I'm also outlining a thriller script I am looking to write. I'm starting to think it would be great to pitch as a graphic novel, so I'm trying to figure out how'd I go about doing that.

Also working on a romcom I've had kicking around for awhile. The plot I had was only so so, but some input from a couple of other writers has really kicked it off in a new direction which excites me. I think I'll be working on this project more in the weeks to come.

Finally, I've been writing the treatment for a spec TV pilot. The treatment is finished and I'm now getting some needed feedback to do some tweaks...can't talk much about this right now, hopefully I'll be able to talk more about it soon.

Anyway, that's my news...what's yours?

From the horse's mouth

Paul Guyot's Inkslinger site always provides great insight into the TV writing world. His most recent dissertation is no exception (and if you found me through his link to me, welcome!)

Technical Difficulties

Sorry, I've had some technical difficulties here over the last 16 hours or so (it's earthlink/covad's fault). I have some new stuff to put up today, so please check back after noon Pacific today.

Hopefully it will be worth the wait... and no, it isn't more fall season news...unless some breaks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More Fox pickups

'Bones' and 'The War at Home' get their back nine pickups. I'll add that to the watchlist.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Writer's Arc Fellowship

is taking applications and pages starting today. One of the people in the writing group (the well run one) is in the program this year and he has had a lot of positive things to say about it.

Worth checking out, especially if you are out of state and lack L.A. contacts.

Look, I'm sorry...

...your favorite shows got cancelled. No one watched them, that's why.

A lot of people who apparently weren't ready for 'Just Legal', 'Inconceivable', or 'Sex, Lies and Secrets' to be cancelled yet have been vainly hoping it is all a big cosmic joke.

It's not.

Funny thing though, no one seems to care about poor 'Head Cases'...

Effective writing groups

I have been preparing a post for awhile now on how to run an effective writing group (I'm in 2, one runs well the other runs...well, it runs.) I've scrapped the whole post, because I found someone who said everything I wanted to say and does it better than I did.

Meet Lorelei Armstrong. She's won contests, has a UCLA MFA, and knows how good meetings work. Highly recommend reading her site.

Snake attack!

After this (Snake eats cat), I expect a headline of 'Snake eats Mini Cooper'.

One word for this snake: HAIRBALL!

Friday, October 07, 2005

New 'chief' at 'Commander-in-Chief'

Hollywood Reporter has the story on Steven Bochco taking over the showrunning job from Rod Lurie for 'Commander-in-Chief.' So, this raises an important question...

...will we see Donald Sutherland's butt?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Starting my new class tonight

Probably my last UCLA Extension class for awhile. This is a rewrite class with Erica Byrne. Looking forward to rewriting my specs...

Fall season update for 10/5

So two weeks ago, I laid down my predictions on which new shows will make the cut and which will be sent back into the void from which they came.

As of today, 'My Name is Earl' and 'Everybody Hates Chris' have been given full season pickups, along with 'Prison Break' which had its 'back nine' pickup last week. (Back nine refers to the last 9 episodes of a season...many shows start with a 13 episode commitment and if it takes off, they get a full season order of 22 episodes).

I'm starting to think I may have been wrong about 2 shows: I think 'Bones' and 'The Ghost Whisperer' may pull through after all. The numbers are looking good for them. On the other hand, 'The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,' 'Three Wishes,' and 'Love, Inc' look destined for the scrapheap alongside already cancelled shows 'Head Cases,' 'Sex, Lies and Secrets' and (soon to be cancelled) 'Inconceivable' (sure, it's only off for one week...right.) NBC is not having a good year so far, they have to be looking for ways to spread out the 'My Name is Earl' wealth...

Expect 'Supernatural' and 'Commander-in-Chief' to get full season pickups soon...'Criminal Minds' is looking like it may pull through and 'Invasion' is still a question mark...

More series news as it happens...

Top stories for 10/5

Nick and Jessica split or not.
Lindsay's Paparazzi Sequel (now with airbags).
TomKat pregnant?
BritKev sex tape.

Things no one is paying attention to:

Sex offenders in California no longer get taxpayers to buy their Viagra.
Today, they sing 'Batman'. Tomorrow, 'So Long and Thanks for all the Fish.'
Geese attacking hunters!!
Gators in Snakes!

And great link of the day:

Winchester Mystery House Blog! (Thanks Boing Boing)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

TV news today

At some point, the news on the fall season will die down (when most of the new shows have their fates decided) but for now, I bring you what I can find to help everyone looking for that perfect show to spec...provided it lives on to see another season.

Today it looks like "Inconceivable" will not be one of those shows. NBC is pulling it from its time slot this week and will show a repeat of "Law and Order: Criminal Intent". The show has aired twice. (News in Variety).

ABC, showing that the comedy department is not as smart as the drama department has actually given 'American Idol' loser Constantie Maroulis a sitcom deal. Only in America can a loser be a winner.

Apparently it was reported last week that "Kitchen Confidential" was cancelled. This is not true, REPEAT, NOT TRUE. It will go on hiatus during baseball, but my future boyfriend Michael Vartan will be on an upcoming episode. Yummy!

Monday, October 03, 2005

'Sex, Lies, and Secrets' just not enough anymore.

Lee Goldberg has the goods on the latest cancellation (reported in Variety today). It only aired once, but that was all it took to validate that there is not a huge audience for a show about Denise Richards living in Silver Lake (and non-L.A. residents, say, 'What the heck is Silver Lake??')

It looks like 'Inconceivable' and 'Killer Instinct' could be next to hit the dirt nap.

In other news, NBC has decided to swap 'E-Ring' and 'The Apprentice: Martha Stewart' in their time slots, forcing Martha to consider ways to draw people away from 'Lost'. Maybe she can offer every viewer a free doily.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Film Friday for September

It's the last day of the month and I'm actually getting the latest round up of film news up on time!! Those who are familiar with this recurring feature need no introduction, but for those of you who have just discovered my little abode in cyberspace, every month I like to recount the deals which have been made to produce films which are either sequels, remakes or TV show adaptations. I don't bother with the books and comics, because hey, who reads, right? This is about Hollywood's insistence on remaking things and producing sequels rather than trying to make new stories. So, let's get started!

  • The Golden Age - Sequel to "Elizabeth"...in general, I'm in support of this one, but I have to admit curiousity since I don't think "Elizabeth" was a blockbuster.
  • Nancy Drew: The Mystery in Hollywood Hills - this one makes the list because it has previously been a TV show. Does anyone know if Nancy has graced the big screen before?
  • Madagascar 2 - Can't they just spin off the penguins into their own movie? Oh wait, they did a live action of that this year already...
  • Mostly Martha - Because Americans can't be bothered to watch the original one in German. Reminds them of 'Das Boot'.
  • The Star Chamber - Remake of the 1983 film. Because we've suddenly run out of new legal thrillers, we must start remaking them from 22 years ago!
  • 36 - Remake of a French film "36 Quai des Orfevres." We really can't be bothered with French.
  • State of Play - Remake of a British miniseries. Oh come now, it's in our own language! Now we're just lazy...or it must be the accents.
That's it for this month! Just keep plugging away at your spec. I think there were 2 sold this month (and don't forget that high-larious pitch from a New Line exec about the "Boob Job"!) Keep the dream alive!

(As usual, all info courtesy of Done Deals).

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Book Bleg

I'm looking for recommendations of REALLY ESSENTIAL READING. It can be any genre, but give me 3-5 books you recommend I read.

To give examples of my usual reading habits, I have read the entire Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, I'm currently reading 'System of the World' by Neal Stephenson, I've read most Heinlein and in the mystery realm I grew up reading Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. I of course love Douglas Adams, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle. I've never read a Stephen King book. I've read 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' and love it. I've also read the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I love Anne of Green Gables and the Tao of Pooh.

There, there's a big chunk of my bookshelves. Suggest away. Anything.

Tuesday has good news for everyone...except UPN

So, everybody gets a piece of the pie on Tuesday nights, and why not? The evening is chock-a-block with choices. Look at the 9PM time period:

ABC: Commander-in-Chief - got good premiere sampling. It will also benefit by House going on hiatus during baseball on Fox the next few weeks, enough time to establish an audience all its own. I already pegged this as a survivor, no matter how good or bad it is...well, if it was too horrible, it'd be a different story, but Rod Lurie's no dummy, even if I differ on his politics.
NBC: My Name is Earl / The Office - Earl lives, expect The Office to be replaced at midseason.
CBS: The Amazing Race (2 hr this week) - On an unrelated note, did you know NCIS is the #1 show at 8PM on Tuesdays?? Maybe I should actually watch this thing which is in its 3RD YEAR!
Fox: House - Had to settle for #2 this week.
WB: Supernatural - Marc and I agree. This is a solid pick up for the rest of the year.
UPN: Sex, Love & Secrets - I agree with Marc Berman, the results were so dismal, this sucker is CANCELLED within 2 weeks.

Poor Boston Legal -- it can't catch a break after Commander-in-Chief. Still, it's ratings aren't bad, so it will be fine. Do not weep for David E. Kelley.

Bones will live past baseball. Berman thinks it will take off after American Idol. If that's true, it might get picked up in spite of itself.

Berman does a great job running down the list of new series, and I have to say, he and I are of the same mind on most of the new shows. Read Marc Berman's Programming Insider here.

I'm guessing this happens more than we'd like to believe

This story details how a New Line exec tells a story about his friend and his friend's wife's 'boob job', suddenly it's the latest hot assignment in Hollywood.

And we wonder why we can't sell specs. With this kind of brilliance, how can we compete?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

What to Spec: Part II

So, we got some good discussion going on what shows are good show to 'spec.' For those new to the lingo, a 'spec' script is one you write without assignment (if you write a screenplay at home with no deal attached, that's a spec too.) In TV Land, if you want to get a staff job on a TV show, you need to have a couple (or three or four..) spec scripts of current TV shows to peddle around. I personally have written spec scripts for 'Lost' and 'House'. I will spec another show in a few months once I decide what to put my energy toward. Even established writers have spec scripts they keep current.

So, after my last post, I was very pleased to receive some feedback from Paul Guyot regarding shows to spec. So, without further ado, I reprint his remarks here:

Lost - good spec.
The Shield - was the hot spec the last few years, its time may be up.
Deadwood - too specific.
Nip/Tuck - good.
The O.C. - good spec if you want to write for that particular genre. VERONICA MARS would be better because it shows you as a teen angst writer as well as crime and comedy.
Medium - not a good spec, except for a very specific genre/tone.
Everwood - not enough of Hollywood watches the show.
Rescue Me - hot spec.
Gray's Anatomy - hot spec.

Cold Case - has replaced CSI as that genre's go-to spec.
Without a Trace - only a single storyline, not a good spec.
Veronica Mars - good.
Boston Legal - becoming hotter. If you can nail that DEK voice, you've scored.
Battlestar Galactica - don't waste your time, unless you want to write ONLY for the Sci-Fi channel.
Law and Order: SVU or CI - not anymore.
The Sopranos - time has come and gone. Was THE spec to read/write prior to THE SHIELD, but I know of several agents and execs who won't read them anymore.

CSI (every flavor) - can still get away with it, but they'll ask you for something else.
Law and Order - nope.

House - this is THE hot spec right now. If you can nail a HOUSE spec, you'll get meetings.
24 - nope.
Desperate Housewives - another hot spec.

As to your question re: DEAD ZONE, the only execs likely to read (and give a meeting off of) a USA network spec are USA and Lifetime execs. I know that WB, TNT, 20th and FX people won't read them, or if they do it will only be as a second or third reading - meaning after they've read something else of yours. My agency (CAA) as well as Gersh and Endeavor won't read any "query specs" from any cable network shows except FX and the premiums. Why is this? It's just one of the many, many unfair Hollywood attitudes - there is a stigma against smaller cable company shows - they're perceived as inferior in quality or else they'd be on another network. THE SHIELD should have broken that attitude but all it did was make the execs think FX is somehow "more special" when it comes to cable networks.

If THE CLOSER remains a hit for TNT, it might be a worthwhile spec, but that's at least a year away.

There ya have it. I plan on updating my list. I suggest you do the same. Thanks Paul. Immensely helpful, as always.