TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 1/30/15

PSY-thumbs-up

Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts during the past week:

2014 SPEC SCRIPTACULAR Finalists!

2014 SPEC SCRIPTACULAR Winners

Peggy Bechko: Tighten It Up

Peggy Bechko: The Unnatural Museum

2014 SPEC SCRIPTACULAR Semi-Finalists!

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR: Prizes

The Teleplay

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a great week, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

2014 SPEC SCRIPTACULAR Winners

20th Spec Scriptacular Winners

For contest ending December 1, 2014

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

SITCOM

1st Place: RICK AND MORTY: CRIME AND PUNISHRICK by Michael Kellner

2nd Place:THE JETSONS: POOR WIDDLE WABBIT by James H. Kelly

3rd Place: NURSE JACKIE: EVERYTHING I TOUCH IS FUCKED by Cara Rothenberg

ACTION/DRAMA/DRAMEDY

1st Place: HANNIBAL: BREAD & WATER by Angela Berliner

2nd Place: SUPERNATURAL: WISH UPON A STAR by Zoé Denis

3rd Place: SCANDAL: THE GOOD SHEPHERD by Jeane Wong

TV MOVIE/SCREENPLAY/SPECIAL

1st Place: CONSEQUENCES by Robert Frostholm

2nd Place: ERASED by Scott M. Richter

3rd Place: DRIVEN by Gerald Cote

The only way to describe these nine scripts is: Wonderful. Fully five of them scored over 9 points on our 10 point scale, and the others were in the very high 8s. All three of the 1st Place finishers, in fact, and two of the 2nd Placers, finished in the top ten All-Time Spec Scriptacular Top Scores. Which makes them part of the ten best in the decade and a half this contest has been held.

A showbiz old pro might give a little smile and say, “Not bad” to all this. But that would be because they were masking the absolute awe such an achievement brings.  To put it another way, LB and the rest of the TVWriter™ Gang consider every one of the scripts above to be, simply, brilliant. And brilliance is what they needed in order to finish ahead of another remarkable pack of entries which, overall, has been the best yet.

In the next few days LB will be contacting all the Spec Scriptacular Winners to tell you how to claim your prizes, and he swears that in about a week (well, maybe a bit more depending on, you know, all the things meeting deadlines can depend on) he’ll post his personal observations about the results.

After that, all entrants should start receiving your free Feedback, but please remember that the operative phrase here is “start receiving” because of the volume of people to be contacted. Please give us a few weeks before emailing TVWriter™ in panic because your Feedback hasn’t arrived yet, okay?

Speaking of timetables, we’d like to remind you that the 2015 People’s Pilot will be opening for entries in mere days. The exact date is February 1st, and if you’d like to receive a substantial discount on your entry fee – 30% – February would be a very good time to send in that fee. You can always finish and polish and upload your People’s Pilot script any time after that till the Dread Deadline date of June 1st.

Congratulations to all the Winners for their outstanding work and to everybody who entered for coming so very, very close. Your friends here at TVWriter™ want you to know that you’re the best!

2014 SPEC SCRIPTACULAR Finalists!

20th SPEC SCRIPTACULAR FINALISTS
For contest ending December 1, 2014

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

SITCOM FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

ARCHER: YELLOW DAWN by Michael Sumner

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: UNCLE LARRY by Chris Agnew

GIRLS: DIVORCE SONG by Erica Lies

GIRLS: FORTUNE COOCHIE by Julie Livingston

GIRLS: PENIS ENVY by Ryan Rodman

NURSE JACKIE: EVERYTHING I TOUCH IS FUCKED by Cara Rothenberg

RICK AND MORTY: CRIME AND PUNISHRICK by Michael Kellner

THE JETSONS: POOR WIDDLE WABBIT by James H. Kelly

ACTION/DRAMA/DRAMEDY FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

HANNIBAL: BREAD & WATER by Angela Berliner

ONCE UPON A TIME: THE STONE by Elizabeth Hrib

SCANDAL: THE GOOD SHEPHERD by Jeane Wong

SUPERNATURAL: WISH UPON A STAR by Zoé Denis

THE BLACKLIST: FATHER FRANCES NO. 189 by Michelle R. Anderson

THE WALKING DEAD: ZONE 4D-M by Barbara Ishida

TV MOVIE/SCREENPLAY/SPECIAL FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

CONSEQUENCES by Robert Frostholm

DRIVEN by Gerald Cote

ERASED by Scott M. Richter

LADY OF THE LAKE by Dawn McElligott

NEWTON’S LAWS OF EMOTION by Eugene Ramos

SHAPESHIFTERS by Andrew Fisk

THE REBORN by Andrew Fisk

The way the judges saw it, every one of these Finalists is a wow. In previous years, each one could have been a Winner. In fact, as of this writing, we still don’t know who the Winners will be. The Battle of the Judges’ Chambers continues!

COMING NEXT WEEK FRIDAY: The Spec Scriptacular Winners (cuz as they say in the comics, “Lo, there’s gotta be an ending!”)

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 1/24/15

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLatest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club) is writing the pilot for Syfy’s 51st State, a drama series about a future in which “the United States, confronting a prison population stretched to the limit, purchases Greenland and converts it into a frontier prison colony with male and female convicts incarcerated together.” Except, of course, that things don’t work out as planned. (Notice the not-so-subtle satire here, the whole “we’re all living in prison now” thing? Thanks to the harmless outlet that this show provides, we real prisoners won’t have to revolt after all. Whew.)
  • Matt Tarses (The Goldbergs) is writing the pilot for a CBS comedy series called Coverband about “members of a rock band left to scramble after their lead singer dumps them for a solo career.” (LB informs yer sweet munchman that his first paid-for script was for a similarly themed feature film at MGM, but his protagonist was the lead singer. The more things change….)
  • Exciting new unknown David E. Kelley is adapting Mr. Mercedes, a novel by another new unknown named Stephen King into a mini-series detective drama for a company called Sonar Entertainment. (Cuz in this youth-oriented market two of the most successful writers still breathing can’t get broadcast or cable network deals on their own? What gives?)

That’s it for now, munchaladas. Don’t forget to write in and tell yers truly what you’ve sold when you sell it. Cuz TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 1/23/15

poppydelevingne

Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts during the past week:

2014 SPEC SCRIPTACULAR Semi-Finalists!

Peggy Bechko: The Unnatural Museum

Peggy Bechko: Writers Got To Move It, Move It… Mentally and Physically

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Has ARCHER lost its way?

And our most viewed resource pages were:

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Teleplay

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR: Prizes

Big thanks to everyone for making this such a great week, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

TV Writing & Social Responsibility – Can They Ever Live Together? Part 2

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SOCIAL-RESPONSIBILITY-facebook

corporate-social-responsibility

Inclusive Writing
by Diana Black

Inclusive television is not a new concept with television programs over the years attempting to address the ‘inclusive’ issue through ensemble casting; as mentioned in ‘Part One’ of this article. So how successful and how serious has that effort been? Greg Braxton of the Los Angeles Times (2007), maintains that to a large extent the big networks have done poorly when it comes to ensuring television programming is inclusive beyond that of tokenism.

The question for us as writers seems to be, can artistic expression happily flourish and coexist with commercial viability beyond the ‘honeymoon period of the successful pilot?’

A review of the casting for long running sitcoms such as Friends (David Krane and Marta Kauffman, 1994 – 2004) and more recently Lost (Jeffry Lieber, J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof, 2004 – 10) seems to have addressed gender balance, but have they substantially addressed ethnicity? Both television series seem to have been tokenistic in that regard with the overwhelming majority of cast members ‘white’, ostensibly middle-class.

One genre in particular has separated itself from the pack, Science Fiction. Perhaps it is a genre that naturally lends itself to the IDIC Principle. The Star Trek franchise (Gene Rodenberry), Stargate (Roland Emmerich, 1994), Stargate SG-1 (Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner, 1997), and more recently, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Jos Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, 2013 –).

However, does the ethnicity of the cast, even in these programs accurately reflect American society? Many say “No”. What about the most prevalent of the television genres, which according to IMDB, is the hybridization of drama with crime, mystery and thriller? Sitcoms currently seem to streaking ahead, especially ABC’s current line-up – Black-ish (Kenya Barris and Larry Wilmore, 2014), Cristela (Cristela Alonzo, 2014) and Fresh Off the Boat (Nahnatchka Khan, 2015).

Does ‘inclusive television’ extend to those with a disability and/or those with diverse values regarding politics, religion or sexual preference? Subscription television seems to be doing marginally better in niche markets with recent programs such as Looking (Michael Lannan, 2014).

Adding to the headache for the studio execs, who are grimly determined garner a greater market share, there’s an increasing range of viewing platforms, which by all accounts, is closely associated with the age of the viewing demographic. Star Trek and Stargate SG-1 have managed to captivate their devotees with books, video games, memorabilia and comic books etc. When we write that Bible and go in to pitch, will we be at least considering this?

Let’s assume as a given, that we have a great story to begin with. If we then receive a directive to ‘be inclusive’ on the rewrite, will we perceive this as making the story stronger or simply to make it more palatable for a larger viewing audience a.k.a. ‘being politically correct’?

If we embraced the concept of inclusivity from the ‘get-go’, will this make our pitch more successful than the next guy who didn’t? Do we congratulate ourselves on our keen sense of social responsibility or were we simply being savvy, factoring in commercial viability in order to hedge our bet? If ‘white’, male, middle-class, youngish (or older writers who’ve been around the block) still predominate the writing industry,how ‘inclusive’ might they be in their approach?

If those bankrolling the show are also coming from the same ‘white’, male, middle class demographic, how insistent will they be that their television show is ‘inclusive’? The cynical among us might say the suits will only care to the extent that such a move delivers them a greater market share. According to Esther Breger, the networks have been hammered for years for not being more socio-culturally inclusive and it is only recently that they are lifting their game with programs such as Black-ish and Fresh Off the Boat. One can’t help wonder if this newfound love of multiculturalism stems from rampant commercialism or an enlightened sense of social responsibility.

Is there a political aspect to ownership of television networks? Yup! How is this likely to impinge on us writers who work as ‘writer-for-hire’? What about cross-media ownership and/or overseas ownership? Is there in the U.S. content legislation and if so what form does it take? Does the neo-liberalist notion of letting the market decide hold true or does big business re product sales and commercials continue to hold greater sway? Are there ‘codes of practice’ that we must consider and abide by? How often have we heard, “professional writing is a business”.

Going back to who this is all for anyway – the viewer, if their specific socio-cultural demographic is not represented in the story narrative, how emotionally invested might that viewer be (or not)? What if the portrayal is negative or inaccurate; neither is likely to endear the viewer to the program, or even worse, the network. For us creating the television narrative, do we make a distinction between first, second and/or third generation Americans?

One would hope that children born and bred in America, regardless of their cultural background, would consider themselves ‘Americans’. Accordingly will they have the same viewing preferences as that of their parent’s and grandparent’s?

But surely, there’s a down side to affirmative action – we in the writer’s room may get so caught up on being politically correct, even if we intended to be the first place and for all the right reasons, that what compelled us to write about a specific story or character to begin with somehow ‘gets lost’. I have heard it said anecdotally by an Asian actor/friend/colleague – all he wanted was to be cast because of his acting ability not his ethnicity and I guess the same goes for the story – if it calls for a specific character profile, then it does, simple as that.

But if we wish to keep everybody happy then we had better write in such a manner that we cannot be accused of obvious tokenism; even when it happens to be the lead or major supporting character role, otherwise it may do more harm than good. The market demographic in terms of cultural hegemony is touted to be changing, which may mean that those on both sides of the bargaining table – the writer and the ‘suit(s)’ will need to consider the matter of inclusive writing much more seriously and in an intelligent way.