Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/19/14

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Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Justin Halpern & Patrick Schumacker (SURVIVING JACK) are adapting astronaut Chris Hadfield‘s memoir, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, into a comedy for ABC. (Cuz, hey, they did great with their last astronaut comedy, didn’t they? You know…a little thing called I DREAM OF JEANNIE. No, Jeannie wasn’t the astronaut, dammit. That was Tony, her, you know, “master.” And, no, yer friendly neighborhood munchboy isn’t going into it any further cuz that’d be like marooning myself so I was Lost In Space….)
  • Wilson Bethel (HART OF DIXIE) has a deal to write an as-yet-unknown drama pilot at The CW. (Nope, not cuz he’s done such a great job of writing on HART cuz he hasn’t. He stars in that show…but, hey, this Hollywood, remember?)
  • Frank Spotnitz (TRANSPORTER) is developing RANSOM, a series about a hostage negotiator set for international exploitation presentation.  (Ooh, a series where week after week the hero talks to crazy and dangerous people and somehow he and the hostages all manage to survive. Oh, well, seeing the titles will probably be great for insomnia. Wonder if the FDA will approve it.)
  • Mark Cherry (DEVIOUS MAIDS) and Neal Baer (UNDER THE DOME) have partnered to create a series for The CW called CHEERLEADER DEATH SQUAD. (Honest. I swear to whatever god it is who cares that we swear. That’s the name. And no, I don’t have any more info than that although it may be available elsewhere cuz the name was enough for me to expectorate a little and call my mommy to ask if it’s okay if I move back into her womb. Sorry death squad and cheerleader fans.)

That’s it for now. Write in and tell munchilito what you’ve sold today. TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

Peer Production: LILAC

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TVWriter™’s great and good friend, film maker extraordinaire Hank Isaac, has a new web series coming out very soon. This is Hank’s first web series and – well, once you see this trailer we think you agree that it looks every bit as extraordinary that its pedigree has led us to expect:

Put a smile on your face and take a bow, Hank. And get that first episode uploaded ASAP, dammit. We can’t wait to see!

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/18/14

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Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Robin Thede (THE QUEEN LATIFAH SHOW) has been named head writer of THE MINORITY REPORT WITH LARRY WILMORE, which is succeeding THE COLBERT REPORT now that Stephen Colbert is moving to David Letterman’s desk. (Which means that right now Robin’s gonna be one of the most popular women in L.A. And for all the wrong reasons cuz she’s really a wonderful human as well as a top, archly funny writer. Congrats, Robin!)
  • Paul Weitz (IN GOOD COMPANY) & Josh Brycel & Jon Fener (HAPPY ENDINGS) are co-writing a CBS comedy adaptation of Weitz’s feature film, IN GOOD COMPANY. (To which yer munchmallow has to ask the question: How come you’re making a film I never heard of into a TV series. Isn’t the big-to-small-screen transition based on the big screen version being, you know, a hit?)
  • DJ Nash (GROWING UP FISHER) is writing the pilot for #PEOPLEARETALKING, an NBC comedy about God knows what. (Cuz it’s time for NBC to join the hashtag sweepstakes apparently, even though the fact that they’re using it shows that the execs are clueless about what # now means. Being that out of it means what? That they’re over 16? Shitcan the lot of those old farts, NBC. Now!)
  • Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie (STARGATE) are turning the DARK MATTER graphic novels into a series for Syfy. (Which muncherboy here thinks is a wonderful development on account of the fact that Syfy’s not exactly been known for, um, sci-fi recently. Makes ya kinda wonder though – how many sharknadoes will be guest starring?)

That’s it for now. Write in and tell munchilito what you’ve sold today. TVWriter™ can’t wait to brag to all your friends. (And, more importantly, enemies. Hehehe….)

TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 10/17/14

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

Peggy Bechko: Thrill Obsessed

Cartoon: Why the TV Networks Live in Terror

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Herbie J Pilato: Thank you, “The Flash!” It looks like the dark and dingy days of TV may be over!

Are You Ready for CARGO 3120?

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR: Enter

THE SPEC SCRIPTACULAR

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

Basic Online TV and Film Writing Workshop

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!

Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path With Laurie Scheer

A series of interviews with hard working writers – by another hard-working writer!

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by Kelly Jo Brick

Aspiring writers often wonder how industry pros got where they are. The truth is, everyone’s story is different, but there are some common elements: dedication, persistence and hard work.

Today we explore another aspect of the industry with a true advocate for writers, Laurie Scheer, a former vice president of programming for WE: Women’s Entertainment. She has worked as an assistant, d-girl, and producer for ABC, Viacom, Showtime, and AMC-Cablevision. Laurie has been an instructor at universities across the U.S. from UCLA to Yale and is currently part of the faculty at UW-Madison’s Continuing Studies Writing Department, Director of their annual Writer’s Institute and Managing Editor of the The Midwest Prairie Review Journal.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS INDUSTRY?

I grew up in the Midwest. It’s very cold there. There’s not a lot to do there in the winter. I’m an only child and I just had a lot of time to myself. I loved watching episodic television and listening to music. It just dawned on me, I want to work in this industry. I want to be behind the scenes of a television show or behind the scenes of a music group or something like that.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?

My first entry-level job was as an assistant to the Manager of Dramatic Development at ABC Entertainment in Century City. It was a secretary job. I got the job because I knew how to type.

They had two jobs open, comedy development and dramatic development. I didn’t know what either one was. I just thought, you know, comedy that’s going to be really simple. Drama’s gonna be a lot more complicated. There’s going to be lots of character development. So I just went with drama. It didn’t pay much but it was absolutely wonderful and within 6 months on that job I learned more than I did in my 4 years of college.

WHAT CAME NEXT FOR YOU?

I stayed at ABC a couple years in that position and that sort of started that don’t stay at the same job for more than two years. You can move within a company, you can move to another company, but essentially the thought was don’t stay in the same job for two years. Start looking.

So ABC at the time was opening up a movie division, ABC Motion Pictures, and they needed someone. Again an assistant, but it was a higher assistant in Marketing. So I went then to Marketing and I learned a lot about marketing and marketing of films, not television series. So already within my first three or four years I was starting to span between television and film and I started to realize that I have to hone this down. What am I going to do? Do I like television? Do I like film?

That position lead then to a new pilot that was being made and I thought, “Oh I’ll try production.” And they gave me the job, which was very lovely because I had already proven myself. Many people wanted this job as a Production Assistant making next to nothing, 12 to 16 hour days, an unbelievable amount of work and I took it.

That was on a show called Moonlighting, which was Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd and I lasted for 6 episodes. I did not like production at all. That was not for me, but I’m glad I did it because I learned a lot.

Then I heard about a job at Viacom in story, back to development, story analyst. I was fortunate enough to get it and then that was 10 more years at Viacom.

At that time Sumner Redstone had purchased Viacom, so we had been developing shows for NBC, for ABC, for the networks, but then because MTV, Showtime, Nickelodeon and VH1 were under the umbrella of Viacom, they came to us because we had been developing shows traditionally and those networks were not developing first run shows yet.

So we started to look at a lot of content for those networks, in which I was so fortunate because I was developing things like Real World, Rugrats and Ren and Stimpy, just an amazing amount of stuff, a lot of Showtime shows and movies and also acquisitions. So that developed into learning a lot about cable and I moved up from story analyst to manager, Director of Development.

WHAT’S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

One of the best pieces of advice was that I was feeling intimidated because I had come from the Midwest and here I was working in this Development Department with 4 or 5 extremely intelligent, at least to me they seemed very intelligent, very distinguished people. They had been already developing all these shows and here I am, I’m just sort of, I really don’t know what’s going on.

And I would often feel kind of intimidated and my boss at the time, a wonderful woman, said, “What do you think? What do you think about this particular pilot?”   And I’m like, “You’re asking me?” And she said, “Yes, I’m asking you because you have watched more television than anybody else in the department. You’re from the Midwest. You’ve probably watched television.”

And she was right. I had watched more television. I knew what was going on in the middle of the country. I knew how people really watched TV. They were in those offices already, sort of an ivory tower kind of thing where they had lost that reality.

So the best advice was for her to shift that, for her to make me realize that yeah, I did know. In an unusual way, I definitely did know more than they did. And that helped. That gave me confidence.

COMING FROM A BACKGROUND IN DEVELOPMENT, WHAT GENERAL ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?

If you’re a writer you’re going to keep writing and so I encourage everyone, don’t give up. Get your voice out there. You’re going to resonate to someone.

Coming Soon: Laurie shares insights from her years working with professional and aspiring writers.

Laurie’s book The Writer’s Advantage: A Toolkit for Mastering Your Genre explores ways to preserve good storytelling within the 21st century transmedia marketplace and helps writers to prepare and develop their projects.

Are You Ready for CARGO 3120?

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One of the really cool things about becoming a content creator is that you can never be absolutely certain how your content is going to turn out. A great idea is nothing if it remains, simply, a great idea. It’s got to go someplace where it can be seen or heard or read or experienced one way or another by its audience, and the journey from brainchild to final “product” often takes many highly unexpected twists and turns.

The basic premise is clear enough:

Cargo 3120 is a Science Fiction action/drama set in the year 3120. The fate of an entire galaxy hangs in the balance from a menacing threat that lurks in the dark recesses of the Andromeda Galaxy. But when failure could bring about extinction level consequences on a galactic scale, coming up short is simply not an option.

There’s just one problem… The hope of a galaxy rests in the hands of unstable mercenaries and former criminals that are just one bad decision away from getting themselves and those around them killed. Now, their leader Marcus La’Dek must find a way to bring this team together to thwart the plans of the fast approaching harbingers of death.

~(from Cargo 3120.Com)

But wait, there’s more to the story.

Originally intended as a network or cable TV series, CARGO 3120 began its life under the title CARGO (without the year in which it was later determined to be set) as a Finalist in the 2012 People’s Pilot, written by Aaron Walker. Aaron entered another version of the pilot in the 2013 contest, along with a second potential pilot episode for the show written by Aaron Walker and Daymond C. Roman.

The odds against getting a spec original TV series on the air being what they are, Aaron and Daymond then decided to go a more individual – and affordable – route and make it into an animated web series. Today, in October of 2014, they’re still aiming in that direction but now are hard at work masterminding a web comic strip version to begin with. We at TVWriter™ are huge fans of the idea and its creators, so, starting today, we’ll be bringing you weekly progress reports by Aaron and Daymond as they do that thing creators do (well, actually it’s called struggling) to get the strip and the web series and the TV series going.

Starting with:

Cargo 3120: The Making of a SciFy Franchise – Entry 1
The Genesis of a Dream
by Daymon C. Roman

Okay, so how did Cargo 3120 come about? Well, that’s a story that begins in the summer of 1996 when Aaron and I met. We were both attending a California State Bridge program. It was designed to help kids like us (kids that just missed the cut) to get into college.

Aaron and I hit it off really well. We both loved all kinds of movies, especially scify, which was pretty rare at that time, black guys that like scify and admitting to it, especially with all the “cooler” things out at the time: Menace II Society, Set It Off, and Friday. And of course, we loved those movies too, but scify was our thing. Not only did we love the genre, but we also aspired to write and produce our own material one-day.

For hours, we’d throw around ideas and brainstorm exciting stories, write them down, and attempt to create screenplays out of those cluster sessions. The story for Cargo was already starting to take form. Only, we had no idea in how to write a screenplay or who to even show our works to. Remember, it was 1996, if you had access to the internet you were being charged by the minute for that dial up service. So, surfing the net for answers was not an option, and the library -forget it.

Looking back, I don’t think either of us were mature enough to develop a structured story, but our ambitions were strong enough to keep us going.

Next Week: From Ambition to Film School… to the U.S. Army?

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