Yahoo TV Talks to TVWriter™’s Herbie J Pilato

…Cuz let’s face it. Herbie J is the go-to guy when it comes to the beloved old series BEWITCHED. Check it out:

samanthastevensBEWITCHED at 50: How Samantha Got Her Nose Twitch
by Joal Ryan

Bewitched turns 50 years old today, so it’s about time you got something straight about the witch-marries-mortal sitcom: You’ve been doing Samantha’s spell-casting nose twitch all wrong.

“Everybody thinks it was the nose, and that’s why people can’t do it,” says author Herbie J. Pilato, who’s written two books about Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery and the definitive guide to her series, The Bewitched Book.

Explains Pilato: “You have to wriggle your upper lip, and then your nose.”

The very first nose twitch — or, rather, mouth twitch — occurs about five minutes into the very first Bewitched, which premiered on ABC on Sept. 17, 1964.

Newlywed Samantha Stevens, played by Montgomery, breaks out the move in an attempt to magically evict overbearing mother Endora (Agnes Moorehead) from Sam and husband Darrin’s honeymoon suite. Plot-wise, the twitch doesn’t work, but it sticks as a signature move — it’s immortalized from the get-go in the series’ animated opening-credits.

According to Pilato, the script for the Bewitched pilot called for Samantha to work her magic with a vague move — maybe a wave of the hand, or the arm.  But director William Asher, who was Montgomery’s husband, wanted something special.

Read it all

How To Be Creative

The title says it all. (Like a good title should, right?)

by Jonah Lehrer

Creativity can seem like magic. We look at people like Steve Jobs and Bob Dylan, and we conclude that they must possess supernatural powers denied to mere mortals like us, gifts that allow them to imagine what has never existed before. They’re “creative types.” We’re not.

But creativity is not magic, and there’s no such thing as a creative type. Creativity is not a trait that we inherit in our genes or a blessing bestowed by the angels. It’s a skill. Anyone can learn to be creative and to get better at it. New research is shedding light on what allows people to develop world-changing products and to solve the toughest problems. A surprisingly concrete set of lessons has emerged about what creativity is and how to spark it in ourselves and our work.

The science of creativity is relatively new. Until the Enlightenment, acts of imagination were always equated with higher powers. Being creative meant channeling the muses, giving voice to the gods. (“Inspiration” literally means “breathed upon.”) Even in modern times, scientists have paid little attention to the sources of creativity.

But over the past decade, that has begun to change. Imagination was once thought to be a single thing, separate from other kinds of cognition. The latest research suggests that this assumption is false. It turns out that we use “creativity” as a catchall term for a variety of cognitive tools, each of which applies to particular sorts of problems and is coaxed to action in a particular way.

Does the challenge that we’re facing require a moment of insight, a sudden leap in consciousness? Or can it be solved gradually, one piece at a time? The answer often determines whether we should drink a beer to relax or hop ourselves up on Red Bull, whether we take a long shower or stay late at the office.

The new research also suggests how best to approach the thorniest problems. We tend to assume that experts are the creative geniuses in their own fields. But big breakthroughs often depend on the naive daring of outsiders. For prompting creativity, few things are as important as time devoted to cross-pollination with fields outside our areas of expertise.

Read it all


TVWriter™ Top Posts for the Week Ending 9/19/14


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

Peggy Bechko: 4 Great Tips on Writing to the Magic

LB: What’s Up with Troy DeVolld?

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Herbie J Pilato: Bewitched @ 50: Happy Silver Anniversary to Samantha and Darrin

The People – and Secrets – Behind Reality TV

And our most viewed resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline



The Logline

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!

Peggy Bechko: Writers and the Learning Curve


by Peggy Bechko

Writers; we’re by necessity much more than that these days. The world of writing and everything associated with it has changed amazingly in the past few years and continues to change every day. Think about it. The internet with it’s amazing resources for writers; research at our fingertips, social media to get out there and meet our readers and promote, videos and so much more.

It’s all a bit of a whirlwind, but if you’re a writer you’re already all too aware that what it means to be a writer is changing on a daily basis. How we can be successful at it is changing even faster. You have to grab the brass ring of what our culture is throwing at us, move forward rapidly, build new skills with alacrity and stay on top of stuff you previously didn’t even know existed (well, actually you didn’t know it existed because a short time ago it didn’t!).

So here are three of those skills I mentioned above to consider:

  1.    Network with other writers. Seriously. We used to believe writers were lone wolves, working in a quiet little room of his or her own. It wasn’t altogether true then, just partially. Yes, a certain amount of isolation and quiet is needed to do the work of writing. That’s just the way it is. Writers need peace. But, on the other hand when you read about historic writers frequently you read about them hanging out in cafes with other writers and artists. They created communities for themselves and that community creation in our times still extends to hanging out with other like-minded writers. However it has expanded to include the social network online. You know, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like. Reach out to other writers and editors. If you spread the word about their work they’ll spread the word about yours. Nurture friendships that can grow and spread over years.
  1. Now’s the time you have to learn to be an editor in addition to a writer. You must edit your own work. Nobody is going to accept sloppily written work. Not publishers or editors, magazines or book publishers or script readers or agents. And, not readers if you self- publish and get your work out there on your own. Gone are the days of dumping a box of pages on an editor’s desk and being met with a smile. Competition is much fiercer these days than twenty or even ten years ago. Don’t give any reader the opportunity to toss your work aside because it’s just too messed up to read. You can hire an editor, there are lots of them out there, if you need to. But polish! Learn little tips for editing such as changing the font temporarily to give yourself a new angle. Let your work sit a few days or a week or whatever you need before you re-read and polish. Ask a friend for a quick read-through. Whatever it takes. Make your work worth reading. And if you’re self-publishing learn to format to Amazon or whatever venue you’re publishing to.
  1. Create your persona and presence online. Start a YouTube channel if you want to put videos out there to promote your work. Create fab pins to pin on your Pinterest boards. Post on twitter and Facebook. Add photos of book covers and yourself. Maybe create a blog or your own webpage. Gain followers who want to share your work. Do it by creating relationships between yourself and your readers. Tell them about your process, why you write, what’s the next big thing you’re working on, anything that will get and hold their attention. Tell them your thoughts on what you might be writing next and ask their opinions. Engage.


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.


Peer Production: READ THE SIGNS

ReadthesignsCaptureAlthough we’ve written about READ THE SIGNS before, we didn’t know till we stumbled on the six finished first season episodes that this is exactly the kind of peer produced web series that we’ve been hoping for – a thoroughly professional piece of work in every way. Writing. Acting. Directing. Production values. Editing. Oh, and sexy and funny too.

Hats off to Writer-Director Luke Anthony and his cast and crew for creating a crowdfunding project (Indiegogo) that works beyond even the most exacting expectations.

Here’s the skinny:


And here’s the proof:

Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path with Daniel Knauf

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


by Kelly Jo Brick

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

After 22 years of making a living as a benefits consultant, Daniel Knauf transitioned into a career as a professional writer, creating the HBO series Carnivale, writing for several TV series including Wolf Lake, My Own Worst Enemy and Dracula. This season, Daniel joins the writing team at NBC’s The Blacklist.


I was an art major in college and I took a creative writing course and all of a sudden it was really interesting because I wasn’t really working with media and sculpting and whatever, my canvas was the inside of other people’s heads. That’s a pretty cool canvas. I mean it’s almost magical. So I found as I was going through college that I was taking more and more Creative Writing courses and fewer and fewer Art courses. By the time I graduated, I was an English major. I knew I liked writing, but I didn’t think I wanted to be a writer because I thought, “Yeah, right. Like I’m going to make a living doing that.”

I don’t think I really decided to be a writer where I went, “Okay, well, I can make a living at this,” until Carnivale got picked up from the pilot.


I had a movie that I sold to HBO in ’93 called Blind Justice that got made with Armand Assante and Elisabeth Shue. It was a Western and I was a sort of a journeyman, typical low level feature writer, setting up deals, writing scripts and doing development. Nothing was really happening until I was about 40 and then I took one last hard shot at it.

Of all things, I created a website and posted the first acts of everything I had. It was sort of an online resume which became kind of a proto-blog, I mean before the word blog even existed I was blogging about the trials and tribulations of being a less than successful screenwriter.

Out of the blue I got a call from this guy named Robert Keyghobad. Robert was an assistant for Scott Winant who was an Emmy winning director. Scott had told him, “I’m tired of reading cops, doctors and lawyers. I want to see something different.” Robert found the first act of Carnivale online and asked me for the rest of it. I sent it out to him and met with Scott and his partner Howard Klein. We took it directly to HBO and sold it and it became a series. And so suddenly I was in the TV business.


I’m a big believer in the room and passion rules the day in the room. So I want somebody who is passionate, who is excited, who comes bursting with ideas and is positive. And that’s very important.

In a way, if I had two writers and one was better than the other, one had turned in a better writing example, if they came in and they were kind of a drip or too full of themselves, I’d probably hire the person that had the weaker sample if they were just bursting with ideas and life. That’s important.


Where do you get your ideas? I get my ideas because I’ve lived a lot. I have my kids. I supported a family of 5. I worked in a job that was almost deadening and soul crushing at a health insurance program for 22 years.

My answer to them is don’t forget to live. Don’t forget to fall in love. Have your heart broken. Travel. Move around. Have a life.  You’re storing up things. That’s how you fill the hopper up with things to write about and they’re going to be unique. Don’t sit there. I’ve been in rooms with writers and they go, “Oh, this is going to be just like that scene in Die Hard. This is going to be just like that scene in another film.” And they’re all constantly referencing movies. Stop that. Really. Do we want 18 versions of Die Hard? Really?


Focus on your craft. And focus on living. Nobody wants to read a carbon copy of a carbon copy. Don’t sit around and watch TV shows and movies. Live.

I think the other thing is read a lot of poetry. Write poetry. When you’re doing scene descriptions and things like that, you don’t want to be directing on the page. You want to write economically evocative prose, that number one, helps sell the script and number two, helps people envision what’s happening. Doing that isn’t describing exactly what happens in a very specific way, but sometimes in a very poetic way.

So I think poetry is important, but the most important thing for a dramatist is finding a good acting coach or finding a good acting class. Study acting because it has an affect on how you write characters, how you create a voice for a character and a characters’ point of view.