Hollywood isn’t the “Dream Factory.” You are

Holy crap, it's Robert Gregory Browne!

Holy crap, it’s Robert Gregory Browne!

by Robert Gregory Browne

I had my big writing break almost ten years ago. I had just finished writing my first book, Kiss Her Goodbye, and because I had been a screenwriter in a former life, my Hollywood agent was able to hook me up with an agent in New York. So I had an advantage at the start that a lot of aspiring novelists only dream of.

Kiss Her Goodbye-sThe agent in NY loved the book, took it around to his favorite editors and within a few weeks I had a two-book deal at St. Martin’s Press.

Now, without trying to sound like the egomaniac I am, I like to think I’m a pretty damn good writer. And if that book hadn’t sold at that time, I’m pretty sure I would have kept writing, but it wouldn’t have been with the same fire. I would have been thinking, what the hell is wrong? Why didn’t they buy my book? That lack of validation by the industry I yearned to be part of would have crushed me.

I’ve read manuscripts by other writers that were at least as good as mine, or even better, that just couldn’t be sold. Either agents weren’t interested or, if the script got past that wall, editors turned it down. Those poor writers—as good as they were—just couldn’t get anyone to say yes. And I can only imagine how heartbreaking that must be.

We hear a lot about New York publishers being the curators of great writing. We get the argument that publishers are needed because otherwise the marketplace will be flooded with inferior books and readers need to know they’re getting books of substance.

But this is a lie. What New York publishers curate are books that they feel can make them money. While those books may pass a certain threshold of “readability” that many don’t, the quality of voice, plotting and character development is subjective, and acceptance or rejection of the manuscript really comes down to one thing: “Can we sell this book?”

The answer to which often lies with the publishing house sales department, not the editors.

When that’s your criteria for acceptance, there are bound to be hundreds, if not thousands, of books rejected over the course of your average year. And because of those rejections, there are bound to be many excellent writers who are wondering what went wrong and wondering, even, if they should give up the dream.

That’s one of the side effects of the so-called curators. Because of the curators, we readers have been missing out on those rejected books, some of which may well be masterpieces of fine writing. Masterpieces that, unfortunately, didn’t have glittery vampires or a dystopian setting or a celebrity name attached.

After nine plus years in this business, I would argue that the curators are harming literature more than they’re helping. That it should be up to each individual reader to decide whether a book has value, not some guy in an office whose tastes may not reflect yours.

If you’re one of the rejected, don’t despair. You weren’t necessarily rejected because your book didn’t reach that threshold of “readability.” You weren’t necessarily rejected because you couldn’t write as well or even better than me or all of my friends who have achieved the “dream.” You may very well have been rejected because a salesman (or agent) simply didn’t feel he could sell your book. And those salesmen (and agents) have been proven wrong time and time again.

The good news is that none of that matters anymore. None of us need those “curators” to validate our work. Now, the readers can decide if our work has value.

Don’t let rejection get you down. If your dream is to traditionally publish, keep plugging away and you’re bound to make it some day. And if you don’t—or if you’re no longer interested in letting some stranger in an office decide your book’s fate—the alternative is a wonderful place to be.


Robert Gregory Browne is the author of Kiss Her Goodbye, Whisper in the Dark, Kill Her Again, Down Among the Dead Men, The Paradise Prophecy, the Trial Junkies series, and numerous other wonderfully written and hugely selling books that have made him healthy, happy, and wise.

Back in the days before he so deservedly discovered novelistic gold he was the writing partner of a certain LB – yes, we’re talking about our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody – on the animated TV series DIABOLIK (hey, it was a smash in France, which we think really means something) and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED.

And before then he, well, he won the Nicholl Fellowship, gang, which is, hands down, the most meaningful contest win a TV writer/screenwriter can have. That’s how fucking good Rob is.

Now if we can only get him to write some more for us….C’mon, dood, what d’ya say?

Robert Gregory Browne’s website

 

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/29/14

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

  • Neal Baer & Alexandra McNally (UNDER THE DOME) are developing a medical drama series for CBS about “the deeply personal and raw stories of…dedicated health care workers…at a clinic in Venice that serves as a crossroads for the haves and have-nots.” (Gotta say, tho, that yer dearly beloved munchman ain’t sure he trusts storytellers who use “Venice” when they mean “Venice Beach” as though, you know, nothing beyond their precious Los Angeles might even exists. Or maybe I should chalk that one up to some very shortsighted PR peeps?)
  • Jennifer Schuur (HANNIBAL) is writing the script for an ABC pilot called THE LONG GAME, based on a treatment by novelist Kate Atkinson about a “gutsy female forensic accountant who exposes fraud for a living.” (Yeah, that sounds exciting! I mean, nothing against accountants, but the last time I talked to mine I fell asleep just punching in his cell number.)
  • Stacy Traub (GLEE) is writing what seems to be an ABC comedy pilot called NO ANGELS. (I say “seems to be” cuz the logline gives me absolutely zero inkling. What? You don’t believe me? Here it is:  NO ANGELS “is about a group of nurses who work together and live together. Work issues become home issues. Home issues become work issues. And eventually it’s hard to tell which is which.” On second thought, I’m predicting comedy. Cuz the only thing that could make this situation credibly dramatic is if Richard Speck knocks on their door.)
  • Lance Krall (IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA) is writing HOLLYWOOD & VINE, a comedy series based on material from the Vine video platform. (Cuz the web’s time has come, dear children. Hop aboard the bus and rocket to stardom! For reals.)

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….)

Cara Winter: The Anglo Files 7

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THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW
(or, Anything Goes)
by Cara Winter

If you’ve never seen the UK talk show The Graham Norton Show – shame on you, seriously.   It’s on BBC America here in the states, clips (even whole shows) widely available on YouTube, so it’s not like you even have a decent excuse!  Even if you’re living under a rock, on top of a mountain, or in a shoe, certainly someone you know either has basic cable or the Interwebs.   Jesus.  It’s like you can’t be trusted to do anything!   

The Graham Norton Show is a talk show, yes, and Graham Norton is the host.  He wears a suit, he has celebrity guests and a studio audience, the whole bit.  In that sense, it’s very traditional.  But…the suit is pretty much a smokescreen, cause there are no rules, there is no professionalism, no amicable host prepared to jump in and save the show.   You’re out on a limb.  And best of all, around Norton… no one is safe.

Graham Norton is smart, fun, fabulously gay, and lovable.  He has no band, no #2 to banter with, and he keeps his opening monologues short.  Irreverent and vivacious, (and oft verrrry blue) the whole sensibility of his show is unlike any talk show anywhere, ever.  Norton is a natural in front of an audience, completely at home with celebrities and civilians alike.   The celebrity interview portion is very loose, very friendly, and his guests all come out (‘mm-hmm, come out…’) and sit on his couches together (instead coming on  ‘in order of importance’ – blech).   Then, he plies them with alcohol.  And that’s when Graham gets going.  Once they’ve gotten introductions out of the way, he will ask anything – ANYTHING – that pops into his twisted head.  And if the audience likes one of these little moments he concocts, it’s not unusual for him to hop up and curtsy.  But he also doesn’t need to be the one producing the laugh; often, he’s perfectly content to give a celeb lots of rope, free reign to veer off into some weird, twisted or embarrassing story, quite happy to sit and not say anything.  Unless it’s to turn to the audience and say,  “You’ll notice, I’m not saying anything.”

And while I’m sure there is a script, of sorts… it seems like Norton is rarely married to it.  Instead of the usual canned ‘tell me a short quirky story, then plug your latest movie’, has has real conversations with his guests – and the result is almost always six tons of fun.  And I’m not entirely sure they even have an editing bay, as it seems like pretty much whatever happens in front of the cameras is what goes on the air.  Maybe they were cutting the budget a few years back and decided, ‘Meh, who needs editing”?  …because it all feels a little like anything goes, a little like the Wild West of broadcasting, like maybe, if Cameron Diaz does jello shots and throws up, we’ll just hold her hair back and keep going.

Every major star has made at least one appearance, and they often do and say things you won’t see or hear anywhere else.  Benedict Cumberbatch tells Harrison Ford he used to fantasize about him.  Emma Thompson recounts the time she flashed her Saving Mr. Banks cast mates.  Same episode, Hugh Grant describes a particularly hairy audition…  and Bill Murray figuring out that basically anything goes?  Comedy gold.  It’s as if every guest is infected with Norton’s impish glee, where “naughty” is the expected state of being, never, EVER to be uttered in the same context as “Santa”.  (Unless it’s Bad Santa.)

And everything is double entrendre.  Everything:     Harry.   Sandwich.   Bush.   I’m pretty sure Norton could make Peter Rabbit sound scandalous (I mean, rabbits, come on, that one’s too easy!), and no celebrity can get away from it.  Refreshingly honest, Norton will also make fun of anyone, over anything.  He ribbed Bono – (Bono!  Who makes fun of Bono, to Bono?)  over his ever-present sunglasses.  And even after Bono tells the audience he wears them because he’s developed glaucoma, Norton hands Bono this ridiculous over-sized pair of shades to put on; like, “Hmm, well, that is really awful, Mary…  but I have bit to do.”

If you’re really and truly a Graham Norton virgin… well, I’ve done all I can, at this point.  I’ve given you the tools, the information, and permission to go exploring… now it’s up to you to actually go and get defrocked. You can see The Graham Norton Show on BBC America, Saturdays at 10/9c.


 

Cara Winter is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.

Jamie Mathieson Tells Us What It’s Like to Write for DOCTOR WHO

Cuz what TVWriter™ visitor wouldn’t want to know?

I Am Writing For Doctor Who
by Jamie Mathieson

Baker Tardis

Not Jamie. Just some sort of lookalike.

So for all the people who googled me solely because of that fact, and ended up here, this is what you need to know;

I am forty four this year, which means that I was five when the Tom Baker Doctor Who adventure Terror of the Zygons first aired. I have a memory of it being utterly terrifying. And strange. And wonderful. And too much for my tiny mind to deal with.

Out of pure fear, I then decided to avoid Doctor Who for the rest of my childhood. I don’t remember much else clearly from the Tom Baker years. I vividly remember literally hiding behind the sofa when the Daleks came on screen and still being able to see them in my head.

I remember Weetabix releasing tie-in Doctor Who cereal boxes and cards when I was seven. Their images are burned indelibly into my mind. They evoke childhood to me in a way that shows of the time never can. In many ways, my Doctor will always be two dimensional and made of cardboard (a fact I truly hope is not reflected in my work on the show).

Fast forward to 2014. I am writing for the British institution, children’s nightmare factory and infinite narrative sand-pit that is Doctor Who. Which is an honour. And a joy. And a huge pressure. And very, very cool. And a chance to shine in front of the biggest audience I have ever had. (Or fall flat on my face, but let’s not dwell on that.)

Read it all

Old TV, Interweb TV, and…You (Us?)

We hold this truth to be self-evident. The only thing truly debatable here, it seems to us, is the use in the title below of the word “Soon:”

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As Online Viewing Soars, Internet TV Will Soon Be the Only TV
BY 

More people are watching TV online than ever—a lot more. Viewers may not be cutting the cable cord altogether, but growth in the number who want to watch TV over a different set of pipes is surging, according to a new report from Adobe. If anyone was still wondering why HBO and CBS plan to offer an online-only option, the trend is clear: the internet is where people want to watch. In more and more homes, online TV isn’t a geeky novelty, a sidelight to the traditional version. It’s just what TV looks like now.

Adobe is in a position to know because its software runs the platform that nearly all US cable customers use to log into the online versions of their subscriptions, according to the company. Researchers tracked 165 online video views and 1.53 billion logins over a year, and they found that total TV viewing over the internet grew by 388 percent in mid-2014 compared to the same time a year earlier—a near-quintupling. And the increase is more than just a few diehards binge-watching: the number of unique viewers well more than doubled, growing 146 percent year-over-year.

According to analyst Tamara Gaffney, three factors are drove this growth: more apps and sites for watching, more content to watch on those apps and sites, and the World Cup. Sports act as as kind of “appetizer” whetting viewers’ appetites for the flexibility and breadth of online TV, Gaffney says. The World Cup was an especially strong lure because the internet was the only way to watch so many games that traditional TV lacked the bandwidth to show. But Gaffney said once viewers came for sports, they stayed for everything else.

“Households generally connect because of sports,” she says. “But then when they start to use online television, they start to branch out.”

According to Adobe, viewers have branched out so much that, for the first time, viewers watched more movies online than sports. The average was 4.5 movies per month, Adobe says, versus two a year ago. Viewing of “episodic television” over the internet also saw a sharp increase. The jump is all the more remarkable since Adobe’s survey doesn’t include the main streaming services: Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. In other words, many people still paying for cable are less interested in watching TV in the cable way and more in the way Netflix has led viewers to come to expect.

“When you want to really binge-view something you didn’t know you wanted to watch until the season was over, you’re going to turn to the online option,” Gaffney says.

Read it all

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 10/28/14

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

  • Christ on a crutch, NBC wants to do a sequel to the sobbing dog story feature film MARLEY & ME as a TV series where the loving owners of the now dead, dead, dead Marley the golden Lab get themselves another golden lab to torture. Jenny Bicks (SEC IN THE CITY) is writing the pilot script. (And, yeppers, ye olde munchkowski figures that she’s also got a secret last episode tucked away too. You know, the one where, after the show gets cancelled, this dog dies too. Oh, NBC, have you no shame whatsoever?)
  • Chris O’Dowd (MOONE BOY) is re-booting his Irish sitcom MOONE BOY as a series for ABC. (Cuz now that the Australian series, whatever its name was, with the crazy guy and the man in the dog suit is gone, U.S. audiences are dying to watch the adventures of an autistic boy and his sarcastic asshole imaginary best bud. Between this and MARLEY & ME, I’m thinking of moving myself to the dark side of the dogless moon.)
  • Tony Phelan & Joan Rater (GREY’S ANATOMY) are writing the pilot for an untitled legal drama about a supposedly smart 30 year old female defense attorney who falls in love with one of her clients, who’ve being accused of a brutal crime. (Tell me again, pliz, Ms. Development Exec, what the fuck happens in Episode 2?)
  • Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) has a new overall deal with FX . (And considering that this dood is one of the greatest talents on the planet, all yer friendly neighborhood muncharino can say is, “Hooray!” But I’ll say it a bunch of times so it’s more effective. Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray Hooray– )

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….)