The Real Costs of Current TV Pilots & Films

The Hollywood Reporter shares fascinating financial info that we know is for reals – cuz they got it from the Sony email hack:

battlecreekby Austin Siegemund-Broke, Paul Bond

Cameron Diaz is a bigger star than Jamie Foxx. At least that’s the way Sony saw it when paying the actress $7.5 million to appear in Annie, $2.5 million more than her male co-star.

To illustrate the state of Hollywood salaries, THR analyzed two full production budgets revealed in the Sony hack — one for a midrange family movie, the other the pilot for Battle Creek, a CBS series that aired this spring — chosen not because they represent excessive spending, but rather because they exemplify what it costs to make an average piece of American entertainment.

battle creek budget

Read it all at Hollywood Reporter

EDITOR’S NOTE: Y’all may have noticed what’s missing in this breakdown, and in the rest of the article too: Who the writers were and what they got paid. A sign of the high regard in which the Reporter holds us poor, floundering scribes?

You May Not Have Heard of Writer Joe Keenan, But He’s Doing Pretty Damn Well

Anybody reading the various tales of woe about how Hollywood – especially TV – treats writers can’t be blamed for wondering, “Why do TV writers put up with that shit? Why don’t they move to another medium, where their rights as creators are respected?”

Here now is the answer. The inspiring tale of Joe Keenan, who may not be a household name – or even a cult figure – but when it comes to $$$ is doing pretty damn well:

Joe Keenan Net Worth: Writer Producer to Sell Off Property at Studio City
by Reality Today Staff

Award winning writer and producer Joe Keenan listed his expansive property in the hills, above Studio City, for $6.75 million.

Keenan and his long-time partner, Gerry Bernardi, bought the California property in July 1997 for $1.5 million, reports Variety.  The writer producer also purchased the house next to the estate three years later for $625,000. However, the said property is reportedly not included in the sale transaction.

The Variety report describes Keenan’s expansive property as a picturesque estate in the hills.  On the property is a white, stucco-sided modified Colonial house that was originally built in the late 1930s.  The property has three bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms.  In total, the gated real estate measures 1.48 acres, wherein the house has 5,297 square feet of living space.  Trees surrounds the property with views of the San Fernando Valley peeking through the trees from the raised front porch.  The house also features an angle entrance gallery which opens to the central courtyard and leads to a formal living room with a fireplace.  Adjacent to the formal living room is a fully paneled dining room which has another fireplace.

The well-equipped although somewhat outmoded galley kitchen also has extra wide spaces and comes with dark colored cabinets.  It even opens up to an informal dining area which currently is decked out as a lounge with Art Deco sofa and chairs.  Keenan’s house also has a family room, home gym, double home offices and a wood paneled library.

On the second floor of the modified Colonial mansion are two en suite guest bedrooms wherein one has a private sitting room….

Read it all at Realty Today

An American’s guide to British television on Netflix

This particular TVWriter™ minion doesn’t mind admitting it: I’m addicted to UK television. But with BBC and ITV, Britain’s two largest networks (well, BBC really is 4 networks, but that’s another story) refusing to let anyone browsing with a non-UK IP address stream or download their shows it isn’t all that easy for me to find satisfaction.

Which is where our old pal Netflix comes in:

blackmirraby Joey Keeton

Trying to keep up with all the quality television being produced in America is downright Sisyphean. But there’s another whole country producing amazing shows across the pond, and—sorry to say it—you’re going to need to watch all of those, too.

The following are the best British shows currently streaming on Netflix, along with your ticket to having something to say whenever somebody brings them up.

1) Top Gear (1977–present)

The Top Gear you see on Netflix may be officially dead now, but its ghost still lives on in the company’s servers. The downside: It’s only five seasons of the famous Clarkson/May/Hammond run of the show. The upside: That’s still about 33 hours of material, and it’s all fantastic.

Top Gear is one of the most highly viewed programs on the planet, and it’s not because of the cars. That may be hard for a newcomer to believe, but you really don’t need to know anything about cars to enjoy it. It’s the chemistry between the hosts—and the hijinks they get into—that makes the show accessible to everybody from the most diehard car enthusiasts to somebody who’s never even driven one. In the spirit of irreverent British humor, some of these hijinks went too far—and were partly responsible for the BBC’s hands being tied when it came down to firing host Jeremy Clarkson. (This is one of those such moments, which, lucky for you, can be seen on the currently streaming India special.)

Hijinks aside (and I promise that’s the last time I’ll use that word), Top Gear is about much more than its shenanigans: The program itself, like many of the cars featured on it, is absolutely beautiful. The production value on it is through the roof; they could film my 2012 Kia Soul going through a Wendy’s drive-thru and make it look a vision that Moses himself would have while atop a mountain. During their famous specials, which usually involved the hosts being given a relatively small sum to each purchase a car and attempt to drive across a country, historic and cultural details are seamlessly interwoven into the commentary. Yes, some of Top Gear’s trips outside of the U.K. may have caused international friction, but damn were they fantastic.

Although you needn’t be a gearhead (or, as the hosts would say, “petrolhead”) to enjoy Top Gear, you’ll be hard-pressed to come away from a series (that’s British for “season”) without a greater appreciation for cars than you had going in. Add in some global culture from international specials, and you have a twofer for expanding your precious mind—all while eating pretzels on your bum.

2) The IT Crowd (2006–2013)

The best way to describe The IT Crowd is that it’s a lot like The Big Bang Theory, except it’s funny. You see, in the U.K., they have a knack for producing programs with about six episodes per series, which gives the shows a much better chance of not having to do-over sitcom plots that have existed since the 1950s in order to fill a contractual obligation for 24 episodes. This also means you can binge watch a lot of shows very, very quickly. If the stars align and you can go off the radar for a bit, this particular one can be conquered in a mere two or three days.

This the only show on the list that includes a laugh track, but the thing is: I’m pretty sure it’s a real track of an audience laughing. Remember when Louis CK had a brief run on HBO with show Lucky Louie, which took place on a set in front of a live audience, and had real people laughing? This show’s like that: dignified.

The show’s about a woman who joins a giant, Orwellian sort of company, and—as her job doesn’t include many real duties—her office is located in the basement, where the IT department resides. That department is made up of Chris O’Dowd, that bloke who played a romantic copper (that’s British for “cop”) in Bridesmaids, and Richard Ayoade, who’s directed music videos for Vampire Weekend and the Arctic Monkeys, and also directed the very good coming-of-age film Submarine.

Much of the humor derives around the female Relations Manager being a fish-out-of-water in the midst of the nerdy IT guys, which is, as I explained earlier, much like the comedic dynamic of the Big Bang Theory. That basic premise may sound a bit inherently sexist, but I assure you it’s not, because every single character has an accent. Accents make everything OK, right…?

Read it all at Daily Dot

Why superhero TV shows are so reluctant to include romance

Alice Walker wows us with this insightful analysis of the sad love lives of TV superheroes:

RomanceSuperheroesby Alice Walker

It’s been nearly 15 years since superheroes first conquered the big screen — and the small screen is next. Today, almost every major network has a comic book superhero, from Netflix’s critically acclaimed Daredevil to Fox’s shaky Gotham.

Like their movie counterparts, the broad outline of each of these shows is the same: do-gooders trying to save humankind from megalomaniacal villains. Since that’s what the entire genre is based on, that’s pretty much expected. But there’s another, much stranger quality that these shows share, one at odds with the rest of television’s current trends: They have eschewed romance to the point of near non-existence.

To be clear: Romance hasn’t been eliminated altogether. However diluted, the classic love interests — culled from decades of comic book stories — are still around. Daredevil has its Night Nurse, and Gotham has its Barbara Gordon. Relationships are teased, and longing glances are exchanged. Occasionally there’s even a hook-up. But from show to show, in episode after episode, these connections between characters have been unceremoniously thrust so far into the background that they barely touch the main story arcs. It’s a baffling choice, undercutting dramatic tension and diminishing fan engagement.

Let’s start with the worst offender: ABC. Despite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s creative resurgence in season two, the show’s relationships are still largely one-directional, lacking the steamy flair that drove Whedon family shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. As the second season ended, the only existing romance was between ex-spouses Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse, who — while perfectly fine on their own — have not been particularly engaging as a pair. Watching two characters we barely know bicker and reunite is hardly the stuff fandoms are built on. And it’s not like the appetite isn’t there; fans have been reduced to rooting for non-existent couples (see: SkyeWard) in the absence of an actual compelling love story.

Then there’s the S.H.I.E.LD. spin-off prequel Agent Carter, whose star Hayley Atwell is so charming and charismatic she could have chemistry with an empty chair. But despite the obvious potential, the series settles for the specter of her relationship with Captain America — a plot that we’ve already seen played out across the two Captain America movies separated by more than a half-century of story. Are we really supposed to believe Peggy Carter had no romances during the 70 years when Captain America was frozen — when she believed he was dead?

Turn the dial to Fox’s Gotham, which spends plenty of time on villain back-stories and convoluted chase scenes, but only lip service to the many couples you’d find in the Batman comics on which it’s based. Gotham‘s ostensible lead is James Gordon, and while he has several dalliances, they’re almost always underdeveloped and secondary to the motivations that actually drive him….

Read it all at The Week

Why Netflix Rulez

Here’s a well thought out analysis of what makes Netflix numero uno in the hearts of, well, this TVWriter™ minion for sure:

GettyImages-125641399-640x446by Nick Cannata-Bowman

TV today is a veritable gold mine of must-watch shows. Across all the major networks and beyond, there’s more than enough to choose from. We have everything from superheroes to zombies, and everything in between, leaving little room for much else. Netflix though managed to dive right into the fray, coming out the other end with its own host of wildly popular shows that have single-handedly revolutionized the streaming format. Other streaming services have followed in kind with their own original programming, but there’s no denying: This is Netflix’s world, and we’re just living in it.

How did Netflix get here? The world of streaming before they came along was largely uncharted, and only recently have services begun to discover their true potential. Buying up streaming rights from various studios and production companies can get pricey, leaving original programming as the simplest and most affordable road to take. But not all streaming services were created the same, and Netflix has managed to stand head and shoulders over even network TV for a variety of reasons.


We’ve been conditioned for the last half-century of television in a simple credo: one week = one episode. The idea is to build tension, while stretching out the potential for ad revenue over 6 months. Netflix, caring little for ads, went in the complete opposite direction. For all of its original programming, we’re gifted with an entire season’s worth of episodes in a single day.

This in turn leaves audiences free to watch at their own leisure, with many choosing to power through everything in a single sitting. It keys in on the millennial need for instant gratification. No one is forced to wait, a week to watch a 42 minute show peppered with almost 20 minutes of commercials, making Netflix the easy choice over network TV.


FOX, CBS, NBC, and ABC have been battling for the top spot since they first came into existence. Throughout this struggle, their main arena has been primetime, taking place between 8 and 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. During those hours, they slot their strongest shows, each hoping to be the most-watched shows on single nights throughout the week. Netflix though exists outside this struggle entirely.

As a streaming service, it doesn’t have to worry about competing for the top ratings spot in primetime. Its flexible release schedule makes it possible to release full seasons of its various shows any time it makes sense for its own calendar. Above the fray, Netflix doesn’t need to worry about what its competition is doing on any given night.

Read it all at Cheatsheet

Favorite TVWriter™ Posts During the Week Ending Oct. 2, 2015


The most clicked-on posts by TVWriter™ visitors during the last week were:

What Popular TV/Film Trope Makes You Want to Never Watch Anything Again?

Peggy Bechko on “Self Editing, the Writer’s Friend”

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Sublime Primetime – Insights From Emmy-Nominated Writers

Mulder and Scully are Breaking Up?! OMG!

And our most visited resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline


The Logline

The Teleplay


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