PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Feedback is Finished

by Larry Brody

Time for a brief but important announcement:

I have finished and emailed all of “Larry Brody’s Personal Feedback” to all PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 entrants!

The Feedback aspect of the PEOPLE’S PILOT is, I believe, one of its most important benefits. Where else are y’all going to see the accumulated reactions of Industry pros to your work before you join the ranks of said pros?

So if you haven’t received yours, check all the usual places (like your spam file or other email folders where your filters automatically send things without needing your click of approval), and if you still can’t find it, give me a holler HERE and I’ll, you know, see what I did wrong and do my best to set it right.

Fair enough?


LB: Saying Goodbye to Lin Bolen, A Real TV Pioneer

by Larry Brody

The Real Lin Bolen

One of the darker sides of getting, um, older (as opposed to the brighter ones, like being able to rest longer between workouts and pretend to no longer care about what other people think) is standing on the shore of the river Styx and watching old friends depart this plane of existence.

It doesn’t take long for the bravado behind cynical sentiments like “Better her than me,” or “He’s well out of it now” to  fade away, replaced by the fearful awareness that, “Holy hell, I could be next,” and eventually, if you keep on keeping on, by an awareness of the transience of all things that pervades your entire body.

An awareness that even the coldest of us have to acknowledge as genuine sorrow.

Like the sorrow I’m feeling right now.

Last week I learned that former network executive and television producer Lin Bolen died, just a couple of months before she would have turned 77.

Immediately, I was hit by an unexpectedly strong feeling of loss. We’d known each other for almost 40 years, interacting (that’s the oldster word for hanging together) professionally and personally. We all have professional friends,  so the hell with writing about that. The personal Lin is who’s important.

I met her through my good friend, the late director Paul Wendkos, whose oeuvre included the films Gidget and The Mephisto Waltz, with a ton of TV work before, between, and after. I remember thinking he was the luckiest of men to have a wife so intelligent, strong, and brave.

(Pretty damn good-looking too, but we don’t talk like that anymore.)

A small town girl (Illinois! The heartland! Flyover country in the extreme!), Lin’s talent, style, ambition, and refusal to take any shit from anyone, no matter how high up, enabled her to crash through the very low – I’m thinking waist high – glass ceiling of the time (there were no women anywhere in TV’s higher executive ranks then) and become the head of NBC Daytime Programming, the first woman programming VP at any U.S. network.

Fighting her way through the psycho-sexual showbiz politics of the ’60s and ’70s (and the ’80s, ’90s, and our very own 21st Century as well), Lin introduced long-form daytime serials to TV and gave NBC the “young women’s audience” it needed to survive at the time.

Business magazines didn’t talk all that much about “innovation” then, and that’s really too bad. Because if they had, Lin’s picture would’ve been on all their covers.

Faye Dunaway – not even close

Many of you reading this probably know more about Lin Bolen than you think. Odds are that you’ve seen and heard the version of her played by Faye Dunaway in a not-so-little film called Network.

Dunaway’s character is a foul-mouthed, man-eating shark who has fucked her way to the top where she still continues that particular practice, targeting and seducing every man in her way and leaving a bloody trail of dead male careers and egos behind her.

The film is dark and funny. The portrayal of Lin is darker, and the running joke about the character is how orgasmic she is. As luck would have it, Lin, Paul, and I saw Network together at a studio screening shortly before it came out. Watching the film, I braced myself for the worst, expecting Lin to be, well, at least as livid as Faye’s character had been in just about every scene.

As we walked to the car, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t a trace of anger on Lin’s face. There were, however, a few tears. She and Paul held each other close (they always did that anyway), and at last she spoke, revealing the sensitivity she tried so hard to hide.

“So that’s it?” she said. “Lin Bolen in a nutshell? For the world to see?”

Paul shook his head. “Don’t be silly, Linnie,” he said. “Everyone who knows you will know that’s bullshit. Not even you come that fast.”

I braced myself for the torrent of then-unprintable words to come roiling out of her mouth, but Lin fooled me again. She laughed and moved still closer to him. “Hurry up and get me home, Paulie, and I’ll show you what an amateur that bitch Dunaway is.”

I know this isn’t the kind of story someone usually writes about a recently departed friend. But it’s all about who Lin Bolen really was. An extraordinary human being who met everything she encountered head-on, no matter how much it hurt, in career, life, and love. She and Paul Wendkos loved each other with a ferocity most people can’t even imagine. If anything good has come from her death, it’s that they’re together again.

Hmm. Maybe that trip to the Styx doesn’t have to be so dark after all.

Question for LB: OMG! Are Those My Words That Actor Just Said?

Glad You Asked Department 1/8/18
by Larry Brody

Last week we presented a guest article about what it’s like to see your first script produced, and over the weekend a similar question came in from a TVWriter™ reader about my own personal experience in that regard. So I thought I’d share my answer here and now:

Where are they now? No, seriously, if you know, please comment below!

Question from Armando:

Dear Larry,

My longest running recurring dream is that I’m sitting in an easy chair, iPad in hand, watching as an episode I’ve written as the newest staffer on THE GOOD PLACE begins, with all the actors delivering my lines. It’s the most exciting dream I’ve ever had, even better than the one about Gal Gadot, her golden lasso, a tub filled with Lucky Charms cereal, and me.

You’ve had hundreds of TV episodes on the air. How does it feel to hear actors saying something you’ve written? In particular, did it feel the first time?

Answer from Yours Truly:

First of all, congratulations, Armando, on proving yourself a real writer. How, you may be wondering, did you do that? Very simply: You asked me about My First Time and it was a writing question instead of a sex question. So smile, dood, this proves you’ve got what it takes to go far.

My first produced script was an episode of the long gone series HERE COME THE BRIDES. I don’t remember anything about the story other than it involved the heroes helping a group of immigrants trying to build a new life for themselves in the rugged 1870s Pacific Northwest, believe it or not. But I do remember sitting down to watch the show the night it was on, eager to hear the actors uttering my words.

Unfortunately, an hour later, after the episode was over, I was still waiting. Because the thrill of seeing absolute proof that I was a professional writer of television never materialized in terms of anything other than my writing credit. I never got to experience the “Oh wow, they’re saying that I wrote” moment for one not uncommon reason:

The cast wasn’t saying what I wrote. My recollection is that about two-thirds of the dialog had been rewritten by the story editor and the remaining third had been changed by the actors themselves during the shoot. And the way I felt about that was dumbfounded.

What had they paid me all that money for? Why had they hired me to write two more episodes if nobody liked my dialog? What the fuck was going on?

I got the answers as I continued to work on HERE COME THE BRIDES and then other shows over the next couple of millennia. My experiences and conversation with various executives, producers, other writers, directors, actors, and their friends and lovers and even spouses brought the truth home:

Like all television writers, I was being paid to do the hard job of facing the blank page. Of organizing the material. Of writing dialog that gave everyone else involved enough of an idea about what should be there – but to their minds wasn’t – to make it easier for them to adapt the words to their own needs.

This is one of those occasions where I could go on and on and on, but you probably get the point. On HERE COME THE BRIDES and all the shows that followed, I was hired and re-hired as writer and then producer and then showrunner (and occasionally even praised to the skies) because my words came closer to what everyone involved wanted, or thought they wanted, than those of most of the other writers they’d worked with.

In fact, very often the praise came out something like this:

“Larry, that script was awesome. You’re a really good writer. Rewriting you is a cinch.”

Now that may not sound like much to you, Armando, and when I was starting out I wasn’t exactly tripping on that particular accolade myself, but my time in the trenches has had its teaching effect, and I’ve learned to appreciate the comment above.

Because when you get down to it, and the various needs and desires of everyone involved in a Hollywood production are taken into account, if those in charge like your work enough to keep asking for more, you’ve done the job you were hired for and then some.

Which is what being a pro, a real pro, is all about.

Here’s hoping that you get to experience the same acceptance I have, and that you embrace the joy a lot more quickly than I did. Relax, let yourself grin, and enjoy your very real and exciting success along with everything that leads to and follows from it.

In other words, good luck, kid. Say hi to Gal and the tub for me.

My purpose here is to help as many undiscovered creative geniuses as possible. But I can’t answer if you don’t ask. So send your questions and make everyone’s day!


Larry Brody replies to “I’m a beginner at this TV writing thing. Please help!”

by Larry Brody

A couple of TVWriter™ visitor questions that have been gnawing at me for the past few days:

1) From JW:

‘Morning Mr. B,

I’ve written and entered a TV pilot that has done fairly well in contests but has not been picked up or optioned. Does it make sense to write another episode from the same series and enter it in next year’s contests?

For example, my Season 2, Ep. 1 has a great opening and compelling new characters added to the cast but doesn’t establish the original “big picture.” Will I lose points with the judges for that?

And my reply:

Dear JW,

I can’t speak for other contests, but I do kind of know my way around the People’s Pilot, where, believe it or don’t, people do what you’re talking all the time.

Well, not exactly all the time but fairly frequently. Sometimes they entire another episode in the same running of the PP so that in effect the judges have two pilots to choose from. In the 2016 Peoples Pilot, for example, two different writers working on the same future series sent in two separate scripts to serve as pilots.

The actual creator of the show entered his pilot script, and his fellow writer on the hoped-for series send in a later episode. Both scripts placed highly. In fact, the creator’s script finished third in its category and the other script placed second because even without including a series set-up per se, it was an excellent example of what should or would happen on the show.

In other words, I think submitting another episode of your series would be a good idea. If the fact that the script doesn’t present what you call “the big picture” worries you, I suggest you also include a short series presentation as additional material for the judges to take into consideration. We’re big on additional material in the PP.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of original pilot scripts like yours not being picked up or optioned, I’d like to point out that very few series created by writers who are outsiders in the biz are ever sold. That’s just not how the system works.

Original pilots, however, are absolutely the best writing samples you can send out because they show both how you handle material you love and your understanding of the needs of whatever genre or category your script is in. And original pilots that have won, or placed highly in contests, are pretty much beloved by agents because they also demonstrate that other readers have been impressed by your writing so taking a chance on you, the new writer seems less risky. In the People’s Pilot, by the way, those other readers are TV and film writing pros, and that reduces the risk factor even more.

2) From WJ:

Hi LB,

I’m a college student in a film and TV program that has given me the chance to write two of my own pilot scripts in the past year. Both have been well received by my teachers and advisor.

One of the scripts is drama. The other is a dark comedy. I read where writing in different genres can cause identity confusion for potential agents, managers, hucksters. Should a writer avoid muddying the waters and stick to one niche until he/she is established?

My oh-so-very-thoughtful reply:

Dear WJ:

Oh, for Christ’s sake, WJ, give yourself a break. Who are you going to confuse? You’re brand new to the writing game and not even in L.A. yet. No one in a position of genuine authority or influence even knows you’re alive.

Your job is to get noticed. To demonstrate that you’re better than everyone else who’s showing their material to all those to whom you’re sending yours. Why in the name of the Great God of Ambition would you want to hogtie yourself by hiding one of the scripts you genuinely believe is the greatest of its type?

Send them both out wherever you can. Get yourself discovered. That’s what it’s all about. Besides, most people, even knowledgeable professionals, conflate dark comedy with drama anyway because of the serious undertones that dark comedy gets its name from.

The only reason to hold back material is if you have doubts about it. I mean genuine doubts with a basis in reality, not neurotic self-doubt.

Um, what’s that you just asked? How do you tell the difference? That, my friend, is between you and your shrink.

Thanks for the questions, you two! And to everyone else out there: I love hearing from you, so, by all means, keep ’em coming!




LB: First Thoughts on the PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Competition Entries


by Larry Brody

It’s been 5 – count ’em, 5 – days since PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017, the web’s premier TV pilot writing competition (as I sure as hell like to think) closed, and Team TVWriter™ and I have been logging in the entries and doing some preliminary analysis thereof.

As usual, I’ve enjoyed myself immensely because how can I help but be excited and happy when I’m learning as much as I am about where the entrants’ hearts, souls, and heads are and where the future of what used to be thought of as “just TV” but now is a bit more respectably referred to as “electronic media” is heading.

Haven’t done any close reading, mind you, but here’s what I’ve discovered while playing lookie-loo with all the entrants’ work:

    1. The most obvious thing is that PEOPLE’S PILOT entries were down this year by almost 25%. Sounds like a lot, yeah? But the loss in fact simply brought us back to the same number of entries – plus or minus a handful – that the PP averaged for several years until a big rise that sustained itself for 2015 and 2016. No one here at TVWriter™ was able to fully explain the rise at the time. In fact, we’d been expecting a downturn because of economic conditions and the increase in online writing contests. I admit that I’m disappointed that the new, higher number of entries didn’t last, but we’re going to study the data more thoroughly and work like demons to turn it around again.
    2. Last year, I recognized the names of about 30% of the entrants, either from previous contest entries, emails to TVWriter™ or myself, and the various classes I teach. This year, that number is up a bit, to 33%. It’s always gratifying to realize that we have a core group of repeat visitors and appreciate not only your loyalty but also our responsibility to continue giving helpful “tips and tricks” (as our homepage used to say when we first started TVWriter.Com almost 20 years ago) to TV and screenwriters both new and, well, let’s just say “more experienced” and let it go at that. Big thanks to all of you for inspiring us to double down on our efforts to give you what you need.
    3. Last year, we had three categories, one for half-hour shows, one for one-hours, and one for – surprise – longer than one-hour shows. This year we downsized back to two categories, Comedy (of any length) and Drama/Action shows (also of any length).  I was worried a bit that this might result in a decrease ion the number of longer pilots, and, yep, that’s what happened. However, this year we made an effort to reach out to writers of web series, with the result that the percentage of scripts that were either shorter than half an hour or longer than one hour went up a tad, to almost 20 %. I’m very pleased that the PP is being embraced by web series creators and believe this represents a major shift in what the biz types call content distribution. In fact, here’s a prediction: Within the next couple of years, creating and running a successful web series will be the major calling card for a wider professional career.
    4. Speaking of becoming professional, I have to admit that I’m surprised to report that the number of Drama/Action entries this year was just a couple of percentage points shy of double the number of comedy entries, a fair-sized uptick. When I mentioned that to a couple of my comedy writer friends, they nodded and looked smug. “Comedy writing is harder, Larry,” one said. “I think it scares writers off.” When I said that the numbers looked bad for the future of comedy, another friend laughed. “Fewer new writers means more work for this old warhorse,” she said. Of course, for those of you looking to make a place in showbiz, there’s another way to look at it. Fewer new comedy writers in the conveyor belt means more of a need for them. And, come to think of it, if you enter the Comedy category, less competition in the upcoming PEOPLE’S PILOT 2018.
    5. Here’s another comparison I find interesting. This time around, almost 75% of the comedy entries we’ve looked through appear to be traditional, old-school sitcoms whose purpose is to make the audience laugh rather than exercises in irony designed to impress viewers with their hipness. I’m thinking that this is a function of the way, especially over the past year, daily life in the U.S. has seemed to grow progressively more stressful on just about every level, creating a need for more humor. Looks like the current generation of new comedy writers is instinctively reacting to the situation, which I find impressively perceptive.
    6. Another trend that is showing up in this year’s entries is a rise in the percentage of science fiction and fantasy offerings. 22% of the comedies and a whopping 55% of the drama entries are genre. Putting it another way, this year we received three times as many s-f and fantasy entries as last. OTOH, a look back at PP records shows that the number of police procedural entries is down (only 10% of the total entries) while what we might call “criminal soap operas” are, you know, trending, at least in the PEOPLE’S PILOT.
    7. As usual, I’m enjoying the titles of this year’s entries. I’m especially looking forward to reading the following, just because of their names. There’s a lesson there that everyone reading this should note: A good title goes a long, long way to helping your cause. Here, in no particular order, are the ones that are grabbing me the most:
    8. Also as usual, we’ve received some fascinating one-word titles – 25% of all entries, in fact.  Here’s a random sample:

FWIW, my favorite title in the Comedy Category this year is FRANK FETUS, NICU, and in the Drama/Action Category I’m a big fan of 2 IN THE CHAMBER. No, I haven’t read either of them yet, but I will. Soon.

Our plan for announcing winners remains the same as we say on the PEOPLE’S PILOT “About” page. We’re on schedule to for announcing Semi-Finalists, Finalists, and Winners between mid-January and mid-February of next year.

And, of course, I’ll probably have a few more things to say between now and then so keep checking. Wouldn’t want anybody to be a Winner and not know it.

Which reminds me, if you entered PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 and want to keep abreast of all the further developments (and, you know, your placing, Feedback, et al), do yourself and us a favor and make sure to keep your name and email address on the TVWriter™ eMail List because that’s our go-to way of getting in touch.

Thanks again to everyone for taking part and being so talented! More to come!






Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘Great Spirits’

View down the Cloud Creek Institute for the Arts driveway. >sigh<


The image above was supposed to be of the last time I saw the Navajo Dog (although I didn’t know that’s what I was seeing) walking down the driveway. But when I looked at the file this morning, well, somehow she’d left the picture as well.

Magic is real…but that’s a song for another day.

Great Spirits
by Larry Brody

Since the Navajo dog and I stopped speaking,

Shortly after she trotted down our mountain

And vanished down the road to the next Astral Plain,

I’ve pretty much decided to hell with intermediaries,

I’ll go right to the source.

We’re talking the Great Spirit here, that’s right.

We’re talking God.

I speak to Him daily,

Usually in the shower,

Sometimes in the middle of the night

When I’ve been awakened by the insecurity and panic

That are a part of this kill-or-be-killed, law of the jungle

Situation now playing at your local theaters as life.

God’s an upright guy, as we used to say.

He always answers quickly—too quickly sometimes,

For me to comprehend.

Always, though, I believe.

God doesn’t confide in me. He doesn’t tell me His plans.

He doesn’t really answer my questions either. But

He does tell me when I’ve already gotten the answer for myself,

Whether what I’ve figured out is right or wrong,

And He laughs a lot.

Punishes, too. Just because God forgives,

Doesn’t mean He doesn’t kick ass.

They say virtue is its own reward,

And while that still isn’t something I fully

Comprehend, I know that talking to God is too.

With it comes a great feeling of peace.

Once you lose the illusion of having control over your life

You gain the ability to ride out the storms.

God is my shepherd, that I don’t doubt,

But just between you, me, and — yes — Him,

Sometimes I really want the Navajo dog.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

Web Series: ‘The Vamps Next Door’

NOTE FROM LB: Want to see what a web series episode with a million and a half views looks like? Click “play” on the video below.

by Larry Brody

There I was, on the back deck of the Brody home that isn’t Cloud Creek Ranch, having a fine old end of summer convo with my wife, Gwen the Beautiful, and two old friends, and suddenly the Missus of the friends, Laura Conway, casually mentions, “I’ve been making a couple of web series. They’re a lot of fun.”

And without missing a beat, the Mistah of the couple, Gerry Conway (yes, this Gerry Conway), equally casually says, “Laura’s shows have over three million views.”

“Three million views?” was all I could say.

“Yep,” Gerry said.

“And you never told me before?”

“I haven’t told very many people at all about the shows,” Laura said.

“Why not?” I said.

“She’s shy,” Gerry said.

Laura nodded. “I am. I’m shy.”

So, because I’m not so shy, let me repeat the most cogent fact here, because, well, because how can I not?

Three million views.

Fucking three fucking million fucking views!

And not only had I never known that Laura was doing this, I’d neither heard about nor seen any of her shows anywhere before.

Those of you who know me know where this is going. I have now watched Laura Conway’s absolutely mind-blowingly professional top scoring in every aspect series, The Vamps Next Door, and I’m absolutely blown away.

The episode above, “Hurt So Good,” is the most popular in the series, but the others are all just as good. Scripts, direction, acting, production values, we’re talking stuff that puts the original Dark Shadows to shame. Oh, and in case you haven’t watched the embed yet, I gotta tell you: The Vamps Next Door is funny.

To me, one of the most interesting thing about The Vamps Next Door is that Laura was a total noob when she started it, seven years ago. If you watch the earlier episodes, they’re rough, unpolished, fraught with the errors all new filmmakers make.  But she learned, and is still learning, the way a true creator does.

You can find out more about the show HERE, and you definitely should.

Thank you, Laura, for finally coming out of the closet!

Oh hell, here’s an episode of Laura’s other show, Ageless. It left me speechless when I first saw it, but I’m sure we’ll talk more about this later: