Jorge c Perez: Gentlemen/women! Start Your (Writing) Engines!!

by Jorge c Perez

Jorge C. PerezIt’s 1 week since the official start of this year’s National Hispanic Media Coalition Fellowship (sponsored by ABC and NBC). This program was started 13 years ago by Alex Nogales, who hoped to change the TV landscape in regards to stereotypical portrayals of Latinos.

(Interesting Note: You don’t have to be Latino to submit to the program).

There is a fast-growing homework load, as well as some networking events that have already led to some doors opening. I have to watch and read at least two episodes of each show that other fellowship winners are writing: BROOKLYN 99, ORANGE IS THE NEW BACK, THE KNICK, SLEEPY HOLLOW, THE BLACKLIST, ARROW.

The 11 Fellowship Writers, 6 women and 5 men, presented our bios at our first story outlining discussion, in preparation for a breakfast meeting we’ll be having with ABC and NBC executives. I found myself to be part of quite an accomplished group.

Our combined histories include being CAA-repped, Nichol Quarterfinalists, Austin Finalists, produced NYC playwrights (I’m one), and being on the Blacklist. (The website, not a real blacklist.)

We have graduated from M.I.T, worked for Mayor Bloomberg in NYC, been members of sketch comedy troupes, and were part of “Teach for America.”

(I’ve owned businesses in the service and fitness industries, was a long-time basketball coach, and have done script coverage for A-List screenwriters and working TV writers.)

All in all, it’s shaping up as a witty, story-wise group – led by Geoff Harris, who was VP in charge of Story and Writer Development at NBC for twelve years.

This is the first time the fellowship is allowing ORIGINAL PILOTS to be developed in-program, and 7 of the Fellows doing that. I’m writing an original pilot entitled SHOOTING STARS. It’s a more intimate, basketball version of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, where the characters are explored into adulthood.

If I do my job properly, SHOOTING STARS will have social and institutional commentary similar to THE WIRE. My main character, a young, high school chemistry teacher – just kidding, he’s a lone wolf basketball coach – strives to bring an NBA basketball franchise to Puerto Rico, while shepherding 3 teens to manhood, each with dreams of their own. It’s a cautionary tale about shooting for the biggest of dreams, and what is won – and lost – on the journey.

As things got rolling, we were invited to a Q and A with the entire writing staff of a Hulu Original show, and I was introduced as a Fellowship winner. It’s amazing what a stamp or seal of approval provides (we are such herd animals) because this panel of writers was WAY friendlier and accessible than any I’ve been to – and I’ve been to 150 events in my three years in LA.

The panel was so accessible that one of the staff writers asked if she could introduce me to a producer who is looking to develop a TV series in an arena that I’ve actually written a pilot in. The arena has not yet been explored in television. The staff writer said that she was swamped with work and couldn’t take on any new writing assignments like this one, so she was giving me a crack at it.

I gave the writer my card, the producer emailed me within the hour, and he and I met two days later to discuss the project. He now has a writing sample of mine, and I’m looking at preliminary materials for his project to see if it’s something I feel I can hit a home run on.

Through the Fellowship, I’ve also received an invite to a network Talent Development party. The party is tonight, and I’m hedging my bets by bringing a female friend to help me network. She’s outgoing and charismatic and gorgeous, and while I’d like to think that also describe me, I know that while me being myself has gotten me to the front door, I’m going to need a lot more to go on through that door!

I’ll let you know how it works out in another report. Look for it next week!


TVWriter™ is proud to be able to present this exclusive series of articles by Jorge c Perez. Three years ago, Jorge moved from NYC to Los Angeles to make the jump from triple A to the big leagues in his TV writing career. He’s had a diverse work life exciting cities like NYC, Philadelphia, Miami, Steamboat Springs, Co., Cape Cod, Mass. In June he had two original pilots named Finalists the People’s Pilot Competition, and this past February his screenplay for CROSSING CURRENTS (produced in NYC at Altered Stages) was named a Semi-Finalist in the Sundance- affiliated Latino Screenwriter’s Conference.  Jorge can be reached at JPerez@MessageandMediumEntertainment.com