Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 3/11/14

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

  • Chrissy Pietrosh & Jessica Goldstein (COUGAR TOWN) have signed a 2 year deal to develop new projects for Universal TV. (So if you’re a big fan of COUGAR TOWN, MY NAME IS EARL, and something called BIG DAY, rejoice cuz with this kind of money changing hands something these two ladies write will definitely show up on your screen. OTOH, if you aren’t a fan….)
  • Lena Dunham (GIRLS) is writing a 4 part comic book series about everybody’s least hip, trendy, edgy, or even interesting teenager – Archie! Yep, she’s going to give the world her take on Archie and his gang. (And to make matters worse, Archie Comics is actually paying her to completely destroy their franchise. Oh, has the munchie one gone too far in showing his displeasure? Nah…I haven’t even come close to adequately expressing my disgust.)
  • Dylan Morgan & Josh Siegal (30 ROCK) have joined the uber talented Chrissy and Jessica with a 2 year deal of their own at Universal. (Except on this one el muncho is looking forward to the results of their labors.)
  • Leesa Dean (CHILLTOWN TV) has won the Focal Press “Bound to Create” contest, and TVWriter™ couldn’t be happier. (Cuz not only is she a genius animation writer-creator-producer, she just happens to be one of our featured columnists. Congrats, Leesa. Just one question…who’s Focal Press? Please spill cuz let’s be honest here, your friendly neighborhood munchman is way too lazy to google)

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

itisaliveChapter 38 – And…We’re Back!
by Leesa Dean

Hope everybody had a great Thanksgiving. I did! Both of my parents passed away a number of years ago and I don’t have any brothers/sisters so over the time, friends have become family. I normally cook and have a bunch of folks over for dinner or get invited someplace. This year, I spent it with one of my oldest friends at her parent’s house. Our folks were best friends with mine and growing up we always spent the holidays together, so it was a really warm and nice full circle kinda thing.

And right after, I threw myself back into work. Aside from writing/prepping Season Two of the Lele Show and the TOP SECRET project I’ve been working on, I have a few more scripts I’m nursing, including a movie, two tv specs and a new web series. And that’s just for next year. I have no idea when I’ll be done with them all, but it’s fun and I’m having a good time ideating. One thing that’s been really inspiring: The official selections at this year’s Sundance Film Fest. Included is Dear White People by Justin Simiem which looks dope!, plus a film by the wildly prolific Joe Swanberg starring one of my favorite writer/directors, Lena Dunham. Also this year, Low Down which is a bio pic about bebop pianist Joe Albany told from the perspective of his daughter AJ (she actually wrote a pretty juicy/interesting/heartbreaking memoir about growing up with him.) Can’t wait to check all of them out when they’re released.

It’s gonna be interesting when I launch Season Two of the Lele Show. I’ll still be working on all the other projects and it takes SO MUCH work to promote a web series, I really don’t know how I’ll be able to juggle it all.

I learned a ton of lessons from my first go-around and I’m hoping to be a bit smarter this time, but just envisioning how I’m gonna do it all gives me the willies.

Typically, when I write I turn off social media to keep focused. I literally quit my browsers so I’m not tempted to google, procrastinate, etc. while working.

That’s nearly impossible to do when you’re promoting a web series. With Chilltown and the Lele Show, I literally was receiving and replying to hundreds of comments a day between YouTube, Google +, Facebook and Twitter. I’ve found that if I don’t reply right away, it just becomes a nightmare. And next year when I relaunch, I’ve decided to also focus a lot more on Instagram. Last year, Chilltown was entirely in the can while I was promoting, and just taking on the Lele Show put me into 15 hour days, 7 days a week.

I’m thinking of allocating about 4 hours for solid writing a day, with no interruptions, probably in the morning. Then do everything else.

How do you guys handle multi-tasking? Any tips on writing/promoting simultaneously? I’d love to hear any suggestions.

We Aren’t The Only Ones Who Love Chilltown TV

w-w-w-leesa-dean

ChilltownTV’s creator/producer/writer/etc. and TVWriter™ contributor Leesa Dean is featured – featured – we say, over at Comedy TV is Dead and we can’t think of more worthy subject of adoration.

Yes, we said “adoration.” What else do you call an article that starts off like this:

Leesa Dean does it all. Chilltown TV is an outstanding animated web series with the kind of laid back pacing and humour that invokes 90?s era MTV greats such as Beavis and Butthead.

Chilltown originated as a cult-hit comic book written by Dean to poke fun at the kind of “hip-hop-heads” she knew whilst growing up, and its success ensured it was hastily picked up by a TV network for adaption into an animated series.

TVWriter™ can’t think of a better cult hero. Go, Leesa, go!

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

trolls-tvwriter.comChapter 27 – There Will Be Trolls
by Leesa Dean

Most people have, at times, had to battle that inner little voice that tells you you’re not good enough, you’re not talented enough, you’ll never truly make it. Welcome to the internet where that little voice is now not only in your head, but in the comments section of your videos for all the world to see.

Everybody’s gone through it. Everybody. When I went to an all day YouTube workshop a number of months back, it included a panel with some of the biggest YouTube stars there are. Half of what they discussed had to do with trolls who comment. The bigger you get, the more trolls you get. It’s inevitable. So how do you deal with it?

You could:

–Delete the offending comments at, say, 4am when you have aggravated PMS-induced insomnia/anger issues (not that I would know anything about that.)

–Make them into some bizarre drinking game, like taking a shot of tequila every time you read “You suck!” Warning: this could possibly lead to cirhosis and/or bad dating issues.

–Develop a thick skin. Which is easier said than done.

Part of the way you develop thick skin is simply through time. Ultimately, you’ve got to. It’s sink or swim. The more you go through it, the less it bothers you. Hopefully. It also helps if you’re getting a ton of great comments (which my shows luckily have.)

Another way is to keep moving, keep writing, keep producing. The more you do, the less you become attached to the success or failure of any one thing.

Then there’s this: I’m a tennis fanatic as both a fan and player, though I’m a relative beginner. While I’ve been hitting for a few years on and off, I just started playing games about 6 weeks ago and found that somehow, it’s helped me develop that thick skin.

I wasn’t prepared for exactly how nervous I’d be once I finally started playing sets. It’s seemed like an exercise in humiliation. Screwing up in public with people watching is not only nerve wracking and frustrating but lead to me actually play worse. It’s called choking.

Thing is, I really really want to get better. So I’ve stuck with it. Sink or swim. Started focusing just on the playing and the fun and not on the failure. And, slowly, I’m improving. The humiliation is gone. I’m choking less and hitting better. Looking at every single shot like it’s an opportunity, not a test. I still screw up a bit, but it’s only been 6 weeks.

I realized: Hmmmm, this seems familiar. If I just did that with my shows, if I focused on just the work and didn’t get invested in comments, good or bad, it would help get past some of the disappointments. Guess what? It works.

Now, if only I could only get the trolls to do it!

Next week: Rollo returns and Big Screen Little Screen.

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

keep-calm-i-am-backChapter 26 – I’m BAAACCCCKKK!!
by Leesa Dean

So. Back after a couple of weeks hiatus. Been on vacation, which for me means only working about 40 hours a week. And taking weekends off. It’s been great. Actually got to play a lot of tennis (I’m a huge tennis fanatic, albeit relative beginner.)
When I first launched 10 months ago, I jumped in with both feet, not knowing anything. Now I know slightly more. I normally put in, easily, 12-15 hours a day, seven days a week. While it was exhilarating (mostly), it was also exhausting. I needed the break.

During the hiatus I was working on the TOP SECRET PROJECT plus putting down ideas for the Chilltown and Lele’s Advice relaunch. Initially I thought I’d be ready in the Fall. More likely it’ll happen in winter. I just started writing some of the new Lele shows. I’m doing 36 new ones–a huge amount of work. Just structuring the new season outline is making me cross-eyed. And trying to get my ducks in a row for the Chilltown relaunch.

Plus, now that Labor Day’s over, the calls are coming back in. Meetings being set up. Next week, I go to another Big Screen Little Screen plus have two new interviews set up. And, on top of it all, who do I hear from? You guessed it. Rollo. We have drinks planned. Can’t wait to hear what he’s been up to after all this time (actually, I’m kinda scared to hear what he’s been up to!) Back to being uber-busy. It feels good.

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

a3c2013-experience-film

Chapter 25: A3C!!!!
by Leesa Dean

As I mentioned last week, Chilltown is an official selection in this year’s A3C Film Festival. A3C is the biggest hip-hop festival in the world. And it’s focus is underground/indie hip-hop. A lot of people come from indie hip-hop–Jay Z, Kanye West, 50 Cent, just for starters. When I launched Chilltown, I reached out to the underground hip-hop community. I felt/hoped people would embrace it. And they did! Being an official selection is probably the biggest thing that happened for Chilltown so far.  Part of the lesson for me:  niche.  I didn’t think “niche” when I originally reached out to the underground/inidie hip-hop community initially.  I just thought, “this is the kind of music I love, I hope other fans relate and respond to my work.”

I was told A3C averages 10,000-50,000 people, which is huge. They also do press, so I’m hoping to use this to not only bring more awareness to Chilltown, but also to get people interested in the relaunch.

This is the second year for the Film Festival and other films that are screening are some really cool documentaries, including the world premiere of Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, which is about Stone’s Throw Records, one of hip-hop’s biggest. The festival is produced in collaboration with the Atlanta Film Festival.

Some of the great acts performing there this year include Ghostface Killah (from Wu-Tang Clan), Jean Grae and Too Short. I actually included a Too Short reference in episode five of Chilltown (if you’re a hip-hop head, watch it and see if you can find it.)

Yes, I now have a ton of stuff to do to get ready for the festival (it’s at the beginning of October which seems right around the corner) but I’ll be doing it all with a big smile on my face. To say I’m thrilled is an understatement.

Here’s an article with the official announcement.  Next week:  another Big Screen Little Screen and more adventures to report!

Leesa Dean: Adventures of a Web Series Newbie

Adventures of a Web Series Newbie - Chapter 23: Missives From The Trenches

Chapter 23: Missives From The Trenches
by Leesa Dean

I’m officially on hiatus with both Chilltown and the Lele Show but it seems like I’m busier than ever.

Been working on the TOP SECRET PROJECT and the relaunch. Had a great shoot Monday. Really killer and a lot of fun. Then Tuesday had a long edit session that was also fun and wildly productive. Also, exciting to see some of Monday’s footage up on the screen and how it even exceeded my expectations.

Before the session, I met with Kai Alexandre. I’ve mentioned him here before. He’s definitely one of the players in the web series game. A former MTV producer (and actor), he had a fairly popular series on youtube a few years ago called Potty Mouth TV. He’s resurrecting it as part of 3Senso, a brand new network he’s starting and seems to know everybody. He’s been a huge fan of ChilltownTV from the start.

We met at The Royalton, a pretty swanky hotel in midtown Manhattan with an equally swanky bar (i.e. In hushed tones, wearing seemingly velvet slippers, they float over slinging large bottles of imported non-sparkling Italian water that probably doesn’t, but seems to taste better than tap.) Over said water and yummy summer artisanal (yes, artisanal) drinks we caught up.

Kai told me VC funding war stories from the trenches. I told him part of the relaunch plans for Chilltown and the Lele Show–well, some of the parts I’ve already figured out. Compared to launching a web series, launching an online network is a whole other animal. I’ve read quite a bit about the VC startup dance. It’s very fast-paced world–especially in tech where everything changes from moment to moment–and very exciting. And hearing about Kai’s experiences was pretty cool. A lot of his plans have changed/shifted in the five or six months he’s mentioned them to me. Mostly in a really good way. A reflection of the market. I can’t wait to see what happens with 3Senso and write more about it.

The rest of the week I’ve been deep in animation production and doing a lot of recording, Victor Cruz who’s a HUGE talent and starred in Chilltown did some voiceover work on Thursday. It’s always a good sign when someone reads their lines and the reading is SO funny, tears start streaming down your face. We also spent some time catching up. Victor’s wife just had a baby a few weeks ago which is so exciting. And, he just wrapped work on the new Nick Cassavetes film, starring Cameron Diaz. It was pretty thrilling to hear. Especially since I’m a huge fan of Nick’s dad, the iconic brilliant director (and actor) John Cassavetes.

The week ended with me getting yet another contract offer. And boy was it a doozy. I’ll write about it next week.

Finally, my thoughts are with Will Gray and family.  As of this writing, Friday, he’s in hospice on a breathing tube with severe pneumonia and unresponsive.  It is not looking good.  He’s 33 years old.  Will, a brilliant songwriter/singer/mc was diagnosed with Stage 4 sinus cancer on Oct. 31, 2012.   Right before his diagnosis, he finished a documentary about unsung, struggling musicians called Broke*.   Check it out.