The Most Popular TVWriter™ Status Update on Facebook

by Larry Brody

We all know that Facebook keeps an enormous amount of information on all of its users.

One of the bits FB collects is how many viewers any given status update has, and there’s even a way to find out. (No, I don’t know how to do it deliberately. I just know that whenever I go to the TVWriter™ FB page – or whatever they call those things now – it tells me how many people saw each post…and then, for purposes of comparison, I assume, it tells me how many people have seen what it says is, “your most popular post.”

For months, that “most popular post” has been something called: “Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters?” Inasmuch as this is one of the most informative and helpful showbiz articles ever to appear on the web and I put it on the Facebook page before TVWriter™ existed in its current equally on-the-money, helpful blog form, it seems to me only fitting that I post it here and now, so it can get even more exposure and help more hopefuls understand the Showbiz Game:

Polone: Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters? – by Gavin Polone

…Aspiring and established scriptwriters likely fantasize about a high-powered exec or producer personally discovering their genius after a cold read and calling their agents, demanding a meeting. And those dreamers might be distressed to know just how much of their fate — when it comes to getting a staff writing gig on a TV show, a feature-film assignment, or the possible sale of their spec script — is in the hands of inexperienced low-level executives, assistants, and even interns.

I started as an agent 25 years ago, and I remember sitting in the Monday morning staff meeting where we would talk about all of the scripts we had read over the weekend. A huge pile of scripts in front of you was a red badge of courage, and I felt superior to agents with smaller piles. (Nobody has paper piles any longer, as everyone reads on iPads and Kindles.) Back then, I would routinely plow through up to about 1,200 pages’ worth of sitcom, TV drama, and feature scripts over a weekend. While I might not have read them super-thoroughly, I didn’t skim them either, devoting 45 minutes to an hour to each feature. It was exhausting and life-killing. Today, I read a fraction of the material I used to and none of my peers do much more.

Here’s the short list of what I do read: For a project I’ve sold into development at a film studio or television network, I will read and usually write notes on each new draft; if the changes made to that script were small, I will only read the pages that have been changed…But other than that, scripts submitted to me as possible development projects are given to my development executive and our assistants, who write a synopsis and critique on each…

[I]f you are one of those hoping to break into scriptwriting and are disillusioned that your prospects may rest in the hands of someone just out of school and with little experience, I’d say two things:

(1) Fear not, since, in my experience, truly good writing always finds its way to the decision-makers because the young people who are reading the scripts are more like the audience than those of us they assist. We do listen to these early readers, knowing that in some ways the opinion of an assistant or intern has even more validity than our own.

And (2) No, there isn’t a chance in hell that I’ll read your fucking script, so don’t ask.

The details, many of which I’ve excluded for reasons of space, are what really make this article. So I definitely suggest you read it all. I’d also like to point out, as one of the commenters on the original article does, that while this is the way things are done these days that doesn’t make it the best possible one. It’s simply the reality we live with…for now.

About LB

Larry Brody has been profiled in such national magazines and websites as Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, Starlog, People, Electronic Media, IndieSlate, TechTV, io9, and of course TV Guide. A legendary figure in the television writing and production world, with a career going back to the late ’60s, Brody has written and produced literally thousands of hours of network and syndicated television. Brody has also been active in the TV animation world, writing, creating, consulting, and/or supervising the cult favorite STAR TREK animated TV series, the SILVER SURFER, SPAWN, SUPERMAN, SPIDERMAN, and SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED animated series, and was showrunner of the French animated series, DIABOLIK, as well as part of the team that developed and wrote the live-action/cgi animation sci-fi series Ace Lightning for the BBC. Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys.