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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Courtesy Assistant/Atlas, who knows whereof, here's the thinking on the hot specs:
Hot shows to spec: Entourage and Housewives,
definitely. With its plot twists and general
what-the-f***-is-going-on nature, Lost would be a pain
in the ass to spec for, and I don't think it's in as
much demand as you'd think.

With the proliferation of procedurals, any CSI-like
spec is probably the spec most likely to land you a
job. I'd say the other hot specs are the teen soaps:
The OC and One Tree Hill
Hah! See, I wouldn't have thought of One Tree Hill.

BBG did the call-the-agents'-assistants thing like I asked (it's so great when people actually take your advice!), and got
Entourage, Two and 1/2 Men, and Will and Grace for sitcoms
Desperate, C.S.I., LOST, Nip/Tuck, and House for hour long.
I asked if it's a good idea to write a pilot--they said no.
Yeah, I gotta repeat this: writing a spec pilot is NOT a particularly good idea unless you are a veteran tv writer. Why? Because writing a pilot is incredibly hard. Much, much harder than writing a spec episode. You write a spec Alias, as I've said before, you automatically get Jennifer Garner's pouty lips and knockout body in a sparkly dress. (At least until she starts showing.) You write a spec AKA or whatever you want to call your show, you've got to create your characters in the reader's head. You have to create the sense that your show has a template. On Naked Josh we spent the first seven episodes wrassling with the show's template, and I wrote at least one ep that simply wasn't in the template. This is on a "go" show, right? Already cast. Granted the NJ template was a tad ambitious, but you can really wrap yourself around a tree trying to create a template in a single episode.

If you are a veteran writer, there are advantages to writing a pilot. You can stand out from the crowd. You can show people your originality. But they already know you can write someone else's show. You have credits. You have a rep. And, of course, you can sell the damn thing. In my little neck of the woods, the next thing I write on spec in TV, whenever that is, will be a pilot. But I've sold a show and optioned others. If I were heading back to LA, ayn kaynhoreh, where I have no rep at all, I would be writing a spec episode of something -- my West Wing spec has begun to grow moss, and my Buffy and X-Files specs are rotting in the ground. (Not to mention, I write better than that now.)

By the way, it was an educational experience, that ep I wrote that wasn't in our template. Once you define the show, it stops being yours, even if you're one of the creators. Once you've established a template it becomes very hard to push outside that template. And that's why, as I keep saying, television is not a medium for personal expression. You can express yourself, yes, but it's not about you. It's about whatever parts of you will serve the show. The show is a beast that must be fed. Always best to bear that in mind when you're riding it.



Alex.. I was just curious why showrunners in interviews, articles, always seem to make the comment that they prefer to read original spec material(pilot or film) instead of just another C.S.I. spec a writing sample?

There was a recent Creative Screenwriting column that was devoted to getting staffed and they interviewed Hank Goldberg, Rob Thomas, etc
They all seemed to mention the idea that a good spec pilot/feature seemed to win out over a great spec one hour or terms of a writing sample.

Are they refering only to established writers who haven't worked in awhile but have past credits, because in my recollection the article was about rookie screenwriters trying to break in?

I don't really have any interest in writing a pilot giving it could ONLY be used as a writing sample, so I'm sticking to the TV specs and trying to set up a writer's assistant job.

Just found it a bit confusing I guess.

By Blogger CharlieDontSurf, at 1:35 PM  

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