James Manos at Banff, Part OneComplications Ensue
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I sat in on James Manos’s “master class” at the Banff Worldwide Television Festival. Manos, the creator of DEXTER, talks a mile a minute, but I was able to scribble down some of the most important points.


Manos avoided a career in pro basketball when he realized that at 5’ 10” he was going to have to work too hard to keep up with the other players. He went into acting, did summer stock, and wound up at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

He says he “wasn’t intending to be an actor,” but “it’s imperative to know what you’re asking someone to do.” (I found the same thing: one of the most useful writing and directing classes I took was two years at the Joanne Baron Studio studying Meisner Technique acting. I didn’t want to act either, but it taught me a lot about how scenes work, and it helps me listen to my characters.)

I would not necessarily be surprised if he was eliding a few fits and starts here – no one likes to talk about things that didn’t work – but soon he read about a Texas mom who allegedly tried to help her daughter get on the cheerleading squad by hiring a hit man to kill her daughter’s rival’s mom. Figuring he was never going to get into Hollywood unless he had something that everyone else wanted, he “borrowed $150,000 from a friend” and went down to Channelview Texas, wondering if there was something in the air that made everyone down there nuts. He was surprised to discover the town flooded with limousines – Hollywood producers who were also down there to buy the story. But he got the rights.

If I scribbled this down correctly, he wrote up a 20 page treatment and took it to Bob Cooper at HBO, who immediately optioned it, and they hired a writer, and Manos was off to the races – as a producer.

To be continued...

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By Blogger MinB2139, at 2:42 AM  

Are you able to tape these talks and/or are they getting streamed somewhere?

Avoiding a pile of puke outside a bar the other day made me think of Dexter - vomit splatter analysis, by a closet alcoholic...hmm, too derivative.

By Blogger Hepworks, at 9:56 PM  

They will eventually be streamed, I am told.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:13 PM  

They will eventually be streamed, I am told.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 12:13 PM  

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