TVWriter™ pal Troy DeVolld returns to TVWriter™ today to remind all of us in the Hollywood writing biz about one of the game’s most overlooked aspects.
Know how our teachers kept nagging us about getting our work done on time? Well, guess what? There are more than just a few people who haven’t listened.
by Troy DeVolld
[New TV writers] who follow me here: Please understand the speed of show business, which is seldom covered in film school.
Nothing breaks or budges an inch for days, months, even years… but when it does, everything is a three-alarm, git-r-done emergency with nary a minute to spare. That is, unless the person at the top suddenly decides to go to Cabo for a wedding and can’t find time to review and note the stuff you pulled a week of all-nighters to deliver.
This isn’t meant to be funny, but practical advice. If that kind of stuff bothers you, get over it.
Start dates on projects can also be ultra-fluid. I’ve often been told that a project starts the next day, and just as often that they expect to move forward within two or three months, depending on cast availability or some other pending element of business. Sometimes, the project evaporates during the inbetweenwhile. Sometimes, a 24-week gig goes up in smoke in week six.
THIS IS THE NATURE OF WHAT WE DO!
You’ve got to learn to be patient and stay loose, while still creating your own ground rules… like not being scared to have a life during the time between gigs. Maria Bamford used to do a bit about wanting to go out of town for a week, wherein her agent chides, “Maria, I had a client who went out of town for a week once. Do you know what he does now? He drives a rickshaw.”
Troy DeVolld is a Larry Brody buddy, former senior story producer of Dancing with the Stars, and all-around true master of the reality TV genre. He knows whereof he speaks, which is why we heartily recommend his bestselling book, Reality TV: An Insider’s Guide to TV’s Hottest Market
From TV critic to showrunner, Andy Greenwald has learned more about the TV writing biz than most of us have ever realized existed to be learned. Now he’s giving back!
by Steve Greene
Former TV critic Andy Greenwald had seen the demands of being a showrunner firsthand. When he finally got the chance to call the shots on the USA Network series “Briarpatch,” that opportunity brought everything that comes with overseeing the production of 10 hourlong episodes of TV.
“There was a day in the airport when I was flying back to Albuquerque because we had to crash [Episode] 2 through post to get it to Toronto,” Greenwald told IndieWire. “I think we’re filming 5 and 6, and we were prepping 7 and I was writing or rewriting 8, 9, and 10 and I was at LAX at 6 in the morning and I was like, ‘This…This is awful.’ And then I thought, ‘The only thing worse than this would be not doing it.’”
Despite that occasional solitary heavy workload at an airport boarding gate, Greenwald was far from alone in this process. After he wrote the pilot — the making of which he called “a graduate school in a couple months” — putting together a writers room became a blending of interests and perspectives that helped flesh out the world of the Ross Thomas novel the show is adapted from.
“This is a woman’s story. I am not a woman, nor am I a woman of color. So it was vitally important to me that we had a really strong and robust diversity of voices in the room. I’m pretty proud I was the only white dude in there,” Greenwald said. “It was great to have people from not just different backgrounds, but also different interests. Haley Harris loves cop procedurals, which is really important because I want people who like procedurals to like the show. We have someone like Eva Anderson, who’s an immersive playwright and works on comedy shows, because the comedy is vitally important to me. So the writing room was really the dream for me across the board, the opportunity to work with brilliant, creative people and just talk about story all day.”
In between an established career as a music writer and rejoining a writers room path that would eventually lead him to this latest gig, Greenwald served as a full-time TV critic, most notably at Grantland. Over his time as a writer and podcast host, he’s looked at the ongoing question of who has authorship within the TV space. While he says that the “Briarpatch” process crystallized some of his previous ideas and challenged others, he was quick to point to TV making as a shared pursuit….
Way back in the mid 20-teens, Joshua Hudson did quite a few interesting and popular TV and film reviews for us. Imagine our joy when we discovered this particular one on his Facebook page. Hi, Josh!
by Joshua Hudson
Finally saw Birds of Prey yesterday. My initial reaction: it was a fun movie and the action sequences were fantabulous.
However, upon further dissection:
DC really struggles telling a cohesive story. The story jumps in this movie struggled to stick the landing.
They made a mistake combining Birds of Prey with Harley Quinn. They should’ve split them because BoP takes the focus away from Harley, the more well known IP.
I don’t understand why Renee Montoya was so much older than the other “heroes” (though I thought Rosie Perez did well in the role). The Huntress was a badass when she was fighting, but outside of that, was a boring character.
Canary was solid but they only gave us one real nod to her comic book counterpart.
Black Mask was an okay villain, but hardly menacing to a point where they needed a big team up to take him down.
There were plenty of fun moments with Harley and her zany persona making it feel to me like I was watching a Jimmy Palmioti/Amanda Conner comic in live action.
All in all, I’d recommend seeing it if you take it for what it is. But financially speaking, DC really dropped the ball on something that could’ve been a much greater financial success.
So glad you posted this, Josh. We completely agree. Which reminds us. When are you going to return to TVWriter™? When? When? And, yeppers, when?
EDITOR’S NOTE: TVWriter™ legendary Contributing Editor Emeritus Herbie J Pilato is here with thoughts for dreamers (and everybody else) everywhere.
by Herbie J Pilato
It’s an exciting time to be alive. Those from all walks of life, of every career level, are succeeding sometimes expediently at their vocation, leaving more time for vacations. In the midst of it all, many are seeking more meaning in life and at work. Volunteerism, for one, is at an all-time high across the board. Whether helping to shelter the homeless or feed the hungry, animal advocacy or with just a mere intent or actual action to help to eradicate any number of diseases, many individuals, and interest and research groups are fighting the good fight for good plights, expanding and expounding by near-superhuman-leaps and bounds.
There are still no easy tasks, for the plagued, as well as the responders. Maintaining personal and professional existence is more stressful than ever. The world may seem smaller due to the increased and intricate forms of high tech communication, but the gap continues to widen between diverse cultures, religions, political parties, etc. on a national and global scale, while many personal and professional associations become increasingly strained.
Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host ofclassic TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime, Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society, and author of several classic TV companion books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE. This article first appeared in Medium.