The Black List is Rating Spec TV Pilot Scripts Now

PIC_1_150dpi.fullsizeby Team TVWriter™ Press Service

The Black List is this in, hip, and trendy web site that’s become kind of a big deal by choosing the best spec screenplays every year, after which movie companies that wouldn’t have read them before not only read the choices but actually make deals for them. Some of the deals even involve $$$.

And $$$, as we all know, are very nice, erm, things.

Not satisfied with aiding and abetting the careers of countless new screenwriters, the site has turned its attention to television and recently announced that “writers from around the world will be able to uphold their original pilot scripts (and, optionally, their series bibles) to the script database, request evaluations by professional script readers, and make their scripts available to the Black List’s growing membership….”

Oh, hell, waitaminnit. If we’re going to quote this whole paragraph, we may as well just post the press release. Here yez go:

 This morning, the Black List’s online script database ( launched its long awaited expansion into television and episodic scripted content.

Beginning today, writers from around the world will be able to upload their original pilot scripts (and, optionally, their series bibles) to the script database, request evaluations by professional script readers, and make their scripts available to the Black List’s growing membership of industry professionals, currently over 2,000 members. Writers will be able to categorize their scripts in a near infinite number of ways, including but not limited to multi-cam/single-cam, procedural/serialized, length of season, prospective number of seasons, and more than 60 genres and over 800 tags.

“Writers and industry professionals have been asking us about a television version of the site since we launched our feature script service last year. We’re excited to roll it out now in a way that can accommodate conventional television, miniseries and web series scripts,” said Black List founder Franklin Leonard. “The goal of this new venture parallels the mandate of the feature film script hosting service: make it easy for those making episodic content to find great scripts and writers, and help those with great scripts get them to people who can do something with them. I’m very optimistic that we can repeat the success we’ve had since our film launch: more than 13,000 downloads of uploaded scripts, more than four major agency and management company signings, one two-script blind deal at a major studio, one produced film, and more than twenty sales for writers living as far away from Hollywood as Ireland and Sweden.”

As with feature film scripts, writers will pay $25 per month to host and index each of their pilots (and if they so choose, the series bible at no additional charge) on the Black List’s website, accessible only by a closed community of industry professionals (and by their fellow writers if they choose to make them available.) They can further pay for evaluations by professional script readers hired by the Black List. Evaluations for pilots meant to be longer than 30 minutes will cost $50, just like feature scripts, and those meant to be 30 minutes or less will cost $30.

WGA East and West members will be able to list their material free of charge (without hosting it), just as they can with their film scripts.

Also, just like with film scripts hosted on the site, reminded Leonard, “writers retain all rights to sell and produce their work and are free to negotiate the best deal they can get. All we ask is an email letting us know of their success.”

We know this is a Good Thing, but just between us, we can’t help but wonder:

“Mother of mercy! Will this be the end of TVWriter™?”

So, what the hell, if you have a terrific idea for how TVWriter™ can continue to be relevant in the light of this new situation, give us a holler, wouldja? Cuz – and we really mean this – if we use your suggestion we absolutely for sure guaranteed will send its genius submitter a prize. (To be determined later, by us, at our convenience on account of that’s how we roll.)

Motion Picture Academy Announces 2013 Nicholl Fellowships

Nicholl Award Director Greg Beal – cuz it’s always good to personalize these things

by Team TVWriter™ Press Service

Ooh, a press release. And from the Motion Picture Academy!

It doesn’t get much better than this. Especially when the release is about a group of people very near and dear to TVWriter™’s heart: The finalists in the 2013 Nicholl Award Competition.

Take it away, MPAS:

Nine individual screenwriters and one writing team have been selected as finalists for the 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting competition.  Their scripts will now be read and judged by the Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, which may award as many as five of the prestigious $35,000 fellowships.

This year’s finalists are (listed alphabetically by author):

Scott Adams, Menlo Park, CA, “Slingshot”
William Casey, Los Angeles, CA, “Smut”
Frank DeJohn & David Alton Hedges, Santa Ynez, CA, “Legion”
Brian Forrester, Studio City, CA, “Heart of the Monstyr”
Noah Thomas Grossman, Los Angeles, CA, “The Cupid Code”
Patty Jones, Vancouver, BC, Canada, “Joe Banks”
Erin KLG, New York, NY, “Lost Children”
Alan Roth, Suffern, NY, “Jersey City Story”
Stephanie Shannon, Los Angeles, CA, “Queen of Hearts”
Barbara Stepansky, Burbank, CA, “Sugar in My Veins”

The finalists were selected from a record 7,251 scripts submitted for this year’s competition.

The 2013 Academy Nicholl Fellowships will be presented on Thursday, November 7, at a ceremony in Beverly Hills.

More about the Nicholl Award:

The Nicholl competition is open to any individual who has not earned more than $25,000 writing for film or television or received a fellowship prize that includes a “first look” clause, an option, or any other quid pro quo involving the writer’s work.  Entry scripts must be feature length and the original work of a sole author or of exactly two collaborative authors.  The scripts must have been written originally in English.  Adaptations and translated scripts are not eligible.  The earnings limit for 2013 is an increase from the $5,000 limit in previous years.

Fellowships are awarded with the understanding that the recipients will each complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year.  The Academy acquires no rights to the works of Nicholl fellows and does not involve itself commercially in any way with their completed scripts.

The Academy Nicholl Fellowships Committee, chaired by producer Gale Anne Hurd, is composed of writers Naomi Foner, Daniel Petrie Jr., Tom Rickman, Eric Roth, Dana Stevens and Robin Swicord; actor Eva Marie Saint; cinematographer John Bailey; costume designer Vicki Sanchez; producers Peter Samuelson and Robert W. Shapiro; marketing executive Buffy Shutt; and agent Ronald R. Mardigian.

Since the program’s inception in 1985, 128 fellowships have been awarded.  Several past Nicholl fellows have recently added to their achievements.  Destin Daniel Cretton wrote and directed “Short Term 12” from his Nicholl Fellowship-winning script; the feature has received tremendous critical acclaim this year at screenings at international festivals and in theatrical release.  Creighton Rothenberger co-wrote “Olympus Has Fallen,” which opened in theaters this past March.  Several fellows currently have projects in post-production: Cecilia Contreras and Amy Garcia wrote “Dear Eleanor”; Anthony Jaswinski wrote “Random”; Karen Moncrieff wrote and directed “The Trials of Cate McCall”; and James Mottern directed “God Only Knows.”  Rebecca Sonnenshine is a writer and executive story editor on “The Vampire Diaries” on The CW.  Andrew Marlowe is a writer and executive producer, and Terri Edda Miller is a writer and consulting producer, on “Castle” on ABC.

2013 PEOPLE’S PILOT Winners

22nd People’s Pilot Winners

For contest ending June 1, 2013




First Prize–LAWMAN by Robin Russin & Greg Klein

Second Prize–IN THE CUT by William Maurer

Third Prize–FRIENDS OF DOROTHY by Giorgis Despotakis


 1st Runner-Up–RAT CITY by Robert Herold

2nd Runner-Up–GRINGOS by Rogers Turrentine



First Prize–AD GAME by Greg Wayne

Second Prize–LET’S GET SPUNKEY: WISE GUYS FINISH LAST by Robert Glenn Plotner

Third Prize–BOBBY BOTELLI, GM by Edwin Daniel Beach


 1st Runner-Up–MISSION MARS by Andrea Schwartz

2nd Runner-Up–UNDERWORLD by Justin Cloyd

Congratulations, congratulations, and more congratulations. This stuff was dynamite.

For awhile there, we were worried that we’d never have a decision. The level of writing was so high that the judges didn’t settle on the finishing order until literally the last minute – Wednesday afternoon.

This is the first time TVWriter™ has divided the People’s Pilot into two divisions, but considering the all-around excellence it definitely was the thing to do. No way could anyone have decided between, say, LAWMAN and AD GAME as an overall winner. They’re both winners in every sense of the word.

Next week we’ll be announcing the equally impressive Spec Scriptacular Winners, and the following week Winners of both categories will be contacted regarding your prizes and LB will post his thoughts on what this running of the TVWriter™ writing competitions means to entrants regardless of their placings, the television industry as a whole, and to him.

At that point we’ll also update everybody on the state of the Feedback. In fact, if things go according to plan, LB will be well into the process of sending it out. (Pray for the plan.)

Again, congratulations to the Winners and everybody who entered this time around. You’re the best!

Who is Herbie J Pilato?

Glad you asked. We at TVWriter™ have known long-time contributor Herbie J since the site’s inception over a decade ago, giving us lots of stories to tell. So many, in fact, that there’s no way we do them justice. So we cast about for somebody else who could pick up the reins. Here’s the result:

20121202_094201_pn03 herbi pilanto bewitched elizabeth montgomery

By Leyla Salvade

Author, actor, producer and singer/songwriter Herbie J Pilato is a modern-day Renaissance man with a purpose; he’s an inspiration – a guiding force to a present and future group of what he calls “Hollywood hopefuls.”

“I love Hollywood – and I love it for all the right reasons,” he says with a gleam of bright light and enthusiasm in his warm brown eyes that glisten during an early spring lunch at the Casa Cabo Mexican restaurant in Burbank, California (where Pilato resides). “This is a very nostalgic place for me,” he says of Casa Cabo, formerly the famous Chadney’s eatery that sat across the street from the former NBC Studios.

Chadney’s was where Pilato conducted his first interview for his now legendary first Bewitched Book (Dell, 1992) with Bewitched executive producer Harry Ackerman. Chadney’s was also the place Pilato enjoyed many an afternoon and evening during his 18-month internship (from May 1984 to December 1985) as an NBC Page – a position that ignited what became his quite versatile career in the entertainment industry.

“Not only is Hollywood, generically and geographically, the land of wish-fulfillment and dream-makers, but dream-catchers,” Pilato assesses. “I’ve followed my dreams – and caught them – and there’s a certain strategy in how to do that.” First and foremost, if our dreams are to materialize, he believes, “they have to include some benefit to help the global community. And working in the entertainment industry can help you to do that in several amazing ways. There is so much opportunity and potential to do so much good for so many – and with very little effort. And that potential can take place on so many levels, be it with film, the live stage, in music or on television.”

Clearly, television in particular has become Pilato’s forte, beginning with his internship as a Page in what he calls the “Big ‘80s…a wondrous time.” He worked on classic TV shows like The Golden Girls, the Bob Hope Christmas Specials, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He even had the chance to march in the Hollywood Christmas Parade, albeit incognito as an alien for the original version of NBC’s original V sci-fi TV series. Pilato was there, too, when Pat Sajak and Vanna White were just hitting their prime as the stars of hugely-popular Wheel of Fortune game show, and several other fun programs of the era.

Pilato so enjoyed his stint as a member of the Peacock network’s Guest Relations Department that he authored NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book, which was published by BearManor Media in 2008.

Pilato’s other publications include The Kung Fu Book of Wisdom and The Kung Fu Book of Caine. Both were released by Tuttle Publishing in the mid-1990s, and chronicled the mystical adventures of Kwai Chang Caine, as played by the legendary David Carradine (who wrote the Foreword to Caine) on what turned out to be TV’s first Eastern-Western.

Pilato’s latest book, Twitch Upon A Star: The Bewitched Life And Career of Elizabeth Montgomery, released in November 2012 by Taylor Trade Publishing, has been praised by everyone from The Village Voice to the industry’s prestigious Emmy Magazine (which excerpted a passage in its latest issue). Twitch Upon A Star, in fact, has become the best-selling new title in his publisher’s history; so much so, that a sequel, The Essential Elizabeth Montgomery: A Guide To Her Magical Performances, will be released at Halloween 2013.

But before he became a best-selling and critically-acclaimed author, and right after he left NBC, Pilato began acting in bit parts on daytime serials and primetime classics, including The Golden Girls, as well as serving as a stand-in dancer on the ’70s and ’80s music variety show Solid Gold.

And while writing The Bionic Book and Life Story – The Book of Life Goes On (both published by BearManor Media in 2007), Pilato worked as a producer, consultant and on-camera cultural commentator for shows like Bewitched: The E! True Hollywood Story (which remains one of Top 10 True Hollywood Stories in E!’s history), TLC’s Behind the Fame specials, Bravo’s hit five-part series, The 100 Greatest TV Characters, and TV Guide Network’s 100 Greatest Television Moments.

Certainly, Pilato knows what works. This year, he established Television, Ink., his new umbrella company that houses Erie Street Entertainment (a production company geared toward family-oriented TV and film projects), and Pop-Culture Consultants (an entertainment consulting firm and news service).

In 2010, he founded the Classic TV Preservation Society, a nonprofit seeking to close the gap between popular culture and education. And for years he has presented Master Key Media Self-Esteem Seminars at schools, colleges, community and business organizations – covering the scope of every generation and every sanction of society. But he has a particular fondness for this generation. He explains:

“There is so much talent and creativity that’s been bred and instilled into this generation. We see it every time we watch American Idol and with each graduating class… When I started out in the industry, if you sang, danced, wrote or performed in any way, you were considered unique. But it’s not like that today. Today, you see all kinds of talent at every turn – in almost every aspiring performer or production team member, and…every intern.”

Surrounded as he is by all this talent, Pilato believes that the best philosophical path to success is not only to be happy for the success of others but to contribute to – “or better yet, be the reason for their success.”

“One of my new favorite things to do,” Pilato concludes, “is to walk or drive in and bless the office buildings and the people in them. Because I know that they house such a diverse group of individuals, from receptionists to CEOS, who have so many dreams. I just like to give them that little spiritual boost to help them make those dreams come true. And again, if those dreams are filled with only good intentions, and will somehow bring light into the world, you can be sure that those dreams will become a reality – for the highest good of all those concerned. ”

Did We Mention That the TVWriter™ Theme for the Day is – Rejection! (Part 2)

Time now for more happy thoughts.

In the post just below this one, we gave (give?) you one expert opinion on handling assholes who don’t understand your work the note-givers you work for. Here’s another perspective from fan favorite Peggy Bechko:

battle angel

Writers Dealing With Rejection
by Peggy Bechko

Okay, the truth hurts. The fact is no matter how good a writer you are, no matter how persistent and devoted to your writing, you’re going to receive rejections.

Probably a lot of them over time.

Naturally every writer would like to have all his or her writing recognized for the incredible gems that they are and published forthwith, but here’s where reality intrudes: it ain’t gonna happen. Even if your writing is perfect in every way, a gem, polished to sparkling perfection (yeah, like that’s going to happen) it might not be to an editor’s taste or the editor could be having a bad day and not like anything coming across the desk, or a lowly reader wouldn’t pass it on to said editor.

So, what to do?

How to avoid becoming depressed, frustrated, and one of those writers who fall by the wayside and give up?

First, remember a few simple facts. Agents and editors are swamped with submissions by dabblers, those who pursue writing for amusement and not as their life’s work. This can be good news for the serious writer who’ll find the more professionally he or she approaches an agency or publisher, the more seriously a submission will be taken.

Secondly, the bad news is established agents get over one hundred submissions a week. Top publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from writers are equally buried. Good news from the perspective of the professionally minded aspiring writer is more than ninety percent of the submissions received aren’t worth looking at twice. Make sure your writing is in the 10% category.

Consider how many writers (read dabblers) put out sloppy work filled with errors; typos, grammatical, or form. Others don’t give a thought to whom they are submitting.

Whether to an agent or a publisher, it’s the writer’s responsibility to know to whom he or she is talking. Know if the publisher publishes the kind of story you are submitting. Know if the agent handles the type of book you are proposing. If you send a science fiction book proposal to a publisher of romance novels you can be certain that proposal will be in the trash can or zapped off email within moments. Don’t go thinking your work is somehow magical and when you submit a romance to a western publisher (assuming it isn’t a western romance) that it will somehow slip through and be published. Same thing with an agent.

If you mail a query or proposal to several places at once, personalize each one. If they figure you’ve mailed your submission to every agent or publisher in the known universe that, too, will land your submission in the trash heap. Even if you DO submit to every agent and publisher in the known (and perhaps undiscovered) universe they don’t have to know that so take that extra moment and don’t give them reason to guess.

If you do your job right, if you research and rewrite until you know to whom you’re sending your writing and you know it is the best that it can be, then you’ll find you’re not competing with all those hundreds of writing submissions, but rather with only perhaps the ten percent who comport themselves as professionals.

So, you’re doing everything right. Cool!

You’re still going to get rejections. Expect it. Simply put, the chance that what you write will be exactly what any single editor or agent is looking for today is usually very small. Remember, even big-name writers get rejections. Comforting, huh?

Don’t take it personally. Perhaps your piece just wasn’t the right thing for that publication at that time. Perhaps they have something similar in the works. Perhaps that particular editor is going through a very nasty divorce, is drinking heavily and nothing would look good to him/her. It isn’t necessarily a rejection of YOU, nor is it a put down on your writing abilities.

Develop a thick skin, ride it out and when you receive a rejection think of it as an opportunity. Send out a new query immediately. If it is a novel, send it to a new publisher or agent for consideration. If it’s an article, send a new query to the editor from whom you’ve just received the rejection, then tweak the original and send that out to a new editor.

Oh, and did I mention don’t call an editor or agent to argue how they’re wrong about rejecting your article, novel, script or whatever. Won’t help, will only hurt.