There Is Something (Too) Seriously Wrong With The Way New Scripted [Fiction] TV Shows and Movies Are Made Today

by Herbie J Pilato

Everybody Mumbles And Looks The Same — Everything Is Too Edgy

I watched some new television show the other night because I always try to watch new TV shows and at least give them a chance.

But those chances are becoming far and few between because, sorry — I am simply and sadly repelled by the way some of these new shows are produced, presented and performed.

Exhibit A: What I Observed

Some dark character, on what is a dark show, was being tormented by some other dark character. And the one being tormented said something to their tormentor, though I’m not sure what — because the tormented character was grinding their teeth through every line of dialogue, amidst the scene being filmed in bleak, dingy cinematography with the constant annoying music score (i.e. “noise”!) that usually blares in the background of all new TV shows today.

So, much so, I screamed at the set, and said, “What? What are you saying?!! I can’t understand one word you’re saying…!

Read it all at Medium.Com

Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE

Ken Levine on Developing Plots for the M*A*S*H TV Series

The Great Ken Levine gives us the inside scoop on the writing of MASH in one of the best -how-to columns we’ve ever seen.

by Ken Levine

MASH episodes tend to be complicated and I’m often asked how we plotted out stories. So here’s how we did it.

First off, we chose the best stories we could find – the most emotional, the most interesting the best possibilities for comedy. Plotting is worthless if you have a bad story. Chekhov would pull out his hair trying to make “B.J.’s Depression” work.

(Side note: stories where your lead character is depressed generally don’t work in comedy. Moping around is not conducive to laughs. Better to make them angry, frustrated, lovesick, impatient, hurt – anything but depressed… or worse, happy. Happy is comedy death.)

We got a lot of our stories from research – transcribed interviews of doctors, nurses, patients, and others who lived through the experience. But again, the key was to find some hook that would connect one of our characters to these real life incidents.

Some of these anecdotes were so outrageous we either couldn’t use them or had to tone them down because no one would believe them….

Read it all at

Listen to Ken’s podcast!

Powerful News from the Writers Guild of America West

This update on current MBA Negotiations made us smile.

March 24, 2020
Dear Members,

We hope this email finds you all doing as well as can be expected in this time of uncertainty and instability.

It’s in that spirit that we want to update you on our current situation with the AMPTP. Although we had originally planned to meet with the AMPTP beginning March 23rd, given the current health crisis we cannot effectively negotiate this important three-year agreement in our usual fashion. It may not be possible to conclude a new contract by May 1st, nor will we be asking you for a strike authorization vote in the interim. Even if no new contract is in place by May 1st, writers can continue working under the 2017 agreement. We are discussing several options with the companies, including a potential contract extension, but we think it is most sensible to continue to evaluate the constantly – it seems hourly – changing situation before making a decision about the most strategically optimal way forward.

This is not a time for rash decisions or pressured outcomes. Instead we are conferring with public health authorities, financial analysts, other guilds and unions, legislators, benefit fund experts and others to gather information as the situation continues to evolve.

The Negotiating Committee continues to meet regularly – via teleconference – to discuss options. Although we realize that members would like to know exactly what will happen and when, those determinations may take some time, so we ask for your patience and understanding. The committee is determined to make the best possible decision about the path forward. Rest assured, we will continue to put writers’ health and their current and future well-being above all else. To avoid unnecessary anxiety and confusion, please remember the only reliable source of information about these MBA negotiations is your Guild.

In Solidarity,

MBA Negotiating Committee

Michele Mulroney, Co-Chair
Shawn Ryan, Co-Chair
Betsy Thomas, Co-Chair

Liz Alper
Arash Amel
John August
Amy Berg
Ashley Nicole Black
Adam Brooks
Francesca Butler
Patti Carr
Robb Chavis
Meg DeLoatch
Travis Donnelly
Kate Erickson
Dante W. Harper
Eric Heisserer
Melissa London Hilfers
Elliott Kalan
Chris Keyser
Adele Lim
Peter Murrieta
Luvh Rakhe
Dailyn Rodriguez
Erica Saleh
Sara Schaeffer
David Slack
Lauren Ashley Smith
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone

David A. Goodman, Ex-Officio
Marjorie David, Ex-Officio
Beau Willimon, Ex-Officio
Kathy McGee, Ex-Officio
Bob Schneider, Ex-Officio

Writers Guild of America West
7000 West Third Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Herbie J Pilato On TV’s Wonder Couple, Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner

by Herbie J Pilato

From 1975 (in ABC’s World War II setting) to 1979 (for the CBS then-contemporary version), Lynda Carter and Lyle Waggoner utilized grace and humor in portraying lead characters Diana Prince and Steve Trevor in the same, but different — if twin — television adaptations of Woman Woman.

Today, the seemingly-immortal Carter remains active in nearly every aspect of the entertainment industry. But sadly, Waggoner succumbed to cancer at 84-years-old on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2020.

Before Wonder Woman, Waggoner was best-known as the announcer-turned-performer on The Carol Burnett Show from 1967 to 1974. While the Burnett program continued until 1978 without him, Waggoner found new fame as the father and son editions of Steve Trevor opposite Carter, then a fresh-faced newcomer (and former Miss World USA), in the 1975 TV-movie and backdoor pilot, The All-New, Original Wonder Woman.

TV watchers tuned in by the groves, and that film turned into a series of ABC one-hour specials, followed by two more regular seasons on CBS.

Many viewers were charmed by Carter and Waggoner’s very human and approachable TV interpretations of their comic book roles. “That’s exactly what I tried to do,” Carter in particular once recalled. “Wonder Woman possessed superpowers, but her special abilities did not solely define who she was. With Wonder Woman, people had a chance to see something that they hadn’t seen before on TV -a physically able, emotionally and psychologically stable, independent woman with a fantasy element….”

Read it all at Medium.Com

Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE

Bob Tinsley on Fiction Podcasting and Patreon


http://Yes, this is a Patreon logo. Who’d a’thunk?

by Bob Tinsley

BLUF*: Patreon. It’s not so scary. Mostly.

*BLUF — Bottom Line Up Front

If you want to make a fiction podcast, setting up a Patreon page is almost de rigueur. Most of the time, especially if you have a small audience, you can make more money with a Patreon account than you can with advertising. Plus you don’t have those obnoxious ads cluttering up your audio masterpiece. You’re not going to get rich, but you might at least be able to pay your cast and crew.

During the month of February I built and launched both a website and a Patreon page for my fiction podcast. Of the two, the Patreon page was the least difficult by an order of magnitude in spite of being just as complex.

Why? Probably because Patreon WANTS you to make money. So they can make money. They have detailed guide documents for both launching a podcast and for running a promotion to increase the number of your patrons. 

I followed the promotion guide explicitly, and I had my calendar filled out with things to do for the first 25 days of March! Something EVERY DAY. I even (shock! surprise!) got most of those things set up, ready to go before launch day. 

It’s called marketing, folks, and Patreon seems to have a pretty good handle on it.

The hardest thing about this? The icky feeling I get asking other folks, mostly strangers, for money. I’m starting to overcome that, a little, by looking at it this way: I spent most of my life working on the front end and getting paid on the back end; with Patreon I’m (maybe) getting paid on the front end and working on the back end. 

And, when I think about it, that’s the way most artists make their money. When I do a commission for my carving, I always ask for 50% up front.That gives me a cushion for tools and materials and time (yes, time costs money) that I need to do the work. 

My patrons will pay me money every month, up front, and that will allow me to actually HIRE actors, composers, artists, etc., to produce a piece of work that will entertain the people that give me money.

So if you’re thinking about Patreon, download (and read!) the guides they have. They’ll increase your confidence about trying something new.

Once the campaign has run its course I’ll be back to give you an update.

Bob Tinsley is an artist, writer, boataholic and new audio/podcast fiction writer-producer. A mighty fine one too, as his  2nd and 4th place People’s Pilot 2019 finishes demonstrate.