Hurtling Toward the TV Remake Apocalypse

sherlock

by Peter Bradshaw

This article was originally published in the UK, but the situation is dire here in the good ole USA as well. Pity the poor TV executives who are running “dangerously low” on beloved old media content to re-imagine, re-do, and de-fang. What will they do when they – shudder – run out?

An awful crisis is unfolding in the world of film and TV writing, a crisis that I learned about when I had coffee recently with a top British producer. We are reaching peak reboot. The number of out-of-copyright pop culture figures or mythic icons who can be reinvented and reimagined for a modern age, or sexed up in their original setting, is running dangerously low.

Sherlock has obviously been done. So has Merlin. King Arthur is being done again on the big screen. Dracula and Frankenstein are always being summoned from the grave, the cultural undead; and The Mummy’s being remade – again. read article

The Token in the Writers Room

Do TV writing diversity programs help…or are they just a new way to stitch on ye olde scarlet letter?

splashd-diversity-withtextby Rebecca Sun

In their ideal form, the mentorship and training programs that the Big Four television networks use to identify and develop new writing talent also serve to jump-start the careers of diverse writers. Such was the case for Rashad Raisani, who got into NBCUniversal’s Writers on the Verge program in 2007. Erika Kennair, who ran the program then and now is vp comedy development at ABC, pitched him for USA’s Burn Notice and worked out an unusual three-year deal in which NBCU would pay Raisani’s staff-writer (or entry-level) salary, even though the drama was being produced by Fox Television Studios. If the show decided to bring him back with the customary annual promotion the following year, Fox only would have to cover the pay difference until the NBCU contract expired. By the time Burn Notice ended in 2013, Raisani was a co-executive producer, paid no differently than the rest of the room. After helping develop NBC’s short-lived Allegiance as executive producer, he signed an overall deal with Universal TV in February and now is focusing full-time on development. “There’s no way I’d be here if it were not for Writers on the Verge because it made the decision for [showrunner] Matt Nix to hire me really easy since I was free,” says Raisani. “I also benefited from the fact that there was a diversity hire before me named Ben Watkins[now creator of Amazon’s Hand of God], and he was the star of the staff. He showed that ‘diversity’ doesn’t mean ‘second class.’ ”

Despite major strides in diversifying television with Empire, Fresh Off the Boat andBlack-ish, the stats on writers in Hollywood still are sobering: Minorities make up 13.7 percent of writers rooms while comprising 37.9 percent of the population nationwide, with only 10 individuals of color (out of 73) on THR‘s 2015 Power Showrunners list. There are no stats available on how many minority writers made it in TV without going through a program, though one Latino alum jokes: “John Ridley had to win an Oscar to get a television show.” Which is why new-talent development and “inclusion” programs, such as the ones every single broadcast network supports — no doubt part good business, part public relations, part social conscience — are a key part of writers room staffing. Like college scholarships for minorities, these programs are all about removing as many barriers to entry as possible, including financial ones. But with every good intention can come inadvertent side effects, from writers of color who are perceived as less qualified to the subsidization of first-season salaries that can lead to a “freebie” mentality among showrunners toward those scribes. read article

1,715 Scripted Shows and Nothing On?

Some people are sooo hard to please!

mr_robot_s01e10_stillby Tim Goodman

Five years ago, there was no House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black. Amazon was shipping products, not signing Woody Allen to make television. Nobody thought Jerry Seinfeld, creator and star of one of TV’s greatest series, would make a show for the Internet.

Around that time, I was hired as THR‘s chief television critic, and I would like to think that I knew big changes were coming to the industry — but maybe not this big. read article

Troy DeVolld: TV Consulting – What It Is, What It’s Not

troy logo

by Troy DeVolld

When I first moved to California, long before reality television seemed like a real career, I was hell-bent on writing for sitcoms and films.  I shelled out what I could afford (and what I couldn’t afford) on pitchfests, consultants, and anything that I thought would help me get a leg up in the entertainment universe.

It didn’t do much to move the success needle in the short term.  I mean, I made some great friends and watched them bloom into amazing professionals, but that was usually incidental and a result of just being in rooms with like-minded people.

It’s also one of the reasons I was so slow to ever consider consulting, which I’ve only done sporadically, and only when I feel like I can genuinely offer useful input to the client.  More than half of the calls and meetups, unfortunately, end up being a waste of time and gas for both of us. If I think someone’s grip on the reality of the business is tenuous at best, I’ll politely end our session and refund their money. I don’t want to become anyone’s party story as the cruddy consultant (oh, how they love to blame a consultant) who couldn’t deliver them a rose-petaled path to the top of the mountain and a jetliner view in the Hollywood Hills… something few consultants ever even manifest for themselves. read article

Is the Copyright Monopoly Based on a Huge Lie?

Inasmuch as we seem to be featuring good ole timey values today, it seems appropriate to talk about a new value and its place in the pantheon of things. (Similar to the interweb of things except not.)

Stay with us now because this is cool:

copyrighandwrong

by Rick Falkvinge

The copyright monopoly is based on the idea of an exchange. In exchange for exclusive rights, the copyright industry supplies culture and knowledge to the public. It turns out that the entire premise is a lie, as untethered creators are racing to provide culture and knowledge anyway. read article