In an effort to boost pre-orders for the second edition of REALITY TV, which would make my publisher very happy, I’d like to offer a free PDF copy of my book AND ANOTHER THING: A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO THE TV NOTES PROCESS to anyone who orders the book online or through their local bookseller up until the release date, June 1. Simply order the book and then drop a line with “PREORDER OFFER” in the subject line to me at realitytvtroy[at]gmail.com so I can reply with the PDF attachment.
If you’d like a signed copy of REALITY TV, just order one through me at the full cover price of $24.95 and I’ll mail you one, shipping included, within a few days of the book’s official release. To do so, just drop an email (with your mailing address included) reading “SIGNED COPY” in the subject line and I’ll send a PayPal invoice your way.
Finally, if you’ve been considering spending consult time with me, I’ve got an offer up at the IfOnly.comsite for a two-hour dinner consult at Hollywood’s Musso and Frank Grill (meal-inclusive up to $150/person), a one-hour follow-up call, and a signed copy of the book. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Red Cross.
As you may already know, the Second Edition of my book, Reality TV, is due for release on June 1.
Around that time, I’m sure to be slammed with consulting requests and loads of questions. Not that I’m complaining at all – it’s really thrilling to work with you one-on-one to develop your ideas into more commercially viable concepts, but it’s always a little disheartening when someone pays me good money for consulting, then wastes their time asking questions that are clearly answered in the book, which costs about ten percent of a single hour of consult time.
I value our time and your wallet more than that, so please – check out the book first! I promise you’ll like it, and if you don’t, you can always use it to shore up that wobbly coffee table.
In addition to Reality TV, there are other resources available. For example, Screenwriters University offers online courses based on the book. You can click HERE to see which ones are coming up. Many people find these to be a good way to go as the course assignments come with weekly review and input from me online. No, not a robot or another instructor. Just me!
If you can’t make it to any of my speaking engagements, there are also a number of archived webinars available through The Writers Store HERE. Just like my seminars, I always start out with a rigid outline that quickly relaxes into much more informal back-and-forth conversation with those who participated in the initial webinars.
And, while I know I’ve put it out there often, there’s always REMEMBER, WE’RE NOT HERE, my seldom-updated podcast series interviewing other reality professionals on their experiences in front of and behind the lens. You can find free episodes on iTunes or at Libsyn.
But wait, there’s more. You can hear my thoughts on a number of aspects of reality television production on YouTube. Film Courage spent several hours with me to come up with these short subjects.
Filmskills.com features a number of modules for purchase that cover specific areas of reality production. Guided by Emmy, Telly and CINE award-winning host Jason J Tomeric, these modules, in addition to being informative, also feature my terrible attempt at a moustache.
Glen-Larson: A verb meaning to combine and stoke up established TV formats so they become something more exciting without truly being new. (Today’s #PeoplesPilotTip)
How TV queen Shonda Rhimes combined classic formats, amped them up and changed the face of prime-time
by David Berry
Shonda Rhimes is quite possibly the hardest-working person in show business. Since 2007, she has never not had at least two full-length network television series for which she was both executive producer and show runner (i.e. the person responsible for not just the overall scope of a show, but also the one actually writing most of it, too). For a brief period, she had three: Grey’s Anatomy, now in its 12th season, Scandal, in its fifth, and Private Practice, which ended in 2013.
Since then, she has mercifully limited herself to being largely responsible for just two shows, but has made up the gap by expanding her empire as producer. First came Off the Map, so far the only show she’s been connected with that hasn’t yet lasted multiple seasons. Next was How to Get Away With Murder, which just finished its second season, and, like Map, is the creation of a writer she groomed in the Grey’s room.
She is adding yet another next week with The Catch, debuting in Murder’s slot and keeping Thursday night prime-time filled to the brim with Shondaland. Following what’s so far been an almost unimpeachable formula, it will feature the crafty manipulations of a steel-veined but full-hearted woman as she makes her way not just through an infinitely complex world, but interpersonal relationships that are forever one small spark away from explosion. In The Catch’s case, that’s Alice Vaughan (The Killing’s Mireille Enos), a private detective whose life is thrown into disarray when she discovers her fiancee (Peter Krause) is actually a con man out to swindle her, and probably anyone else he can get his hands on.
You don’t reach this level of saturation — it is worth pointing out that, even in an industry famous for egomaniacal workaholics, no one else has managed to produce an entire block of programming named after themselves — without a work ethic that would be the envy of even a genetically spliced bee-beaver hybrid. Though you also don’t get there without having an eye for undercurrents that have been both over and under-exploited in pop culture, and going at them whole hog. And if there is one thing that connects both Shonda Rhimes the creator and the shows she has shepherded into pop cultural milestones, it’s that there is no room for half-measures.
It’s tempting, especially in a culture where identity has taken centre stage, to focus on Rhimes as a kind of paragon of diversity, someone who has got ahead at least in part by giving us viewpoints that have been seriously underserved in television history. And that’s undeniably some of the appeal of her shows, even as it sells her short: as something of a pioneer of perspective, she first had to be an absolute savant when it came to hitting serialized audience pleasure centres.
Whatever else we want to say about Rhimes, we first have to acknowledge just how good Shondaland is at exploiting the gut-level basics of television craft. If there are multiple secrets to success on Rhimes’s level, a major one is taking the familiar forms of television and pushing their most appealing parts to extremes.
You can start with the basic premises: Grey’s is a hospital drama, one of the keystones of television programming, narrowing only slightly in its spin-off, Private Practice. Scandal is less of a purely established genre, though its obsession with political maneuvering certainly makes it right at home in the current mood, and in a lot of ways it’s a kind of reverse cop drama, trying to figure out how to cover up crimes and misdemeanours rather than solve them. How to Get Away With Murder mixes police-type whodunitry with the technical chess games of the legal world. The Catch’s P.I. format introduces us to television’s other classic crime fighter….
Are television executives really trying to give women and minorities more opportunities in TV’s promised land? The stats say, “Yes!” But does that mean it’s time for us to shout, “Hooray!”?
by Scott Collins
Shonda Rhimes, an African American writer-producer, is one of the most powerful people in the TV business. Last week, Disney’s ABC TV network made history by naming Channing Dungey to head its entertainment division, the first African American to fill that role.
In fact, even as the big screen industry is under fire for a lack of diversity, some of the most celebrated shows on TV showcase diversity, whether it is the African American family of ABC’s “black-ish,” the multiracial inmates on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” or the transgender dad on Amazon’s “Transparent.”
By most accounts, the small screen has become a more culturally inclusive place over the last decade, and for several reasons. The TV audience itself is diverse — one estimate is that black viewers spend 37% more time watching TV than other racial groups — which has forced network executives to find programming that reflects the people watching at home.
The TV industry is also significantly larger than the movie business, meaning more opportunities overall, and lately there has been an explosion of new programming.
While film studios have been trimming their release slates — Paramount, for example, released just 16 movies last year, down from 21 in 2012 — networks are flooding viewers with new TV series. Last year, an all-time high of 409 original series were produced for television (including streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu), according to a study by cable network FX. That number has doubled in the past six years.
“In television, we are fortunate because we get to try a lot of things; we get to take a lot of shots,” Dungey said in an interview. “It gives us a great opportunity to tell many different stories from diverse points of view.”…
The statistics are unequivocal: Women and minorities are vastly underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. Here, 27 industry players reveal the stories behind the numbers — their personal experiences of not feeling seen, heard or accepted, and how they pushed forward. In Hollywood, exclusion goes far beyond #OscarsSoWhite. (Interviews have been edited and condensed.)
SAM ESMAIL Creator, “Mr. Robot”Growing up, I [thought] white male was the norm, the default character in every story. I never thought other possibilities could exist. And I remember thinking, when I would watch Woody Allen films or films that felt personal, I wonder what I’m going to do when I write my personal films, because I can’t cast an Egyptian-American; that would be weird. In film school, there was this need to talk about your ethnicity and to make essentially social-message films. But I resisted, because I felt that it changed the conversation of what the movie was about.
WENDELL PIERCE Actor, “The Wire,” “Grease: Live”, “Confirmation” (coming on HBO)Juilliard was a great place to train and prepare for the politics of the business. You were given roles [based on] how you fit into the company. I didn’t get any roles that weren’t 20, 30 years my elder. We had a running joke, the black actors, “If you come here you better get your funny walks, because you’re going to be playing all the old guys.”
JIMMY SMITS Actor, “The Get Down” (coming on Netflix), co-founder, National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts[After] Brooklyn College, somebody said, “You can probably go to L.A. now and be the crook of the week on ‘Hill Street Blues,’ but you should think about graduate school.” [At] Cornell — I got a scholarship — I got to do everything. I could handle verse, I could speak Shaw, I could do Pinter.
TEYONAH PARRIS Actress, “Chi-Raq,” “Survivor’s Remorse”[At Juilliard], we got together with other black people in different classes, and we said, “Hey, we want to do an August Wilson play. There are enough black people to make this happen.” So we rehearsed on our free time and put on this showcase, and the faculty came, other students came, and I guess that was inspiring to them. [Later, they did an official school production.] That was the first time they put an August Wilson play on the main stage, in 2007….