Confessions of a Television Executive

We don’t know David Marko, but we want to. And we think that after you read this you will too:


Drawing Blanks
by David Marko

I’ve kept this secret for a long time.  It’s more of an embarrassment than a secret, I suppose, shameful to me and to my beloved profession.  Creative executives in every medium get a bad rap because a few bad apples spoil the barrel.  I didn’t want my stink added to the stench.

I wanted to be a good apple.

Ten years ago, I was hired as a longform executive at a broadcast network, the last one to have a dedicated movie night.  MOWs were an endangered species, and I should’ve already switched careers.  Optometry, maybe, or mortuary science.  Instead, I accepted a contract to be a coal stoker on the Lusitania.  Here’s why:

I love MOWs, and it isn’t some kinky S&M trip.  It’s impossible to explain except that I kept shoveling coal despite calls to abandon my beloved format as she sank to her final resting place.

My wife and I also had our first baby on the way.

On my first day, my new boss gave me a new project to supervise.  Iconic American Biopica warts-and-all life story of a beloved household name.

Tough movie to cast, I thought.  Who’d want to be compared to the real thing?

“It’s a rush job,” said the boss.  An award-winning producer was producing, an award-winning writer was writing, and an award-winning TV star was interested, if it was ready by hiatus.  “First meeting’s Friday,” said my boss.  “Process their ideas, bullet point the negatives, and commence to first draft.”

On my way out, I asked the boss’s friendly assistant if there was a pitch memo or source material to help me prepare.

“Nope,” he said.

There wasn’t much to do until the meeting.  I skimmed a paperback biography onIconic American, and spent my first week drumming up new projects.

Friday, 4 PM.  The producer was on speaker, and his development exec, the writer, and the studio exec sat in my office.  We small-talked about my newborn daughter and sleepless nights.  I knew them all by reputation.  They made a good first impression.

I wanted to make a good first impression too.

The chit-chat faded.  Suddenly, like a magic trick, everyone had a script.

I could see scribbled notes and dog-eared pages.

Where the hell did they get scripts?

I started to sweat.  They looked at me expectantly, pens poised to write down my notes I didn’t have on a script I didn’t read because until then, I didn’t know it existed.  I should have known, but I didn’t.

I nearly blurted out the truth.  The baby, the sleepless nights, my first week at the network.  They would understand.  But first impression-wise?  It would be a bad one.  My new boss would hear about it, and that would be bad too.  The writer would talk:  “Douchebag schedules a notes meeting, and he hasn’t even read the script!  He’s the reason TV movies are dying!”

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