More Writer Deals

Ahh, life is good. Especially if you’re one of these guys:

  • Ali Leroi, co-creator of EVERYBODY HATES CRISS, is writing  a pilot for NBC based on the life of, and set to star, singer Cee Lo Green. (Hi, Cee Lo! Fuck you, Cee Lo! Um, see, Cee Lo’s got this great song, and that’s the real title, and…)
  • Gina Fattore, former executive producer of CALIFORNICATION, is set to write and produce the family drama HOLIDAY at NBC.
  • Tim and Michael Hobert (Tim was showrunner of Fox’s ‘TIL DEATH and is co-executive producer of THE MIDDLE) are writing a comedy based on their brotherly selves for CBS.
  • Sri Rao, former head writer of GENERAL HOSPITAL is writing the pilot for NBC’ WHITE HOUSE CONFIDENTIAL, a DOWNTON ABBEY style soap set in the White House.
  • Jason Katims of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (where he won a writing Emmy) and PARENTHOOD is working with SIMON KINBERG on the Fox Network spy pilot, ANONYMOUS.
  • Warren Lieberstein & Halsted Sullivan, writers on CARPOOLERS and THE OFFICE have gotten a script order from NBC for a comedy about a divorced father living in a building full of singles.

Everything You Need to Know About Creative People

Found on Facebook:

Thanks to Sigge Olafsdottir & Szandra Nagy

Calling All Alcoholic Writers!

Do you drink excessively?

So excessively that you’ve totally alienated or alarmed your family and friends?

Are they bugging you about going to AA, or rehab? Threatening to leave unless you straighten out?

If you answered yes, then you’ll be happy to know that the people at CreativityPost.Com are with you, brother or sister. They understand how badly you need ammo to defend yourself from the well-intentioned, sober dullards who are out to destroy your life, and they’ve come up with it, right here:

Alcohol and the Creative Process – by Sian Beilock (The Creative Post)

Creative thought is something we often aspire to. Whether it’s business innovations, scientific discoveries, or in the arts, creative accomplishments drive advancement in much of what we do. But what sorts of things enhance creativity?

A popular belief is that altered cognitive processing, whether from sleep, insanity, or alcohol use, sparks creativity among artists, composers, writers, and problem-solvers. Perhaps due to the fact that the rarity of great accomplishments make them hard to study, however, little research has actually shown how creative processes change when people, for example, have a few drinks.

Why might being intoxicated lead to improved creativity? The answer has to do with alcohol’s effect on working memory: the brainpower that helps us keep what we want in mind and what we don’t want out. Research has shown that alcohol tends to reduce people’s ability to focus in on some things and ignore others, which also happens to benefit creative problem solving.

Think about the flip side of the coin. Having a lot of working memory means that a person is good at screening out peripheral information. This screening can be very useful for solving analytical problems—problems that require the solver to grind out the solution by systematically working towards a goal, incrementally narrowing down the problem search space. However, being good at blocking out extraneous information may actually be a disadvantage in situations where gathering information only loosely related to the problem at hand, or even outside the perceived problem space, is useful. This seems to be even more true the more you know about a given subject.

When people with lots of baseball knowledge, for example, are asked to come up with a word that forms a compound word with “plate,” “broken,” and “shot,” they are pretty bad at this task. Baseball fanatics want to say the word is “Home” (home-plate, broken-home, home-shot ?!?). This isn’t correct. The real answer is “glass” (glass-plate, broken-glass, shot-glass). What’s interesting is that baseball fans who also have a lot of cognitive horsepower relative to their peers—those higher working memory baseball fans—are the ones most likely to dwell on the wrong baseball-related answer. It’s as if these guys (and girls) are too good at focusing their attention on the wrong baseball information. As a result, they have trouble breaking free of their knowledge and coming up with the correct answer that has nothing to do with baseball. Baseball fanatics high in working memory have problems moving beyond what they know.

So, could being intoxicated really help people to think more creatively? In a recent study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, psychologist Jennifer Wiley and her research group at the University of Illinois at Chicago set out to find an answer to this question.

They recruited people (ages 21-30) who drank socially, via Craigslist, to come into their lab and, well, they got some of them drunk. Some people were served a vodka cranberry drink until their blood alcohol level was approximately .075 and others were kept sober. The researchers then had everyone complete a creative problem solving task similar to the baseball example I gave above. People were given a series of three target words such as “peach”, “arm”, and “tar,” and were tasked with finding a fourth word, such as “pit,” that forms a good two-word phrase with each of the target words. This puzzle is thought to involve creative problem solving because the most obvious potential response to the problem is often incorrect, and people must look for more remote words in order to reach a solution.

What Wiley and her colleagues found was that intoxicated individuals solved more creative word problems, and in less time, than their sober counterparts. Interestingly, people who drank also felt that their performance was more likely to come as a sudden insight, the answer came all at once, in an “Aha!” moment of illumination.

Research has shown that the more working memory people have at their disposal, the better they perform on all sorts of analytical tasks that pop up at school and at work. But, interestingly, wielding more working memory may hinder performance whenever thinking creatively or “outside the box” is necessary. Simply put, people’s ability to think about information in new and unusual ways can actually be hampered when they wield too much brain power. What Dr. Jennifer Wiley and her team have found is that one way to get around this is to have a couple of drinks.

For more on the link between brain power and performance, check out my book Choke.

Follow me on Twitter!

Hey, we’d follow her anywhere – if she’d come up with a study to justify all the weed we’ve been aspirating lately. The ladyfriend/roommate says she’s just about had it with our indifference. (We prefer to think of ourselves as “temporarily suffering from a little ennui.”) Can you help us out here, Ms. Beilock? (She sure looks happy in her pic.)

When Showrunners Talk, Writers Should Listen

The showrunners talking today are Jimmy Fallon and Charlie Grandy, about NBC’s upcoming GUYS WITH KIDS. We think it sounds duller than the last show about guys with kids, so we looked forward to reading an opposing view:

Watch My Show: Guys With Kids‘ Jimmy Fallon and Charlie Grandy Answer Our Showrunner Survey – by Michael Schneider

For his leap into primetime as an executive producer, late night host Jimmy Fallon partnered up with his former Saturday Night Live colleagueCharlie Grandy (as well as Amy Ozols) to create the new NBC sitcom Guys With Kids. It’s a topic that Grandy (whose credits also include The Office and The Daily Show), the father of three little ones, knows well. The show stars Anthony AndersonZach Cregger and Jesse Bradford as thirtysomething guys adjusting to fatherhood. Fallon and Grandy explain why these Guys are dolls.

TV Guide Magazine: I’ve got room in my life for one more show. Why should it be yours?

Jimmy Fallon: It makes you feel good when you watch it. It’s that simple. It’s everything I loved about TV when I was growing up — warm, fun, positive. It’s a very traditional family comedy.

TV Guide Magazine: Who should be watching?

Fallon: Families, young people, old people, tall people, short people. This is a show for everyone. People can watch it with their kids.

TV Guide Magazine: What happens if we don’t watch your show?

Fallon: We have a lot of babies in our cast, and they’re all going to start crying.

TV Guide Magazine: Give us an equation for your show.

Fallon: Guys With Kids Friends plus Three Men and a Baby. Plus a bunch of other babies. Plus Justin Bieber! Minus Justin Bieber.

Charlie Grandy: Guys With Kids Friends plus Everybody Loves Raymond minus the parents plus 14 babies.

TV Guide Magazine: Finish this sentence: “If you like ____, you’ll love our show.”

Fallon: Good-looking dudes holding cute babies.

Grandy: Guys, or guys with kids.

TV Guide Magazine: What’s the best thing anyone has said about your show?

Fallon: On the night we taped our pilot, one of the guys on our crew came up to me and said, “I’ve worked on a lot of shows. This one is special. There’s such a positive vibe here.”

TV Guide Magazine: What’s the worst thing?

Grandy: The father of one of my son’s friends told me he doesn’t know who is going to want to watch “that thing.”

TV Guide Magazine: Give me an alternate title for your show.

Fallon: We pitched the show as DILFs, which stands for “Dads I’d Like to…” you know. The network didn’t go for the title. Which is probably for the best.

Read it all

Uh-oh, sounds just as dull when Fallon and Grandy talk about it. Except for the DILFs thing. That was mildly amusing. In the words of Led Zeppelin, “Does anybody remember laughter?”

Peggy Bechko Writes More About Writing

From novelist Peggy Bechko’s uberhelpful blog:

Writer – Tell Your Readers Only What They Need To Know! – by Peggy Bechko (from Peggy’s blog)

As writers, it’s good for us to think a bit about how the brain works and what it’s really looking for in many things, but for us the important issue is what does it want from a story?

If you read, and as a writer I know you do, you’ve no doubt come across various statistics as to the information we’re deluged with on a daily basis — even on a per second basis.

Recently I read over 11,000,000 pieces of information comes at our five senses every second. All I can say is I don’t know how that was calculated, but if true — OMG!

But, our brains, tireless filters that they are, sift through all that info at incredible speeds pulling out what we need to know from what we can, with little or no consequence, put side and ignore. With that in mind and these statistics reverberating through our thought processes, that same article pointed out that 99.9 percent of all that incoming information is instantly tossed aside.

Hmmm, that gives you, the writer, a .1 percent chance of your information making it through the filter. Not very good odds.

Now, don’t panic. The reader is there because he or she wants to be and so is happy to be absorbing the information the writer is presenting – that’s you.

But, and it’s a big BUT, that doesn’t give you license to bore or overload your reader. Those readers are still wired to filter out the extraneous material. So, that means you, as the writer, must introduce things the reader needs to know. In fact, in this situation the reader is assuming that everything the writer tells him or her is something he or she needs to know. And that means that if, while you’re writing, you add words for the sake of adding them, if you provide pointless information your reader is going to read meaning into it, even if you were typing empty words. And that being the case, the reader will read the wrong meaning into those written words since there can’t be a right one if you’re just pumping out ‘background’ that doesn’t relate to the story other than to fill space.

Okay, that’s bad. So, the solution?

Simple.

You’ve heard it before.

I’ll say it again.

Kill your darlings. Do it with enthusiasm.

Write tight and learn to recognize when you’ve gotten a bit carried away and, while the writing may be great, have created a whole spiel that’s unrelated to your story and keeping it on track.

Think about it. Provide what your readers need to know and you’ll keep them hooked through your book.