The One Film Every New TV Writer Must See

…And it wouldn’t hurt the film types either.

Some showrunner type you may have heard of – Damon Lindelof of LOST

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Directed by Des Doyle, the full-length film features the most powerful cast of superstar TV showrunners this side of, oh, Venus, including:

Kurt Sutter, David Shore, Steven S. DeKnight, Mike Royce, Terence Winter, Jane Espenson, Andrew Marlowe, Chris Downey, John Rogers, Bill Prady, Hart Hanson, Matthew Carnahan, Mike Kelley, Dee Johnson, Ronald D. Moore, Jonathan Nolan, Ali LeRoi, Shawn Ryan J.J. Abrams, and Joss Whedon.

If you can’t get a deep sense of what TV writing and production are all about from these doods, well, you ain’t never gonna get.

Oh, there is one itty, bitty hang-up. This baby isn’t finished yet. It needs our help. So get thee over to Kickstarter.Com and cough up a buck or two. You won’t regret it!

Lee Aronsohn and Bill Prady on Showrunning

Alex Epstein reports on a panel we wish we’d been at:

I had a chance to attend a panel discussion on “Showrunners” at July’s Just for Laughs Conference with TWO AND A HALF MEN co-creator Lee Aronsohn and BIG BANG THEORY showrunner Bill Prady, moderated by Variety‘s Steven Gaydos. A few takeaways:

Lee likes to cast “people I can’t stop looking at.” Talent and charisma are two different things. You can’t teach charisma. But it’s not enough. You need talent and professionalism. Charlie Sheen might have been the star, but “the engine that is Jon Cryer” powered the show.

Some standups are terrible sitcom actors. On BIG BANG, there’s only a single standu, Melissa Rauch. Everyone else are professional actors, many with theater degrees, or who were child actors – all serious veterans. A day player can get by on charisma, but a recurring role needs chops.

(I cast a standup once. He could not memorize his lines for the life of him. And he wouldn’t rehearse, either. We had to make cue cards.)

Bill Prady says he lets his casting director filter actors, but he hires writers without a filter. “Sitcoms are made by writers,” he said, and agents are terrible filters. He told a story about an agent who insisted he put a script on the top of the heap. It was terrible. He called back and asked what the agent liked about the script. The agent couldn’t answer. Because, you see, he hadn’t read it.

Bill read 400 scripts to make the BIG BANG THEORY room. He didn’t read them all the way through, of course. But he read each one enough to know whether he wanted to work with the writer or not. “Only I know what I’m looking for, and I generally find it in the first five pages.”

Lee Aronsohn said he’s also hired people into the room based on their standup act, or their plays. He hired a woman based on her blog once. 2 ½ MEN does “gang writing” – 9 people in a room at once – so not everyone has to be a structure person.

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