Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 6/19/14

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • David Hudgins (PARENTHOOD) has a new overall deal at Sony Pictures TV. He’ll do new stuff. (And, knowing his work, even Yer Cynical Old Munchman is confident that it’ll be great. Of course, that doesn’t mean any of us will get to see it, but, hey, this munchy one lives in hope!)
  • Todd Stashwick (an actor on JUSTIFIED) is going legit with a writing gig working alongside Amy Hennig (bigtime video game writer-director) on the next STAR WARS game. (And with Amy’s brilliance and George Lucas no longer in the mix, who knows? It just might be a winner.)
  • Joe Port & Joe Wiseman (THE CRAZY ONES) are taking their box of tools and tricks to CBS for a couple of years, where they intend to write their tushies off. (Wiseman is an alum of LB’s very first television writing class back during LB’s original retirement – the one that didn’t stick – in Santa Fe, NM. And I have it from his very mouth that “Joe W is one of the best comedy writers ever. Here’s hoping that this time around he gets the support – especially the acting – that his and Joe P’s work deserves.” Yeppers, the boss actually said that. Heavy praise.)
  • Mark Fergus & Hawk Otsby (CHILDREN OF MEN) are adapting James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse  series of science fiction books into a series for, natch, Syfy. (CHILDREN OF MEN on one hand, Syfy on the other – the TV gods giveth, and then they taketh away. Better cross your fingers, or whatever your preferred begging the gods sign is, on this one.)

Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 9/24/13

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are

‘Tis the season for deals, deals, everywhere. But not a drop for…alack!…the poor minions slaving at TVWriter™:

  • Janet Tamaro (RIZZOLI & ISLES) is stepping down as showrunner of the TNT hit in order to develop new projects. (Ain’t nobody here gonna argue against that. Wonder how much longer the show can last without her, though.)
  • Becky Hartman Edwards (SWITCHED AT BIRTH) is writing the drama pilot FAR FROM THE TREE for Fox. (Yes, she’s noted for comedy, but even TV development execs can see that a show about the family of a terrorist – yes, that’s what this is about – won’t be funny. Well, not too funny anyway.)
  • Damon Lindelof (LOST) has gotten a 10 episode series pickup from HBO for his drama series THE LEFTOVERS about what happens to the people who didn’t make the cut after, you know, the Rapture thing. (Leave it to TV to cash in on the Rapture long after it’s lost any value it may ever have had. We humbly submit our suggestion for the TV development model: “Forward to the past!”)
  • Lauren Iungerich (AWKWARD), who seem to be talking about here all the time, has sold BITCH OFF THE OL’ BLOCK to NBC. It’s a comedy about a professional woman whose life is disrupted when her daughter, a younger version of herself, moves in with her and her roommates. (Didn’t we write about several other versions of this just yesterday? Oh, but they were at ABC, so this is all fine. Anybody know a smiley that means >shudder<?)
  • Joe Port & LB’s former student Joe Wiseman (JOE, JOE AND JANE) are writing an untitled NBC comedy pilot about a 16 year old prodigy chef. (Cuz you know how much the TV audience loves teenagers and chefs and comedy. Well, at least NBC loves ’em – we hope.)

LB Brags About Joe Wiseman

Back in the Dark Ages also known as the early ’90s, yours truly woke up one morning and thought, “I hate this. I hate this television writing and producing thing. I’m doing everything I always wanted to do and I hate it.” And, since the last time I’d had that thought when I woke up in the morning, about 15 years earlier, I had a heart attack later that afternoon, I decided a pre-emptive strike was in order.

So I quit.

I quit my job (also my then wife and family, but if I go into that who knows what veins might start spurting) and moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico, where I found myself a comfy little ranch on the South side, a nubile friend, a medicine person/spiritual mentor (who also happened to be a red-tailed hawk), and a gig teaching screen and TV writing and TV production at The College of Santa Fe.

I loved teaching, but the production class was brutal. I had an idea for a children’s series for local (Albuquerque) TV, so I wrote a pilot script, convinced the station manager to do it, and set up the class as the writing/production/acting crew. Everyone worked 3 jobs. Above the line, they were the actors and the writers. Below the line, they were the carpenters and camera and sound people and set designers, etc.

There was, of course, no money to do this with. The local station would only take the show if it didn’t cost them anything, and the College of Santa Fe would only give the station the show if it didn’t cost them anything either. The good news was that the student geniuses/laborers were gratis. The not-so-good news was that all the costumes and sets and the materials that went into making them had to be paid for.

That payment came out of my pocket. I didn’t mind though, because, hell, I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a nubile friend and a medicine person/spiritual mentor, and the sky was blue and beautiful, and the pressures that had made me flee from L.A. didn’t exist. But shortly after we got started I did find a couple of things that drove me crazy:

  1. There was no way I could get the student geniuses/laborers to work fast and hard enough to finish all the physical construction in time to start shooting even a simple, half-hour local series
  2. There was no way I could get anything resembling a script worth shooting even if things had been ready

With one exception. An upperclassman named Joe Wiseman, who was quite simply one of the funniest writers I’d ever read. The kid got it. I’d tell him what we needed a script to be, and clue him in as best I could re how to achieve that goal, and, wham! he was on it. After the usual false starts any beginner would make, Joe fell into a terrific comedy rhythm. Wrote like a pro.

When I looked at Joe Wiseman I barely saw the real him. Instead, I saw Garry Marshall with an aw shucks smile. That’s how good he was. He made the whole project worthwhile.

After a couple of years in Santa Fe, I felt rested and vigorous – oh, and madly in love with the woman I’ve written about in so many places as Gwen the Beautiful, AKA my wonderful wife . I came back to L.A. with Gwen and veered off into a new career direction – animation instead of live action. THE SILVER SURFER and SPAWN instead of POLICE STORY and MIKE HAMMER.

And as I was delighting in writing and producing material that kids, including my own could watch (first time I’d ever done that), Joe Wiseman was also in L.A., writing and producing material that, as they used to say in the circus “kids of all ages” could watch. Series like:

  • DILBERT
  • JUST SHOOT ME
  • REGULAR JOE
  • THE IT CROWD
  • PERFECT COUPLES
  • LAST MAN STANDING
  • NEW GIRL

And a ton of pilots as well. Today I read – in the “Today’s TV Writing Deals Dept” on this, my own site, that Joe and his partner, Joe Port, are hard at work on another pilot, one that’s guaranteed to be shot or else NBC, which won a massive bidding war, has to pay them 7 figures of $$ as a penalty. It’s called JOE & JOE & JANE and is based on the lives/relationship of the two Joes and Jane, the wife of one of them. Or, as TVRage.Com puts it, a series in which “A conflict-avoidant children’s book author named Joe is caught in an ongoing tug of war between two needy, flawed people: his wife Jane and his co-author/ best friend, also named Joe.”

I love this idea. I love NEW GIRL and the success it’s had.

And I love that as a writer and executive produceer Joe Wiseman has had so much to do with NEW GIRL’s success. And that he’s busting his butt to do the same with JOE & JOE & JANE.

I love that he took his natural talent and intelligence and applied it so diligently and brilliantly, and that it’s working out so well for him.

FWIW, Joe, the Brode is very proud of you.

And glad – oh so very glad – that your career didn’t turn out like that College of Santa Fe children’s show. (Sadly DOA.)

But if you ever want to do that one, hey, it’s yours. Keep the change.

Congratulations, dood.

LYMI,

LB

Cold War Spy Drama Coming to FX

Because our current political situation is so hopelessly boring. Or, more likely, because FX is afraid of slugging it out toe to toe with the contemporary spy drama HOMELAND.

Whatever the reason, FX has announced that they’re committed to 13 episodes of THE AMERICANS, created by Joe Weisberg, who also will be the Executive Producer/Showrunner.

Oh, yeah, there’s already some casting here. Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, and Noah Emmerich. That’s Keri and one of those guys (oh, yeah, Rhys) in the ’80s kitchen above.

Thing is, the show’s concept sounds intriguing because our stars play not Americans but KGB spies posing as a married couple in suburban Washington during the Reagan era. According to the press release:

The arranged marriage of Phillip (Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Russell), who have two children who know nothing about their parents true identity, grows more passionate and genuine by the day, but is constantly tested by the escalation of the Cold War and the intimate, dangerous and darkly funny relationships they must maintain with a network of spies and informants under their control. Complicating their relationship further is Phillip’s growing sense of affinity for America’s values and way of life. Tensions also heighten upon the arrival of a new neighbor, Stan (Emmerich), an FBI agent working in counter intelligence.

Look for it sometime in “early 2013.”

EDITED TO ADD THIS WRITERLY NOTE: The press release includes this charming utterance by the Pres/G.M. of FX Networks, which we must share:

We’re…excited to welcome Graham Yost’s talented young Padawan Joe Weisbereg as Creator/Showrunner. He joins a long line of gifted writer/producers who have taken their first shot at greatness on FX.

Graham Yost? Padawan? Sounds like a big reach just to sound hip and/or pay back a friend. And they almost got this so right. Let’s hope the series can stay clear of arcane references to STAR WARS and Canadian writers.