Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path With Manager Geoff Silverman

A series of interviews with hard-working writers – by another hard-working writer!
by Kelly Jo Brick

Geoff Silverman picFinding the right representation can be a key component to growing and developing a writing career. TVWriter.com sat down with several managers to find out what they’re looking for in writers and what writers can be doing to help achieve success in the industry.

As a young PA on the Suzanne Somers show SHE’S THE SHERIFF, Geoff Silverman got some career changing advice when the show’s EPs suggested he go where the real money is, the executive side. That set Silverman on a path working as an assistant at the William Morris Agency and Susan Smith and Associates before working in drama development with Robert Greenblatt, Brandon Tartikoff and Brett Ratner and then embarking on a career as a literary manager with The Cartel.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?

I guess when I get someone in for a showrunner meeting and I get to make that call and say the showrunners want to bring you in to meet for this potential job. And then when they actually book it, when you get to call them and say like, “Hey I have amazing news. They want you start Monday.” I had somebody get on THE BLACKLIST this year and it’s just an amazing call to be able to like, just change somebody’s life.

And I love setting meetings. They call me “The Grinder.” The name of my company, my business L.L.C., is The Silver Machine, because I’m like a machine. I just set meetings for clients. And agents, I think for every one they set, I set like 10. I just grind out meetings.

That’s kinda what I feel management is good at. It’s so hard to get jobs in this town that you need as many people working for you as possible and yeah, it costs you another 10 percent, but actually it doesn’t cost you anything until you’re working.

HOW MANY CLIENTS DO YOU PERSONALLY HAVE?

I probably have 27, somewhere in that range. But I would say, like when you’re an agent at an agency, you have your 30 to 40 clients and you’re on teams for who knows, 100 other clients or something. So they’re being torn in a lot of different directions and the thing about management is, I think of agents as being more macro and management as being micro.

HOW DO WRITERS FIND THEIR WAY TO YOU?

It tends to be my writer clients will refer people to me a lot of times. Attorneys sometimes. Other managers if they have a conflict. I just don’t really take queries because usually the person is a new writer and it’s just so hard to break a new writer unless they’re an assistant to an exec producer on a TV show, like if they’re J.J. Abrams assistant or something.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A WRITER?

I would say someone who’s an executive assistant or script coordinator on a show or someone who’s in a writers’ program like the Fox Diversity, CBS, NBC Writers’ Initiative. The great thing about these writers’ programs is like the ABC Fellowship actually puts you on a show. They pay you $50,000 and they put you, the writer, on a show. It’s definitely a good leg up.

There’s just too many people with no credits that you could have the best material in the world, but I’d still probably rather sign somebody who’s a little bit colder but who has credits.

WHAT CAN A WRITER DO TO HELP YOU HELP THEM?

A-B-C always be creating. Always be writing something new or coming up with ideas. Always be out networking even if it’s writers being in a writers’ group, going to social events or things where they have the opportunity to meet executives and people to get their material to.

And then calling me on a regular basis when they see something in the trades or on Deadline. How about, oh, I heard this show got picked up. That one script I wrote called, blah, blah, blah would be perfect for that show. Are they going to be looking at my level? And I might say, I’ll check it out and go like, yes they are looking or nope, they already staffed it before they announced it or something like that. So, you know, I think it’s just being proactive as a client. You really gotta be proactive, because if I have 30 people on my list, some of them actually never call me. Some I’m always the one calling them, going hey, I did hear about this one thing. What do you think about this and they’re very reactive.

But at least if they’re proactive and nudging me a little bit, you tend to address people who are in your face a little more so those people do get more attention.

WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU GOT ALONG THE WAY?

I guess it’s to always be open and communicative and not be shady because there are instances where, I don’t know it just seems like anytime I’ve tried to hoard information just for me either it’s pissed off my clients like by not helping their clients out or not sharing. I guess it’s just always being open and even if other people aren’t open and are shady, you just gotta really strive to always tell the truth and be honest.

What Bob Greenblatt said at the National Hispanic Media Coalition, I liked what he was saying about trying to find someone to be your mentor. Bob’s always been a bit of a mentor to me. There’s been a couple. Brandon Tartikoff was a mentor and in a way, I guess Brett Ratner sort of was a mentor, but finding some of these 800 pound gorillas who will at least vouch for you and say nice things is really important.

IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU GIVE TO YOUR WRITERS?

I feel really strong about like when they go into rooms, just trying to make it memorable, tell what makes them different, what sets them apart. So that when you walk out of the room they go oh, she’s the girl who used to work at the Hustler store or something. I have a client who literally moved out here and got a job working at the Hustler store as her first job. It is memorable. Or I know that maybe you worked in Washington, D.C., for a Congressman and blah, blah, blah, but when you go into rooms, you have to bring it up. You can’t wait for them to ask you or expect them to have read your bio.

You can’t even expect them to read your script half the time. You never know. People might read ten pages. You don’t know what they read, if they just read coverage on your script. So you really gotta go in and make yourself memorable and you gotta say, this is what sets me apart and ask questions and sometimes let the other people talk. Like a lot of times you do all the talking and other people start to glaze over.

Sometimes you have to try to involve them and find that commonality, that common ground. Like oh, we both went to the same college or we both grew up in the same part of the country or something like that.


Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE NATIONAL HISPANIC MEDIA COALITION’S ANNUAL MEDIACON

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by Kelly Jo Brick

NHMC MediaCon is not only an event dedicated to exploring the achievements and challenges that Latinos face in the entertainment industry, it also a day filled with great inspiration from a wide array of panelists and an opportunity for attendees to make connections directly with managers, writers and producers.

With panels focused on getting representation, how the internet is revolutionizing Latino content creation and the business of TV writing, the day was a coming together to strategize how to infuse more Latinos into the media industry, both in front of and behind the camera.

In the keynote discussion, NBC Entertainment Chairman, Robert Greenblatt, called this “the year of the Latina woman” as he talked of upcoming NBC shows starring Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez and America Ferrera. He also believed that diversity is continuing to expand and programming is starting to, “Feel like the world we all live in.”

Here are some of the top takeaways from the event:

THE “EMPIRE EFFECT” IS WAKING THE INDUSTRY UP – Success of a show like Empire is proving that there are underrepresented audiences out there who are hungry for entertainment. The biggest color Hollywood sees is the green of money and when something’s working, they want it. As Rashad Raisani, (Executive Producer, Allegiance) commented, “At a certain point they realize minorities help them make money, then they hire.”

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE INDUSTRY – “Go to everything. See everything. You will learn. Watch every TV show you can, read about the business. You have to do everything you can. Immerse yourself, because someone else will.” – Robert Greenblatt

BE FEARLESS & CREATE NURTURING ENVIRONMENTS – Robert Greenblatt further encouraged attendees to be fearless as they work to grow and develop their careers. “Fear is the antithesis of creativity.” With a supportive culture and nurturing environments, we all can accomplish so much more.

DEDICATE YOURSELF TO YOUR CRAFT – “This is an industry that takes a lifetime of commitment,” Jairo Alvarado, Manager/Producer, Circle of Confusion. The industry is filled with challenges and managers are looking for talent who are dedicated to their careers long term. Nobody wants to feel like they’ve done a ton of work for someone who backs down after the first obstacle comes his or her way.

Manager Tracey Murray of Industry Entertainment Partners also suggested that writers and other creatives, “Be a student of the industry. Be prepared when you go in a meeting. Do the research.”

YOUR REPS WORK FOR YOU – “Own that your rep is your employee,” declared Eddie Gamarra, Manager/Producer, The Gotham Group. Everyone has that great burst of excitement when they first sign with an agent or manager, but when it comes down to it, your agent or manager works for you. Make sure you articulate what your needs and goals are. Empower them as part of your business that is going to help you reach where you want to go with your career and encourage them to showcase the nuances of your writing and your background that make you stand out from the competition.

ALWAYS BE CREATING – This was a recurring theme of MediaCon. Technology has leveled the playing field when it comes to creative. It’s easier than ever before to create content so don’t sit back and wait to be chosen. As Manager/Producer Eddie Gamarra put it, “Go make stuff. You have the means. Make it happen on your own.”

APPLY TO THE DIVERSITY PROGRAMS – Organizations like the National Hispanic Media Coalition are working with the networks to foster growth for minorities in entertainment. Representatives from ABC, NBC, and CBS’s diversity programs all recommended attendees apply to diversity programs as a way to break into the industry. These programs open doors.

WRITE THE STORY ONLY YOU CAN TELL – Managers, writers and representatives from the network diversity programs all echoed the same thought, know what experiences are unique to you and use that in your work. As CAA agent Ashley Holland put it, “What are your superpowers?” Find those things that make you special and play to those strengths. This goes not only for the scripts you write, but also for when you fill out the application essays/letters of interest for the diversity programs.


Kelly Jo Brick is a Contributing Editor at TVWriter™. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

Two Network Execs w/Something in Common: Trying to Justify Their Jobs

Let’s pretend these are videos and watch ’em squirm:

1st:

NBC Boss Open to More Community, Insists Fans Will Get ‘Same Show’ Despite Dan Harmon Ouster – by Michael Ausiello

NBC’s top exec insists Community has not been sent to Friday night to die.

At the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday, Peacock chairman Robert Greenblatt maintained that the cult fave is not necessarily heading into its final season. ”I would love nothing more than for Community to have a following on Friday and continue,” he told reporters, adding that the decision to move the show off Thursdays was part of a larger plan to “broaden the audience” of its sitcoms.

“We’re in a transition with our comedy programming,” he explained. “Those Thursday comedies, which the critics love and we love, tend to be a bit more narrow than we would ultimately like as we go forward. Community has always been on the bubble, and we decided to bring it back and see what a fourth season will do for us.”

Regarding the ouster of showrunner Dan Harmon, Greenblatt said, “I think the fans of Community are going to get the same show that they have loved from the beginning. Every so often, it’s time to make a change with the showrunner. You sort of evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how the writing staff works… [and] sometimes you want to freshen the show. We just decided it was time to do that on Community. No disrespect to anyone.”

Read it all

Thanks & love to CartoonStock.Com

2nd:

Kevin Reilly (Fox President of Entertainment) Talks the Future of GLEE, THE MINDY PROJECT, the Final Season of FRINGE, Seth MacFarlane and More – by Christina Radish

As part of the TCA Press Tour presentation for Fox, President of Entertainment Kevin Reilly took some time to talk about where things stand with some of the new comedies and dramas, as well as old favorites, Glee and Fringe.  During the interview, he spoke about their new comedy block…, the importance of giving Fringe a final season, how they’ll approach genre programming in the future, their hope for Primetime Emmy nominations next year, and the likelihood of Seth MacFarlane returning to live-action on the network.

Question: How did you finally get these four half-hour comedies — New Girl, Raising Hope, Ben and Kate and The Mindy Project — together on one night?

KEVIN REILLY:  Well, since I took this job at FOX, I’ve been talking about my desire to get our comedy brand going again, and we’ve had a mixed bag on that.  Last year is when it really all started to come together, with New Girl joining Raising Hope.  And I’d say that we finally have the development that feels like it fits.

We developed Ben and Kate internally.  We have a close relationship with the producers of that show, who were working on New Girl.  Dana Fox was a consultant on New Girl, and Jake Kasdan directed the pilot for both and was executive-producing both.  So, we had our eye on that one, all year long, as the one we hoped would just fit the bill, and I think it does perfectly.

And then, The Mindy Project was a really great stroke of luck, frankly.  I’ve had a personal relationship with Mindy [Kaling] since I cast her on The Office…. For whatever reason, NBC decided this didn’t fit their bill.  Universal had House on our air for many years.  It was their most profitable show, and it was a huge hit for us.  So, replicating that is only good for everybody, and I certainly expect that we will.

Read it all

More thanks and love to CartoonStock.Com (Um, are they, like, going to want $$$?)

Our favorite self-serving snippets from above:

Greenblatt: “Every so often, it’s time to make a change with the showrunner. You sort of evaluate the creative and how the show is run and how the writing staff works… [and] sometimes you want to freshen the show. We just decided it was time to do that on Community. No disrespect to anyone.”

Translation: “What? You’re buying this ‘No disrespect’ crap? Dude, I disrespect everybody. If I didn’t, would I be able to bullshit like that to you?”

Reilly: “And then, The Mindy Project was a really great stroke of luck, frankly.  I’ve had a personal relationship with Mindy [Kaling] since I cast her on The Office….”

Translation: “You think this was luck? It’s because I know the bitch, jerk. I discovered her and I own her.”