Love & Money Dept – TV Biz Happenings of the Week Ending July 22

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLatest News About Writers & Other Mostly Living Things That Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

Uh-oh. Last week’s return of yer friendly neighborhood munchman’s formerly adored column, Love & Money, tanked even worse than Katherine Heigl’s new Netflix series will if it ever actually makes it to the air.

We know why nobody wants to see Ms. Heigl’s next project. It’s the same reason nobody wanted to see her previous failures – nobody fucking can stand her onscreen persona.

But this is me, Timothy Tyler Muncher my very, very, very loved self. How in the name of all that’s holy, unholy, and whatever’s in between did last week’s launching get exactly one (1!) recorded view between last Thursday and yesterday?

Have I become that obsolete already? After only a 4-year absence? Am I cursed? Reviled? Or, or – omg, I think I’ve got it – forgotten?

‘Scuze me while I – choke – sob….

Our Beloved Leader, Larry Brody (the guy with the highest Amex Black Card limit on the planet who after all these years of occasionally faithful service, still refuzez to pay me) sez that the only reason I’m even here this week is that the WGA-ATA war hasn’t had any major developments (although this particular occurrence and the thinking expressed here may end up more important to future writer/agent relationships than it seems).

LB also has opined that the problem last time out was that I spent too much talking about the Arch Enemies Known As Executives instead of writerz.

I’m not sure LB is right (actually I know that he’s a lefty, physically, psychologically, and strategically), but just in case, here’z the latest writerz only info.

Oh, sorry Ms. Heigl, guess that means I can’t talk about the travesty of Firefly Lane cuz although you’re the star and executive producer (does the term “oy vay!” mean anything to you, my singular reader whoever you are?) you at least haven’t claimed to be writing this tale about, as Deadline.Com put it:

Tully, a force of nature: magnetic, ambitious, reckless, and fiercely loyal. Still bearing the scars of a traumatic childhood, she is dogged by inner loneliness, even as she goes on to fabulous fame and fortune as a journalist and talk show host. Her saving grace is her best friend and soulmate, Kate, with whom she shares an unshakable bond.

Why am I so sure you aren’t the writer? Mostly because even this facile trash seems way too deep for somebody who called her own starring vehicle, Knocked Up “a little sexist.”

I mean, little? Yikes.

So, moving on without her, munchaderamus is proud to present the latest about the following chazari (Um, that’s a Yiddish word for the kind of crap it takes one Acme Ton O’Chutzpah to ever mention to another human being.

Anyway:

THE MUCH LOOKED FORWARD TO (by cinema illiterates and utter morons in general) TV version of Snowpiercer seems to gathering, you know, steam, at TNT, most likely because Graeme Manson, co-creator of Orphan Black has been brought on to save the series from itself.

Gotta admit I’m more than a mite puzzled about how that’s going to be done, especially since the trailer shown at Comic Con seems to follow the abysmal original so loyally. Maybe all the characters will be clones of Tatiana Maslany? Now that’s something this munchhauser would watch!

SPEAKING OF HIGHLY RESPECTED WRITERS, the Stan Lee created series Restless is being developed by David Greenwalt and James Dalessandro. Greenwalt is a veteran of Grimm – a sort of not-too-bad series that lasted about a million and a half years (well, 5 years anyway) longer than it should have, so the dude must have some special writing powers, yeah? – and James Dalessandro known for the historical novel 1906 and the TV movie Citizen Jane, about a woman who goes after a brutal murderer even though he’s also her bf.

Will these guys turn Restless, a concept featuring a “Native American homicide detective [who]…begins to inherit the mystical powers of his…ancestors after his father’s death” remains to be seen. But like so many of us demented outsider, munchterbator lives in hope.

ANOTHER SHOW I’M PSYCHED ABOUT (yepperz, I’ve got a very soft definition of “psyched,” I admit) is Tina Fey’s unnamed series starring Ted Danson as “a wealthy businessman who runs for mayor of L.A. for all the wrong reasons.” Gotta love any show mocking zillionaire politicians, amiright? Especially when the mockingest bird I’ve ever met (yeah, and worked with, but that’s neither here nor there…or iz it?) Tiny Fey her consumate self, is the creator along with Robert Carlock of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reknown.

ROUNDING OUT THIS WEEK’S DELIGHTS is the newz that Greta Gerwig is co-writing and possibly directing a film based on everybody’s favorite advert for plastic surgery at the earliest age possible, Mattel’s deliciously inappropriate albeit delightful Barbie Doll herself.

I know that strictly speaking I’m not talking about TV here, but even with the genius Oscar nommed writer-director of Lady Bird in charge and the so often scatologically evil Margot Robbie playing the – ahem – titular role, let’s face it, boys and girls, moms and dads, and terrifyingly unctuous uncles and gramps, doesn’t it seem to you that no matter what approach Grets (yeppers, know her too and can call the lady what I damn well please) takes to this material it’s still going to be something more suitable for midnight showings at home than a MeToo fundraising permiere?


That’s it for now, munchalados. Here’s hoping I’m talking to more than one of you this week. Don’t let me down now. I’m looking forward to an avalanche of comments showing that you caught on to which of the above bragged-about relationships above I was being truthful about and which were outright frauds, lies, and boobymeisses.

Seeya next week, munchadiddlehoppers, with more chazari about what the writers we’re all most envious of are up to! Unless LB pulls the plug–

Oh Christ, waitaminnit. He wouldn’t do that, would he?! Would you? LB, I love ya like a brother, you know that. LB–

Love & Money Dept – TV Biz Happenings for the Week of July 15th

TOSHIBA Exif JPEGLatest News About Writers & Other Mostly Living Things That Are Doing Better Than We Are
by Munchman

Whoa, first Love & Money since 2015. How time flies when you’re scaling the ladder to sucksess. Mama told me there’d be decades like this, but the Evil Angel of Ambition wouldn’t let yer friendly neighborhood munchero fly toward the light.

Well, wtf, this little muncher is still alive, well, and getting into as much trouble as possible. Now if only that $$$-grasping old gomer who calls himself LB would loosen his hold on the Amex Black Card he pretends he isn’t carrying and pay me now and then, all would be almost right in this world.

So. Onward and upward…and downward too. We shouldn’t go in that last direction because it’s the kind of commentary that attracts lawyers just when you need them least – i.e. most of the time – but munchacockaderio here always had a soft spot for being slapped in the head.

ONWARD

MOST POSITIVE TV related bit this munchperson has heard in awhile (like since 2015) is that The Fabulous Furry Freakbrothers, one of my grandpa’s faves back in the early 1970s when his brain still worked well enough to let him muddle through pretending to read underground comix in his college’s student union, has been given the go-ahead for eight TV episodes on one or another of the thousand and six streaming or maybe even broadcast channels nobody ever watches next year.

Why is putting something this  long past its prime selling date worth cheering about? Well, it’s a paycheck for writers Alan Cohen, Alan Freedland, John Altschuler and David Krinsky, who deserve to be working more than they’ve been. And of course there’s the Nostalgia thing . Now showbiz titans can wave this little green light around and say, “Who says we don’t make shows for old farts? Of course we do, see?”

AND HERE’S a positive thought for Stranger Things fans who’re crying in their CBD oil because Jim Hopper AKA actor David Harbour dies in Season three’s finale while helping close the gate between Upside Down and the real world. Harboureeno’s Stranger Things contract says they own him till the end of Season Four, which means a miraculous reappearance is in sight. At least till we read about him having been signed for a whole nuther Netflix series the Duffer Brothers are secretly finalizing Right This Very Moment.

What’s that you say? Munchenhaus should of warned you about the above spoiler? Fuck that. Real men don’t watch TV to be twiddled and twaddled around every badly plotted and unbelievable twist and turn of the storyline. We watch it so we can be amazed by how much better even the least impressive entertainment can be while we’re on pouring Johnny Walker down our over-aggressive throats. Man up, you snowflakes! (Heh, I originally typed “snotflakes.” Maybe I shouldn’t correct it next time.)

upward

A+E NETWORKS AKA The Networks Formerly Known as A&E has promoted Patrick Vien to Group Managing Director of International. What does a Group Managing Director of Anything do over at A+E? Smart question, mein freunde. Good thing you asked the right dood. After a little digging, munchenheimer has discovered that Group Managing Directors oversee strategy in specific geographical areas where whatever group they’re part of “holds sway.” Yeppers, that’s what the PR person said. “Holds sway.” So now you know and we’re good here, yeah? As long as nobody asks what kind of strategy and WTF holds!#@ingsway means.

If you’re saying to yourself, “My friendly neighborhood munchadoodledoo dodged a pretty tricky bullet there,” you’re right. C’est la vie, n’est pas?

SPEAKING OF people being named Bosses, Netflix has named Jackie Lee-Joe its (their?) Chief Marketing Officer. For those not in the know (yes, I’m so sad for you not being as inhipandfriendly as moi), Jackie Lee-Joe is in fact a woman (probably even a CIS woman) no matter what her name suggests. Another victim of POS – Parental Overcuteness Syndrome, not that other phrase this acronym usually means – perhaps?

Anyway, Ms Lee-Joe used to be CMO AKA Chief Marketing Officer at BBC, where quality instead of marketing or sales has always been the name of the game, so arriving at a company where despite all appearances insiders know damn well that marketingmarketingmarketing rulez definitely is a big step up for her.

downward

Chloe Dan is out as Senior Vice President of Drama at 20th Century Fox TV after two years on the job. Rumors say she was let go before her contract was up, but so many different reasons have been given for why she was shitcanned that the gossip seems as likely to be malicious as it is to be true.

Ah, Hollywood! A place where everybody’s a high school mean girl regardless of age, gender, job description (or acronym), or personal preference. Consider yourselves warned, children! Stay on the interwebs, where nobody has any reason to try and screw with you because you work for free just like me!

According to various sources, Edward Sabin of A+E Networks (you remember them, yaz?) has decided to leave his gig as Co-Executive Managing Director, International, his partner in co-ness having been none other than Patrick Vien, whom you also should remember considering that his name came up only about 700ish words ago.

The press release about this event seemingly having been written by the A+E powers that be, all we know is that Monsieur Sabin has departed to launch a new business. Sounds like a dood who could need some cheering up. Whaddaya say we all chip in and take him to The Original Pantry? After all, Google gives the place 4 1/2 stars. Have your people contact my people to make this fine thing happen.


That’s it for now, munchalados. Don’t forget to write in and tell yers truly of any and all showbizjj-related positional changes in yer life. Cuz yer fave TVWriter™ Influencer can’t wait to writewritewrite the next episode of this column on accounta I lurves me every chance I get to work for -goddammit – free!

Dawn McElligott: Philly to L.A. – The First Step is a Doozy

by Dawn McElligott

In February 2017, I was living in Greater Philadelphia and working at a global not-for-profit organization. The pay was low, the work was hard, and I was having tension headaches. Relief came in the form of feedback on the 2016 People’s Pilot contest from a distinguished gentleman with the initials, LB. The gist of the feedback was that the script showed enough professionalism to earn a staff writing position on a TV show but moving to Los Angeles was the first step.

By late March, I was ready to take that step. I quit my job, notified the landlord and started sorting my belongings. It took me two weeks of non-stop work to donate my used furniture to various charities and pack what I could take in the car. I borrowed money from a retirement plan for the journey. Finally, my car was packed a little after 5 pm on April 5, 2017.

I set the GPS for 200 Santa Monica Pier. Pulling out of the apartment house parking lot, I felt like I was blasting off for the moon. I drove as far as I could that evening. Fearing the effects of fatigue, I pulled over for the night and stayed at a low-budget inn. I had gotten as far as Shanksville, PA, the final resting place of Flight 93. Not exactly a good omen, but I took it to mean this was a significant journey.

The next morning, I headed out into the rain and drove to West Virginia. I had lunch at a McDonald’s restaurant. Returning to my car, an older, bearded man laughed heartily at, I suppose, my bumper stickers promoting the Hillary Clinton campaign. He got into his black pickup truck and drove away. I continued my journey too, reaching another small town, outside of St. Louis, MO, the following night.

The next morning as I prepared to leave the Comfort Inn, my Hillary Clinton bumper stickers yielded pairs of raised eyebrows from the older man and his wife, parked next to my car. Nevertheless, they seemed good natured and jovial, understanding that interstate highways bring all sorts of people together, even liberals and conservatives. They drove away and so did I.

Throughout the drive, I had too much time to think about dead relatives and friends that had passed away. In the solitude of my vehicle, I simply cried about my losses and fears for my future. Driving without the distractions of local traffic, allowed me to cry out numerous frustrations.

I might have wept out the heartaches that led to the tension headaches in Philadelphia. I began to realize why road trip movies had been so popular, years ago. Driving long distances does force introspection. The physical journey becomes a spiritual one.

Around New Mexico, I start to regret my decision not to buy a GoPro for the car. I would have picked up such spectacular footage! New Mexico’s tranquility informs me why it’s called “The Land of Enchantment.” I imagine my great loved and loving Shepherd-Rottweiler, “Punkin,” dead since 2014, reliving her youth by running happily throughout the valleys.

On Sunday, April 9, I set out from Albuquerque, NM to drive as far West as I could. I drove into Arizona and saw my first road signs, saying Los Angeles was a certain distance, 500 miles or so. What a welcome sight! I felt tired as I drove through Arizona, but I was determined to reach California, that evening.

As twilight descended, I arrived at the state’s westernmost frontier. The setting sun gilded the pointy peaks of the mountains before me, adding drama and an air of fantasy to the long-anticipated drive over the Colorado River, into Needles, CA. Hollywood couldn’t have staged a more dramatic entrance into the Golden State. Alas, no GoPro!

Not seeing any Comfort Inns or any other predictable, franchise establishments, I continued westward, despite the fatigue, until reaching Barstow. In Barstow I stayed at a hotel, part of a well-known chain. Undergoing major repairs, the inn appeared to be as close to collapsing as I was. Waking up the next morning, I realized that neither I, nor the hotel, was in a pile of rubble. It seemed like a good sign to me.

After paying the bill, I headed for my car in the parking lot. A lady parked next to mine said to me, “I love your bumper stickers… we tried.” We chatted for a bit and she left. I knew I was in a better place. I headed for Santa Monica. A traffic jam caused me to pull off the freeway in El Monte.

I found a business that does oil changes and car washes. When I paid for both, the cashier urged me to sit outside at a cute, little table in the warm sun. This was in high contrast to East Coast oil changes where I’ve been stuck indoors, pouring non-dairy creamer into coffee brewed during the Spanish-American War. Now, I was in the Golden State. Sipping soda outdoors, watching people towel dry my Hyundai Tucson, I thought of the new world I was entering.

I continued further until reaching the destination on my GPS: 200 Santa Monica Pier. A decade and a half earlier, I had lived in Anaheim but had to go back East when the Southern California economy collapsed in 2002. Now I did something I’d been waiting to do ever since. I waded along the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Too exhausted to spend the rest of the day looking for an apartment, I treated myself to tacos, beer and conversation with the gentleman at the next table. It turned out that he had been raised in a small town next to Monroe, NY, where I’d grown up. He appeared to be an out of work actor, and in spite of facing homelessness himself, he wished me great success as he left with a wave and a “Welcome to L.A.!”

During much of the drive, I’d been afraid Southern Californians would see me only as “a woman of a certain age” arriving in Tinseltown too late for the party.  I’d thought of them as having arrived before me because they were more successful, alpha types who would see me as a failure upon arrival. I’d even envisioned them locking arms to prevent my entry into the City of the Angels.

As I watched the man go, it came to me that I was being hurt by old prejudices that I had to shed. Nobody here was trying to stop me. The only person I had to overcome was myself.


Dawn McElligott is a an award-winning writer and filmmaker in Los Angeles by way of Philadelphia and other points East. You can learn more about her HERE

How to be a good showrunner

One of the most knowledgeable writers on the web hits one out of the park…again.

We thought we had a showrunner pun when we uploaded this pic, but now we can’t remember what it was. Yikes!

by Ken Levine

Here’s a Friday Question that became an entire post.  I know the WGA has seminars on this and some colleges offer courses in this, but the following points are pretty much everything you need to know.   (Reminder: Whenever I can’t think of an appropriate picture I always post Natalie Wood photos.)

The question is from Brian Hennessy.

Hey Ken – can I ask you what are mistakes that first time showrunners make?

1. Not communicating with your staff. It’s not enough to have your vision for the show; you need to clearly share it with your other writers. Don’t just assume. It’ll be hard enough for them without trying to figure out what’s in your head. Same is true with your editor and directors.

2. Be very organized. Time will go by much faster than you think. From day one lay out a plan. You want so many outlines by this date, so many first drafts by that date, etc.

3. Don’t squander that period before production begins. It’s easy to knock off early or move meetings back. But this is golden time before the crunch when actors arrive, cameras roll, and a thousand additional details require your attention.

4. Accept the fact that the first draft of the first script you receive from every staff member will look like a script from the last show they were on. It will take them time to adapt to your show.

5. Remember that every writer is not a “five-tool player” as they say in baseball. By that I mean, some may be strong at story but not jokes, or punch-up but not drafts. Not everybody is good at everything.  Consider that when putting together your staff.

6. Hire the best writers, not your best friends.

7. Hire at least one experienced writer. Otherwise, on top of everything else you’re doing, you’re re-inventing the wheel.

8. Don’t show favoritism to some writers over others. It destroys morale and no one loves a teacher’s pet.

9. Pick your fights with the network and studio. Don’t go to war over every little note. Antagonizing everyone all the time is a good way to ensure this will be your only showrunning gig. Yes, you’re an artist and you’re trying to protect your vision. And yes, a lot of the notes are moronic, but you have to hear them out. You have to consider them. You have to do the ones you can live with. The best way to get your way is to get them on your side.

10. Don’t overwork your staff. This goes back to being organized. There’s only so many times you can whip the same horse. Your people are dedicated to the show but not to the extent you are.

Read it all at Ken Levine’s great blog

Diana Black on The Pilot Vs. The Series Goal

 by Diana Black

A ‘Strong pilot’ has a ‘Pilot Goal’ as well as a ‘Series Goal’ that is, if you expect to generate interest with your spec ‘calling card’. But what does this really entail? Maybe we need to define what a goal is before exploring the development and importance of such beasties…

For dramatic purposes, a ‘goal’ needs to be a burning desire with the stakes – crazy high – either for an individual Protagonist or an Ensemble. Regardless, it must be achieved…a ‘do-or-die’. It can
take the form of an object, state of being, relationship, or an act of heroism… whatever…

Do we as viewers, want to invest our time in a wimp? Maybe, if they’re seriously compelling to watch. If the goal the Protagonist consciously wants is achieved in the Pilot episode; typically for a
regular U.S. episodic series, does that mean its ‘Game Over’ for the Series?

No. The ‘Tag’ of the Pilot may allude to the Protagonist (or ‘Ensemble’) about to embark on a new
‘adventure’. Alternatively, the Pilot might close with the Antagonist looming or reappearing on the
Protagonist’s horizon… ‘Game on’! Or, the Protagonist might be on the brink of achieving their
desire when the Pilot comes to an end – leaving us with a ‘cliff-hanger’ with ‘will they, won’t they’
buzz going on in the lunchroom the following day – yay!

If it’s a Mini-series, or a Limited Series – both having a relatively short, narrative arc, the ‘Pilot goal’ might be achieved later on. It will depend on how you’ve set up the narrative and over how many Episodes you envisage the Season to run.

Regardless, there’ll be an unconscious goal – the ‘Series Goal’ – alluded to in your ‘Leave Behind’.
It’s buried deep in the Protagonist’s/Ensemble’s subconscious… either driving them in a specific
direction or presenting an obstacle that they must overcome. Their initial failure to recognize and
achieve this subconscious goal relates to their psychological ‘flaw’.

In the ‘Character Profile’ you’ve devised for all of the main characters (You have,yes??!), have you identified for each of them their fundamental flaw? If you’re not sure of the importance of the ‘flaw’ don’t worry. We’ll talk about that in another article soon.

Either way, that flaw has to continue to stymie their efforts to achieve the ‘Series Goal’ until it’s overcome (or they die trying). It’s essentially a thematic ‘issue’ in your story world, which in order for them to ‘grow’ and realize their true potential, they must achieve.

Equally important, is the escalating tension associated with the ‘Series Goal’. Allowing them to
succeed without a struggle and/or considerable risk is boring for us ‘clever apes’ – every story is a
‘survival lesson by proxy’ – so they have to fight for it.

For the Writer, the ‘Series Goal’ must be known and pre-mapped, prior to writing the Pilot in
order to lay down the breadcrumbs associated with it – in the Pilot Episode. In this way the narrative is layered with hidden meanings, which if the Viewer is watching very carefully, will slowly reveal the ‘Series Goal’ but do we want it to be that easy? No… but that’s an upcoming article as well…


Diana Black is an Australian actress and writer who frequently contributes to TVWriter™. (She used to contribute more frequently, but then she moved to Hawaii. Go figure.)