Herbie J Pilato Talks ‘Frasier,’ One of the Modern Powerhouses of Syndicated TV

TVWriter™’s pioneering Consulting Editor Emeritus tells us the tale of one of the most popular shows on TV today…even though it went off the network air 15 years ago.

by Herbie J Pilato

Writer/producer Herbie J Pilato is the host of the TV talk show THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, now streaming on Amazon Prime and the author of several pop-culture/media tie-in books. He has been part of TVWriter™ for over 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE.

Unsubscribe: The $0-budget movie that ‘topped the US box office’

Lightning sort of strikes. Because, you know, it can. (And it can strike for you too.) Read on.


by Joshua Nevett

In normal times, blockbuster movies usually dominate the box office charts.

The big-budget productions, directed by the likes of James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott, regularly draw the biggest crowds at cinemas across the US and beyond.

But on 10 June, one box office-topping movie was watched by just two people, in one cinema.

Unsubscribe, a 29-minute horror movie shot entirely on video-conferencing app Zoom, generated $25,488 (£20,510) in ticket sales on that day.

Nationwide, the movie hit the top of the charts, according to reputable revenue tacker Box Office Mojo.

The budget of the movie: a flat $0. How was that possible?

The movie was the brainchild of Eric Tabach, an actor and YouTuber from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and filmmaker Christian Nilsson, from New York City.

When the coronavirus pandemic shuttered movie theatres in March, the pair saw an opportunity in the crisis.

Given no big films were being released in cinemas, they wondered if they could hit the top of the charts if they made their own movie, DIY style.

“I noticed that the box office figures were absurd; $9,000, $15,000 for each movie. Nothing big was coming out. Blockbuster films were on hold. I wanted to find a way to get the biggest number,” Mr Tabach told the BBC.

A cunning plan, befitting of the silver screen itself, was devised.

To reach the top of the box office, Mr Tabach and Mr Nilsson realised they had to game the system. They did so by exploiting a loophole in cinema ticket sales, known as four-walling.

“Four-walling is when distributors rent out a movie theatre and buy all the seats,” Mr Tabach, who used to work at BuzzFeed making viral videos, explained….

Read it all at bbc.com

Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #103 “Cats, Cats, Cats!”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.

by Larry Brody

Our nearest neighbors, Buck the Ex-Navy Seal and Delly the Interstate Truck Driver have eight cats. All with complete freedom to roam indoors and out.

Cloud Creek Ranch has cats as well. Two. With not-quite-complete freedom to roam around the back of the main house and the back porch.

Our two cats are named Baggy and Bob. I don’t know the names of any of the members of Buck’s and Delly’s feline assortment. But although our cats are right downstairs and those of our neighbors are half a mile away, in many ways I know what I think of as “The Buck-And-Delly 8” better than I know the “Cloud Creek 2.”

Because I interact with them more.

Hard to believe but true.

When Gwen the Beautiful and I are over at the neighbors’ the Buck-And-Delly 8 are part of the event as well. They interact. Rub against my legs. Jump on Gwen’s lap. Look us in the eyes and curl up, and purr.

Just like—you know—cats.

Baggy and Bob, on the other hand, are like roomers in the Brody Cat Boarding House. Their lives are completely separate from ours.

A few of our friends have met Baggy, but only if they’ve had occasion to look into her favorite hideaway, the guest room closet.

None of our friends have seen Bob.

And how could they? The only way to have any kind of face to face with this ole boy is by grabbing a flashlight and shining it behind that pile of old fabric located to the rear of Baggy’s rear.

Because she’s Bob’s protector, pure and simple.

Baggy didn’t start out as a cat bodyguard. For the first couple of years of her life she was lively and lithe and fun-loving, Youngest Daughter Amber’s beloved calico pet.

Then along came Bob.

We were living in L.A. then. I remember the day Gwen and then 10-year-old Amber came home with a big cardboard box. Amber presented the box to me with a flourish.

“Stand back!” she said as she dragged it into the living room. “Everybody back!”

“What’s going on?” I asked innocently.

“We were driving on the freeway when we saw a couple of kittens on the shoulder,” Gwen said. “So I stopped to investigate. Someone had left a whole litter in a box on the embankment.”

“But we got out of the car and saved the day!” Amber added triumphantly.

I looked at the box. Baggy was nosing it curiously. “So there’s a whole litter of quiet kittens in there?”

“Not exactly,” said Amber. “Most of the kittens ran away from the freeway toward Taco Bell.”

“There’s one quiet kitten in the box,” Gwen said. “I had to grab it because it was headed the wrong way.

“Mom kept it from getting killed!” Amber said. “Now stand back, I say!”

She reached over, pulled apart the flaps at the top of the box—

And immediately, accompanied by a loud, screeching yowl, something leapt straight up—at least six feet—just missing Amber’s face and arcing onto the floor.

A tiny, black and white tuxedo kitten.

“Duck!” I said. Too late, of course. But that didn’t keep me from following up with more lame advice. “Bob and weave.”

“That’s a funny name for a cat,” Amber said. “How about just Bob?”

She bent down to pick Bob up, and, with another, even louder, yowl, the kitten whirled, leapt, dived—and vanished behind the oven.

He lived behind that oven, with Baggy keeping watch in front of it, for the rest of the time we lived in that house, emerging just often enough for us humans to know he was alive, and to enable Gwen to put him into a crate for our big move to Paradise…and the closet the two pals now call “Home Sweet Home.”

Ten years have passed since Bob jumped into my life like a booby-trapped jack-in-the-box.

He’s a good mouser, and sometimes, late at night, he’ll stop and let me see him as he slinks out of the guest room on patrol with Baggy. Or, if I’m not around, he’ll go to Gwen and let her pet him. But at the slightest sign of a threat—zoom!—he’s back in the closet.

I understand that Bob had a rough start in this world. He’s lucky to be alive, and he knows it.

But is this really living? When your life is completely ruled by fear?

10 Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – July 6, 2020

Good morning! Welcome to another week of TV (and other) writing and production tips at TVWriter™. Here’s a look at the most popular blog posts and resource pages during the  last 7 days.

They are, in order:

Corporal Punishment and Primetime TV

Writing the Dreaded Outline

Have a Movie Idea? Netflix is Now Looking for Aspiring Writers


United States of America, July 4, 2020

50 Redundant Phrases Writers Should Avoid

8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

How to Write a Script for an Animated Show


Supernatural Season 1 Finale – Recap and Review

Big thanks to everybody for helping us have another terrific week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

WGAW’s Official Announcement to Members about Negotiations with AMPTP

July 1, 2020

Dear Members,

Today the MBA Negotiating Committee unanimously approved a tentative agreement with the AMPTP for the 2020-2023 Minimum Basic Agreement (MBA). We are recommending the WGAW Board and WGAE Council send the agreement to the WGA membership for a ratification vote later this month.

Upon ratification, the agreement and the minimum increases would be retroactive to May 2, 2020 and would expire on May 1, 2023.

Many of the new terms track those recently negotiated by other guilds, including increases in SVOD residuals, the lowering of SVOD budget breaks, and elimination of almost all SVOD grandfathering, as well as rollbacks, including syndication residuals.

We were able to fight off significant writer-centric rollbacks, which would have been very damaging if they’d made it into the MBA.

In addition, as part of an overall package valued at more than $200 million over three years, we were able to achieve several writer-specific gains.

The writer training and new writer discounts that undercut screen and television minimums and disproportionately impacted underrepresented groups have been eliminated.

A new paid parental leave fund available to all writers who qualify for health insurance was established, with benefits beginning in May 2021. The benefit will be entirely funded by an employer contribution of .5% on writers’ earnings.

Our pension fund will receive an immediate 1.5% contribution increase to 10%, with the ability to divert an additional 1.25% from minimums, if needed, over the final two years of the contract. This increased funding of our pension plan, totaling 2.75% over the term of the contract, was a vital goal of this negotiation and sets our plan on a much firmer foundation.

We also improved protections for television writers in the area of options and exclusivity, including specific limitations on options after short periods of employment, and expanded the number of writers covered by the span protections first negotiated in 2017.

Although the ongoing global pandemic and economic uncertainty limited our ability to exercise real collective power to achieve many other important and necessary contract goals, we remain committed to pursuing those goals in future negotiations.

We thank all of you who supported the goals of the negotiation and this committee. More details about the deal will be posted after the agreement has been reviewed by the WGAW Board and WGAE Council.

In solidarity,

MBA Negotiating Committee

Michele Mulroney, Co-Chair
Shawn Ryan, Co-Chair
Betsy Thomas, Co-Chair

Liz Alper
Arash Amel
John August
Amy Berg
Ashley Nicole Black
Adam Brooks
Francesca Butler
Patti Carr
Robb Chavis
Meg DeLoatch
Travis Donnelly
Kate Erickson
Dante W. Harper
Eric Heisserer
Melissa London Hilfers
Elliott Kalan
Chris Keyser
Adele Lim
Peter Murrieta
Luvh Rakhe
Dailyn Rodriguez
Erica Saleh
Sara Schaefer
David Slack
Lauren Ashley Smith
Meredith Stiehm
Patric M. Verrone

David A. Goodman, Ex-Officio
Marjorie David, Ex-Officio
Beau Willimon, Ex-Officio
Kathy McGee, Ex-Officio
Bob Schneider, Ex-Officio